charriots posted on street near brown concrete building
Travel Dreaming

Krakow 101

Oh, Krakow! You are one of the most under rated European destinations! How I love thee! My love story with Poland began when I was given Polish food as a child from my Polish family. It was very good and I happily ate all the pierogi while Happy Louie and his Polish Band played the Pennsylvania Polka to a frenzied mass of polka crazed people. Don’t believe me? Check out Jack Black’s amazing role the The Polka King!

Listen in to our conversation about Krakow on our podcast! Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World is a great way to get all kinds of travel tips. Click here to listen to this episode and more!

old european city street with attached residential buildings
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Over the years, my Americanized, immigrant version of Poland expanded to understand the pride and heartbreak of a people who had been torn limb from limb time and time again. From the Vasas to the Nazis, it seemed everyone wanted a piece of the breadbasket of Europe and really didn’t care about the people who were already there.

But just as the popular analogy tells us, like a phoenix, Poland rises from the ashes, dusts herself off, and bounces back better than ever. So, what makes Poland a traveler’s paradise? It has a little of everything, beaches and mountains, cities and rural countryside, museums and jazz clubs, castles and cooking classes. It is Europe’s best kept secret and I am about to tell you all about it!

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Now Arriving

Getting to your feet on the ground is pretty straight forward. Most touch down in Warsaw or Krakow and branch out from there. Poland is super welcoming.

  • Public Trains: While Polish trains work with the Eurail pass, they stand on their own. As with most train systems in Europe, they work very well and can get you to any city center efficiently. Trains are a definite plus when getting from city to city. Start here to explore all of your rail options.
  • Polish Uber: Uber is recently available in Poland mush to the dismay of traditional polish taxi drivers (who are very honest and sweet). One tap will get you from the airport to the main square for about $15.00.
  • Walking: All in all, the majority of destinations you plan on enjoying are well worth the walk. Consider your two feet or a couple of bicycles to be your best bet.
old european city district on river coast
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The Three Sisters

Just a bit smaller than Texas, Poland is one of the largest countries on the continent and, as with most things, balances it’s size well. It’s dotted with three large cities from north to south along the great Vistula River. Gdansk is on the northern coast and is ground zero for the solidarity movement and Poland’s immigration story. Warsaw, the capital, is right in the middle, is home to the uprising story of WWII, Marie Curie, and Poland’s great palace. Further south is Krakow. In some ways, Krakow is the cradle of Poland’s history with its stunning Wawel Castle. Krakow is filled with Polish culture and history.

flag of poland on swinoujscie lighthouse
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Understanding The Basics…

  • Eye contact: You know how you grab a waiter’s eye in a restaurant? A quick flick of the hand or a knowing look between the two of you. While this is a completely acceptable method of getting the service you are looking for, in some parts of Poland, this will get you the cold shoulder. Why? It looks pushy and makes the waitstaff feel like you don’t think they are doing a good job. In short, it comes across as rude. If you are in a bit of a rush, simply let your server know that you’ll need to leave with an hour or so. They will happily accommodate you. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the five star service!
  • Lively Churches: Poland is full of amazing churches, The history and architecture are a meld of national pride and overwhelming invaders making for an array of different styles and focuses. While all of these institutions are well worth the visit, be prepared that Mass will be held often as every one of these treasures is still an active parish. If it is, you have two choices: quietly skirt the sides and stay in the shadows as others worship or grab a pew and say a little prayer with everyone else. Either is just fine.
old tram riding on railway of city decorated with garlands
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  • Street Performers: Krakow is full of amazing street performers. The main square has strolling folk music, kids that are breakdancing their heart out, student musicians and more. Summer concerts and performances are plentiful and well worth your time. Enjoy!

