Survive the Long Haul

Not all long-haul flights have to be miserable; a good book can result in “No, no, just a little more time!” when the pilot says time to started our descent. Here are 10 tips for preventing boredom, dehydration, sleep deprivation and more so you can confidently say “I got this” the next time you are imprisoned in a metal tube for an entire waking day or night of your life.

1. Upgrade.
When traveling long-haul, (for me 5 hours or more) you have no better friend on the planet than your frequent flier miles. Also this is the best bang for your buck.  Business class seats are very expensive compared to coach class. Buy the coach class and upgrade with miles.  Or even an extra leg room seat is better than straight economy/coach.
If you stop reading at this point you almost need to know nothing more than this — by hook or crook, try to get an upgrade.
2. Escape.
You will want to have a rock-solid plan for frittering away several hours of your flight, and I don’t mind working; staring at spreadsheets and writing proposals may burn up hours, but it does not make them vanish. You want these hours to disappear almost without a trace. Think headphones and Hollywood blockbusters. Getting a lot of work done is fine — rarely do you have 15 consecutive hours without a phone so I encourage bringing some work — but work will fail you when you get to the brutal middle hours of this ordeal. Headphones and Hollywood; don’t stray from this.

3. Don’t carry on too much stuff.
While checked baggage fees are inspiring travelers to carry on more and more stuff, on a long-haul flight this could hurt you; anything that is under the seat in front of you just means less legroom and a more cramped living space. Don’t bring so much on that you compete for your own sleeping space.
4. Bring your go-to gear.
When it comes to surviving flights, I am not a gear person, but I always take my noise cancelling head set, if only I wish not to talk to my neighbor. I can’t be bothered to lug around neck pillows, eye masks, earplugs, etc. As I note above, your total carry-on haul should be limited, but you may want to consider some of these relatively small survival tools. Your body and brain will thank you for every small comfort you can provide, and the inconvenience of packing and carrying these around is dwarfed by the misery in flight with crying children, pilot announcements, engine noise and a major crick in your neck. Gear up.
5. Board relatively rested.
Don’t count on a long-haul flight as a good place to catch up on sleep — it’s not. As attractive and intuitive as it seems to get on a long-haul flight extremely tired, hoping to sleep the whole way, you are in for a world of hurt if you can’t sleep for some reason. You will be on the plane long enough to catch a few winks even if you are somewhat rested, and my advice is to take it when it comes; if your eyes start to droop, get out the eye covers and earplugs, and go with it.
6. Secure your stuff.
A long-haul flight gives unscrupulous travelers all the more time to size up the location of your wallet, wait until you fall asleep and make a move on your luggage. Secure your valuables deep inside your bags where it would take a TSA X-ray machine to find them. Consider keeping items like your passport, credit cards and cash in a money belt under your clothes.
7. Consider a sleep aid.
If you are planning to use sleep aids (including “natural” methods such as melatonin, or drugs such as Ambien), try them before you fly with them. These drugs can vary greatly in how they affect individuals, so you will want to try them at home.  Ask your doctor for recommendation.
8. Use SeatGuru.
The SeatGuru.com seating chart advises particular seat situations.  I use it often for my clients, especially in business class. Before you choose, also think hard about your usual preference of window vs. aisle seat; it may be different on a long-haul flight than on a shorter flight. If you usually choose an aisle seat, consider whether you want your long, Ambien-enhanced sleep to be interrupted by a window passenger; similarly, if you usually choose a window, you could get trapped in there by a snoring person in a prescription drug-induced stupor.
9. Ask about seats at the gate.
Failing the ability to choose great seats before your flight, try again at the gate. If the flight is not full, the gate agent may be able to see an empty row, or put you and a traveling partner in a “window and aisle” configuration that reduces the likelihood of having someone sit in the middle seat, thereby getting you a seat and a half, at least.  Sometimes I assign these seats in advance or ‘aisle across’ is another favorite I assign.
10. Take care of your health.
Hydration: If you think hydration is a concern on a cross-country flight, try tripling or quadrupling your time in the air. Airplane air is extremely dry. Many years ago, i brought flowers on board and they dried without wilting! How much water should you bring?  Take an empty refillable bottle through security.  Add the water on the other side.  Then ask for more while flying.
Daily, I drink an “electrolyte solutions” know as Intima, like Gatorade but no calories. Maintaining electrolyte balance is important, and that you don’t want to become completely diluted with water, particularly for older folks or people with other medical problems.
In brief…
– Hydrate well the night before the flight, preferably with electrolyte drinks.
– Don’t drink alcohol the night before the flight or on the flight.
– Avoid diuretics such as coffee, soft drinks and even chocolate (all of which contain caffeine).
– If you have no issue with ulcers, take a baby aspirin the night before and day of your flight.
– Get an aisle seat or exit row so you can get up and walk around whenever possible.
Let’s face it: electrolytes, compression socks, movie after movie, and aspirin don’t change the fact that you are stuck inside a metal can for a whole day or overnight. Just keep reminding yourself that this too shall pass — although I recommend saving your “I got this” until the wheels touch the ground.
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Why Do I Travel?

