Category: Travel (Page 1 of 2)

Thoughts on travel from a world traveler – based on travels alone, with kids, with adult family members, and with friends.

Celebrating “Retirement”

Changing Directions – Again

As happens so often, I have changed directions on this week’s blog post. Hopefully, my previously planned topic will appear in a future post, but not this week.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post, Celebrating 35 years of Homeschooling, 40 years of Parenting, 60 years of Life, on my other blog, at I did not expect that I would be writing a follow up post here on my author’s blog, but that’s exactly what I’m now doing.

Last Year’s Surprise

Last year’s post came as a result of a video my children surprised me with for my 60th birthday.  The video was unexpected, to say the least, and was an amazing blessing as my children shared some of their favorite memories of growing up with me. (They were kind enough to leave out any unpleasant memories they may have.)

This Year’s Surprise

I would really have thought they couldn’t top that surprise/blessing. But they managed. This year, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, when I thought a dozen of us were going out to an early Mother’s Day luncheon, I found myself at our church surrounded by a very large group (about 50, by my best count) of family, friends, students, and former students, to celebrate my “retirement.” The brainchild of one of my children, “Saying Thank You to Catherine Jaime” was like the previous year’s video on steroids.

My daughter had managed to interview dozens and dozens of people I had interacted with during the last three plus decades as  I homeschooled, taught class after class, and coached team after team of mock trial students. As I watched the audio/visual presentation she had so carefully put together, I was brought to (happy) tears yet again.

The Upcoming Reunion

And the timing could not have been better. In less than a month I will be attending my husband’s 40th reunion at MIT. (I attended MIT also, but my 40th isn’t until next year.) I have been to numerous reunions over the past 40 years and have always enjoyed getting together with our friends there. But, sometimes, I have to work hard to make sure I’m not falling prey to second thoughts on how I’ve spent the last (fill in the blank, depending on the reunion) years.

Following A Different Path

I didn’t follow the same career path as the vast majority of my college classmates, choosing instead to primarily stay home and raise/homeschool my children. Of course, as our little party on Saturday showed, my version of staying home and raising my children probably didn’t look like most other people’s version for several reasons:

  1. I did LOTS of writing during that time.
  2. I did LOTS of traveling (with and without my children).
  3. And I taught LOTS of other people’s kids while I was at it.

Traveling More and Writing More

In fact, last year when I was closing down my homeschool resource center, Creative Learning Connection, I often heard the “What will you do now?” question. I usually answered: “Travel more and write more.” People that knew me well often questioned how I could do more of either, but I have!

So, just like the last 40 years of my life didn’t fit most people’s expectations, it’s likely that my future years (how ever many God blesses me with) will not look much like that of most of my peers (but why should I start now!).

Retired Government Club Advisor

I have officially passed on the mantle of Government Club Advisor/Coach/Mentor to family members for next fall. (Scheduling two cruises for that time of year sort of forced the issue.) And I’m more or less retired from teaching classes now (though I’m not sure the students who will be at my house in a couple of days for Shakespeare will believe that).

Favorite Memories

But I’ll settle for the fact that I’m semi-retired for now. And as I move into this somewhat new phase, I will be looking back on Saturday’s event with great pleasure. In fact, the real fun of watching and listening to the presentation was seeing how many people gave similar answers on how I had impacted their lives – most had to do with travel, or Mock Trial, or both, with some general homeschool encouragement and Shakespeare thrown in there for good measure. And considering my favorite memories of the last 40 years revolve around pretty much those same things, it was cool to hear others sharing my sentiment.

I think the saying in the little plaque I received as a gift, says it well, “I’m not retired. I’m just getting started.”

Now, off to help at a homeschool graduation, and then back to trying to finish that Michelangelo book I’ve been trying to write since the beginning of March!

Happy traveling and learning.


Four More Travel Tips

As someone who travels often, I am always on the lookout for travel tips  that will make the travel portion of my life just a little bit easier.  In 2017, with the exception of October, I managed to go out of town at least once every month for the entire year.  (And that exception  was only because I gave up several travel opportunities that month in order to  intentionally spend a month at home.)

I said before I retired that I envisioned retirement to involve LOTS more travel and writing – and so far that’s exactly what “retirement” has been like for me. So it should come as no surprise that 2018 is shaping up to be another year with frequent trips. And since I spend a lot of time traveling, that means I also spend a lot of time preparing for those travels.

In a previous blog post, Tips for Packing Light and Traveling Smart, I shared some of my favorite travel tips (including using packing  cubes, packing light, and choosing a good carry on). Today I would like to share several other tips which you may find useful in your travels.

1. Trip Specific Items

With so much time spent traveling, I own a lot of things specifically for traveling – the packing cubes I mentioned in the last post, the travel  size extension cords, and a variety of European plug adapters, to name just a few. I certainly don’t want to have to go looking for those every time I need to pack. So, most of my travel specific items reside in specific drawers in my dresser. (I started with one drawer and have slowly made it up to  having three of my six dresser drawers now designated to those travel items.) It’s very easy to find those things every time I need them and I make a special point of returning them after every trip.

I need an extension cord so often that one of those actually resides in the case for my CPAP machine – always ready to go, without my even thinking about it. (It resides there permanently along with a travel sleep mask.)

2. Pre-Packing

The second thing that has meant alot in keeping my stress level down with all the packing I do is a systematic amount of pre-packing. I have a conveniently placed horizontal surface in my room that I actually manage to keep fairly cleared off between trips. That surface becomes my collecting place for items that are joining me on my next trip. Depending on the  length of the upcoming trip, at some point anywhere between two days and two weeks in advance (the longer the upcoming trip, the earlier I start), I make sure my horizontal surface is cleared of anything that has found it’s way there “temporarily.” And I start collecting items there that I know I’ll be packing, but don’t need between now and then. Maybe a book I’m taking to read, or my travel hat, or some other particular item.

Well in advance of a trip I try to pack the supplements and prescriptions I’ll be taking along (one of the most critical things to NOT forget on any trip). My first vacation out of the country, about ten years ago, resulted in a $100 mistake when I had to have a family member express mail my forgotten blood pressure medicine to Panama. I can easily replace almost anything else I might forget, but those  items are critical – so the sooner they have been prepacked the better.

