See The Big Thing

 

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Tourist. Traveler. Local.

There are many ways to travel and they are all right.

Tourist: The very word conjures a colorfully decorated middle aged obnoxious couple wearing socks with sandals, zinc oxide on their already sunburned noses and a poorly fitting hat while extending their cell phone with a selfie stick, usually in front of a well-known landmark.

I have met such a creature. They’re not so scary in person.

Traveler: It sounds much more romantic. Going places for the fun of it, exploring the corners of the earth with Louis Vuitton luggage and assistant.

Local: this you understand, I am confident.

When I travel I try to combine all three. I cannot go to Rome without visiting the Coliseum or Paris without gazing up at the Eiffel Tower. I will stand in wonder at the special places of the world with the socked and sandaled sunburned. When I was in Rome I had to see the Spanish Steps. I found them, but I couldn’t see them, there were so many of those annoying tourists sitting all over them.

I’m hoping you’re catching the sarcastic irony.

The traveler in me seeks out attractions and hidden gems alike. I am a walker. And a talker. I ask concierges, locals, taxi drivers, richshaw drivers, strangers what I should see, where I should go. I visit lesser known places if I can, wander down the streets next to the main thoroughfare. I poke around. I try stuff.

If I am fortunate enough to stay in one place for more than a few days I do my best to fit in as a local. I find my favorite breakfast or dinner place and go a few times, establish patterns. I linger longer in public parks and cafes. I take the time to feel myself in the space. I make friends, learn the language – a few phrases at least – and shop for groceries. The mundane of normal life.

But it all starts with the intention to do the touristy thing.

See the big thing. Visit the places around it. Find favorite places and move in.

 

 

 

It’s a Wander-full Life

This year has taken me to some amazing places. Some new, some familiar but all ever-changing. So grateful for this amazing ride called life. Can’t wait to see what explorations are in store for 2017. Join me, won’t you?

JANUARY was spent quietly at home, plotting, planning and preparing for my next big trip, India. I did take the time to wander my neighborhood trails. There’s nothing quite like a crisp Florida winter morning to energize!

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Oviedo, Florida

FEBRUARY sent me back to India. This time I immersed myself in the culture and magic of just one place – Rishikesh. I had been before but just for a few days, this time I spent nearly two weeks living on the banks of the Ganges. I’ll be going back this March and this time I’m taking people with me.

Rishikesh, India

MARCH – After India, I stopped over in Croatia and Slovenia for a week. It was still chilly but the air was so refreshing and invigorating. Zagreb was a bustling city, but it was the entire country of Slovenia that stole my heart on this trip. Going back later in 2017 to both places, exploring more of the Croatian coast and, of course, wandering back into that gem of a country nestled between Austria and Italy.

Zagreb, Croatia

Lake Bled and Ljubljana, Slovenia

APRIL Back home but not for long! Time to take a road trip across the state to Cedar Key for an uber relaxing natural Florida experience. Then a quick one day wander through Rainbow Springs.

Cedar Key and Rainbow Springs, FL

MAY A day trip or two a month often satisfies my inner-wanderer. Lucky for me I live in a beautiful, lush state. My own little town of Oviedo, working hard to maintain its small town feel with 30,000 people, then two hours west to St. Petersburg and an hour east to Indian Harbour Beach.

Oviedo, St. Petersburg and Indian Harbour Beach, Florida

JUNE A few days away in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia to check out an amazing retreat and spa. Dahlonega GA

Beautiful Dahlonega and Kitschy Cool Helen, Georgia

JULY An out-of-town friend wondered how far the Kennedy Space Center was so I took him there. The answer is about 45 minutes. Science is a whole different kind of wandering.

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida

AUGUST  LA in August for some fabulous friends and food and a little scoping out of retreat potential.

Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades, California

SEPTEMBER Then on to Sequoia National Park to be mesmerized by the stately ancient redwoods. Then later in the month up north to explore all of New Hampshire, bits of Massachusetts and a few seaport towns in Maine.

Sequoia National Park, California | Rye and Portsmouth, New Hampshire |Rocky Neck, Newburyport, and Gloucester, Massachusetts | Cape Elizabeth, Maine

OCTOBER  Back to the north Georgia mountains to take a lovely group to explore the mountains and do some yoga. Straddled the coast of Florida again with a quick trip to New Smyrna Beach to scout locations for a beach retreat and St. Pete to visit family.

