Category Archives: Travel Lessons Learned

Making Every Trip Memorable: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Travels

For many of us, there’s nothing more exciting than the prospect of getting away and seeing the world. Sadly, it’s not always possible to travel as much as we’d like, and this is why it’s essential to make every trip memorable. If you’re keen to make the most of every break you take, here are some golden rules to follow.

Research the destination – There’s a lot to be said for being spontaneous and putting a pin in a map and letting fate do its thing, but if you don’t have the funds or the time to travel extensively, it’s important to choose the right destinations. Think about what you want to do, what you want to see and how you’d most like to spend your time. If you’re interested in doing nothing but lying on golden sands beneath swaying palms, not every destination is going to fulfil your fantasies. Do some reading, get some inspiration and narrow down your options based on your personal preferences and what you want to get out of the trip.

Take advice from other travelers  You don’t have to take every single recommendation on board, but it’s really useful to read some reviews and travel articles and ask friends or family members for advice if you’re planning to visit a place you’ve never been to before. You’ll often find that travelers will offer a different perspective to guidebooks, and this can help you broaden your horizons and enjoy a more diverse range of experiences. You can read reviews to help you find everything from the best times of day to visit major landmarks to amazing restaurants. There’s a huge amount of information available online, so tailor your search to make it relevant. You could select traditional Chinese cuisine or Italian restaurants when you’re looking for places for dinner or use filters to find more information about the attractions that appeal most, for example. If you do have friends or colleagues who have spent time in locations you plan to visit, ask for some insider information. Places that are popular with locals often don’t appear in travel guides, and you could discover some secret gems this way.

Don’t be afraid to get lost – If you’re short on time, having plans can help you to ensure you see everything on your list, but try and leave a little time to wander off-piste. The best way to explore, especially in cities like Rome, Venice, Barcelona and London, is to walk around at leisure. Meander through winding streets, get away from the main tourist areas and see what else is on offer.

Take it all in – In this day and age, we can get distracted by trying to capture moments, and this can prevent us from actually enjoying what we’re doing and seeing. It’s perfectly fine to want that Instagram shot, but don’t let angles and lighting get in the way of your enjoyment of that precious moment in time. Take a step back, look around you, soak up the atmosphere and take it all in before you start worrying about filters and hashtags.

If you love to travel, it’s natural to want to make the most of every trip you take. Do your homework, take advice on board, enjoy once-in-a-lifetime moments and don’t be afraid to get off the beaten tracks.

If You’re Traveling Without Planning, You’re Going To End Up In Trouble!

There are few things in life more wonderful than travel. Being able to get away from it all and experience something totally new is something that every single person should experience as often as they possibly can. Of course, as wonderful as it can be, things can go wrong while you’re travelling. And generally speaking, there’s one major reason why it happens: a lack of preparation. If you’re not as prepared as possible before you take any kind of trip, whether it’s a short vacation or a journey around the world, then things are a lot more likely to go wrong. Of course, because of that, the solution is incredibly simple: making sure that you’re fully prepared before you even set off. With that in mind, here are some things about your trip that you need to make sure that you plan for before you leave home.

How am I getting around? – One of the biggest problems that unprepared travellers find themselves bumping into is that they don’t actually know how they’re going to get around when they arrive at their destination. For one thing, public transport may not be ideal in many places, and if it is you don’t know how expensive it’s going to be. If you’re trying to get around somewhere large like a European country then hiring a vehicle from somewhere like Eurocar may well be your best option. Whereas if you’re somewhere more pedestrianised and crowded then things like trains or even more local public transport methods like the Indian tuk-tuks can be fantastic.

What you I afford? – As much as it would be nice if this weren’t the case, travelling is always going to involve a pretty decent amount of money. Sure, there are plenty of ways to save money and travel on a budget, but you’re still going to need to pay for a lot of things. When you’ve got transport, accommodation, and luggage costs, the last thing you want is to realise that you’re going to end up being unable to afford to actually do anything while you’re travelling. The best way to avoid this is to figure out how much you’ll have to spend well in advance, as well as thinking carefully about the kinds of things that you’ll want to actually do while you’re there so that you can more carefully budget for them.

