One Other Reason not to Travel

Have you ever met people who don’t want to travel? Have you ever asked them why not? Could it be that they think that it’s not affordable or that they don’t have the free time? These are probably the main reasons people don’t travel. But, you’ll be surprised that people also have One Other Reason not to Travel.

This other reason not to travel is that they feel that they aren’t comfortable leaving their life responsibilities and obligations even for a few days. They get so worried about who will take care of the house, the pets, the mail, the bills, the cars, the plants, the yard work and their list can go on and on and on.

I totally understand where they are coming from. When my husband and I travel for weeks at a time, we have people to take care of our home; we have other people to do banking, bills and mail; we have other people to tend to our business; we have other people to take care of our pets. After setting up all these people we realize that it takes a squad to take care of the things that we have to relinquish while we are away!
It’s a challenge to leave everything up to other people BUT the travel is so worth it.

IF this is you or someone you know and you have the desire to travel, then hire a house sitter.

What Is a House Sitter?

According to ZipRecruiter, “A house sitter stays in or visits a home while the owners are away for an extended period. Some house sitting jobs can be for any amount of time, from one night to several months. Some house sitters may only visit the home in their care during the day to collect mail and ensure the house is in good order for the homeowner’s return. Others stay overnight at the property, watering plants, caring for pets, performing maintenance, and keeping the home in good order.”

My husband and I also have our own house sitting service and this is exactly what we do. Whenever clients need to travel, we take care of whatever needs to be done while they are away.

Why Hire a House Sitter?

Here are just a few reasons to hire a house sitter:

  1. YOU deserve to travel. No more excuses. Your house sitter will work for you to make sure that life is just fine even if you are not physically around.
  2. Your home won’t look like it’s been vacated or abandoned. This will discourage burglars or vandals from violating your home and belongings. You can have your house sitter collect your mail and or subscriptions, turn lights on at night and off during the day. House sitters can also do light housework and or yard maintenance.
  3. Your pets will be cared for. You can make arrangements with your house sitter to feed your pets, take them for walks and keep them company.
  4. Your plants will be cared for. House sitters can water your indoor and outdoor plants whenever they need.
  5. Your house sitter can give you updates on whatever is going on while you are away. If there is an emergency or anything that requires attention, the house sitter can be your liaison to take care of what needs to be done.
  6. Coming back from your travels will be more relaxed. House sitters will make sure everything is in order before you return from your travels. It will almost be like you never left.

Who to Hire as a House Sitter?

Hiring a house sitter is a daunting task especially for first-timers. After all, you are, in a sense, surrendering your entire life to another person for a period of time. This is something that isn’t easily done or taken lightly. You definitely need to check for references. Do your due diligence.

Friends and Family: It is always a great idea to check with your friends and family first, at least the ones you know you can trust and feel comfortable being in your home. This might be a more economical alternative if you are on a budget.

Word of Mouth: Ask the people that you know who travel frequently, who house sits for them. If they are comfortable giving you their recommendation, then this is an indicator that the house sitters are trust worthy.

House Sitting Service Companies: You can also check with house sitting service companies in your area. You can also search for house sitting websites online.

What to Expect from a House Sitter?

Make it vividly clear what you expect from your house sitter. Meet with them ahead of time and let them know what these expectations are. House sitting magazine suggests that, “this may include taking care of pets, look after the home and keeping it clean and tidy, organizing occasional maintenance in the event of something going wrong, and generally making sure that everything runs smoothly, just as if the owner was at home.”

Ask the house sitter what they expect from you in return. Get to know your house sitter. Talk to him or her about how you would like things to be done. Take the sitter around your premises so that they are familiar with the whereabouts of everything.

Put everything into a contract where both you and the house sitter agree to all its terms.

You Can Do This

Don’t give in to the other reason not to travel. You can do this! It’s time for you to enjoy your life by giving up some of your life even for just a little while. Hire that house sitter today. There are trust-worthy people to take care of things for you but you just have to find them and make them feel comfortable taking care of your home life while you are away. Then, just maybe this will open up more doors to more future travels.

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3 Great Reasons to Use a Travel Luggage Scale

Every time my husband and I travel, especially to visit our children, we tend to pack excessively. Depending on the duration of our trip, we pack lots of food items and gifts from home in addition to the clothes and other items we need for our travels. Nowadays, many airlines charge for check-in bags or passengers are limited in quantities and weight of check-in bags. Plus, the rates for check-in luggage are sometimes outrageous!

By now, you have probably figured that it’s quite difficult for me and my husband to stay within the weight limit. So, one of the best travel investments we have ever made is a travel luggage scale. It is the greatest thing ever to use while you pack for your trip. Here I will share with you 3 Great Reasons to Use a Travel Luggage Scale.

#1 Luggage Scales Save Time

I have been at check-in counters at airports and see people having to open up their luggage to try to adjust their packing just so that they can stay within the weight limits of the airlines. This is such a stressful and time-consuming process. So, the first great reason to use a travel luggage scale is that it definitely saves time. You can start packing your luggage at home and when you think that you are done you can easily weigh it. You will know if you are either over or under weight and you can adjust your packing at home rather than waiting at the airport check-in counter only to be told that your luggage is overweight or you could have packed a little more because you are underweight.

#2 Luggage Scales Save Money

The second great reason to use a travel luggage scale is that it will save money. It takes getting used to even being charged for a first check-in bag which costs anywhere from $25 – $50 while second bags cost upwards of $40 and so on and so forth. Overweight bags are another story. It can cost passengers hundreds of dollars for one piece of baggage to be overweight even by a pound. Luggage scales can save people the financial stress of checking in their bags.

#3 Luggage Scales Are Portable

Travels are normally round trips. So, not only do you have to weigh your luggage before you leave but you have to weigh them on the way back to where you originated from. No need to fret because the third great reason to use a travel luggage scale is that they are portable. Luggage scales are small enough to put into your luggage so that you can have it readily available when you are ready to head back.

