Lists, Lists and More Lists

2018, at least until August, will be known around here as Our Year of Lists. At least that’s what it feels like now. We are in the throes of list-making in order to make sure that when we take off on the Big Adventure everything, or at least as much as possible, has been taken care.

List making can be fun (especially for someone like me who loves organization), but as we’ve learned about lists from past experience, when one thing gets done or is taken care of, two or more things seem to pop up and go back on the list

Here are nine lists we are currently juggling:

  1. Reservations/tickets: This list is pretty straight forward, and includes all travel-related reservations (lodging and transportation) we need to take care of, but will also include reservations for things like museums in Florence, for example. There will also be some fill-ins as we get closer to departing, like an overnight stays here or there between plane connections. We’ve already been able to get some reservations made (India, Australian train journey, Kaua’i rental), but it’s still too early for much else of it. The 2018 part of our journey can’t get started until we know when and where YaYu will be going to college, and that won’t be known until around the end of March. Brett and I work together on this list – I’m the researcher, but he keeps the spreadsheets and marks things off as they get done (and tracks the money).
  2. Paperwork: This list has two parts: 1) Official things like visas and 2) personal paperwork, and what we need to keep and where it will get stored while we travel. We are currently working on winnowing down our personal paperwork, and Brett is keeping a spreadsheet of where and when we need to worry about visas and other documents.
  3. Clothing/shoes: While this list has been fun to think about and compile, it has not been as easy as we thought. We will literally be living out of our suitcases for a year, and need to have both cold and hot weather clothing, as well as be prepared for everything in-between. We’re both almost done with acquiring what we need, and then will do a practice pack and weigh and see where we stand and what we (may) need to take out. I have searched for lists of what to pack for a year, but everything I’ve found is for travelers who intend to live out of a backpack for the year, and we’re not those people. We’re trying to keep things to a minimum, but want to have some variety for the year.
  4. Toiletries/medications; This is another seemingly easy list that’s turning out to be not as easy as initially thought. We’ll need to make sure we’re taking enough medication (both prescription and over-the-counter) to carry us through until we’re back on the mainland over Christmas, but we’ve decided that we can pick up most toiletries as we travel so we want to keep this as minimal as we can, and take just enough to get us started. Excusez-moi, où est la crème à raser? But what should those items be?
  5. Electronics: Both Brett and I are sure we have all the electronics we will need and want as we travel (laptop, iPad, iPhones, iPod, Kindles), but also want to make sure we take along all the accoutrement as well, things like chargers, cords, adapters, ear buds, etc. as well as back-ups.
  6. Miscellaneous: This list is really just the odds and ends of stuff that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else, like books we want to load on our Kindles before we set off, or small financial matters (local and otherwise) that we don’t want to forget to take care of. Following the Senior Nomads example, we want to carry along our own pillows, so they’re on this list so we don’t forget them. Also included on this list are games we want to take along to play during down times.
  7. Downsizing/storage: We have divided our household items, including our car, into three areas: Sell, donate (or throw away), and store. We’ve already sold some things, and will be working for the next several months on the donate/throw away aspect. We have a pretty solid idea now of what we’re going to put into storage, but we go back and forth on some items (with Brett usually insisting we let it go).
  8. Kaua’i bucket list: This (bittersweet) list was posted last week.
  9. YaYu’s college stuff: All the admission paperwork has been submitted (or almost all), but once we know where she will be going we will continuing the list of what she will need in the way of clothing and dorm essentials, most of which will be purchased at her college location.

I’m sure there is probably one or two other areas I’ve forgotten about, but when I remember, they’ll get lists as well. We’ll be able to finish checking off some of these lists sooner than others, but most we’ll be working on right up until we go. The key is going to be staying focused, and relying on the lists to make sure it all gets done and that hopefully nothing gets forgotten.

The Second Half of the Big Adventure is Taking Shape

Crossing the Australian continent on the Great Southern Railway’s Indian-Pacific train.

The second half of our Big Adventure, in 2019, is setting up nicely. Although we have over a year to go, we’ve taken advantage of a couple of “early bird” specials and booked both our India tour and our rail trip across Australia, and saved a nice amount of money in the process. If nothing else, we have dates for each piece of the journey.

Most other purchases and reservations can’t be made yet, but having the dates has given a window to start our research and get an estimate of prices and costs.

