4 Top tips for stress free airport check-in.

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Today I’m busy packing for my flight to Melbourne early tomorrow morning and I’ve gone into pre holiday mode. I’ve got my list and I’m gradually ticking things off.

  • Cat food ready for my cat minder – enough to last the two weeks  – and then a bit more, just in case the cat’s extra hungry, or I’m late getting back or … whatever.
  • The bill’s are all paid, so the electric and water don’t get cut off while I’m gone.
  • The pool’s been super chlorinated –  it’ll probably still morph into a lovely shade of green before I get back though.
  • Maya, my feline friend, has been well & truly cuddled and assured that I will return and that her pseudo parent, Mr S, will take good care of her.

I’m an organised, list type person and getting everything sorted well in advance means that tomorrow morning I shouldn’t have anything to do except chuck the last few things in my suitcase and head out the door.

Which is just as well - I managed to book myself on a flight that leaves at the crack of dawn, actually, before dawn! The sun might just put in an appearance as we fly over the suburbs towards South Australia.

Airports – how do you feel about them?

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When it comes to airports you either love them or you hate them. They either fill you with excitement and anticipation or totally stress you out.

I fall firmly into the first category and it never ceases to amaze me how some travellers get so frazzled and confused when it comes to checking in and navigating the airport.

So, I thought I’d share my top 4 tips for stress free airport check-in and a successful start to your holidays.

1. Check …. then double check.

Check all of the details before you get to departure day and then again before you leave home.

Check the DATE and the TIME of your flight. This may seem self explanatory but I know of people who’ve turned up at the airport on the wrong day (luckily they were a day early, but still …)

If you’re heading overseas check that your visa (if you need one) is all sorted and that you’ve got local currency if you’ll need it for any taxes.

A cautionary tale.

I have a very well travelled relative – she shall remain nameless but she’s been backpacking around the world for the last fifteen months – and she was catching a flight from Adelaide to Christchurch. She’d been travelling around Australia and arrived at Adelaide airport 20 hours before her scheduled flight and …. she still missed her plane.

She hadn’t realised that she needed a return ticket before she’d be allowed into New Zealand and it wasn’t till she went to check in that she found out.

It was a frantic hour or so with phone calls to travel agents and emailed tickets before she was able to catch the next flight

As I said, CHECK EVERYTHING. Even if you think you have, do it again.

2. Be organised.

I am an organised person, always have been (some may say that I’m too organised, but I don’t see it) and it frustrates the hell out of me if I’m travelling with those who are organisationally challenged. It doesn’t take too much and can make a travelling life so much easier.

If your airline allows it (and most now do) check in the day before – it’s time saved.

Whether you have to check in at the airport or just do a bag drop, make sure all your documents are together – passports, tickets, visas. Get them all together in plenty of time and put them somewhere that’s easily accessible. There’s nothing worse for you, or the person in the queue behind you, if you’re having to zip open bags or rummage through your carry on to find your passport.

If you’re travelling as a family, nominate one family member to hang on to everyone’s documents as you head towards check in. The counter staff will thank you for it if you can just hand over everything in one go.

3. Be early.

imagesZYG2CUIY                                                   Maybe not that early!

Getting to the airport early does make life easier.

If you’re driving to the airport or catching a cab or even public transport you need to plan for any dramas you may encounter along the way. With a bit of luck there won’t be any but you never know when a tyre is going to blow or a taxi not arrive.

When we were in England a few years ago we were flying from Heathrow back to Perth on a late morning flight. We stayed the previous night a few kilometres from the airport and just needed to drop the hire car off on our way. We left the B & B in what we thought was plenty of time, but we didn’t count on the accident on the M25 that held up traffic and contributed to my near panicked state as we finally made it to the airport with very little time to spare before check in closed.

So yes – leave home or your accommodation with plenty of time to spare (and a bit more!)

By getting there in good time you should also be able to avoid those excessively long queues at the check in/bag drop counters.
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I’d rather get checked in nice and early and then spend time relaxing in the departure lounge reading, people watching and having a coffee or a glass of wine (possibly not the wine at 5.00am tomorrow) than arrive at the airport in the nick of time.

4. Don’t load yourself up.

Nothing gets me more frazzled (except possibly being late getting to the airport), than having too much stuff to juggle and cart around as I check in and negotiate boarding.

I try and stick to one suitcase and one carry on and not load myself up with anything that won’t fit into these two pieces of luggage.

Try not to overdo it with camera bags, handbags, loose magazines, computer bags – make sure your carry on will take all your bits and pieces. Then, once you’ve checked your suitcase it’s just a matter of grabbing one bag and not having to check all around you to make sure you’ve picked everything up.

