It’s not so much where we travel, but what we do when we get there that matters. For those who run in real life, there is nothing better than doing so at a remote location.
Like to hike? Getting away from the normal routine to engage a totally different terrain can bring new life to your passion for the sport.
But we don’t need to be into skiing, surfing, biking, climbing or backpacking either.
Many travelers find the first step towards the adventure of a lifetime starts with something simple. A photo posted by one friend on the road, a tweet full of fun from another at some festival or an old-fashioned phone call filled with unbridled joy can be just the inspiration we need to start planning.
Check out this video, pack your bags and hit the road; it can be just that easy to make some meaningful travel happen in your life right now.
Traveling almost anywhere around the world, we see people in need. Many struggle to survive in endangered areas or in a place where an earthquake, tsunami or another natural disaster has occurred. But those in need can be located at stops along our way in the Caribbean, South America, Europe or some other areas too. In the past, it has been hard not to feel the need to help, but often more difficult to know what we can do with the limited time and resources we bring when traveling. Then we found Pack For A Purpose (PFAP), a non-profit organization that lets us give back in a very meaningful way.
Eleven years ago, during their first trip to Africa, Scott and Rebecca Rothney learned that while they were each limited to 40 pounds of luggage on safari, their airline had an allowance of 100 pounds of checked luggage, plus a 40-pound carry-on.
To make a long story short, the Georgia couple asked themselves, with an attitude typical of their Southern hospitality, “Why not take advantage of that unused weight and bring along supplies that will fulfill some need?” They noted how it wouldn’t cost fliers anything to ship and that they could be doing some good. With this in mind, the two launched Pack For A Purpose.
“In making plans for a second trip, we looked into visiting a school near the lodge we would visit in Botswana,” says Rothney. “We contacted our safari company, Wilderness Safaris, to see if we could determine any specific needs of that school. Armed with that information, we were able to deliver 140 pounds (64 kg) of school supplies, including soccer balls, to the school.”
%Gallery-180487%Building on that experience but making it easy by asking travelers to pack just five pounds (2.27 kg) of various supplies, the idea was to involve everyone who wanted to add value to their trip by participating.
To make it even easier, the destinations travelers might visit are organized on the PFAP website by continent, then by country, resort, lodging or tour. Travelers who are considering a land vacation or going on a cruise that stops in Jamaica, for example, will find 18 different properties listed where supplies can be dropped off.
The idea worked. In the first three years of operation, PFAP has been instrumental in delivering over 17,000 pounds of supplies.
Making even more sense of the PFAP plan, Rothney said “We don’t look at it as ‘charity’. It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ and showing our appreciation for the wonderful experience we have in these places we visit,” in a telephone interview with Gadling.
Think about that for a minute: can you spare five pounds worth of space in luggage?
Pack For A Purpose points out that five pounds translates to:
400 Pencils, or
5 deflated soccer balls with an inflation device, or
A stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and 500 bandages.
All are much-needed supplies at a variety of locations around the world.
Check this video with Rebecca Rothney explaining what Pack For A Purpose is all about:
New Year’s Eve brings ball-dropping fun to thousands in New York’s Times Square and around the world via television and streaming video. New Year’s Day has its share of events too and marks the official end of 2012’s holiday season while opening the door to a unique chance to change ourselves, if only a little bit.
A brand new year is ahead of us. So, what will we do with it? Keep on doing what we have been doing? Start something new?
New Year’s resolutions commonly include strong initial efforts to live a healthier lifestyle by eating better and exercising more. It’s a time when household budgets are reviewed, long and short-term financial goals get a look and when travelers gaze ahead to what’s scheduled for 2013 and beyond.
No plans right now? A great way to help roll in the new year is by trying new and different things. That does not have to mean skydiving for the first time, a solo kayak adventure that pits us against nature or climbing a mountain. Something new and different, outside of our comfort zone, can be as close as a computer or just outside our back door.
Right about here would be a time to mention any one of a hundred new travel-related apps for our smartphones. Although there are plenty of them, that’s not our focus here. Not right now.