Here’s how our itinerary for 2019 is shaping up:

  • 1/7: Depart Portland for New Delhi. Most flights we’ve looked at head east, through Europe, making for a very long flying time. There are some flights though heading west, including a couple of non-stops, so we’re keeping our eyes on those.
  • 1/8: Arrive in New Delhi. We’re coming into India a day early to get rested before our tour begins (and hopefully avoid any fog delays).
  • 1/9 – 1/15: India tour
  • 1/15 – 1/21: Depart New Delhi for Hong Kong on the evening of the 15th for a six-night stay at the Salisbury YMCA Hotel. We could stay an extra couple of days here, but Hong Kong prices these days are high, so we decided to keep to our original plan.

    We’ll definitely be eating dim sum in Hong Kong, probably more than once.

  • 1/21 – 1/27: Depart Hong Kong for Perth, Western Australia. We originally thought Perth would be a one-night stay before boarding the train for Sydney, but we’re now planning to stay for several days because a) the cost is less than Hong Kong, and b) we felt we needed a chance to “recharge our batteries” after India and Hong Kong. There’s plenty for us to see and do in Perth, but we’ll also have lots of down time to relax as well.
  • 1/27 – 1/30: Board the Indian-Pacific train on the morning of the 27th to begin our cross-continent trip to Sydney. The train trip includes off-train excursions to Kalgoorlie, Adelaide, the Blue Mountains and several other places before arriving in Sydney in the afternoon of the 30th. The trip includes a private compartment with en suite bathroom, all meals in the dining car and complementary Australian wines and beer, alcoholic spirits and non-alcoholic drinks.

    These iconic sights will definitely be one of the highlights of our trip.

  • 1/30 – 2/4: Spend six nights in Sydney. We’re planning to take some free walking tours, and maybe a harbor cruise among other activities while we’re here. We’re also seriously considering adding in one of the fun experiences arranged by Airbnb.
  • 2/4 – 2/16: Fly to Auckland on the 4th, pick up a car at the airport, and hit the road with stops in Rotorua, Napier, Wellington, and New Plymouth on the North Island before ending back in Auckland for a few days of sightseeing there.

    Hiroshima (including Miyajima Island) will be on the itinerary when we’re in Japan.

  • 2/16 – 5/15: The big Japan visit. We’ll be in Japan for 89 days, one less than the allowed number of days without a visa. We’ve already found a great house to stay in, in a wonderful neighborhood, so fingers are crossed we can make the final arrangements for that in a few months. Brett and I are planning to purchase 7-day Japan Rail Passes before we go, and visit Hiroshima and Kyoto for a week, most likely sometime in April.
  • 5/15 – Depart Japan for Portland

Plans for what to do at the end of our travels are starting to take shape as well, but they’re all really still ideas at this point. Meiling graduates from college in June 2019, so that’s the only definite thing going on at this point.

The front part of our trip, in 2018, can’t be arranged until we know where and when YaYu will be going to school. But, we should know that no later than the end of next March, giving us plenty of time to set everything up.

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A Trip To India, A Dream Come True

The Amber Fort & Palace in Jaipur

I have been fascinated by India for more years than I can remember. I’ve read loads of books about the country and culture, both fiction and non-fiction, watched movies and travelogues, and have dreamed of being able to visit one day.

My dream will be coming true in January of 2019 because last week Brett and I put a deposit on a seven-day tour of the “Golden Triangle” of northern India: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

Chandni Chowk, Delhi

Neither Brett nor I felt comfortable going into India on our own for a first visit. In spite of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel making it look somewhat easy, we knew that any introduction to India would be intense, and most likely overwhelming for us, so we decided to go with a guided tour, something we normally aren’t all that interested in doing.

Sunset at the Taj Mahal in Agra

The tour company we chose is Easy Tours of India. We did lots of research before picking who to book with, and Easy Tours kept coming up again and again as one of the best, five stars, etc. They offered a variety of different tour options, superior lodging, and tour groups limited to 12 persons. Also, the tour company is based in the U.S. and the guides and drivers in India get great reviews. Included in the tour price are daily breakfasts and lunches, all entrance fees, and in-country transportation.