Another thing that I like to do is put all the things that I’ll actually need on the flight – boarding pass, purse, book, notebook & pen –  into a small bag and then put it inside my carry on. Once settled on the plane I can put the bigger bag in the overhead compartment and just have the small bag with me by my feet.

Bon voyage

So, I’m almost packed, I’m organised and I’ve checked everything – several times.

All being well, and the gods of technology allowing it, my next post will be coming to you from the Melbourne suburb of Highett.

Anything in particular that you’d like me to write about while I’m there?

 

 

  

Picture Perfect: Himalayas

The inspiringly remote landscape becomes barren as you head along the Dughla Pass heading for the Khumbu Glacier, you’re on your way to Everest Base Camp, way, way up in the Himalayas.
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Wanderlust Women’s trek 2015

  

Top 5 Destinations that I just have to go back to.

Do you think you could narrow down all the places you’ve travelled to and give me your top 5 all time favourite destinations?

I’ve been invited by ”Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There” to do just that. To write this post on my top 5 destinations, the ones I would love to go back to – and I’m finding it incredibly difficult.

But, after a few hours of serious thinking back over a lot of years of travel, both international and local, these are the five that I’ve come up with. They’re in no particular order – if I was given a choice I really couldn’t choose between them.

I need a disclaimer here: I’m likely to change my mind about this list, probably several times (my prerogative).

1. The Himalayas – Nepal

I couldn’t not put this on my list.

Up until a couple of years ago I wouldn’t even have considered stepping out of my comfort zone and travelling to a culture so far removed from my own. When I decided to trek to Everest Base Camp though to celebrate my 60th birthday, it was a decision that was to have huge consequences and change my mindset completely.
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The people and their culture, the chaos of Kathmandu, the incredibly inspiring landscape, all combined to make this one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on.

The mountains and the incredible calm that descends as you go higher is something that will live with me for ever.

What more can I say?

I’m heading back there again early next year. This could become a habit :-)

2. Paris

I’m going with general consensus here, I can’t possibly leave out Paris. I’ve been to Paris three times and I’d be quite happy to go back again and again and again. My ideal would be to rent an apartment, with a balcony of course, and spend a few months sipping on coffee or wine, people watching and writing my best seller.

It’s on my List. Not too much to ask for surely.
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 3.Crete

Idyllic, picturesque, relaxing – someone give me a thesaurus, I need more words. But, then again, words really can’t do justice to this gorgeous Greek island.
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After days of trawling the internet when we were planning this holiday in 2007, my daughter found us a beautiful villa to rent in the village of Hersonissos. It’s about twenty minutes drive from Agios Nikolaos on the western side of the island. We were there for a relaxing, chilled out three weeks … bliss.

Crete has a long history. It was home to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations and the legendary King Midas and the Minotaur. Evidence of these civilisations still remains and you can visit the main palace sites of Knossos, Malia and Phaistos to see surprisingly extensive remains and some beautiful frescoes that have survived to depict life over three thousand years ago.

We also made a visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Souda Bay where nearly two hundred Australian servicemen are buried. These men were all killed during the Battle of Crete in 1941 but, fighting alongside the allied resistance, the Australians forged a strong bond with the people of Crete.
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Apart from that – beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, beautiful harbour, beautiful spot to relax.

4.Flinders Island

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Flinders Island had me hooked. I was there for only four hours and the weather was lousy, but I loved it. It’s a quiet little haven off the north east coast of Tasmania.

There’s no overcrowding, no hordes of tourists buying souvenir t-shirts and no café strips. There are no designer outlets or gift shops selling miniature replicas of historical monuments and you won’t get guided tours of palaces or ancient sites.

What you do get on this island is a sense of peace, calm and tranquillity where you can relax in a natural, unspoilt environment and enjoy your surroundings.

It’s not the easiest place to get to but I will get there again.

5. Florence

I’d love to go back to anywhere in Italy – just give me a plane ticket and I’ll be there – but Florence tugs at me just that little bit more than the other Italian cities.
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Florence is unique. It’s not as chaotic as Rome and its mixture of architecture spanning the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles is simply stunning.
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Sitting in one of the many piazzas sipping chilled wine and watching the world go by, enjoying dinner in one of the many alfresco restaurants or strolling along the Ponte Vecchio as the sun sets over the River Arno.

What’s not to love?

