Distractions, flying, Musings, Road Trip, The World A to Z, Trains, travel

Wanderlust, Moving and A World of Change

A friend from high school recently moved to a new home. It was one of several she’s made in recent years. She and I are very alike that way. In the past eight years I have had six homes. That’s six full-scale, move-everything-you-own-to-a-new-place homes. 

In fact, we grew up that way … the two of us and thousands of other kids known as “military brats.” Vikki, who also an author, and I had Air Force dads, but others had dads and moms who were soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and women. We moved often and, from an early age, learned to expect and even embrace the change that comes with a new home, new friends, a new school and a new lifestyle.

I suspect that my childhood and the following time on active duty are big parts of the reason I have such strong wanderlust. I CRAVE new places and new things to see and do. I long to pack a few things into a bag and go somewhere I’ve never been. I strike up conversations with strangers … sometimes with strangers who don’t even speak English.

If you are a fellow traveler, you probably have many of the same feelings. When people ask, “where’s the best place you’ve ever been?” you simply have no way to answer. There are too many “best places” to pick one. 

My husband grew up in one town for the most part. But something in him is excited about travel, too. I’d like to believe I had something to do with that by taking him with me on several adventures early in our relationship. We’ve been on trips by road, air, rail, river, even horseback. We’ve hiked, biked, snorkeled, soared and sailed. And we’re not even close to done! 

It seems for every trip I take, I add two more to my bucket list. An insatiable desire to travel consumes me. I feed it and it grows like a weed. 

After all, there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored … I just can’t seem to get enough.

PS … thanks for the inspiration, Vikki!

© The World A to Z, LLC 2020


Expect the Unexpected

Traveling off the beaten path sometimes means that you’ll end up staying somewhere unexpected. In the last 12 months, Judy and I have spent about four or five unplanned nights in hotels. In one case, it was because we encountered ice covered roadways. It didn’t make sense to put our lives in danger just to get home. In others, we’ve just decided to stay overnight and enjoy added time with family and friends, or simply to stay up late and get up early to experience new and different sites and tastes. If life is an adventure, then you need to be ready to expect the unexpected!

A few things make this easier. First, and perhaps most importantly, we don’t have kids or pets at home (often they are one and the same). As much as we both love dogs, we’ve consciously made a decision to not have a pet in the house so that we don’t have to worry about its care. If you do have pets (we’re assuming you’re not going to leave your kids at home alone!), then consider finding a reliable person who can walk and feed your animals on short notice.


Second, keep a small “go bag” in our car with essential toiletries and medications. This past Friday, we left town quickly to visit an ailing relative who lives about three hours south. Leaving directly from my office, stopping at home to pick up clothes and the Dopp kit wasn’t really an option. I was still in my work clothes, so we stopped to pick up some more casual shirts and jeans. Since we drive a convertible, we keep a couple of fleece jackets in the trunk.  These helped ward off the unseasonal chill. The usual go bag wasn’t in the car, so we also raided the “samples” aisle to pick up a tooth brush and toothpaste, deodorant, shaving essentials and a few other items to make sure that we didn’t look ghastly in the morning. Those who have read the blog from the beginning know that we have no problem buying things on the fly, but having a few needed items in the car can make unexpected overnights that much easier.

Third, come up with one or two “go to” hotel chains you like that have the amenities you need at a cost you can regularly afford (and for which you can collect points for free or discounted visits). A quick check of the internet on your smartphone (or even using the chain’s app) can quickly result in a reservation confirmation. Don’t forget to ask for discounts…just because you’re calling last minute doesn’t mean you have to live with rack rates. In the aforementioned “ice” incident, we saw that one of our preferred chains was at the next exit, so we simply pulled in and asked the clerk what she could do for us. Perhaps because we were regular guests of this particular chain, she quoted a rate that was more than half of the rack rate and well in line of what we expected to pay. Most of us have some sort of discount available — AAA, AARP, government, etc. — use what works for you.

Don’t forget to use these unexpected visits to check out local restaurants, taverns, and other sites. Also, don’t forget to take a peek at the rack of local attraction brochures usually located just off the lobby in nearly every hotel. You’ll never know what you’ll find and you might even decide to visit again!

© The World A to Z, LLC 2015


To Pack or Not to Pack

Several of you have asked for more details about not packing and taking an empty suitcase. Here’s what we did: First, you have to know that when I was younger I lived in Germany and Italy so I know a little about shopping in Europe and I appreciate how the clothes there fit my body. That said, I usually plan to buy clothes and shoes in Europe anyway. In this case, we talked about that idea and decided that carrying nothing on the plane (well, except my purse) would be a great way to move about unencumbered. We packed our own U.S. underwear. I have a theory that once you find the knickers that fit, stick with them. We also took jeans. There’s no way you’re going to get a good deal on Levi’s, Lee or Wranglers overseas! Finally, we packed a change of shirt so we would have something to change into the first day. (There’s nothing worse than a day-old, funky, I’ve-been-traveling-all-night shirt).

Since we arrived rather late on the first day, we showered off the travel funk and put on our clean shirts for dinner, then wandered around Krakow a bit just to stretch our legs and get acclimated. Our first full day meant re-wearing that shirt from the night before, but it was still clean (just don’t spill dinner on it). After some morning sightseeing, we popped over to the local shopping area and ended up in an actual mall. The goal was to get at least two changes of clothes each here and see how that got us through, then possibly buy more clothes when we got to Germany.

Remember versatility is key. Buy clothes that are all mix and match … as if you were packing for a trip since you are, after all, ON a trip. Two sweaters for me and a couple of t’s for underneath, we got two sweaters for Greg, too. Heavy gloves and hats for the cold weather were also on the list. That’s good for the time being.

In Germany, where I am much more familiar with my options, I snagged two pair of pants, three skirts and three pair of shoes. Greg picked up two pair of pants, a fabulous, useful-for-anywhere blazer, and some t’s. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was more than enough to get us through the rest of the trip and, in the end, nicely fill the extra suitcase without overfilling it.

Here’s where we ended up: The big suitcase was comfortably packed (not FULL), the two carry-on size bags were each comfortably packed so we could carry one on the flight home, if need be. We mailed a few small boxes home with Christmas gifts. It’s worth pointing out that the big suitcase also carried a pretty good-sized pile of toys for the grandkids.

It was a great, EASY way to get around, although if I had it to do over again I might go backwards so that the train trips at the end didn’t involve three suitcases, rather the two we started out with. The fabulous Lufthansa clerk at check-in on the way home, offered to check our third bag for free since the flight was full and there would be limited space for carry-ons. Score one for us! That was a great option!!

We’ve already decided packing super light is the way to go and will try other options in the future. Stay tuned.

© The World A to Z, LLC 2012