Better Safe Than Sorry


Eleven days to Christmas and the prediction this year is it will be another busy travel holiday, actually one of the busiest we have seen in a long while.  We just had Thanksgiving and that travel volume prediction was spot on.  If you are traveling during this busy season to some faraway place or even close to home, I would be remiss if I did not inform you of the importance on adopting safety practices whilst on holiday. These tips will help to put safety on your radar if it is not a priority.

First, print or email a copy of your custom-tailored itinerary to those closest to you.  Family and friends should know what your daily plans are and the places you will visit.  Even if you change plans, be sure to update this plan intermittently and keep your loved ones well informed.  In this age of technology, it is not a hard thing to do.  Send them pictures, video footage and messages of people you meet and the places you go as regularly as possible.

If you are traveling solo or in a group to a foreign country and uncertain about your transport, especially if you must take it on the fly, nonchalantly carry your smart phone in your hand, snap photos of the taxi’s license plate and driver when he is stowing away your luggage or not looking directly at you.  Align with a friend to send them pics as soon as possible as back-up information. This suggestion may sound sinister but could turn out to be a valuable action that will ensure your safety.

Beware of children and adults who pan-handle.  They often work in groups to pick-pocket and rob the unsuspecting visitor of their hard-earned cash.  Pay attention to your surroundings and do not carry to many bags.  Visible signs of luxury will make you an easy target.  Men should not put their wallets in their back pockets and ladies should not carry their purse swinging loosely from their shoulder.  These are all easy marks for sticky fingers.   Avoid close contact with unknown groups of people.  Especially if you must ask for a pass to move ahead.  Find an alternate route.  If your way is blocked and you must cut through the middle be conscious of the slightest contact.  Check your person immediately to make sure your valuables are still intact.

Another safety measure to follow is a familiar one – don’t drink and drive.  Even in a strange country it is not cool to party hearty and then get behind the wheel intoxicated. Arrange with your hotel for a pick-up from the party you will be attending.  Then you can relax and have all the fun you want.  If in a group, make sure you know who the designated driver is.  Doing this may save your life and the lives of others.

Community Peeps, these are all simple things you can do and still have a safe and enjoyable vacation during yuletide.  There are many horror stories of vacations gone wrong simply because safety habits were not a part of the plan or were not enforced.  Have you learned a hard lesson because you did not carry out safety precautions?  Or, do you know someone who was affected by the lack of safe behaviors?  Please share some of your safe practices with my community.  Write in the comment box below.

To one and all, it is my sincerest wish and desire that all of you will be safe and well as you traverse to your various destinations for Christmas.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Itinerary Planner

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Apartment, Condo, RV, or Tiny House?


Deciding what will be my next housing choice and location is proving to be difficult yet exciting.  In a few days my home will belong to new owners and I will chart a new course somewhere else, at least after my vacation.  These last days leading up to departing has been bittersweet.  I am excited to begin a new life, to face the future and its potential head-on, good or bad.  On the flip-side, it is hard and sad to leave this part of my life behind.  Really, it’s amazing how attached I’ve become to people, community, familiar surroundings and the many nuances that make my home important, enjoyable and lovely to me.  Initially, I had only planned to be a resident of this community for 10 years, but here I am nearly doubling that number.  I can only say, time truly flies when you’re having fun.

So, after two decades where will my new digs be?  Choices, choices, choices.  Various housing types occupy my thoughts day and night.  By now, you know I pray about everything, and this is no exception.  Where will I go? Which state south of the border will become my new fixed place of abode?  What type of house will it be?  Should I choose another house, rent an apartment, explore the open road in an RV, live out my minimalist dreams in a tiny house, or luxuriate in a condo?  What will it be?

The current strategy is not to rush into anything.  There are many types of houses and locations to consider and every option must be thoroughly vetted to find the perfect home for me.  In the role as a former home owner, I have unique specifics for any prospective home.  As I contemplate the alternatives,  strangely my pet project feels a lot like solo travel planning.  I have plenty experiences to draw from which will help me to decide my next moves.  Here are some to consider if you are in a similar position:

RESEARCH – Due diligence on the location must be performed.  Take the time to find out what the locale is like from others who have been there.  Read the reviews, listen to news of the county.  Research the stats on the economics of the area, quality of life, demographics and all that will be important to you.

FLEX – Keep an open mind.  Don’t rush to judgment on a community based on one or two bad reviews.  Opinions are subjective.  Everybody may have a different experience.  Besides, the new home will be based on fulfilling all or most of the requirements on your checklist.

NO EXTRA BAGGAGE – Travel lite.  Take few items into the new home and only those you deem a must.  It is easier to purchase items in your new hometown than it would be to tote furniture to the new house, which may not fit in with the décor.  Get rid of what is not needed before the move.

BUDGET – Once you have examined areas that peak your interest and are ready to test the waters for yourself, set up a budget to support an investigative trip to the area.  Like all bespoke travel itineraries, a good plan needs to be in place to support accommodation, transportation, food, and other extras.  Keep in mind, even though the objective is house hunting, you might want to check out the amenities in the neighborhood which may not be budget busters but can add up to a considerable amount, and an unnecessary expense.