How Do They Work?

Travel luggage scales are really simple to use.

  1. Pack your bags.
  2. Calibrate your travel luggage scale to zero.
  3. Hook the scale to or wrap the strap around the luggage handle.
  4. Lift your luggage with the scale.
  5. Check the weight.

Voila! That is it.

Digital or Non-DigitalBy Simon A. Eugster - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7830298

The most popular travel luggage scales are the digital kind. I mean, we do live in a digital world so that’s no surprise. It’s extra simple to use. Lift your bags and read the digital number that shows up on the screen.

The luggage scale that I personally use is the non-digital one. We’ve been using it for many years and it hasn’t failed us and it’s actually pretty accurate. It may be off by a pound when we place our bags on the scales at the airport depending on the calibration. Unlike the digital kind, you will have to work a little harder to read the weight as the little hand points to the numbers but there is a marker that sticks to the actual weight. The advantage to the non-digital scale is that it requires no batteries.

This is it

If there is ever one item that every world traveler should get this is it! A travel luggage scale is the most useful item you could have when you’re packing for that long vacation. It saves time and money and it’s portable. When you get one for yourself, it would be a wonderful idea to get another one as a gift for a fellow jet-setter. Or better yet, put it on your wish list for your next birthday or holiday gift.

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Visit Neo Park Okinawa

I have recently returned from a trip to Okinawa, Japan and I just have to say to all world travelers and adventure seekers to visit Neo Park in Okinawa. Sure there are many other things to do in Okinawa but I highly recommend adding Neo Park to your list of things to do.

Overview

Neo Park is a simple botanical park and zoo that also features a train ride that takes you around the entire park. The admission is totally reasonable. When my family went there the admission plus train ride came up to around $10 per person. We were all adults. There are children’s prices as well. If you have children, they will surely appreciate spending some time at this park. In addition to admission into the park, you can purchase food to feed the animals for $1-2 per bag and the bag lasts pretty long if you use it wisely. There is also an optional petting area that costs $3 to enter. However, even just paying for regular admission will guarantee a great time strolling through the park seeing the animals.

There are vending machines around the park to purchase drinks and there is a snack stand about half-way through the park. So, be sure to have yen on hand if you think you’ll be purchasing snacks and drinks. I’m not too sure if you’re allowed to bring in your own food and drinks. There are benches and tables throughout the park to take a break from the walk around the park.

I am also going to be honest and say that the maintenance of the park facilities is a little sub par but still worth the adventure. Seeing and interacting with the animals and the train ride makes up for the park’s inadequacies.

Entrance

The first thing to do is purchase your admission at the park entrance. There are restrooms in the area and it would be a great idea to make a quick “bathroom break” before you begin your walk around the park. There are restrooms around the park as well though.

If you purchase train tickets, you have the option to do the train ride before you walk around or you can do it after. The train begins and ends in the same place so it is up to you. We didn’t know this so we took the walk first and the train ride last which was fine with all of us. The train station is located on the second floor of the building.

Before I continue on, I would like to let you know that there are signs all along the trail that give information about all the animals and plants in the park. You will also notice that you’ll hear the sound of the birds all through the walk. My husband and I were debating about whether it was a recording of the birds or were they sound of the actual birds all around. So, you can be the judge when you visit Neo Park.

Flamingo Lake

The first thing that you see as you exit the building to begin your walk through the park is Flamingo Lake. It is amazing! What makes it more incredible is you get to feed all the birds! There are pelicans, cranes, storks and flamingos. You are surrounded by the lot of them and they feed off your hand. It’s so exciting that you end up staying in Flamingo Lake for a few minutes not realizing that you have just started your trek around the par

Amazon Jungle

Although you want to stay and feed the birds, you continue to walk along the trail and come into the Amazon jungle. It’s so quiet and serene. You ‘ll see a few turtles, fish, spoonbills, scarlet ibis, and more flamingos. You can feed them as well if you haven’t finished the bags of animal food. Before you exit the jungle there is a picture board where you can place your face into one of the animals and take some photos.

Underwater Tunnel

Next, you’ll go through the Underwater Tunnel. Here you will see huge pirarucu in their natural amazon environment. Pirarucu is the “prized fish of the Amazon”. It is one of the world’s largest fresh water fish.

Friendship Square

As you continue to walk on, you will come across Friendship Square which is the petting zoo area. However, to enter you will have to pay around $3. We opted not to pay the extra fee. This is the area where you can play with the dogs, horses and goats. I believe this is where the giant tortoise was to be found but we never came across him and we figured he was no longer available at the park. We also figured, after riding the train, that there is also a fishing house where you are able to go fishing.

African Savannah

After the petting zoo is the African Savannah. Here you will be entertained by the ostriches and storks. I have never see a live ostrich before so this was a treat for me. They are quite huge birds!

Parlor Baobab/Lemur Island

Half way through the walk through Neo Park is a snack bar called Parlor Baobab. You are able to find lots of convenient snacks and drinks. Across the way is the restrooms and a nice covered area to sit and give your legs a break. There is also a separate smoking area. You can enjoy the plants and cool breezes here and appreciate the view of Lemur Island.

Peccary Ranch

By the time you reach Peccary Ranch, you probably have run out of animal feed but no need to despair because you can buy some more at the ranch. You are able to continue to feed the peccary. I’ve never really heard of peccary and so at first I thought they were wild boars or pigs. There are so many of them and they love people.

Llama Hill

After seeing and feeding the peccary, you come across Llama Hill. They is the cutest ever but be careful because they are known to spit. So, be sure not to get too close.

Oceanian Flora and Fauna

Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand are well represented in the Oceanian Flora and Fauna. Here you will see wallabies, peacocks, cassowaries. There are also baby wallabies that shy away from the crowds but seem to accessible for feeding. This is by the way the last chance to feed any animals. There is a sign that reminds you of this before you exit.

