Advice I Would Give A New Solo Traveler

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 Advice I Would Give A New Solo Traveler

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”  Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

I didn’t  know 13 years ago that when I got on a plane to fly to Europe alone for the first time to visit friends and family that it would be the beginning of my world travels. Looking back, I should have been wearing a sign that said ”I have no idea what I am doing.” Here are some things I have learned in that time. 

  1. Just Go.
  2. Don’t be afraid. Fear is a powerful deterrent. You aren’t exploring uncharted territories.  
  3. Plan. 
  4. Be flexible.
  5. Things will be different.
  6. Manners are universal. Use them. 
  7. You represent your country. Leave a good impression.  
  8. Learn a few words of the language of the country you are in- or at least Thank You. 
  9. Buy travel Insurance.
  10. Stay hydrated.
  11. Talk to locals.
  12. Bargain but do not over bargain.  Fifty cents to you may mean a meal for them.
  13. Don’t rely on technology.
  14. Pack light. Still working on that.  
  15. Ask for help when needed – even if it is with hand motions and charades. I can turn into Marcel Marceau if I need to be understood. 
  16. Blow your budget on that once in a lifetime experience.
  17. Eat the food. 
  18. Be adventurous. Challenge yourself.  The fried tarantula actually tasted good. 
  19. Don’t think you are super cool because you don’t do touristy stuff. Do it all. 
  20. Travel for longer to fewer places. I rarely go to more than two countries on a trip- usually one. 
  21. Learn how to squat on a toilet. You will need that. 
  22. Always know where your passport is. 
  23. Smile and say hello.-especially if you are an introvert brought up in New York City. This will change your travel experience.  
  24. Don’t be afraid to say No.
  25. Don’t be afraid to Yes. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“I don’t think he will make a good president. He doesn’t know how to use his Twitter account and so I presume he will be hopeless at nuclear codes.”

“If Donald Trump deports my mom can I come live with your family?”

“He seems very bossy.”

“This is a hijab. It’s really hot. I don’t sleep in it. If you have questions, ask me. Don’t say terrible, scary things.”

“I don’t think he will be on the list of good presidents in the history of good presidents in the US.”

“If the president says bad things about Mexicans, then other people will too.”

“If he is a bully, how did he get to be president?”

“I woke up to find out that Trump was President and my sister was using my expensive shampoo.”

“I really like it here. I don’t want to leave.”

“Will I have to be a slave?”

“He might be a good president if he controls his anger.”

“Will I have to wear numbers on my shirt?”

“I’m not speaking to white people today. It is their fault,”

“He gets angry and interrupts people. He goes bankrupt a lot. I don’t thing that is good for a President.”’

“Im worried my brother who has leukemia will lose his health care.”

“I am hopeful that Donald Trump will not end the world or the country.”

“He got the most votes. He won fair and square.”

“I hope he is a great president and he doesn’t build a wall and send my friends home. I hope he is the best, kind, amazing president.“

“I’m scared people will hurt me because I am a girl.”

“Im ok with the outcome as long as he makes America better again.”

“Black people don’t vote for white people unless they’re like cool. He said what people wanted to hear, and they voted for him. Also, don’t tell anybody this, but I cried in the bathroom this morning when I found out.”

Children are listening, Speak to them. Let your intelligence and not your fear guide your words.  Hear them. Listen to what they have to say. Make them feel safe.  Read to them.  Encourage them to read books by authors and about people who are different then you are. Teach them about the world.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Do Not Cancel Your Travel Plans Because Of Fear

Do Not Cancel Your Travel Plans Because Of Fear

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by
yourself. It is not far.  It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since
you were born, and did not know.  Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and
land.” Walt Whitman

The US State Department has a worldwide travel warning in effect.

“U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events”

What this warning does is play into our culture of fear. If something should happen anywhere in the world, the State Department is covered.

When you look at the statistics, your likelihood of being killed by terrorists when traveling are less than your likelihood of being struck by lightning when traveling. Unless you are a single woman over the age of fifty.  In that case, your likelihood of getting killed by terrorists is higher than your chance of finding true love and getting married. The number one cause of death abroad for tourists is car crashes.

Here are a few things that will probably kill you. Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in the US. The death certificate for my ninety-one year old mother said that.  Prescription medication, brain parasites, something large falling on top of you and police officers kill a lot of people.

It’s the media’s job to give us a play by-play of every horrific thing happening in the world and it’s my job to fight my resulting anxiety and paranoia. We put a lot of power into the idea of a potential threat.

Psychologically we are more afraid of a terrorist attack because it is a new unfamiliar fear than car crashes and heart disease that we hear about all the time. One incident with multiple deaths is scarier than many incidents the same day of single deaths. This is why plane crashes are scarier than car crashes which are far more likely to happen. The uncertainty of where to travel is scary. We don’t know where they will hit next so you really can’t plan and control what will happen. Chances are small to none that it will seriously affect your trip. The best thing to increase your travel safety is to plan to drive carefully to the airport.

