7 Travel Lessons Learned the Hard Way

7 Travel Lessons Learned the Hard Way

1.  Always carry small bills for taxi fare. Where:  Ft. Lauderdale, FL,  When:  2014 My first mistake: getting into the car even though the driver was arguing with the airport taxi stand attendant.  The temperature in the Toyata Prius cab matched the driver’s temper–Florida hot.  The fare to my hotel came to $16.  I only had 20s, and wouldn’t you know it, Angry Man didn’t have change.  He also claimed his credit card machine didn’t work.  He got an undeserved $4 tip and I got schooled. 2.  Check the airport lost-and-found. Where:  Hong Kong,  When:  1996 After arriving in Hong Kong, I realized I’d left my glasses on the plane.  Before my flight home, with little hope, I called the airport and was directed to lost and found.  In a large drawer, among at least 100 other pairs, I found my missing specs! 3.  Read bus schedules carefully. Where:  Seattle,  When: 2013 Congratulating ourselves on our city-savvy, environmentally-conscious choice to forego renting a car,  we hopped onto a city bus in downtown Seattle in search of a restaurant in another neighborhood.  Okay, “hopped” isn’t quite accurate.  My husband and I lugged our 3-year-old and her giant jogging stroller onto a bus full of Friday evening commuters.  The bus accelerated onto the interstate and after a few worried minutes exchanging “I really didn’t think it was this far”s, we asked a fellow passenger for guidance.  “Oh, this bus doesn’t go there–we’re on the express!”  The bus finally exited the interstate a few miles further in the wrong direction.  We got off at the first stop, a quiet corner in suburbia, accompanied by the well wishes and...
2015:  Puerta Vallarta, Paris, and Tilda the Travel Cat

2015: Puerta Vallarta, Paris, and Tilda the Travel Cat

The new year started quietly here at traveltipgirl.com, but I’ve been busy behind the scenes.  Here’s a preview of what’s coming up in early 2015: 1.  Cruised the Caribbean and looking for something different?  I’ll report from the Crown Princess as we sail Mexico’s Pacific coast from Los Angeles and visit Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Tip I’ve learned already—don’t rule out a Pacific sailing because you fear the price airfare from the East Coast.  When comparing flights from Norfolk, Virginia to Florida cruise ports (Fort Lauderdale and Miami), fares to LAX were only $40 more.  Also, we benefit from the time change flying west.  We’re able to fly cross country and arrive with plenty of time to spare before the ship sets sail. 2.  Curious about river cruising?  How about Paris in the springtime?  Join me as I sail the Seine through Normandy with Avalon Waterways.  We’ll walk the paths of Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Joan of Arc and explore history from the Roman Empire to the D-Day invasion.  This culinary themed sailing includes cooking demonstrations, wine and brandy tastings and promises “easy-to-make” recipes.   We’ll wander the streets of lovely, alluring Paris–shopping, art, cafes, pain au chocolate . . . 3.  As excited as I am for these upcoming trips, I’ve saved the announcement closest to my heart for last.  Over the years I’ve always considered teaching, but a traditional classroom isn’t good fit for me.  However, I believe if we’re given a persistent drive it’s for a purpose.  For me, it’s been a matter of finding the right setting, and I finally see the pieces coming together. I’m a passionate believer...
Hermit Crabs, Kids and Compassion, a Travel Lesson

Hermit Crabs, Kids and Compassion, a Travel Lesson

“Mom, look—hermit crabs!  They’re so cute!  I want the one with the penguin painted on the shell!  Dad, can I get one, puhleeeese!” In shops lining the beach, amid the “YOLO” tank tops, Sponge Bob boogie boards and novelty shot glasses, cages full of brightly painted hermit crabs attract kids like seagulls to a discarded french fry.  A living souvenir—how cool!  It’s colorful, quiet, doesn’t take up much space, and costs the same as a t-shirt. And it will teach the child responsibility. “Alright,” says Dad, “as long as you get the one in the shell painted like an Eagles football helmet.” The hermit crab tradition.    A Philadelphia Inquirer article published earlier this week features Shell Shanty, the New Jersey importer and distributor of most of the hermit crabs sold on the East Coast.  The company started as a Jersey Shore seashell shop and added hermit crabs to its wares in the early 1970’s when New Jersey outlawed painted turtle sales due to salmonella concerns.  Soon Shell Shanty was selling hundreds of hermit crabs per summer month.  When its wholesaler retired in 1986, the owners of Shell Shanty bought his business.  Now they are importing 200,000 hermit crabs from Haiti every year.    Their website, www.shellshanty.com, promotes them as “The Hermit Crab Company.” Bringing hermit crabs home from the beach has become a yearly tradition for some families.  “It’s like an annual thing,” said Greg Merchlinsky, 44, a high school electrical-technology teacher interviewed for the Inquirer article.  Merchlinsky estimated that his family’s three new pets purchased this week would survive six months: “At least we make the six months they live at home a happy six months.” A happy...