I usually find myself doing laundry a few days before a trip and the clean clothes that I’m going to pack from those loads go straight onto my pre-packing surface. The more decisions I can make in advance, the happier I am.

3. Using Packing Lists

Speaking of decisions, I cannot even imagine preparing for my constant trips without my ever present packing lists. I have a generic list that I have been tweaking over the last many years. For most major trips, that generic list gets copied and then modified to fit that particular, upcoming trip. If I’m I’m traveling in January, I seldom need to include any capris. If June or July, I may only need a pair of jeans. For cruises, I generally pack my preferred “dressy skirt and blouse,” and for almost any other trip, it’s just some version of casual.  Because I always prefer to pack light, even the amounts don’t change much – maybe I’m only taking four tops on an upcoming four day trip instead of my usual five – but the basics are fairly standard from trip to trip.

By now I’ve packed and repacked my suitcase often enough that I can do most of it without the list, but I still find it’s a good idea to confirm that I’ve not forgotten something important. (Like the pair of pjs that were among the very last things to be packed on a recent trip to Texas!)

4. Dealing with Last Minute Stuff

In spite of my constant travels and my preference to do things in advance as much as possible, there are always things I have to do at the last minute. Things like packing the CPAP machine, and charging the electronics one last time, generally have to be done the day before or the day of departure. Because of that and my amazing ability to forget more things these days than I remember – I almost always have a list (often connected to an alarm) for the “last minute stuff” I have to pack and to do. As long as I can remember to check the list, things are generally in good shape!

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Feel free to share anything important I’ve left out of this post and the last one with travel tips.

Happy traveling!


Dealing with the Winter Blues

Explanations or Excuses?

(And does it really matter?)

I hadn’t meant to go almost two months between blog posts. But much of the last two months have not gone the way I thought they would. (Testimony to the idea that we can make our plans, but ultimately God is in control.)  I started the year thinking I would be having knee surgery on the 8th of January. Instead, in having lab work done for the surgery, I discovered that I had Diabetes. The past two months have included seven doctors’ visits, three trips to labs for blood work, and a surgery for a brand new issue that crept up in the midst of all this. So the past two months have primarily been about making the adjustments needed as a Diabetic, and recovery from all the various-related health issues. Which, needless to say, hasn’t meant much writing or traveling.

Improvements – Finally!

By the end of February my blood sugars were more or less stabilized where they needed to be, and my energy was slowly returning. During the difficult winter months of health-focused days, I did manage to finish the rough draft for novel #6 in the da Vinci series (hopefully it will be available to readers later this spring) and I took one small trip – returning to Montgomery with students for my last official event as a Youth in Government adviser. (For more on that trip, see last week’s Creative Learning Connection post here.)

Moving Forward

I also spent as much of February as I could manage doing research for my next book. I really need to get started on book 7 in the da Vinci series, but I’m taking a slight detour first – and writing one on Michelangelo next. A dear friend of mine from church has been waiting for me to write this book for some time. So here I go, at last. It’s not a completely different direction from da Vinci – Michelangelo even had bit parts in my last several da Vinci novels. But I have had to learn quite a bit more to write an entire book from his perspective. I still can’t say that Michelangelo has surpassed Leonardo as my favorite artist, but I have certainly come to appreciate more of his work through all this research. I think writing this book should actually be fun. Starting March 1 my goal is to write at least 1,000 words/ day towards that book – as of day 5 I’ve written more than 5,000 words. I’m still working out what directions parts of the story are going, but it’s definitely moving along!

March Goals

If March goes more like I’ve planned than January and February did, I might accomplish the following goals:

*Get back into my swimming class and start swimming laps again (after a two month absence)

*Write at least 31,000 words on the Michelangelo book (about ¾ of the goal total – what can I say, I write short novels)

*Start using Scrivener and get past at least the first part of the learning curve for it. (The new laptop arrived today, and Scrivener was the second program I downloaded onto it. So far so good.)

*Make some plans for several of the trips I’ve got scheduled for later this year.

But whether those goals are met are not, I’m sure it will be an exciting month!

Keeping on!


35 Great Travel Quotes

It’s that time of year when my other responsibilities make blog posts difficult to write. (Between coaching Mock Trial and working hard on the next da Vinci novel, there just aren’t a lot of spare moments in late October and early November.)

So I’m going to “cheat” a bit this week and make another blog post based on quotes (last week’s Creative Learning Connection post was quotes about education). Quotes about travel sound like a good choice on a blog that focuses on writing, history, and travel. (And yes, I reserve the right to make the next post on here a list of quotes on one of the other two topics if the need arises!)

So, here are some great writing quotes to celebrate travel in a month I actually didn’t travel in. (In all of 2017, this will likely be the only month that I don’t travel away from Alabama at least once.) You may notice that many of the quotes are from authors, though philosophers, inventors, and explorers also made the list.

  1. “Adventure is worthwhile.” Aesop (c.620 B.C. – 564 B.C.)
  2. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao-Tzu (c.6th century B.C. – 531 B.C.)
  3. “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” Confucius (551 B.C. – 479 B.C.)
  4. “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” Seneca (c.4 B.C. – A.D. 65)
  5. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” Augustine (354 – 430)
  6. “I did not tell half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed.” Marco Polo (1254 – 1324)
  7. “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
  8. “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” Chief Seattle (1786 – 1866)
  9. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
  10. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
  11. “To travel is to live.” Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875)
  12. “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)
  13. “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert (1821 – 1880)
  14. “The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” Sir Richard Burton (1821 – 1890)
  15. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
  16. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
  17. “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841 – 1935)
  18. “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)
  19. “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)
  20. “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” George A. Moore (1852 – 1933)
  21. “Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.” Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
  22. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)
  23. “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)
  1. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)
  2. “The most beautiful in the world is, of course, the world itself.” Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955)
  3. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)
  4. “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)
  5. “All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost.” R.R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973)
  6. “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984)
  7. “Oh the places you’ll go.” Seuss (1904 – 1991)
  8. “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” Lawrence Durrell (1912 – 1990)
  9. “I don’t know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets.” John Glenn (1921 – 2016)
  10. “Live your life by a compass not a clock.” Stephen Covey (1932 – 2012)
  11. “Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.” Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004)
  12. “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” Anita Desai (1937 – )

I hope these gave you something to think about.