Where am I staying? – As fun as the idea of showing up to a new place with no idea where you’re going to stay that night might be, you’re just as likely to end up in some kind of disgusting, low grade motel with bugs everywhere, as you are to discover some kind of hidden gem or charming B&B. Even if you don’t want to commit to a single specific place that you’re going to stay during your trip, at the very least you should do some research about the kinds of places that are available. Depending on what time of year you go travelling and where you may even want to book your accommodation ahead of time. There are plenty of periods throughout the year where even the most well-hidden accommodation can end up getting booked up well in advance, and you really don’t want to end up in a position where it’s getting late, and you don’t have anywhere to stay when you’re thousands of miles from home.

Do I have any health limitations? – Far too often people end up ignoring their health when it comes to their travels. After all, who wants to think about that stuff when you’d rather be seeing the sights and enjoying the culture of a new place? However, your health is one of the most important things to think about while you’re away from home, no matter where you are. After all, if you end up getting sick or injured during a trip, there’s a chance that it could end up ruining the entire thing. One of the most important things that you can do is to take out travel insurance before you go anywhere. You need to make sure that your policy covers where you’re going as well as any possible things that could happen to you while you’re there. Otherwise, you could end up not only missing out on your trip but spending a lot of money because of something that wasn’t even your fault in the first place.

What will I do when I get there? – No matter how it might feel at the time, all travel is temporary. Eventually, you’re going to run out of time and have to come home. Whether that happens sooner or later is up to you, but either way, it’s going to happen, and the last thing that you want is to realise that you wasted huge chunks of your trip because you didn’t plan for what you’d actually do while you were there. Sure, you’ll want to leave some things to chance and enjoy the surprise of discovering new things, but it’s always a good idea to think carefully about how you’re going to spend your trip and plan for specific activities and events on specific days. Not only does this guarantee that you’re going to do something interesting on your trip, but it makes it a bit more organised which massively reduces the chances of you wasting away the time you have during your trip trying to figure out how you’re going to spend it. You can still have plenty of moments of spontaneity, but it’s a good idea to balance those out with organised moments that you can be sure about just in case any of the things that you didn’t have planned end up falling through.

Of course, you shouldn’t take this to mean that being spontaneous when you’re travelling is inherently a bad thing. The truth is that there are few things more exciting than a sudden trip or heading to the airport to catch the next plane to lord-knows-where. However, there are always things that you can plan for and whether possible, make sure that you know what you’re doing. Remember, there a big difference between being spontaneous and being irresponsible!

Common Mistakes People Make When Booking a Vacation

We all make mistakes. But, why not avoid them when you can. We collaborated with travel lovers who want you to avoid loosing time, your money and your patience. So, while I (Diane) did not write this post, I liked it enough to publish here on Wife with Baggage. ENJOY!

Most of us don’t get to go on holiday too often. So, when we do, it’s something that consumes our entire year, or two. We spend ages researching all of the best places to visit, and then we spend the rest of the year fantasizing about the trip itself. Therefore, it can be very disappointing when your holiday does not turn out how you expected it to. To make sure this does not happen, avoid the following mistakes…

Not taking out travel insurance – A lot of holidaymakers overlook the importance of travel insurance. However, your trip can soon turn sour when your baggage does not arrive and you realise you need to foot the bill of all the clothes and belongings you have lost. And, that’s without even mentioning how expensive it could get if you suffered an illness or injury while abroad…

Rushing your accommodation selection – Of course, you’re excited! You can’t wait to book your holiday and post a status on Facebook. However, you need to take the time to make sure the place is suitable for you. For example, if you are looking for somewhere comfortable and budget-friendly, yet with all of the facilities you need, consider Best Western Executive Inn and hotels of a similar standard. Alternatively, if you are travelling in a big group, it may be better to rent a holiday home. Make sure you check out the map and determine where exactly your accommodation is based and how easy it will be to get to different places.

Booking through someone you don’t know – The Internet is home to a wealth of travel options. However, you need to do your research before you book your trip. The last thing you want to do is book your holiday, only to find that the company goes bust or has a terrible reputation.

Booking too late – A few years ago, you used to get the best deals if you booked your holiday closer to the time. This is no longer the case. Holidays only get more expensive. Plus, you can give yourself a lot of stress by leaving booking your trip until the last minute, especially if you are going away as a group. You may find that you all need to get different flights, for example.