Roswell, Amicalola Falls and Blairsville, Georgia | New Smyrna Beach, Florida

NOVEMBER Can’t get enough of California. Wandered the trails of Fullerton on an almost daily basis. Trekked into the cold hard streets of Hollywood to watch a friend play at a dive bar.

Fullerton, Hollywood and Brea, California

DECEMBER Ended the year much as it began, quiet and close to home. Spent an evening at a beautiful barn in Geneva all decked out for the holidays then meandered amongst the alligators, otters and birds at the Orlando Wetlands.

Geneva and Christmas, Florida

Reviewing this past year in photos and trips fills me with such gratitude for this life that is unfolding before me. I have always wanted to travel and once I consciously made the decision to make that a huge part of my life, opportunities began dropping into my lap. Thanks for coming along here and I hope you’ll join me along the path soon this coming year.

2017 promises a few new passport stamps in preparation of more fantastic retreats and adventures ahead. Stay tuned…

Training for Travel

Do you train for your vacation? For your cruises and other fun trips?

I’m not talking about starving yourself into your ideal beach body or spending hours in winter clothes and backpacks running during the hot summer months, but rather ensuring your body is fit for whatever you’re planning to experience.

It would be nearly impossible to enjoy the beauty of the Tuscan hill towns if you couldn’t walk up a few flights of stairs. Okay, many flights of stairs. Just as it would be difficult to follow an Indian swami as he or she called out yoga postures in Sanskrit if you’d never done a yoga class.

It’s fun to believe you could just grab your passport and hop a plane to Destination Anywhere and have a dandy time, but a little research and preparation can go a long way.

I’m all for spontaneity. All for going wherever the wind blows, but it would be foolish to allow the winds to sweep you to a place for which you are unprepared. So my motto, like my beloved Girl Scouts (Troop 654 National’s Capital) is BE PREPARED. For almost anything.

What does that mean exactly?

How to Train for Travel to Destination Anywhere (almost):

Strength: You may not think you need strength to meander the stone streets of Europe, but travel to foreign lands often means lugging your own suitcase up and down stairs and for long distances. Something as simple – I didn’t say easy – as a few push-ups a day can go a long way. Squats are great too for all those hills and rocky terrain. Can you say zip line? You’ll need a few muscles for that!

Stamina: Endurance may be one of the easiest activities to measure. Your phone probably has a step counter on it. If not, a Fitbit or similar device can help you determine your progress. Or, how about walking your neighborhood and going a little farther each time and then doing that even faster. No cash outlay. Don’t forget to incorporate hills, lots and lots of hills. If you don’t belong to a gym and live in the flatland, like me, stairs, lots and lots of stairs.

Lung Capacity: If you’re doing push ups and squats and taking your daily constitutional around the hood your lungs are working too. For more focus and even better results, consciously breathe. A yoga breath like Deerga Swasum is easy, portable and so good for you.

How to do Deerga Swasum

  • Sit or stand up nice and tall. Both inhalation and exhalation are through the nose.
  • Inhale deeply. Slowly. Fill the lower lungs expanding the belly, middle lungs expanding the ribcage and finally upper lobes of the lungs, lifting the collar bones.
  • Exhale, reverse. Collarbones drop, ribcage relaxes, then pull the navel all the way in toward the spine.
  • Repeat. For extra credit, do this while walking vigorously and see if you can maintain a slow steady breath. Breather level: expert.

In addition to becoming physically fit, consider your gut health as well. Travel to other countries usually means very different food options. Start yourself on a good probiotic a month or so out from your trip. Reduce caffeine, alcohol and sugar and ramp up raw veggies as much as possible.

I know this sounds like a total fitness plan and I guess it is. No matter where the globe stops when you spin it, you should be ready and pretty darn healthy. Here’s to a lifetime of fantastic voyages!

 

 

Excuses are Anchors

I have friends who have no desire to travel. Some cite contentment right where they are, others a fear of foreign places and people and the rest, concern for their safety. To the first group, I say, “good on you.” But check to make sure you’re not confusing contentment with complacency.

To the rest, I say, fear is the doorway through which you find magic.

Excuses dressed up like perfectly logical reasons are tiny little anchors keeping you stuck.

One of the biggest gifts travel to another country has given me is the ability to have my prejudices and beliefs blasted to smithereens. The more my perceptions are deconstructed, the freer I become. Now, I step through the looking glass with wonder.

With wonder, there is little resistance, with little resistance there is freedom, with freedom there is joy.

Where will you go next?