To tell you the truth... as this trip approached closer and closer to the date of my flight, I wasn't all that excited about going. I don't know why. I had never been to California, at least not to stay and visit. I have been to the San Francisco airport on my way to Portland, Oregon years before and I missed my flight. While I was stuck at the airport only a few hours longer than anticipated, I remember it being under construction and I just wanted to get going. You never really see much from the airport anyway.
Other than that, California had not been on my mind. Until I saw the my travel club had a trip to visit Wine Country, explore the City and see the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was our first stop on our first day of sight seeing. I've seen pictures of the Golden Gate bridge. I think It's pretty amazing, It's even better in person. I think it's something you need to see at least once in your lifetime. At first people hated the design. When it was first released to the public, people thought it was ugly and thought the style to be much like a "tinker toy." Can you believe there were 2,300 lawsuits against building it? And the Color... "International Orange" was debated as well. But the fact that it could be seen in the Fog won over the debate. Now it's believed to be the most photographed bridge in the world. It was named the civil engineering wonder of the world in 1994 and has been seen in several movies.
In Chinese culture, Red is the color of happiness and celebration. We saw lots of Reds and yellows through out the parade. What a great experience to see this in person. Not quite a NY times parade, but pretty darn close!
We stayed at the Marker hotel just a few blocks from the square. If you go to San Francisco, I suggest staying right downtown in one of the older hotels. Not only is the architecture some of the most beautiful that I've seen, the stay was a quick walk to many restaurants and shopping. What I found out is that San Francisco is one of those big cities with a little town feel.
I can't wait to visit again! Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favorite thing about it?
Leave a comment below.
First what not to pack…
1. NEW – Don’t bring it! Whether rolled up, folded, or tucked one of the pockets: new or never worn it, don’t bring it. A vacation is not the time to break in new shoes. You want to be comfortable and relaxed. If you want to bring new shoes, break them in before you go so that you know if they are going to be comfortable. That new shirt, pants or jacket might be too tight or too flimsy. Don’t take the chance! I always pack my favorite clothes, even if I’ve worn them a hundred times.
2. Don’t pack clothes that require ironing. You want to spend your time seeing the sights and venturing out to new places, you don’t have time for ironing!
3. If you can’t afford to lose it financially or emotionally, don’t pack it!
So tell me, what are your favorite packing tips? Surely you have some amazing tips you’d like to share. Leave me a comment.
Take it slow
With limited free time and even more limited vacation time; it can be tempting to try to squeeze everything into one single trip a year. Know anyone who tried to rush through 20 cities in 20 days? Or maybe 10 countries in one 30 day trip? In the end, all you will end up with is photos or places you barely remember, stress, and a list of experiences but no real knowledge of the places you visited.
Rome wasn’t built in one day, don’t expect to be able to see everything in one day either!
My suggestion, pick a few “must see” places or experiences and spend the rest of your days of your trip learning about the culture and the people. It will make the places you visited much more memorable.
Don’t plan every detail
Some people need practice on being spontaneous! A little planning is okay, but I truly believe if you plan every detail, you will get burnt out from stress when things don’t go as planned. If you fall behind schedule, you will be rushed and miss a lot of the important and breathtaking details. Sometimes you just have to let life unfold. Plan one or two activities in one day, not necessarily in any order, and then take the rest of the day to watch and see how it unfolds.
Challenge yourself, try new things. You may hate some, you may love some, but you won’t regret any of it. It’s all about the experience. Remember, it’s better to try and fail then to never try at all.
You might be nervous about traveling into the unknown, and that’s okay. This is your trip, this is your world! Just take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy yourself!
According to the Spanish missionaries “Lamanai” means “submerged crocodile.” But literally translate to “drowned insect.” No worries, it was meant to be a crocodile, the Mayan translation was misspelled and actually changed the meaning. The real name should be "Lam'an/ayin” Take a look at the photos, tell me if you see the “submerged crocodile.” The steps up the structure appear to be the notches in the tale and back of the crocodile. The first day sign of the Mayan day signs is the crocodile. It is also known by the name Imix and symbolizes a new beginning and new potential. The Mayans believed that an ancient Crocodile lived in the underworld of the ocean. The secrets of the underworld were carried on his back and brought to the material world which gave humanity a connection to the earth. Visiting Lamanai was my first trip to Belize, and I really thought it was fitting to go see the ruins. There is so much history out there to explore, I am blessed to be able to take this trip with my travel club. If you are ever in Belize, this trip is worth the hike that starts with a scenic trip down the New River. It is a 26 mile boat ride from Orange Walk Town up the New River is the easiest way to get to Lamanai. A small museum exhibits local artefacts and provides a historical overview. Tourist facilities and small shops are available.
