Check the Cheque


This post will be brief but nonetheless succinct.  The majority of travelers are usually short on the amount of money they have in pocket versus the amount of time they are on vacation.  A fabulous getaway will definitely include bills for: accommodation, meals, entertainment, excursions and shopping sprees.  While it is nice to be able to purchase whatever you want without having to look at the price tag a few times or be overwhelmed by the price, it is still necessary for the budget traveler to create a bespoke itinerary that helps them to keep in check the how, what and where, the budgeted monies that are set aside, will be spent.  Even though many tourists include these dedicated funds as part of their itinerary expenditure for particular purchases, they may discover some inconsistencies that may turn their dream vacation into a nightmare.

A surprise charge, miscalculation, data entry error, or flat-out swindling are all scenarios that can alarm the unsuspecting traveler.  It is therefore imperative to review invoices received in stores, hotels, restaurants, and especially in dimly lit bars.  Take the time to check your order thoroughly before signing on the dotted line or before handing over your credit card.   Peter Lalor an Australian journalist and beer critic was thrown for a loop (thousands of dollars) at what he was charged for a bottle of beer.  Ordinarily, when he buys the various ales to taste and critique, they do not cause him to break his budget limit, but this particular brew nearly sent him to the poor house.  He is still hopeful that the error will be corrected and that he’ll be refunded the exorbitant amount he was charged.  Read of his debacle here.

Sometimes we are in a rush and only become aware of invoice mistakes, whether intentional or inadvertent, when it is too late. Here are a few tips to manage your charges when on vacation.

  1. Designate someone to go over the invoice and handle payment if you become inebriated.
  2. Whatever the circumstance, establish a spending limit and make sure that you are charged correctly.
  3. Calculate your purchases beforehand, include the necessary taxes and gratuities before calling for the check or going to the register.
  4. Be aware of the day’s exchange rate acceptable at your shopping establishments if paying in foreign currency.
  5. Question any differences on your bill immediately. It may be harder to be refunded if an error is noticed a day or two after the fact.

Community Peeps, I try to practice what I preach.  Whether at home or abroad, I always check the charges on invoices.  Invariably, I have found when I don’t, and there have been a few times when I didn’t, I would always realize a discrepancy which was too late to correct.  What has been your experience on this subject?  Were you ever overcharged or charged for items/services you never received on vacation?  Share your experience or additional tips 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Hurricane Dorian At Your Doorstep


In elementary school, we learned a pithy little saying which we would recite every year to remind us what season it was.  It went like this, “June too soon.  July stand by.  August a must.  September remember.  October all over.”  This little rhyme helped children to know the months hurricanes are expected to strike.  Though August is a popular travel month and summer is at its zenith, it is also one of the worst times for weather conditions in the Caribbean.  Storms, squalls, frequent rains and gale-force winds are common occurrences.  Usually by the time we hear of an approaching hurricane, the first letter in the name indicates how many other hurricanes, although not a threat, may have already passed for the season.  At this time of the year, I get a little nervous for my family members, friends and fellow Barbadians (Bajans).

This week my island paradise – Barbados, was on lock down for more than 24 hours, halting air traffic in and out of the island.  Dorian was still considered in the tropical storm category at that time as it came barreling up the Atlantic coast, making a beeline to the 166 square miles of coral and limestone rock I call home.  As usual, Bajans took all necessary precautions to secure themselves, homes and businesses.   Supermarkets and gas stations were overwhelmed with people in long lines as locals stocked up on non-perishable items to sustain them in the aftermath.  Shelters were manned, prepared and ready to receive persons who felt unsafe in their homes or in distress.  The Government Information Service and Meteorological Department gave timely updates on the progress of the tropical storm and expected times when it would make landfall.  Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a press conference urged Bajans to work together and to prepare for the onslaught.  A curfew was initiated and the islanders hunkered down fearing the worse.  The last and deadliest hurricane to strike Barbados was back in 1955 – Hurricane Janet.  Even though it happened more than 64 years ago, folks who experienced it still talk of the strong winds, flattened houses and overall devastation left in its wake.

