Wanderlust Blog

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky to have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock-full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world.

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Greetings from the National Parks

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

- by Malori

Greetings from Colorado and Utah where we are visiting some of our country’s greatest treasures, it’s natural beauty. Our National Parks were created to preserve some of the most awe inspiring scenery anywhere. Our group of 18 Amazing Journeyers are hitting the open roads in search of America’s inspirational landscapes. Today we are in Moab, Utah where we visited our collective favorite, Arches National Park. We visited by day and hiked up to and climbed through several of the actual arches here. The red colored sandstone was nature at it’s finest! In the evening, we went back to an area called “Balanced Rock” to watch the sunset, and with the sun setting against the rocks, we observed the natural colors of the rocks changing from orange to “burnt orange” to red. The colors of the mountains in the background were purple and the clouds in the sky turned pink. It was so beautiful, we broke out singing, “America the Beautiful” together.

This morning, some of the group participated in an exhilarating Hummer Safari tour up and over the red rocks and to the face of the cliffs, overlooking the Colorado River below. The rest of the group choose a white water rafting adventure in the Colorado River, and most of the group escaped the 106 degree heat and jumped right in the water, swimming alongside of the raft.

Later, we visited Canyonlands National Park, another beauty in our four-National Parks Tour. The views and vistas were amazing, and the hiking at both of the National Parks in Utah were incredible.

Earlier in the week, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Denver and tomorrow we will be visiting Mesa Verde National Park.

The Amazing Journeyers who choose to come with us on this tour love seeing the majestic landscapes we have had the opportunity to visit.

New TSA security regulations

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

cell phone
Is your cell phone charged?

It will need to be going forward. In order to continually protect US borders, TSA has added an additional security regulation at certain overseas airports on inbound flights to the US. TSA agents might ask you to power on any electronic or battery-powered devices in front of them that you bring through airport security, including cell phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops, etc. This is to demonstrate the item’s functionality. This new security regulation is focused on intercepting explosives that could be disguised as electronic devices. If you are asked to do this and your device does not have power, you will not be allowed to bring it through security.

Moral of the story – make sure all of the electronic devices are fully charged before you head to the airport.

Tips for sleeping at 35,000 feet

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

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With all the distractions and hassles of air travel, everything makes it tough to sleep on a plane – not enough legroom, people climbing over you, noise from movies and video games and screaming children., sunlight pouring in your neighbor’s window at 35,000 feet.

If you struggle to get some shuteye each time you take to the air, you’re not alone – but choosing the right seat, bringing the right gear and making a few small changes in your flying habits could help you sleep better on your next flight.

Choose your seat wisely

Your seat location could be one of the most important factors in how well, or how poorly, you sleep on your next trip. Try to get a window seat if possible; it will give you something to lean against and get you out of the way of other folks in your row, who won’t have to scramble over you each time they need to use the bathroom. You’ll also have some control over the window shade.

Think twice about bulkhead or exit row seats. Sure, the extra legroom is great, but some exit row seats do not recline (so that they won’t be an obstruction in case of emergency), and some bulkhead seats have armrests that can’t be raised. Sleeping in one of these is like sleeping in a straitjacket.

Another area to avoid is the last row of the plane. Again, the seats may not recline, and they’re often located right near the bathrooms where both noise (and odor) could be an issue.

Aside from the very last row, there are pros and cons to sitting near the front of the plane and sitting near the back. Seats near the rear of the plane may be noisier due to the planes’ engines and clink-clanking from the galley, but it’s also more likely that you’ll have a couple of seats (or even a whole row) to yourself back there – and the extra space could make up for the extra noise.

Cut down on your carry-ons

If you have two full carry-ons, one might end up under your feet, limiting your legroom and making it harder to sleep. Instead, pack lighter so you can fit everything into a single bag. Keep a few small necessities near the top of the bag – a book or magazine, a snack, a bottle of water. Before you stow your bag in the overhead compartment, pull out the important items that you’ll need during the flight and put them in the back of the seat in front of you. Keep the items you stow in the seat back pocket to a minimum, and be aware that flight attendants may ask you to put the items back into your carry-on bag.

Skip the caffeine

Especially on a daytime flight, where even the view out the window can be a distraction, you’ll find it much harder to sleep if you have caffeine coursing through your veins. Skip the temptation to have a cup of coffee or a soda before boarding, and stick to water or juice when the drink cart comes around.