The entrance fee is BZ$10 or US$5.
History of Lamanai
Lamanai has one of the longest histories of all the Mayan sites. At its peak it has been said to have supported up to 35,000 people. It was continuously occupied from around 500 BC, for which there is ceramic evidence, until 1675 or perhaps even later. Spanish attempts to convert the Maya to Christianity resulted in the construction of two Roman Catholic churches around 1570 AD. Little did the Christians know, these churches were met with resistance from the beginning? Our tour guide told us that many of the churches had hidden crocodile figures at the entrances. So as the Mayans entered, they were really worshiping their own gods. Eventually, the hostility grew enough to lead to a revolt. In 1640, as part of this revolt, the Maya burned the churches down. The Lamanai site was abandoned shortly afterwards and over time the city was swallowed by the jungle.
The High Temple is an enormous pyramid, rising 108 feet (33 m) above the plaza level. So here I stood on one of the largest securely dated Maya structures from the Pre-classic period. I was a little winded when I finally reached the top, but the view is breath taking. You can see for miles down the New River. The Mayans could see anyone coming into the area. You need to be relatively fit to make the climb, but if you are able, I would definitely recommend it. The view at the top was amazing! And I didn’t travel all this way, not to climb it. From the top, I could see the Belizean jungle all around me and the blue waters of the NEW River.
A short distance to the south of the High Temple is a ball court, the only one in Lamanai, dating to around 900-950 AD. It has a circular stone marker which covers a mysterious chamber where liquid mercury and several pieces of jade were found. It is unknown what the liquid mercury was used for. As you are standing at the base of the court, you can picture the spectators cheering on each of the opponents from the stands where they are seated close to the action.
The Jaguar Temple is another of Lamanai’s massive pyramids, was initially constructed around 500-550 AD. Its name was given for a jaguar mask what was found there. The structure is twelve feet shorter in exposed height than the High Temple. However a significant amount of this temple is under the ground.
The smallest of the three excavated temples at Lamanai is the Mask Temple, named after a 13 feet (4m) high carved mask. It represent a humanized face with a crocodile headdress and dates to the late 5th to early 6th century. You can see me posing atop the mask structure in the picture to the right. I can't imagine how amazing the details of these structures were when they were new and first built.
If you’re traveling to Belize and are in the area of Belize City, This is a must see. Located about 106 km (66 MI & 2 Hrs) Northwest of Belize City Via Orange Walk, Orange Walk, Belize. The cost of the tour may vary. I found it was from $138 for to $800 (if you want a full day with fishing too.) Just the river boat Lamanai Maya temple tour is from $138 to $300. For me, I didn’t worry too much about this as it was included in the price of my trip through my travel club which makes it an easy decision to go. Honestly, I would have gone anyway but to not have to make the arrangements or pay for it as an extra is a great perk of the club. If you want to know about how to get excursions and perks out of your next trip, Like my facebook page Vacationgypsy or comment on my blog post below. Another source and more about the tour itself can be found here: http://www.lamanaibelizetours.com/
Follow my posts and come with me on my next adventure! Until next time, may ever day be a beautiful day! In this case, may it be a crocodile day of new potential!
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You can study history from a book about places and things and get the main idea but when you are able to experience it and see it with your own eyes; you will remember it longer. To truly understand a culture, you must emerge yourself in it. Do what they do, live like they do, and learn something new. Then when you talk about places with others, you can say, yeah, I’ve been there.
The monotony of everyday can get you down. Experiencing new things stimulates the brain and brings more happiness. Enjoying the moment and being in the moment is what makes traveling to new places fun and exciting. When I travel, I can forget everything else and just enjoy just being me. The awwhh and beauty of your surroundings bring happiness. The memories will bring a smile to your face every time, even after you are back home. And the stories you will be able to tell… these bring laughter and happiness to share.
