Travel Feed

Traveling with the kids in tow

Jason Lewis, with strongwell.org collaborated with Victoria of JourneyZing to share some ways you can use to save yourself some stress and money throughout the journey.

Your life completely changes the moment your little bundle of joy is born, and you will likely spend the next 18-plus years transforming into a new person. Where does this transformational power come from? Love.

While you would never trade this love for anything, there are many other changes that come with parenthood that you might not consider ideal.   Among these is traveling. Before you have kids, traveling is relatively easy. When you travel with kids, however, everything is a little more challenging, takes a little longer, and costs a little more money. Nonetheless, as Scary Mommy notes, it can also be wonderful. Just remember that, as with any other time at home, attitude is everything when it comes to a great family vacation.

Save when you shop.

Chances are you will need to make purchases to get ready for traveling with your children. Along with clothes, toys, quality strollers, carriers, backpacks, and other kid-related items, you will also need to make sure you have everything you need for yourself to relax on vacation. Make sure to pick up a few items for yourself :  some sneakers, a new pair of leggings, and a loose-fitting T-shirt will have you feeling comfortable on your travels.

Rent a car. 

If you’re taking a road trip or going to a destination where you will be traveling around surrounding areas, Wandering Trader suggests that renting a car is your best bet. With a rental car, you have complete freedom with your schedule because it isn’t dictated by a train or bus schedule. Also, it’s a much less stressful way to get from Point A to Point B with kids in tow.

If you decide to  get a rental car, consider getting a short-term one-week insurance policy. You can usually find a short-term policy that provides the coverage you need and costs less money when compared to the insurance that rental car agencies offer.  And if you are careful when you use  your credit card to rent the car, the card may itself provide you with some protection. If youdecide to take a road trip in your own car, make sure you have a reliable mechanic inspect it before you leave. 

Go in the low season.

The whole point of a vacation is to de-stress, relax, and have fun together. However, many times this is not  possible  when traveling during the high season. The high season (also known as “peak season”) is the busiest time of the year at any given destination, which means that the weather is usually nice and there may be a few special events that don’t occur outside of the high season. Despite those perks, however, the high season can actually be more stressful than if you would have stayed at home because of the crowds, transportation and lodging issues and the difficulty of actually seeing and doing what you want.

Opt to travel during the low season (off-season) instead. No, the weather might not be at its peak, but good weather is never guaranteed anyway, and you might luck out. By going to your destination during the low season, you will have fewer tourists to deal with, which means shorter lines, less traffic, and easier reservations for hotels, flights, and restaurants. All of this can make for a much less stressful trip. Along with saving you stress, traveling in the low season is usually a lot cheaper all-around — from hotel stays to flights to amusement park tickets. Even food can be less expensive since there’s less demand during the low season.

Plan for everything to take longer. 

Every part of traveling with children, especially young children, takes longer than when you are traveling alone. From getting to the airport to going through security, from boarding the plane to traveling to the hotel, from checking in at the hotel to going to museums and restaurants — pretty much every aspect of travel requires more time. If your plans allow for extra time, however, you can avoid a whole lot of stress. With camera in hand, there will be plenty of time to capture special moments, so consider taking photography classes by Victoria Herring before vacation actually begins.

It can be tough keeping kids entertained during long days of travel, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along a tablet or laptop so your child can play some educational games or quietly watch their favorite TV shows. 

While traveling could never take away from the love a parent has for their child, it can still be pretty stressful and expensive. Look to big-box retailers for travel items, and use discount opportunities to stretch your savings. Consider renting a car and getting a one-week insurance, travel during the low season, and allow for extra time in every aspect of the trip. Tips like these will help you have a low-stress, budget-friendly trip that the whole family can enjoy. 

and . . .