“Have you asked yourself this question? Why do you travel or why do you want to travel? Is it to tick things off your bucket list? Do you want to get your passport full of stamps? Or is it simply to relax? I feel the “why” of travel is much more than crossing items off a bucket list.

The “Why” you want to travel the world is a very personal story. And yours will be different than mine and every other person.
Travel changed my life and help defined who I am today. Through travel, I have fulfilled many dreams, left my comfort zone many times, became more tolerant, met incredible people, learned lots, had fun and it adds excitement to my life. Travel has made me a better person.
I love the phrase: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.” I travel for such moments.
So, why do I travel???….because I simply can’t stop.”   Written by colleague Carol Jaxheimer.
I might add, when I travel by myself I find the experience very empowering! Look what I did all by myself! And I did not get lost! Also when I travel I add to my knowledge as a travel advisor. This last trip to California had a huge learning curve. And of course international travel always does. So go learn or relax, check off the list or experience it again and travel.
P.S. New picture by Gail Huyge, my daughter in Patagonia, Chili.
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Why Do We Travel

Sometimes we travel to see the past and other times to experience the present. We often mix and match the two in different holidays or even the same.  Going to Europe is most often to see how folks lived in the past.  Even the cities have not changed very much over the centuries.  Paris was changed in the early 1800’s and looks the same today.  The wide avenues with their black iron balconies still dominate the city scene.  All the new high rise construction was done on the outskirts of the city. And the small rural towns look just like the 1600-1700’s.   Some even older.  I personally enjoy the quiet calmness these unchanged towns emit.  Stopping at a local drinking/eatery where the neighbors gather is wonderful.  Experiencing the community just chatting away…..It is the present but in a very past manner!

Others, I know, enjoy the action and liveliness of the present.  Going to a modern city like San Francisco or New York where everything is constantly changing is most stimulating.  Old buildings are demolished to make room for new modern high-rise buildings.  Cranes are looming everywhere.  The energy of these cities is most different than the old.  Paris parks are filled with people enjoying their lunch and reading a book, while NYC is more likely to have someone jogging by.  San Francisco has so many of all ages on skateboards!
We often think of a museum as the past, yet a modern art museum or science museum is usually representing the present.  An opera is more the past and a noisy rock band the present.  Theater can be Shakespeare or Steven Spielberg, which do you enjoy?

Before you plan your next holiday think about which you enjoy most.  The past or the present…  And let me help you with the details.

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Where to Next?

I am often asked this question… “Where am I going next?”  And of course I usually do have something on the calendar.  Most often like you, it is to visit family.  I may add a bit of something on the visit, but family consumes most of our travel.  And that is just fine but what about the rest of our lives?  What do we do for adventure, excitement, education and motivation just to name a few?

I get about 100 emails a day telling me of how wonderful this or that place is!  And they all sound so very interesting.  River boat cruising is clearly still very hot.  The Rhine, Rhone and Danube in Europe of course are at the top of the list, but there are now river boat cruises most everywhere there is a river; on the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, Mekong in Vietnam and the Yangtze in China.  Or go to the end of the world and cruise the tip of South America.  I would like to cruise to the Galapagos Island or the Tahitian or Fiji Islands!  I would never come home again!