What To Do

  • Food Tours and Cooking Classes: Krakow is a food mecca! Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the next section for a sampler. It is totally worth checking in with a great local guide to get a true feel for all of the yummy choices that are yours for the taking. There’s great street food, communist Milk Bars, fabulous fusion and classic polish cuisine all within the old town. Add to that the fabulous Jewish district of Kazimierez and Krakow become hard to pass up for any true foodie.
  • Royal Mile: Krakow’s stunning main square sits in the middle of the old town’s Royal Way. Along this route are plenty of churches, museums, shops, art galleries, and restaurants all winding their way up to the crawn jewel, Wawel Hill.
  • Can’t Miss: Check our the DaVinci masterpiece Lady With Ermine at the newly refurbished Czartoryski Museum. The painting, which is a contemporary of Mona Lisa, is an incredible example of Davinci’s talent. The further story of theft and reclamation prove to be quite fascinating as well.
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  • Royal Beginnings: At the end of the Royal Mile sits gorgeous Wawel Castle. The complex can take a full day to explore with numerous museums and the main cathedral. The cathedral holds the tomb of Poland’s most famous king: Kazimierez, a tribute to Chopin, and the bell tower is fun to climb and get a serious view of the city and it’s lifeline, the Vistula River. Be sure to seek out one of the seven chakras on Earth. The staff may not love it but it’s fun! Also, get down to the river bank and find Smok the fire breathing dragon.
  • Klezmer and Kazimierez: About a ten minute ride away from the old town (which is surrounded by the Planty park) is the old Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierez. Here on the square, you’ll find synagogues, mini museums, and restaurants that often have live traditional music called Klezmer music. You often hear this style with a heavy clarinet sound. From here, walk over the Bernatek footbridge and toward the old Jewish ghetto where you will find Schindler’s factory and the Eagle Over The Door Pharmacy.
  • The Main Square: Dominated by St. Mary’s Basilica (check out that blue ceiling and unbelievable alter piece), Krakow’s main square has quite few treasures to explore. Start at the cloth hall in the center. Go up for a lovely art museum, go down for an underground museum on the archeology of the city. Shop at ground level for all of those polish faves, and go out on the balcony for a lovely drink looking over the hustle and bustle of the square. Use the square as a jumping off point to explore the old town streets full of churches, shops, small museums and plenty of landmarks that relate to St. Pope John Paul II.
charriots posted on street near brown concrete building
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Taking on Polish cuisine…

  • Pierogi: Every culture has a filled dumpling and the Poles are no different! Pierogi (yes, that’s the plural) can be filled with sweet or savory choices. Order them all. Eat them all. You won’t regret it.
  • Zurek: A “sour” soup served in a bread bowl may sound like a great Winter treat (and it is) but don’t discount this wholesome soup in the Summer. It’s all good!
  • Zapiekanki: This is basically Polish french-bread pizza. and it’s great! Perfect for a grab and go lunch to eat in the Planty or at the riverside park under the castle.
  • Lody: Poles love their Summer ice cream! And it is good! Plan on enjoying ice cream as the city wakes up for its evening stroll.
  • Steak tartare: Slavic sushi. Tartare is high quality minced beef served with several seasonings and usually topped with a raw egg. Don’t be so fast to pass on this regional delicacy, consider it the escargot of Poland!
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Exploring Second Cities…

Part of the charm of Poland are all of the individual towns that polka dot the landscape. Each little community has a little city center usually with a train station and plenty to keep you interested. Some of the top contenders are…

  • Poznan: Close to the German border, this tidy town has an interesting history and continues to enchant with its old town and educate with its Jewish quarter tour. It is also a great jumping off point for those who want to visit the Boleslawiec Polish Pottery factory or the Church of Peace: both are great stops if you have the time.
  • Wroclaw: This work-a-day college town might not seem like much to begin with but dig a little deeper and you’ll find an enchanting town ready to welcome visitors. Check out the over 300 little statues all over town that give personality to the wheres and whens you will encounter. Try out the food tours and enjoy all of the yummy treats followed by a shot of cherry vodka.
  • Torun: Smell the gingerbread in Copernicus’ hometown and wander the streets of this charming little college town. Torun is a great half way mark between Warsaw and Gdansk. Whther you are taking the train and spend the afternoon or you choose to spend the night, count Torun in and you won’t regret it!
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Day Tripping From Krakow…

As you expand your horizons from greater Krakow, there are a couple of amazing spots to consider. Every popular guidebook will give you the 411 on the details for these particular places. These were among the family favorites.

