Excitement and Travel Go Hand-In-Hand

It doesn’t matter where I’m going, I get excited about travel, I mean REALLY excited. I let excitement take over like a kid on Christmas Eve. I giggle. I jump up and down. I can’t sleep. For some trips, the excitement is worse than others.

I barely get any sleep at all before bucket list trips, for instance. Most recently, that happened before the Grand Canyon trip. I bring up that one because I know, as an adult who’s had a share of disappointments in her life, not all trips are going to end the way I want them to, even dream about. The potential for disappointment doesn’t get in the way of my unbridled enthusiasm, though.

So what? You may be wondering. Well, I bring it up because once again I had a sleepless night. Today, we are off to Hershey Park to spend the weekend celebrating my oldest granddaughter’s seventh birthday. While I am excited to spend the day with her (and her brother, sister and mom), that’s only a small part of what kept me awake.

Last night Greg gave up trying to keep my birthday trip a secret and told me where we are going. Before you ask, yes, we go somewhere for our birthdays every year. We love to travel so trips are our gifts to each other and we try (and usually fail) to keep them a secret.

This year, he’s taking me to the Mall of America. I know there are people who prefer high adventure, art museums, spas and so many other things. I like those things, too. But shopping has always been fun for me. I love the adventure of finding new things. I love the visual stimulation and creativity of window and store displays. I love the buzz of other shoppers seeking their own treasures. In other countries, I find stores to be a true and honest snapshot of the culture and sense of style. I don’t BUY a lot, but I love looking … and I’ve never been to the Mall of America.

Excitement meterIn addition, he said we should check another bucket list item off on the same trip – go to the airport with nothing but a toothbrush and an ID. It is, he pointed out, a trip to a mall. If we can’t get what we need there, then we probably don’t really need it. With that little added extra, my excitement level meter hit overdrive – and I spent the night tossing and turning.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I often say happiness is a choice. Excitement and happiness go together for me. Anticipation of something you’ve been looking forward to is a powerful mood booster. Whether it’s a stay-cation, a weekend jaunt to see family or a bucket list trip, let yourself feel youthful excitement. Call a friend with giddiness in your voice and share your joy. Put a huge smile on your face and ride the crest of happiness.

After all, there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored … see it enthusiastically.

Diversion – Nostalgia

Anyone who thinks billboards don’t work must not travel the roads we do. Whether it’s across the country or north to south, we, like most people, tend to hop on the Interstates when we want to get somewhere quickly. Unlike most, however, we get off regularly onto local roads. What determines when and where we get off is usually some sort of sign – actual signs!  We’ve diverted to small museums because of brown recreational direction signs posted by departments of transportation. We’ve diverted to small towns because of small signs (ok, posters) posted on restaurant bulletin boards or truck stops. We’ve diverted to stores and tourist “traps” because of billboards.

To set this story up, I should let you know that Greg and I keep talking about buying a house that has a room we can use or convert to a bar or lounge … a place for entertaining. We’ve considered a lot of decorating options including mid-Century “atomic” looks (think Mad Men!), but our home has a real travel theme to it and we’ll probably end up with something that leans towards travel.

Back to the road … and billboards.  We were headed out to Paris, Tennessee, crossing the state from Bristol through Knoxville and Nashville. Just west of Bristol, as we approached Knoxville, a great billboard caught our eye for an “antique” store called “Nostalgia: Knoxville’s Vintage Market.”  Even the sign had a fun mid-century vibe to it. We were intrigued. We googled it from our phones to see what time they were open. The timing was right! We needed a little break from the road and what better break than a stroll through a cool vintage market, right?

IMG_3914We agreed – DIVERSION!

What fun! I should take a moment to mention we don’t tell anyplace we mention in our blogs that we are bloggers. We don’t usually even decide we’ll blog about something until it’s already happened! The cheery staff of Nostalgia has no idea I’m writing this, which I hope adds to the authenticity of our blog.

We wandered the aisles of the smaller of the two Nostalgia stores. The lady at the counter said the other store has more furniture and “larger pieces.” This one was chock full of really fun-looking mid-century décor. There were lamps, mirrors, coffee tables covered with ashtrays (yeah, ASHTRAYS!), funky kitchen appliances (I wonder how many still work?), and loads of other pieces. We kept pointing out certain things to each other, “Hey, we had one of those growing up.”

IMG_3906Then we saw it … a set of eight glasses in a rack. It screamed travel and 60s and all the things we are drawn to. I hesitated. Have you ever noticed in these stores when you see something you love how the price always seems to be way too high? I reached for the tag tied on the carrying handle of the rack … WOW! $30! Should we?

IMG_3907We strolled another aisle before going back for the glasses. How could we pass up something like that? Even if we didn’t ever have a bar in our future home, we always need glasses, right? It even came with the original box…with a shipping label dated 1959.

Our fun find put us in a great mood to finish the drive to Paris. We will stop at the other store at some point. Maybe by then we will have the bar we wish for. If not, at least it will be another fun diversion.

To Pack or Not to Pack

By Judy:
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.