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Australasia!
Daily Life 2017
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Daily Life 2015
EUROPE
USA - the WEST
ASIA
Daily Life 2014
AFRICA and the MIDDLE EAST
Mexico and the Caribbean Islands
Amazing INDIA
Entertaining Sites Around LOS ANGELES
Daily Life 2013
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Daily Life 2011
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Daily Life 2009
Daily Life 2008
Daily Life 2007
Daily Life 2006
Daily Life 2005
Daily Life 2004
Daily Life 2001-2003 (in my Gray People phase)
Gran'ma's photos
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L&H
neither here nor there




Independent Budget-minded Travel
Click here if you're looking for past trips!




Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.


I have two objectives for this website.

The second is that readers enjoy these photo-essays and be motivated to take action: "wow, how useful and encouraging, I'm going to start planning my next trip right now"

The first is that readers enjoy these photo-essays so much they say: "wow, how entertaining and informative, I'm going to give this woman some money!"



Are you retired, watching your cash flow, basically, you've got more time than money? Are you an independent budget-minded traveler who welcomes adventure and are you eager to hit the road?

You can click on the *TIPS* tab above for some travel tips I've been collecting, and see my (mostly) post-retirement independent travels on the *DESTINATIONS* tab or just scroll down on this page.

I hope you find something useful and entertaining here, and
I welcome you to EMAIL ME.


Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. Seneca

August and September 2013
I expected it to be good, but it was AWEsome: the Republic of Ireland ... Northern Ireland ... Scotland and Wales ...and London and the English countryside including an omg visit to Stonehenge.

June and July 2013
Another great month in the Land of Aloha Kauai at Sharon's place, and Honolulu with the fam for July 4th fireworks!

April and May 2013
A stop-off in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and then yikes, it's true, Havana, Cuba (yes!) and five amazing days in the Cuban countryside.

March 2013
Ah yes, Viva! Las Vegas!! in honor of a very long time friend's retirement and Medicare Birthday.

January 2013
Here's a few trips to San Francisco the Golden City by the Bay, mostly family and friends though and not so much tourista, but there are some fun outings around town.

September-October 2012
WOW, two months in Central Europe .. in the Grand Old Tradition! Budapest and Sopron, Vienna, Prague and Brno, Wroclaw, Dresden, Leipzig, Stadthagen, Hanover, and Berlin.

July 2012
Road Trip! But first a flight up to Seattle for the 4th of July in the Sky. Then we flew to Bozeman Montana to pick up a car for a fabulous journey through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and then we drove on through Idaho to Utah's Salt Lake City and then Steamboat Springs including the very interesting Dinosaur National Monument. We love The Road.

May 2012
Another lovely Memorial Day Weekend at The Ranch. Many thanks to Barbara and Jerry for their kind hospitality.

April 2012
I've been basically home since September...the longest stretch since I retired! Now I'm off to the land of ALOHA. Kauai! the Garden Isle and a side trip for a few days in Maui! followed by a weekend with the family in Honolulu!

July and August 2011
AFRICA, at last! South Africa-KwaZulu-Natal, tent camping in Botswana, with the Peace Corps in Zambia, and then back to South Africa to visit Cape Town. Whooo, what an adventure!

April and May 2011
AaaLoooHA! What more is there to say, to be so fortunate to have a friend with a house in Kauai who invites me to stay as long as I like. Fortunate indeed. And to top it off, I've sweet-as-pie relatives in Honolulu. Here we go: Kauai, the Garden Isle, Hawaii, The Big Island and Honolulu with the fam.

February 2011
Who in their right mind would be visiting the northern reaches of Minnesota in February? That would be me, visiting Cynthia and Mike and Kieran for Cynthia's birthday with holy guacamole ice fishing for an extra special treat.

January 2011
This was fun - a fast-and-furious ride up the coast for a two nighter visit in San Francisco followed by a race back down to LA.

December 2010
One night and two days in Joshua Tree National Park but there are two other visits to Joshua Tree in the same chapter.

November 2010
Last stop on my fall swing, our nations capital Washington DC including historic surrounding towns. .and I went to a nice party with Jon and Stephen.

October 2010
I've got a long trip going this month in the good ol' USofA Florida (Ft Myers-Sanibel-Captiva; Mount Dora) then New Orleans! followed by a few days in Colonial Virginia.

September 2010
Here we are in Seattle and Vancouver Island. Ah, the Pacific Northwest - so cool, in so many ways.

June 2010
Continuing on to... Rome, Italy! for the last leg of this six week adventure LA-Istan

Yes! You can go,
you can go anywhere you want to go,
and entirely on your own too!
Click on the links below
for tips I've been collecting
from my own Very Senior Year(s) Abroad.


My two best suggestions.
.
Deciding where you want to go.
.
Planning your itinerary.
.
Getting the logistics right.
.
Where to stay.
.
Know before you go!
.
Schlepping your stuff.
.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

My two best suggestions.

First: mostly stay in hostels. A few words in praise of 'youth' hostels, and home-stays are just as good. If you are a senior, a seriously independent budget-minded traveler and you have plenty of time to enjoy an extended trip, more time than money, staying in hostels is a fantastic accommodation choice. You can get your own room which often means a reservation in advance. Some private rooms have bathrooms ensuite but honestly, that bathroom-down-the-hall thing is surprisingly not the problem you might imagine.