  • Wadowice The birthplace of St. Pope John Paul II is the perfect day trip. Explore his home, parish church and charming square then visit Kalwaria Zebrzydowska monastery where he dedicated his life to the church.
  • Wieliczka Salt Mine Descend deep into this UNESCO heritage site for an experience like no other. Part art installation, part medieval history, this unexpected marvel of engineering tells the story of how miners of salt became prolific artists that celebrated the triumphs of their lives where they spent the majority of their time. A perfect morning trip from the city center.
  • Auschwitz Birkenau What can I say? The infamous moment in Polish existence is the Nazi invasion of September 1939. It is, by far, the saddest chapter of the Poles. The role that Auschwitz played in this atrocity can not be over stated and visiting will be quite emotional. But visit you must. I truly think that it is our duty as travelers to understand these moments in history so that we can better understand the times we live in now. You are already here. How could you not go?
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The Great Outdoors

Poland offers plenty of other amazing opportunities away from the city center. Some of our favorites are:

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  • Zakopane Just south of the Krakow region lie the Tatras mountains. Bordering both Poland and the Czech republic, it provides an amazing mountain escape from the “big city”. Central to that escape is the hamlet of Zakopane. This little resort town is a joy to visit with its apres-ski vibe.
  • Masuria Well overlooked, the lakes region to the north and east has long been a vacation stronghold for the polish people. With plenty of water fun, there’s tons to keep you interested in this lovely part of the country.
  • Sopot From the mountains and lakes to the beach! Sopot sits just beside beautiful Gdansk and is a Summer playground for locals and visitors alike. Check out the long pier and the fabulous restaurants as well as the local amber vendors that sell their beachcombing treasures.

The Ultimate Two Week Starter Kit:

Alrighty, you are ready to plan! Check out our handy dandy checklist to start customizing your own itinerary for the trip of a lifetime! Don’t forget to listen to our podcast with all of this information and more to make your trip to Krakow unforgettable.

  • Fly in to Warsaw
  • Explore Warsaw
  • Gdansk
  • Sopot
  • Malbork Castle
  • Take the train to Krakow
  • Explore Krakow
  • Day trip to Auschwitz
  • Take a day trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine
  • Day trip to Wadowice or Czechehowa
  • Overnight in Zakopane
  • Zakopane
  • Finish in Krakow
  • Fly out of Krakow

Travel Dreaming

Travel To Thailand: Enchanting and Controversial

Thailand. A country of extremes. A place where chaos reigns in big cities and beaches calm the soul with beautiful vistas. This South Asian tourist mecca layers itself with many personalities. Some are bright like Buddhist temples and floating markets. Others are a bit darker like the animal tourism industry or places called Sex Street. So, how can we travel to Thailand and find the right balance of vacation fun and broadened horizons? Let’s dig in!

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Lay Of The Land

Thailand has more coastline than Florida. In fact, it would take about 20 hours to drive from North to South. It’s safe to say that a typical two week holiday won’t let you see the entire country. The country is anchored by three famous hot spots. To the north is Chiang Mai, to the south is beachy Phuket and smack dab in the middle is Bangkok.

Lilies at the temple
Temple

Thailand’s Beaches

Nestled between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, Thailand prides itself on some pretty spectacular beaches. The winner of this beach beauty pageant is Phuket.

Pattaya used to be the beach of choice decades ago but now turns its worn eye toward more industrial needs. That industrial emphasis has taken its toll on the tourism industry here. Yet, due to its close proximity to Bangkok, Pattaya it seems to hang on.

Conversely, Phuket seems to be the darling of them all. While it has been in the news a bit because of over tourism, the Phuket area enjoys the bulk of the tourist influx and, therefore has a far better infrastructure to support those numbers.

The Icons

  • Half Buried Buddha
  • Marine Research Center
  • Gibbon Rehabilitation Center

The Experiences

  • Lay on the beach
  • Phangnga Bay
  • Thai Village

Bangkok

Exotic and chaotic. Those are the first words that come to mind as I think back to Bangkok. Each intersection seems like a starting point of a great migration of cars, trucks, motorcycles and tut-tuts. Intermingled in all of it a precious temples and markers of real heritage. Plan at least three days to see all that Bangkok has to offer.