Happy traveling, whenever and however the opportunity presents itself!


Atlanta or Bust!

Warning, this is an unusually long post for this blog – but I couldn’t figure out how to share this story with less words:

Choosing the “Best” Airport

We live in an area of the country where flight prices can literally be all over the map. At times, it makes the most sense to fly from the airport that’s practically around the corner from us; at other times, we willingly drive 100 miles north or south to use Nashville or Birmingham’s airports. (And on even rarer occasions we go 100 miles northeast to the Chattanooga airport.)

But every once in a while, we actually fly people in or out of Atlanta instead. Needless to say, at 250 miles each direction, that has to result in BIG savings to be worth the time and gas. But especially with international flights, that can sometimes be the case. And when we’re talking multiple people flying from there, the savings can add up quickly.

Choosing to Fly From Atlanta

Last week was just such a time. My son’s family of five was heading overseas. Flying out of Atlanta was going to save them time and money – at least that was the idea when they made their reservations.  The original plan was simple: the rest of us said our goodbyes early Tuesday afternoon, and my oldest took off for Atlanta with the five travelers in the family minivan. They left the house at 1:30 p.m., in plenty of time to make the four-hour drive, add in a couple of stops, and still arrive early for the flight that was due to depart eight hours later.

The Unexpected Flat Tire

Imagine my surprise when my daughter called 45 minutes after they had departed to say that they were sitting by the side of the interstate with a blown tire. Our insurance company had been called, since we have free towing through them. They had promised help within three hours. Oh yes, meanwhile three adults and three small children are camped out on the grass by the side of the interstate – in temperatures that were topping 90 degrees again. Never mind that at that point there would be no way to make their flight.

Fortunately, we also have free towing through AAA, so that was their next phone call. AAA promised a tow truck could be there in more like 30 minutes. Sold, to the lowest bidder.

Trying to Come Up with another Van

Meanwhile I had been called too. Immediately, the idea of renting a van from our (then) favorite rental company came to mind. Fortunately, Enterprise has three locations that were convenient to their location and mine. In hopes of tracking down the closest minivan in the shortest amount of time, my son called the one closest to our home, while I called the 1-800 number.  No minivans were available in Madison or Huntsville, but she could put one on hold at the Decatur location for us. Fortunately, another daughter was home (having not yet left to take care of her plans for the day). The two of us were soon on our way to Decatur.

Thirty minutes later my son called back. They weren’t going to make it to the airport, so we should not spend the money on a rental car, just return home to pick up a second vehicle, so that we could get them picked up and back home sooner rather than later.

We considered his new request, but quickly decided against it. We were much closer to the Decatur Enterprise than to home and getting a rental vehicle would at least get them off the road quicker. My daughter dropped me off and headed to their location, figuring she could either transport some of the group, or at least increase the adult to child ratio.

Enterprise and the Elusive MiniVan

Meanwhile I rushed into the Enterprise building to pick up the minivan that was being held for me. We had already decided that, worst case, if this van wasn’t as big as our Toyota Sienna, we could put some of the luggage and people in the rental and some in the Toyota Echo my daughter was driving, and get everyone to the airport that way.

But, there was a new problem. The Decatur Enterprise had no minivan for me – they had no idea what I was talking about, or why the lady at the 1-800 number would have thought they did.

Enterprise and NO Rental Vehicles

Me: Okay, I’ll take a smaller vehicle, maybe we can squeeze everyone and everything into two regular cars. Enterprise: No, sorry, we have nothing on the lot right now, of any size. All I could think of at that point was getting my family safely picked up. Enterprise: We could call someone else for you. Me: I have no way to get anywhere else; I was dropped off and my ride has long gone. By the way, what time do you guys close? Because at this rate, I may be here until then.

What Else Could We Do?

At that point I sat down across from their counter, trying to maintain my composure, while prayerfully considering our other options. But I was coming up with nothing. I passed on the bad news to the family members along the highway and then contacted my youngest daughter, the only other family member that was in town and not tied up with school and/or work. Me to her: Please go home and trade vehicles, it looks like we may need you to help get folks picked up. I don’t know what else we can do. And after you get them, please stop by the Decatur Enterprise and pick me up.

The Costs of Not Getting There in Time

Meanwhile my son had discovered that they would be delayed two weeks before they could get another flight overseas, and they would be charged hundreds of dollars for changing their tickets because of this. Needless to say, if they didn’t make their flight, the stakes were high and tempers were in danger of moving that direction, too.

Oh, and the tow truck folks were having trouble even accessing the small, donut-sized spare tire we had hiding in the van.  So, towing the van was going to be their only option. My oldest agreed to go with the tow truck when the time came and see what could be done about replacing the tire.

So, there I sat, unable to do anything – stranded at a car rental place without a vehicle of my own and apparently no way to rent one of any size – large or small. An hour had already passed since the tire had blown, and I knew that every minute that passed increase their risk and decreased any chance they had of making it to Atlanta on time.

The Mysterious 15-Passenger Van

I continued to pray, and tried not to fret. (Enough people were currently engaged in that activity.) Suddenly the young man behind the counter looked at me, “Can you drive a 15 passenger van?” Me: Yes, I’ve owned one and driven several others. Why? Enterprise: “Okay, we’ll have one of those available for you in a few minutes.”

I still don’t know if one had mysteriously appeared while I sat there, or if he suddenly remembered one hiding in the back of their lot, but at that point I didn’t really care. I let the family members know I was working on getting a 15-passenger van as quickly as possible. Doing the math, I knew it might not matter in the quest to get them to Atlanta; we were about out of time.

I let my youngest know we wouldn’t be needing her services and I waited, watching another ten minutes pass by before I held the keys to the 15 passenger van. Right at 4:00 p.m. I joined the caravan along the side of the road. My oldest was about to depart with the tow truck and the minivan. Thinking that we were all heading home, she didn’t say much in the way of goodbyes – better to just get everyone on their way as quickly as possible. My son locked and loaded three car seats and then started throwing the luggage in anywhere and everywhere. Did I mention that in addition to the 5 of them they had 10 suitcases and a large stroller? Having a large van meant things would actually fit easily, without the careful packing plan that had been used at home that morning.