Species Survival Research Center

Lastly, you come across the Species Survival Research Center building. This was an unexpected treat because there cages upon cages of so many different animal species. You can either view them from the outside or inside which we choose to do because it was a really sunny day. The Species Survival Research Center is a facility to study the breeding and protection of rare wild animals in the world. Some animals included is the great horn bill, squirrels, monkeys, and sloths. They are all a delight to watch. The center took a few minutes to get through.

Lemur Terrace

The last thing you’ll enjoy watching is the two monkeys who have their own little island in the middle of a lake oblivious to all the people watching them.

Okinawa Light Rail

After the long walk through the park, you come across the train station for the Okinawa Light Rail. The train runs every 30 minutes. If you weren’t able to purchase tickets at the entrance, you are still able to purchase tickets at the train station. While you wait, there are vending machines that provide snacks and drinks. There are also nearby restrooms and an area for kids to keep entertained while they wait.

The route of the train…

Nago Train Station – Flamingo Lake – Bridge – African Savannah – Bridge – Llama’s Hill/Peccary -Oceanian Zone – Amazon Jungle – Multi Purpose Field – Nago Train Station

It is a wonderful train ride.

Towards the end of the ride you will notice a little amusement park area for kids. There are other rides for them to experience. We didn’t go there so I’m not able to tell you prices for the amusement park rides.

As you exit the train station, there is a little air-conditioned rest area and gift shop to purchase souvenirs of your time at Neo Park.

Fun-Filled Day

It was a fun-filled day at Neo Park. It really brought out the inner-child in each of us which is such a joy. If you haven’t been to a zoo in years then Neo Park is the place to be.

Click here to check out how you can visit Neo Park in Okinawa.

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Experiencing Okinawa in 4 Days

We have recently returned from our trip to Okinawa, Japan. Experiencing Okinawa in 4 days was so amazing that I want to go back soon. There is just so much more to see and do. Although the primary reason for this trip was to attend our daughter’s graduation from leadership school, we were able to experience a little of what Okinawa has to offer.

Experiencing Okinawa Day 1

We arrived at the Naha International Airport at 1:10 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon. Our daughter and her boyfriend were there to greet us. Once we exited the airport we were met with nice cool breezes and sunshine. We got into the car and were on our way to experiencing Okinawa day 1.

The drive there was already an experience for us because Okinawans drive on the left side of the road and the driver sits on the right side of the car. That was definitely a first for us. The cars there are a great deal smaller than American cars and with good reason. The back roads are quite narrow and only 2 lanes. Plus, people are allowed to park along the sides of these narrow roads! There were many times when it looked like our car was going to hit the other cars but our daughter is well-versed in the way the locals drive in Okinawa. On the way to our daughter’s house there was just so much to see and the two things that stood out was the amazing view of the ocean on the drive and a giant ferris wheel. From the airport to Chatan where our daughter lives is about 30 minutes, probably longer with traffic.

Upon entering the Chatan district there were so many buildings and houses built so closely together. What looked like a simple residential area is actually a mix of family homes and businesses or homes that have been transformed into quaint family businesses. So, it is very likely that if you live in a home or apartment in Okinawa there could be a little coffee shop or tire shop or restaurant just a few houses down. It is quite delightful actually.

We finally get to our daughter’s house which is a 2-story home. The first floor has been recently vacated by her landlord probably for renovations while she lives on the second floor. It is a surprisingly spacious 2 bedroom 1 bathroom complete with air conditioning, appliances, and washer and dryer. She also has a patio and a roof top balcony. It is close to Kadena Air Force Base where our daughter is stationed. Her home is also just a 5-minute walk to the sea wall and you can hear the sound of the ocean when you go to the roof top.

The first thing on our agenda was to attend our daughter’s graduation from leadership school. So, almost immediately after arriving to the house we prepared to get ready to go to the air base where the function was to take place.

Since the event began at 6 and we were to be there by 5, we were on a time crunch to get all dressed up and ready to go. We actually made good time and arrived at the Kadena AFB visitor’s center to get our passes but then things went a little awry. We left our passports at home and they are the only form of acceptable identification to obtain visitor passes. Mind you that it was the end of the work day and traffic in and out of base was just insane. So, we stayed at the visitor’s center while our daughter’s boyfriend dropped her off to the event so that she wouldn’t be late. Then, he drove back to the house to pick up our passports to bring them to the visitor’s center so that he could sponsor us onto the base. Lesson learned…always have your passports ready.

Well, we made it right on time to the graduation and needless to say, the graduation was wonderful! Once again, we were very proud parents. Ironically, our first meal in Okinawa was an American dinner. We had a choice of teriyaki chicken or prime rib served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

We got home after the ceremony and hung out on the patio just catching up with our daughter and enjoying the moment. We also arranged our schedule for the next 3 days. Originally, we had planned to attend the Naha Festival which includes the world’s largest tug-of-war but because we arrived a day later than we were supposed to our plans changed. The plan then was to do grocery shopping on Friday for the BBQ we were having on Saturday. Sunday was to go do something fun. Monday was just to have morning coffee before we leave that afternoon.

Experiencing Okinawa Day 2

 

We woke up early Friday morning to start experiencing Okinawa day 2. Before anything, we had to have our morning coffee. Our daughter took us to American Village which is a “large, American-themed outdoor mall featuring shops, restaurants, a cinema & a ferris wheel”. American Village is right along the sea wall and it has gorgeous views of the ocean. We had coffee at Zhyvago Coffee Works and their coffee was absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend going there. They also serve pastries and sandwiches.

After coffee, we went to do our grocery shopping. We were looking to buy some choice meats for BBQ among other items. So, I asked our daughter to take us to a local market to see what types of meat they had before checking at the base commissary. She obliged my request and she took us to Mega Don Quijote.

