MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR VACATION

You carved out the time and saved the money for your much anticipated vacation and now you can’t wait to take off. I love the anticipation of vacation!  In my mind I always picture having the best time and experiencing exciting adventures. Most of the time this is how it works out but every once in a while I am a bit disappointed. What happened? Usually it is me that happened.

(photo courtesy of Pak101)

(photo courtesy of Pak101)

Through many adventures I have found the key to my enjoyment. I believe the key can be slightly different for everyone but it has key similarities. (Oh no, my husband’s corny humor has struck again) Which brings us to the top or first key. Keep your sense of humor. Sometimes those misadventures, disaster meals, failed tours end up being the funniest stories we have to share. Getting really bent out of shape about them won’t change that you had to endure them so just roll with flow and keep your sense of humor! The funnest vacation I have taken was one in which two members on our trip got sick. It put a cramp in our plans and we ended spending two days in a city we had no plans to visit. The things that happened were actually pretty gross but terribly funny.

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Next  is to throw away your timidness and let your inner adventurer out. As you are walking down the street if you see a restaurant with lots of locals waiting to get in, join the line. Chances are it has great food. Don’t limit yourself to well known restaurant chains try the local fare. What you will find is that most local establishments love to have foreign or out of town guests. They often take every opportunity to get to know you. Relish it! Try out your limited knowledge of the local language. Communicate using gestures or draw pictures. You will have an experience that helps immerse you into the local culture. Take a walk in the evening or morning and see what the locals are doing and join them. I will never forget trying Tai Chi in the park in Guangzhou China. Let yourself go and enjoy.

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When I plan a trip I do a lot of internet research. Sometimes I find interesting places that I want to visit but they usually are not on the typical tours or destinations. This is where a good travel agent comes to play, they can and will customize your trip. If you are in Chile and you really want to learn how to learn how to make pastel de choclo and see where they make the pottery it is served in then you should be able to do that. Sometimes booking a private tour or hiring a car to get you where you want to go is worth every penny to get to experience it. A side trip to Pomaire might be exactly what you were hoping to experience.

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Take comfortable clothes and shoes. Nothing ruins a trip faster than blisters on your feet or feeling like you are being squished into spanx. Seriously this should probably be key number one. You want to be carefree, comfortable and able to be spontaneous. Did anyone tell you it was 270 steps to get up to that statue you want to visit? Oops you wore sandals with heels today. Only take those along if you know you are having a night out to be dressed up. Along that line try taking very few clothes and lots of empty suitcase space. You can fill it with all of the new things you want to purchase. Much easier than having to buy a second suitcase while you are shopping.

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I had an amazing adventure in China  trying to find a large suitcase to purchase. The hotel staff sent me to a mall with horrible directions. An hour and half later, walking with a 4 year, old we found it and UGH designer luggage wasn’t in my budget. So as we walked back to the hotel I spotted a grocery store. My daughter was hungry so we went inside to find some snacks. As I walked in looking to my left there was a pen with live chickens.  An entire wall of aquariums with every imaginable odd looking fish, eels and sea critters I couldn’t identify lined the whole left side of the store. There were terrariums with snakes and then aisles of regular grocery store type items. Suitcases but not the size I wanted. If I hadn’t been off on my own I would have missed this site. It is one of the most delightful memories of my time in China.  We did eventually find a suitcase and the child filled it with toys at the store.

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Find your inner adventurer, be brave and don’t be afraid to try something new. Take pictures Be safe. While I encourage you to explore you also need to avoid those areas that are unsafe. Use reputable taxi companies. Use public transit but remember to keep your valuables in a money belt hidden from site. Sadly crime is worldwide and you need to be wise about how your carry your money, passport, etc. But don’t let fear cripple you. Find a travel agent who is knowledgeable of the area. Book excursions through your travel agent or hotel. Avoid the guy at the airport or port who tries to sell you a tour. Keep your sense of humor and have fun.