A comment from Victoria:   When I was married [many years ago] we got in the habit of taking our kids with us - Kate, at about 1-2 years, had been to New Mexico, New Orleans, Jekyll Island, etc.  And, as the kids aged we even took them overseas.  The main thing with kids is that if you try to see the trip through their eyes you’ll have a blast.  We took them to Paris when they were both under 8 and made a point of going to the highest places possible - Montparnasse, Notre Dame [and the Gargoyles!], Eiffel Tower -  and they had a ball.  You don’t want to rush around and try to see and do everything.  Get the kids interested in travel and new and different places and they’ll want to go again and again, with you or later as they grow older.

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Tips for Making Your Next Family Vacation a Memorable One

An informative & helpful guest post from Jesse Clark, Soulful-Travel.com:

A family vacation is an exciting time. You may have saved up all year to discover new places or be thrilled at the opportunity to make family memories during school breaks. Make it an unforgettable experience with these tips from JourneyZing, even if you choose to spend your vacation at home.

Plan a Road Trip 

If you want to get away, why not schedule a family road trip? Instead of visiting one city, you could travel to multiple places and pick one or more noteworthy attractions to visit in each location. 

If you go this route, purchase a wireless charger so you can keep your phone charged at all times in the event of an emergency. With a fully charged phone, you can also conveniently research fascinating stops along the way. Plus, you'll always have your phone ready to capture picture-worthy moments during the trip. 

Choose Outdoor Activities 

Although visiting museums and going shopping are popular vacation activities, they're indoors, which is much riskier from a health standpoint. If you're looking for pandemic-friendly options, consider outdoor activities such as hiking or camping. Check out zoos or biking trails, or plan a visit to a lake.

Bring the Essentials

When you take a road trip, you know you need clothing, hygiene products, and other essentials. You more than likely will bring games and snacks to keep your children occupied while traveling.

Nowadays, it's also a good idea to bring masks for everyone. Some states and areas have mask mandates in effect, and you never know when a business or attraction will require them for all visitors. Another essential to bring is hand sanitizer. And nursing moms, don’t forget a comfortable nursing top!

Consider Staying Home

If you feel the conditions for travel aren't ideal right now, stay at home and spend every second you can together. Play family board games, or build a tent in your living room that the whole family can sleep in. Get everyone working as a team for the build. You could plan a movie night where everyone lounges around, eats popcorn, snuggles, and enjoys one another's company. Let everyone vote on what movies to watch. 

You can also take the kids outside in your own yard. You can research fun outdoor activities or make up your own outdoor games as a family, such as building an obstacle course in the backyard, participating in a three-legged race, or having a scavenger hunt.  

During your vacation, make a no electronics rule for everyone so your family members aren't distracted. To help you relax and enjoy your time off together, get all the housework and work-from-home tasks completed beforehand. 

Add a Fence

For safety reasons, you may want to connect with a local contractor and install a fence. You can search Angi for “local fencing companies near me” then read reviews, get a quote, and discuss your needs before you meet with contractors to save time and potential hassle. The exact price depends on the materials you choose, the size of your yard, and where it's installed. When choosing a contractor, make sure they're licensed and insured. You should also confirm that they are aware of any underground hazards, such as utility lines, in your yard.

Have Fun

Whether you decide to stay home or get away, the most important tip for a family vacation is to have fun. Don't forget to leave your worries behind! 

JourneyZing offers international travel photography that rises to the level of fine art. Feel free to contact us today.


A Practical Guide to Transitioning to the Digital Nomad Lifestyle [guest post]

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If you're been caught by the travel bug, you might consider satisfying your wanderlust by becoming a digital nomad. This lifestyle allows you to live and work worldwide without being tied down to one place. According to research published in The Flexible Workplace, digital nomadism is on the rise, thanks to technological advances and greater workplace flexibility. However, before you pack your bags, it's critical to do your research and prepare

JourneyZing helps eager travelers like yourself figure out the practicalities of going abroad. This guide provides actionable tips for becoming a digital nomad

Figure out how you'll earn your money

One of the appeals of digital nomadism is that you can enjoy a higher standard of life in locations with a more affordable cost of living. However, you still need to earn money. If you're currently employed, consider talking to your boss about the possibility of remote work. Spaces Works explains that you need to clarify that you're planning to go abroad. Working from home is one thing. Working half-way across the world in another time zone is another.

Alternatively, you can start a freelance business. If you go this route, consider forming a limited liability company (LLC). This will help protect you personally in case of legal issues and is a streamlined alternative to more complex entities like corporations. Regulations regarding LLC formation vary between states. For example, in Iowa, you need to name a registered agent and file "articles of organization." An Iowa formation service like ZenBusiness can help you through the process, sparing you pricey lawyer fees.  [Although Victoria Herring, as a former lawyer, would advise forming a relationship with a lawyer so business issues can be promptly and efficiently handled after your business is formed]

Decide what to do with your current home — and find a new one

Some digital nomads leave home completely, selling all their possessions and property. Others prefer having a homebase to come back to. If you keep your house or apartment, you can rent it out. Guesty has a guide to listing properties on Airbnb that can be useful. Alternatively, you might ditch your place completely. Vox notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a boom in the housing market. If you sell your apartment or house now, you may be able to get a good amount of money for it.

You'll also need a place to stay in your target destination. Homelike lists popular options for digital nomads, including short-term apartment rentals, serviced apartments, and co-living spaces. When looking, make sure the property has the capacity to accommodate remote working, such as a decent Wi-Fi connection. Proximity to amenities like public transportation, grocery stores, gyms, and coworking spaces can also be useful.

Stay safe by investing in insurance and security measures

Ideally, you won't get sick or injured while abroad. However, you can't rule out the possibility completely. Make sure you have insurance wherever you are in the world. Visitors Coverage explains that if you're traveling for over a year, you should look into global medical insurance, also known as expat travel insurance. For less than one year of travel, travel medical insurance should be sufficient.

You might also consider getting insurance coverage for the tools you need to work, like your computer and phone. If these valuable goods are lost, stolen, or damaged, you won't be able to do the work you need to earn your living as a digital nomad. Allianz Travel provides tips for protecting your tech, like investing in an anti-theft backpack with a locking compartment to secure your valuables. Still, in case such precautions don't work, insurance is a plus. For example, if someone takes your entire backpack, the locked compartment won't help you!

With modern technology and greater openness toward remote working, it's easier than ever to become a digital nomad. The above guide can help you plan the transition to the nomadic lifestyle.

For more helpful travel planning tips and resources, head to JourneyZing. We are here to help you discover the world safely.

[with appreciation to our guest author, Eva Benoit, https://evabenoit.com]


Thoughts on finding the perfect pet sitter for your times away

Jesse Clark of Soulful Travel has some suggestions as we start to plan for travel this year which seemed quite practical and helpful -

How to Find the Pet Sitter of Your Dreams Before Your Vacation

For people who hold high-stress jobs — those who work in management tend to experience higher levels of stress than others — taking a vacation is beyond important. Getting away from the grind for a while allows you to reset your mind and get those stress and anxiety levels in order. And when you have a pet, your to-do list before heading out on vacation is a little longer than others’ lists because you’ve got another life to take care of. Finding high-quality overnight pet care is not always easy, so it’s best to start early. Here are a few tips on finding the right kind of care. 

For more travel inspiration, stay up to date with the JourneyZing blog, or through the images in her Gallery.  Or if you need help planning your next getaway, work with Victoria Herring to book a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Define Your Expectations

When you mention pet sitting, most people probably think of someone who stops by your house occasionally while you’re out of town to give your pet food and water, let them go to the bathroom and make sure nothing major has happened. A pet sitter worth their salt, though, will go above and beyond this basic level. They will spend quality time with your pet, giving them companionship so they’re not alone. They can take your pet for a walk to give them exercise, and they can play games with them.

Good pet sitters can also perform other tasks at your home, such as bringing the mail and newspaper inside, watering the plants and turning various lights on at different times to ward off burglars. Decide ahead of time how much you expect from a pet sitter and question them accordingly when you interview them.

Benefits 

You and your pets will both benefit from a quality pet sitter. Your pet will get to stay in the environment they know best, which will cause them much less stress than going to a boarding facility. They will get to stick to their normal diet and routine, and because the sitter won’t be distracted with other animals, they will get one-on-one attention.

You will get the peace of mind that you can only find when you know you have left a situation in the hands of a professional. You will also have fewer details to take care of before vacation if you don’t have to pack up your pet and drive them to a boarding facility. Plus, you’re not just getting a pet sitter, but also you’re getting a house sitter for a few days.

Where to Look and What to Ask

The best way to start looking for a pet sitter is by asking your friends and family for recommendations. They may know of a local trusted cat sitter or dog boarder who can provide pet sitting services for you. You can also check national organizations that issue pet sitting certifications that will let you know your sitter is trained and capable of doing a great job. The two most well-known are the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International. Both sites include directories that will help you locate a pet sitter near you.

When you find candidates in your area, you should ask a few questions before hiring them. Get a good general feel for how they conduct themselves - remember, they will be in your home, so you want someone trustworthy. Ask for written proof of commercial liability insurance and bonding, and ask how much training they have completed. Make sure they have a backup plan if they become sick or have car trouble, and ask how they handle pet emergencies. Before you make your final decision, ask for a written service contract that spells out the services they will provide. You should also ask for references you can call. IMG_8243.HEIC

 


The Dos and Don’ts of Planning a Safe and Budget Savvy Staycation

Here are some good ideas for a Staycation by Jesse Clark of Soulful-Travel.com - I figured they'd help with planning a positive experience as we really can't travel all that much these days:

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Des Moines River in the Fall

Even though vaccinations are progressing, travel could still be off-limits for the next several months. If you love to explore new destinations, this can put a real damper on any vacation plans, but you can still find safe ways to relax and recharge. In fact, you can do so without crossing any social-distancing boundaries by planning a staycation in your own town. 

Taking a “trip” locally can also save you a small fortune, which you can put towards future travels when things are a bit safer. If you need ideas for planning the perfect staycation, these dos and don'ts can provide inspiration. 

Don’t Take Chances With Home Security 

There are plenty of ways to save money on your staycation. Cutting corners with home security shouldn’t be one of them. A home invasion could leave you with $2,000 or more in losses and priceless damage to your emotions. These costs just aren’t worth any savings. So if you plan on leaving your home, even locally, make sure it is safe and secure. 

Lucky for you, there are ways to effectively protect your home without having to spend a small fortune. Smart home devices that can help include video doorbells, automated lighting, and programmable locks. You can already pick up popular and state-of-the-art video doorbells for just around $100. 

Do Treat Yourself to Shopping Savings 

Now that you’re not stressing out about your home, you can find other ways to relieve tension during your staycation, which could include a little retail therapy. As long as you keep your purchases under budget, shopping can be good for your mental health. Unplanned shopping trips can be especially satisfying, so set aside money for these excursions. 

You can use shopping as a form of self-care without any guilt by taking advantage of coupons and promo codes. With a quick online search before checkout, you can access deals and cashback offers for stores like American Eagle, so you can indulge with less financial stress. 

Don’t Overlook Free and Safe Activities 

Staycations can mean either traveling locally or sticking to your own home. If you choose the latter, you could end up saving even more money. That’s because there are so many safe, relaxing, and completely free ways you can enjoy yourself at home, all while social-distancing. 

You could curl up on the couch for a few hours with a good book or some good music, for one. Or if you decide to get out for some fresh air during your staycation, just make sure that you are able to practice social-distancing. Spending time in nature can also be a powerful way to unwind and refresh, so you could even plan your staycation around safe outdoor activities that are budget-friendly, like going for walks or making s’mores in your own yard. 

Do Focus Your Plans on Self-Care and Fun 

Comfort is important for relaxation. But in order for your staycation to feel like a vacation, you also need to do something fun and adventurous. Finding adventure in your home may seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be if you get creative with your plans! 

For example, while you can’t travel to far off places right now, you can still explore them online. Doing so is bound to be much friendlier to your budget too, since so many locations, attractions, and museums are offering free virtual tours to help keep people entertained during the pandemic. You can explore the Guggenheim Museum in New York or the Musée d’Orsay in Paris or even the world through JourneyZing’s gallery — all without ever having to leave your living room. 

Staycations don’t have to be boring! Plus, they can keep you safe while helping keep your budget in check. You can use those savings to fund your next real-world adventure, once travel has been declared safe once again. Until then, have fun and try to find ways to unwind at home. 

 

See what JourneyZing can do to help you make the world your oyster from your home. Get in touch today.

 


Going through old photographs. . .

I found one from a trip in 2006 when I spent about a week in Beijing, China [and two in Bhutan] and joined a small tour group bicycling through the hutongs of the old city.  I'm going to be having a show in late July at Artisan Gallery 218 with photos of bicycles from that and other trips over the years.  Details of the show will be on the website and in its Newsletter or you can contact me for further information.

Vicky in Beijing web


Happiness is good!

The Pre-Trip Happiness is Good for YouThe benefits of travel don’t come to you just during and after your trip. The excitement and anticipation of going on vacation can considerably lift your spirits. According to a University of Surrey study, people are at their happiest when they have already booked a trip. Such people are also more positive about their finances, health, and overall quality of life.  

A Cornell University study found that people rate the happiness of anticipating a travel experience over that of purchasing a new acquisition.

Tip: Download a countdown clock app to help stoke your feelings of giddiness and excitement before the trip. The closer you get to the date, the happier you will be.

 

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Wild lines in Seattle

More from Catherine Workman, part 3

Travel Relieves Stress

Our day-to-day responsibilities may be time-consuming, and sometimes we totter under the burden of living hectic, busy days on repeat. Travel is a delightful way to escape the commitments and stresses of our daily life, introducing refreshing change and novelty in the form of new sights, experiences and acquaintances. The goal is to relax to the point where both the mind and body reboots, free from the strains of work projects and burdensome relationships, says Margaret King of the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis.

For many, travel is not about discovering new places as much as escaping from old ones that are adversely affecting our spirits. Vacations sever the feeding channels of stress connected to the activities and places we dwell in for work.

Tip: Sometimes vacations to busy cities like London or New York, while exciting, may overwhelm your nerves a tad. During such big urban adventures, be sure to schedule some down time, like a calm picnic or massage.

 

 

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Boat in Canal in Venice

More from Catherine Workman

With Travel.....

You Learn to Be Flexible

When travelling, especially in new countries, you step out of your comfort zone and are forced to adopt to new customs and societal differences. This challenge “opens” your personality more, noted a 2013 paper by Zimmerman and Neyer. New societal adaptation calms your emotional reactions to changes in the day-to-day and boosts emotional stability, their paper concludes. At the same time, you meet new people, expand the size of your existing social network, and fortify your sense of congeniality.

Tip: Charm the locals you meet by learning and expressing, from time to time, typical expressions and idioms of the culture. Punctuating your phrases with a word of curious note will endear you to them.

 

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Bhutanese Dancer at Festival

A guest post from Catherine Workman of Wellness Voyager

From time to time I become aware of other's writings on topics relating to travel, both encouraging it and providing helpful suggestions.  Catherine Workman of WellnessVoyager has written on this topic.  She has a great view of travel:  "Catherine believes we should all leave our comfort zones once in awhile. She uses travel to boost her physical and mental health and shares about her experiences on WellnessVoyager.

So, here is one of her discussions and I'll publish others in the near future. 

Here are a few reasons why springing for a pleasure trip is a terrific idea, coupled with trip-maximizing tips:    

It Sows Creativity

Experts on neuroplasticity (how our brain is connected) say our brains are tremendously influenced by changes in experiences and environments. Studies conducted at Columbia Business School have found that creativity is stoked when cultural immersion is deep. Open-mindedness blossoms when you shift your habits and newly tailor your life to the customs of the country you’re visiting.

Tip: Practice more than one creative outlet – such as journal writing, or craft learning – when traveling, to stir your creative synapses.

Woman walking in downtown Aix


Our Visit to Cuba, continued

There are basically four main Plazas in old Havanna which were within easy walking distance. The one we visited first, Plaza de La Catedral, had, as you might expect, a cathedral at one end and then a number of other museums and interesting buildings and loads of tourists wandering about.

Plaza de La Catedral

 

 


Our Visit to Cuba

In late December I, my husband and our daughter traveled to Cuba and over the next several days I'll hope to provide some descriptions and photographs from the journey. We started to plan back in June before the policy toward Cuba was changed.  We bought our flights to Miami and then to Havana and set off a few days after Christmas.

We categorized ourselves as a people-to-people mission, because it was true: My husband is a lawyer and we wanted to learn about the legal system, I am a photographer and wanted to take photographs and as soon as I can get them processed and reviewed hope to have several to show, and our daughter speaks fluent Spanish and frequently translated for us. We did ultimately make arrangements with a tour agency, Cuba Cultural Travel, to handle the details of the various requirements for our visit to Cuba. They did an excellent job of finding a good guide, a safe and good driver, a variety of experiences to enjoy. It is certainly much easier to travel with the help of a tour agency when you are not familiar with the country and need assistance with some of the paperwork and other requirements. 

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The Malecon & view of Havana
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Young Lovers on the Malecon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[We lucked out with our first Casa Particular, a 15th floor penthouse apartment with a delightful host.  And wonderful views of the Atlantic abutting the northern shore of Havana, Cuba.]


Taking Amtrak between Iowa & Chicago, a great time.

I wanted to go to Chicago for a long weekend, to attend OpenHouseChicago, which is another story.  After pricing airfares [$350+] and asking our daughter about Megabus [$90; she warned me I might not like the bathroom], I researched taking the train.

To take Amtrak from central Iowa to Chicago you have to go to Osceola [an hour south of Des Moines] and get on the California Zephyr.  It is the cross-country train between Chicago and Emeryville, California which for the whole route takes a little over two days.  The route from Iowa to /from Chicago is about 6 hours, although it can be a little more time coming from the West. That’s because Amtrak travels on freight rails and has to give way to freight train traffic.  

But, it cost me $100 to ride round-trip, leaving about 9:30am and arriving about 4:30pm, and returning from 2:00pm to 8:30 pm.  That’s $10 more than Megabus, but you have more room, the lounge car is available [as is the dining car], and I’d rather take the train.

Those who complain about the train ‘always’ being late generalize unfairly.  After all, even though the flight takes a little over an hour, you have to be there an hour ahead and wait for baggage awhile on arrival and pay three times as much.  There certainly are good reasons to fly to Chicago or elsewhere, but if you want to relax, read a book, work on your computer, sleep or play video games, the train beats a plane any day.

I also discovered something new [to me] in Chicago.  I arrived at Union Station to leave about 4 hours later.  Amtrak has created a Legacy Club for its passengers for $20 for a day pass.  That can be money well spent - free wifi, comfortable seating, free coffee and snacks, Clue and other board games, a happy hour twice a day and a place of relevant quiet [it has TVs running which I don’t care for, but that certainly is fine for most people and I can hide in a corner and ignore them]. 

So, if you have time and want to maximize it and enjoy it, taking the train makes a lot of sense.

 

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Amtrak Union Station, Chicago

 

 


Fun in Quebec City

We recently returned from a short trip to Montreal and Quebec City - perfect weather, we walked around both cities, but the following shot is just for fun, the Tall Ships were visiting Quebec City just before we arrived and in the basin some small boats were hung near a bridge - a joyous addition to the waterfront.

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'Flying Boats' in Quebec City