Your turn

I know it’s a difficult ask, but now it’s your turn to tell us your top 5 destinations. I’m nominating the following to write a post on their blog on their Top 5 Destinations , linking back to this post and  ”Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There” :

Carol at Reading, Writing & Riesling

Jo at Zigazag

Kathy at  50 Shades of ageing

Steph at Bookgrrl

Kay at Blonde Brunette Travel

If you head over to “Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There“ you might find you’ve got a chance of winning a new IPhone 6 as well.

 

  

4 Reasons (excuses) why some Baby Boomers don’t travel – the counter arguments.

Go somewhere

I can tell you when man first landed on the moon, and who it was. I can remember when the Daleks were big, first time around, and I can remember when Gene Pitney was all the rage.

What has this to do with travelling? Hang on, I’m getting there.

I can remember when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were in their teens and when we had to walk to the public phone box to make a phone call and I can remember when milk came in bottles and was delivered to the door. And there are lots of us who can remember all that way back into antiquity.

We’re an ever increasing demographic, us Baby Boomers.

Travelling Baby Boomers

And … we’re of an age when consensus has it that we’re travelling in hordes.

We’re the supposedly grey nomads (although few of us have any tell tale signs of grey), and the media has it that we buy caravans and take off around Australia or Europe, that we book river cruises or we train for treks in remote parts of the world.

True. There are certainly many of us in our fifties, sixties and even seventies who love nothing more than to take off and explore the world, find those parts that we haven’t yet seen and experience so much that we know is out there.

Those that don’t – travel, that is.

But there are still a lot of over sixties out there who make any excuse in the book not to travel. They say they want to but there’s always something stopping them. I’ve come across quite a few recently. These people have spent a lifetime working for a living, raising a family, considering the needs of others before their own and at times struggling with what life has thrown at them. They’ve come through all that and now they’ve stopped.

They’ve put the brakes on, sat down and decided that this is as good as it gets.

I’ve got news for you guys.

Life, if you let it, has only just begun

When I talk to people my age or older, their reasons for not travelling seem to fall neatly into four categories so I thought I’d give you my counter arguments.

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  1. I can’t afford it.

Okay, this is a big one, but not one that can’t be overcome. First of all you need to be realistic. Don’t plan a world cruise on the Queen Mary if you can only afford a four day cruise up the coast.

Look at your budget. Look at your incomings and your outgoings and put a plan in place.

  • How much can you save each week?
  • Can you cut down on anything to be able to save a bit more? You can go without that coffee and cake when you go shopping, can’t you? Put those few dollars in a jar, that’s one more glass of wine for when you do go on holiday.
  • Maybe get a part time job a few hours a week or have a garage sale.

Even if you only save a few dollars a week, it’ll soon add up. Figure out how much you’ll have in 6 months, 12 months or even two years and then start planning where you can go with that money.

2. The family needs me.

Read. My. Lips.

The family WILL get by without you.

You help out with babysitting, you do the ironing while your daughter works to help support her family, you cook meals for your son who works twelve hours a day or you help out in the family business.

I know.

But you still need some ME time.

If you’re not there for a few days or a few weeks their world won’t stop – yes, they’ll need to make other arrangements, but generally it’s doable. They may moan about it but stick to your guns, they can actually survive without you.

Get up, make plans and go!

3. I’ve got no one to go with.

This is where I do a bit of sighing and despairing. How old are you?

Go solo

Okay, so life didn’t work out in that perfect way that you had planned in your idealistic youth. For whatever reason, you’ve found yourself going solo in life, you’ve got no one to head off into the wild blue yonder with.

Diddums.

GO. BY. YOURSELF!

You’re old enough to look after yourself, to find somewhere to sleep, to make sure that you eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re thirsty and to know the dodgy from the reliable. You’ve probably brought up children for heaven’s sake, sorting yourself out should be a doddle.

Travelling solo is also one of the best ways of meeting people and you may find you’re not as solo as you thought you were.
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Go with a group

If you really can’t set out by yourself there are lots of groups who cater for solo travellers – do a bit of research.

  • Take an organised tour.
  • Join a meet up group of like minded people.
  • Advertise for someone to join you.
  • Let it be known to family & friends that you’re looking for someone to travel with – social media can work wonders here.

Ladies – if you’ve decided a group is the way to go, I’ve got the perfect one for you. Why not come travel with me and the group of ladies who’ve decided that sitting still is no longer the way to go.

4. I’m too old, I can’t possibly do it.

There are those annoying comfort zones starting to close in around you again. I’ve spoken about comfort zones before and I’m a great believer in kicking them to the sidelines. We need to shove them out of the way, barge through them or leap over them, whatever it takes to loosen them up a bit and make our escape.
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We’re all so constrained by society’s expectations and our need to conform that we often don’t believe that we can extend ourselves and do whatever it is that we feel we’d like to.

