travel

The Fun Is Over: You Want This Trip To End, Now!

Have you ever been midway through a long journey when that all-too familiar feeling creeps in? You know which one I’m talking about: the very moment when you ask yourself “what am I doing here?”

You’re exhausted, frustrated, hungry, dirty, uncomfortable. The trip you’re on—the one which cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, the one you’ve anticipated for months—well, that trip now feels like a tedious, mind-numbing slog.

You daydream of clean showers with hot water and strong pressure. Your own bed, miles and miles away, calls to you with its soft, clean linens. The few wrinkled, tattered clothes in your pack reek of the road’s pungent concoction. There will be no washing machine. There will be no dryer. The food, bland and tasteless, has left you crippled and in pain at times.

The fun is over. You just want to go home. And now.

Can a traveler experience a more depressing feeling? Doubtful. But you’re not alone. Millions of travelers have been there, myself included. You’ll see them at the bus station, the airport, the hotel lobby, ready to go home. Blurry eyes, defeated postures, unkempt appearances, bad attitudes—they all look the same.

Don’t join them. You’ve put too much time, money, and effort into this process to let a few mind games dictate whether or not your trip is a success. If you get to this point, seek out the most comfortable and enjoyable activity possible. Splurge a little if necessary.

A hot tub, a slice of pizza, and a beer is typically all I need to get over myself and get back to enjoying my journey.

What about you?

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The Top 11 Most Amazing Airline Passengers

Last week, I painstakingly compiled a list of The Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passengers. This week, a tip of the hat to The Top 11 Most Amazing Airline passengers.

1. The Full Passport Passenger of Mystery

When TFPPOM nonchalantly reaches for their tattered passport in the check-in line, you take notice. Stamps of every hue cover what little passport real estate remains—a kaleidoscope of international swashbuckling on full display.

You have never felt passport envy until now. Where have they been? Where are they going?

2. The Well-Traveled Child

Wise beyond their years, this kid has toured 72 countries extensively by the time they’re 7. What’s that you’re working on, Lil’ Johnny? A coloring book? Oh, a draft United Nations agreement for peace in the Middle East? Carry on. Might you pass the coloring book then?

3. The Former Flight Attendant

Order them a scotch. Sit back and listen. Everything you ever wanted to know about the business of flying is locked up in The Former Flight Attendant. Fancy gossip? They have plenty of that to go around, too.

4. The Seat Sacrificer

Airlines will occasionally entice a willing passenger with overnight hotel stays and other perks if they sacrifice their seat for whatever reason. This is where The Seat Sacrificer becomes somewhat of a god. Most passengers are nowhere near as flexible with their iteneries, or even concerned with the airline’s dilemma for that matter. The Seat Sacrificer is a true team player free from the chains of schedules and priorities.

5. The Returning Military Personnel

Always a heartwarming story despite your personal opinion on war. Especially if you’re lucky enough to witness the actual reunion at the terminal with their loved ones—man, powerful stuff.

6. The First Time Flyer

I can board a plane here in California and be in New York later today. Big deal. This means nothing to me. Not so for The First Time Flyer. Everything about flying is equally mind-blowing and frightening. Take offs, turbulence, landings—each event is a notch in The First Timers belt.They even pay attention to the mandatory safety presentation.

If you’re sitting window, offer them your seat. Point out the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re over Tennessee.

7. The Book Reader

The Book Reader has a certain Zen like quality to him/her. So engrossed in the details of their book, they’ll rarely participate in lengthy conversation, if at all. No chaos, no drama, no attitude. Just a good book and a long flight. Do not disturb The Book Reader.

8. The Eye to Eye

You don’t know The Eye to Eye, but you two share something special, be it callous comments directed towards a Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passenger or inside jokes on an event you both witnessed. You’re not friends. Not even acquaintances. Just kindred Eye to Eye spirits.

You’ll go hours without saying a word, but by the end of the flight, you exchange well-wishes and a few more subtle jabs at annoying passengers.

9. The Million Mile Business Flyer

The very definition of efficiency, these folks know how to fly. Given that a significant portion of their time is spent in airports and on planes, one would be wise to study their habits and techniques. Note the lack of oversized carry-ons. Ready for business. Precise. Calculated. Always calm.