Giving It Our Best Shot

Rather than send a couple of people in the Echo with my other daughter we made the quick decision to head south with the travelers and prayerfully make a final attempt to make it to Atlanta. As soon as we were on our way, my son and I were both doing the calculations. It was clear that he didn’t want to give up too quickly, but he was also reluctant to have us drive all the way to Atlanta if they weren’t going to be able to get on their flight anyway.

I insisted that we had to try and I kept moving south as quickly as I could safely and legally go. Because it was a rental van, I had suddenly become the only driver. I knew we were going to hit Birmingham right at rush hour and if we had any type of delays at all, that would be the end of any chance of making the flight. Even without delays or unnecessary stops it was unclear whether we were doing this all for nothing – in spite of several phone calls, my son couldn’t get a straight answer as to what the absolute latest they would be allowed to check in. All we knew was that since it was an international flight, the expectation was that they be there two to three hours before the flight. We knew there was no possibility of that, even with only two quick stops – one at the first rest area we encountered and one on the other side of Birmingham when we had to admit that the 3/8 of a tank we had started with was not going to get us all the way to the airport.

What Type of Delays Lay Ahead of Us?

But ultimately, this would all come down to whether we hit any delays at all along our route, and whether the folks at the check in counter would allow them to check in a mere one and a half hours (or less) before the flight. We pulled up to the curb at almost exactly 8:00 p.m. our time, so 9:00 p.m. Atlanta time. I helped them unload as best I could and then left them with their mound of stuff, three tired children, and two wiped out adults.

Checking In?

I pulled around to the parking garage and then came inside to find them. They were still in line at the counter. They weren’t quite the last people in line, but they were close – and the two gentlemen behind them didn’t even look like they had bags to check.

We all held our collective breaths as they waited to see what the counter person would say when their turn came. Now they were barely an hour before flight time. But as he started checking their bags we could all breathe normally again. Once those bags had gone on the conveyer belt there wasn’t much chance they were going to be turned around.

Through Security

I walked with them to security at 9:30, where the young lady rushed them through the crew’s path –  a much more direct one than what they “should” have taken, and they were on their way to the gate, undoubtedly the last ones there.

Heading Home?

Now it was my turn to depart. My son thought I was planning to drop them off and check into a hotel. We had talked about that option days before when we thought it might take two vehicles to get them and all their stuff to Atlanta.

But all this had happened so quickly that I had left home without anything I would have wanted for an overnight stay somewhere, including my CPAP machine. I contacted my oldest daughter and told her I was going to attempt to make it home that night. I would keep her posted. If I got tired, I would stop. I wasn’t planning to do anything foolish. And we both knew I usually turn into a pumpkin by midnight.

I made my first stop an hour from the airport. I needed more gas and I needed food. It was now 9:30 p.m. at home and I had yet to eat dinner. (When my son’s family was dining on granola bars in the van I hadn’t wanted to deprive them of snacks they could very well need later on their trip.)

On the Road Again

After the van was full, and I had purchased food and another Mountain Dew, I was back on the road. Only 200 miles or so still to go. But now I had at least figured out how to work the cruise control and I had turned on an Audible book that still had many hours of listening on it. I had also turned on and then turned back off my map program, since I had no intention of going any way except the one I knew the best – I20 to I65 and then home.

But the map program came in handy a little while later when I came upon traffic that was standing still. I thanked the Lord again that we had encountered nothing like this on the way to Atlanta. I followed the map program’s suggestion and got off at the next exit, following several big trucks and just a few smaller cars who clearly had the same information and the same alternative directions.

Thirty minutes later we were back on the interstate, getting closer to Birmingham. I had decided I would need to stop at least two more times on my way home, but was trying to get through Birmingham before I stopped again. Soon after I sailed back through the city and got on 65 my daughter called to see how I was doing. It was midnight and I was heading north on 65. So far so good on not feeling tired. (I attributed that to the caffeine and the prayers of those who knew I was still on the road.) By the time we got off the phone I realized I was almost to the rest area. I stopped there, making it my second stop of the return trip, rather than the third I had expected it to be. By 1:15 I was back on the road with two snacks, a Gatorade, and my book.

Ten Hours From Decatur to Atlanta and Home

I pulled into my driveway and parked in front of our house at 2:00 a.m. Only at that moment did I realize how exhausted I was. I had not yawned once since getting behind the wheel of the van 10 hours before. After making sure my alarm for swimming the next morning was truly turned off, I said goodnight to my daughter, stumbled up the stairs and crawled into my bed – thankful to be home, and thankful that my family was on their way across the Atlantic.

Almost a week later my knee has almost fully recovered from the drive and I think I’ve about caught up on my sleep again. We could never have pulled it off without the prayers, the answers to prayers, and the help and cooperation of several family members. As one of my other sons said, “Go team Jaime!”

Here’s hoping our next trip (later this week) will not be so exciting!

Happy traveling, and may your adventures be equally blessed (but maybe not so stressed!)


Remembering Travels Through Journals

Photo Pages and Photo Books

There are several ways to remember a trip. In these days of smart phones with great digital cameras, photos are certainly one great way. As I mentioned in last week’s post on Creative Learning Connection’s website, it’s easy (and inexpensive) to make photo books and photo pages from some of those wonderful digital pictures that tend to accumulate on our phones and computers. (The Croatia page was made using PowerPoint, but has become my new favorite way to may photo pages.)

Travel Journals

As a writer, I also appreciate the value of the written word. Travel journals are a great way to record the portions of a trip that seem so “unforgettable” at the time, but will certainly be forgotten in time. Travel journals can include anything we want to remember from a trip:

  • Where we stayed
  • What we ate
  • Purchases we made
  • Where we visited
  • History we learned
  • Maps
  • Photos
  • And so much more…

My First Travel Journal

I wrote my first travel journal when I was nine-years-old. My family was driving from Panama, through Central America and Mexico, and up the east coast of the United States to Massachusetts. As the oldest in my family, I was tasked with recording a vast array of information from that six week adventure. Amazingly enough, my father found my hand-written journal more than 40 years later, and typed it up for me.  Being able to go back after so many years and seeing what we did on the trip is beyond amazing!