One of the most common responses I get when I talk about my Everest Trek is

           ‘oh, I really admire you for doing it but I couldn’t possibly,

I’m too old now.’ 

You’ve got two feet and a heartbeat, you can do whatever you set your mind to.

You’re retired and want to travel overseas for the first time? Go do it.

You want to see the orang-utans in Borneo? Do it.

You want to go and live in Bali for 6 months? Hell, go do it.

You want to hike the Inca Trail? Yes, you can!

Be positive.

Don’t listen to those around you who tell you shouldn’t because you never have before or because you’re too old to start now or because it would be too difficult to organise it or they think you can’t afford it.

Surround yourself with the voices of those who believe in you and tell you to get out there and go for it.

Stop saying ‘no, I can’t’ and start shouting ‘hell, yes, I can!”

 

  

Wanderlust Women’s Everest Trek – an invitation.

Okay ladies – we’re on!

DSCN1209The presence of your amazing company is requested.

Occasion: Everest Circuit & Cho La Trek

Date: March/April 2015

Place: The Himalayas

BYO: Your sense of adventure, your zest for life and a determination to succeed in whatever challenge you set yourself.

I’m going back.

Next March/April I’ll be heading back to Nepal to do another Everest trek and this time I’m taking with me a group of ladies. Together with Shelley from Brice & Turner Travel Associates we’re putting together a group of Wanderlust Women and we’re going to tackle the Everest Circuit & Cho La.

You don’t need to live in Australia to take part in this trek – we’ll be meeting up in Kathmandu, so I’m hoping to find a few of my overseas blogging friends putting their hands up for this.

The Trek

This is a 22 day trip that includes a couple of days in Kathmandu at the beginning and end of the trek. We’ll be staying at the Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu (so, a little luxury to come back to after the trek) and we’ll be taking a sightseeing tour around the city. We’ll visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath and there’ll also be time for us to wander around Thamel.

The trek itself will take 18 days – we’ll fly up to Lukla at 2,800 metre in a Twin Otter aircraft and then begin our trek through the lush lower slopes of the Himalayas as we head up towards Everest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we ascend above 4,000 metres our surroundings will change as the terrain becomes more barren and more uniquely beautiful, we’ll be in the presence of some awe inspiring mountains as they look down upon us and watch our progress. DSCN1140 The Everest Circuit and the crossing of the Cho La Pass will provide magnificent views of the highest mountains on the planet – Everest, Kanchenjunga, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. We’ll look down on the stunning, green, glacial Gokyo Lakes and we’ll ascend Gokyo Ri (5,483m) and Kala Pattar (5,545m).

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Why should you come with us?

Simple really, why wouldn’t you?

This will be an unforgettable experience and a privilege to be part of. We’re about to take a group of women where they’ve never gone before – literally and metaphorically.

We’re about to harness that wanderlust and that sense of adventure, that lies dormant in so many of us, and take a leap way out of our comfort zone.

We’re going to have fun.

We’re going to laugh together and cry together.

We’re going to encourage and empower one another.

We’re going to prove to ourselves that we can do it.

We’re going up into the Himalayas.

You’re interested, right?

Places on this amazing trip are limited so:

Let it swirl around in your head for a day or two, go to bed thinking about it, wake up in the morning thinking about it.

Think about the experience you’ll have, think about the feeling of standing amidst the highest mountains on the planet and the sense of achievement you’ll feel when you succeed.

Then do something about it!

Next step – if you’ve got any questions whatsoever, if you’d like a bit more information or if you’d like to book your spot.

Contact me through the form on my contact page or ask me in the comments section below.

Or, contact Shelley at Brice & Turner Associates (and mention this blog post).

shelley_brice@travel-associates.com.au

Freecall 1800 605 044

or phone 08 9304 2933

Remember.

There’s lots of clichés I could use here, but we all know that life’s short and we need to make the most of it, Mark Twain was a smart guy when he told us that

              it’s the things in life that we don’t do

                                                           that we’ll come to regret.

I’ll leave you with this thought from Sir Edmund Hillary:

IT IS NOT THE MOUNTAIN WE CONQUER

BUT OURSELVES.

 

 

  

Holiday accommodation – getting it right.

Finding the right accommodation.

When I’m planning a trip, one of the

biggest stresses

I face (apart from the packing) is finding reasonably priced accommodation to suit my style of travel. Yes, I occasionally love nothing more than the pampering a five star resort can provide but I’m mainly a go, see and do sort of traveller. One who likes to have flexibility and freedom to make or change plans whenever I want to and one who doesn’t want to be dictated to when it comes to what time I can eat or when and where I can sit and have a drink. It’s essential to me, and to most of you I’m sure, to find just the right place when I’m heading off to places distant.