One minor gripe, though, Million Mile Business Flyer: Lose the smug look on your face while cutting in front of us common folk en route to your short business class boarding line.

10. The Middle Seat Saver

Ever flown Southwest?  Then you know this trick. If the flight is not full, you and The Middle Seat Saver have an unspoken agreement to pile your stuff between you. Avoid eye contact with boarding passengers. The games we play.

11. The Roadblock

You’re about to miss your connecting flight. And nobody cares. Except for The Roadblock, who senses your desperate urgency. They’ll block traffic in the aisle to give you a jump on those few precious seconds. Good flying karma is coming your way Roadblock.

The Top 11 Most Annoying Airline Passengers

The joys of flying are often exacerbated by these 11 knuckleheads.

1. The Chair Kicker

A gentle bump here and there, no big deal. Every 30 seconds? I’m about to flip out. Adjusting my seatback in a violent manner and rolling my eyes at you are completely ineffective. One of these days I’ll wait until your tray is full of liquids and electronics, when I will then crank my seat back and forth 40 times.

You’ll never kick another seat again. Mark my words.

2. The Climb Over You To Grab Their Bags In The Overhead

The race is on. Once it’s safe to unfasten our seat belts, let’s see who can grab their bags the fastest. Be sure you put your crotch in everyone’s face as you climb over them. And then stand uncomfortably in the aisle for 15 minutes waiting for an entire plane load of people in front of you to disembark.

3. The Non-Attentive Parent

Got a crying, whining kid who won’t shut up? No problem. Slip on those headphones and let every other adult around you suffer. Baby poo-poo their diaper? Don’t worry about it. Take a nap. Little runt putting their greasy, dirty hands all over everyone’s stuff? Oh well. Somebody has to entertain this child.

Hey, just a quick FYI: You’re the worst parent in the world.

4. The Me Me Me!

Ding. Flight attendant. Yes, I’m quite cold. Fetch me a blanket. Ding. Flight attendant. Yes, I’m awfully thirsty. Water, right away. Ding. Flight attendant. Yes, I would like a pillow. Ding. Flight attendant. More water please, and perhaps a little orange juice. Ding. Flight attendant. Any idea when we’ll land? Ding. Flight attendant. This pillow isn’t soft enough.

Ding. Annoying passenger. We hate you. Ding. A lot.

5. The Use Your Shoulder As A Pillow

Here’s a  tip: Purchase one of those U-shaped pillow things they sell in every airport gift shop around the world. This should keep your giant, drooling head in your own cramped space. If you emerge from your deep slumber covered in obscene Shapie decorations, don’t look at me. You earned it.

6. The Sickie

You look like you have the plague. Throw in a metal tube with closed air circulation, and you and your fellow passengers are sure to have a quality flight. So be sure not to cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing all over the place. Breathe really heavy in my general direction, too. I really appreciate that. Tissue?

7. The Stand Up To Stretch With Their Ass In Your Face

I prefer aisle seats, but immediately regret the decision the moment I realize I’m parked next to people who can’t sit still longer than 10 minutes. Better stretch those legs and stand with your ass 3 inches from my face. No, that’s not awkward at all.

8. The Talker

Easy to spot, difficult to avoid. They were in the terminal chatting with the wall when nobody else would listen. Alone time is a thing of the past should you unfortunately be seated next to this guy. Hey, where you from? What do you do? Oh, where you traveling? Very nice, I went there once with my family. My sister’s husband’s brother’s uncle worked near there once and blah blah blah blah.

Your life story. So interesting. Shoot me.

9. The Fart Machine

Sly as a smelly fox, The Fart Machine acts like he’s not dropping noxious fumes every few seconds. You know it’s him. He knows you know, too. But he’ll avoid eye contact at all costs. And keep on rippin’ em.

I am pointing my vent at you full blast for a reason, pal.

10. The Will Not Check Enormous Bags

Your carry-on is the size of a rhinoceros. But there is no chance in hell you’re checking it. So we’ll wait a half hour as you struggle to jam that thing into the overhead. Make sure everyone gets involved in your carry-on tribulation while you’re at. Still doesn’t fit? Rearrange the small, reasonable carry-ons. Maybe even drop a few bags on our heads. Spend the half hour apologizing profusely. Insincerely, of course.