Reclining Buddha
The Famous Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Alms
Giving Bhat to the temple in 100 little pots
Reclining Buddha
Learning about the Reclining Buddha
Outside the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace: Sleeves and long pants only here!
the architecture of Thailand
Thai temple architecture

The Icons

  • The Grand Palace
  • Wat Pho
  • Wat Arun
  • Dusit Park

The Experiences

  • Floating Market
  • Daily Alms
  • Chinatown
  • Thai Massage
temple kitty
A temple resident with a human do no disturb sign

Chiang Mai

About 700 KM to the north lies this second city of Thailand. While still chaotic and perhaps overwhelming, Chiang Mai has a certain gentleness to it that can not be denied. At a fraction of the size of sprawling Bangkok, Chiang Mai offers quite a few unique experiences.

The Icons

  • Wat Phra Sing
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Doi Suthep–Pui National Park

The Experiences

  • Warorot Market
  • Bo Sang Village
  • Yi Pang Lantern Festival
Monks walking

Animal Attractions

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Asian animal attractions, and for that matter attractions everywhere, are under great scrutiny. They are being scrutinized more and more as to the care they give and the purpose they rely on.

There is an undeniable curiosity about animals. Let’s face it, the bigger and more furry, the more we as a global society are attracted to them. At the top of Thailand’s attractions are tigers and elephants. Much has been reported about the treatment and conditions in which animal tourism in Asia and it’s not without merit. So, what is the right call? I think that it is possible that some attractions have the animal’s best interest in mind while others are far more interested in lining their pockets. Take these three examples:

Elephants taking a shortcut through the water

Sriracha Tiger Zoo

The Tiger Zoo was a cacophony of sounds and sites. To one side, was a fenced in gazebo with a pig, a dog, and a tiger chasing each other around in circles. To the other, the scorpion lady was covered in creepy crawlies. Straight ahead was the tiger nursery. About 100 juveniles were in “playpens” they eagerly awaited the visitors who they knew had milk to feed them. The place had the feel of a day care facility. Lessons were hastily given as to how to hold and feed these little ones. Once visitors have a chance to interact with the little ones, they were shown through to a circus like ring to watch the older tigers.

There were a lot of interactions with other animals- elephants, monkeys, snakes. They all were happily posed around visitors. I’m not sure how I feel all these years later about this particular venue. Maybe the correct word is uncomfortable. I guess I will leave the evaluation to wildlife experts.

Tiger Zoo Nursery
In the nursery
Tiger Zoo
With a newer resident, this elephant trotted over to us. She seemed very happy to hang around us.

Pattaya Elephant Village

For a different Thai experience, look toward facilities like this. The village is home to retired working elephants that seem happy to be in the peaceful patch of jungle. The village wants to allow these elephants to feel useful and educate visitors with the history of the role elephants played in this part of the world.

When you visit the Village, there are several animals to see and a few experiences to enjoy including an elephant ride. I felt like the elephants were given their space to roam the pathway at their own pace and I even saw the establishment change out an elephant that started showing concerns with one that seemed eager to participate.

One thing that surprised me was the wonderful lunch that was provided. Sitting under a lovely pavilion with that same soft music playing, local women had plate after plate of probably the best food I ate in the whole country. My feeling here was one of relief.

Retired elephant
One of the retired elephants who strayed a bit off the path. No one seemed to mind and he eventually joined back up with our group.
Thai musician
Lovely music played at the “base camp”

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Contrasting the two options above, this sanctuary seeks only to educate rather than blend in entertainment. Here, don’t expect to ride an elephant. Instead, visitors are encouraged to understand the natural habitat life of elephants. From half day tours to week long volunteering opportunities (look to “adopt” a friend for the week and literally handle all of their needs), this sanctuary is the future of animal tourism.

Thailand is known for flowers
Flowers grown and picked for offerings

While the sanctuary invites visitors in, it’s with caution. You are there to learn. There to understand how these gentle giants need our protection and there to understand the massive amount of work it takes to maintain the sanctuary itself.