And it's FUN. There are people of all ages from everywhere happy to have a chat in English. There are kitchens that not only cut down on food costs but also let you eat more healthfully. There are lounges for socializing, usually with wifi access, and for the most part they are perfectly clean and safe (and you'll know the good ones because you'll read the reviews).

Second: learn how to say perfectly in the local language, with correct accent and intonation, at least these 10 expressions and while you're at it know how to easily use your maps (and a compass!) and phrase book and dictionary. Local people will clamor to help you. First check out the BBC. There are so many free lessons and whole sections on just the expressions I mentioned. It was new to me in 2010 and amazing. Before I got hooked on the bbc site I found the Pimsleur beginner series quite good for acquiring a very few expressions with correct accent and intonation, or another idea, get someone in your town to teach you...maybe put an ad on craigslist or go to a restaurant specializing in the area you will be visiting.

1 Hi!
2 Thank you!
3 You are welcome.
4 Goodbye!
5 Please, where is...(Point to your guide book, a map, a business card, and have a map, notebook, and pen ready for the answer.)
6 Please, take me...(To a taxi driver, again with the pointing.)
7 Please, may I have...(Pointing to a menu, in a shop, etc.)
8 How much? (Always have a notebook at hand and write down the price so you can agree in writing.)
9 My family! (Carry photos of your family to share with grandmas you meet on the bus.)
10 Here is my card. (Carry name cards with your email address - it's a big hit and even better with your photo on it.)


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Have you decided where you want to go?

Where to go, that highlight(s!) around which you build your trip, and when to go there...your first two decisions are really inter(co?!)-dependent ones. If you want to go to Venice it's best not to go in summer. If you want to travel in summer it would be better if you had another destination in mind.

Here at the Lonely Planet website you can inquire by country then city, and their 'When to go' section will give you the broadest overview, enough anyway to rule out Venice in summer. This website has very cool weather information. Of Course You Never Know...weather is notoriously unpredictable, we all know that, still it only makes sense to learn the odds.

Maybe you're having trouble choosing the thing you want to do for this trip? How about if you make a list of highlights (Venice! the Pyramids! Tibet!) that fit your timeframe. Circle the places on a small world map and tape this map around your house. Then as soon as you're good and sick of looking at it, just pick. They're all good!

If that doesn't work maybe these ideas will help: 1) do you know anyone from these places? 2) which language most appeals? 3) what do you like to eat? 4) ask your friends in a Facebook poll.

Isn't this fun?


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Some ideas on planning your itinerary.

Once you've chosen your highlights you get to figure out what to add or delete. You're going all that way, might as well make the most of it without spending all your time on the road. What I do then is look at package tours on the internet at this site and others. These guys know what people would like to see and have worked out routes and timing usually with good maps. Certainly you don't want to just recreate a package tour but reading reading reading will trigger ideas in your head that you wouldn't have otherwise.

Here are some online guidebook links that also have sample itineraries: Lonely Planet; Rough Guides; Fodors; Frommers and of course, as always, Ms Google is happy to help.

One thought to share, I like to keep the number of languages down if possible. Pick four weeks in Vietnam and after that time your ear will be comfortable with Vietnamese but if you spend a week each in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos you'll lose that chance.

Now you've chosen your highlight experiences, you've poured over all the information on the internet, and you've got good maps on hand. OK, excellent, now you get to draw your itinerary on a map.

It's surprising how many times I change my mind at this stage in the process. I see on the map some feature I'd missed, or I look at the whole plan and decide my ideas are too ambitious, but at some point you'll have an outline that fits into your time frame.


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Getting the logistics right.

You've got your ideas for a basic itinerary so it's time to have those guidebooks on hand that suit your itinerary best. Guidebooks I think are a total pleasure for independent budget-minded travelers, packed as they are with information. I'm a Lonely Planet gal since I'm so used to their layout and style but there are many good ones. You can always let the Amazon reviewers help you choose.

Now, how will you make that itinerary happen? How will you get from here to there? In some places you simply can not drive. For example in China or India, forget it. Not happening. And cars are not particularly useful in big cities like London or Tokyo. However touring around some places, like New Zealand or back and forth across the Pyrenees, it's best to drive. So first you have to figure out if where you're going it's possible to drive, if it's better to drive, and then if you even want to drive.

If the decision comes down in favor of driving, even if you have gps, you'll want to buy a current book of road maps and know your routes very very well before heading out each morning. You might be heading to place C but the sign will point to place B on the way to C. You know what I mean.

With few exceptions getting around without a car is perfectly possible and as a bonus, generally less expensive. Since you're mostly on your own this is a good time to re-emphasize the importance of packing light. Just Carry On! You can do it! Coming up soon you'll see the chapter here for Schlepping Your Stuff.

It's especially good to know your major transport needs as you might find benefit in adjusting your itinerary. Get the options from your guidebook. Again, Lonely Planet is pretty good with their 'Getting there and away' section, but not infallible by any means, so double check everything when you get there. You know that train you were counting on...they've cancelled its weekend run...