Jaipur’s Gaitaji Temple

The tour we booked is advertised as eight days long, and we were initially concerned when we noticed ours was only seven days. However, after comparing itineraries we discovered the only difference is instead of staying in Jaipur on the last night and departing for Delhi the next day to fly home (or wherever), we will instead fly to Delhi on the last evening, and then on to Hong Kong that night for us, avoiding a l-o-n-g stay in the Delhi airport.

By reserving a spot for the tour early we saved $456 dollars off the regular cost, which will allow us to spend an extra night in Hong Kong (seven nights instead of six) or a full extra day in Perth, Australia, before boarding the train to Sydney. Currently the extra day in Perth is our preferred choice.

Rajasthani Thali

It will be cold in northern India when we go, and intense fog may be a problem. But, we decided we’d rather visit cold India than hot (and humid) India, and we’ll have the clothing necessary to stay comfortable.

It’s truly a dream come true, and hopefully the first of more visits.

Here are some of my favorite books about India and Indian culture and history. They’re just the tip of the iceberg, really:

  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – a BIG novel covering a young woman’s search for love and identity in post-Independent India. This book is massive (over 1400 pages) – be prepared for a very long read. It’s still my favorite though.
  • The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott – there are four volumes in this telling of the end of British rule (the Raj) in India. The mini-series The Jewel in the Crown was based on the Raj Quartet.
  • Speaker of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – a collection of nine short stories about the Indian immigrant experience in America.
  • Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald – a look at different religious traditions in contemporary India
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo – a moving examination of the poverty that exists in modern Indian. If you’ve ever wondered what real poverty looks like, this is it.
  • Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World by Louis Fischer – written by a long-time friend of the Mahatma, the book does not shy away from the facts or try to glorify him.
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – the story of fraternal twins in India whose lives are changed forever when a new law is put into place decreeing “who should be loved, and how. And how much.”
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster – a classic story about India during British rule, and the difference in how justice was meted out for Indians versus the British.
  • The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye – an epic novel about British-Indian history, and forbidden love.

Several of these books have been turned into movies or miniseries. If you can find it, The Story of India, a six-part series that aired on PBS, is excellent and The Jewel in the Crown is still a compelling series with some top-notch acting.

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Tell Us Your Secrets, Tell Us Your Tips!

Sunset view over Florence

Now that you know where we’re going on the Big Adventure, what should we see and do?

We will be delving into the guidebooks after the first of the year, and of course we’ll visit the famous sights, but what Brett and I are really interested in hearing about are the places, events, experiences, museums, restaurants, etc. that might not make the books but that you all think shouldn’t be missed.

We’ve already started a notebook that we’re filling with ideas as we come across them, but so many of you have visited the places we’re going and have seen and done things that we might enjoy too, so we’re hoping you’ll share some of those with us. We’re interested in things like a great place to catch the sunset, a shop you think sells amazing gelato, an out-of-the way restaurant where you had an incredible meal, or a small but interesting museum you visited, among other experiences. What foods should we not miss? We’re going to take advantage of the free walking tours offered in most cities, but would also love to hear about tours you’ve taken that you found worthwhile, whether that was a back street look at a city or a wine-tasting in France or Italy or a fun cooking class and so forth. About the only thing we’re not interested in is shopping advice, because that’s the one thing we won’t be doing on our journey – we have to watch our weight the whole way.

We’re planning to do a cheese tasting in Paris

We are greatly looking forward to your suggestions, and to hearing what you recommend. As a reminder, here are the places we’ll be visiting:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Montevideo, Uruguay
  • France: Paris, Normandy, Bordeaux, Strasbourg
  • Italy: Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Sydney, Australia
  • North Island (Auckland, Rotorua, Napier, Wellington), New Zealand

(I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to figure out what to see and do in Hong Kong and Japan).

Our notebook and pens are ready!

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And Just How Are We Paying For All This Travel?

We’ve known from the start that our Big Adventure was going to cost A LOT, and that we had to have a good, solid financial plan to make it happen.

Before deciding to go ahead with the Big Adventure, Brett and I crunched a whole lot of numbers many, many times, made several changes to the itinerary, and finally came up with a realistic plan for covering the costs of continual travel on a fixed income, and without incurring any debt.

