As a proud Boisean, I am pleased to share my list of top ten things to do in Boise, Idaho. One of the first things I do when researching a place I’m going to visit is to try and find some must sees for that …
Month: October 2016
Vacations full of fresh fruit and beaches always sound really good to me, but to be honest, I’m just not a hot weather kind of Jane. I prefer sweaters to swimsuits; they are softer and I can eat ice cream without feeling guilty. That being said, sometimes you have to put up with the heat if you want to see cool places. No matter how you shake it, Hawaii is going to be hot. It can still be worth it though, if you know some strategies for handling hot weather. If you are like me and start to sweat at 85 degrees, here are some things that might help you survive your next trip to paradise.
Like the handsome cowboy in ‘Country Strong’ croons, timing is everything. If the place you are desperately wanting to visit has seasonal weather, go when it isn’t hot. Seems totally obvious, right? I love Italy. I had a wonderful time visiting in April and May, but even then we had some days that were pretty steamy. B, on the other hand, last visited Italy during February. She had a very different packing list than I did. Sure she didn’t go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea like I did, but she did experience Venice during Carnival–not a bad trade off for not being sweaty. Bonus: lots of people don’t like to travel internationally during the winter months. You will get much better deals and much fewer tourists if you go during the low season.
Clothes–like you before you give a public speech–need to breathe. We’ve talked about this before on this blog; it really pays dividends to purchase clothes that are made of materials that survive in hot weather. In a sticky situation, cotton is most definitely not king. Instead, opt for natural or synthetic blends that will help wick sweat off of you. It might sound crazy, but wool does a very good job of this. Now I’m not saying you should pack a wool sweater for your next trip to Fiji. I am saying you should pick up some thin merino wool underwear, though. Seems counterintuitive, but if a material takes liquid off your body, it will allow some air to get in there and will keep you cooler. Oh, and speaking of letting air get in there, I highly recommend skirts in the hot weather. A little breeze around your legs will cool you off in a jiffy.
We are made mostly of water + when we are hot we sweat = we need to replace the lost water in our bodies. Heat exhaustion is a real downer on a trip. Even beyond the immediate feeling of relief you get when you drink some cold water when you are hot, your body will handle the heat much better if your are properly hydrated. That being said, make sure you drink water that is safe to drink. We are big proponents of reusable water bottles here at Jane Sees, but we are not big fans of giardia. A compromise could be to buy gallons of water and refill your water bottle yourself along the way. On our tour bus in Ecuador we had three seats: one for B, one for me, and one for our three-gallon jug of water.
When you are hot, air blowing on you makes you feel better. These are things we all know. What you might not think about is that you can very easily pack a small fan and in hot situations bust it out. You can even pretend to be a sexy flamenco dancer and open it with flair. It will get the job done of cooling you off that much faster.
When you are hot, not much sounds better than jumping into some cold water. It feels really great too, as long as you stay in the water. Here’s a crazy thought: instead of taking a cold shower, you should actually turn the dial to the middle instead of the far left. Here’s why: taking a warm shower can lower body temperature. Cold water can make you shiver, which is your body’s way of heating you up. You definitely don’t want your body to kick into that mode. Here’s my additional (albeit not scientifically proven) rational: if the water is hotter than the temperature outside of the water, the temperature outside will feel cooler to me when I turn the water off.
Cool key places
If you’ve taken a basic first aid class, you will have learned that one of the quickest ways to cool off someone who is overheated is to place something cool in specific areas of victim’s body. To cool yourself off in a hurry, hold a glass of ice water against your wrist or the back of your neck. You could also do this in your groin area or armpits, but you might want to reserve these maneuvers for extreme situations only or risk getting a few raised eyebrows.
This is gross, but not as gross as dripping sweat. If you carry around a rag or handkerchief you can use this to wipe the sweat out of your eyes. If you are really hot, you can get this rag wet and then use it to wipe your face.
You’ve heard of work smarter, not harder. This can be applied to beating the heat. Again, we all know it is cooler in the shade than in the sun. If you do a little proper planning, you can use the shade to your benefit. At an outdoor music festival this summer, B and I noticed that some trucks along the edge of the grassy area provided a sliver of shade around 1:00 p.m. We reasoned that as the sun set further we would get even more shade. So while everyone else got close to the stage, we set up camp right next to those trucks away from everyone else. Sure, we looked weird for a little while. But a few hours later while they baked, we had a little patch of blessed relief.
When we were touring the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in old San Juan, Puerto Rico, we walked along the outside of the massive walls that protected the people inside from people outside. We were walking along this path in the morning and were in pretty much direct sunlight the entire way. Once we got on the other side I realized that had we decided to walk on the other side first, we would have been shaded the entire time. Proper planning fail.
Air blowing on wet skin cools you off. You can use sweat as the liquid in this scenario or you can use a spray bottle to do this job. Think of the long lines at amusement parks. The best part of the line is when you are under those mister things; a spray bottle brings the mister with you. I’ve seen combo fan/spray bottle apparatuses that do both at once. This probably feels awesome, but might not be so practical if you are trying to pack light. Do what you gotta do to survive, though.