 

 

 

 

 

This store has EVERYTHING you could possibly need and much, much more. Don Quijote is known as the ”Palace of Amazing Prices”. It is Japan’s biggest discount store. The Mega Donki, as it is known by locals, is twice the size with twice as many products. This store is so overwhelming we had to return another day to see things that we missed on the first trip there.

With all the excitement we had at Mega Donki, we were ready to have lunch. So, we decided to go to Coco’s Ichibanya. Coco’s is a Japanese curry restaurant very popular with Americans and with very good reason. If you haven’t tried Japanese curry, then put it on your bucket list. It is absolutely delicious!

Experiencing Okinawa Day 3

 

 

 

Our whole day of experiencing Okinawa day 3 was just hanging out at home. Well, to start our day we walked to a nearby coffee shop called Coffee Casa. It is a charming, family owned and operated little coffee shop with excellent coffees and caramel macchiato. For such a quaint little coffee shop there is quite some traffic in and out of the place.

We walked back home to start preparing for the BBQ later in the day. It was an absolutely perfect day for a cook out. My daughter invited some of her friends from work and we had a beautiful time together.

It was a magnificent Saturday spent in Okinawa just making memories.

Experiencing Okinawa Day 4

Our last full day and we continued experiencing Okinawa day 4. My husband and I woke up early in hopes of surprising our daughter and her boyfriend with some coffee from Coffee Casa. It was that good we had to have coffee from there again. Plus, it was walking distance from the house. When we got there though, we noticed a sign that said they don’t do take out coffee until 2PM which we thought was odd. So unfortunately, we went back home empty-handed, By the time we got back from the coffee shop, my daughter and her boyfriend were awake and we told them what had happened. It turned out just fine anyway, because they had planned to take us to try another coffee shop for coffee and breakfast.

The coffee shop was called Vongo and Anchor, located in American Village. The place has such an interesting interior design with a vintage bike theme. I believe that they even have bikes for rent to go around American Village. It was such a cool and hip place. We all ordered food with our coffee. The guys had sandwiches while the ladies had the breakfast platters. Everything was absolutely delicious. We also realized that it was a sister coffee shop of Zhyvago Coffee Works that we had tried on our first morning in Okinawa.

During breakfast, we had decided to check out this place called Neo Park which is basically a botanical park and zoo. I stumbled upon Neo Park while researching things to do in Okinawa. I knew that my daughter would enjoy Neo Park especially because there is a giant tortoise that people actually ride on. My daughter had never even heard of it and so I was happy about that, because it was something we could all experience together in Okinawa for the first time .

The drive from Chatan to Neo Park in Nago took about an hour drive. The day was nice and sunny and actually a little humid, definitely a great day for a stroll through a park. We arrived at just about 12 noon and the line at the entrance was just fine considering it was a Sunday and the children of Okinawa had just started their fall break plus it was a 3-day weekend. Admission to the park is around $6 for adults and $3 for children 4-18 years old. You can also purchase admission+train ride tickets for about $10 for adults and $5-$7 for children. Bags of bird food may also be purchased for something like $1-$2 per bag. We had such a wonderful time and it was a wonderful experience that I will be doing a separate post on Neo Park.

After about 2 hours at the park, we had contemplated to also check out the Pineapple Park which was also in the vicinity but we opted not to because we were pretty much spent already. So, we headed back home to Chatan. When we got there we took a little recovery nap so that we can go on our next adventure.

Since it was our last full day in Okinawa, we wanted to get some gifts and snacks for the people back home. Our daughter took us to Aeon Shopping Center where we visited a dollar store called Daiso. It was your typical dollar store that has almost everything you can think of. We were able to find a few items there. However, they only accept Yen for payment. We also checked out a novelty store next door to Daiso and there was so much to see. We didn’t buy anything there but it was worth the experience. On the way out of the shopping center we stopped by Mister Donut to grab a few donuts for later.

 

 

 

It was time for dinner. The kids wanted to treat us for our last dinner in Okinawa. We decided that we all wanted burgers and fries. So, they took us to a place called Jetta Burgers which was also conveniently found in American Village. It was a very cool place and the burgers and fries were amazing. What was even more pleasantly amazing were the onion rings. Personally, they were the best onion rings that I ever had. I would highly recommend this place to all who visit American Village and are burger enthusiasts.

After dinner, the kids wanted to stop by Sega World. I haven’t been inside an arcade for many years and well, Sega World is just mind-blowing! I have never seen so many “CLAW” game machines or as they are known there “Prize Games”. You can try your hand at winning things from expensive high-tech gadgets to candies and food items. The other most mesmerizing thing that I saw were these young kids playing these music and video games. You can’t help but stand around and watch them play because they are all zoned out with these games. Our daughter convinced me to try out this Japanese taiko drum game which I have to admit was super fun. I was so glad that I did it, too! We stayed there for about what felt like 45 minutes.

It was getting late but we still needed to buy a few more gifts and snacks. So, back to Mega Donki it was. I could spend hours upon hours in that store. Words could not express how much stuff there is to see there! Anyhow, we managed to complete our gift shopping and perhaps a little more. Mega Donki was my favorite store experience while in Okinawa, at least on this trip,

It was now time to head home and start packing.

Sayonara

We had our last morning coffee and breakfast time in Okinawa at Coffee Casa. There was so many people out and about
so early in the morning because it was an American holiday. Since we figured that the traffic would be a little more hectic, we decided to leave for the airport around 10AM, It was a good thing we did because it took us more than an hour to get there and our flight was leaving at 1:10PM. Now it was time to say “Sayonara” to our daughter who was the most gracious of hostesses in the world. It was amazing experiencing Okinawa for 4 days. Sayonara! We will be back soon.

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How to Pack for a 5 Day Trip


My husband and I are blessed to have such wonderful children. In a few days, we will be in the air headed for Okinawa, Japan. One of our daughters purchased our airline tickets so that we can be there for her upcoming military graduation from leadership school.

