Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Honey, I'm home!"

I drug my sorry jet-lagged self back into my own bed last night after a wonderful few weeks abroad.  I think of that old classic song "They can't take that away from me"  when  pondering why I love to see the world. I drive a 15 year old car.  Dress from consignment shops and don't give a hoot for precious jewelry but can I tell you the memories I have from visiting foreign places?
I've learned a trick or two about putting together a successful trip. 
1.  Choose your travel partners carefully.  Flexibility, kindness to strangers, a sense of adventure, and independence are big on my list.  Not everyone likes to do the same things so why should anyone be hindered from fulfilling their wish list by another partner's wishes?  Divide and concur I say.
One of my values for travelling is collecting new friends so having a travel mate who is outgoing and friendly is a must for me.  The new relationships formed while away from home make me feel connected and secure.
Different sleep times or energy levels?  No problem - we can all meet up for lunch.
2. www.Tripadvisor.com is a must for me. I research (one of my favorite parts to a trip) and review the travelers reviews like a sleuth.  Also I Google questions I have about desirable neighborhoods versus neighborhoods that could be akin to Bonfire of the Vanities.
3.  www.hotwire.com is a great way to get a deal on a great hotel.  You can search by hotel ratings ( I never stay at anything under four stars) neighborhood, customer reviews (I never stay at anything under 88% excellent ratings (taking into account the grump factor that some people are critical of everything).  I've stayed at The W Hotel in New York,   a fabulous hotel in Barcelona with a roof top pool all to ourselves and many more all at way less than the published price.
4.  Tip the little people.  Each day I leave a $5.00 bill on our bed with a personal note to the maid.  We've received hugs, loads of toiletries, and even a vase of flowers from her garden in gratitude for this simple gesture.  Want to help the working poor?  No one cleans rooms for the satisfaction of the job.  Skip the middle man (Salvation Army etc.) tip the maid daily.
5.  Hand the flight attendants a small box of good chocolates when you get on the plane.  They are so programmed for complaints that this will surprise them with delight.  I've been offered so many complimentary drinks I lost count.  Too bad I don't drink and fly because, I fear that if we hit bad turbulence I would make my way to the cockpit and ever so gingerly knock on the door and holler "Let's get this baby up higher -- you hear?!"  Next scene -- me on the evening news.
Give your magazines to the flight attendants after you are through.  They love them for the layovers.
6. If you don't already belong to a hotel chain's reward program sign up when you check in at the front desk.  Your perks will begin at once (free wi-fi, bottled water and such).  Often they will upgrade your room on the spot because I believe that the front desk person has incentives from the chain if they sign you up.
I'm sure I've forgotten some more tips but you get the idea.
Make yourself stand out in a good way.  Make friends while you are making memories.
Now, It's 1:00 am where I just came from so "Good Night sweetheart, Good night."

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