I have a friend who didn’t have air conditioning in her car during a hot Idaho summer. Instead she would keep the windows rolled down and spray herself and her kids as they rolled along. The spray got them wet and the wind from the windows cooled them off as part of a 1-2 punch. It might not have been as sophisticated as normal AC, but it helped them survive.
When all other tricks fail, just get yourself a cold smoothie. One of the best things about the tropics is the tropical fruit, so you might as well embrace it. My personal faves are piña colada, passion fruit, or watermelon/pineapple. One of the most brilliant inventions for resort visiting is the swim up bar. This way you don’t even have to leave the water to get your icy fruit beverage. Genius.
Some people are built for the heat and others are not. If you are in the latter category, you just have to make the best of the situation and deal–otherwise you might miss out on a really great trip. The strategies for handling hot weather above will help you along your path to acceptance. Oh, one last thing, make sure to pack your anti-perspirant!
Since I appreciate seeing what other fellow travelers pack when they go on their adventures, I figured I would share with you my women’s packing list for Puerto Rico. Continue reading to see what I put in my bag for our five-night stay in the …
In the Part 1 of this discussion on Alaska, we recommended some places to visit if you are fortunate enough to visit this beautiful state. This post will talk about some fun Alaska experiences and adventures to have. In no particular order, here are a …
I have been lucky enough to find some great travel companions over the years. But I understand that it can sometimes be difficult to find like-minded people to travel and explore this world with. Unfortunately, I do not think there is a magical formula to finding good travel companions. However, I do have some tips for choosing a travel companion or buddy.
5 tips for choosing a travel companion
Below are five tips that will hopefully help you find a good travel companion. I also share five examples of real-life travel companions I have gone on trips with and the various experiences we had. I hope it helps!
Tip 1: discover yourself first
Before you can deal with someone else’s annoying habits, you need to know your own. Are you a morning or a night person? Do you prefer a lot activity or some quiet time on the beach? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? These are important things to figure out before you attempt to leave the country with someone. You do not necessarily need to find someone who is exactly like you, but you need to know your own habits, preferences, strengths and weaknesses. That way you will better understand where you might complement a potential travel companion and where you might clash with them.
Even if you have never traveled before, you should be able to figure out a few travel preferences based on how you prefer to live your life. Do you like a well-ordered plan? You are probably not going to enjoy traveling with someone who flies to a new destination without knowing where they are going to stay that night. Are you looking forward to relaxing on the beach for a week straight? That adrenalin-junky friend might not be the best choice then. Are you budget conscious? Stay away from travelers with trust funds. Asking yourself a couple of questions up front can save you a lot of heartburn later on.
When you picture your vacation in your mind, what do you see? Once you figure that out, it should making choosing a traveling companion a little easier…especially if you already pictured them along with you on that mental vacation.
The story of L:
L was my very first travel companion. I was lucky to have her in my life and I learned so much about myself, both as a person and as a traveler. When she got married and started a family, I was genuinely worried I would never find another travel companion as good as her. However, I now realize that although there is no one quite like L, there are other, equally great travel companions. In order to find them, you have to be a good (or potentially good) travel companion yourself. That is the first step and one of the many important lessons I learned from L.
Tip 2: look at personalities
It is okay if you do not want to travel with your best friend. They may make a great best friend, but that does not mean they will make a good travel companion. In fact, none of your current friends may be right for hitting the road. Same goes for your significant other. Getting along on a trip is very different than getting along in real life. That slightly annoying habit one of your friends has of whistling through their teeth is going to change from slightly annoying to something else entirely on a trip.
Take a hard look at your current pool of friends. You may even need to look outside that pool. You do not need to travel with someone who has your exact personality. If fact, some contrast can be good. The trick is finding someone you can get along with for long stretches of time and in times of challenge. That is no small task!
For me, there are a few things I need in a travel companion (e.g. someone with a sense of adventure who is cool under pressure) and a few things I do not need (e.g. someone who panics easily, is dramatic or a whiner), but everything else is negotiable. I myself am an introvert, but I can travel just fine with either another introvert or an extreme extrovert. I am a picky eater, but I will follow along to whatever restaurant my travel companion wants to try and then order something “safe” from the menu. The important thing is to identify your “must haves” and your “must not haves” and then go from there.
The story of W:
One of my favorite experiences was a road trip around New Zealand (both the North and South Islands). I traveled with my good friend and former roommate, W. W was new to international travel. She was also my first travel companion since L. To say I handled those details in stride would be a reach. Although I consider the trip a success, there were situations I wish I had handled differently.
I learned a lot about myself and the way I prefer to travel. I also learned that some people are easier to travel with than others. W and mine’s personalities were not as conducive as I assumed they would be. We never fought, but we experienced challenges I had never faced before. I would like to think I learned from those challenging experiences and they made me an overall better travel companion. In the end, everything worked out and we had a wonderful vacation. We are also still friends.