Many of their packages come with meals, add on tours, and other options to make your time memorable. But then again, do you need much more than a baby elephant laying on your legs to be completely fulfilled?

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
elephant play time!

That Famous Bridge

One quest you may be interested in is the bridge that spans the Khwae Yai River. Known because of its infamy on the silver screen. The dark history of what happened on the Burma-Siam Railroad is sad. You can learn more about it by visiting the bridge that sits just over 100 KM from the capitol.

The Bridge over the River Kwai

The Mekong

In Thailand’s northeast, the Mekong River is king. This area perfect for nature enthusiasts, is known for its small villages, colorful festivals and impressive temples, this area may be the perfect area to enjoy many of Thailand’s treasures. Food for thought…

Thailand's Mekong River
One of the slow boats down the Mekong.

Two Thailand Tales

When I think back to visiting Thailand, I realize that I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m not too pleased with myself that I didn’t realize some of the travel choices I made weren’t the best. The Tiger Zoo comes to mind. I also was not prepared for having drivers who shuttled us down Sex Street without giving a second thought to the fact that I had children in the car. I was not the best traveler then and I learned lessons to make me better.

On the other hand, I loved Thailand for all of its gentleness. In fact, it’s that amazing aura that my kids remember most. I recently asked them about their favorite moment from that trip, and they all recall our time seeing the Reclining Buddha. It wasn’t the elephants and tigers that first pop to mind. Instead, they remember the moment we gave them each 100 Bhat.

There, at the reclining Buddha, 100 small pots are lined up. The goal is to say something you are grateful for at each pot wile you add a coin. As you move along, the soft ching-ching sound relaxes you. What a powerful way to start kids understanding the power of gratefulness and meditation. This was what they remember most.

Moments like this make Thailand a destination that is worth exploring again and again.

Buddha
Travel Lifestyle

100 Ways Travel Makes Me Thankful

It’s that time of year! I’m so excited! Travel is a powerful force in my life and sharing my love of it is a total passion project. So, this Thanksgiving, I say thank you. I have plenty to be thankful for like my family, my travel partner in crime, Yia Yia, and all of the moments that i share with others. Today however, I think I should say thank you to the very thing that we all share. I say thank you to travel.

Let’s celebrate by appreciating what travel gives us. Here are 100 things that travel has offered to me. They are in no particular order. So, peruse the list, and enjoy! I know how much travel has given to me. How about you?

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The List!

A sense of belonging in more places than I expected. I love the connections I feel no matter where in the world I am.

An appreciation for art. I didn’t care much as a kid but now I know my Byzantine from my Vermeers and it makes me happy!

A goal to learn more language skills. I love picking up at least a few pleasantries wherever I go. (But Greek gets the best of me every time!)

A confidence that I am aware of others. I find myself appreciating other culture’s solutions to interesting problems.

A chance to walk in the footsteps of history. It makes me feel awestruck every time.

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Moments to know I can get anywhere on my own. My independence makes me a better human.

A taste for food I wouldn’t have normally tried. From kimchee to escargot, I’ll give it a try!

The power of wow. Victoria Falls, The Parthenon, Mt. Fuji, a kangaroo, an NYC pizzeria. They all make me say “wow”.

Map skills. I really can get just about anywhere in the world on my own and I know how to prepare and plan for that journey.

Opportunities to conquer new things. Tops of mountains, bottoms of gorges, new food, new rituals, a better understanding.

Literature connections. I find myself invested in kids books and literature for myself more and more.- as long as it allows me to travel!

A love for travel movies. I can’t get enough of them, even the cheesy Hallmark ones.

A minimalist spirit. With travel as an obsession, extraneous stuff loses priority and the things I do have better mean a lot.

Technology skills. Have iphone will travel.

A connection to my roots. I’m Polish, I’m Irish. I know it.

An improved imagination. I’ve become quite adept at imagining what could be and what must have been.

An appreciation for a well designed museum. I’ve always loved architecture and planning but I find the logic in a well laid out museum very intriguing.