Decide what you want.

So, first up you need to decide.

what sort of accommodation you’re looking for.

When my cousin and I decided to spend a month in Europe a couple of years ago our accommodation was something that we put a lot of thought into. We really didn’t want the cost and the restrictions that hotels would impose for the whole month. Hotels can be great but we were after something a bit more relaxed, something that would give us a bit of flexibility, something within our limited budget and somewhere we felt comfortable.

                        Taking your shoes off in the lounge and having breakfast in our pyjamas type of comfortable.

We talked about it and we both got on to the internet and we finally came up with a good compromise. We would mix self catering in the UK, Paris and Rome with boutique hotels in Paris and Florence. The combination worked brilliantly for us.

Self catering cottage in the New Forrest

We landed at Heathrow at 6.00am on a bright sunny day (thankyou to the weather gods there), picked up our hire car and were on our way down the M3 by 8.00am.

Our first stop was in Lyndhurst, the major tourist centre of the New Forrest. I lived in Lymington, only a few kilometres from Lyndhurst, for five years in the early nineties so I knew the area well and knew that Lyndhurst would be the perfect central spot from which to explore the New Forrest and the south coast.

The accommodation we chose was a

                                                  self catering cottage

in the centre of the village. Half way down the motorway we’d called the owner and she was there to meet us when we arrived. She showed us how to work the washing machine and where to find everything, then gave us her phone number and told us to call if we needed any help.

Lyndhurst Collage

It was a lovely cottage, downstairs was a cosy lounge, a dining room with a table that would seat eight (just in case we decided to throw a dinner party) and a well stocked kitchen, with three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. There was also a quiet garden with an area of lawn surrounded by well cared for garden beds and a table and chairs. A perfect spot to relax with a

glass or two

after a tiring day sightseeing.

With plenty of fresh produce to be found around the New Forest and fresh bread from the bakery we could cook for ourselves and eat at whatever time we chose.

Idyllic Beatrix Potter country

After a few days down south it was back on to the motorway for a six hour drive up the spine of the country and into the Lake District. Again we’d chosen a self catering cottage from the huge array available on the internet. Again we certainly weren’t disappointed -

I could live permanently in this one!

Hawkshead Collage

We stayed in this gorgeous stone cottage, at the end of a row of three, on the outskirts of Hawkshead. It was along a quiet lane and was just what you’d expect from a Lake District cottage; local stone walls, sheep in the field next door and the

audible peace of the countryside.

The living area was upstairs with the large picture windows of the lounge/dining room overlooking the open fields and the big kitchen had more gadgets than my own. On the lower level the two double bedrooms were done out in white linen and an abundance of pillows and the bathroom was big enough to hold a party in.

After an exhausting day on the motorway we brought out the wine and the cheese and we relaxed into our home for the next week.

Beatrix Potter’s cottage, a boat ride on Coniston Water, cake (and more cake) at Poppy Red in the village and twilight in the churchyard.

How quintessentially English.

But then it was time to move again, this time it was a short flight from Liverpool across the channel to Paris. I’m used to long haul flights between hemispheres – this was more like a bus ride into town.

Boutique hotels

Paris

Paris to me is the Astrid Hotel. I first stayed here in 2007 when I was travelling with my daughter, she’d found it after trawling the internet for days, and it’s the perfect French boutique hotel.

It’s a small hotel with no bar or restaurant, only a breakfast room, and the rooms are tiny but I love it. It’s very reasonably priced and in a perfect spot – you can see the Arc de Triomphe from the small balconies picturesquely hung outside each window. There’s a restaurant right next door and dozens more within five minutes walk so the lack of food and drink on the premises isn’t a problem.

The Champs Elysées is at the end of the street for heaven’s sake.

Paris Collage

Florence

After a few (i.e. not enough) days in Paris we took the train from the Gard du Nord, down through the European countryside, to the beautiful city of Florence. Here we stayed in the old part of town at the Hotel Rivoli. This boutique hotel is a restored 14th century Franciscan convent and, although reasonably priced, offers good sized rooms, a cosy bar, a lounge area for late night cocktails

(Margaritas being my personal favourite)

and a restaurant that’s open during the summer months (that’s if you need to stay in at night – but with stacks of alfresco restaurants set amongst the beautiful architecture of this city, why would you?)
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This is a really relaxing hotel within walking distance of all the attractions and, even though we were there in July, the place never felt crowded. It’s only a few minutes walk from the central Santa Maria Novella train station so if you’ve got a suitcase with wheels or a backpack you can walk it, you don’t need to take a taxi.