Our goal is to cover one year’s around-the world travel combining travel savings with our regular monthly income. We’ve been putting away as much as possible this year, and plan to finish this December with at least $8500 in our travel account. Next year our goal will be to bring our total amount saved to somewhere around $28,000 – $30,000 by the time we leave Kaua’i at the end of August.

Here’s how and what we’re saving next year:

  • We’ll be putting a minimum of $800 a month into our travel savings account for the eight months before we depart Hawai’i.
  • We’ll be using our credit card to pay upfront for some travel expenses (see below), but will pay the card in full each month and put the rewards toward travels expenses.
  • Income tax and other refunds, gifts or windfalls will go into savings, and we’ll continue with our change/$1 bill savings. The monthly increases in Brett’s military retirement and our Social Security will go into our travel savings – we weren’t expecting any increase this year since we haven’t had one in four years, and view it as a windfall.
  • We will sell our car as well as the furniture and household items we’re not going to store here before leaving Kaua’i.
  • The savings total will include approximately $1500 in Southwest Airlines gift cards – most will be earned through Swagbucks.

We will use the savings to pay upfront for:

  • All our Airbnb lodging expenses except for Sydney and New Zealand – those will be booked further along in our travels (Airbnb requires payment when we reserve a home). We have given ourselves a strict upper limit for how much we can spend per night.
  • Normandy B&B
  • India tour
  • Train trip across Australia
  • One-way airfare for two to Buenos Aires from Houston, TX.
  • One-way airfare for two from Buenos Aires to Paris.
  • One-way airfare for two from Lisbon back to the mainland.
  • Additional travel insurance – our military insurance covers all medical expenses everywhere in the world, but we’d like to have evacuation coverage and a couple of other features
  • A rental car for approximately one month before we leave Kaua’i (how long we’ll actually need it will depend on how quickly we sell our car).
  • Three week’s to one month’s vacation rental on Kaua’i before we leave (we plan to move out of our house at the end of next July)
  • One year’s worth of storage fees
  • Flights on the mainland with Southwest Airlines, paid with gift cards

The rest of our expenses, including meals, local travel expenses, travel between most countries, and incidentals will come from our regular monthly income. We’ll have just three fixed expenses when we leave Kaua’i: my student loan payment, our phone plan and non-owner car insurance, which together will total less than $500/month. We’re keeping our T-Mobile plan because it gives us free data and texting in all the countries we’re visiting, and the girls are on the plan until they graduate from college. Without having to cover all our current expenses we’ll have a solid amount to live on as well as continue to save while we travel.

I have enough miles in my Hawaiian account to cover flights for four of us back to the mainland at no cost, and we will use the Southwest gift cards to cover airfares when we or the girls are flying inside the U.S. mainland.

Brett will be manning the spreadsheets to keep track of our expenses and spending, and like our heroes and retirement role models, Michael and Debbie Campbell (The Senior Nomads), we will be keeping a daily log as we travel, and tracking every expense down to the penny (or euro or yen or whatever).

Meanwhile, in the coming year we’ll continue saving, saving, saving as well as using it up, wearing it out, making it do, or doing without as we get ready to go!

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Mystery Revealed: Laura & Brett’s Big Adventure!

Surprise! Bet you weren’t expecting this!

Nighttime Tokyo

The Occasional Nomads are preparing to become permanent nomads for a while! When YaYu leaves Kaua’i for college next August, we’ll be leaving Kaua’i as well.

Brett and I have been talking about traveling on our own once the girls were all off to college for as long as I can remember. We’ve been keeping a (growing/changing) list of places we want to see for a long while now, but a few months ago, as we were trying to prioritize those places, Brett said, “Why can’t we just go and see them all?” We began to wonder, “could we do that?” So, we started to investigate if it might actually be possible, and after some serious number crunching, lots of discussion, and a wrenching decision to leave Kaua’i for a while, the Big Adventure was born.

Brett and I are going to slow travel around the world for around a year, although not in a particularly straight line. At the end of next summer It will just be us and our suitcases and backpacks, right after we get YaYu settled at college.

Here’s the itinerary we finally settled on:

Recoleta, Buenos Aires

  1. Buenos Aires, Argentina. We’ll start our journey by spending 10 days here, staying in an Airbnb rental in the Recoleta neighborhood. When our time in BA is over, we’ll take the ferry across the Rio de la Plata to . . .
  2. Montevideo, Uruguay. We’ll spend another 10 days here, again staying in an Airbnb rental. At the end of our time we’ll take the ferry back to Buenos Aires and fly to . . .
  3. Paris, France. We’ll visit Paris for just four days, renting a room in someone’s home through Airbnb versus renting an entire apartment. From Paris we’ll take the train to . . .

    Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

  4. Normandy, France. After picking up a rental car in Caen, we’ll drive out to visit the Normandy battlefields and beaches, Bayeaux, and Mont St. Michelle. We’re going to stay at a B&B (in a small château) in the area, and will be in Normandy for three full days. After that, it’s back to Caen to return the car and catch the train for . .
  5. Bordeaux, France. We’ll spend a week here, exploring the city and surrounding area, eating and of course drinking the wine. Lodging will be an apartment rented through Airbnb. When our week is up we’ll take a plane to . . .

    Strasbourg

  6. Strasbourg, France. We’ll be in this charming city for four weeks! We picked Strasbourg as our location to “settle” somewhere in France for a while, one of our trip goals. We’ll again stay in an Airbnb rental. At the end of our month we’ll catch another plane and fly to . . .

    Florence

  7. Florence, Italy. We’ll be staying four weeks here as well (in an Airbnb rental, of course), which will give us time to explore the city and other places in Tuscany. We’re planning to get a permit and make a two-day side trip to the Cinque Terre (long on my bucket list) while we’re here. When our month is up, we’ll head to . . .
  8. Rome, Italy. One week of exploring and eating in Rome will be enough on this trip. We’ll be staying with Airbnb again. then it’s arrivederci and off we go to . . .

    Lisbon

  9. Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon has been high on our list of places to see for a while, so we’ll be spending 10 days here (once again with Airbnb), as well as visiting some of the area around the city. Then, from Lisbon we’ll fly back to . . .
  10. Portland, Oregon. We’re planning to spend around a month here, with the girls joining us on their winter breaks from school. We’re looking forward to getting together again with old friends, and we’ll have our Christmas celebration here. Brett and I will also re-provision ourselves as necessary. Sometime in January 2019, when all the girls head back to their respective schools, Brett and I will depart for . . .

    Hong Kong

  11. Hong Kong: This is a purely nostalgic visit for us. We’re interested in seeing the changes to the city, but also what’s stayed the same. Unlike previous visits when we mostly shopped, shopped, and then shopped some more, this time our focus will be the food! We’re hoping to stay at the The Salisbury YMCA Hotel, located right next door to the famous Peninsula Hotel on the Kowloon side. We’ll stay in Hong Kong for just five days, and then it’s on to . . .

    The Taj Mahal

  12. New Delhi, India. We’re going to India!!! This is the only organized tour we will take as neither of us feels ready to explore India on our own. Besides seeing Delhi, the eight-day tour will also visit Agra (the Taj Mahal!) and Jaipur. We’ll finish up back in Delhi, and then fly to . . .

    Dining car on the Indian-Pacific

  13. Australia: We’re going to enter Australia in Perth, on the west coast, and will board the Indian-Pacific train there for a four-day, three-night journey (in a private berth) over to Sydney, where we plan to stay for around six days. The train journey has been a dream of Brett’s for a long, long time, and it makes stops in a couple of places along the way where we can get out and explore a bit. We’ll once again be staying in an Airbnb apartment while we’re in Sydney. Then we’ll leave Australia and fly to:

    Rotorua, New Zealand

  14. New Zealand: We’ll pick up a rental car at the Auckland airport, and then will spend around 10 days exploring the North Island, starting with three days in Rotorua, then a stop in Napier, down to Wellington for a couple of days, back up to New Plymouth for a night, and finishing with a couple of days in Auckland before turning in the car and departing for . . .
  15. Tokyo, Japan. Our longest stay, we’re going to rent an Airbnb apartment here for nearly three months, and already have our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to find an affordable place fairly close to our son’s condo. We’re very excited about having an extended amount of time near our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren (our grandson is already talking about sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house!). WenYu and Meiling will be joining us during their spring breaks which happily coincide in 2019, and are already saving for their trip (YaYu will join them if her spring break matches theirs). Sometime in mid- to late-May, we will return to . . .