The uncanny skill of avoiding a crowd but finding the party. Not too much, not too little.

A respect for water.

A better sense of environmental problems. Knowing and accepting the mistakes of humanity seems to be the biggest fight.

Gratefulness for the home I have. I love traveling but I appreciate my own bed too. I’m also very aware of how fortunate I am.

Friends. From every corner. My Christmas Card list makes me happy.

An appreciation for the absurd and surreal. Sometimes, you just need to laugh at the circumstances you find yourself in.

A love of globes. To me? They’re artwork!

A quest to fill in a map all on my own. I can name every country in the world on a blank map.

A need to share trivia. Did you know that there are 195 countries recognized by the U.S. government?

A better sense of humor. I have to say, I laugh at more these days with a broader perspective.

Better Listening Skills.

A better relationship with technology. I feel like I run my tech rather than the other way around.

A clearer sense of the little things. Flowers, laughter, a sunny day, an early morning walk.

An understanding of the difference between daily life and traveling life. Sometimes I am a temporary local and sometimes I am a tourist. I’m okay with both.

An opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. Whether, it’s language or weather or political climate, being uncomfortable helps me be a better learner.

The realization that not everybody travels the same way or with the same intent. There are backpackers, nomads, cruisers, tour takers and DIY travelers. Some are amazing, some are not.

A love of architecture. I can’t get enough of church spires, Roman arches, intricate carvings, and Greek Columns.

Time with the girls. I love getting away with my girls! Whether it’s my bestie, my daughter, or my mom, I always have a good time.

Dancing Feet. Cue the music!

Menu Language. I can order a rum and coke in any language.

A respect for war.

A better knowledge of what others think of my home country. I watch the news from other countries and it is very interesting!

Global perspective. Our way is not always the best way!

An awe for real craftsmanship. I find myself saying “and they did all of that without any power!”

My inner gypsy. I’m a wanderer and I love that!

Better reading habits. I read more and more these days and those books always take me somewhere.

A love of animals. I want to see elephants, sheep dogs, highland cows, and koi fish in the place that they belong.

Chopstick skills. Thank you Japan!

Wanderlust The second I get home from a trip, I’m ready to plan the next one!

A network of like minded people. My closest friends travel like I do or appreciate that I can’t wait to get on the road again.

Better parenting skills

Patience. If you’re gonna travel, you’re gonna wait. The better you are at that the easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

A love of logistics. I find the apps, I find the deals, I connect the dots, then, I travel.

A respect of where food comes from. Knowing that the supermarket is not the beginning of the food story is important and more people need to know it.

An understanding of what GMO free means. Taste a tomato in Greece then eat one back in the States. You’ll see.

Appreciation for the ability to sit on a park bench. Part of travel is taking in the life in front of you. I am so happy that I can do just that.

A love of public spaces. All of them: centrums, museums, market squares, train stations, shopping streets, and more.

A new obsession with impressionism. I find the beauty in it and appreciate the father of the movement, Monet, so so much. Especially after I understood the role Asian art played in it.

A preference to experience things rather than just look from a difference. Don’t be a looker, be a doer.

A gratefulness for my two feet. they get me to the top on Mont Saint Michel and Mount Fuji and to the bottom of Victoria Falls and the tiny port in Santorini.

A respect for the religions of the world

A discovered talent to be a digital scrapbooker. Part of my trip planning process is including framing and organizing my memories.

An understanding of the importance of tea around the world. After water, tea is king. Knowing that you will encounter it and having the ability to know what to do when it does helps.

A loyalty to small business. Mom and pop shops of the world matter. They matter so, so much!

A preference for handicrafts. Handmade with love is my favorite product no matter where I am in the world.

An acceptance that I’m not a perfect traveler. I make mistakes. I try hard not to get stuck with the coulda shouldas. I just remember that I’ll choose the better town, museum, tour guide, etc. next time.

A pretty good eye for framable art. I am all about bringing back prints and local artists and framing them on my wall.

An adoration for storytelling. Tell me a story then I’ll share one with you! I’ve got plenty!