Location, location, location.

Rome

Our final stop on our month long trip was Rome and the self catering apartment we found here was absolute perfection as far as location goes. It was tiny but it had everything we needed. Not that we actually spent a lot of time there, you don’t go to Rome to stay cooped up inside …

… you go to Rome to absorb – the culture, the history and the sheer Italianness of everything.

(I know – no such word).

We all know that location is everything and, although all of our accommodation on this trip had been in ideal locations, the positioning of this apartment in Rome topped the lot. Our little hideaway was only twenty one steps from the Trevi Fountain. Amazing!
Rome Collage
You know how generally you can’t get close to any major attraction in Rome without the rest of the world being there at the same time, and how you can never get a photo without someone else’s head getting in the way? Staying so close to the Trevi Fountain meant that we were able to stroll those few steps bright and early in the morning before most people were out of their hotel and we got to take those perfect shots with no one else in the picture. Except the guy with the scrubbing brush, cleaning the pigeon poop off the Baroque figures.
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Take time to plan

We had a ball that month and it was made all the more enjoyable because we’d taken the time to think about what we wanted from our accommodation.

Yes, I’ll still be booking a resort, complete with pampering massages, when I next go to Bali, because that’s what I go there for but in Europe self catering will always be high on my list.

We booked all of ours through Homeaway and we found all of the owners to be friendly and helpful. Every property came complete with information on the local area, tourist attractions, local shops and menus from the local takeaways and restaurants and they all had a stock of books and games in case you wanted to spend time just relaxing.

The main thing when planning holiday accommodation is to make sure that it suits you and your holiday style.

Are you a self catering type or do you prefer hotels?

  

My travel list – the one that keeps getting longer!

I hesitate to call it a bucket list – yes, it’s stuff I want to do and places I want to see before I eventually kick the bucket, but the term itself implies the impending kicking of said bucket. I prefer look at it as my ‘Travel List’ or my ‘To Do List’ or my ‘Must Go There List.’ Whatever – it keeps getting longer.

At the beginning of last year I did a post here about the fact that I would be turning sixty before long and that I’d decided to write myself a list of places I wanted to visit in the next ten years (before I turn seventy – *said very, very quietly so no one hears me*).

No matter how hard I tried to ignore the fact and railed against it, that birthday did actually happen last July. I went into a momentary decline, as all the great women of history have felt the need to do at times, but when the stressing and depression got me nowhere I figured I had to drag myself back to reality and just go with the flow. But then I had another birthday in the middle of this year and now I’m a tenth of the way through that ten year period (aaaaaaaagh).

Time to reassess that list.

This is the list as it stood at the beginning of 2013.

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  • Everest 60th anniversary trek – May 2013
  • Morocco
  • Cinque Terre
  • House swap – Canada
  • Paris – live in an apartment for a few weeks and do the Australian Writer’s Centre memoir course held there each Autumn.
  • Peru – Hike the Inca Trail and explore the ruins of Macchu Pichu
  • Coast to Coast walk – UK
  • Milford Sound – New Zealand
  • Antarctic Cruise
  • Cappadocia – Turkey
  • Istanbul

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I ticked off the top one on the list – I did my trek to the Everest Base Camp and felt enormously proud of myself. I pushed myself, physically and mentally, to a point I didn’t even believe possible and there were times when I’d wondered what the hell I was doing playing adventure woman up there in the Himalayas. I climbed into a tiny helicopter and was transported around and between ever larger mountains as I was taken up and deposited several thousand feet up into the earth’s atmosphere at one of the most dangerous airports in the world. I took several deep breaths and then plunged into a hazard strewn voyage of discovery. Avoiding the onslaught of marauding yaks and the lethal tips of the hiking poles being thrust outwards by other trekkers I traversed suspension bridges slung high above the raging Dudh Kosi, undaunted by the sheer drops down the side of the track I ascended the steep uphill sections to rise to greater heights and I managed to cope with peeing in muddy holes whilst holding my breath and keeping my trousers out of the mire. Refusing to give in and let the mountain get the better of me I forged my way onwards and upwards.

I scrambled, clambered and lurched my way up to a hill called Everest.
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I know that was a big one to tick off the list but it’s the only one I’ve managed to tick off in twenty months. I did a trip down to the south of Western Australia over the New Year and I spent a couple of weeks in Melbourne earlier this year for family reasons but only one thing came off my list. And, guess what, I think I’ve added a few more places that I simply have to see.

So, a year into my self imposed ten year itinerary, this is how my list is looking now.