How has Dorian impacted me you might ask?  Well, all thanks be to God, my family members are safe.  My niece who is an EHS manager with Sandals Resort worked through the night to ensure the safety of guests and staff.  Obviously, beach front properties face the first strong winds to blow in from the sea and every precaution is taken to ensure the safety and evacuation of guests as necessary.   Also, far away from home, four family members, a nurse and a teacher, respectively, along with their sons are visiting the USA on vacation could not return to Barbados due to the lock-down.  Their flight was cancelled, and they are now scheduled to return in September.  This delay puts their jobs in jeopardy, but I am hopeful their bosses will be understanding and accommodating.  I am glad to say, both these situations are mild inconveniences but are not life threatening and for that I am grateful.

Though the people of Barbados are blest and were fortunate to escape the wrath of tropical storm Dorian, it has since gained strength, momentum and become a full-fledged hurricane at the doorstep of other countries and populations.  It is currently baring down on those in the Bahamas and threatening those along the Florida coastline.  I am praying for the safety of everyone.  Especially for those affected residents directly in its path, first responders and emergency workers.  In the meantime, for those traveling here are some tips to remember if caught in this vortex:

  1. You can expect delays or flight cancellations, check with your airline on departure time
  2. Plan to rearrange your itineraries if scheduled to depart or arrive at your holiday destination
  3. Listen to weather updates and accede to directives on safety measures as given by those in authority
  4. Seek help if needed
  5. Know where your shelter is and how to get to it
  6. Have medications and prescriptions filled in case of inaccessibility to a pharmacy for a few days
  7. Keep all your electronic devices fully charged
  8. Prepare a go-bag

Community Peeps, I’ve never experienced a hurricane, nor do I want to.  Having said that, I acknowledge it must be a traumatic experience for residents furthermore any visiting tourist who have had the misfortune to encounter.  If you have been through such an ordeal at home or abroad, please tell us of it here.  Write it and additional tips in the comment box below.  Share how you dealt with the situation and what you did to be safe.

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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Grounded For Insensitivity


The flight experience for a seasoned or first time traveler can be nerve racking depending on the circumstances.  What causes most of the fear and trepidation is the dislike of air turbulence and unexpected engine troubles, but there is another anomaly that may impact a passenger’s experience negatively, and that’s the insensitive handling of passengers by flight personnel.

Since 9/11 the travel experience has taken on a new dimension in terms of acceptable or questionable behaviors on board an aircraft.  The slightest disturbance puts everyone on edge and the flight which could have been a relaxing one becomes charged and full of tension.  For the most part, flight crews are trained to deal with disruptive situations sensitively, quickly and effectively.  However, that is not always the case.  Recently a family experienced improper handling while boarding an aircraft.  Read of their ordeal here.  After the incident, the entire crew was grounded.

I have traveled extensively, and this report brought back to my memory two incidences pre 9/11 that I had forgotten.  The first one was on a trip from New York to Florida.  I was traveling with a group of friends to the port where we would board the cruise ship.  On that flight, a young man became agitated.  He started rambling, crying inconsolably and would get out of his seat even when the “fasten seat belt” sign was on.  The stewardesses tried their best from time to time to calm him down.  They were sympathetic to his plight, but firm in their handling of the situation.  He was en route to see his mother but had been informed that she had died.  The distraught man was treated by the stewardesses with compassion and not as if he was a threat to other passengers.  In today’s climate, he would probably be met at the gate by law enforcement officers and escorted from the plane for his irrational behavior on board the aircraft.

The other incident I recall took place at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport.  I was in transit.   Almost immediately after boarding, some men marched down one of the aisles to the back of the plane.  Loud shouting, tumbling and rumbling ensued.  Attempts to stand and look around where quickly squashed by a few of the men standing in the aisle.  We were told to remain seated, and to keep facing forward.  Sounds of scuffling, shouting and pain inflicted cries were heard throughout the cabin, as the flight crew looked on.  The only word I could understand was “Allah.”   Obviously, the male passenger who was being roughly handled had run afoul of the law.  The interrogation lasted for a little while causing the plane to sit at the gate.  Finally, the lead stewardess approached the undercover agents and insisted that either the passenger be taken off the plane or that the aircraft be allowed to leave.   We were already behind schedule.   The passenger was unceremoniously removed by the officers and the pilot taxied from the gate.

Community Peeps, as I said earlier, both incidences occurred prior to 9/11.  If they had to happen in this day and age, I am sure the outcome would be totally different from what they were back then.  Suspected infringements by other travelers and/or insensitive handling by the flight staff can help to exacerbate any nervousness and tension passengers may already be feeling.  Have you experienced insensitive handling by a crew member at any time while traveling?   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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Walking Around Times Square


A girl’s day out is always a fun time, but when there is something to celebrate, that makes it all the more special.  To honor the birthday girl we decided to spend the day in Manhattan.  A Broadway show and dinner at the end was the plan, but in New York City you often get more than you bargain for.  We were all excited and looked forward with eagerness of the much talked about musical.   From my perspective, I had forgotten how electrifying The Big Apple is.  To be there in the hustle and bustle of this amazing city added to the excitement we were feeling.