Not checking TripAdvisor – TripAdvisor is a must for anyone that is booking a holiday. You will be able to read tons and tons of reviews. It can be incredibly insightful. If you search the reviews for certain keywords, you will be able to find out everything you want to know – even the finer details of your exact hotel room. Remember to consider the reviews as a whole; don’t let one comment determine your entire judgement.

If you can avoid the five mistakes mentioned above when booking your next holiday, you will give yourself a much greater chance of vacation success. A lot of research and a bit of caution can go a very long way.

How To Survive Your First Long-Haul Flight

I love traveling and discovering new countries all over the world. For me, the further away from home, I get, the more exciting life becomes. Think about it, we could live our entire lives without knowing what’s on the other side of the world, what a waste that would be! So, I encourage as many people as possible to hop on a plane and travel to somewhere far away that you’ve never been before.

Photo Credit

Understandably, some of you may have a few qualms about this. Mainly, you’ve never been on a long-haul flight before and don’t know if you can handle 10+ hours on a plane. Don’t worry, I have some survival advice that will help any long-haul virgins. 

Wear Comfortable Clothing
On long-haul flights, style goes out the window. Don’t bother wearing your nicest clothes, you’re much better off getting relaxed and comfy. I like to wear loose fitting clothes, normally something like joggers and a top – the type of things you’d wear to lounge around the house. When you’re on a plane for a long time, you need to do everything you can to remain comfortable. Sitting down in a pair of tight jeans is not my idea of comfy!

Bring A Decent Sized Carry-On Bag
Normally, if I’ve got luggage going in the hold, I try and limit the size of my carry-on bag to make life easier for myself. However, on these long-haul flights, there’s usually more luggage space overhead, and you need to have a bigger bag. As a result, you have more space in your bag to bring lots of items for the flight. This includes a laptop, tablet, portable chargers, pyjamas, slippers, a hoodie, and so much more. The guys over on Luggage on Tour can point you in the direction of which brands are best for your luggage needs. Personally, I go for quality over everything else as you need to ensure your luggage can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Now that you’ve got a large bag, you ensure you have everything you need for a comfortable flight.

Image Origin

View Plane Features Before Booking
I highly recommend you understand what plane you’re getting on before you book. Most people assume all long-haul flights are full of entertainment and amazing seats. This isn’t always the case, so you should use websites like SeatGuru to view the plane features before you decide who to fly with. This site will show you the seat map of a plane and tell you where the best and worst seats are. It will also let you know if the plane has wifi, power sockets, and if there are TV’s in the seats, etc. Well worth checking so you ensure you get on a plane that can keep you happy for the whole flight.

I’ve been using these tips for many years, and it’s led me to have many successful long-haul flights. I’d also add that you should try and get up as much as possible for a brief stretch, and always try to sleep for a bit. Now, you can book a flight across the world and explore a completely new country!

This post is a collaborative effort. While not written by me, Diane, I liked the content enough to publish it here on Wife with Baggage. I hope it encourages, educates and entices you to travel more!

Travel Lessons: Just Keep Paddling

Michael and I have kayaks that we use almost monthly. We load up the boats on the top of our car, pack a cooler, get Finley’s life jacket and head out to the water. It is a favorite pasttime of ours.

Exuma Kayaking

Without fail, I always look to book a kayaking excursion when we travel. We’ve paddled cold dark waters in New Zealand and warm, crystal clear water in the Bahamas. We kayaked with a group, with a guide and by ourselves. We love to be out on the water. We do not have to have an agenda, just sunshine and a paddle. But, no matter the conditions, Mike and I have one rule – just keep paddling. I always smile when I think about Mike encouraging me from behind. “Don’t stop Diane!” “Just keep paddling Diane?” Water currents, waves and the wind all force you in their directions. Paddling your kayak keeps you on course for your destination. Sometimes these forces work in your favor, but other times they don’t. Just keep paddling!

