travel tips

I've had a few people email me & ask for travel tips & I'm honored to think that people want my tips.  I do have some from all these trips & figured I would write a blog to share with everyone.  Some are just general tips & others are for handicapped travelers.

When planning a trip, especially a road trip I find it important to make a "lose schedule"to stick to while allowing time for things to "pop up."  You may find something else you enjoy along the way that you want to stop at & it's important to allow time for those things as that's the beauty of any vacation is finding new things to explore & learn from.  Also, allow time for unexpected problems that could come up: car problems, sickness, etc.  The lose schedule will help you keep on track with the things you want to see and time and trust me---without my schedule on our past trips I would have ended up staying at several places longer and missed out on other things on my list I wanted to see.

Again if you are taking a road trip always set aside money for gas that you will not touch or spend on anything else.  There are a few websites that will help you calculate how much money you need but this here is my favorite I found & was the most accurate.  Trust me just because you see that awesome souvenir you have to have if it is spending your gas money---don't do it.  Last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere if you have an emergency but spent all your spending money.

If you are like me & like to speed there are 2 options to help decrease your risk in getting that buzz kill speeding ticket.  1 is bring a radar detector or know the hot spots for cops & always be on the alert.  There are a few places you can count on seeing a cop: toll booths, state parks, construction, state lines, & most major cities.  Now you will have the other cops along the way in other places but if you follow traffic flow you will typically see everyone slow down when people spot a cop.  Of course there is always the option to not speed.  :)  

Eating:  I've learned that a lot of the fun in a road trip is getting to eat the new exciting food in different cities, however for those who are on a budget & maybe only want to eat 1 meal out it is possible to eat in your car or hotel.  If you are staying in a hotel most have continental breakfast where you can not only eat breakfast until you are satisfied but also snag some snacks.  If you are driving brink a cooler & you can go to any local grocery store to get whatever snacks you must have.  Granola bars are easy as well as sandwiches.  My favorite way of saving money (& the environment) is instead of spending money on bottle waters was to invest in a Britta water bottle where you can fill up at any fountain or sink and count on the water being fresh.  

Packing: Now everyone who travels have different needs but these are some general tips.  Weather no matter how many times you check it is unpredictable; always be prepared for all temperatures.  Even in the tropics they have cold days.  You also never know the temperature of restaurants, hotels, etc.  It's always better to be over prepared. With Steve & all of his medical stuff our #1 thing I make sure we have is all of his medications, medical equipment, & I also pack any extra in case of emergency medications (antibiotics, anti-nausea, extra prescribed medications just in case, extra vitamins & natural supplements, etc).  If flying I make sure to always have room for these first & am willing to pay the extra check bag fee if I need to, to assure we have all medical needs taken care of.  I can't stress this enough---can't imagine anything worse then to go on a vacation without all medications needed. Along with medications I also bring a first aid kit---for the accident prone, like me, this will be used I include :neosporin, band aids, peroxide, alcohol, & gauze pads. Oh and lots of hand sanitizer. Lots & lots....Aside from my engagement & wedding ring I tend to not bring valuable jewelery with me on trips.  If you leave your valuable stuff home you can assure you won't risk losing it or getting it stolen.  Unless it is something that is needed it is always recommended to leave it home.  I found this site & loved their packing list.  Of course each persons list is unique but if you write it out you will lower your chances of forgetting important things.  

Other miscellaneous tips:
---Always have some cash on you for tolls, parking, & entry fees
---Have a GPS & map, you never know when your GPS will lose satellite signal & at least you will have a map as backup in case.  
---Take lots of pictures & even take duplicates.  You will never regret taking too many photos.  
---If you want to remember something from your trip write it down.  I do a travel journal & I value them to be able to read back on them when I'm not traveling as well as to jog my memory on things I absolutely want to remember. 
---If you want to buy things on your trip; especially a road trip chose one "souvenir item" to get at each place you visit.  This will help keep the cost down as well as assure you have the keep sakes you want for your trip.  You can do a scrap book of post cards, magnets, etc.  This helps keep down the buying of things that you will eventually throw away or throw in a drawer (we are all guilty of this).  
---Make sure you take time to just look around & enjoy what you see.  It's easy when traveling to get caught up in the driving/flying/traveling/stress & to forget to enjoy the moment.  I tend to take at least 5 minutes at each spot to put my phone away, journal away, etc & just enjoy what I'm seeing.  
---This is a big one for those who are traveling for extended periods---take care of yourself.  Get the rest your body needs, eat right, drink plenty of water, take extra vitamins (you are coming across a lot of new germs your body isn't used to), wash your hands, etc.  If you don't take adequate care of yourself you could end up getting sick during your trip & missing out on travel days.  
---Don't be too afraid to talk to people you meet while being smart.  You can meet some of the most incredible people while you are traveling but be smart.  People don't need to know where you are staying or your intimate details of your life.  If you don't feel comfortable go somewhere else where you will, but don't let fear ruin your chance of meeting some great people.  
---I know it sounds stupid, but if you are sleeping in your car lock your doors at night, lock your hotel room, don't leave valuable things in your car when you leave it.  Travel smart so you don't have any regrets.  
---If you are traveling alone advice I once received is to have a check in friend.  A friend you check in with daily to let them know where you are, your plans, etc.  It's always important to protect yourself just in case you come across anything out of the ordinary.  
---If you get lost instead of stressing about it---enjoy it you never know what you will stumble across while being "lost". 
---In general if you find a hotel that has vacancy that night (happens often on a road trip when you get a hotel last minute) you can negotiate your price.  

Handicap traveling.  This is something I've learned a lot about the past year and a half & will always continue to learn.  Travel is still possible even with the most difficult handicap situation, do not let circumstances stop you from living your life.  Traveling with handicap needs may require more planning because unfortunately not everything is handicapped accessible BUT when there is a will there is a way.  We bring both a push wheel chair & the power wheel chair, as some places do better with the push as opposed the power.  When going to the beach no matter which it is if you do some research you will learn of some handicap beaches where access is easier as well as some public beaches also provide beach wheel chairs.  Most state parks have at least some accessibility so do not avoid places that seem too out doorsy because most will have a paved pathway to enjoy.  If you are flying with a handicap person it is great to call the airlines ahead of time to assure that you will have seats near the front of the plane & hey sometimes if the plane isn't booked you could always get a free upgrade :). Same with hotels---always ask for the handicap room when booking your room, not only to assure you save the room but also helps alert the hotel that you will probably need some extra assistance to get checked in.  If your loved one has any special eating requirements don't rule out going out to eat at all, most restaurants with enough preparation are able to accommodate.  Always allow extra time with traveling when traveling with a handicap person.  It's better to allow you the time needed rather than be rushed with any possible delays.  Know that especially with someone in Steve's condition with ALS to always be prepared for the unexpected (sometimes ALS patients or others with disabilities may not feel "up for" doing anything on certain days) & if you plan time for this it helps eliminate some possible disappointment.  Also, don't expect (again unfortunately) for everyone to be 100% knowledgeable about their handicap amenities again research ahead of time.  This helps avoid any unnecessary aggravations.   I mentioned earlier about medications & the importance of remembering them but something additional would be if the medicine needs to be refrigerated.  This is something that you will need to request a fridge in hotel room---which at most they are available upon request & as well as transportation if you need a cooler etc.  

Travel is such a remarkable growing experience & should never be feared.  I hope this helps people to go out & see the world more.  Remember there is a big amazing world ready to be explored. 

Just like everyone has their own taste & style everyone travels their own way.  Go get your feet wet & find out what you like & don't like & once you find what you love---do it often! 

Lots of love!