Throwback Thursday Memories


Have you checked out Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday? These are some of my 
favorite social media hashtags. Digging up old pictures to 
laugh and reminisce reminds me of how quickly time slides by.  (Also how much my hair changes!)  This week I posted this pic on Instagram of me in 2006 aboard the Norwegian Jewel.  Some people decorate nurseries and nest before the baby comes, we travel!  There's nothing like endless food to a pregnant lady.  There were lots of reasons not to take this trip though.  It really wasn't in the budget, I was a little past the cruise line cutoff and lots of other reasons...but wow did we have an incredible time!    I don't remember how much it cost and the room category, all the details that sometimes take over the planning convo, but  we have some indelible memories. (like me trying to get in and out of that bamboo raft in Jamaica!) Are you waiting for a milestone or occasion to take a trip?  Waiting for the kids to get older, work to slow  down, more money etc.?  Remember your journey is about collecting those dear memories.  Never miss an opportunity to seize those moments.  Perhaps it's time to begin where you are and just go!

The End of Summer- Did you Actually Enjoy Yours?


Live Life Relax Summer BeachThe beginning of August marks the back to school frenzy and the sad realization summer is coming to an end.  The season summons so much childhood nostalgia for all of us.  Have you ever stopped to think what exactly makes that time seem so magical in retrospect?
I ran across an article from a teacher that has some great tips on how to Relax and lose yourself in the wonder of summer

 "I hear the comment about how lucky teachers are to have summers off, and I think I know what that person is really saying. I suspect the individual is wanting to get back the elusive feeling of “summer” —no responsibilities and no stress. "

So we can recreate that feeling anytime you make up your mind to do it. The hard part is making up your mind to JUST BE! Our culture has bought into the cult of busy so much that is induces all sorts of guilt and 'monkey mind' to try to relax without an agenda.  Even on vacation when it's time to recharge our mental batteries far too many are trying to pack days with endless activities that have no meaning to anyone other than checking off a box.  Before the end of the summer, try to take some time to bring back that feeling.  If you can't do it till winter, of course I have some places of eternal summer to send you.  =)

Travel Professionals, Peacekeepers in Consultant Clothing

Ask What Makes You Come Alive, and Go Do ItThe President of Costa Rica mentioned during a recent conference that those of us in the travel industry are the peacekeepers of the world.  When I saw a friend post that to Facebook it made a big light bulb go off above my head.  That makes so much sense!  No, I don't have diplomatic responsibilities for the State Department or put myself in harm's way on the battle field, but we do send millions of people each year to foreign lands on journeys of discovery.

Whether it is for relaxation, adventure, or a celebration travel can lead people to question their assumptions about other cultures, recognize the common thread of humanity in people around the world and appreciate home a bit more. Once you have taken the chance to fully immerse yourself in conversation with someone new you're bound to take away some new knowledge.  Armed with that knowledge, I'd like to believe people are more likely to think before disparaging another group or question how a family might be dealing with the ravages of a natural disaster that they may have glossed over before meeting someone from there.

If you've read my blog or known me any amount of time you'll know one of my passions is talking to people just about everywhere I go on a trip.  I still remember the dining room waiter from India on my first cruise and the taxi driver who engaged in deep discussions about economic policy and racism driving from hotel to hotel in Riviera Maya.  Whether on vacation or business, each one of these strangers made an impression.

I'd been doing lots of deep thinking about how to use my talents in a way that impact the world in a more meaningful way.  What a revelation, I already do!  Every time one of you pulls out that passport, heads out on a cool excursion or lingers at the lido buffet talking to the cook, I am spreading a little peace.

My challenge going forward is to remind you that your trips are about way more than budgets and room categories; it's about expanding your mind in the way that best suits you and spreads that spark around the world.

 I went through some of my recent pics to see where I looked the most alive.  It looks like it really is when I'm traveling and spending time with family. Whether we were in another country or just down the Georgia coast, we were learning something about the world around us and the impact of the unique people around us. So here are a few of my favorite memories.  I'd love to hear about yours!