We started out on the day’s adventure with a short stroll through a Queens neighborhood to the subway station for the ride into the city.  A least one of us had not taken the subway since the days of using tokens to enter the turnstiles, and two of us had to be introduced on how to use the vending machines for metro-cards.  It was almost laughable, but we felt like visiting tourists in our very own city.   It was as though we were seeing things for the first time and discovering the beauty of the city all over again.  The underground train ride was smooth and uneventful.

We arrived at the theatre ahead of schedule and decided to walk around a bit to pass the time.  We browsed nearby shops and somehow managed to restrain ourselves from purchasing the tempting items that were for sale.  Again, I had forgotten how artful some vendors can be in trying to entice the mesmerized shopper to purchase their goods.  Time came for the theatre and we headed back to the location.  The show was two and a half hours.  It was not a disappointment and those two and a half hours felt more like an hour.  The songs were familiar, and from time to time I could hear my neighbors quietly humming the tunes.  The story-line was interesting too.  I am not a critic by any means, but it is my opinion and safe to say, that judging from the applause throughout the show and especially at the end that the cast did an excellent job.

After the show, it was time to eat and we chose Italian food, one of my favorite cuisines.  Our birthday celebrant was treated to a surprise serenade and cake.  She was happy.  Stuffed to the brim with a sumptuous meal, we agreed to walk it off and that’s where a whole new “show” began.  We walked around Times Square, sometimes taking photos of ourselves and on occasion for others who stopped us and asked.  We watched in amazement at the sea of people milling around in the area.  It was great just to watch the wonder and excitement on the faces of the families, couples, individuals that we passed.  We could tell most of them were visitors to our city because of their picture taking and selfie posing.  Those who sat on the riser steps at the Ticket Master booth were seated as if they were watching a sporting event or concert.  They were packed in, shoulder to shoulder, in every inch of space with hardly any room for others to climb the steps.  As far as the eye could see, people were standing around gazing at the jumbo screens, watching street artists perform, snapping photos of girls displaying body art among everything else that was going on around them.  If you ask me, and I say this facetiously, who needs Broadway when you have so much going on within the few blocks that is called Times Square?

Community Peeps, The Big Apple (New York City) is an amazing place to visit.  It is vibrant, interesting and holds a wonder that simply cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  We spent more time walking around Times Square than we had planned.  A place that once had a sleazy reputation but now is considered a must-do and ‘the place’ to visit when in Manhattan.  If you have visited this city, please tell me of your experience and if you agree with me about Times Square 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Protracted Summer-itis


The end of summer is looming but it does not have to be a dreaded time.  Surveys have proven people are happier during the summer months and I can understand why.  It is the best time of the year to take a vacation.  There are more scheduled outdoor activities and events to attend.  Kids are on break from school for a while.  There are more daylight hours to enjoy the things we love to do outdoors, and the weather is warm and inviting except for a few natural conditions that may arise here and there.  On a whole there are lots of reasons why summertime is the best three months of the year.

Having said all of that, you will agree with me that it is quickly slipping away day after day.  Nothing we can do to make time stand still and summer remain forever.  That would be wishful thinking, selfishness and inconsideration to those who love the other seasons of the year.  However, for all those who may already be feeling dread at seeing the summer winding up so quickly, I have some thoughtful suggestions which may cheer you up.