PHOTOS – A project like this can take months of crisscrossing a few states.  Arm yourself with some technology to help capture the homes you find most impressive.  The photos will help you remember the “wow” factor as you reflect on all that you have seen.

DIARY – Document all that you have seen and collect data, brochures and any housing paraphernalia that is important to your decision making later.

CONNECT – Make friends along the way.  People connections are valuable for networking, forging new friendships and starting new relationships.  When all is said and done, this will be the best part of the house hunting occurrence.

Community Peeps, selling my house was stressful (hence a vacation 😂), but what an eye-opener.  I look forward to the days when I will wear the shoe on the other foot.  Then, all that I learned as a seller will come in handy as a buyer.  What are your thoughts on the analogy drawn between travel and house hunting?  Please share your comments on the subject with me.  Do so in the box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Arrested


No, no, no.  Not with handcuffs and reading me the Miranda rights but arrested by natural beauty.

A few times in my travels at home and abroad, I have been blessed to see sights that caused me to stop, dead in my tracks.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes, it is too wonderful to express in words or to fleeting to capture in a photo.  The kind of beauty I am talking about, you never get tired watching.  One could spend hours metaphorically speaking, soaking it up, drinking it in and absorbing as much of it as possible.  Obviously, what may be shock and awe for me may not register the same way for you.  It is all relative and subjective.  Still, I want to share my moments of arresting beauty with you.

First time I saw Jacaranda trees, I was walking early one morning in Pretoria, South Africa.  The trees were in full bloom and they lined both sides of the streets with their branches intertwining at the tops.  The purple flowers on the trees and the fallen petals on both sides of the street presented a beautiful sight, as if flower girls in a bridal party had strewn them along the path for the oncoming bride.  You can probably tell how deeply impressed I was for me to take photos of purple petaled trees.  The picturesquely beautiful scene was fresh and pretty but not lasting.  Throughout the day, the falling petals wilted in the heat and were crushed by traffic, but that moment was forever etched in my mind.

Another arresting moment happened on American soil.  The Grand Canyon is not called grand for nothing. Wide open, deep crevasses, cover hundreds of miles, as far as the eye can see.  The jagged surfaces that make up the earth’s crust of the canyon lands expose colored layers of soil and rock like a rainbow.  Below the mighty Colorado River snakes its way through the gorge.  As the sun’s rays reflect on the winding river it glints like shards of glass or sparkling jewels.  The scenery is mesmerizing and awe-provoking.  From every vantage point, the views are arresting and mind boggling.  Questions of how, when, where flood the thoughts whilst gazing on the beauty of the Canyon.  In times like these, one can only agree with the inspired words of David in Psalm 19:1:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.”

The next arrest I will tell you about took place in the desert.  Unbelievable?  Yes, there is beauty even in a desert place.  When I visited Morocco, I journeyed into the Merzouga and Sahara Deserts.  The experience was phenomenal.  Don’t take my word for it.  Plan a trip of your own to either one or both locations.  I can help you with an itinerary, click on Itinerary Request and Payment Form page to get started.  The arid lands hold a beauty all its own.  Clay-colored houses blend in with the landscape of shifting sands. The high and low dunes, like rolling waves spread out into the distance.  The buildings in the communities look like they jump right out of the Bible.  Many film crews use the area because of its natural beauty and ancient Biblical likeness to make films (take a peak at the list in the photos).  Life is simple and different but packed with natural wonders which I hope you catch a glimpse in the slideshow here.

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Community Peeps, I could go on and on telling of other arresting moments, the where, the when, and the how, but time and space would not permit.  I know, you thought by the title that I had another encounter with the law and had been led away bound in chains (a bit too dramatic?) 😂.  God forbid.  Let’s hope that never happens.  What places have caused you to stop and take it all in?  Where on earth would you say you were arrested?  I would like to hear of it.  Share in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

BARBADOS!

Barbados Flag

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Itinerary Planner

 

Thanksgiving Drama


Stuffed to the brim yesterday and hungover today.  Not from alcohol, but from the food, entertainment and drama.  Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year, the other Christmas in Barbados.  As in last year’s blog, I shared our family traditions and how we express our thankfulness – Staycation Plans.  Today, I want to highlight some of the stressors that are part and parcel of making Thanksgiving Day an unforgettable experience.

Usually I sit down to eat the sumptuous meal with family and friends just after noon.  I adopted this habit many years ago.  It gives my guests who spend the entire day the chance to consume the meal, with opportunity for seconds, thirds, and desserts.  Plus, I would not have to worry about storage for the leftovers.  I still recall my very first Thanksgiving meal.  My host and I prepared the food all day long and didn’t sit down to eat until 7:00 p.m. that night.  In my humble opinion, that was way too late to be eating such a heavy meal, but I graciously obliged my host and tried to do justice to the meal that was served to me.  From that time, I promised myself I would never serve meals to my guests that late and I have kept my promise.

Over the years, I have found that while the day is wildly anticipated, many anxieties are experienced before, during and after the actual day.  Is it all worth it?  Many a host will tell you, “yes, it is.”  You can be the judge after reading of some of the pressures that help to put a strain on the day.

