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.

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Itinerary Planner

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Itinerary Planner

Pictures of Paradise


Recently I  promised to share some photos of hangout spots I frequent when in paradise – Barbados.  A promise is a debt, and I do not like debt in any form.  Therefore, I am obliged to bring photos and video footage of the scenery that I enjoy from time to time whenever I visit the island nation.

Most of the locations showcased are serene places I like to go to relax, to meditate, to enjoy the breath taking views of hill and dale, and savor the peace and quiet of the surroundings.  In my season of sadness the familiar scenes helped to soothe my aching heart, and to bring a measure of peace and solace that can only be found in the great outdoors, nature itself.  I have seen these views many times, but this time, they proved to be the comfort and therapy I needed to face the ordeal at hand.

Let me preface your viewing of the collages below by saying I am not the world’s best photographer or videographer, so please forgive the lack of quality and creativity in what I captured.  I hope you find them refreshing, catch the essence, and enjoy them too.

First photos are of a place called Martins Bay.  It is a sleepy fishing village whose coastline is battered by the pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  The fish market on a narrow inlet of sand is a hive of activity when local fishermen bring in or clean their catch of the day.  It is also a popular mingling spot for tourist and locals who want a taste of fresh catch, dance to local vibes, and devour the Bajan gastronomic cuisine.  The downhill stroll to the bay is easy, but after eating a sumptuous meal of red snapper, dolphin (mahi-mahi) or some other exotic fish, the walk uphill may prove to be arduous, a good exercise for those who want to stay fit and in shape.

Next are pics of the historic St. John’s Parish Church which boasts the only sundial on the island (can you tell what time I was there?), also sarcophagi of European royals.  The Anglican church, a must-see, is well documented as a place of interest for tourist and considered to be a national heritage site.

Watch the video of the view from the church’s yard of the valley below, and the coastline all the way arcing to the north of the island.

Next are a few photos of the boardwalk in the city of Bridgetown, the Careenage, Independence Square and the gazebo at the Base Street Esplanade – a spectacular window to the sea to witness the evening sunset.

Last but certainly not least, Bim has its share of livestock and wild animals such as the green monkey and mongoose.  None are considered ferocious apart from the stray dog.  However, we do have a much beloved lion that is an iconic attraction for locals, as well as, visitors to the island.  ‘The Lion at Gun Hill’ is nestled in the middle of the island, and looks out over the valley below.  A trip to see the lion and the view are worth the time and effort.  It is a great photo opportunity, a treat both the young and old would enjoy.  You can rest assured in paradise this lion will not eat you or cause bodily harm 😂.

There you have it folks, just a taste of paradise.  I miss being there but already looking forward to the next visit in the coming months.  Want to join me?  Choose an itinerary on the Itinerary Page.  Submit with the appropriate payment and I will send you a customize itinerary that fits your taste.

Community Peeps, as always it is my total pleasure sharing my travel experiences and interests.  You have been supportive by sticking with me, reading and commenting from time to time.  I appreciate all of you.

It is customary for me to invite all who are not yet followers of my blog to: click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support, share this post on your social media site, and write your comments in the box below.  Thanks for reading.

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Comments Matter


Itinerary planning can be an involved and consuming process when plotting vacation activities, a customer may request.  You know, the kind of holiday they would want to talk about and comment on for the rest of their life.  The one that meets their needs, covers all the bases and scores a home-run in terms of fun and excitement.  A bespoke itinerary requires lots of research and double-checking.  The planner many times goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the agenda is doable, affordable and possible.  While man hours are clocked, it behooves the planner to ensure the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed for a happy client.  No stone is left turned just to satisfy the patron.

The astute planner knows the voice of satisfaction gives much impetus to future referrals.  By the same token, a dissatisfied customer affects future referrals or a lack thereof with a negative impact. The traveler’s opinion and satisfaction can cast a ripple effect far and wide to other travelers seeking information on particular subjects related to their travels.  For example, every time I travel to a foreign country, I check the reports of others.  Their tell-all experience at hotels/hostels/Airbnb’s, and selecting tour operator/agencies, whether true or lie help to shape my decision.  Not a few are reviewed, until I am satisfied and can make a more educated decision.   Once I begin to scout opinions, experiences, and references, the search may reveal general commonalities among the many reports.

What am I looking for specifically, you might ask?   A vote of confidence, a cohesive review, a recent testimonial, and/or clear warning signs.  Common sense should prevail.   Some grievances may be taken with a grain of salt (one’s subjective experience may not be another’s), but glaring violations should be heeded.  I still believe the adage, “where there is smoke, there is fire.”  Comments usually have a measure of truth to them.