    Portland

  16. Portland, Oregon. Meiling will be graduating from college in mid-June so we need to be back in Oregon, but we’d like to spend the summer here, and give the girls a place to come “home” and work, spend time with their friends, etc. And after that . . .

Who knows? Somewhere along the way we’ll decide what we want to do the following year, whether that’s continuing as nomads (which seems a very possible outcome right now, as there are many, many other places we want to see), or settling back either here on Kaua’i or maybe even someplace else. We’re going to store some of our stuff here on the island, but most of our things will be sold before we go.

We don’t have any exact dates for our travels as of yet because for the first part of our journey we need to know when and where YaYu will start school, and for the second half everything will revolve around the India tour date, and those dates won’t be available until late this year or early 2018 . So, things are still pretty fluid right now as far as scheduling, etc.

I will have a post up next Monday about all the financial aspects.

This trip is a dream come true for both of us, and you know I have been and still am in travel planning heaven. We have much to do to get ready for our Big Adventure, lots more saving to do, but things are moving along nicely. I hope you’ll follow along as we get ready to go around the world!

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Telling Tourists To Stay Away

Tourism is the #1 industry in Hawai’i. We love having tourists come to the islands to relax and experience the beauty and culture here, and spend their money even if they do make traffic a bit more congested at times, or cause other problems. Still, it’s often unsettling to discover damage, or unwanted changes caused by increased tourism, no matter how much income it brings.

There are no plans to curtail tourists coming to Hawai’i. Other locations around the world though have become or are becoming victims of their own outreach or desirability. Tourism, or the number of tourists invading these places has gotten bad enough, or is causing so many problems, that some popular travel destinations have placed restrictions on visitors or are thinking about it.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, here are a few popular tourist destinations around the world that are either already limiting the effects of too much tourism or trying to, including actively encouraging people not to come. Some of them may surprise you!

  • Norway: Not only because of the number of tourists showing up at popular spots, but because of the rising cost of tourist rescues, accidents and injuries, Norway is considering limiting the number of visitors at popular spots, like Pulpit Rock (seen above) and other  natural sites.
  • Zion National Park, Utah: Zion saw over four million visitors in 2015. This huge amount of visitors has caused land erosion and overwhelmed facilities throughout the park, and the numbers haven’t dropped since then. In order to mitigate the damage that’s happening, the National Park Service is considering a cap on the number of visitors allowed into the park. A strategy for this has been put in place and is still accepting public comments. A plan is expected to be released in 2019.
  • Barcelona, Spain: This Spanish city is nearing its “saturation limit” of tourists, and wants to limit the number of visitors before that limit is breached. The plan includes freezing hotel development and putting a new tourist tax in place, one geared for day trippers and cruise visitors.
  • Iceland: This island country has become a victim of its own success in drawing visitors. From May 2014 to May 2015, the number of visitors increased by 75% over the same period of time from 2013-2014. There is now believed to be more American tourists coming each year than there are residents in the country. Currently research is being done on how “full” sites can get before the experience is degraded, and based on that research limits may be set.
  • The Galápagos Islands: The number of tourists coming to these special islands over the years put a huge burden on the nearly 9,000 different species that reside there. In 2007 The Galápagos were named an endangered heritage site. These days nearly 97% of the islands is a national park, and tourism is carefully monitored. Strict rules limit visitors to particular places, and they must travel with a licensed guide. These changes meant that The Galápagos were able to be removed from the endangered list in 2010.
  • Santorini, Greece: One of the most picturesque and popular spots in Greece, last year this small town hosted an average of 10,000 tourists per day during the peak season (Santorini’s population is only 15,500). Visitors from cruise ships have now been limited to 8,000 per day which has helped some. (There are no restrictions on the number of visitors who fly in, as they are considerably less than those from cruise ships.)
  • Venice, Italy: The rising water levels are not the only thing having an impact on La Serenissima. There have been so many tourists in recent years that it’s predicted the native population will be reduced to zero by 2030, primarily because of rising rents as more space is needed to house visitors. Many residents want cruise ships banned from the harbor, and also want large tourist groups to have to book ahead of time. There are no official plans yet, but apparently strolling around the city visitors can find posters letting them know how sick the residents are of tourists.
  • Machu Pichu, Peru: The number of visitors to this site high in the Andes is now limited by UNESCO. Foreign visitors must have a guide, follow one of three designated routes through the site, and have time limits on their visit so groups don’t become backed up. Still, even with these steps Machu Pichu was placed on the Endangered Heritage Site list in 2016. Approximately 1.2 million visitors arrive every year (average of 3300 per day), but officials want to limit the number of visitors to 2500 per day.
  • The Cinque Terre, Italy: This collection of five villages on the Ligurian coast of Italy has already had the number of visitors allowed capped by the Italian government. In 2015, the Cinque Terre hosted 2.5 million visitors; in 2016 the number allowed was reduced to 1.5 million (much of the area lies in a national park, so numbers can be monitored).
  • Antarctica: Several restrictions have been placed on visitors to this pristine area: No cruise ship with more than 500 passengers can go to a landing site, and only one ship at a time can dock. Only 100 visitors at a time are allowed onshore. In order to visit this frozen continent tourists much use a designated operator, and visitors are carefully monitored while they are ashore.
  • Mt. Everest: In order to curb more ecological danger to the area, Tibet has already started placing restrictions on who can climb the world’s highest mountain. Among the changes are an increased fee for foreign climbers (now $11,000), novice climbers are banned, and there are both minimum and maximum age restrictions for all climbers. Also, only small climbing teams are allowed now in order to protect against bottlenecks or logjams on the mountain.
  • Other popular tourist destinations either already limiting or considering limits on tourism are The Seychelles, the country of Bhutan, Lord Howe Island off of Australia, or Koh Tachai island in Thailand.