Kuala Lumpur_38Travel can be one of the contentious points that causes anxiety on Thanksgiving Day, whether by car, bus, train or plane.  Arriving or departing, your visitor’s safety is paramount.  This year was touted to be one of the heaviest travel days, and from all indicators, that prediction was a bulls-eye.  Thanksgiving-eve and Day, cars flowed in every direction like red and white blood cells flowing up and down a vein. More people hit the open road to join family and friends than in previous years.  A contributing factor are low gas prices.

Weather conditions too can greatly factor in.  Because of the tendency to have an early snowfall, (as we had last week) possible flight cancellations may occur.  Over bookings and other unanticipated anomalies may cause delays in departures/arrivals.  Whichever travel option used, the tension of dealing with congestion, delays, or cancellations may greatly impact the start of your holiday celebration and or may derail your plans altogether.

Family dynamics may present some uneasiness when considering or looking over your

Friends_Manila Philippines2invitation list.  You can choose friends, but you cannot choose family members.  That said, there may be wariness in extending invitations to break bread especially when you know some members don’t get along.  Even though the day is all about thankfulness, some personalities are not always willing to put their differences aside and may cause some tension which will overshadow the day.  This possibility is cause for concern if you are trying to accommodate everyone, not wanting to choose one over the other.

Food preparation can be another big stressor too.  Choosing mouth-watering foods that everyone will love and enjoy can turn out to be exasperating, especially when most of your invited guests are foreigners, and it is hard to please everyone.  Do you serve the regular Thanksgiving Day cuisine, or do you serve that of another culture?  Which culture takes preference?  Without a doubt, the one agreed upon food that will grace the

table will be the bird.  If it is eaten, liked or disliked, you can rest assured that turkey (whole bird or breast) with stuffing will take center stage.  The other fixings may be hard to choose, and indeed, may bring an added weight that may not be worth the time or effort.

Entertainment is another medium through which tension can manifest itself.  Routing for one favorite football team or another, is not necessarily the issue.  If that were the case, then you would be happy to know that all persons in the house are fans of the game.  However, football may not be the favorite pastime of your invited guests.  So, how do you deal with the blaring TV in one room, a gregarious group in an adjacent room, and still others or lone figures huddled in other areas of the house trying to have different conversations?  Running around trying to be the perfect host, making sure everyone is happy, and enjoying themselves may bring on moments of unwanted worry and anxiousness.

At the end of the day, you are eager to see the backs of your guests and their tail lights pulling away from your driveway.  You breathe a sigh of relief and are thankful that you survived yet again.  The food was eaten, everyone said they enjoyed themselves and had a great time.  The strain and tensions of the day melt away as your weary head touches the pillow.  Before you drift off into sleep you find yourself thinking on new and improved plans for next year’s Thanksgiving.

Community Peeps, how was your Thanksgiving Day?  Do you have some Thanksgiving drama of our own to share?  What has been your experience as host, or attending a family/friend’s home for the meal?  Spill the beans on your experiences, past or recent.  Waiting to hear from you.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Déjà Vu


Last week I promised to update you on my 2019 travel plans but that will have to wait until another time.  After yesterday’s ordeal, risking life and limb to get home, the idea of becoming a snow-bird has become more enchanting to me.  Leaving the cold northeast at the first sight of snow for the tropics is much more appealing than dealing with unforgiving wintry weather conditions.   Therefore my upcoming trip in a few short weeks to Barbados can’t come soon enough, and I’m out of here!

I left Long Island in New York just after 1:00 p.m. to take a two hour ride to my home upstate New York.  The first snow fall had begun.  Traffic flowed with an occasional bottleneck here and there.   Sometimes you make choices and in hindsight you wonder why you did.  Well, last night was one such night.  I could have chosen the wide-lane thoroughfare the I-684.  Instead, I chose the winding, narrow, mountainous road the Taconic Parkway.

I made my decision and there was no turning back.  As I traveled further and further away from the city limits into the suburbs, the snow piles on the road was more evident.  Many times, traffic slowed to a crawl.  Still my chariot was performing without any hindrance.  The first time I saw a car in front of me spinning out of control, wheels turning where the driver didn’t want it to go, was my wake up call.  I started to pray.  Yes, I prayed for that driver, myself and all the spin-outs I would later see along the way.

I immediately slowed down and proceeded cautiously.  This would become the routine for the rest of the night.  The snow was falling fast and furious and it seemed my wipers could not keep up.  Suddenly, the wiper blades stopped swishing back and forth.  I could not see the road.  I cried out to Jesus for help.  I pulled over to the side and removed the frozen snow stuck to the blades and windshield.  This would happen three more times at places on the road where stopping was dangerous.  Several times my car fish-tailed as I crept uphill, sometimes barely missing another vehicle, and blocking the path of others.  The feeling of losing control of the vehicle is terrifying.  I prayed even harder asking God to help me proceed without hurting anyone or myself.  Patience and calmness were the two emotions that came to the fore as I drove.  But for God’s mercy and grace, I made it through the treacherous Taconic Parkway and on to another route traveling westbound.  This highway has much wider lanes, but no sooner than I got on did I realize the travel situation was no better.  This highway is used by many truckers and so big rigs ply their trade up and down the corridors of the I-84.