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  • Everest Base Camp Trek Tick, May 2013
  • Another Himalayan trek – The Everest Circuit including summiting Gokyo Ri and crossing the Cho La Pass – Scheduled for March 2015
  • Morocco
  • Cinque Terre
  • House swap – Canada
  • Paris
  • Peru – Inca Trail & Machu Pichu – this one’s been extended to include more of South AmericaPlanned for 2016
  • Coast to coast walk UK
  • Hadrian’s Wall walk UK
  • Milford Sound, New Zealand – Now to include a trek – Scheduled for November 2015
  • Antarctic cruise
  • TurkeyIstanbul & Cappadocia
  • Iceland
  • Northern Lights

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You may have noticed that I snuck one in there that maybe you weren’t expecting – yes, you saw it correctly, I’m planning another trek in the Himalayas next March, it will either be the Everest Circuit or the Annapurna Circuit. The jury’s still out on that one but bear with me and I may have some exciting news on it soon.

So that’s my next ten years taken care of – what are your plans for the next few years? Do you make travel lists (and stick to them), do you make travel lists (and keep adding to them, like me) or do you just wing it. I’d be interested to know and you never know, one day, we may meet up – somewhere in the world.

 

 

 

  

Don’t chew on life, live it!

 

DSCN1056I’ve just been reading Notwithstanding, a delightful book by Louis de Bernières, author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

It’s a quirky book based on de Bernières recollections of village life in a time past with some very insightful observations.

During a conversation in the potting shed, as the rain beat on the roof, John the gardener, Allan his assistant and Sylvie the attractive young stable girl were pondering on who else they would like to be when John declares ‘I don’t want to be no one else, I just want something to happen, I don’t want to be a tree no more.’

He then goes on to explain, and I’m paraphrasing here, that a sapling in its first autumn loses its leaves and it’s a novelty, the following spring the leaves return and it’s an exciting time for the tree. When the birds start to nest the tree feels useful and life’s good but fifty years down the track exactly the same things are happening to the tree and the tree is no longer excited or amused by his new leaves or the birds that nest in them. John bemoans the fact that he does the same thing over and over and over, he does the same thing each day as he did last year on that same day. He has cheese pie for dinner every Thursday and macaroni on a Tuesday and he has the same phone conversation with his daughter every Sunday.

John laments that he’s going to his grave never having really lived ‘I reckon I chewed on life, and never tasted it at all.’

Stop just chewing on life.

Is your life that routine, do you do the same thing at the same time every day or every week or even every year? Are you only chewing on life?

Now’s the time to change that, with the change of season, particularly here in the southern hemisphere where today marks the beginning of spring, why not change your outlook. Brighten it up. Metaphorically speaking, take off that comfortable coat and put on that brightly coloured shirt, swim don’t paddle, live life, don’t just exist, aim for the moon, you might surprise yourself and reach it.
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A Positive Outlook

The first thing you need to do when reinventing yourself, or just making that decision to get more out of life, is to find that positive outlook – the one we were all born with but that life gradually ate away at.

Stop thinking that you can’t do things, because if you set your mind to it, you can. I come across so many people, many of them a lot younger than me, who tell me that there’s no way they could do what I did and trek to Everest Base Camp. They’re not fit enough, they haven’t got the time, they’ve got a family, they can’t afford it – that’s crap and you know it. These are excuses not reasons and there are ways around these obstacles. I’m not saying trekking is something that everyone should want to do, if everyone wanted to do the same thing there’d be some very crowded spots on this planet, but figure out what it is that you do want to do and then make it happen.
commitmentStop saying ‘no’ and put ‘yes’ back in your vocabulary. Maybe and possibly and sometime don’t exist, they’re just dithering words. I ‘can’t’ isn’t an option, you ‘can.’

Mark Twain was a smart man when he told us that it was the things we don’t do in life that we’ll live to regret.

Action

Do something.

It’s easy to procrastinate with research and planning. It’s in your head, it’s on the screen in front of you but that’s going to get you nowhere – you have to actually do something about it.

You have to make that move, make that commitment and put all of your planning into action. For me, with the beginning of spring that means getting back out there and training – doing some local hikes, climbing the steps. I’ve decided to head for the Himalayas again next year – now I need to make it happen.
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It takes two … or three … or more

Rope in some friends or family members on whatever plans you’re making. It’s fine to do stuff by yourself and many people like it that way, but some things are easier to achieve or more fun if you’ve got someone along with you.

Put it out there, whatever it is you’ve decided to do.