Some emails I get are for budget travel and others for luxury.  Many are places I know about, like the Adare Manor in Ireland that I just received, but some others are from very unknown places: Asia’s most remarkable landscapes, beginning on the rugged coast of Vietnam and moving on to the spiritual city of Luang Prabang, the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, a private island in the Sulu Sea, and finally to the buzzing Japanese capital of Tokyo.  Can you imagine?

Some emails are packages with air, hotel and tours while other emails are the airlines or the hotels/resorts telling me why to choose them.  Everyday my brain travels the world to wonderful places.  If you thought about a place, you can go there.  We just need to figure it all out!

Where are you going next?  What is on your calendar for this summer or fall?  Or for that matter, what about next week?  Having something to look forward to experiencing or fond memories of the most recent experience keeps our spirits high!

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Holiday Greetings

A very happy holiday greeting to you all.  This will be my last writing in 2015.  And I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts with you in 2016!  It has been a good year at my desk and I give my thanks all to you!  Thank you.

For me right now it is still before Thanksgiving and my Italian Dream holiday is before me.  After I return on the 7th I will not have time to write.
Would you like a dream holiday in 2016?  But not sure of the best where’s, when’s and how’s?  I can assist! Trust me to design the details without hours of research and spending more money than needed.  Give a dream holiday as a gift!  Just write a note on a gift card and we will do the rest!  I look forward to serving you in 2016.
Meanwhile I need to mention I will be out of the office the entire month of December and back in on the 4th of January. My voice mail and email will indicate who is covering for me.  Calling the main number 617-621-0100 always works. For those of you who are up early and read this newsletter on Thursday mornings, I will be at Mount Auburn Hospital having my Aortic Valve replaced.  This is a very good thing as I will be much more mobile next spring!
Now do not think “hope all goes well and good luck!”  As that simply is not an alternative.. and I do not want the surgeon to need luck!  So send me good thoughts of a speedy recovery!
Peace be with you all and thank you,
Harriet

 

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The Meaning of Travel

It clearly has been a wonderful traveling year for me. Up until now my trips were all with family (grandchildren often) and friends. But this trip is just for me. For me, there is a meaning in different forms of travel. Travel allows me to see beautiful things, absorb history, and connect with another cultures and ways of living (even if it is the southeast or northwest), push my body, expand my mind, be swathed in luxury or simply alleviate my exhaustion. Much of the latter this year and looking forward to the luxury!

All my trips were outside the realm of my daily life, and distinct from my own reality. Each experience was so different than being in my 1100 sq ft condo working. As I sit here writing I look out across a quiet one block street to a mirror image of my building four stories high, yellow brick 1920’s interesting construction. There are several plantings indicating the season. And of course last winter I watched it all get buried in 110 inches of snow. I love my place, but the expanse of the world I love too.
So this trip is solo. I have not taken one in a couple years. They are good for me and my spirit. A trip like this gives me lots of time to think, who am I and where am I going. At age 73 goals are still important. These 12 days also has lots of luxury and fine dining included. Lots of fantasy! And there is nothing wrong with stepping out of my daily existence and seeking an experience that is distinct from my daily life.   What better way to move my spirit?

And thanks to all of you this is possible. Thank you for your business this year. It was a very good year.

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Sunday Travel Sections

It is Sunday morning as I write this week. And I have just spent more than an hour reading the travel sections of Boston Globe and the New York Times.  I rarely spend this much time with them, as the ‘news’ sections take so much time, I skim the ‘non-news’ sections. But today I traveled the world with such happy ‘news.’ And I learn so much about local cultures and history.

At first I was going to bring the two sections to my desk so I can quote from some of the articles. Then I decided no, just remember because that is what travel is all about, remembering a wonderful experience.

France.. I learned it is ok to sunbath on the beaches topless but not in a full burka. If a woman’s face is exposed that is permissible.  In fact, France has many laws on all religious clothing expressions. I wonder if someday the courts will rule them unconstitutional.

Mark Hopkins.. A grand old hotel in San Francisco. The top floor has a famous restaurant/bar “Top of the Mark.”  I have been, but I did not know during WWII it was a famous hangout for soldiers. Soldiers celebrated in this magnificent view of the city, bay and bridges, their return from the Pacific. Others were preparing to go.  If this was to be their last drink, where else than such an iconic American view.  Next time I go I will look for the memorabilia on display.