Too much work and no play is not good for your health. Everyone needs a break! Travel is a way to unwind and relieve the everyday stress in your life. Studies have shown that people are more productive right before and right after a vacation. So vacations increase your productivity at work at the same time improve your health. Less stress, better sleep, and less risk of heart disease.
Let me just touch upon a little myth about travel. Traveling is expensive! I say “not.” Some people just don’t shop around and pay marked up retail prices at two and three thousand a person. I say you can get a trip for two for under two thousand and I can show you how. That means that I can take two to three trips for the same price most pay for one trip. Follow my blog and find out where I go.
Travel on Tuesday - coincidence or no?
Tuesday is a good day to book your Airfare. According to FareCompare, airlines in the U.S. typically start sales on Tuesdays before 3 p.m. eastern time. For U.S. travelers, the cheapest days to fly are typically Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Why are week days typically cheaper than the weekend? Most people who work week days 9 to 5 are limited on the days they can travel unless they take vacation time. Plus the weekend is such a popular time to travel, it make the airfares noticeably more expensive during that time. (Especially around the holidays.) I typically like to split my weeks and travel from Tuesday to Wednesday to include the weekend when I can. Not only are you likely to get cheaper rates, but you have a better chance of getting your preferred seat and maybe even an upgrade for a little more legroom. After all, you just saved some money so now you can afford the upgrade!
Some people sign up for airfare alerts to let you know when pricing goes down. Personally, I would rather not have all the junk mail in my inbox. Also, if you have been looking for airfare, it’s likely they know when and where you want to go and prices rarely decrease for something you have been searching because they know you want it. Prices really vary by supply and demand. As the flight fills up, the remaining seats go up in price.
Other than buying on week days, what can you do?
Always clear your browsing history before starting your search. Why do I do this? If you have recently been browsing for airline tickets you’ve created a history in your computer. When you load a page, it remembers that you have visited before. Many bargain-hunters believe that this awareness that you have already expressed interest causes the prices to steadily climb to more you keep searching for the same destination. You can clear the cookies and cache either from the history or settings tab in your browser choose “clear browsing data.”
If you want to keep other remembered sites in your browser you can just search incognito instead. To use this great trick if using Google Chrome, just right click on the Google Chrome icon before you launch the application. This will start the menu with an option “New Incognito Window” There is a second option if you have already been browsing in Google Chrome. Simply hit and hold the following keys: Control, Shift, N (Command, Shift, N for Mac users).
For Firefox users, Click on the settings icon on the top right- hand corner. This will bring you to a drop down menu where you can select the option “New Private Window.”
In Safari on your Mac computer, it is also called “New Private Window.” Just right on the icon before you start browsing and select the option for “New Private window.”
If booking from your mobile device, it can be a bit trickier. While in your browser you will need to tap the pages icon and you should see the + sign to open another window. Tapping the + sign will open a regular browser. If you'd rather browse privately, be sure to tap "Private" right beside it.
For Android users, open Chrome, then click More (the three vertical dots), then hit Incognito Window. When the new window opens, you'll see an icon that looks like a face with a fedora and glasses. (this is where you find your incognito icon.)
There is always some debate on whether using Incognito Windows and eliminating cookies and browsing history will have a substantial impact on airfares. Each website works differently, so it's hard to say. But if never hurts to tinker with a regular window and an Incognito Window and see what happens. I am fortunate to have a travel club where one of the benefits is rate protection on my airfare bookings. This gives me more piece of mind when I booking my flight to know that if the price goes down, as a member, I will get the lower price. But because I am so passionate about people getting out and seeing the world, I always like to help others save money to travel.
It’s that time of year again, and people are in a panic to find the right gift. A little bird statue for grandma, a new shirt and tie for the husband, a new toy for the nephews. All the years blend together with little variety. If you’re one of the lucky ones, someone you care about knows you really well and knows exactly what to get. But this is a rare occurrence. Also, while people may enjoy the material things for a moment or two, they quickly lose appeal after the first time they use it or wear it.
This is why people seem to crave gifts that give them an experience. Imagine opening a gift of tickets to your favorite concert. Not only are you excited when you open the gift, you have something more to look forward to when you actually attend the event, and an experience to remember for years after. “Remember that time…“ never gets old.