I thought our kayak in Exuma would be easy, but as lucky would have it, it wasn’t’! We had to cross a busy channel. Of course, Mother Nature was against us and we fought an outgoing tide, wake from passing boats and a decent head wind. Mike handled it well. I, on the other hand, struggled to keep up. Half way through the channel I felt a pop in my rib cage and knew something was wrong. After a few not-so-lady-like words, I started to feel my muscles cramp. The, my hands lost grip. I wanted to stop and catch my breath so badly, but, I couldn’t. If I stopped paddling, even for a few seconds, I’d loose “ground” and just have to work that much harder and longer. I just had to keep paddling.

I ended up with a strained intercostal muscle from that experience. Breathing hurt. Laying down hurt. Laughing hurt. It was not a fun recovery, nor a short one. But, I can say with certainty, it was one of the most exciting paddles we have ever done.

Cathedral Cove Kayak New Zealand

Travel Lesson: When kayaking or canoeing, just keep paddling.
Life Lesson: Do not give up; life is about the ups and downs.

Doesn’t life seem like this every once in while? You take 3 steps forward, relax for a moment to enjoy successes, maybe even try to set your life on cruise control and then bam! Life smacks you down – a big project at work, family arguments, financial hardships. Life can come at you in full force sometimes. But if you stop trying, caring or hoping that negative momentum just carries you deeper in.

I think we forget that sometimes that struggles are life; not a time out of life, but actually a purposeful, meaningful, needed part of life. I wouldn’t like kayaking if I just sat in the boat and floated along – that is called a lazy river. Yes, I like moments of calm, but paddling is kayaking. Going through tough times is life. It is not a punishment, it is just life.

So don’t stop paddling; keep going. Sometimes the rough rides are what makes life different, unpredictable, fruitful and worthwhile.

Eight Travel Mistakes We All Make – At Some Point

We all do it. The rookie traveler. The seasoned traveler. The business traveler and the leisure traveler. We all make mistakes while traveling.

Some of these mistakes are habitual, while some are one time things that are super annoying. Whether you are a serial offender or have the occasional slip up, we can always learn from our mistakes.

Over-packing is one of my biggest hurdles to get over when traveling. I do not like carrying anything extra, but feeling unprepared is even worse.

Travel Days Shoes

Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Hidden fees for overweight luggage
  • Burdensome baggage to lug around
  • No room for purchases while on vacation

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Plan outfits according to you itinerary in advance
  • Weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport
  • Pack everything and then remove three items, no matter what

Being “that”  person at the airport, restaurant or public place is never OK. Sure, cultural norms are different around the world and it can be difficult to learn and know it all, but you can use your best judgement, be observant and see from more than perspective. For instance, even though I am a Christian, I made sure to be quiet and courteous to those worshiping at the temples we visited in Bali. Sure, to me, these temples are just a tourist attraction, bu to others it is a place of worship. Or what about those airport “rules” that seem to be different each time you fly. Shoes on. Shoes off. Phone out of purse. Phone in purse. Yada Yada Yada! I know, it can get confusing, but it is a fact of traveling.

Wife with Baggage Ulun Danu Beratan

Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • You run the risk of seriously offending another’s culture, religion or beliefs. (I admit that I think people are too easily offended, but when it comes to religion and country, people have a right to be sensitive; they are very important areas of life!)
  • You will hold up other passengers who have flights to catch. Know the rules.
  • You can embarrass yourself or those with you. (Again, it is a little silly. But come on! Read up on the places you are going to visit!)
  • Worst case scenario: you might even be arrested if your actions are too improper.

Ways to Avoid this Mistake: (It’s ALL on you!)

  • Read.
  • Research.
  • Ask.
  • Listen.
  • Implement.

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is inconvenient, frustrating and sometimes costly. Double and triple check that your flights are the right day and time. If you have ever had your tickets for a Broadway show overlap with your tickets to The Top of the Rock you know the struggle is real. Have you ever made a restaurant reservation for 8 am, when you plan on eating dinner at this establishment? Yea, it happens to the best of us!

Colorful sunset GUlf of Mexico

Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • It costs money.
  • It costs (valuable) time.
  • It can put a big monkey wrench in your travel plans

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Have your travel partner review your work
  • Have someone not traveling with you have a look
  • Pick your tickets and then walk away. Come back a few minutes later to check the purchase with fresh eyes and then click “buy.”
  • Write it out in a calendar or add you ticket purchases to you smart phone calendar to keep your self organized

Forgoing the extras can cost you. Do not pass up the option to sign up for loyalty programs. Just do not do it!