Lewis & Clark Trail

 Fast forward many decades and I was the parent taking several of my children on a trip – this time to follow the Lewis and Clark Trail. It was time for another travel journal. That travel journal has come in handy numerous times when others have asked us for specifics from our journey.

Returning to Panama

Soon after that I made my next trip to Panama, returning with my siblings, my father, and several of our spouses. From the beginning of that two week trip, I was writing my standard “here’s what we’ve been doing” travel journey.  It is also a great way to go back and look at the fun we had on that vacation.

Horsey and Friends

But then, a fun and different way to write travel journals came to me. My brother was having a great time taking pictures throughout our trip of a small, stuffed horse. “Horsey” quickly became the star of a fun, light-hearted travel journal that soon became the first book in an entire series of travel books starring “Horsey and Friends.”

These are just a few of the fun journals I’ve written on my various adventures across the country and around the world. And in these days of so many print-on-demand options, it is not only easy, but fairly inexpensive to make and print your own travel journal (whether you want one copy or ten!). So the next time you are off to see exciting parts of the world, may I strongly encourage you to make a more permanent record of your vacation. In the future, when looking back at it, you will be glad you’ve taken the time.

Happy traveling (and journaling).


History Along the Road

Even in the early 1500s the Colosseum was in ruins.

The Joys of “Being There”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been a history buff for decades now. And while I love reading (and then writing) about history, particularly historical fiction, nothing beats being where history took place. And for any that know us, it should come as no surprise that my family tends to take that concept to extremes. I’ve crossed the Old North Bridge in Lexington where the British and Colonials fought in the early days of the American Revolution more than 200 years ago; I’ve stood in Jamestown where John Smith and the other settlers had been 400 years before; and I’ve walked the streets of Rome pondering both Leonardo da Vinci and Martin Luther having walked those streets almost 500 years before me. (The title photo is from a visit to the underground cities near Cappadocia, Turkey – cities that date back more than 1,000 years. That visit started me off on my first historical short stories.)

Historical Journeys with the Family

Several years ago, seven members of our family followed the Lewis and Clark trail for almost two weeks. It was amazing to be in various places along the route where those men (and the one woman) had stood almost exactly two hundred years before us.

The castle near where we lived in Wuerzburg, Germany.

When my family was in Germany many years before that, my children were quite confident that they had been to every castle in the country, though of course, they had not. But we had certainly seen lots – and every one of my kids had a pretty good idea of what life was like in the Middle Ages in Europe as a result.

Once we returned to the states, we took a family trip along the east coast that involved stops at numerous civil war and revolutionary war sites. Again, the common thought among the kids was that we had stopped at them all, but sadly it was merely as many as we could work into our several week trip. I could certainly have found more, had time not been an issue.

An Unscheduled Stop at Gettysburg

So it should come as no surprise that when we have time to kill on a road trip we often fill it with historic stops. On a recent trip to the northeast my oldest daughter and I had some extra time as we drove from Virginia to New York City. Plotting our route for the day we discovered that Gettysburg was on our way. What a wonderful way to fill a “few” extra hours!

We decided it would be fun to have an audio tour as we drove around the battlefield this time, so we started at the Gettysburg National Park Visitor Center. There were too many choices! We finally asked a National Park employee for a recommendation. After he narrowed it down to his favorite two, we plopped down $30 for the Gettysburg Field Guide (narrated by Wayne Motts) – 2 CDs and a book.  And off we went.

Enjoying the Audio Tour

One of the countless monuments at the Gettysburg Battlefield

We spent an enjoyable two hours driving through just over half of the battlefield (that got us to Stop 9 of the 15 on that audio tour). Even knowing as much as I already did about the battle of Gettysburg, I learned more as we did the drive. I liked the CD because the narrator had a very conversational tone and shared a lot of stories as he spelled out what had happened there over 150 years before. (A note about this particular CD set – we don’t recommend it for a drive through the battlefield with younger children or others who don’t want to hear graphic details of the battle – this narrator very much “told it like it was.” For the two adults listening to it, it was fine.)

Touring Gettysburg Again

Fortunately for our newly revived interest in Gettysburg, we were crossing back across that section of Pennsylvania a mere five days later. When we got back to the area, we made our way across the park to Stop 9 and spent the next hour or so finishing up the remainder of the CD. And we pondered what life must have been like that July for those in the sleepy town of Gettysburg who suddenly found themselves caught in the crossfire of these two large armies.

A depiction of Pickett’s Charge

As we drove, and listened to the stories, I found myself wanting to re-watch the movie Gettysburg. And I found myself reaching for my phone and Wikipedia on several occasions to fill in even more of the details.

Trying to Imagine Pickett’s Charge

No matter how often I watch the movie, make that drive, or stand on the edge of the field where Pickett’s Charge started (or ended), I never tire of thinking about the countless men who gave so much in that bloody conflict.

There are many things we can learn from a study of history, but remembering the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom should certainly be high on that list!

Please remember, history must be learned in order not to be forgotten.

Happy learning.


The Importance of Breaking Down a Task

Preparing for a Trip

Not quite what our rental Jeep looked like, but you get the idea.

My oldest daughter and I were preparing for our upcoming three week trip. We were departing in four days and the list of things we HAD to accomplish before we left was huge! It was very easy to look at the list and be overwhelmed by all that had to be done. But when I returned from swimming the next morning, we took the list and broke it down into what could easily be done at home that first day.  (I was home after more than two hours at the pool and not anxious to go back out again that day.) With roughly 25% of the list, it was much easier to tackle what needed to be done, check it off, and by late afternoon, actually have accomplished everything that we had decided had to be done that day. And looking at each of the next several days’ lists we could more easily face those required tasks as well.

Breaking Down a Big Task

That simple concept – breaking down the bigger task (in this case – getting ready for our next trip) made it easier to set our goals and not be intimidated by the longer list that had loomed out in front of us.