A guilty pleasure for travel Christmas ornaments. I deck my halls with trinkets from all over the world and it makes me happy.

A preference for solid bar shampoo and conditioner. I am a free of TSA approved liquids and I’m happy about it!

A better aversion to plastics

A tear and a smile when I see a poppy in Europe. I’m proud of the role our country played in the World Wars and I appreciate everyone’s sacrifice. A poppy reminds me how much they matter.

A desire to go on the Amazing Race, sort of. I’ll take the challenge sans the drama. I know. I’m not good TV.

Better teaching skills. Travel brings so much to my classroom and I always look forward to sharing the world with young learners.

A willingness to curate my possessions. I am very happy to get rid of what doesn’t matter. I find joy in surrounding myself with just what speaks to my memories.

A notoriety for speaking my mind from a global perspective. I have big mouth. I’m okay with that, I hope you are too.

The ability to leave the past in the past and appreciate people based on the present. I’ve learned that understanding history AND understanding the social development of society both matter.

Epic sunsets. Santorini, Namibia, Kyoto, and more. They never disappoint.

Knowing that I can like one area of the world more than others but I can appreciate every corner of the globe at the same time.

An odd love for symbology. Thanks Dan Brown. Now I see it everywhere.

More people to root for in the Olympics

A love for eating al fresco. I can park myself on a main square, a piazza, a pedestrian cobblestoned street. Hours and hours.

A seasonal love of FIFA finals. Every year, in late June, I choose a team and join in the fun of the finals wherever I am.

A chance to say “I’ve been there!” when I watch TV. When I flip to a travel show, I love walking down those streets and seeing those amazing sites virtually.

A love of cobblestoned pedestrian streets. There’s so much charm and energy on these amazing pedestrian zones.

A sincere respect for bees. Gosh! They do a lot for this world and they don’t get the credit they deserve!

No air conditioning. When was the last time you slept with the windows open? How about under a mosquito net? You should try!

Seeing art en setu. Marveling at the Sistine Chapel or Monet’s Waterlillies where the artist intended you to see them is an experience that raises your art awareness to a whole new level!

A pickiness for food that’s not prepared properly. I’m spoiled! I’ve eaten food, in season, all around the world. Belgian fries or McDonalds? There’s no competition!

An understanding that standing out isn’t always the best option. I’ve learned that finding common ground with others. It doesn’t hurt that it makes me less of a pick pocket target!

An enduring love of the therapeutic results of journaling.

French Rose. in the Summer, on a great piazza. Life is good.

The ability to pare down to the basics. As our old travel pal Rick Steves likes to say, “No one comes back from a trip and says that they wish they’d brought more!” (Although, Rick has no idea what it takes to pack for a woman who isn’t a backpacker!)

The acceptance that I usually overpack anyway. It’s gonna happen and I’m going to be okay with that. I’m plus sized and that’s a whole different world!

A better eye at technology that works for me and not against me. I’ve learned to avoid the gossip and scandal and use technology as a tool rather than allowing technology to run my life! #putthephonedown

A sadness when we lose a treasure. Notre Dame, the aging pyramids, Damascus, and more…

A goal to take good architectural pictures. It one of my new favorite things to do. I find the shapes and craftsmanship amazing!

A preference for train travel. I love the ease and sensibility of the train. I try to fit some sort of train experience into my adventures each time I wander. Whether it’s rush hour in Japan or the great open skies in Canada, I love it!

Photo by veerasak Piyawatanakul on Pexels.com

Plenty of holiday traditions. German pickle ornaments, Japanese carp fish, Greek Easter eggs dyed red, potato latkes, high holy days that no one thinks of, I love them all.

Little moments. Morning walks in a city center when the fresh produce is being delivered for the day.

A thirst for more memories. I treasure each and every one of them and I can’t wait to make more!

Travel does such a wonderful job and helping us celebrate the best life has to offer. As a matter of fact, my fellow travel junkie Michelle Moyer of Moyer Memories has a ton of amazing suggestions to help your travel plans enhance your milestones. Check out her top picks for celebrating the big 5-0 by clicking here!

Add to the list! Comment below with one way travel makes you happy!!!