  1. Start planning your next vacation. It is not too early to consider your options.  Plan a sunny getaway for those coming months when it will be cold and dark.  Look around at all the places and possibilities like cruising, short trips to the nearby Caribbean and South America.  Decide now what type of trip it will be, whether an adventurous one or a sedate, relaxing time away with your significant other or alone.
  2. Write it down. This will help to map out your plan and lay the foundation for the vacation of your dreams and how you plan to achieve it.  Seeing it all on paper may help you to visualize all the possibilities.  Keeping a list of vacation to-dos will keep your plans in focus and give you something to look forward to during the colder months.
  3. Set time frames. Put achievable limits on your plans.  Do not leave your itinerary plans to the last minute.
  4. If you have more money you can do a whole lot more for the vacation you want, agreed? Well, create a savings plan.  Open savings account and systematically contribute a decided amount weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.  Create a budget for your holiday spend.
  5. Go shopping. It’s therapy.  As retailers restock their shelves with fall merchandise and are eager to get rid of summer stock, cash in on the bargains that you can use in future travels.  Items such as:  Sandals, straw hats, beachwear and trendy summer fashion that would be totally out of place in the deep freeze.
  6. Having bought a new wardrobe, donate the gently used threads to a local thrift store. This is therapy too.  Charitable gifts will fulfill someone else’s travel dreams.
  7. Set your goals, time-frames and commit to your plans.  Post a copy of your plan in an area where you can see it and be reminded of the approaching date.

Community Peeps, experiencing protracted summeritis helps me to cope through each season until the next summer begins.  Maybe you have other ways of dealing with seeing this summer wrapping up that you would like to share with me.  Please do so 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Room Check Please


I don’t like snakes.  Plain and simple.  None.  Not even rubber snakes.  This week I read of a woman who woke up in her hotel room to find a garden snake on her arm.  At first thinking it was her husband she suddenly remembered he was not there; and opened her eyes to the surprise of her life.  She jumped up flinging the serpent across the room.  Read of her ordeal here.  Now I can’t begin to tell you what my reaction would have been.  Surely some screaming and hollering, then beating the life out of that snake.

Don’t call animal rights activists for me just yet, I actually do like animals but not that close.  It is my practice to thoroughly check my hotel room before settling down for a good night’s sleep.  I look under the bed and peel back the covers for anything that may be lurking in the dark areas, also I check behind picture frames and vanities for large holes where small animals can hide or for hidden cameras.  These things have been known to happen and I do not want to be a victim.  I also do the mirror test again for any spying activity but that’s a different post for another time.

To do a quick search of the room only takes a few minutes.   It helps to put my mind at ease.  To eliminate the possibility that there may be unwanted intruders from the animal kingdom such as centipedes, lizards, millipedes, roaches, spiders, scorpions, etc. is paramount to me enjoying a restful sleep in a relax environment.  Now, you may think I’m being a bit over the top, paranoid, or even influenced by too much television, but the fact of the matter is I prefer that all creatures remain in their natural habitats and not venture into mine.

I can still recall with trepidation the anxiety and fears I felt while visiting a boarding school/orphanage in Cambodia.  After a tour of the school and the orphanage’s living quarters, I sat down with my host at a picnic table under a tree with large shady branches, to eat the meal they prepared for me.  A few of the children would wander in an out of the space.  Some with quizzical looks on their faces.  Of course, our conversation was about life on the compound.  Among other things, I learned that the host’s pet dog became blind because of an attack from a spitting viper found under their bed, and at one time while eating at the same picnic table a snake dropped unceremoniously down from the branches.  Everyone scattered.  I don’t think those stories were told to frighten me.  The host was just recounting a day in their life of always expecting the unexpected.  However, my reaction was to immediately scan the tree and nearby shrubbery for snakes.  Needless to say, I was wary from that moment on.

Community Peeps, you may recall in a previous post (check the blog archives) how I talked of my ordeal in Trinidad and Tobago and my encounter with a few geckos in the room.  How my companion and I spent the entire night watching the geckos on the ceiling to make sure they didn’t fall on us (we had never seen geckos before).  We didn’t sleep a wink but kept the lights on the whole time.   Come to think of it, the geckos were probably more scared of us than we were of them 😁😁.   What has been your experience with any unwelcome room occupants other than your pet?  Please tell of the experience, good or bad, 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

A Couple Close Calls


As I pull my thoughts together to speak of unwanted surprises I had while traveling, a smile spreads across my face recalling my panic and hysteria at the time.  Essential travel documents like passports and visas are needed to enter foreign countries.  An itinerary planner knows to double check, cross check, and recheck papers to ensure there are no mistakes which can up-end vacation plans.  Well, back then, I was not an itinerary planner, but from a couple close calls, I have learned valuable lessons that shape what I do today to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.  Valid passport and appropriate visas are necessary to begin a fabulous holiday.

The first near miss occurred in a place that was far from home.  The country was Cambodia.  In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, I had originally traveled to Vietnam, and from Ho Chi Minh City, I traveled by long distant coach to Cambodia.  As I exited Vietnam, the entry process into Cambodia was smooth.  Passengers had to disembark to be processed through immigration and customs, then walk less than 100 meters between the two countries to embark the bus again.  A headcount was conducted as we re-boarded and traveled the remaining miles to our final destination.