Sandwich between two truckers, my reasoning being, they will make the tracks I need (a mini-ploughing) to follow in, when history almost repeated itself.  About 11 or 12 years ago, while coming home from work, there was a heavy snowfall, some of the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen.  So much so, they covered my car’s windshield and I often had to stop and clear it to continue.  The snow quickly accumulated grinding traffic to a halt.  The highway became impassable.  Every vehicle came to a standstill.  There we waited with engines running to keep warm.  We waited for the ploughs to come and remove the snow but to no avail.

That night turned into day and by the time the police came along to check on the situation, I had run out of gas, was shivering under blankets, frightened that I would not make it home.  Then I wondered last night if history would repeat itself.

Déjà vu?  It certainly was, at least in part.  Here I was stalled for hours in the same location as many years ago before the trucker in front of me moved a few yards.  I prayed often asking God to allow everyone to reach their final destinations.   Even though there were many scary moments, I quickly realized there are many things you can do to help yourself in the event you run into a tempest.

  1. Pray
  2. Be always prepared. I had my blanket, water, flashlight, scraper and a full tank of gas.
  3. Drive with caution. Whether you have a big ride or small humpty, the humpty often passes the big ride in the ditch.
  4. Occasionally stop to clear accumulated snow from the car’s wiper blades, wheel wells, front and back windshield, and headlights.
  5. Do not panic. If you feel the car sliding gently try to maneuver out of the slide.
  6. Turn hazard lights on immediately if you have difficulty driving or feel as though you are losing control.
  7. Keep your eyes on the road and call for help if needed.
  8. Make sure your smart phone is fully charged.
  9. Pray

Well, I arrived home safely.  Just after midnight I pulled up to my driveway covered in snow.  More than a foot for sure.  It took me all of 11 hours to cover a two hour distance.  Now, do you wonder why I like to jet off to warmer climes at this time of the year?  I have no more tolerance for Old Man Winter, but rather need temps of 75 Fahrenheit or higher just to keep my sanity.  I thanked God for bringing me home safe and sound.

Community Peeps, what has been your experience dealing with weather conditions whilst traveling on a road trip or otherwise?  What tips would you like to add to those above?  Please share.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

What’s Your ID?


There are many reasons why people blog, but the most basic reason is to share.  It is just that simple.  Everything shared may not be interesting, worthwhile, or profound.  However, whatever is shared has an audience.  No matter what is written or how it is written, the post will appeal to someone.  It will ring a bell, resonate and find a home in the heart of another blogger or reader.  That is why blogging is so intriguing.  It does not have to fit one particular mold.   It is flexible.  If you don’t like what you read/see, you move on.

For me, blogging and maintenance has become a relaxing activity to engage in at the end of the day.  My once-a-week posting commitment and daily perusal of other blogs works well with my busy schedule.  Since starting this online regimen, it has proven to be enlightening, informative, and even hilarious.  Over the course of time, responses are more forth coming and I am getting to know my followers, recognizing their work and receiving their feedback.  Likewise, I am more apt to comment on what I like, send kudos, and thumbs-up more readily.

A by-product of blogging is following and liking another blogger’s material.  One of the first things that capture my attention is the blogger’s pseudo-name.  I am drawn into wondering how they came about their name and the story behind it.  Some names are easy to identify especially when you can tell it’s a person’s name or their pet’s.  To help you understand what’s behind the name, their articles bare out their interests and makes the name choice clearer.

Paying close attention to those who connect with me through likes and follows, I often find myself reading their identifier to figure out what they are all about before I read their actual post (I know I’m not the only one who does this😊).  For example, I go by the name “Itinerary Planner.”   Self-explanatory, right?  At least I hope so.  Not all identifiers are that easy, but that may be the intention of the blogger.  If so, mission accomplished.  Still, many that I come across are puzzling and beg my attention, in such a way, that I conjure up possible meanings if it is unclear even after reading the post or from their specific posting tags and categories.

My moniker if you guessed, appropriately hints at what I like to do – organize events and plan customized vacations.  I even have the tag all to myself on WordPress 😊.  Other categories such as: itineraries, lifestyle, travel tips, places visited, food, accommodation, and more are of interest to me too.  When these categories are intertwined with travel, then I receive palmary inspiration for the blog.

Some IDs are creative, some combined names, some phrases even.  I simply like to guess what they are all about.  I may be dead wrong at first, but hooked, I must find out who they are and where their interests lie.

So, what does your ID say about you?  Does it make others go ‘hmmmm’ or is it clearly understood?   Here are a few pseudo-names from my community of followers (sorry guys I can’t list all of you).  Look at them, then check out their blogs to see if you guessed correctly.  Your guess may be spot on or you may be in for a surprise.