A study tells how people are more connected when they receive a gift of experience rather just some material possession. “When recipients receive an experience, regardless of whether they share in that experience with the gift-giver, they feel more connected to the gift-giver as a result of it, compared to receiving a material gift.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-science-of-gifting-how-to-pick-a-better-present/
Think about the true reason that we give gifts. Is it to just buy a friend something or are you trying to create a relationship with them by showing you care? Isn’t an experience a much better way to foster a relationship? Buy something that you can do together, how about a movie and dinner?
Some people have the logic that if you buy a material possession, something tangible like a couch, that it lasts longer than say a two week vacation, that is over and gone after the two weeks. But being exposed to the same thing, day after day, will quickly lose its charm. And couches do wear out. The latest iphone will soon become obsolete, maybe even before you actually take your vacation.
On the contrary, memories and stories become sweeter with time. Even a bad experience can be one that’s fun to tell after the fact. When it rains for 7 days out of 10 days on your camping trip, you can still think about some fun times that you had. How about that one day when the rain finally broke, and we had a really great time playing volley ball on the beach in our jeans and sweatshirts. That was one cold July! And suddenly, what was negative at the moment, becomes a positive experience in the overall scheme of things.
Last year, I bought a trip for my kids for Christmas. A once in a lifetime experience… a trip to the NCAA Championship game. It’s a gift that I will never regret buying. We got to visit Texas for the first time. We got to spend time together after the holidays were over and they got to experience their first dreamtrip.
Experiences are just more valuable than things!
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 3 years, it’s that many of my friends and family or people I talk to back home love to tell me how lucky I am that I travel so much all while making excuses why they can’t travel. It’s too expensive. They can’t get time off work. They have kids.
When I suggest solutions to these “problems”, they still don’t take action. Why? Because they’re often hiding behind the true reason: they’re scared. When you really want something, there is always a way to make it happen. The longer you put something off, the harder it is to finish it.
Unfortunately, most people who wait to travel the world never do. They let this remain an unspoken dream.
You don’t need to sell all your worldly possessions or become homeless to travel. Just get out there more than you do now. Start with a weekend in a different state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door. I once thought that I couldn't find the time or money to travel. But then a friend showed me a better way. And you can do it too!
The new iphone, car, or remodeling project can wait. If you truly want to travel more, you can make it happen. Once you make the commitment, you will be glad that you did it.
It’s a big, beautiful, exciting, and fascinating world out there. Get out there and enjoy it!
If asked, I would rather spend my money on experiences than “things.” The new phone upgrade can wait, take me to Paris! Or perhaps a trip to the Grand Canyon or some other place that I have never seen.
One thing is certain. You can’t get your time back, spend your time wisely.
STASH EXTRA CASH WHEN YOU TRAVEL
Cash is king around the world. To cover your butt in an emergency, make sure to stash some extra cash in a few different places. I recommend a minimum of two hundred dollars. If you lose your wallet, your debit or credit card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you had the cash.
Most hotels room come with an in room safe for your valuables. I would store a portion here and only take a portion with you on each outing.
If storing your wallet or cash your backpack, never use outside pockets. Always store it in the front of your backpack or one of the inside pockets of your backpack.
The front pocket of your clothing that zips or closes tight is a good spot. Avoid back pockets even for your wallet. There are still some pick-pockets out there. I always store my cash in front of my body somewhere, never in my back pocket. Soft zip-top pouches or hidden cloth pockets sewn into travel clothing are ideal ways to keep cash in multiple places. Use a Cross body handbag to keep everything in sight.
Remember to blend in and don’t look too flashy. If you carry too much cash and it gets noticed, you may be a perfect target for thieves.
Another place for extra cash is in your shoes/socks – under the shoe insert. Try stashing a few bills between the insole and bottom of a shoe. If that grosses you out, opt for something different.
If you carry a cell phone, stash a few extra dollars between your phone and protective case. I also found thisMulti Pocket Wrist wallet , available from Groupon that works pretty well.
If you wear a jacket, get one with an inside pocket for your cash. Credit cards are sometimes safer but a couple hundred dollars for emergencies is wise.
Do you love to travel? Most people have a bucket list of experiences or places they want to go but are limited on how many things they can check off their bucket list due to their current budget. I show people how to check off all your bucket list items within your their current budget. I also reveal some unique and creative travel gadget "must-haves"! Follow me or contact me to learn more.