Planning for Mock Trial

I try to approach my upcoming travels that way, my teaching that way, and even my writing.  One of the teaching responsibilities I have yet to give up is coaching high school Mock Trial (though after more than twenty years that time is probably fast approaching). One of my parents from last year called recently to get some information on this year’s practices/teams. It was easy to feel overwhelmed at her request – I was preparing for an upcoming trip (see above!), and I knew I had two more trips in August/September that were going to require my time and attention.  So I not only hadn’t started to think about the fall Mock Trial, I hadn’t even thought about WHEN to think about it!

But once I broke down the task into smaller pieces, I was able to tackle it. I had to determine when (around those next trips) we were going to hold our Open House, when we would need to put teams together, and when I would actually be able to start practices. In this case, I had to first determine what information I needed to work out, and then break out the calendar and decide where each task best fit. Looking at the whole of “When and what will we be doing?” was frustrating. But taking each piece one at a time simplified what I needed to do.

Writing My Next Book

And I’m about to do the same thing with the next book I want to write. I completed book five in my da Vinci series (Leonardo: A Return to Painting) in March 2017. But I want to finish the series by the 500 year anniversary of his death (May 2019). In order to accomplish that I’ve already determined that I will need to pick up the pace, and get at least two books written each year between now and then, rather than the one per year I’ve been averaging.

I’ve been focusing on other important things in my writing career this spring and summer (getting both of my websites going, starting and keeping up blogs on both of them, and trying to market my new Audible books: Leonardo the Florentine and Failure in Philadelphia?). But the time has come to start the next book.

Writing My Previous Novel

 To put this in perspective – my last da Vinci novel covered the time period that Leonardo was painting the Mona Lisa, working on his ginormous Battle mural, and trying to divert the Arno River. So the outline of that novel was pretty easy to write, and it was fairly easy to weave in the details I wanted to include. But for novel number six, I’m currently looking at a blank Word file. I know I will pick up the story soon after the Battle mural failed and Leonardo walked away from the project. But I haven’t determined much more than that.

Breaking Down My Writing

Rather than feeling completely overwhelmed by how little I have to work with at this point, it’s time to break down the task, set some reasonable goals, and get started. (And the beauty of those kinds of goals is – I like to set them, but I know I can always move them if life gets in the way.)

So for now, I need to get beyond the blank page and start a story. I find that I can generally write at least 1,000 words a day on a story I’m working on, often even more than that. (As a comparison, most of my blog posts come in at about 1,000 words, more or less. – this one is about 1200 words) And with writing, it’s always easier to have words you end up not needing, than not having words at all.

So, it’s time to begin. I’m going to be attending a Shakespeare camp for adults this week, with a fairly full schedule. So I’m fairly sure 1,000 words per day this week would not be a reasonable goal. But I should at least be able to start making some notes and start thinking about what directions I could go with this next story.  So, this week’s goals will be to make some notes for the novel every day. No particular amount for this week, because I know so much else is going on, but at least a little movement in the right direction.

My Upcoming Writing Schedule

Starting next Saturday (July 15) I will be aiming for at least 1,000 words per day on the story itself.  I’ll still be on the road at that point, but the schedule shouldn’t be quite as hectic once the camp has ended.  Since I will be starting to write in mid July, and my novels are on the short side, it should only take me six weeks or so to get the rough draft written. So my current goal for the completion of the rough draft is the end of August or the beginning of September. (I’ll let you know how that goes!)

Then I have to spend some time on rewrites and get it to the lovely women who proof and edit for me.  Maybe by the end of September I will be moving towards publication. (Somewhere before then I’ll have to have a title and a direction to go for the cover, so that my cover designer can design another fabulous cover for me. But I’m nowhere close to that now.)

Finishing a Book

Maybe, if all goes well, Leonardo da Vinci book number six will be available for sale by the beginning of October. Do I really expect that to happen? Oh, probably not. But it gives me something to aim for. I like deadlines, particularly self-imposed ones. I try not to get particularly upset if they are missed. I just make new ones and keep plugging away. But by having stated goals, I am generally moving in the right direction.

So, whatever task it is that is looming over your head, what can you do to break it down? Is it something you need to accomplish in the next several days (like our current trip), or something that may take you months to do (like my next book project)? However it breaks out, taking it in smaller chunks, with reasonable deadlines will likely do wonders for what you can accomplish (and lower your stress level significantly at the same time).

Happy goal-setting!


Update on Visiting Venice

I wrote a previous post, Upcoming Visit to Venice, a few weeks before my latest trip to Europe. I thought it only right to give an update now that the trip is over.  In case it’s not already clear, Venice is one of my favorite cities to visit!


Rialto Bridge

I’ve now made four trips to Venice (I do get to count before and after the cruise as two times, right?).  On my first trip there I found a reasonably priced hotel recommended by Rick Steves; it was right off the Grand Canal, fairly close to the Rialto Bridge.  On my second trip there we stayed in a hostel on Giudecca, across the Venetian Lagoon from Venice. (I didn’t have anything to do with setting that one up, but considering we had a dozen or so women in bunk bends in one room, I can’t imagine the per person cost was very expensive there.)

Struggling to get into our San Polo Airbnb the first and second time was one of its downsides!

And on this trip we rented two apartments through Airbnb – one in San Polo, very close to the Grand Canal, and one on the mainland, in Mestre. Each different one had its own advantages.  The San Polo one cost a bit more, but was conveniently located near the stop for both the San Stae ACTV water bus and Alilaguna water bus (more on those in a bit). The second one was easy to get to on the #2 bus  (which we were happy to find out was covered by our passes).

Before you make your final decision on where you want to stay, it’s a good idea to determine how you will get there. What looks like a good deal may be more trouble than it’s worth if getting there is a pain. Or that great deal you thought it was may not be so good if transportation turns out to be more expensive than with other options you turned down.

Another view of the Grand Canal

Case in point, my husband had to fly into Venice the day before the rest of us. After some searching I found an inexpensive hotel on the mainland. But when I investigated the transportation requirements of him getting from the airport to the hotel, it was actually easier, and almost exactly the same total cost to put him up that night at the hotel closest to the airport. So I cancelled the first reservation and made a new one. With the hotel next to the airport he was able to get there quickly with their shuttle bus. Then he shuttled back to the airport to meet us the next morning. Simple, and not more expensive when hotel AND transportation were considered.


