In which countries are there 7-Elevens and how many are there?

In his recent Wallet Pop post on 7-Eleven’s move to provide more 7-Eleven private-brand products, Geoff Williams mentioned the U.S. and Canada as two 7-Eleven countries. There are more than that. There are so many that it can make your head spin. With so many companies struggling, here’s one that continues to make its mark. The company started up in Dallas, Texas in 1927, and as far as I know, is still going strong more than 80 years later.

I have never seen as many 7-Elevens in my life as I did when we lived in Taiwan. If you were in need of a 7-Eleven in Hsinchu where I lived, there was one just up the street or around the corner. At some 7-Elevens you could see another 7-Eleven just a block away–or across the street. The products were Taiwan products besides a mix of others. With the 7-Eleven brand coming onto the scene, it might be a hard choice to pick between the shrimp crackers or 7-Eleven potato chips.

7-Elevens can be found in 17 countries outside the U.S. Along with Taiwan and Canada, the other countries include: Japan, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, the Philippines, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea, Thailand, Norway, Malaysia , China, Macau, and Hong Kong. There are approximately 27,250 of them. [from 7-Eleven profile page] Of these, almost 4,500 (or more) are in Taiwan.

When 7-Eleven started in Dallas, it was the first convenience store ever. The first products were ice, milk, bread and eggs.

Salt mine tours for health and fun

Tom Barlow over at Wallet Pop and I started talking about salt mines a few days ago. He mentioned a post he wrote about the health benefits of salt mines and places one can go to see them. An impressive one that neither of us have been to, but agreed that we should is the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow in Poland. It’s a World Heritage site, and part of it has been carved into a salt cathedral. Our talk reminded me of my own salt mine tour in Germany.

Touring the salt mine in Berchtesgaden was a totally funky, touristy thing to do, but one I have remembered over the years as a high point. Perhaps, it doesn’t take much for me to be amused.

We donned mining outfits (over their clothes), put cloth mining hats on our head and gathered with the other English speakers at various points along the way to listen to recorded messages about the history of the mine and how it works. The guides spoke in German. Part of the tour involved sitting, one of us in front of the other, astride two wooden chutes which we slid down to get to a lower section. One of the reasons for the mining outfits was to protect our clothing from the salt. Plus, it was a chance to play dress up and add some ambiance to the experience.

Berchtesgaden may sound familiar. It is also where Hitler hung out at Eagle’s Nest. This area in the German Alps is gorgeous.

Other salt mines to tour:

Also in Poland, there is the Bochnia Salt Mine which is older than Wieliczka, and from the comments people have written about it, sounds like it’s worth a visit.

There are three mines near Salzburg, Austria. Here’s the link that leads to info on all three of them: Salzwelten Salzburg, Hallstaat and Altaussee. There are discount tickets for family travelers. Rick Steves has recommended Hallstaat, according to what I’ve read.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas. The museum is housed inside a working salt mine where you can learn about salt mining first hand.

Skybus $20 promotion ended on the 5th and someone I know snagged a ticket

No, I’m not the one who got the promotional price. And here’s why. On January 2, just before I was heading out of town with my husband and kids for jam-packed excitement in Cincinnati with friends, I got an email from Skybus announcing $20 each way flights to a few locations–one to Newburgh, New York. Since packing for the trip at hand, instead of planning for a trip in the future, was a priority, I put the deal on hold.

Two days later some of these flights on the weekend were still available. I went as far as picking the flight and starting to put in credit card information, but I choked. Here’s why:

1. I waffled about bringing my son. Should I or shouldn’t I? On one hand it would be fun. On the other hand, a solo trip would be great, but then that would leave my husband with my son for the weekend which is no big deal, but is it fair? I already won’t give my husband the left hand window seat of an airplane if we are sitting together. Wouldn’t leaving him with our highly energetic son on a weekend when he needs to get grading done be pushing it?

2. The weather in February, when I was planning to go, is so unpredictable. I could get stuck at my dad’s unable to get out. Being stuck in Columbus would be no big deal. I’d just eat the cost of the ticket, but the idea of being stuck on top of a mountain in upstate New York was not a happy thought. I spent my adolescence feeling stuck up there. No thanks.

3. Then there were thoughts of Skybus’s winter holiday snafus with the planes not working. Again, I could get stuck not being able to leave Newburgh. Without anyone to call how would you know if there was a problem? If there was a problem, does that mean that you have to stay in Newburgh until the problem is fixed? Does the airline inform people when the flights are going if you give someone a phone number? They do through the internet, but my dad doesn’t have internet. Again, there was fear of being stuck on top of a mountain, possibly forever.

4. If I couldn’t get out that would mean I couldn’t do any of my jobs which would mean a lack of income. A cheap ticket becomes expensive.

So, I decided to sleep on my decision-making. As what happens every time I wait on decision-making with Skybus, the ticket prices went up on the weekend that was the most convenient for me to travel, therefore I have decided to wait for the next round of cheap tickets. Once a price goes above $100, unless I have a specific reason to go on a trip, there’s a lot of things $100 will pay for. Psychologically, there’s something about not getting the cheapest deal that gets in the way.

Now, who is getting the cheap tickets.? My dad. I called him about the deal when I found out it was not good for me, Getting out of Newburgh was still cheap for him. He’s coming to Columbus for roughly $56.00 round-trip. Who wouldn’t?

I just looked at Skybus ticket prices. The days that used to cost $20, now cost $35, but they are mostly during the week. If you fly to Newburgh on this afternoon’s flight, it will cost you $35. That’s not a bad deal in an emergency. If you wait until tomorrow, it will cost you $180.

Here’s friend of mine’s take on SkyBus. Tom Barlow ‘s post “SkyBus: How cheap is too cheap,” at WalletPop reflects some of my concerns.