Tahoe Lake Shore

Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Free stuff is good.
  • You can save money on this trip or your next trip.
  • Status can get you upgrades, complimentary (fill in the blank) and access to places and spaces. (Think airport lounges with showers and free food!)

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Say “yes” to the offers (only with reputable companies that you will use again).
  • Stay loyal to one company. (Note: Shopping for a low price is good, but sometimes paying a bit more to stay loyal to one company can pay off in dividends.)

Forgetting the necessities seems like one of those mistakes that you only make once. I mean, how does one forget obvious items like deodorant, toothpaste, pajamas. We are all guilty of forgetting some of these at one point, myself included!

Carry-On Toiletires for Air Travel

Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Besides the obvious smelliness, toiletries can be more expensive in other locales (airport, big cities)
  • Having to buy brands you are unfamiliar with is risky business. (Have you ever tried a new face cream while abroad? Hint: it’s not a good idea.)
  • Buying the items means an extra stop spending time that was supposed to be used for hiking, drinking coffee or relaxing poolside.

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Keep your toiletry bag stocked and packed with travel size items.
  • Create a check list before your trip and check items off as you pack them.

Avoiding Tourists is a good game plan, because crowds are annoying, right? Yes and no. Most places are popular for a reason. Would you avoid Machu Picchu because of the hoards of people who flock here every year? (I hope you would answer “no” to this question because MP is amazeballs!)


Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • You can miss out of true cultural, historical or natural treasures.
  • You have the sense of ‘missing out’ on something really good.

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Pick the time you visit to avoid crowds, but do not avoid the place because of people.
  • Book a tour that gives you “VIP” access to avoid some of the hoards. It would be like buying a suite for the Super Bowl (OK, I know how expensive those are, but stay with me), so that you can enjoy the game and only share a bathroom with 25 people instead of 25,000.
  • Stay calm in crowds and know that everyone is there for the same reason.

“You Paid How Much?” is not exactly the question you want to hear after you’ve made a purchase. Traveling is expensive, so be smart with your money and save when you can.


Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • This one seems obvious: to avoid wasting your hard-earned cash!

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Adjust your settings on the Groupon app to your destination to see local deals.
  • Ask for a discount. Seriously! The worst they can say is “no.”
  • Google it. (i.e. “Wine Tasting Coupons in Napa Valley”)

Being a day late and a dollar short is never a good thing. True story: my husband and I were on our way to the airport to catch a flight, (Driving. En route. On the road.) when we realized we were late for our flight. We made the mistake of thinking we were flying out of Ft. Lauderdale’s airport, but after glancing at our Delta app realized it was Miami International! Yes, we knew which flight we bought, but we made a mistake that easily added 30 minutes to our commute time. Thankfully, South Florida traffic was tame and we (barely) made it on time. Misjudging the travel time we needed forced us to park in an expensive parking garage and we forked over lots of extra cash when we returned. Ouch! Moral of the story: do not forget to factor ample travel time, especially if you are unfamiliar area. Beautiful Deserts in Namibia

Reasons to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Being late can cost you money
  • Being late can cost you reserved tours, tables and times

Ways to Avoid this Mistake:

  • Do not rely on navigation to give you accurate driving times. They are only estimates. Allow plenty of travel time and factor in traffic.
  • Ask locals about traffic patterns and places to avoid
  • Triple Check itineraries
  • Arrange for pick ups from your accommodations (instead of driving yourself) to avoid being late.
  • Use the mantra “If you are ten minutes early you are never late.”
  • Ask an employee at the hotel or the tour company about transit times. They can give you better estimates than maps and the internet.

Mistakes happen; no one is perfect. However, team work, double checks, a little patience and a lot of common sense can decrease mistakes. Making the mistake and paying for it (literally and figuratively) also helps you learn – but that is what I am trying to prevent with this post!

Are Child Free Zones Available When Flying?

In a previous post, we shared our experience of being on a plane with loads of families, with one in particular handing out goodie bags to all the passengers to make their flight a little more bearable. A sweet gesture for us, but for some business travelers who have to deal with flying on a daily basis, treats and earplugs may not be enough to get rid of their anxiety of flying. Mike is one of those frequent business travelers. This got me thinking about the stress for the family flyer verses the frequent flyer.