See my small backpack there? Yeah, the one under the seat. Jackass.

11. The Stand In Line At The Restroom

The flight crew has already instructed you 20 times to please be seated until the restroom is available. Yet there you go again, hoping to secure your spot in line. Somehow you are always a window seat. Why does this happen?

How about you not drink 5 gallons of beer before boarding the plane next time? Just a thought.

8 Travel-Related Jams for the Weekend

I’ve been inadvertently jamming to a few travel-related songs this week. Clearly it’s a sign to pack my bags and hit the long, dusty road. A wise traveler can’t go on ignoring such obvious signs. The universe works in mysterious ways, as you are well aware.

Thing is, most of these songs aren’t necessarily about traveling. They just mention mileage, or Greyhound buses, or being a long way from home, or what have you. I said wise traveler, which we all know I am not.

Still, it’s a sign, damn it!

I do have one travel-related question for you. Which headphones do you use when you’re on the road? Just curious. Me? Sony Noise Canceling MDR-NC7. They’re foldable. And they come with a sweet pouch.

Anyway, enjoy the tunes. Happy Friday. And maybe even Happy Travels.

“Five Thousand Miles,” Zigitros

“Lonesome, On’ry, and Mean,” Waylon Jennings

“Long Way Home,” Old Friend Band

“Jamaica,” Theme Park

“Venice,” The Lighthouse and The Whaler

“East,” Last Japan

“Shades of Funk,” Kill Paris

And finally…

“San Pedro,” Mogwai

Guest Post: Traveling the States in 6 Weeks by Bus

Note: Today’s Guest Post comes from Matt Davids. Matt blogs about anything to do with traveling, from massive adventures like the six week Greyhound tour of the States that you’ll read about here, to little spur of the moment trips closer to home around London. His next upcoming trip is to South Europe, starting with his Greece holidays.

By Matt Davids

Traveling the states Coast to Coast in six weeks by bus is a situation you may find yourself in mainly because of two factors: budget and adventure. As a foreigner, the only other way to have a road trip adventure in the US is to hire a car, and that, for six weeks going from East to West, plus gas and parking, is incredibly expensive.

If you’re American, and have decided against using a car, that is likely due to you
not owning one, which also comes down to a low budget situation.

The second factor, adventure, is simply because you’re looking for one. If you’re purely looking to get across the States from point A to B then you would fly, unless you suspect that, because of a slightly questionable past you are lurking on a no-fly list somewhere.

So that leaves us with the bus, more specifically the Greyhound, and points C,D,E and every other stop-off between your start and end destinations. Here is a collection of lessons I learnt traveling on the Greyhound around America within a six week time frame, starting in NYC and ending in California.

Insider Tips for travel on the Greyhound

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Why anticipation is so important

I feel more than a little silly admitting I actually lost sleep this morning thinking about an upcoming trip. In July.

Yeah, July is a few months off, and to be honest, this trip is hardly even taking shape yet. The dates are iffy, the crew is a maybe, and the logistics might be a bit of a challenge.

But back to the lost sleep part. I woke up early for no good reason, contemplating small trip details. Details I have absolutely no control over at the moment.

Seems kind of crazy, right? Is there any real value in losing sleep over an event so far off? Yes! Anticipation is the fuel to your adventure fire!

I’m a huge fan of anticipation. Without it, I’d probably get bored easily. I enjoy daydreaming about big things on the horizon. Approximately 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t go down anywhere near how I envisioned it. Regardless of my anticipation misconceptions, there is so much fun to be had in the pre-trip planning stage.

I think this is why it seems like it takes forever for an adventurous trip to get here, and when it does, it’s over in an instant. Your anticipation ramps the entire thing up times a thousand. Sometimes you reach a point when anticipation is the only thing on your mind. This is exactly when you can hardly get anything done with the rest of your life.

So why is anticipation so important? Because most of life is consumed with a different kind of stressful anticipation. Is my presentation at work going to be a hit? Will my commute today be longer than yesterday? How much will I owe the power company this winter? Will I be a good parent to my kids?

A million reasons not to ignore your non-stressful, pre-trip, awesome anticipation. Go ahead, lose an hour or two of sleep over it. Have no shame in your excitement. These moments come and go, and sometimes they are few and far between.