For every planned destination, I peruse the comments section in travel forums and chat sites, of surveyed guests, or read columns of gurus, who for a living commentate on subject matter relevant to my interests, and just to get an idea or bearing on a place, activity or accommodation.  Customer comments carry much weight and can help or hinder a business’s progress.  In the past, I have received after every travel, surveys, seeking my honest opinion of my experience or stay at the hotel.  Whether the survey is given during a tour or taken after, the client’s comments have the power to positively or negatively impact the business.

Public accounts or travel sites that posts acknowledgements of grievances with a positive response to fix, to make better or even to look into the customer’s complaint, proactively deflects further negative comments, at least for a while, and may still elicit the interest of itinerary speculators such as myself.  Wherever I go on my travels and whenever I am surveyed, my responses are always honest and straightforward, but never unkind.  Comments matter and are a useful tool to effect change.  Therefore, one should always be keen on adding their two-cents for a better outcome.

Community Peeps, how much weight do you put into the research comments you read before travel, or your survey responses after travel?  Never surveyed?  Or, surveyed but never got any feedback on action taken?  How about sharing your experiences here and now?   Let me know your thoughts on the subject.  Post your comment in the box below.

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.

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Taste of the Tropics


A planned vacation to any country in the Caribbean may bring on an instant feeling of enthusiasm and excitement.  If  the destination is anything like the island of Barbados with its aquamarine colored waters, powdery sands, gentle breezes, and a whole lot of other interests, then it makes it even more intriguing to visit.  The surf, sea, sand, and warm weather are part and parcel of the 166 square mile landscape, and sweet local fruits and produce are an added bonus for the traveler foodie type who likes to indulge in tasting exotic foods.  Combinations such as these in the perfect location help to paint the picture of an idyllic life that can only be found in paradise.  A week ago, I flew to my homeland Barbados.  It was bitter sweet.  Bitter because it was for a sad occasion, and sweet because I got to see family and friends I have not seen in a while.  Moreover, it was an opportunity to pick and consume favorite fruits and produce that I have not eaten fresh from the tree for many years.

As the pilot informed passengers and stewardesses to prepare for landing, it was truly delightful to hear him over the intercom refer to the tiny island-nation as paradise.  I do too.   Clapping,  and shouts of ‘woo-hoos’ erupted around the cabin as the plane touched down on the tarmac at the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport.  I breathe a sigh of relief, whispered a prayer of thanks to God for travel mercies, and begin to anticipate the next few days ahead.  The expedition through immigration and customs was quick and seamless.

The drive through familiar neighborhoods to my family home was short and uneventful.  As my brother and I drove along, I scanned the trees to see what fruits are in season.  Summer is considered peak season for tourism and an air-ticket to come to these shores is usually beyond my budget limit, therefore, I have not visited in the summer for more than 20+ years.  To compound my travel options, the national carnival called Crop Over is hosted around then making getting here a near impossible task if you do not book the flight months in advance.  However, there are times or situations when the trip has to be made and the financial restraint has to be put aside.

Before I reached our residence, it occurred to me that I had adjusted to living without the abundant fruits available at this time, but have dearly missed all these years.  Well, to my delight, the following trees that surround our residence are currently in full bloom and bearing fruit, the colloquial names are in parenthesis: mango, avocado (pear), golden apple, soursop, carambola (five-finger), papaya (paw-paw), pomegranate and banana, as well as one of my favorite produce – breadfruit.

Here are some of them in our backyard:

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Tourist and visiting nationals who may want to take a taste of the island flavors with them back to their homeland can purchase some of these same fruits that are preserved, dried, pickled, bottled or packaged by the variety of cottage industries found on the island.  None of the fruits mentioned taken in any of these forms, as far as I know, are considered banned products.  However, taken in their natural state may encounter agricultural quarantine or prohibition.

Community Peeps, for now I am eating my fill of all the fresh fruits and produce available (I may return to North America a little heavier than when I left 😊).    Do you have favorite fruits and produce that you like to eat when you travel to the tropics or even enjoy when you go back to your home?   What has been your experience trying new fruits?  Please share with me.  Next post will be pictures of some of my favorite hang-out spots on the island.

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.

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Itinerary Planner

Vacation Philanthropy


It is always a heart-rending sight when you see a mother with young children begging on the streets, or a father with a sign pleading for help while his family sits not too far away anxiously looking on.  It must not be easy for either one of them to endure the harsh looks of ridicule or pity from passersby.  Given the circumstances, my guess would be, they would much prefer a different option to their current destitution.

When Jesus walked this earth, He said to His disciples, “The poor will always be with us.”  It was a clear indicator that poverty will never be eradicated.  However, the expectation to alleviate the suffering of our neighbor is necessary.  After all, we are our brother’s keeper and should show care and concern for their plight.  Today I want you to think of ways to help the less fortunate even while on vacation.  A customized itinerary can include a planned, purposeful giving, and random acts of kindness to the needy you may meet.