(image credit:

Everyone is well aware of the stresses of airports, which is why the travel industry is constantly looking for ways to ease the pain for frequent flyers. From booking airport hotels with overnight parking specials – a very relaxing option according to Parking4Less – to offering no children zones on planes, there are a multitude of ways that business travelers can ensure their flight and overall travel experience is as comfortable as possible.

Five years ago, Malaysia Airlines banned infants from First Class in several of their planes, and in the following year, they rolled out a new booking system that would “black out upper deck seats for customers whose reservations include children.” For an additional fee, passengers can choose to be be seated in the upper economy section with other travelers that are at least 12 years of age. The concept of a family-free zone sparked interest among other carriers, consequently leading to Air Asia X and Singapore Airlines’s subsidiary Scoot Airlines to provide quiet zones on their flights.

According to The Telegraph, the world’s largest charter airline Thomson Airways laid out a five-year plan that would make flying more comfortable for adult travelers as well for families. Their proposal included family and child-free zoning, a duo-seating system and upgraded in-flight entertainment with a variety of channels catering to different age groups. The company is in the midst of tests and trials so the hope is that more people will enjoy these perks in the near future.

I love that families travel together, make memories together. I love that parents think travel is worthwhile for their children. But at what cost to the childless customer who paid extra to be comfortable and even a little pampered.

What do you think? What are your thoughts on child-free zones on airplanes? I know it is a hot topic, but it is a worthwhile dialogue to have.

Handling a Rainy Day – On Vacation and In Life

We have all heard “save for a rainy day.” If you have ever had a “rainy day” you can appreciate this saying. Having a little extra money during an emergency is a huge relief in the midst of a stressful situation. But what about life’s curve balls that are not financial? Have you spent time mentally preparing for those?

Smiling through Tragedy

Mike and I spent thousands of dollars to fly to Cape Town, South Africa and hundreds of hours planning our trip. (OK, maybe hundreds is an exaggeration, but it is likely close!) With money, time and good intentions, everything should run smoothly, right? Wrong. Mother Nature had her own plan. Mother Nature caused rough, treacherous seas that made it too dangerous for boats. Mother Nature cancelled our (pre-arranged, paid for in full) cage dive with Great White Sharks. Mother Nature can be a —.

Sure, we knew inclement weather was always a possibility, but we did not plan for it; we just hoped for the best. We had two options when our parade was (literally) rained on. One, we could complain, get upset and worry over something completely out of our control or, two, we could ask for help and plan for another fun adventure.

We chose option 2. A hotel employee helping us make our new arrangements kept thanking us for being flexible and understanding during the whole ordeal. I got the impression she’d experienced the opposite from other guests in the past. We made lemonade out of lemons. We did not make a mountain out of a mole hill. We did not cry over spilled milk. (Are you happy I can’t think of any more clichés? I would keep going if I could!) Instead, with her help, we spent the day sipping wine and eating great food all around Stellenbosch. The day was certainly not lost. (And yes! We ended up getting to see Great Whites still!)

Winter in Stellenbosch

I think this situation is analogues with life. No one wants bad weather, but it happens.

No one expects their home to burn down. No one expects a family member to die young. No expects disease or violence. Everyone knows it can happen, but we do not plan for it.  But this is good. While planning for the future is important, I do not think worrying about the future, something we cannot control, does any good. On the contrary, when bad things happen every single day of our life was in preparation for how we handle these terrible situations.

After the initial shock and visceral emotions fade, can we find (or believe there could be) a silver lining? After the tears and prayers can we begin to smile and find hope? After the screaming, fighting and unanswered questions can we find peace and optimism?

Etosha Sunset

I know that my travel comparison above is trivial compared to the scope of the tragedy and heartache humans can experience, but I truly believe the way we handle adverse situations shows the depths of our hearts and souls.

Looking back, I am proud that we handled the let down in South Africa the way we did. Do not get me wrong though. I can throw a fit. I can feel entitled to things going my way. I am far from perfect, but that is why I (try to) practice being helpful, hopeful, honest and happy everyday. This way, when rain and storms come (because they will!) I can smile through the tears, hug through the pain and hope through the fear.