From top left:

1. In Veracruz with the shaman who evidently thinks I'm squeezably soft.  Talk of Brujas (witch would definitely not happen in my everyday life, but  it was fascinating to see the mingling of strong Catholic faith with Pagan beliefs.  The discussion with colleagues that followed about the experience sparked a discussion about the benefits of meditation that made me seek out some classes back in Atlanta.  (Actually, it's the same person whose post inspired this topic!)


2 & 5. At Sea World with my son.  Even in the land of theme parks (Orlando), we still found some consciousness expanding activities.  My son loves anything to do with animals, but has definitely thought critically about the balance of educational value and fun versus questionable practices of zoos.  (Have you seen Blackfish on Netflix? If you're curious about the back lash against Sea World it's a good conversation starter.)


3. Cruising - With crew from dozens of countries and a good passenger mix you're bound to interact with folks with a different background.  I've become Facebook friends with a few people I've found I have more in common with than anyone at home.  The kids also meet new friends in the kid's club away from the social pressures of school.


4. In Nassau with my host in the People to People program. Instead of another beach trip, we opted to see the island  through the eyes of a local we were matched with through the Bahamas tourism office free program. My son seemed quite disappointed to realize kids who live on an island aren't really on vacation every day.  Our host's friends even welcomed us into their home where we discussed their affection for Duck Dynasty.  Can you imagine how other people are judging us by these reality shows? LOL


6. On a shrimp boat in south Georgia.  One of the crew members could tell you anything about the health of the coastal region and the price trends of local shrimp with the acumen of a stock trader though he had a basic education by most standards.

Why I'll stop wasting my vacation days working

Why I'll stop wasting my vacation days working

We just took a real vacation meaning no phones, no internet...absolutely no work for the entire time.  It felt so refreshing that it's hard to admit we have not done that in a very long time!  The annual Vacation Deprivation study shows we're in good company.  Americans are increasingly seeing vacation as a luxury instead of a right.  Among those who receive paid vacations only 10 out of 14 are being used.  Why when we receive much less in paid vacation than countries like France who have 30 are we not even taking advantage of them?
The time we spent together just having fun enjoying the little moments really is priceless as cliche as that sounds. I would probably never have chosen a Disney cruise, but I actually enjoyed myself way more than I anticipated.  It's been my son's dream for a long time and the magic definitely got to him.  Watching his face light up during the shows was well worth it.  

Disney Dream Ship Model
I guess this pose was just pure excitement waiting to explode!
 In my home, we are guilty of feeling like our jobs cannot function without us.  Also substituting business trips for genuine r&R.  Since both of our jobs require travel we do get to take the entire family on lots of trips that we've fooled ourselves into thinking were an actual vacation.  It took my son insisting on no electronics this vacation to make me realize that.  (We're talking about an average boy who would probably stay up all night every night playing games if he could.  Once he says we're on the phone and computer too much there must be a serious problem!  )  Science backs up the need for regular down time.  

Clinical psychologist Deborah Mulhern found that people who don't take enough time to relax may find it harder to relax in the future according to US News & World Report.
"Without time and opportunity to do this, the neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it actually more difficult to shift into less-stressed modes," Mulhern said. "What neuroscience is showing is that we require down time in order for our bodies to go through the process of restoration. It is only when we are safe from external stresses that our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration."
Aqua Duck Disney Dream
Us on the Aqua Duck coaster while docked at Castaway Cay
I did stop worrying about website traffic, social media posts and the like after a couple of days.When I came back I realized that as long as you have a good plan in place the world will not fall apart while you're gone.  Sure, others probably will not do things just like you would, but part of the process is learning that trying to control everything is not healthy anyway...even when you are sitting at your desk.
Sea World One Ocean
Watching One Ocean at Sea World Orlando

Great Travel Quotes

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ St. Augustine

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness. ~ Ray Bradbury







“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” ~ Paul Fussell

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” ~ Mark Twain

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” ~ John Steinbeck

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ~ Lin Yutang








Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. ~Benjamin Disraeli

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” ~ Freya Stark

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~ Miriam Beard


“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” ~ Martin Buber



“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~ Jawaharial Nehru

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” ~ Carlo Goldoni

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” ~ Paul Theroux

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I ~ I took the one less traveled by.” ~ Robert Frost