Tobago.. A tiny island next to Trinidad.  Did you know they have mermen, not mermaids? It was a fun read of the history and folklore of this tiny island.  It is still the Caribbean as it ought to be.

Anguilla.. One of my favorite Caribbean islands for its beautiful beaches and grand restaurants.  I do not remember seeing, but there are goats.  Seems they rule the island.

Dominica.. Another very small island in the Caribbean that has a Carnival celebration like no other.  They celebrate as if still in the 1950’s. Sounds like a wonderful experience.

Duty-free.. We all have seen duty-free stores. Are they worth buying into them? Or buying in general in a foreign country. First, it is important to know the value of what you intend to purchase. What does a bottle of Channel 5 cost at your local department store? If you do not know then you may find it is the same or more. Like any shopping know your product and price. Secondly, know the US custom duty laws. In general coming in from a foreign country $800 is exempt from taxes. After reading the article in the Times, I learned the tax laws are much more complicated. If shopping a lot when out of the country, it might behoove you to know the laws. But then do they ever really check when coming through customs?

Lastly.. “I’ll have what Phil’s having!”.. A new humorous travel/food show. I actually saw the first episode last week, as I watch a great deal of PBS. Phil Rosenthal, who created ‘Everyone Love Raymond” has created this great food/travel show with lots of humor. The first series has six destinations. Tokyo, Paris, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Florence (my favorite). Can you imagine any better choices?  Well, with Los Angeles I guess I have lots to learn.

So if you are not traveling this week, just pick up the local travel section and enjoy the vicarious holiday. And when you are all excited, call me and we can put it all to reality.

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Being Human or Doing Human

We here in North America are always so busy doing.  Doing work, doing play, doing laundry, doing gardening… doing, doing, doing.  Are we ever just being human?  Yes most of us enjoy what we do, or hopefully we would not be doing it.  Most of the “doing” occupies our mind.  We are thinking and planning the next thing.

When was the last time you stayed put and did not “do”?  And stayed awake!

When was the last time you allowed your mind to just be?  Being human is more than walking upright, it is also having a large brain.  And our brain needs fuel other than protein.  It needs to just be.  And it is amazing what will happen!

Some of the best thinkers have lots of quiet time.  If you are like me, it is hard to stop doing because there is so much to do.  Or when we do stop we turn on the radio or tv and get distracted.  This may change the pace of our lives but does not allow the brain to be quiet.

So I need to get away.   Get some place that gives me augh and calm.  Sometimes it is watching the waves on the beach.  I also like to sit in a foreign city park or in a museum looking at a magnificent painting. I have a few I like to go back to see.  I am not great at formal meditation since I fall asleep!  So minimal stimulation in a very quiet place allows my mind to just be.

Yes it is fun to holiday with family and friends.  It is fun to take an adventure.  With all your holidays I hope you find time for the mind/brain to just be human.

Let’s plan now for more being and less doing.

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Passport Crisis Again

The passport ‘crisis’ of 2007 is about to return in 2016, according to a senior government official.  Nearly a decade ago, new requirements mandated American to have passports for travel to Mexico and Canada led to a surge in applications and a backlog in processing the documents.

Well these passports are about to expire and they will all need to be renewed.  So please check your passport and the expiration date.   If you are traveling outside the USA I usually ask about your passport.  But if we are not talking then you may be caught off guard when the time comes. So please do look now!

I know you may be saying but I have 18 months left why waste the months. Well those months will pass quickly and you never know what you may want to do.  To get stuck without the passport will be no fun; anyhow many countries require a six month validity date.

In addition, next January citizens who run out of visa pages will have to obtain a new passport instead of having additional pages inserted. For the new passport you will have two options available: either 28 pages or 52 with no difference in cost.

Lastly, though you may not need a passport to take a cruise beginning and ending in US ports, I recommend a passport anyway, just in case you get sick or injured and have to fly back.

So check and get your passport renewed while you have the time.
https://uspassportonline.com  is a good website.

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