Applying Heat

On our tour of a coffee plantation in Bali we learned about each step of coffee production from planting, harvesting and the ever important step of roasting the beans. The amount of heat applied and the continuous stirring of the beans during roasting is crucial in releasing the flavors we taste after the coffee is brewed.

This got me thinking. How do pressure and discomfort in our own lives help bring out the best in each of us? The brutal truth? “Being under fire” can bring about good changes and positive results in our own lives.

Travel Inspiration:

Roasting Coffee in Bali

Lesson Learned: Roasting coffee converts the dried bean into the dark, deliciously aromatic bean we buy at the store.

Life Application: Being uncomfortable can bring about positive results.

“No pain. No gain.” is a common saying in America. Albeit it is viewed by some as too harsh or cruel. Maybe so, but it’s true! What Olympian has ever made it to the podium without a little (a lot!) of discomfort and pain? How many doctors graduate medical school without at least a few sleepless nights studying? How many married couples push through arguments to follow through with their vows? Pain is physical, mental and emotional, but all “flavors” of pain are necessary evils. Are you willing to withstand a little pain or pressure to grow?

Diamonds form only after intense geothermal pressure. Muscles develop by lifting heavy weights as often as possible. Roses are their most beautiful after a good pruning. A good marriage is made great after sacrificing your own agenda for you spouses’. Life long friendships only happen when you push past a few fights. A successful travel blog requires many (many) long hours of reading, writing, editing and energy. (Lord! Don’t I know this. We all need these reminders at times.)

There is no way around it, most gains require pain. It is not about being “harsh” – it’s about being real. Life is not always easy. Instead of shying away from discomfort or taking the easy way out, take on the pain, knowing that heat and suffering can spur change. Seeing hardships, mistakes and struggles as a chance to grow will help you get through the situation and see the value in being uncomfortable. When you withstand the heat you will come through the situation a better person, employee, spouse, friend and human because just like coffee, being under pressure can bring out the best in all of us.

Bali Coffee Tasting

 Who knew COFFEE could be so deep and thought-provoking?

Taking a Leap (of Faith) is Encouraged

As I stood at the edge debating whether I should jump or not, I took note of the other travelers deep in the jungles of Belize with me. There were two distinct groups. Group one: comprised of those who waded by the shore as they walked into the water at the gently sloping shoreline did not look upset, just a little bored and indifferent. Then there was group two. These people jumped before me from a large rock perched about 20 feet above the water’s surface. Group two was laughing, splashing and smiling. Decision made.

I inched forward, said a silent prayer, and jumped.  The first split second was excruciating; the doubt and fear overwhelming me. Then, just as I was about to scream in terror I realized there was no need to; I was having fun! Taking that leap was well worth the calculated risk! It was such an added bonus to an already good day in the Belize jungle!


Travel Lesson Learned: Adding excitement and adventure to your travels can make for some great memories.

Life Application: Taking a leap of faith in life is healthy and helpful.

The fear of leaping off of a cliff is as paralyzing as the fear to taking a leap of faith in life, whether it is in your personal, spiritual or professional life. The possibility of getting hurt (physically or emotionally), embarrassed an/dor denied are unpleasant realities. Taking a leap into something new can cause frustration and discomfort, but, the opposite could happen too!

In 2010 Michael and I took a leap of faith. We left the comfort of our lives in Florida and accepted new jobs in a new state during a not-so-great economy.We had our share of nay-sayers. Plenty of people told us that leaving “perfectly good jobs” was risky. Status quo and “just fine’ is not good enough for us though. We felt the need to jump …


… and you know what? The outcome was better than we imagined! For two years we lived in a new state where co-workers who became good friends, new experiences became lasting memories and we both advanced our careers in new ways.

Fear is an emotion induced by perceived, not definite, threats. Fear is the opposite of faith. Faith is also an emotion based on perceived outcomes. But, unlike fear, faith focuses on a trust for positive outcomes, not negative. Taking a leap of faith teaches us to take chances based of hope, not doubt. The regret of not taking the leap will always outweigh the fear of the unknown. Give up “good enough” and jump. You might fall, but it could be into something better than you ever imagined.