Tip 3: compare situations
This is probably the most difficult of the tips for choosing a travel companion. Not only are you looking for someone you can get along with, but you are also looking for someone who is in a similar situation as you are. Maybe you have found the perfect travel companion, but their situation in life and/or circumstances do not allow them to travel the same as you.
For example, your best friend may be your preferred road trip companion, but if she has five kids, you are probably going to have a tough time going on those road trips. Finances, vacation time, family obligations, work commitments, health, etc. all contribute to the kind of traveler you are. It can be difficult (if not impossible) to find someone who matches you on every category. The goal then is to find someone who matches you on as many as possible.
Another thing to look at is travel preferences. Do you enjoy saving up and going on one big trip a year or do you prefer taking multiple shorter trips? Do you like returning to the same tropical island every year or are you on a quest to visit as many countries as you can? When looking at a potential travel companion, everything else may align but if you want to visit a new country and she wants to head to Las Vegas again, it might be a deal breaker.
The story of S:
S and I became friends at a time when all of our other friends were getting married and starting families. We were both single, gainfully employed and enjoying the last of our 20s. In addition, we both loved to travel. Since our lives matched up so perfectly and we got along well, it was only natural we started traveling together.
For my 30th birthday, we celebrated by backpacking through Europe and skiing the Swiss Alps on the big day. Then for her 30th, we traveled around Indonesia and spent her big day scuba diving. S is a big part of my travel portfolio. Her situation has now changed (she has a husband and a kid) and we are no longer travel companions. But for a time, our lives aligned and we went on some memorable trips.
Tip 4: take a test run
Of all the tips for choosing a travel companion, this one is my favorite. Once you think you have found that perfect travel companion, it is time for a test run or a trial trip. Even something as simple as a weekend road trip is a good idea. By the time R and I stepped out of the country together (which was Costa Rica, by the way), I was pretty sure we would get along fine. Our personalities are very similar and we had both traveled previously.
I did not necessarily think of our time in Costa Rica as a test run, but I guess that is what it was. If either of us had had a bad experience, that may have been our one and only trip together. Instead, we learned that R should never be tasked with holding the keys and I should not be driving if there are large potholes in the road. But there were no deal breakers and in fact, the last sentence of my travel journal from that trip reads: “Costa Rica is wonderful, R is an excellent travel companion and I love, love, love to travel.” We have now been traveling together for more than five years and we even started this travel blog!
The story of C:
We had been friends with C for several years before we decided to go on an international trip with her. It was a short trip, just five days in Iceland, and none of us believed any real issues or disagreements would arise. However, we still joked that it was C’s test run to see if she could “hang” with us. Although we joked, in all reality it was a test run—for both her and us. We were just as much on trial as she was and if she had an awful time traveling with us, that would have been the end of our trips with C. Needless to say, nobody had an awful time and we have enjoyed C’s company on many more adventures like Puerto Rico, Poland and Estonia.
Tip 5: be the kind of travel companion you want to travel with
It sounds a little cheesy, but this is good advice. And in terms of tips for choosing a travel companion, this one cannot be overstated. You are in a relationship with your travel companion, if only for a short time. It pays to be a little more flexible. Be a little more patient. Be a little more understanding. Travel can be a stressful experience and sometimes emotions run high. Think before you speak and act, especially if your travel companion makes a mistake or a poor choice. Imagine how you would want them to act if you made a mistake. And we all make mistakes. If you want to find and keep good travel companions, you first need to be one yourself.
Recently, R and I observed an older married couple hiking just ahead of us on a trail through North Cascades National Park. They were bickering and it was the kind of bickering they have probably been doing for 40 years. As I we listened and observed their behavior (before taking a trail that went in the opposite direction), we commented on how much fun they were not having thanks to the way they were speaking to each other. We also noted how much different our relationship would be if we spoke to each other like that. I wonder how much more they would have enjoyed their hike if they had treated each other with a little more respect and patience. We all benefit from kind words and a vacation is much more enjoyable if we remember to use them, especially to the person we are traveling with.
The story of D:
My oldest and dearest friend is also my cousin D. We share a bond I cannot begin to describe and no matter where life takes us, we remain close—which is interesting since our personalities are so very different. Our different personalities combined with our very different situations in life should make D and I horrible travel companions. But we are not. Although we do not get to travel together often (D has five children), our trips together are fun and memorable. We know each other’s strength and weaknesses and we cater to them. Most importantly, we think about the other person when making decisions. Traveling with D may be very different from traveling with my usual companions, but it is no less of an enjoyable experience.
Do not let a lack of companionship stop you from exploring. Do not be afraid to travel on your own until a travel companion comes along. You will definitely discover more about yourself (see Tip 1) and you many even find a new travel companion out there on the road.
Finding the right travel companion is hard. In my experience, even if you find the right companion, situations or circumstances change and you sometimes end up right back at square one. Do not lose heart. Be patient, improve yourself and keep planning those adventures. Eventually, the right Jane will come along. I hope you enjoyed reading these tips for choosing a travel companion.