We can get very wrapped up in activities that require us to be inside without trying. Work, school, meetings, shopping, dining and other things we do are inside things. Walking outside, we might go in a different way to lunch, take a few minutes to consider the place we are at the moment and, if we really want to get into it, talk to a stranger. Go crazy; leave home with no phone or communication device, on purpose.What’s Important
It’s a recurring theme that comes out eventually whenever someone talks about travel. It may take a while to sort through the places we traveled to, highlighting iconic monuments, destinations and world-famous landmarks. But eventually, some of our most cherished travel memories come from interaction with people we meet along the way.
Safety and security tips for travelers often include common sense advice like not carrying a lot of cash, protecting valuable documents and not wearing expensive jewelry in public. But while taking precautions is good, knowing what scams or traps are set and waiting for travelers in countries around the world is better.
“While the language barrier and the cultural sites are exciting, they also open up travelers to scam artists and petty thieves,” says an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which brings up some good points.
Record serial numbers on electronics, keep valuables in your hotel safe and watch for “long hauling” where taxi drivers take a longer route to bump up the fare. These measures can be taken to ensure a visit to an unfamiliar turf goes well.
record the serial numbers of any vital electronics that could be stolen, as some cities require a serial number to file a police report.
We saw this first hand in Rouen, France, not long ago, visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral off a sailing of Azamara Club CruisesAzamara Journey. Our local guide was quick to point out that we should ignore anyone standing by the front door collection admission. Entry is free but unsuspecting tourists commonly pay scam artists a fee, believing they cannot enter without doing so.But Americans do not need to travel far to find situations that threaten safety and security.
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management offers tips for international travel as close as the Bahamas, a destination frequented by U.S. travelers on a weekend getaway. Also a popular cruise port, on the topic of safety and security, the Department of State warns travelers about commonly used services.
“The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated,” says the Department of State. “Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.”
Digging deeper, the Department of State offers information about common crime scams and reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships.
“Three separate groups of tourists were held at gunpoint and robbed at popular tourist sites in and near Nassau; each of these incidents occurred during daylight hours and involved groups of more than eight persons,” says the Department of State, adding “several other groups of tourists allegedly were victims of armed robbery at more remote locations.”
Here at home, traveling no farther than the local mall for holiday shopping can put us in situations where pick pockets, scam artists and others are out to take advantage of distracted shoppers.
Regardless of where we are, a nice day of sightseeing or shopping can turn very bad, very fast as we see in this video:
Healthy travel is something not talked about much until travelers get sick. Flying commercial airlines, passing through airports or even taking a cab to a hotel in a big city, domestic travelers have the potential to be subjected to a variety of germs. But some basic precautions can reduce your chances of getting sick.
Common sense healthy travel precautions like washing hands frequently, keeping hands away from eyes and face and having a flu shot can help. Being sure to get plenty of rest, water and nutrition can help too. Taking advantage of some online tools can add an extra barrier of protection as well.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has online travel help with their Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel that encourages travelers to be “Proactive, Prepared and Protectedwhen it comes to your health – and the health of others – while you are traveling.” The CDC says learning about your destination, seeing a doctor and considering any health issues before traveling is critical.
Having a travel health kit with remedies for possible illnesses like colds or flu along for the ride is not a bad idea either, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar area. Including bandages, gauze, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors and cotton-tipped applicators can come in handy too.
Thinking of international travel, we can add insect-borne diseases, a threat that received little attention until recently. Now, a new website called the Vector-Borne Disease Airline Importation Risk Tool (VBD-Air) tracks mosquito-borne diseases spread globally by air travel, offering international travelers a source to check possible health risks before flying.
The tool promises those concerned about healthy travel a better definition of airport and airline roles in the transmission and spread of insect‐borne human diseases. Designed from travel data and research done at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the tool asks users to enter an airport, select a disease (currently Dengue, Malaria, Yellow Fever or Chikungunya) and an airport to produce a map
“The researchers note that the global air-travel network has likewise contributed to the spread of serious and deadly diseases including influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which are not spread by mosquitoes,” says Larry Greenemeier, associate editor in Scientific American.
The VBD program hopes to be able to identify passengers arriving at any given airport who may need additional screening before being admitted to a country. The data could also be used to warn travelers of areas in the world to avoid.
Even if not planning international travel, with cold and flu season right around the corner, some basic precautions can help travelers avoid picking up an illness along the way. It’s not a souvenir anyone wants to bring home.