This trip will be my opportunity to share with you my travel experiences. The first thing I will share is…

How to Pack for a 5-Day Trip

Check-In and Carry-On Bags

For those not familiar with traveling by plane, knowing the difference between a check-in bag and carry-on bag is essential.

CHECK-IN BAGS are your larger luggage, suitcases, other various cases or bags that are held in the cargo area of an airplane. When you check in for your flight at the airline counter, you also check-in these bags which are then tagged and delivered to an airline for transportation. Depending on the airlines, your first check-in bag may be free while other airlines charge anywhere from $25 to $200 per check-in bag. Passengers have no access to check-in bags while en route to their destinations. Upon arriving to your destination, they are retrieved at the determined carousel in the arrival’s area.

Dimensions and Weight Limits: A typical check in bag is: 27 inches x 21 inches x 14 inches. Typical weight requirements for check-in bags is 50 lbs (23 kg).. When traveling or first or business class it is 70 lbs(32 kg).
However, some airline carriers will allow overweight, oversize or additional baggage for additional fees.

CARRY-ON BAGS or hand-carries are smaller bags including back packs permitted in the passenger area of an airplane. These bags should also fit in the overhead bin inside the airplane. If necessary, passengers could have access to their carry-on bags during a flight.

Dimensions and Weight Limits: Typical carry-on bags should be no more than 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 centimeters x 35 centimeters x 56 centimeters) including handles and wheels. Depending on the airlines, there really is no weight limit but passengers must be able to lift it into the overhead compartment.

Personal Item

In addition to check-in and carry-on bags, passengers are also allowed one personal item they can take on the plane.

Personal items are even smaller than carry-on bags. They include but are not limited to handbags, purses, briefcases or laptop bags. It should be able to fit under the seat in front of you on the plane.

Dimensions and Weight Limits: Some airlines may have restrictions on the dimensions of personal items and may state that maximum dimensions for your personal item be 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm).

Start Packing

So, my husband and I are taking a 5-day trip and we need to start packing. Between the two of us, we are bringing one check-in bag, 2 carry-on bags, and 2 personal items.

Our check-in bag will be filled with goodies for our daughter. When I say goodies, I am actually talking about prepackaged foods, including frozen items, from home that she isn’t able to find in Okinawa. Packing food items is something my husband and I normally do when we go to visit our children. Some may find it strange to pack foods into a check-in bag but it’s one of the few ways we can transport these items. We are very scrupulous when we pack food items. If necessary, we vacuum seal items to preserve their freshness and to help with keeping the items from becoming damaged during transport. With the frozen items, we ensure that they go directly into a freezer once we get to our destination.

Our carry-on bags will strictly be for our clothes and shoes this time since it is a short trip. We have recently upgraded our carry-on bags. My husband will be using a Samsonite and I will be using a Penguin brand.

Things to Consider

Some things to consider when packing clothes and shoes for your trip:

Purpose: For example, our main purpose for this trip is to attend a military graduation. So, we have to be sure to pack semi-formal outfits for the occasion.

Weather: Always be sure to check what the weather will be like while you are there at your destination, Even though you might be headed to an island destination, you might still need some clothes for an unexpected monsoon.

Activities: Pack according to the types of activities you will be engaging in. If you plan to do some hiking, be sure to bring along your hiking boots. Going to do lots of sightseeing? Bring along some great walking shoes and comfortable clothes. Going to be in the sun? Bring lots of sunblock and sunglasses.

Unexpected Excursions: It’s always safe to bring along a dressy casual outfit just in case someone invites you out to a nice dinner or an out on the town where jeans and a t-shirt won’t make do.

My Personal Packing

Based on the above-listed considerations these are the items I will be bringing:

  • (1) Dressy casual outfit with heels
  • (1) Pair of Jeans with (2) possible casual and cool blouses
  • (1) Pair of shorts with (1) casual top
  • (3) Pairs of leggings with matching tops
  • (1) Travel outfit to wear back home
  • (1) Pair of running shoes

Plus, I have the pair of slip on shoes that I’ll be wearing on my way over. Of course, I’ll be bringing along my unmentionables to last for the duration.

Also, I went through my wardrobe to find as many wrinkle-free travel clothes as I could based on a previous article I wrote…

https://travelawaylife.com/wrinkle-free-travel-clothing-straighten-up/

Ready to Go

That is “How to Pack for a 5-Day Trip”. As the song goes, “all my bags are packed and I’m ready to go”. We are all set to check-in for our flight to Okinawa and I can’t wait to share my travel experience with the world. After all, this site is called Travel Away Life. I hope that you find this article enjoyable as much as it is useful. I would so love to hear about your travel experiences, as well, and you can share how YOU pack for a 5-day trip. Please leave a comment because I absolutely love hearing from my readers and followers!

 

CLICK HERE to become a “citizen of the world”… we used Kiwi.com to book our trip to Okinawa

 

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How to Travel with a Yoga Mat

There seems n’to be a resurgence in Yoga and meditation lately. I, too, enjoy my share of downward dogs and child’s poses. I find meditation soothing and calming for the body, mind and soul. I sure would like to do more of it. Why not do some yoga and meditation while on vacation? And of course, to do Yoga and meditation requires a mat.

So, I was thinking... How to travel with a Yoga mat?

History of the Yoga Mat

The ancient practitioners of yoga in India conducted yoga on kusha grass, on the hard earth, or on a deer or tiger skin rug.

People who practiced yoga when it was brought in the western world used towels or cotton mats on wooden floors. Soon after that, rubber mats were used. In 1982, “sticky mats” were first sold. Surprisingly, the first mat purposely made strictly for yoga was developed in the 1990s by Hugger Mugger Yoga Products.

What to Look for in a Yoga Mat

Although I am not an extreme yoga enthusiast, there are three things that I look for in a yoga mat. They are the length, thickness and durability.