While in Cambodia I visited many places of interest in both Phnom Penh and Krong Siem Reap, but the biggest draws for me were Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor Thom, Royal Palace, the killing fields and the Tonle Sap River.  When all the sightseeing was over, then the adventure began.  It was time to catch the bus heading back into Vietnam for my impending flight home the next day. I boarded the bus but what a shocker it was when the attendant took my travel documents – passport, airline ticket confirmation and returned to tell me I did not have a visa to re-enter Vietnam.

I was numb.  Even though he tried to explain to me what was wrong, my brain was not comprehending anything.  Of course, I had to disembark, and the bus left for Vietnam without me.  To cut to the chase, besides crying, begging and pleading to everyone for help, I did a lot of praying, running back and forth to offices as directed, made phone calls to my bank to release funds, etc.  That day was one hot mess.  My predicament was dire.  I needed to be in Ho Chi Minh City to catch the return flight back to the USA in time for work the following day.  Total strangers worked tirelessly to process the emergency visa which would allow me entry into Vietnam.  Because the bus was long gone, I had to hire a private taxi to drive to the border where another taxi was waiting to transport me into the Ho Chi Minh.  The ordeal cost me a pretty penny but by this time I was only too glad a resolution had been worked out and so I couldn’t argue.  With the emergency visa in hand, both taxi drivers understood I was in a race against the clock and needed to make up for lost time, so they drove like the wind to cover the distance.

The second near miss was because of a calculation error.  More than 18 months prior to planning a surprise cruise for my Mom and sister, I had checked my passport to confirm everything was in order, and on the day I checked, it was.  However, I had failed to recognize that by the time the future departure date rolled around my passport would be nearing expiration.  At the airport, the ground flight attendant informed me that I could not leave the USA because my passport did not satisfy the amount of time for international travel.  The flight was to Barbados.  Because the flight was very early, I thought the attendant was joking and wanted to make sure I was fully alert and wide awake.  She repeated herself and if I wasn’t awake before, I sure was by then.  She explained my passport was due to expire in less than two months.  For a passport to be acceptable for international travel it must have six or more months of validity.  Grasping the magnitude of what was unfolding sent my body into a panic.  People seemed to be moving in slow motion, voices sounded slower and tears began to fall.  My niece, who was my traveling companion, eyes welled-up with tears, but she could do nothing for me.  It was obvious, she would have to leave without me.  The flight departed, but I was determined to correct my oversight.

To make a long story short, acting on the directions from the flight attendant, I headed to the immigration office in New York City and pleaded my case.  I was told the waiting time to process an emergency request was six weeks.  To my mind, that was not an option.  I needed to be on the island the next day to start a week-long cruise through the Caribbean.   All of a sudden, I was left with a few hours to get there.  After much praying, pleading, and explaining the mistake, I was granted a new passport in less than 8 hours.  I can only attribute all thanks and praise to God for answered prayers.  I missed my flight that day, but was able to fly out the next morning on a flight connecting through Miami. I arrived at my destination with just two hours to spare before boarding the cruise ship at the Bridgetown port.  Needless to say, it was a close call to ruining a perfect surprise vacation for my loved ones.

Community Peeps, all’s well that ends well.  I cannot begin to impress just how important it is to pay attention and double check that you have the correct visas, and updated documents before you travel.  Give yourself enough time to make any adjustments.  Kudos and appreciation to all those strangers who came to my rescue back then.  It is forever etched in my mind.  What has been your experience?  Anything similar?  I’d like to hear of it.  Please 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Sarcastic About Sargassum


Recent reports in travel news have stated beaches along the south coast were experiencing a new phenomenon that could threaten the livelihood of the tourism industry there.  The culprit is none other than a seaweed called – Sargassum (read the article in highlighted link).  If it is one thing tourist expect when they go to a beach is to find it pristine, the waters clean and clear of debris.  They expect to enjoy a time of fun and frolic in the sea and on the sand without interference.  However, the sea algae much to the consternation of the beachgoer is getting in the way, is unsightly and smells foul when it decomposes.