Blankets and pillows – stake your claim

There are never enough blankets and pillows to go around. Board early and stake your claim. If there isn’t a set in your seat, immediately ask the flight attendant for one.

Bring a neck pillow

Many travelers swear by their supportive neck pillows. Experiment a bit and see which ones will work best for you.

Free your feet

This is a controversial subject. Some people slip their shoes off as soon as they get on a plane; others wouldn’t dream of it. Further, there’s the issue of keeping your circulation flowing; going barefoot permits your feet to swell.

Take care of your feet and wear clean socks. Bare feet don’t offend; stinky feet do. Wear shoes you can slip on and off easily. This way you’re not pulling at shoelaces mid-flight. On overseas flights, some airlines give you socks that will keep you warm and encourage circulation in your feet.

Try a sleep aid

I am not a doctor and will not attempt to advise you on what drugs you should take as sleep aids. That said, here are a few products that have been used with some success:

Melatonin: This is a naturally occurring substance – it’s the compound that triggers our sleep patterns, and it’s as natural as eating. The level of melatonin in our bodies declines as we age; this is why older folks often sleep less as they advance in years. As it is a gentle approach, melatonin doesn’t seem to work for everyone.

Dramamine: This motion sickness remedy is a pretty common over-the-counter drug, but beware; it will knock you out, and the advice not to operate heavy machinery (like, say, a car) is to be heeded. If you are on a shorter flight or need to be alert when you wake up, you may want to avoid this one.

Use headphones with discretion

Save yourself the $4 – $5 and catch some more winks by passing on the airline’s headphones. TV and movies can keep you up the entire flight. On the other hand, listening to soothing music can help tune out distractions and lull you into a peaceful sleep. For best results, try Bose’s popular noise-canceling headphones; they’re pricey, but they’re the best product on the market for frequent fliers looking to escape engine noise and other in-flight distractions. (Ear plugs are a less effective but much cheaper alternative.)

Recline your seat – but be courteous

On a night flight, expecting someone not to sleep is like asking them to put down their window shade during a flight over the Grand Canyon or Haleakala. Ideally, everyone has the same idea and seat backs will tip backward soon into your flight.

However, you should always look behind you to make sure the coast is clear before pushing the button to put your seat back. It gives the person behind you a heads up if they have coffee in front of them or have their head down on the tray table. Simple common courtesy applies here.

Make sure you won’t be disturbed

Notify your flight attendant that you want to sleep – that way he or she will know not to disturb you when the drink or snack cart comes around. If you’re under a blanket, be sure your seat belt is buckled over top of it so the belt is visible at all times.

Stay away from the light

The animated flash of movie screens, reading lights, cabin lights, sunlight bursting in on an eastbound flight – all can disturb your slumber. Get yourself an eye mask. Some airlines provide them, but it’s best to keep one in your traveling kit just to be safe.

When it’s time to wake up…

The worst part of sleeping is waking up. It’s even worse on a plane, when you’re waking up to bright lights, luggage carousels and sunshine so bright you can hear it.

If it’s a long flight, consider setting a watch or cell phone alarm for 45 minutes before you have to land. That gives you time to go to the restroom, gather your gear, tie your shoes, watch the approach to your destination and walk off the plane fully awake.

Reaching your destination fully rested, whether you indulge in a short and sweet nap or a full rack en route, always beats lurching around an airport tired and crabby. Grab your winks in flight and you’ll be a happier traveler.

 

Originally posted on Independent Traveler

Apps that make your trip more fun and less frustrating

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

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You’ve booked your vacation and are counting down the days before you leave.  Take a few minutes to check out some of these awesome apps that can save you time, frustration and even embarrassment when traveling.