A couple other entertaining resources for transportation are the train guy and the airport guy. These guys are encyclopedic. And of course Ms Google is happy to help.

Sometimes it's cheaper to fly a long haul, but the train would be more scenic, but the train takes all day, but, but. Now it's time to Ask TripAdvisor. The TripAdvisor Forum is an amazing resource for all details about transport and plenty more. Be sure to search the site first, read questions and replies, the FAQ, so you can learn the best way to ask, to get the answers you seek. Like all these online communities, there is an etiquette which you ignore at your peril.


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Where to stay.

Wing-it or rezzies? What kind of traveler are you?

Even if you want to take the wing-it approach I think the peace of mind that comes of having a plan for your arrival in a new place makes it well worth doing, espeically since I put a high priority on being settled before dark. At the least you'll want to know what availability is going to be like. Will your arrival overlap with the big film festival? Is this place sold out a year in advance of Holy Week? And when is Holy Week anyway? It helps to know these things or you will end up in the dark, cold and hungry, spending too much money for relief.

As long as you know for sure about that film festival or Holy Week or any other local sell-out situation, you can wing-it with the comfort that something will turn up.

If you are a rezzies all the way kind of traveler, no problem. You might miss out on some hidden treasure but advance preparation means you'll have a better chance to get into the most well regarded budget accommodations. Everyone has the same access to this wealth of Internet information so the places that are budget-minded and also great do fill up first, hence the advantage to booking in advance.

I travel The Middle Road. With wifi and internet cafes on every corner you can pretty easily settle your next-stop arrangements as you go. You'll know what will work becuase you will have studied up. If there is a place you really want to stay in you'll schedule around its availability.

Whether you are Rezzies or Wing-it, you are guaranteed to face the unexpected and the more you know the better, about alternative accommodations, about where you are, and about the surrounding area.

Below are my favorite sites for researching accommodation because of all the reviews, the links, and focus on budget travel. Don't miss the 'Specialty Lodging' tab on Trip Advisor as that's where the hostels are. Here we go: Hostels; Hostelz (looks the same but it's different...); HostelWorld; and the generally more up-market Hotels; Bookings; TripAdvisors. Also don't miss the guidebook sites online: Lonely Planet; Rough Guides; Fodors; Frommers and of course, as always, Ms Google is happy to help.


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Know before you go, the more the better.

There are certain practical matters that even the most casual traveler must check. Of course you have a passport valid for at least a year. Do you need a visa? That's a project. Are there any health warnings where you will be traveling? Here's a nice source of Know Before You Go information and don't miss this great resource: www.travel.state.gov/.

And why not know more? We all have travelers in our circle of acquaintance who announce that they never bother to make preparations. They don't need maps or guide books or reservations. They think it's better to just go. OK, going is better than not going, sure, but how can knowing more not be better than knowing less?

If you enjoy knowing then you will get the pleasure of reading to go along with the pleasure of travel. Guide books are exceptionally good for this. First you get to read about the history, geography, language, politics, architecture and much more of the places you will visit. And then you get to read all the books on the guide book's reading list. Double the fun.


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Schlepping your stuff.

Do everything just exactly as this guy, Mr Onebag, tells you to do. He is a packing genius. His packing checklist is a stunning work of art that should be framed and prominently displayed at the Getty Center.

One thing though. He is fanatical that you do not use a wheelie. He takes a firm stand, even dare I say moral stand against wheelies. I've done it both ways, with and without wheels, and I'm here to give you permission, to tell you, you are free to get the wheels.

The maximum carry-on wheelie has plenty of room for everything on Mr Onebag's checklist and with the wheelie getting around is SO much less trouble for this little old lady.

Yes, small planes will make you check this size bag but when you're on those kinds of planes 1) it's often a bunny-hop flight and you can check at the gangway and 2) your no-wheels bag would probably need to get checked too. And 3) a decent brand wheelie Can manage miles of cobblestones and heck, you're not going to be dragging that bag across the Himalayas anyway, but you Will be slogging for an hour through the airport and halfway across town to the bus station.

I adore you Mr Onebag; please don't hate me for my wheels.

My second piece of carry-on is a backpack from a high-end camera store where I can safely carry my ridiculously honkin' SLR camera gear And my laptop And it has a 'purse' compartment so even if I have to check the wheelie my real life is still close at hand.


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.

1) Couch Surfing is all the rage with The Young People but anyone can play. There's a great website to make it all happen. It's a very lively community of folks who offer to let other folks crash at their place for a few days.

2) Home Exchange. This is a time honored way for people to experience another place as if you lived there. It's so easy now with the internet to figure out if you'd want to give it a try.

3) RV Rental can be very cool I hear but it's generally no bargain and it feels to me like there's a lot of work involved. Still there's that vagabond vibe that might appeal to you.


Directory of TIPS!
My two best suggestions.
Deciding where you want to go.
Planning your itinerary.
Getting the logistics right.
Where to stay.
Know before you go!
Schlepping your stuff.
Some good ideas that aren't for me but might be for you.
Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                *


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