You’ve booked yoga classes – maybe a work colleague or family member has always wanted to do yoga but has never had anyone to do it with. Go together. You want to cut back on the drinking and get fit – there’s bound to be someone who’ll join you in that one. You’ve decided to go see the Northern Lights/Uluru/Spain – find someone else who might be interested, you never know till you start talking about it.

Motivation 2
Go do it and have fun.

Whatever you want to do, do it and make it fun. Rope in those friends, bug your family with it, don’t give up and don’t let people tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t or that you’re mad or weird (you already know that!).

If you want to get fit – do it.

If you want to build your own home – do it

If you want to backpack through America or Europe – do it.

If you want to trek in South America or the Himalayas – do it.

If you want to do volunteer work in Asia – do it.

If you want to travel by train across Australia – do it.

If you want to climb a mountain – just frigging DO IT!

Stop chewing on life and get out there and taste it.

  

Picture Perfect: Indian Ocean, North Beach.

On a grey, miserable day here in Perth I thought I’d remind myself what the weather was like only two days ago. Hopefully with spring only another two days away I’ll get more photo opportunities like this in the very near future, looking out over the Indian Ocean.DSCN1682DSCN1683DSCN1684

  

Wanderlust Women – it’s just the beginning.

Wanderlust – A great desire to travel and rove about.

Wanderlust Women – The women of Perth who have that great desire to travel and rove about, and intend to do something about it.

A couple of days ago I was thrilled to be able to meet up with a group of women who just get it – travel that is, and the addiction that it can become.

The girls at my local travel agency, Brice & Turner, have spent the last twelve months trying to make this come together and on Friday night it did. Shelley, Jen and their crew put on a fun night where those of us women who, for whatever reason, find ourselves having to travel solo, were able to meet up, chat, compare travel stories and travel wish lists and indulge in a glass of wine (or two) and a few nibbles.

With the girls from Brice & Turner - Jen, Monika, Charlotte & Shelley [must remember to wear my heels next time :-)]

With the girls from Brice & Turner – Jen, Monika, Charlotte & Shelley [must remember to wear my heels next time :-) ]

The group we have become has a name, we are the Wanderlust Women (have a look for our Facebook page) and our aim is simple – to connect, share our passion for travel and make things happen.

The night was informal and we generally chatted amongst ourselves and got to find out about each other’s versions of travel. I was asked to share my experiences as a solo traveller, particularly when it came to trekking to Everest Base Camp last year, and I must say it was great to be able to share my experiences and hope it helped others to realise that, yes, they can do whatever they set their mind to.

Brit from G Adventures gave us a run down on the possibilities that her company provides for solo travellers and the broad range of trips they have available. With G Adventures whatever you would like to do, you can. And the lucky Keri won the door prize for the night – a 6 day Thai Local Living trip run by G Adventures.

Lucky prize winner Keri with Brit from G Adventures

Lucky prize winner Keri with Brit from G Adventures

The night was a huge success and a credit to the organisational skills of the girls at Brice & Turner; we had fun, we met new people and made new friends and realised that although we may travel solo we don’t have to travel alone.

This group intends to go places!

We don’t all have the same travel dreams, some of the girls want to head to European cities or Greek islands and take cooking lessons or learn the local language, some yearn to take a cruise or travel by train through mountain scenery. Some of us want to get physical, to climb mountains, cycle through different cultures or take to the water in kayaks or rafts and there are those who want to volunteer on projects in countries less developed than our own.

Helen & Shanntelle enjoying the evening

Helen & Shanntelle enjoying the evening

This group of women will make it happen. We’ll get together, we’ll plan and we’ll organise and we’ll make those dreams come true.

So often when it comes to our dreams, travel or otherwise, we come up with a list of reasons as to why we can’t; we don’t have enough money, we’ve got children, we don’t have time, we have to work etc. etc. We need to stop making those excuses, because that’s what they are, they’re excuses not reasons, and we just need to get on with it.

If I’d stopped to think about things I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have done the amazing things that I have and I wouldn’t have met the people I have along the way. If my then husband and I had stopped to think about it, when we sold up and moved to the UK for five years when the girls were teenagers, we probably wouldn’t have done it and then there would be so many people we wouldn’t have met and so many places we wouldn’t have seen. The journeys we took made us who we are today and I like who I am today and who my daughters have become.

So, if you’re a woman who travels solo and lives in Perth, and want to connect with a group of crazy women whose addiction is travel and whose motto is ‘let’s do it,’ then you simply have to join us. There is no option (head tor the Wanderlust Women Facebook page and like us).

If you’re in other parts of the world then follow our lead and start your own group or simply get together with a friend or two and plan your next adventure.

Go on – do it – I dare you!