LENGTH: The standard size of yoga mats is 24 inches wide by 68 inches long. The extra long mat can come in 71, 72, 74 or 84 inches long. Some may even go beyond 7 feet long! I would recommend looking into a mat that fits your physical stature. There is nothing worse than trying to do a yoga pose and not having enough space to comfortably complete your pose. Even though I am a mere 5’2″, I would choose a longer yoga mat.

THICKNESS: A standard yoga mat is about 1/8 inch thick but there are some that go as thick as 1/4 inch. A travel yoga mat is 1/16 inch thick. I prefer the 1/4 inch thickness because it’s more comfortable on my knees when I need to do a pose such as cat to cow or bird-dog.

DURABILITY: Replacing your yoga mat every six to twelve months is the general rule of thumb. This is a reasonable rule. However, it really depends on a lot of factors such as the frequency of use, the styles of yoga that is done and where you do yoga. I have used yoga mats that start to fall a part or lose their stickiness even way before the 6-month period. Since I only do yoga in the comfort of my living room I expect a yoga mat that will downward dog with me for at least the full 12 months.

Types of Yoga Mats

TRADITIONAL MATS are rectangular “sticky mats” so that poses can be held without slipping. Traditional mats are made of PVC, or vinyl. They come in various thickness and lengths. Both beginners and seasoned practitioners use traditional mats.

NON-TRADITIONAL MATS come in different shapes. You can now choose circular, oval and even hour-glass shapes Yoga mats. Non-traditional mats also come in much more eco-friendly materials.

Natural Rubber mats are non-toxic and are made from biodegradable and recycled materials.

Thermoplastic elastomer mats are made from natural materials and are considered healthy and environmentally friendly.

Cotton mats are all natural and are washable. They are soft and cushiony and absorbs sweat better.

Hemp mats are also all natural and last long because hemp has great elasticity and strength.

Jute mats are made from all natural jute fibers which is biodegradable. Jute mats are considered the most eco-friendly.

TRAVEL MATS are much thinner than other yoga mats. They are made to fold and roll up for travel purposes. Travel mats are only meant to be used for traveling so they are not as durable as the conventional yoga mats.

Yoga Mat Accessories

With the popularity of Yoga and meditation, not only are there Yoga mats to choose from but there are also Yoga mat accessories:
Yoga Mat Bags:
These are basically bags to fit your Yoga mats in and they come in different styles and colors. These bags have an attached strap to it so that it can be carried over your shoulder.

Harness Straps: These are straps made of elastic that can wrap around the Yoga mat and carried over your shoulder for easier transport.

Yoga Backpacks: This is a multi-purpose backpack that you can place your Yoga mat in and sometimes multiple mats. It also has other compartments that you can use to put other travel necessities. It’s very practical and easy to carry on your back just like a typical backpack.

How to Travel with a Yoga Mat

So, back to my original question… How to Travel with a Yoga Mat?

The logical answer is…bring a travel Yoga mat. It makes sense. It’s made for travel because it’s very thin and can be rolled up or folded and packed in your luggage.

OR do what makes you feel happy….bring along your favorite Yoga mat. Roll it up with an elastic harness strap or place it in a yoga mat bag with a sling or carry a Yoga back pack on your next travel adventure.

Namaste

There shouldn’t be any pressure or stress. So, whichever way you decide, How to Travel with a Yoga Mat, is up to you.

Relax.

Continue breathing gently.

Slowly open your eyes.

Namaste.

 

Booking.com

 

 

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How to Save Money While Visiting Guam

I recently posted, on my Destinations page, an article about visiting Guam.

Where America’s Day Begins

One of my readers who is interested in visiting the island wanted to find out how he could save money while staying in Guam. He has heard that it could be quite expensive to visit this paradise island but I think that I could help him and many others planning their accommodations for a future visit to Guam,

So, here it is… How to Save Money While Visiting Guam.

Thank you, Jason!

Places to Stay

FAMILY OR FRIENDS: Many people might not like this idea, but if you are on a tight budget this is the way to go. Staying with family or friends that you know in Guam will help you save hundreds of dollars. Guam people are known for their hospitality and that extends out to people who have come from other places who have made Guam their home. Find out if you know anyone who lives in Guam and see if they are available to have you stay with them for a few days. They will probably help you with much more than to just offer you a place to stay.

AIRBNB: You will be surprised to know that Guam actually offers a variety of bed and breakfast places with AirBNB. These places range anywhere from $38 per night to $250 per night, Some provide just a room to change and sleep in with common areas such as living room, kitchen and bathroom. Others can provide a whole house to yourself and with the ocean in your back yard in the southern end of the island.

HOTELS: One thing Guam doesn’t have a shortage of is hotels. There are many hotels to choose from for such a small island. There are budget hotels which can cost anywhere from $62 per night to $100 per night. Some may even have kitchenettes where you can prepare your own foods. Of course these are your smaller sized hotels but many have pools and other amenities. On the other hand, you have the luxury hotels that can range anywhere from $150 per night to $350 per night. These include the larger hotel chains like the Hilton, Hyatt, Westin and Sheraton to name a few.

Places to Eat

FIESTAS: Because of its rich background in Catholicism, there is a village fiesta every month held at the village church. These fiestas are celebrations in honor of the patron saint of the village. At these fiestas, everyone is welcome to partake in the free dinner provided by the parishioners of the church. Dates of these fiestas change yearly and so I recommend searching “list of fiestas on Guam” to get a current schedule. At each fiesta you will find an array of local delicacies that you might not experience at other restaurants. I recommend going as early as you can to experience the mass and processions that take place before the dinner and to ensure that you are on time to eat because food will run out quickly if you wait.

CHAMORRO VILLAGE: Right in the heart of the island capital, Hagatna, is the Chamorro Village. There are many food vendors who sell box plates of local foods that you choose to your liking. The plates normally come with red rice, pancit or noodles and salad and cost between $6 to $10. You can choose to eat at the dining pavilion or take it to go and park at a nearby beach to enjoy your meal. Wednesdays at the Chamorro Village there is the Nigh Market. There is local entertainment and more vendors to choose from.