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu




“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” ~ Charles Dudley Warner


“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” ~ James Michener

“The journey not the arrival matters.” ~ T. S. Eliot

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” ~ Islamic proverb



“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” ~ Tim Cahill

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu


“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” ~ Maya Angelou



Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” ~ Anatole France

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” ~ Seneca


“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ~ Jack Kerouac

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” ~ Lillian Smith

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” ~ Mark Twain

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” ~ Aldous Huxley



“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” ~ Freya Stark


“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” ~ Samuel Johnson

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep ~ Robert Frost







What drew Left Eye to Honduras? Thoughts on the TLC Biopic

I just watched 'CrazySexyCool', the TLC biopic on VH1.  While the movie was just ok, the songs brought back lots of middle and high school memories.  I loved their music and the highlight of a family trip to Disney World was seeing them on Space Mountain.  Somewhere at my mom's house there is a dog eared picture of a very geeky looking me thrilled they were nice enough to pose for a picture. 
Anybody talking about experiential travel piques my curiosity so I wanted to know what drew  Left Eye to Honduras so often.  Honduras is not a super popular destination for most travelers, but a great place for diving, Mayan history and an interesting cultural mix of Afro-Caribbean culture and Spanish colonial influence. 
Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes bought a condo and her foundation was in the process of establishing an orphanage there at the time of her tragic death in a car accident near La Ceiba, on the northern coast of Honduras.  She had spent time at a healing village in the area they allude to in the movie when they're talking about being somewhere without a phone. Lately I've spent lots of time learning about all of the wellness, yoga, spiritual and meditation retreats in Mexico so I was curious about  this one in Honduras.  The Usha Healing Village is still there with Dr. Sebi who was mentioned in the film.  (Interestingly while researching Dr. Sebi, I found a claim from back in 2005 that he treated Micheal Jackson for addiction, which no one believed at the time.)  It's funny that people can find something that inexplicably draws them to a certain place and keeps them coming back.  Sometimes that can be the people, the cuisine or just a nebulous 'energy'.  Travel is not just a way to escape, but a way to find yourself sometimes.  

Did you ever wonder if the Mayan calendar influenced sexual positions?

Did you ever wonder if the Mayan calendar influenced sexual positions?

Me either, but I did learn there is a Maya sutra of sorts last week.   I had the opportunity to attend the Mundo Maya Feria in Merida last week to meet companies that specialize in tourism to the Mayan world. Interest in the region peaked last year and now that 2012 has passed more people are interested in learning more about this culture since clearly they weren't predicting the end of the world. The Mayans are famous for craftsmanship of many items from indigenous materials like sisal.  The artisans can make hats, clothing, accessories, beauty products and much more from natural materials found in the Yucatan peninsula. 
Go to just about any marketplace and you will see all sorts of hammocks. ( I made some great contacts that I'll blog about later, but I was just dying to get this one out!)
In the square of Merida we talked to a man who still lives in a small Mayan village and comes into town to sell hammocks.  The craft has been passed down through several generations in his family.  My colleague had just bought one the day before and wanted to compare the quality, but we ended up getting a real education in Mayan hammocks.  I'm sure he missed several sales talking to us for so long, but we really enjoyed learning and he wanted to practice his English.  His learned his near perfect English and French from just talking to visitors on the street.  His assistant, he proudly pointed out, learned in school and only spoke in broken sentences.  (Sorta like my Spanish)  I learned so much about the Mayan culture from Yucatan to Chiapas during this trip, but the thing that sticks out in my mind most is when he pulled out his little dogeared manual of all the different things you could do in a hammock.  Too bad my camera was dead at this point in the day because it was comical to watch this old man's eyes light up as he flipped through the book.  He must have remembered some really great times in his hammock.
So now from just taking a few minutes to engage a stranger we have an invitation to the village to learn how to make hammocks; and if we stay a week, one to take home.  Oh the people you meet when you travel!

This booklet is actually sold by some company in Australia on ebay but I'd much rather buy from the locals.   Next trip to the Yucatan bring one back!  Matter of fact, where ever you go, try to buy a unique souvenir from indigenous people.  It's more unique than another Senor Frogs shot glass and supports the people of the region.

Travel On Purpose