A couple of these places are on my bucket list. But, living in a place that welcomes loads of tourists, and sometimes seeing the not-always-positive impact of so many visitors, I completely understand why action has been taken, or is at least being considered, in the above locations. Reading about the issues these places face and their desire to allow tourism but not let it overtake them or change their ways too much should make all of us think more about being a better visitor when and wherever we travel.

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You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Travel


One of the biggest myths out there, in my opinion, is that travel is always expensive, and unless you have a huge income or trust fund there’s no way you can go anywhere exciting or interesting, or have a good time. Magazine and newspaper articles, cruise brochures, or blogs with gorgeous photos that show expensive hotels and destinations have led many to believe that unless they’re spending a ton of money, it’s just not worth going. The message seems to be: money = fun.

Traveling is not free (nothing is), but it’s just not true that you can’t go where you want, have the experience of a lifetime and a good time too even if you’re not loaded. Wonderful, inspiring and fun-filled journeys can be taken for a lot less than you might imagine. Even if your income is minimal, if you want to travel you can make it happen.

The great thing is that today there are loads of websites, blogs, apps and so forth devoted to travel bargains that can help make your travel dreams come true even if you have a minimum wage job and/or kids. There are so many ways out there to not only save for travel, but also ways to save while you travel.

Here are a few ideas for how you can travel even if your income is limited:

  • Make saving for travel a priority. Even if your income is small, you can save if traveling is your goal. It might take you longer than others to gather enough funds to take your trip, but it can be done. These are my favorite ways to save, but there are loads of other ways to add to a travel account. The one exception to this is if you are carrying debt, get rid of it first! It’s so much better to be able to cover all your travel costs and expenses before you go, and not have to come home to even more debt.
  • Search out information on how to travel on a budget. One of my favorite travel websites is Nomadic Matt, a blog dedicated to traveling more for less. Matt has pages of tips for taking great trips and making great memories for less. He encourages travelers to think differently, and look for the travel deals that exist out there. The Thrifty Nomads is another great site for learning how to travel for less. There are lots of other sites as well for things like house-sitting or swapping, earning miles or other travel points, etc. – just do a search for budget travel bloggers, check out some sites and see where they lead you.
  • Change your mindset. This is perhaps the biggest step someone can take if they think they can’t afford to travel. One of the biggest obstacles to traveling for less begins with the thought, “I’m too poor to travel” or something along those lines. Start by getting rid of the idea that everyone who is traveling has money or income or time that you don’t – that simply isn’t true. Instead, tell yourself that you can travel, and then start looking for ways to make it happen. Start small, but open yourself to finding extra income, to looking for travel alternatives like using sharing services, or to earning bonus miles with your credit card or other opportunities to make your travel dreams a reality. If you don’t believe you can afford to travel, you never will.