RESTAURANTS: If you are looking to dine in a restaurant, there are so many to choose from. Now, if you are looking for a restaurant that serves local food for a great price, then I recommend The Cafeteria in Harmon. It’s a little out of the way and you may need direction to find the place if you are a first time visitor but it’s so worth it. The portions are extremely generous that one order can feed two people unless you are seriously hungry or have a huge appetite.

FAST FOOD: if your tight budget call for fast food restaurants, Guam has enough to choose from. There’s McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, Sbarros, Pizza Hut, Dominoes and many others.

Places to Shop

If you are a luxury shopper then there are many luxury shops and boutiques in Tumon. However, if you are a shopper on a budget, however, I would recommend shopping at the Guam Premiere Outlets (GPO) in Tamuning. The most frequented, budget-friendly store by locals and tourists alike is Ross Dress for Less. There is one also at the Micronesian Mall. There is also a Super Kmart that is opened 24 hours.

Then, every weekend you can check out the local flea markets found in the village of Dededo. There are two to choose from. At the flea markets, you will find many interesting things from clothing and souvenirs to street foods.

Places to Entertain Yourself

BEACH: The beach is as budget friendly as you can get. Bring your swim wear and lots of sunblock and you are good to go for a whole day. You can buy some fast food and bring it with you and eat on the sandy shore.

CAR RIDES: if you’ve had too much fun in the sun, you can rent a car for a day which can cost as little as $25 per day and take a stroll around the island and sight see away. Guam has many prewar and post-war historic sites you can visit. You can drop by any mom-and-pop store or gas station and buy a delicious and inexpensive snack off the counters to enjoy during your car ride.

WALK THROUGH TUMON: In the evening, take a leisure walk through Tumon and people watch and enjoy the energies of the night, This is one of my favorite things to do as a local. Window shop at the luxury stores. Visit all the different hotels and what they have to offer. You can grab a gelato or a Godiva ice cream cone to keep you cool on a warm evening.

Budget Guam

In all honesty, air fares to Guam can be rather pricey but so worth it if you like warmer weather and sandy beaches. So, of course, any world traveler would want to find means to save money in all other ways after spending most of the vacation budget on air fare. So, Jason, this is for you and for all other world travelers who may be hesitant to visit Guam because of the extra expense it might cost to visit. Here’s my version of “budget Guam”. This is for those, like Jason, who want to know “How to Save Money While Visiting Guam”.

 

Visit Guam soon…

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Top 5 Travel Snack Ideas

When traveling the world, making it on time to the next destination can have travelers feeling a little hungry whether by air, land or sea. Here you will find some travel snack ideas to curb those cravings while traveling.

Booking.com

Being Mindful of Other Travelers

First and foremost when thinking of travel snack ideas, being mindful of other travelers around you is important. One thing to consider is choosing travel snacks that are quiet. No one wants to be that person who opens that loud bag of chips while everyone is sleeping around them. Crunching on a stalk of celery can also disturb even the calmest of people.

Another thing to consider is choosing snacks that don’t have an overpowering aroma. Most travel requires people to be confined to small areas and the lingering smell of something pungent such as garlic, cinnamon or curry spices will not always be as inviting with other travelers.

Last thing to consider is to choose snacks that require limited movement to prepare or eat. Elbow room is all you have to work with. So, choose stuff that can be easily unpacked from your purse or carry-on bag.

Avoiding the Lines and Prices

If you happen to check-in for your next flight on an empty stomach and your time is limited, chances are you will attempt to get some food at the many food vendors nearest your gate. This will usually end up with you fighting a long line which you definitely might not have time for and spending an excess amount of money that could be saved for making memories at your final destination. Also, buying food at a food vendor only adds to your carry-on weight should you decide to take it with you while you travel.

Creating some travel snack ideas will help you avoid those long lines and paying airport prices at all the food vendors you are surrounded by on your way to your departure gate.

Top 5 Travel Snack Ideas


  1. Sandwiches and wraps are great travel snack ideas and they make for a hearty snack that will tide your hunger or curb any craving. You can make your absolute favorite kind of sandwich or wrap (maybe not tuna fish or egg though), wrap it up and bring it along. It fits easily into any bag. Just be careful not to smash it along the way.
  2. Salads are another great travel snack idea especially for the health conscious and/or vegetarians. Be sure to add the dressing though prior to boarding because dressing is considered to be liquid. Salads can also fill your appetite and keep you feeling satisfied without being too full.
  3. Fruits and Veggies are also another wonderful travel snack idea. You can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies. Just choose your favorites, cut them up, pack them and enjoy them on the go. You can also rely on prepackaged fruits and veggies such as dried fruits or fruit snacks packets.
  4. Oatmeal is a surprisingly fun travel snack idea. Bring along a few instant packets and just ask for some hot water and mix it yourself. Oatmeal goes well, too, with some fruit. Granola bars or protein bars can also fall into this group.
  5. Beef Jerky is the practical travel snack idea. It is a great protein source and tastes great. If you’re feeling generous, you might want to share with the person next to you and make someone smile.

How to Pack Them

The trick for your travel snack ideas is to know how to pack them. When packing your travel snacks, you want to be sure that they will endure all the movement that goes with checking in your personal or carry-on bags through security. The worse thing is to finally sit in your seat, take out your snacks only to find out they’ve been smashed up and appear unappetizing.

Disposable plastic containers are the best way to pack your travel snack ideas. They are lightweight and they provide protection of your foods from being broken, crumbled or crushed. You can use them to eat out of if you bring something life oatmeal or cereal. They can be re-used for other things on your trip, as well, or simply toss them in the recycle bin if you want to be rid of them.