One of our many views of the Grand Canal

As I mentioned above, the airport is on the mainland. Once there you have several options to get to the city itself – train, bus, or special water buses being the three cheapest. (These are Alilaguna water buses, not the ACTV Vaporettos discussed below). A train or bus is a cheaper way to get to Venice, but arriving on an Alilaguna, and approaching by water is certainly more fun and seemed more poetic. (My third time in Venice was actually the first time I arrived in Venice that way, the first two times I had come by train.) You will have the option of buying a round trip ticket, but we knew we would be getting back to the airport a different way, so we only bought one way tickets. (Most of us purchased them when we arrived at the airport, but I think we could have saved a euro for each ticket if we had ordered them online.)

Within the islands that make up Venice you have two general options for getting around – by foot or by water. Walking is great, but you will likely find yourself crossing lots of canals, which means crossing lots of bridges – something I don’t recommend doing with luggage. (Which of course means we did lots of that as we waited to get into that first Airbnb!)

Water buses (ACTV Vaporetto) are a great method of traversing Venice and the surrounding areas. As a general rule you DON’T want to buy single time tickets (at the time we were just there a single ticket was 7.5 euros, a 24-hour-pass was 20 euros, and a 48 hour pass was 30). We decided in advance that we wanted to do the 48-hour-passes for our first 2 days in Venice. We had actually thought about going with just a 24-hour-pass when we returned a week later. But, after refiguring it, we went with the 48-hour pass then too. It only takes 2 trips each day to break even, and we did considerably more than that on each of the 4 days we were in the city. If you have the time and energy to do LOTS of walking, you may not need the water buses as much as we did – though I personally think they are a great way to see the city!


When people think of Venice they almost always think of gondola rides. And we did take a gondola ride this time (which because there were six of us wasn’t outrageously expensive). But, honestly, it’s not something that I feel like I had missed out on by not doing before. It does take you into some of the smaller canals, which is part of the reason we wanted to do it. But, again, the price is fairly steep, especially if you have a small group. (Oh, and be sure you know where you’re getting dropped off. There was some miscommunication there and we were not dropped off where we thought we were going to be. Which led to even more walking.)

Restaurants and Food Options

One of our many views of the Grand Canal

One thing to keep in mind in Venice is that almost EVERY restaurant will add a cover charge just for sitting at their tables. The amount is per person and should be listed at the bottom of the menu. On this past trip we spent everywhere from 2.50 to 5 euros for cover charges (again that’s per person). But, on the other hand, tips are not expected, so it sort of evens out.

One of my favorite things to buy in any city in Italy is gelato! Be sure to check it out as quickly as possible. (If you’re not familiar with gelato it’s sort of a cross between ice cream and sherbet, only better!) I recommend buying it as often as possible when you are in Italy. Even gelato stands will charge you more if you want to eat at their tables – they don’t charge a cover charge per se, but they generally have “eat in” prices that are higher than their “take out” prices. Because I was traveling with a knee injury, sitting regularly was important to me, and I wasn’t opposed to paying those extra fees.

One of the oddest sights we saw on the Grand Canal

Our first night we ate at a fairly fancy restaurant overlooking a canal. It was an interesting experience – we bought a large fish that had been covered with salt and then baked. Sold by the kilo it was a pricey dish, but it was a different experience and the only time in Venice that we spent that much on a meal. It’s okay to splurge once in awhile. (Okay, there was one meal after the cruise that we dined at a restaurant near our apartment in Mestre that was slightly more expensive – but we were coming off the cruise and ordered several courses – so we actually ordered and ate more at that restaurant, and did pay a bit more, but for just an appetizer and a main dish, the restaurant in Venice was considerably more expensive.)

Close to the Airbnb apartment we rented in Venice we had no difficulty finding a nearby bakery to order pastries for breakfast, a coffee shop for the coffee drinkers, and even a little ice cream shop that sold amazing popsicles and shakes.

We did find one little restaurant near the Rialto Bridge water bus stops that was self-serve and didn’t have a cover charge.  Decent food, okay restrooms, and cheap. Sadly we found it on our last day in Venice, or we would likely have eaten there more than once.


Bell Tower near St. Mark’s

Not a usual topic for a blog post, but something to keep in mind when you’re traveling in Europe. Toilets can be tough to locate when you need them. When we were in Venice, waiting near St. Mark’s for family members who were on a tour. I actually found the closest public toilet on my map app. It was kind of tucked away, off the main section, so I was glad I had searched for it electronically before searching for it physically.  Oh, and did I mention, public toilets cost money? We spent anything from half a euro to two euros for a public restroom. Again, money well spent if you ask me.  To avoid having to spend too much money on public restrooms, be sure to use the ones that are available at any restaurants you eat at or any museums you visit!

Things to See and Do

St Mark’s Basilica

Doge’s Palace

As I mentioned in my first post about visiting Venice, the “must sees” include the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Doge’s Palace. Since I had already seen all of those, I was hoping to make it to a couple of new places – Murano Island, where they’ve been making blown glass for generations, and the Jewish Ghetto (either the first or second ever such ghetto, depending on which history you believe).

Because of some issues getting into our first Airbnb, we lost several hours on the first day, and our trip to the Jewish Ghetto got bumped from the itinerary. (That’s okay, it gives me something to have on the top of my list for the NEXT time I get to visit Venice!)

Glass Blower in Murano

We did make it to Murano. We took a free water taxi out to the island to see a glass blowing demonstration. It was impressive – the prices at the attached shop not so much. But we walked up to some other more reasonable shops and did find some nice Murano glass to purchase.  When we were done shopping we had lunch at a reasonably priced restaurant before taking a water bus back to Venice proper.

After the fact we read a review of the free taxi that said it wasn’t a good idea. But we liked it. It took us through some smaller canals, was less crowded then the water buses (just the six of us), and we got some good pictures. Once we got to the factory/shop who had sponsored our ride we didn’t feel obligated to make purchases there. We enjoyed browsing and moving on.