Sargassum has only just reached our shores along the Atlantic, but this problem has been a nightmare throughout the Caribbean for a few years now.  Governments of popular tourist destinations have been grappling with the predicament for some time and their tourism industries have been affected.  The maintenance of beaches and disposal of the seaweed has caused distressed hoteliers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The brown and orange colored seaweed is thick and presents an obstruction to marine life like turtles and smaller fish that thrive and live on the coral reefs near the shore.  Even small fishing boats have difficulty cutting through the impasse, before their motors become entangled in the weeds.  On occasion, when flying into my paradise island home Barbados, from the air I have seen long, large swathes of the plant floating on top the ocean waves heading for the shore.  Because the island has been inundated with the algae, the government, at one time had to declare a national emergency.

For the tourist, this obstacle hampers the time they spend in the water.  I for one, don’t like stepping into the surf with seaweed ebb and flowing at my feet, furthermore, having to wade through to a depth where swimming would be more enjoyable.  The seaweed can also be a dangerous impediment not only to adults, but especially for small children who may become entangled while swimming.

Community Peeps, if you have travel plans to vacation in the south or to visit an island in the Caribbean, simply be aware of the disgusting seaweed.  Maybe if your favorite hotel/beach is faced with this dilemma then you can plan an alternative itinerary for your time there.  I don’t mean to be sarcastic about Sargassum when I tell you don’t get wrapped up in the beach this summer.  Be aware.  Your comments on any encounters are always welcomed.  Write them 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Everybody Loves A Parade


Parades allow people to publicly express themselves in large gatherings, marches, walks or formal processions.  Every Independence Day in the USA there are parades of military might, heritage floats and demonstrations of national pride.  Across this great nation, people gather from all walks of life to express their love of country.  The process is supported by citizens, immigrants and visitors alike.  Standing shoulder to shoulder, people will witness all the displays, listen to the speeches whether in agreement or not, applaud or demonstrate anti-behavior towards all that may go on.  The visiting tourist may not have a clue about all that they see once they encounter a procession but are often drawn to the sidelines to watch in amazement.  It has been my experience in different countries to follow processions, if only to be nosy and to see what was going on.  I could easily tell from all that I saw what type of parade it was, and whether I should get closer or watch from a safe distance.

Besides witnessing the pomp and pageantry of parades stateside on special holidays, if possible, I like to view parades while on vacation.  I was drawn to large crowds of people in Barbados, Ecuador, Greece, Hawaii, Peru and Philippines, respectively, some marching in protest and others celebrating a national holiday or cultural heritage.  On most occasions, it was not a part of my travel itinerary, but a pleasant diversion and an opportunity to mingle with local residents.  So, I never miss standing on the sidelines to capture the event even though I may not understand all that may take place or the reasons behind the cavalcades.  Some parades can present dangerous situations for outsiders.  Tensions may rise and if caught in the heart of demonstrating protesters, the tourist may find themselves outside of their element.  It is always good to stand away from large crowds just in case you may need a quick getaway.  Find or look for a quick route to escape if things turn ugly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In Athens, Greece and Lima, Peru respectively, marchers were protesting against government policy.  Police with riot gear were out in full force to keep the peace.  Placard bearing marchers and the masses were shouting slogans as they filed pass government buildings.  I moved along with the train of people for several blocks just to watch the developments as they unfolded.  In both cases, the protests were peacefully carried out although the gravity of the situation was not underestimated by the police but keenly observed.  It was obvious they were ready, and capable of handling any imminent danger.

In Quito, Ecuador and Oahu, Hawaii, the respective processions demonstrated their cultural heritage.  Ethnic groups, dressed in fancy colorful duds paraded down the streets dancing to drumbeats, clapping and stomping.  Floats carrying musical bands, costumed characters, and people waving to the crowds were fun to watch.  Both parades were more festive and celebratory.  It was easy to blend in, enjoy the fun, and to mingle with the sea of people that lined the streets as the participants moved slowly along.  The gaiety from the revelers was contagious, did not present a stressful environment but a relaxing atmosphere.  Still, as a visitor, I was careful, observant and had an exit strategy should a disruptive incident like a fight arise.