Storage bags are another option. However, these are not as durable as plastic containers. They work just fine. They won’t take up too much space in your carry-on bags. You just have to be extra careful to put them on top of the pile in your bags.

Plastic containers from home such as Rubbermaid or Tupperware brands are always the best option. They are the most durable to store your snacks. The only downfall is that you’ll have to carry them around for your entire trip. Then again, you might find other uses for them once you clean them up.

Food Safety Tips

Even though you are packing your own travel snacks, food safety is important to enjoy the rest of your travel in the healthiest way possible. Here are some food safety tips:

  1. Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with your travel snacks. It’s always a great idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you in case soap and water aren’t accessible.
  2. Rinse all fruits and vegetables prior to packing.
  3. Keep travel snacks stored in the right temperatures.

Remember, your snacks are meant to be eaten while you are traveling. They are not meant to be kept for long periods of time. If you feel that your snacks haven’t been touched for too long and may be spoiled, simply toss them out.

Snack Away

So, when planning your next get away, put together your travel snack ideas and snack away! It’s very easy to do when you plan ahead. Travel gets the best of us sometimes that we don’t even have moments to think of our sustenance in the excitement, Let’s face it, everyone is always happier when they are not feeling hungry. So, here are your travel snack ideas – curb the cravings.

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Travel with Passport – Always a Great Idea

A passport is an official travel document. It’s a document that certifies the identity and citizenship of the person it is issued to. Basically, it has the bearer’s name, date of birth, photo, gender and physical characteristics. It is primarily used for international travel. It grants you re-entry into your country if you are traveling outside of it. Although a passport is not mandatory as a proof of citizenship, it is definitely always a great idea to obtain one.Travel with passport definitely makes travel life much easier

7 Reasons Why You Should Get a Passport

  1. It’s accepted worldwide.
  2. Don’t have a driver’s license? The passport is a legal ID. Especially nowadays with the full-effect of
    the Real ID in place, the passport is the best alternate ID to a driver’s license.
  3. A passport is the most convenient form of ID anyone can have for travel. You’ll get through most customs and immigration lines quicker than those without one even when traveling within the US and its territories.
  4. If you are planning to travel to another country, you need to get a passport. You will not be allowed to enter another country or re-enter into your own country without one.
  5. Passports provide ease of mind. You never know what the future has in store for you and it may include travels out of the country. Knowing that you have a passport helps you rest assure that should anything unexpected happen and it requires you to travel to another country, you can easily travel without worry.
  6. A passport is easy to obtain. There are no tests to take. Just fill out the application, provide supporting documents, provide a photo and pay the fees.
  7. Passports are good for 10 years for adults and can be easily renewed.

Applying for a Passport

Applying for a passport in the United States can be quick and painless if you come prepared. Here’s an overview provided by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

  1. Fill out your form.
  2. Collect your supporting documents.
  3. Get your photo.
  4. Calculate your fees.
  5. Submit.

Depending on the urgency of your need for a passport, you may apply at either a passport acceptance facility or passport agency.

You must apply in person and you are required to submit the following documents:

Application for US Passport (DS-11)

This form is used for those applying for a passport for the first time, children under 16, applicants 16-17, and those not eligible to renew using the renewal form (DS-82).

Proof of US Citizenship

You must provide an original or certified copy of your proof of citizenship. This may include:

  • US Birth Certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired).

Photocopy of Proof of Citizenship

This is a photocopy of the document provided as your proof of citizenship.

Current ID

You must present a current and valid ID. This can include:

  • Valid or expired, undamaged U.S. passport book or passport card
  • In-state, fully valid driver’s license or enhanced driver’s license with photo
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal)
  • U.S. military or military dependent ID
  • Current (valid) foreign passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • Trusted Traveler IDs (including valid Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS cards)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American tribal photo IDs
  • Other documents: In-state, fully valid learner’s permit with photo,
    In-state, fully valid non-driver ID with photo, and temporary driver’s
    license with photo. Note: you may be asked to present an additional ID
    when presenting one of these 3 documents.

Photocopy of Valid ID

Provide a copy of the ID that was presented.

Passport Photo

You need one 2″ by 2″ color passport photo

Passport Fees

(as of the date of this post)

Adult Applicants (Age 16 and older) $110 + $35 Execution Fee

Children (15 and younger) $80 + $35 Execution Fee

*Note: application and execution fee are paid separately.

Validity of the Passport

If you are 16 years or older when your passport is issued, then your passport is valid for 10 years. Those below the age of 16, passports are good for 5 years.

Although passports are valid for 10 years, many countries will not allow travelers into their country if their passports expire within six months from their time of travel. This means it is a good idea to renew your passport six months before the expiration date.

Passport Cards

In the United States, passport cards are becoming more popular with passport applicants. These cards were first issued in 2008 and millions of cards have been issued since then.

Passport cards function in the same was as the better known passport book. It provides identity and citizenship. It’s the size of a credit cart and contains a chip. It is a fully valid passport but can only be used for land and sea travel between the US and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

You can apply for one at the same time and in addition to a passport book. The requirements are the same.

The fee for the passport card for adults is $30 + $35 Execution Fee. For children, the fee is $15 +$35 Execution Fee.

Its validity is the same as that of the passport book.

The Only Way to Go

Travel with passport is the only way to go (pun intended)!
World travelers know this well. Passports are a must have if you wish to see the rest of the world. I recommend that you apply for one as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.
Travel with passport is always a great idea.

Here is a link to apply for your passport today:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/how-to-apply.html

Click here to start your travel adventures…

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Where America’s Day Begins

Every travel that I take is usually by air. Each and every time, my final destination is “Where America’s Day Begins”. America’s day begins in Guam which is my home and where I am originally from. Guam is a United States territory and

“as the sun sets on this island the US Mainland is nearly a full day behind” which is why it is where America’s day begins.

Allow me to share with you a little about this place that I call home which is actually a paradise destination for many from around the world…. Continue reading “Where America’s Day Begins”

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