Another outer island I visited for the first time was Burano. Burano is known for its lace and for the pretty colors of its buildings. I really hadn’t thought of how few bright colors we were seeing in Venice until I saw the brightly colored buildings in Burano.  The only difficulty with going to Burano was getting back to Venice – it was late in the afternoon by the time we got out there, so the water buses were really crowded going back! The worst lines we ever stood in to get on, and the absolute most crowded, standing room only, water bus we rode on, was that return trip.

But I was still glad we went.  We had no idea what in particular we should do when we got there, so we started by following the crowds. Everyone seemed to start down a narrow road running perpendicular to the canal, so we started down it also. Lots of kiosks and shops along both sides as we headed into Burano.  We had actually found the few little souvenirs we wanted by the time we had headed back just 15 minutes or so. But I’m glad we kept going a bit further. There we encountered a small canal and along it the truly beautifully painted buildings. (That’s where I took the picture shown just above.) So if you can handle the walking, be sure to go back a little ways and do some exploring. There may be even more to see, I’m not sure, but that was as far as we made it.

The entrance to the Arsenal

The fanciest ship in the museum

Another place we got to see a bit of was the Arsenal, an important part of Venetian history. As far as  I know tourists aren’t allowed into the Arsenal itself, but we spent some time in the small, but packed, museum of Venetian Naval History that is right outside the Arsenal. Well worth the time, in my opinion.

Searching for More Information

As I usually do when planning such trips, I did lots of research. Even when I got home I was continuing to search for information for the next time I get to visit Venice.  Along the way I found several informative websites, but one of the most comprehensive ones I ran across was Venice for Visitors. I especially liked their suggestion that to really see the city, a visitor should try to spend a week there – not this time, but maybe next time!

Happy traveling!


Update on Global Entry

I love to travel, I really do! And I want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. But, when I have to fly somewhere, the journey becomes more of an endurance than an enjoyment. I’m not afraid of flying, I just don’t particularly enjoy it. The seats are getting smaller and closer together. And then there’s the “fun” of the airports themselves – with the long walks between terminals (give me Atlanta over Charlotte or Philadelphia any day!) And let’s not forget the ongoing security headaches.

Airport Security

If, like me, you are old enough to remember the ease of pre-9/11 flying, these headaches feel all the more real (and painful!) While we all have some understanding of the importance of the increased airport security, it is easy to long for the “good old days” of flying when all of this didn’t take so long or feel so intrusive.

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

Since I was renewing my passport last January, I decided it was a good time to apply for one of the programs designed to reduce some of the hassles of flying.  Since I generally fly overseas at least once a year, it wasn’t difficult to spend an extra $15 for the more encompassing Global Entry than the solely domestic TSA PreCheck ($100 for 5 years versus $85).

In a previous post, Tips for Packing Light and Traveling Smart, I spoke a little about my decision and the process of applying for Global Entry. At that point I had obtained my “Known Traveler Number” but I had only had a chance to use the TSA PreCheck portion of it.

But now that I’ve made my first overseas trip since getting Global Entry, I just have to share! I had been under the impression that having Global Entry would save me some time reentering the country when I flew. Oh my, it was better than I had expected.

First Experience with Global Entry

Four of us from our group were traveling back to the states together through Philadelphia – two of us had Global Entry and two did not, so we split up to go through the various security portions. The two without Global Entry got in the back of a very long line and the other two of us walked up to the section with several kiosks and very few people. Within minutes we had processed through those and were on our way to the Baggage Claim section to await our luggage. More than twenty minutes passed before the other two caught up with us there.  I was already happy with my decision to spend the time and money on Global Entry, and we weren’t even done yet.

Full Disclosure: Most of the time we saved going through the kiosks instead of the longer line was then spent waiting for the bags we had chosen to check. Had we just had carry-ons that would have been a true time savings. But the real gain for me was the ability to sit and wait on the bags, rather than standing in the crowded lines – a painful experience for me with my injured knee.

With luggage in hand we headed to the next lines, again splitting between those with and those without the special privileges. The lines there were closer in length, so we probably only saved 5 minutes or so going through the passport check portion.

From there we had to return our luggage to American Airlines for our next flight, and our special status didn’t save us anything – though again, by then the lines were moving quickly, and none of us waited long to get through that portion.

TSA Pre-Check Perks

But then it was time to pass back through security – this time the lines split being TSA PreCheck and non-PreCheck. Two of us were off to the PreCheck line. At first glance the PreCheck line actually seemed longer than the other one, but when we turned the corner we discovered that the non-PreCheck line was significantly longer. This time we probably saved an additional five – ten minutes, possibly more.

To say nothing of feeling like I’m being treated like a real human being when I go through the PreCheck line – the shoes and the sweater stay on, and the CPAP machine and liquids stay in their bags.  Small, but important improvements to my security line experiences! (And since Europeans don’t make anyone take their shoes off going through security – I actually traveled both directions on this trip without that hassle – what can I say, sometimes it’s the little things in life!)

All told I probably saved a half hour or more on my first international trip with the Global Entry perks. And while that may not be a huge time savings for some people, the fact that I was traveling with an injured knee made me appreciate every minute I wasn’t standing in a line.


One last comment on this recent trip. Of the six of us in our group, five had been on numerous cruises, and one was a first timer. Amongst us we had five carry-on size suitcases and one much larger suitcase (want to guess which member of the group that belonged to?). As we dragged our luggage through Venetian streets and across canals, both before and after the cruise, and on and off buses and water buses, we were glad that no one had brought two suitcases, and that our bags were generally small.

Carry-On versus Checked

I had planned to bring my bag to Europe as a carry-on, and then check it on the way home. That is my preferred method for international travels – since it ensures my luggage joins me on my trip, but makes things a little easier on the way home. I don’t buy alot of souvenirs (see examples from two of the cities I visited) but I buy enough that it’s nice to be able to expand the bag a bit to accommodate them. On this last trip, American Airlines had other ideas – instead of gate checking my bag on my second small plane of the day, they insisted on checking my luggage all the way to my final destination – convenient – until my bag didn’t show up with everyone else’s in Venice. (It finally did arrive, but not until all the others had long been there, and my stress had risen more than it should have.)

What do you like most and least about flying?

Happy traveling!


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