If there are places in the world or just in your own state that you want to see, I firmly believe that almost anyone can make it happen even if they’re not rich or well-off. It takes determination, savings, knowledge and a maybe a change of thinking to make it happen, and it may take a while to achieve a your goal, but it can be done. Travel dreams can come true!

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Travelin’ Shoes

Cute shoes which turned out to be very uncomfortable for extended walking.

One thing that both Brett and I learned on our trip to Japan this past spring is that the shoes you travel with can truly make or break the experience.

Both of us took along shoes we thought would be comfortable but in fact were not, and we and our feet were miserable the entire time.

Shoe purchases for our Big Mystery Adventure™ have become a  priority here at Casa Aloha, and the focus will be 1) comfort and 2) durability.

Both Brett and I have “difficult” feet. Brett’s feet are flat and wide. Mine are wide (although not as wide as before bunion surgery in 2013) and I have very high arches. I also have very little to no padding on the balls of my feet, so without a soft, cushioned footbed my feet can start to hurt quite quickly. I also prefer a shoe I can easily slip in and out of, especially when we’re visiting Japan.

My very comfortable Finn Comfort clogs

I purchased my first pair of travel shoes last week, a spendy pair of Finn Comfort clogs. They get very high ratings for comfort, especially  when you’re on your feet for a long time. They’re not the prettiest shoes out there, but after wearing them around the house for three days I can honestly report that they are super comfortable and have great arch support. I think they will prove worth the expense.

Clark’s desert boots

Brett gets his first new pair(s) of shoes next month beginning with a new pair of running shoes. We’re getting them now because they will probably need to be replaced before we go – running is not only hard on shoes but they also stand a very good chance of being permanently stained by Kauai’s red dirt. He also plans to get a pair of Clark’s desert boots and/or a pair of Merrell slip-ons next month (hasn’t made a decision yet).

Both of us want a pair of Allbirds wool shoes, loungers for Brett and the women’s charcoal gray runners for me. This brand also gets rave reviews, and we think they will be both comfortable, lightweight and accommodate our wide feet.

Allbirds charcoal gray women’s runners

Allbirds mens lounger (Brett doesn’t want this color though)

Finally, we both will be needing walking sandals. Brett is looking at Keens, but I’ve got my heart set on a pair of Kenkoh massage sandals from Japan. I’m currently wearing a cheap knockoff pair, but my feet love them and I’d love some real Kenkohs even more. I’m also seriously wanting another pair of Mephisto’s Helen sandals. I wore out a previous pair I owned, but they are wonderfully comfortable and have great arch support.

Mephisto’s Helen sandal

Kenkoh massage sandals

All these shoes are going to cost us $$$. We’ve fiddled the budget to add some each month for travel shoes, and will start adding them pair by pair when we can. A concern, besides cost, is that all of them put together hopefully won’t weigh too much, but we think we’ve erred on the side of light versus heavy when it comes to our choices.

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Even More Clues!

We are not going to Iceland.

Back in May, I posted the following clues about our upcoming Big Mystery Adventure™, which will be beginning in less than a year (!!):

  • We will be leaving right after we take YaYu to college in 2018. Depending on what school she ends up attending, that could be in either August or September.
  • We will be taking at least four plane flights after we leave YaYu.
  • The trip will cost more than $7000, which is our travel  savings goal for this year. We haven’t set a firm goal for next year but will be saving all we can before departing.

There are other clues from previous posts in the blog:

  • We will be needing large suitcases versus traveling with carry-on only.
  • We will be transitioning seasons.
  • The word BIG is in the name.

But it’s time for a few more clues:

  • We’ll be traveling for more than a couple of months.
  • We’ll be bringing our passports.
  • We’ll be visiting family.
  • Our lodging will primarily be Airbnb rentals.
  • We’re taking one organized tour.
  • We’re taking one scheduled railway excursion.
  • Don’t forget the word BIG!

We still can’t reserve flights or lodgings until we know where and when YaYu will be going to college, but it’s looking more and more like we’ll be beginning our adventure in late August of next year. The itinerary is pretty much solid now – we just may need to wiggle some dates once we know when the journey will begin.

I’m ready to reveal all now, but Brett wants to hold back and make sure a couple of things are firmly in place first, so I will bow to his wishes and stick with our plan to tell all after the first of the year.

In the meantime, any guesses?

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