Plans Change

I’m sure by now you have noticed that the theme of flexibility runs throughout many of my posts about travel. And I’m going to talk about it again because you know you love it. Recently my dad and brother came to Athens to visit for the holidays. Originally my mom was supposed to come too, but she decided to put off coming until spring. Was I bummed?? Absolutely, yes! But I didn’t want to let that affect how I felt about my brother and dad coming. I was still excited because I haven’t seen them in over a year, and wallowing about my mom wouldn’t have made them feel welcome or loved.

Just because things change doesn't mean you can't have a good time.

With this in mind, one of the most important things I want you to remember about traveling is that things change! Nothing in life is static, and you already know that. Now apply this knowledge to traveling and be determined not to let the circumstances you are in dictate your feelings. Go into every situation with the attitude that you will take something positive out of the experience, even if it is learning what to avoid doing next time. Things like weather, and political turmoil are bound to change between now and when you actually take your trip. Remember that you need time to plan, which means there is also time for something like a natural disaster to happen in the meantime. This doesn’t always mean you need to cancel your trip, but that you might need to make some adjustments.

Of course you could also carry the idea of flexibility over into other aspects of your life, but this is a travel blog, not a life blog, so do as you please.

May you have a blessed 2012 and may it be a year full of joyous travels!


Places I Treasure: Kraków, Poland

Just a quick note: PIT Stops, or “Places I Treasure” are places that I have traveled to and really enjoyed. These posts will always include several activities to do while visiting these places, and give you a feel for I personally experiences there.

The town square in Krakow, Poland.

One of the first places I ever traveled to was Kraków, Poland (pronounced “cra-kouv” in Polish). Travis and I (as newlyweds… no kids in the picture yet) took a train with some friends for several hours, and stayed in a Polish person’s vacation flat, which had a loft, so all four of us could sleep there very comfortably. This jewel of a city has never left my heart. I have seen amazing things, and breathtaking places, but the pure beauty of this city takes it right to the top of my personal list of places I’d like to stay again.

Another wonderful thing about Poland that you might not know about, they have amazing food!! There have been few dishes that wow my taste buds the way freshly baked pączki or boiled pierogi ruskie have. Recently I knew some friends that went to Poland to visit Auschwitz I and II (yes, a definite stop if you are going to be in Poland). I was extremely disappointed to find out that they ate at Subway. What in the world?! You are surrounded by amazing Polish food and you eat a cold sandwich, not the best choice by far.

The people in Poland are also delightful! Of course, I’m probably biased because I have Polish friends that I absolutely love, but regardless, Polish people can be extremely friendly if they are in the mood to be. The only thing you need to look out for in Poland is advice from babcias (pronounced “bab-sha,” meaning older Polish women). I have been yelled at by many of them in Poland for having the wrong shoes on my child, carrying my baby the wrong way, and various other things. Another post I wrote a while back, “Smile and Nod,” deals with how to approach these situations. However, I certainly wouldn’t let this deter you from traveling to Poland.

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t send you to a foreign city without a few guidelines. First, you should check out this website and learn these phrases by listening to the proper pronunciation. Then I would plan to do these activities: Read more

Packing 101: How To Pack A Suitcase Efficiently

The first important thing to think about when packing is what kind of suitcase you should use. The reason that I recommend hard cases with buckles instead of zippers is that zippers can break and then your expensive suitcase is useless. If you are going to get a suitcase with a zipper, make sure it is a soft suitcase like a rolling duffel bag. If you get a hard suitcase with a zipper (in the video the silver suitcase I use is one) you have to be really careful because the soft zipper mixed with the hard case can lead to stress on the zipper area, which means it will probably break a lot sooner than a complete hard case, or a complete soft case. I would never buy one of theses kinds of suitcases again.

When it comes to carry on luggage, I know I said that airlines don’t check the weight, and that is true with most airlines, but bargain airlines like German Wings and WIZ air will definitely be weighing them. So remember to stay within their very strict guidelines. This fits into that old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Read more

Technological Travel: iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad

I have a confession to make to you. I am a Mac person. I have been a Mac devotee since I married my husband in 2005, when he totally converted me from being a PCaholic. I use a MacBookPro (yes, I’m typing on one right now…), and I love, love, love OS X. What does this have to do with travel? Well I wanted to review my favorite iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad games, and if you don’t have any of these devices, let me apologize in advance. I don’t have a droid, so I have no advice as far as that goes, sorry.

The Girls chilling on their bed playing a video on the iTouch.

My parents bought us an iTouch 4G for Christmas last year because they knew that even if Travis was working on the computer, I could use it to Skype with them so they could see the girls. Well, it has turned out to be something we use for much more than that. I don’t want to say this small device has been life changing for us because that sounds so dramatic, but it has definitely been a help in many situations. I have been wanting to write about this in relation to travel, but I finally got the kick in the pants I needed this week. I won a free case for it on TentBlogger (a website you should seriously check out if you are into any type of blogging). Thanks John! So… here we go!

One thing I do occasionally is check out the iTunes store for free TV episodes. They have been getting more and more kids shows on there, including some of our favorite PBS Shows like, Sesame Street, Super Why, and Word World. You can also find Nickelodeon shows like Dora the Explorerer, The Backyardigans, and Blue’s Clues. If you find every free TV show under these two stations, you will have around 10 different 20 minute shows, and you don’t gave to spend any money for them! On the plane ride from Athens to Budapest recently, Katienne enjoyed watching Blue’s Clues, and everyone else on the plane enjoyed the pause in her crying while she watched it.

Games are next on the list. I had a really hard time finding age appropriate games for my kids that they actually liked. So here are three from my personal arsenal, that are Ksena and Katienne tested and approved. Sorry, they aren’t free, but they are cheap, and awesome. Just a note, all the prices are in USD. Read more

When Travel Troubles Come – Ajándék lónak ne nézd a fogát!

You are probably wondering what the title of this post means, unless you are Hungarian, and then you know. It is the same thing as the American saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” This saying basically means when someone gives you something, or offers you something, and you need help, don’t question their motives or abilities. Why would I bring this proverb up, and why would I post it in Hungarian? Valid questions that I promise to answer by the end of this post.

I had to take a picture for posterity.

Today my husband and I (along with the girls of course) drove a friend to the airport in her car. We are in Hungary for a month, and since we have lived here before, the drive up the small highway triggered a flash back of our induction into family traveling. I wish I could say that it is a good memory, but at least we got home at all.

We decided to take a trip into the closest big city the second day we were in Hungary to get a few groceries that we couldn’t find in the village, so we took a bus. There were a few other Bible college students with us, and one of the students had his mother with him. They asked if they could come along, and we said sure, because we didn’t think the day was going to be a big deal. Wrong. It ended up being Hungarian Labor Day and the bus schedule was all messed up. We did our shopping and returned to our bus stop, only to find that three hours later, a bus had not come. My husband, Travis (an experienced traveler), suggested that we take a bus going the wrong way because he knew there was a main bus station one stop away, and we would definitely be able to take a bus from the main bus station. It was a very reasonable suggestion and it would have kept us out of the bad situation we ended up in, but the student’s mother refused, and Travis didn’t want to split up the group. So we continued to wait for a bus that finally came several more hours later. Read more