Vacation Anticipation

The planning part of travel is almost as good as the real thing.

I have a love/hate relationship with travel. It’s my reason for being, but just as in the rest of life, it has its annoying bits, too. To date, the good far outweighs the bad.

I really hate packing for a trip. That’s why I came up with a master pack list, which I update as needed, and then modify for the trip in question. No need for winter coats on that trip to Hawaii, after all. Oddly, this list also helps me avoid over packing, because I don’t overdo it for fear that I’m forgetting something important.

I also hate the stress-of-getting-to-your-destination part if I’m flying by plane or have to arrive at my hotel before they close, and so on. I don’t breathe easy until I’m in my room, and all my luggage has arrived with me. Then, let the fun begin! (That’s why road trips can be awesome, because you know you’ve got your stuff and nobody will lose it, and the journey is part of the fun.)

Naturally, I adore the actual being-there-and-experiencing-things part of travel. But I also love planning a trip with someone who is willing to actively participate in that part. I like deciding where we’ll go, and when, and what we’ll do. I like reading up on the region to find out what to see. I like learning its history, and if needed, it’s fun to have a rudimentary command of the language. I like watching movies about the area. I like reading guidebooks and deciding which places to stay.

I also find that the more homework you do on the front end, the smoother the trip will be. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting home from a trip and discovering that you had been really close to something amazing without realizing it. I see that as an epic fail.

I’m very lucky in that I now have a travel partner who enjoys the planning as much as I do. We both make an effort to include things that the other person is interested in. (More often than not we are into the same things, so that makes it easy.) He’s also as willing to try new food and have new adventures as I am. I don’t ever feel as if I’m dragging him along against his will, or that the burden of trip planning falls solely on my shoulders, so that makes it fun, even before the actual fun kicks in.

Don’t deprive yourself of the planning part of travel! It’s almost as good as the real thing. And then, of course, there’s coming home and blogging about it…

Frank-N-Furter knew what he was talking about.

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Know Before You Go

This is a cautionary tale for those of you who love to travel. Do your homework beforehand. Read as much as you can on the destination. Because I’m here to tell you there’s nothing more frustrating than getting back home, only to discover that there was something awesome to see there that you completely missed.

I used to be much more organized. Now I’m much more of a lazy fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type person. In other words, I haven’t been heeding my own advice, to my detriment.

Recently, I wrote about my delightful visit to Vashon Island. Much to my horror, while researching for the blog post, after the fact, I learned that there is an iconic tourist destination there that I had totally overlooked. It is the bicycle in the tree.

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The most romantic version of this legend is that a boy left it chained to a tree and then went off to war, and that either he never came back, or when he did, he discovered the tree had grown around the bike. While that’s a poignant notion, I doubt it is true, because it’s clearly a small child’s bike.

When I found out I’d missed this amazing landmark, I was frustrated. Little did I know, I’d be going back the following week! Sadly, the bike has been vandalized since someone took the above picture. (Why do people do that? What possible satisfaction can they get from taking the front tire and handlebars off a bike in a tree? I don’t get it.)

Anyway, the point is: do your homework before you travel. You’ll be glad you did. I’m a much more well-rounded person for having seen the bike in the tree.

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My Daily Homework

Okay, I’ve had it. I’ve decided that I have to do more. I have to speak up and speak out, because this country is circling the drain. So I’ve assigned myself some daily homework.

First, I Googled my US Representative and my two Senators for my particular zip code. I wrote down their names and phone numbers.

Then I wrote myself a general script, based on things that have been floating around on Facebook:

“Hi, my name is ___________ I’m a constituent from  (city, state, zip code). I don’t need a response. I am (in favor of) (opposed to) __________ and I encourage the (Senator) (Representative) to please (oppose) (support) it as well. Thanks for your hard work!”

I’ll pick one issue a day and call them. Short, sweet, to the point. That frees up their phone line for the next person. And saying I don’t need a response frees up their time.

I’ll keep a list of issues and the dates I called about them, so I don’t repeat myself. Unless I really feel I need to.

I happen to be in a location where I’ll most likely be preaching to the choir. My congresswomen pretty much agree with me. But they are forced to swim in a very toxic soup, so it doesn’t hurt to remind them about what we really think.

One thing I was always good at was being a student. (It’s the rest of life that seems to be a challenge.) So I’ll be doing my homework faithfully. And so far, it has only taken about two minutes each day, because I’ve been getting right through. Care to join me?

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Get Off of my Cloud

As a blogger and a fairly intelligent person, you’d think I’d be up on current events. Not so much.

I almost never watch the news. This current trend of expecting the public to live in a world of constant fear makes me sick. And creating news out of non-events, such as what Paris Hilton’s dog is wearing these days, has limited appeal as well.

Several years ago I decided that there was really no point in getting worked up about situations over which I have little or no control, and because of that, I stopped reading newspapers and magazines, and stopped watching the news.

Now, if I have a question about something, I look it up. If it really intrigues me, I’ll read everything I can about it. And I don’t cast votes without doing my homework. Other than that, I let the news come to me. I never go to it.

You’d be amazed. If there’s something that you need to know, such as the fact that a hurricane is headed straight for you, you will find out about it one way or another. I’m never left in the dark about the major stuff, in spite of the fact that I don’t actively seek to be illuminated.

I must admit that there are distressing gaps in my knowledge of pop culture these days. I haven’t a clue as to whose record is topping the charts, what the most popular TV shows are, or who won the Super Bowl. But here’s a shocker: I seem to be able to live my life quite well without this information.

We Americans are under the mistaken impression that the entire world cares about what’s going on in this country, but I bet if you took a poll you’d discover that the vast majority of them can go days, months, and years without thinking about us at all, unless we’re threatening to drop bombs on them. So if the rest of the world can go without peering at our figurative navel, why can’t I?

This is a personal philosophy of mine that drives my boyfriend absolutely insane. He spends a great deal of time keeping up with current events. Guess which one of us has to take blood pressure medication.

So if you see me floating by on my own little cloud, humming quietly to myself to block out the onslaught of bad tidings that are coming at us all from every direction, just wave and let me drift on past.

Unless there’s a hurricane coming.

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[Image credit: glassart.org]