Postale
This app combines the fun of old-school postcards with the modern convenience of social media. You can use your own just-shot vacation snaps to create your card and the whole process takes mere minutes: Choose a layout and background, add photo, title and message, then finish it off with an artsy postmark. Send it straight from the app using e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. A unique stamp is automatically added that shows from where and when your card was transmitted. It’s a personal way of updating family and friends on your how your vacation is going. Click here for app

TripLingo
You’ll never be lost for words with TripLingo, a free app that’s part phrasebook, part phonetics coach. Search the word bank in 13 languages – including German, Italian, Hindi and Japanese – for everything from body parts and emotions to weather conditions and restaurant-relevant vocabulary. A handy slang-slider translates must-know questions and pleasantries in four different ways, from a formal approach to the most colloquial. An automated voice coach can even fine-tune your accent. Click here for app

JetPac City Guides
This free iPhone app analyzes details of more than 100 million Instagram images to point travellers to the world’s hippest hangouts, happiest places and best views. It ranks publicly shared digital photos by such details as the amount of blue sky, the number of smiles, evidence of coffee cups or wine glasses, and so on, to come up with Top 10 lists. The results are hit and miss. If you’re heading to Paris, and want to know where the city’s best museums are, you’ll be offered the usual (Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay). Searching for the happiest places, however, leads to a list of nightclubs, restaurants, bars and an office tower. Stay away from gimmicky recommendations and instead look for coffee shops, dog-friendly places and where parents go with kids. Click here for app

Rove
Having trouble retracing the steps of your recent Roman holiday? This free iPhone app uses GPS data to track all the places you’ve been. It works in the background to create a travel log of sights, restaurants, hotels and shops that you’ve visited. The part calendar/part map layout is easy to read and tracks whether you got somewhere on foot, bike, bus or taxi. You can tailor things further by adding notes. Click here for app

Symbolic App
Looking for a pair of chopsticks in Tokyo or a cut of sirloin in Argentina? Symbolic App can help you find the right words. The iOS app is loaded with more than 3,000 symbols in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, depicting everything from basic food and drink and health-related matters to hard-to-decipher settings on foreign washing machines. Use the search function to find the right word or phrase. While the pictorial dictionary includes a wide range of categories, it takes a while to navigate the pages. Under “Security,” for instance, you have to scroll randomly through symbols like bomb and battery explosion before finding a way to say “immigration.” Click here for app

Travel List
Get your suitcase in order! This app takes the guesswork out of packing. Start by setting up a series of lists based on the type of vacation you’re taking (beach, safari, city weekend, and so on) and populate them from the preset menus. Within minutes, you scroll through categories that include personal care, clothing, gadgets and documents, and pick must-have items from GPS and mosquito repellent to bikinis, belts and sunscreen. Specify quantities of each item and tick them off once they’re packed. While there are other packing-list apps out there, this one has a simple layout, is easy to navigate and it allows users to copy pre-existing lists, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time. Click here for app

Originally posted on The Globe and Mail

Why Traveling Makes You a Better Person

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

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If you have the opportunity to pack your bags and go, do it. Go alone if you have to. Make plans to meet new friends along the way.
Don’t do it for vacation. Don’t do it for luxury. Don’t do it to take pictures for your Instagram account. Do it because it will make you a better person.

And here’s why:

Learning to be alone.
Have lunch with yourself. Sit with your thoughts and be okay with them, whatever they are. Love yourself whole-heartedly, especially in times of solitude. And when you think you can’t sit alone any longer, order coffee and a dessert.

Relying on the kindness of strangers.
Foreignness does not prevent random acts of kindness. Accept them. Give them. Appreciate them.

Learning that plans change and you will have to adapt.
Itineraries are guidelines, not rigid measurements of experience. The best experiences are often not scheduled or anticipated. Expect the unexpected and learn to love it.

Enjoying the moment.
Forget the missed bus and enjoy the culture that can be experienced in one hour waiting at a bus stop. Stay in the present.

Forces you out of your comfort zone.
Practice speaking that language you learned. Try the cow tongue. Make new friends.

Learning to be patient.
Don’t rush through the museum. Don’t rush through your meal. Don’t bounce your leg up and down or roll your eyes. Don’t yell at anyone for reading the map wrong and getting lost. Don’t worry, you’ll get there.

Learning you can’t assume.
Try looking at things a different way. Ask questions. Let this open up a new realm of thought and possibility.

Missing home.
Appreciate family, friends, and loved ones. Appreciate the comfort of mundane routines. Find a new found respect for the life you often wish to escape.

Goodbye is not forever, life has endless possibilities.
Family becomes more than just blood. Never say goodbye to the people you meet and the places you see. Cherish the new families and homes you’ve gained. Keep in touch and look back with fond memories from time to time.

 

Originally posted on Thought Catalog