Philanthropy is not just for the rich and famous who may have the means to give.  Generous giving by the wealthy is the expected norm, but little acts of kindness that goes unnoticed by others does the same work to ease another’s pain and suffering.  Every vacationer who travels, be it to distant lands or locally, may encounter at some point on their journey a homeless person, a vagrant, a person who may be on the receiving end of a streak of misfortune.  No matter the circumstances, the holiday-maker can proactively plan to help the stranger they meet.  A kind gesture will mean the world of difference not only to the receiver but to the giver also.

Giving is a blessing and is therapeutic.  It helps the intended recipient, but it also helps the donor’s emotional well-being.  It is a win-win activity.  Both parties receive a blessing that words cannot describe, and money cannot buy.  Planned assistance should not be limited to a monetary donation, which is often the easiest solution in answer to a person’s request, but help could come in other forms like meals, clothing, and other intangibles like educational services and seminars

So, how could you go about intentionally giving to the less fortunate while on a trip?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Include in your budget an exact amount to give to panhandlers
  • Buy a meal and deliver it to the homeless street person
  • Donate your lightly-used clothing that you laundered
  • Lighten your bags by giving up your water bottle, portable hammock, tent and cooking utensil with a person on skid-row
  • Leave your extra sneakers and coat with the vagrant in the cold
  • Invite a homeless person to a restaurant for a meal
  • Volunteer an hour or more of your time at a homeless shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen
  • Carry or purchase a small toy for a child
  • Give a young mother a carton of milk or bag of diapers for her baby
  • Take the time to chat and find out who they are.  That’s worth more than gold in most cases.

It is often heartbreaking when we witness situations where we feel helpless to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.  However, do not let the situation overwhelm you, or cause you to say there is nothing I can do.  Every little bit helps just like in the story of the boy and the starfish on the beach, who tried to throw back in all the washed-up starfish.  When told it was an impossible task to save all of them, he responded at least he saved the one he was throwing back in.  Like that lad you can help that one you are intentionally assisting at that moment.

Community Peeps, vacation philanthropy should be a planned part of your bespoke itinerary.  Help to change the life of the needy in some small way.  Have you ever done this before?  If you have, tell me what you did.  I would like to add to the list above.

As usual, I encourage all my readers to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support, and invite you to share on your social media sites.  Your comments are always welcomed too.  Write them in the box below.

“You can’t beat God’s giving, no matter how you try.” – Song written by Doris Akers

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Itinerary Planner

Picture Perfect


How far would you go to obtain a perfect photo?  Would you climb atop a rock, stand under a cascading waterfall, perch on the edge of an over-hang or stand precariously inches away from the edge of a sharp drop in height?  From any one of these choices a fatal fall could be the result.  Then certainly you would have gone too far for the perfect shot.

Recently, I read two separate reports of travelers/hikers who accidentally fell over the edge of a waterfall to their death.  Read of incidences here and here.  On both occasions they were swept away by the strong undertow and drowned.  At this point, it is irrelevant to debate the why’s and how’s of the accidents that caused their early demise.  What I really want to highlight are safety measures that could be practiced when we  travel.

Because I have done it and have also seen others take the risk for a “wow” photo,  it behooves me to underscore the need for safety practices when selecting the location which you might think gives the best view or background.  First, look around and assess the immediate surroundings.  A quick scan can tell you whether it is a good idea to proceed with your photo exercise.  It might not always be necessary or top-of-mind to scope out the surroundings for the perfect picture, nevertheless, in the great outdoors, it is imperative that vacationers take note and exhibit due caution and common sense when choosing the best spot or angle for their photo “snap-of-the-year.”

Grand Canyon_1

Occasionally, on trips one may see a dare-devil sightseer seeking picturesque spots that could be potentially dangerous.  With just a slip of the foot, a strong gust of wind, a misjudged step on loose gravel, losing your balance, suddenly realizing that you don’t like heights, or feeling the first effects of vertigo are all real possibilities to an accident waiting to happen.  Careless decisions and spur-of-the-moment actions like closing your eyes for the pose could lead to unwanted troubles for the tourist, and put in harm’s way those who may attempt to save them.  Always pose for your shot a safe distance away from the edge and keep your eyes open.  