Readers, I’ve playfully involve these few in this exercise, but alternatively, I hope it gives them more exposure and drive a lot of traffic their way.  To do so you must click the links to their blogs below:

Sportsdiva64

PT Passages

Globetrotting Grandpa

Roadtirement

Nuh Mock Sport

Travelingpersecond

Alaska or Bust

Crank and Cog

Nikkidiscovers

Meshasexperience

Community Peeps tell me if you like to unscramble names and guess what the blogger is all about too.  It is always great when I hear from you.  Please share your thoughts.  Next post will talk of upcoming travel plans and what is on the horizon for 2019.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Big Money


“If you don’t have a ticket you don’t have a chance,” was the introductory chant I heard as a kid, from a TV personality whenever he announced the winning lottery numbers.  This was the benign encouragement fortune seekers needed to go and purchase tickets for their big break in life.  Should they win big money, the financial windfall would change their lives completely.  This week, someone from South Carolina won the mega millions and now has $1.6B reasons to smile all the way to the bank.  The fortunate winner is sitting pretty on more money than they can possibly spend in their life time.  Or can they?

I am 99.9 percent sure one of the things the new billionaire will do is take a vacation.  Who wouldn’t?  Their reasons to travel now would be to get away for a much needed rest, to quietly plan how to manage the money, and to hide from the sudden, overwhelming, outpouring of unwanted attention.  In any event, it is safe to say travel will be a part of their plans, if not immediately, then soon.  Therefore, as an itinerant itinerary planner, I am here to give some wanderlust tips to the mystery winner of things they can purchase for their holiday and still not go broke.  (Wouldn’t it be humorous if the winner was one of my ardent blog followers who reads this post? hmmmm).

Let’s see if these travel recommendations are worthy if money is not an object.   Here are the 10 suggestions:

  1. Fly in your private jet to an exotic destination anywhere in the world
  2. Rent for a week a hide-away from prying eyes, a private island in the South Pacific would be the perfect retreat
  3. Step out in style – a couture wardrobe for the season from a designer house of your choice, should also include designer luggage
  4. Sail a private yacht around the island with executive chefs on-board
  5. Secure private box or front-row seating for entertainment events
  6. Organic meals and exquisite dining are prepared by Michelin-star chefs
  7. Rejuvenate under the skillful hands of a luxury spa and aromatherapy therapists
  8. Private chauffeur
  9. Security detail should include a driver, bodyguard and personal assistant
  10. Give $100 to every beggar you meet

Community Peeps, this post is just a light-hearted piece to let your mind wander on how well you could travel if you had money like that.  This is what I want you to do for me.  Name a price for the entire trip, just like you would on the game show “The Price is Right”.  Remember our unknown winner is taking a week-long vacation.  It will be interesting to find out what the price tag is on the 10 items above.  The first 10 numbers collected will tell me what the total cost of the vacation will be and I write a subsequent post of the possible cost of each item.

Now don’t get cute and tell me you cannot give a dollar amount for tip #10 because they are on a private island and unlikely to meet anyone.  Estimate.  Surely, my soon-to-be client 😀 who is rolling-in dough will meet people along the way that could use a little help.  So, send in your best guess dollar amount for the package and let’s see if we come close to even putting a dent into the billion.  Also, you may include other choices to their holiday that you did not see on the list?  It would be interesting to read, so please share.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Jail Threats Down Under


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex from all reports are having the time of their lives in Australia, the land Down Under.  It was 20 years ago when I first set foot on the continent along with a gal pal.  We were young, naïve, intrepid travelers, whose introduction to the great outback was an eye-opener which to this day I have not forgotten.

My friend and I are travel buddies, and on occasions we team up to go on vacations to countries that appeal to both of us.  This time, we decided to tour Australia and five Asian countries: Hong Kong (before it was returned to China), Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea.  We flew Cathay Pacific which in my opinion, is still a classy airline today as it was then.  A couple times we were upgraded to first class, which added an element of luxury to our travel that was like adding icing to cake.

In those days, budget and itinerary planning were not set priorities for either of us.  Our main interests were to explore exotic places in the world.  In the month that we traversed Asia, we flew into Hong Kong, the hub-airport for Cathay Pacific, several times to make our connections.  A few of the flights were no more than three or four hours from country to country, but the longest flight-time was to Australia.

The crew on board Cathay Pacific were wonderful.  We were anxious and excited

bridge under grey cloudy sky during nighttime
Sydney Harbour Bridge                Photo by David Dibert on Pexels.com

about visiting Sydney.  It was our first time and we eagerly looked forward to investigating Darling Harbor, examining the much talked about Sydney Opera House, strolling the popular and often star studded Bondi Beach, and many other attractions peculiar to Sydney.  We had no cell phones, laptops, iPads, no technology of any kind to distract us, only the camera with the Fuji reels which you had to switch out once you snapped the quota of pictures, 21 or 28 exposures if I am not mistaken.  The good old days 🤣.

On landing at the Sydney International Airport, after immigration processing, we quickly grabbed our bags and proceeded to walk the long corridor looking for the exit.  A young man, about our age, came along side us striking up a friendly conversation.  When you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.  We chatted freely with him.  He asked questions concerning our travels like “where we had been, where we were going, what were we planning to do in Australia,” etc.  He was an undercover police officer.  He asked us to follow him to a room where we were further questioned and asked if we had any food items.  My friend and I said, “No.  We did not.”

That reply was obviously the wrong answer.  Suddenly, the room temperature felt chilly, once smiling faces now looked serious and unfriendly.  We were politely asked to open our bags to be searched.  From every nook and cranny, they pulled out granola bars,

sweet snack crumbs digestive
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

package peanuts, pretzels, cocoa puffs, hot chocolate and tea bags, crackers, little bottles of juices, jelly and jam packets.  With our stash spread on the table we were still not perturbed by the display until a female officer came into the room and proceeded to scold us.  She declared, “the reason why Australia does not suffer from some of the major diseases that plague other countries is because they are very strict on the foods that cross their borders.”

Our naïve protest was that we didn’t have any food, these were only snacks, munchies to tie us over on our trips when we had long lay-overs.  We were toting them from place to place until we could get a proper meal.  She responded, “Anything that goes into the mouth is food.”   She threatened to throw us into quarantine and jail.  At this point, the furtive officer who brought us into the room realized we were caught off guard, not malicious in our intent, and that the female officer was over-reacting.  He intervened explaining the mistake was merely our interpretation of what food is.

This explanation seemed to appease her.  She let us go with fair warnings if caught again bringing foods in their country we would be sent packing – to prison.  All the items were confiscated, and we were escorted from the room.  We were left nervous and shaken from the ordeal.  The covert officer was right in his estimation of the situation.  He was able to save our trip and us from lockup.  Our mind-set was junk-food is not food and can never take the place of real nutritious foods like: potatoes, yam, rice, beans, fruits and vegetables.

Our time spent in Sydney turned out to be wonderful, aside from the experience at the airport.  I must convey that I hold no ill feelings regarding what took place.  Every country has laws to be obeyed and enforced.  It just so happened that I ran afoul of the law that day, and she drove the fear of God into our young hearts with threats of jail time to set us straight.  I have not been back to Australia since, but it looks like it is time to revisit Down Under.  Assuredly, I have learned my lesson and would not now be stopped for any food items, not even a crumb.

To this day I cannot tell you how I managed to exit the airport, or recount the memory of the ride to our hotel.  However, we did manage to have a wonderful time exploring the city, visiting the opera house, climbing the Harbour Bridge, visiting the aquarium, digging our toes in the sand at Bondi, riding the local buses and more.  It has been two decades since that incident and I can still recall the details of the conversation in that room like it happened yesterday.

Community Peeps, would you believe on this same tour, a paring knife was taken from my carry-on bag at the Narita International Airport in Japan?  But that’s another story for another day.  You may wonder how in the world do I manage to find myself in these precarious positions.  I ask myself the same questions.  Do you have a similar experience?  What close encounters with the law have you had whilst travelling?  Would you like to share?  Pray do tell!

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Blast From the Past


Fall has started, winter is nipping at our heels, and 2019 is merely 10 weeks away.  Put like that, it is just around the corner, not very far off.  I have already started making travel plans.  Yes, it is essential to have a travel plan from now.  To cop the best travel fares, land the best accommodation and secure a spot on your much sought-after adventure activity, now would be the perfect time to start planning.  God willing and life be spared, this year’s remaining travel will be completed, and new missions will occur in 2019.  Stay tuned to hear what those will be.

So, as I wrap up this year’s commitments, see “Coming to A Place Near You” I am reminded of a promise made to you earlier this year to share video footage of my Southeast Asia trip (catch up in the archive blogs May – July below).  This post will fulfill that debt.

SA Tour Blog Posts

When you plan a bespoke itinerary, you always hope to walk away with photos and videos that tell your experience over and over.  But, sometimes that is not the case. Many travelers like me are amateur photographers.  We capture favorite scenes with our point and shoot cameras or smart phones and other tech devices.

Whichever lens used, oftentimes it is hard to control the environment even though center-stage or an incredible vantage point might be yours.  Some of the things you cannot control are: extemporaneous noises, movement, unsteady hands holding the lens, talking neighbors, babies crying, etc.  You may see a bit of some of these issues as you watch.   However, focus on the clips.  You may still be able to vicariously enjoy the scenes as much as I did.

SINGAPORE – Merlion Park (night show of projected light to music)

 

BALI – Tegallalang (rice terraces)

 

PHILIPPINES – PALAWAN (indigenous people playing on rudimentary instruments)

 

KUALA LUMPUR – view from the KL Menara Tower.  (Did you catch a glimpse of the Petronas Towers?)

Recounting the holiday experience and selecting the footage from my collection has taken me down memory lane.  Indeed, a blast from the past.  If you are thinking about taking a break in 2019 and would like a customized itinerary, then look no further.  I am your gal – Itinerary Planner.  Go to the “Itinerary Request page and select the itinerary plan you need.  Submit it with your payment and an itinerary made just for you will be in your mailbox soon after.

Readers and Community Peeps, is there a favorite video you like?  Do you have similar footage?  Compare and share with me.  I want to hear from you.  Your comments are always appreciated.  I look forward to reading your thoughts on the footage.

As usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Wild and Crazy or Brave?


I love adventure. It is the part of travel that makes the trip memorable, laughable and exciting. Well a few of my vacations would definitely fall into all three categories, if not downright scary (you can be the judge). To talk of them now I chuckle but then it was no laughing matter. In my earlier travel life everything that I did was on impulse. There wasn’t an itinerary plan I followed in particular. Thank God for his loving kindness, enduring mercy and protection without which I don’t know where I would be today. What if the predicaments I found myself in back then had turned out differently? Read of three different exciting or not so exciting accounts below.

In Israel I peregrinated to many holy sites to save money, to exercise and to sight-see at a slower pace.  One day on the Jesus trail near the Sea of Galilee I decided to take a short-cut.  Along the road I discovered trees filled with a familiar fruit called dunks.  I ate as many as I could occasionally wandering off the main road to pick the fruit.  Along the stretch of road, I came upon a path and thinking it was a short-cut to the next stop on the trail, I headed in that direction.  No one else was in view.  The road became grassier and narrower as I went further and further until it petered out into a field.  I could still see the main road in the distance.  In the field I climbed over a thick mound and before I knew what was happening the ground gave way beneath me.  I scrambled to hold on to anything as one leg dangled below me.  I don’t know how I managed to clamber out of the hole.  A few abrasions on my shins and hands were the only evidence of a close encounter with what could have been a near disappearance.  I don’t know how deep the hole was and didn’t stick around to find out.  What if I had fallen all the way in, couldn’t get out and nobody knew where to find me?

Another occasion, I was in Maui, Hawaii.  I was staying at a hostel and had befriended two women, one older and the other younger.  This hostel is hip, friendly and the happening place to be.  Reservations are made months in advance to get in.  I was in my room minding my own business when both women came by and invited me to a night outing.  They were going to make a bonfire.  Interested residents loaded up in several cars and headed out into the night.  First stop was at the supermarket where the leaders bought beer.  This should have been a clue that the night would be interesting.  Obviously, it was too late for me to turn back.  I was committed.  We drove, some screaming and shouting, until we pulled off to a side road and onto a sandy beach. The night was dark, but a few were prepared with flashlights.  We walked the beach stumbling over dunes until we found a secluded spot.  The bonfire was lit, and some spread mats and blankets to sit and talk, whilst others laid down to watch the stars.  Not before too long, besides the smell of firewood, a strong smell of a leafy kind was wafting on the cool night air.  Not a smoker, I was on edge and did not want to be there, thinking only of the possibilities if we were caught.  What if the police showed up just then wouldn’t I be in big trouble, guilty by association?

Yet on another occasion I spent the night on the street in Italy and Greece, respectively.  Both times I had misjudged the travel time schedule which did not allow for immediate alternate accommodation options accessibility.  I arrived in Italy too early for my check-in and had to walk the streets into the wee hours of the morning.  The front desk reception took my bags but refused to give me the room ahead of my arrival time.  In Greece, I traveled from an island to the mainland by ferry and arrived in Athens just after the last bus had left the terminal.  I spent the darkest hours hanging out near the terminal where I saw ladies-of-the-night and flashy cars coming and going.  It was not hard for me to figure out the alliance and know that I was in a red-light district.  Early dawn, I took the first public transport available to my resting place.  What if a patron mistook me for a lady-of-the-night?

Community Peeps, stay tuned to read of my vacation experiences in India, Turkey, Morocco, South Africa and many more places from time to time.  Reminiscing about what took place many years ago makes me wonder whether I was wild and crazy or brave.  I want to think the latter but would agree with you if you chose the former.  Of course, I wouldn’t dare do such foolhardy things now.  Or would I 😀😀?  What have you done on a holiday that at the time was not the least bit funny, but that you can laugh about now?  Please share.

As usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Elderly Travel


Having trouble getting your senior out of the rocking chair and onto an airplane?  Are you tired trying to convince your elderly parent or guardian to go on a leisure vacation with you? If you have answered yes to these questions, then this post is to let you know you are not alone.

Arranging travel for my mother who will celebrate her 85th birthday in a couple months has become a show and tell process leading up to the actual planned event.  No longer can we expect her to drop everything, hop on a plane and show up at our door.  Her once eager desire to travel seems to have evaporated into thin air, replaced by no travel plans at all, a dread of traveling far distances and not wanting to be away from her home no more than a couple days at a time.

Some of her children live in different countries (we often travel to visit her) and it is not always possible to go to her.  On these rare occasions we have her come to us.  Her recent travel experience forced us to rethink how we will execute her travel in the future to make it emotionally and mentally comfortable, if not physically enjoyable.  This is what happened two months ago when my elder sister took our Mom to England to visit our oldest sister.  She reported…

“The check-in and boarding process went fine.  Mom was wheelchair-assisted on-board the aircraft and escorted to her seat.  Not long after take-off Mom started nervously looking around at the other passengers.  She seemed disoriented.  My sibling inquired of her if she knew where she was, and she said no.  At the first meal serving, she refused to eat stating it was too late in the night to eat.  This was due to the subdued lighting in the cabin.  It was still early in the day, but the pulled shades caused her to think that it was bedtime, and she does not eat meals after a certain hour in the evening.  For the eight-hour journey she only took few sips of water, did not eat or sleep the entire time.

On arrival at Gatwick International Airport, again on inquiry, she asserted that she did not recognize the strange place.  By the way, our Mom has traveled to England on numerous occasions, alone and accompanied.  However, this time it was as if she was seeing it for the first time.  She was not too happy and became a little fussy.  My sister chose not to respond to her tantrum but allowed her to vent.  Only when our eldest sister appeared and welcomed her did she calm down but just for a little while.  The first night in my sister’s home she awoke and wandered the hallway crying not knowing where she was.  My siblings reassured her that she was safe, in familiar surroundings, and that she was there just for a short visit.  They spent the next two days reacquainting her of the home and neighborhood.”

In reading this account I am sure you might be saying there are a few things we could have done differently.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  We are aware now for future travel, what we must do to prepare her for the trip.

We often tend to think seniors have the best times.  Well, at least some appear to.  However, others may be suffering from early stages of dementia/Alzheimer’s/senility.  Whatever the medical diagnosis, careful thought should be given when planning a vacation for the senior who maybe living with one of these conditions.  Seniors become more dependent, less decisive, less observant, easily disoriented, and the least liked – incontinent.  Travel for them can be bothersome, panicky, if not downright trepidation.  How can you take away the dread when they travel with you?  Well, it depends on how well you prepare them.  Here are some basic tips:

Show & Tell – Start by informing the elderly of the impending travel.  Talk about the people, culture, historical sites, unique interests in relation to their likes.  Watch videos or specific programs to familiarize them of the place they are going to.  Plan an internet search activity, read destination articles or guide books.  Check the news of country and region to keep them enthused of the upcoming holiday.  Bear in mind, if your aged person suffers from short-term memory loss, they will like a child ask the “Are we there yet?” kinds of questions.  That is understandable and shows eager anticipation, interest and a comfortable acceptance level.   On the other hand, if they suffer from long term memory loss and completely forget what you tell them only a short while ago then it will feel like you are in a losing battle.  However, repeat the information as often as possible.  Give gentle reminders.

Interests – Older people are more set in their ways and are not comfortable living under the aegis of a younger person.  Therefore, choose a destination/activities that are age appropriate.  Do your research to ensure the locale is senior-friendly.  By that I mean, does it have activities you know your aging parent or guardian would find interesting and engaging.  Would the accommodations be able to assist with their physical limitation?  Are services and amenities easily accessible and available?

Physical Limitations – There are two ways around it, after all aging is not kind to the body.  The cry for pain can be constant. Restraint on how much they can do or how far they can go are realizations traveling companions must come to terms with and be ready to adjust. Be ready to terminate a leisurely stroll, scamper to a bathroom, and practice your masseuse moves on an aching body. Have a good understanding of their medications.  Plan outings around their rest/nap times. Read their body language which will help you know the times to relax and take it slow or to cancel an event.

Exude Confidence – Constantly reassure your senior that you are looking out for them.  Tell them often you will not leave them to fend for themselves.  Express pleasure in having them accompany you along for the ride.  Never be in a rush or exhibit irritation at their forgetfulness, slowness, or lack of interest in their surroundings.  NEVER get into an argument with the elderly over plans that were agreed to but which they might have promptly forgotten.  Arguments only exacerbate tense situations, cause your traveling companion to have a meltdown, and leave them feeling a little helpless and uncertain.  Constantly reassure them with your presence, love and attention.

Community Peeps, I have barely scratched the surface on this subject of elderly travel and the problems it can pose for families or care givers.  What has been your experience?  Please share to help those who would like to travel with their elderly but are afraid to because of the aforementioned issues and more.

As usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates of all blog postings, select like to show your love and support, share on your social media site, and comment in the box below.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Thanks for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

500+ And Growing


Community Peeps, first things first.  It is only fitting that Travel Itineraries (TI) pause in her normal posting routine to say “Thank You” to all who do any of the following: click follow, like, comment and share on other social media sites.  By clicking follow, you became a part of my fan base.  That gave me the privilege to speak to you on topics that are near and dear to my heart – vacations old and new, tips, lifestyle, adventure, travel strategy, and the like.

This week, WordPress informed me that my blog/website has grown to 500 followers.  The actual number is 517 (includes fans from twitter and email).  In January I received the first achievement notice that I had reached 100,  then in February 200, and now, 500.  I believe the next notification will come when TI reaches 1000.  Hopefully that will not take another year to accomplish 😊.  After all, it is not an impossible goal, but rather a desirable carrot to look forward to.  However, for now, I am happy with all of you and humbly offer my thanks for your interest.  Two thoughts that help to keep the growth expectations real are: “the snails were on board Noah’s Ark along with the cheetahs,” and the other is “never compare your life to others, you have no idea what their journey is all about.”  These two thoughts help to keep the perspective and goal for TI in view.  Therefore, whether there are 100, 200, 500 or 1000 followers, know that you are individually valuable to Travel Itineraries growth and success.

So, this blog is dedicated to you.  Your time and attention, as well as, your comments and likes (even on LinkedIn) re every posting have not gone unnoticed.  I appreciate that you hang in there with me from the time you became a follower until now.  I encourage your continued participation and insight as I am always seeking ways to make TI more interesting and thought provoking for you.  Should I say it again?  Thank God for every one of you.  You are important to me.  You are the reason why I post weekly to talk specifically of itinerary planning and travel matters.   Thank you for lending me your ear.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

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