Drive safe,
JAZ

The House In Los Angeles

`The House in Los Angeles

“Walking on a path of uncertainties, Shuffling on the probabilities of uncertainties, Waging on the possibilities of uncertainties,Waiting for the occurrences of uncertainties, Solving the mysteries of wandering uncertainties, We move, lead and live’’Pushpa Rana

I’ve learned as I get older that no matter how much I want to hold on to the past – things change. If we stay where we are, when something new is trying to get in, we will get stuck or that is what I tell myself anyway.

The house was the last remnant that a family existed. To my ex husband, it was an inanimate object. But to me it was as much a part of the family memories as the people who lived in it.

I was very scared to be in this house alone when he first left but I had to be brave for my daughter who was still here. I have a lot of safety issues and anxiety about being alone and having to face those on top of the loss was very hard. But I had this heavy thing hanging on top of me that I was the only adult in the house responsible for my daughter who was still home and my son in college.

My fear did often evolve into anxiety or panic. But gradually as the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months and years, we encountered many of the little things that malfunction in a home, car accidents, emotional and health problems, illness, death, holidays, graduations and we survived, even conquered them. And with each incident my self-confidence grew and my fear subsided.

He could not afford to give me the house so I have lived with its impending loss for a while.–the loss of familiar, beautiful well-loved surroundings, the neighborhood, the routine, and the security of owning a house.

Driving up and down the street now, I know I will never see another Mandeville Christmas light competition. There are financial and age restraints so I will not live the way I live now which makes the emotional situation much worse. I will miss the pale cast of light in the morning which illuminates my house as the day goes on. I will miss seeing every shade of green from my windows  – olive, jade, leaf, kiwi, lime, a silver-green and a bright pistachio. i will miss the wide open spaces and high ceilings and walls that have my big art on them.
I imagine that the physically moving out of the house alone will be the hardest thing I will ever do.

I will be mourning the loss of living somewhere that I loved. I will be mourning the intact family life, roots, values, security and inheritance that I couldn’t give my kids. I expected to have grandchildren, showers, holidays and birthday parties in this house. I will miss the children who became adults here. I will be mourning the loss of me, the person I was when I lived in this house. I once wanted to grow old here with the boy I met when I was 16.

Worse I will be mourning the loss of my memories. I have always had a bad memory and pieces will fade because the person who also remembers and the house won’t be here to trigger them.

When you have to get through something big, you must remember that you have tools – friendship, conscience, honesty and strength. You need to look at the mess and know that you will never completely get over it. It turns out that writing helps me reflect on my life and the changes I am making. Maybe as much as I wanted my roots to be in a house, my roots turn out to be in my travels, my stories and where I am going next. Maybe my roots turn out to be in the uncertainties of not knowing.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Do You Have What It Takes To Travel Solo?

Do You Have What It Takes To Travel Solo?

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

I found a travel blog entitled Do you have what it takes to travel solo? It went on to ask the following questions.

“• Is watching a movie by yourself pathetic?

• Are you the kind of person who needs a buddy to go grocery shopping or jogging?

• Do you get uncomfortable while walking or driving through an unknown neighborhood?

• If your plans don’t fall into place, does it ruin your mood or your entire day?

• Did you fail basic arithmetic?

• Are you painfully shy?

• Do you always need to seek advice before making decisions?

• When it comes to self-defense and survival skills, are you at a total loss?

• Are you often aloof, and dependent on others for directions?

If you said yes to any of these above questions, you might want to think twice about heading out on an adventure by yourself.”

I said yes to most of them and here I am traveling alone and liking it. The reason I am able to travel alone is because I asked myself different questions. Here are my questions.

Are you able to face your fears to have an incredible adventure?

Can you get out of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable?

Are you willing to be lonely sometimes?

Are you able to accept that  you might feel scared or anxious traveling to places you have never been before?

Having a bad sense of direction, can you get lost and know that you will somehow find your way back and nothing terrible will happen?

Are you willing to take that first step to go where you want to go instead of sitting home thinking about it?

Are you waiting till something comes along that you are not afraid to do alone?

Are you waiting for that perfect travel partner?

Is your passion for travel bigger than your fear of the unknown?

What that other blog said to me was, if you are scared, don’t do it. I now say if you are scared, that is the thing you have to do. I am scared every time I go somewhere alone. What I’ve learned is that it is always amazing.  Things happen that are  both good and not so good.  But when I’m traveling, the unknown always works out. I’ve learned to leave spaces in my plans for the unexpected which always turns into a travel memory.  If you really want to travel solo, start doing it, the rest will come.

Fly safe,

JAZ