Cebu Philippines_Kawasan FallsAt Kawasan Falls in Cebu, Philippines, for example, I witnessed swimmers constantly daring to venture pass the cordoned-off area just to bob beneath the forceful, pounding cascade, only to be called back to safety by the life-guard’s piercing whistle blow.  Another danger that could prove treacherous is stepping into the murky shallows without a guide.  Extreme caution should be displayed.  A slip on a mossy rock can be your undoing.  The Grand Canyon in Arizona is another place where I’ve seen visitors push the limits to take their best pictures.  Moreover, enough cannot be said concerning safety protocol and precautions.  Many accidents can be avoided if careful consideration and clear warnings are heeded.  In the end it is not worth losing your life or endangering the lives of others for a photo.

Community Peeps and fellow bloggers, what has been your experience on the subject matter?  Have you ever pushed the limit for a picture perfect?  Please share your thoughts.  It  may help to convince someone to be more cautious.  Do you agree?

As usual, click on follow to receive timely updates, click like to show your love and support, share on your social media sites, and comment in the box below.  It is always a pleasure sharing with you.  Thank you for reading.

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Itinerary Planner

Travel Itineraries Celebrates 1st Year


1st Blog AnniversaryIt is amazing how time flies when you are having fun.  A year ago, this month, Travel Itineraries (TI) was created.   Made to talk about travel-related matters with a special emphasis on itinerary planning, TI took shape.  What started out as a fledgling website, supported by thoughtful planning re: leisure travel, budget information, and how-to methods to get the most bang for your buck in your travel experience, TI has morphed into a productive website where clients trust their bespoke itineraries will meet their specific needs.

In addition to the website’s pages, blogging too has become a fun byproduct and my creative favorite action, only if to share experiences, opinions, advice or industry information, and generally to express my point of view.  TI’s presence has gained a following who help to make the website a viable entity.  Without you, it would be less engaging.

Throughout the year of ups and downs, of navigating a steep learning curve on website creation and management, and of making decisions that one way or the other affected the advancement of the site, have brought me to terms on how to best manage the blog-website that works for my community peeps and me.

Here are some things I have learned in the past 12 months of online activity:

  • Write what inspires me.  To thine own-self be true.
  • The only person affected by a missed deadline is me.  Likes and comments will come anyway.
  • Publish once a week but reserve the right to occasionally increase postings if there is pressing information to share.
  • Do not overwhelm my followers with too many postings.
  • Knowledge is power, share it.
  • Own the website, don’t let the website own me.
  • “Like” the work of my competitors, it does not detract from my business’s vision.
  • A positive write-up goes a long way and is better than a negative comment.
  • Be empathetic and generous with my “likes” and “comments.”
  • Fun and enjoyment must be active ingredients in bringing each post to you.

Folks, it has been a wonderful year operating in blogosphere.  Thank you for your interest, and direct support in the forms of your likes, comments and follow.  Everyone is appreciated.  While there is every intention of growing the business and taking the blog-website to the next level, still it would be wonderful to hear directly from you whether a second year is justified and how TI can do it better.

Please express your comments and recommendations for TI in the box below.  As usual, I encourage you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support, and share on your social media sites.  It has been great.  Happy first anniversary Travel Itineraries.

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Itinerary Planner

 

Proof Positive


It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, therefore the long-awaited photos in the slide shows below are going to have to do all the talking for now. With more than 1000+ photos of my Southeast Asia tour (Philippines (Palawan, Cebu, Sagada, Manila), Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bali) to sift through, it was near impossible not to go back down memory lane, and to choose the ones that would best tell the story.

Admittedly, it was difficult deciding which photos would make the cut, organizing them by occasion, and choosing the right medium to bring them to you.  Let me interject here, in some instances where I am not behind the lens, that photo credits are to be given to Sopiya, Nico, Greg, Danica, Nico, Edgar, Deisy, Clarence and Mary Ann.  I chose slide shows (labeled by location name & year and a last slide show called “Friends”) as the best mode for viewing all the pictures in this post (sorry for my inept media skill, any suggestions on how to do it better are welcomed).  The snapshots are proof positive of my adventures in each place, of my encounters with the natives and the rich cultural heritage they possess, but more importantly, of the friends I have made along the way.  It can be yours too.  Because of the volume of pics, videos will come in a later post.

After viewing all the slides, and you are inspired to travel to the far corners of Southeast Asia wanting a similar experience, I can help you plan the itinerary that’s right for you. Let me reassure you, you won’t make the same mistakes I did (read about my accounts in previous postings).

Now for the promised moment you have been waiting for:

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Community Peeps, et al, again it was simply a pleasure to share this experience with you.  I look forward to receiving your comments and questions.  Thank you for sticking with me throughout this journey.

As usual, my only request is that you choose to do one or more of the following:  select follow to receive timely updates, click like to show your love and support, comment in the box below your thoughts, suggestions, or smiley face, or share with your friends on your social media site.  Thanks for reading.

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Itinerary Planner

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