In Bridgetown, Barbados and Sagada, Philippines, correspondingly, their parade emphasis was on a national anniversary, much like Independence Day here.  In Barbados, the parade is formal and excitedly anticipated by citizens.  It is well planned, and the main drills are performed at a cricket oval or a horse racetrack (depending on the weather) where residents can go to view in comfort.  Different arms of the public and civil service march pass to the beat of the national police band in salute of the various dignitaries, after which a street parade follows.  Residents follow the procession for miles along the parade route.  Separately, the day I arrived in Sagada; the marchers were made up of some adults but mostly children.  They were dressed in uniform and marched to the music of the school band.  The expressions on everyone’s face was one of pride as they twirled batons and pompoms.  They were celebrating an anniversary and had walked to the town square where they were on display.  Their demonstration was formal and clearly a moment of local pride.  Attendees, most likely proud parents, lined the streets, cheered for the children as they went by.

Community Peeps, everybody loves a parade if only to watch others stand for their cause, celebrate heritage or represent their country’s national honor.  What has been your experience?  If you have encountered a good or bad incident while attending a parade, at home or abroad, please share it with me here.  Write it 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Shared Spaces


Accommodation types have exploded to house the swelling number of travelers in recent times.  From the major hotel chains of yesteryear to the economy inn, we have seen an influx of a variety of lodges that cater not only to the rich or middle class but to the budget traveler too.  One such boarder type is the hostel.  This housing brand caters mostly to a younger market, and those young at heart guests who prefer the ambiance and lifestyle. One that can be considered fun, easy, relaxed, and shared.  Don’t get the wrong idea, hostels are efficiently managed and have clear guidelines, but for the most part, the aura is inviting, warm and friendly.   For this post, I want to talk about shared spaces in hostels such as:  lounge areas, bathrooms, kitchen and sleeping quarters.  Of course, all that I will mention hereafter is based on my own experience, so as not to paint all hostels with a broad brush.

First the lounge areas are typically the hangout spots.  Guests gather there to socialize and talk of their adventures.  Friendships are made and travel tips are exchanged.  A simple decor usually gives the area an inviting and comfortable appeal.  Bean bag chairs and extra-large cushions, hammocks, lounge chairs, large mats, shelves of travel books either left by former patrons and other material lends to the aura there.  A big giveaway that you’re in the right place are young people huddled with backpacks or rolled up travel gear, power charging their technology.  Generally speaking, it is the meeting place for individuals, large groups and parties for meet and greets.  The front desk is set very near to this area if only to keep a vigilant eye on the activities there.

Next, the kitchen offers the independent wayfarer the opportunity to prepare a cooked meal whether breakfast or dinner (most guests are out and about at lunchtime).  On a first come first served basis, pots, dinnerware, stove and refrigerator are available for use.  Even leftover foodstuff, primarily basics like salt, cooking oil, sugar, etc., from past guests are at the disposal of any brave guests to use.  A code of honesty is understood by those kitchen operators.  I have never seen or heard of discrepancies regarding individual food stock.  Items are clearly labeled and rules for usage and disposal adhered to.  Kitchen clean up after use is mandatory.  Hostel management usually provides janitorial services throughout their establishment.  However, messy cooks are encouraged to leave a clean kitchen for other users.  Reminder “clean-up” signs are posted in this area and all other public places too.

Bathrooms present the most irritant for travelers.  Although cleansed daily, the showers and toilets are dependent on users to help the facility keep them clean.  In the past, if I shared a bathroom, I would rise very early in the morning before other guests to ensure I benefited from a clean shower stall.  I skive the thought of someone else’s bath-water pooling around my feet in a stall that may have poor or slow drainage.  Besides toilet tissue, hostels do not provide towels or other toiletries as most hotels do.

Sleeping quarters can be the toughest aspect of the whole hostel experience.  If a single room is not available, then sharing a space with four or more persons is the only option.  Some hostels offer dorm like settings, sleeping up to 20 persons in one large room.  Obviously, if you elect to sleep in such a space, it is expected you will not have much complaints for comfort, space or noise level.  For example, chatter, laughter, movement in and out, lights on and off, can disrupt the early sleeper.  Normally, each person is assigned a bed, given clean bedding and those on the bottom bunk have a curtain for privacy.  You may not rest your personal belongings on another’s bed and vice-versa.  It is not advisable to leave valuables in this particular space either (deposit at reception for safe keeping) since security cameras are not operating here.  Curfew times for lights out are maintained to give everyone at least a few hours rest each night.

Community Peeps, though hostels are fun places to meet other like-minded travelers, their success also depends on vacationers doing their part to maintaining a welcoming and inviting atmosphere.  I’ve gained travel friends and have had some of my best adventures staying in them on my limited budget.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  What has been your experience staying in one?  Please 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 comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

%d bloggers like this: