As a world traveler, I am fascinated by culture and food and music and history. I am amazed by the similarities and differences that unite and divide us all. More than anything, though, I feel that we are all one tribe in this great big world, and all around the globe, we are each dealing with this pandemic that is keeping us physically apart. We can still be united, though, through technology and memories and optimism about the future.
Theo and I have said many times over the past few years that we wanted to travel like mad while we could, because you never know when circumstances will change and keep you grounded. Well, now, I am so happy that we followed through on our crazy travel agenda for so many reasons. We have a wealth of experiences together over the last seven years with memories that will last a lifetime. And during this time of isolation, we’ve also learned that we can simply be at home together 24/7 and enjoy each other’s company. Sure we bicker at times and need our own space, but we are really fortunate to have a solid friendship and comfortable life.
Comfortable or not, staying grounded isn’t emotionally easy. We all have fear or uncertainty and suffer from boredom or stress that we didn’t have before the pandemic. So to keep me from going too stir crazy, I’ve been posting some travel memories—one each day—from A to Z. I thought I’d put them all together and share them here.
Many times, when international travelers set out to explore Central America, they start with Costa Rica and Belize. Perhaps they check out the Tikal ruins in Guatemala and the beaches of Roatan, Honduras and Bocas del Toro, Panama. The adventurous wanderer might continue on to Nicaragua’s colonial city, Granada, or island beauty, Ometepe. Us, too! But many travelers overlook El Salvador. That’s precisely why we went and WOW!
Wow! We weren’t sure what to expect from the overnight trip we took to Kulusuk, Greenland 🇬🇱 from Reykjavik, Iceland 🇮🇸. We honestly booked the trip for the novelty of going to Greenland—a giant island that is so unknown to most travelers. We really wanted to see icebergs and a totally different terrain and way of life. It did not disappoint. The early September weather was beautiful, though cold and windy and a little rainy at first. Overall, we had perfect (and even sunny) weather. We walked around town, took lots of pictures and talked to the kind people who live and work there. It was beautiful and amazing!
I can’t believe I had never been to Chicago until last week! It’s not that I hadn’t tried. Something always came up, and I had to cancel my plans: a hurricane, a fight with my college boyfriend, etc. I was beginning to think I’d never see the Second City! I finally made it, and I’m so glad I did. Chicago is more beautiful and vibrant than I ever imagined. Here are some of my favorite pics from my walk around town.
You may have access to upgrades, online changes and other perks you won’t have if you use a third-party booking site. For example, we like to purchase upgraded seats and early boarding. We travel so much that the money we spend on this can save us a lot of time, provide a lot more comfort and eliminate stress. So when we flew Aer Lingus recently, we booked through Orbitz and the airline would not let us make online changes. We called Aer Lingus twice and were on hold for an hour each time without anyone answering. We tweeted our frustration, Aer Lingus immediately responded and got us in touch with a lovely customer service rep who upgraded our seats. We had a great experience with Aer Lingus and will 💯 fly with them again. The frustration would have been a nonissue if we booked directly.
We love Orbitz and the rewards points we get for booking through the site. If it costs less to book a flight and hotel together through Orbitz, we absolutely will. If we have trouble with navigating an international airline’s website, we will also use Orbitz to book. Otherwise, we go directly through the airline.
We travel a lot. I know, right, you’ve met us. Anyway, I wanted hubby’s birthday to be extra special—so I let him pick where we went for once 😝 I have to admit the Belizean islands that we visited were very touristy, but sometimes that’s a welcome change and we definitely had a wonderful time. San Pedro was fun. Caye Caulker was laid back and lovely for bike riding, swimming and lounging at the Lazy Lizard. The snorkeling at Hol Chan in between the two islands was incredible, too! We swam with a sea turtle, a moray eel and nurse sharks.
What really made the trip special, though, was our visit to the jungle.
We stayed outside of San Ignacio at Table Rock Jungle Lodge in a villa near the Macal River. We had so much fun hiking by the river, watching the wildlife from our balcony and chatting with the staff about life in Belize.
The most adventurous part of our trip was taking a day to trek into Guatemala to see the Tikal ruins. It was a long day but worth every minute! Personally, I found the Tikal ruins and the jungle setting even more fascinating than Chichen Itza. We rode through Guatemala on Carnival, too, so we got to see a few local parades along the way.
Don’t leave home without this universal travel adapter. I take it with my everywhere I go—domestically and internationally. Not only does it work in every country, but it also has two USB ports and a regular plug, so I can charge my phone, earbuds and laptop all at once. Sometimes it’s hard to find more than one outlet, so being able to charge 3 devices is great! And I don’t have to worry about hanging onto a bunch of international adapters.
When using a credit card internationally, always have the vendor charge you in the local currency. The conversion rate the vendor offers for your home currency may be a lot more that you’d otherwise pay. If you have a credit card that doesn’t charge international transaction fees, use it whenever you can. It will give you the best exchange rate.
I caught the travel bug long ago. There’s no cure, and I’m happy about that. I’m even more excited about how contagious the travel bug is. For many years I traveled solo—staying by myself in big cities and hopping on tours to see the countryside and waterways of the world. Now, I have a travel partner. It was this month 4 years ago that we took our first international trip together through Morocco and Madrid—and it went so well that we were married 8 months later! (We would have gotten married immediately, but my family convinced us to have a wedding).
Travel partnerships are like any other—you have to be compatible. If one person loves 5-star resorts on the beach and the other likes to backpack through big cities, you may not be travel compatible (or you may learn from each other’s ways—both sound pretty good to me).
My hubby and I travel in the same style. We travel cheap. We pack extremely light. We don’t buy souvenirs. We like to stay in the heart of the city for a few nights and in a beach or jungle bungalow for a few more. We like to sample the local food, drink and music and chat with people from around the globe. I like seeing the major attractions—hubby couldn’t care less. So, I’ve learned how to fit in a few of the top attractions for each trip without making him feel like he’s on a bus tour.
We enjoy travelling together so much that we really went crazy in 2017: Grand Cayman, Nicaragua, Cabo, Peru, Key Largo, Lisbon and Dublin. It’s been a wonderful year of travel. Nicaragua warmed my heart. We met so many amazing people and just fell in love with the country. Peru was the adventure trip of a lifetime: food-touring in Lima, trekking around Machu Picchu, kayaking through the Amazon jungle. Lisbon was simply magical.
Two months from now we will start our 2018 travels with a beach and jungle trip to Belize—then it will be time to recharge the travel budget!