My wife and I taking on the San Juan River in Utah, a trip I had plenty of non-stressful, pre-trip, awesome anticipation for.

You might be curious about my trip in July. I’m putting together a bachelor party for my buddy who is getting married in August. At first I figured we’d float a lazy river over a long weekend.

Now I have bigger and better plans. Plans my buddies aren’t even aware of yet. Something tells me they’ll dig a whitewater trip down the South Fork of the Flambeau River in Wisconsin. A river I just started researching last night. I’m stoked just thinking about it.

Tell me all about your own non-stressful, pre-trip, awesome anticipation.

 

A hundred and one uses for a bandana

Is there another piece of travel/backpacking gear more versatile than a bandana?

I bet we could come up with close to a hundred and one uses for a bandana.

I’ll kick off the first five:

1. Coffee filter

2. Glasses cleaner

3. Pot holder

4. Use to put pressure on wound

5. Emergency repair for broken strap on pack

 

 

 

What’s in your first aid kit?

Better question: do you even have a first aid kit?

If so, is it store bought, or did you piece it together like we did?  Do you take it everywhere, or do you only pack it in certain situations? We take our kit backpacking and on the road with us.

If you don’t have a first aid kit, the list below should be a decent start.

Our kit contains the following materials, carefully prepared by my wife, the physician assistant:

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Low budget adventure is possible

Today we’ll follow up on last week’s posts where we explored what it is that prevents you from having more adventures.  Turns out money and time were the biggest culprits.

Money and time—if you had more of both, you’d be well on your to nonstop swashbuckling adventure, right? Well, as we discovered, yes and no.

More money and more time gets us to the faraway places we often dream of. No money and no time is far from desirable, but don’t let it get in your way. Stop making excuses. You’re better than that.

So what I would like to do is invite you to share your low budget adventure ideas and/or memories. This can be from any time, any place. The point is you had a ton of adventurous fun, and didn’t have to break the bank.

How do I define low budget? Good question. Anything in the free to $500 range would work for our purposes.

I’ll kick it off. I spent about $200 on a round trip Greyhound ticket across the United States. I was young and dumb (some might argue nothing has changed), and the thought of a four-day bus trip each way on America’s seediest form of transportation didn’t seem horrifying at the time.

But it was horrifying. And also strangely adventurous. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Did I learn a lot about low budget adventure and how incredibly weird people in this country can be? Without a doubt.

Your turn. I’ll think of more examples myself. I’m looking forward to your replies!

How to select beer for the river

Imagine a river trip with no beer. Such horrors must never be committed.

If you are tasked with stocking up on beer for a big river trip, you have your work cut out for you. Your job is of the utmost importance, and success in this department sets the tone for the entire trip. Your polished reputation is on the line. Don’t blow it.

Never fear. I will help you through this process. I have conducted countless (countless!) hours of empirical beer research on rivers, so you can say I am more than qualified to serve as your guide.

Now, on to the good stuff. Let’s get started, shall we?

Not all beers are created equal on the river. Keep in mind that everything on a river has to be “river ready.” In other words, pretty much everything in your boat will come in contact with the river at some point.

So when it comes to “river ready” beer, absolutely no glass is allowed. If I catch you slamming a glass bottle of Newcastle on the river, and I happen to cut my bare foot on said glass bottle later, there will be hell to pay, buddy.

Considering most beer comes in bottles, we have eliminated basically 75% of your options. Your job is getting easier. We now move on to the selection process. This is important. Pay attention.

Right away, we can eliminate most, if not all, domestic piss beer for taste purposes. Apologies to PBR, MGD, Coors Light, Bud Light, etc. You’re just not cool enough for the river.

You are now left with a few options. The following beers are all tested and approved “river ready.” Your life is becoming more and more simple by the second.

The beers:

Dale’s Pale Ale, meet the river rats. River rats, meet Dale’s Pale Ale, a worthy candidate. It’s tasty, and it comes in cans. Bingo!

Here’s the thing though. Your first pale ale is delicious. Your second pale ale has you feeling a little hopped out. Your third pale ale has you taking a nap on the river. Unacceptable.

Longevity is the name of the game on the river. Beer on the river must be capable of being consumed in mass quantities. I’m not promoting alcoholism. This is simply a fact of life, folks.

With that said, Dale’s Pale is a no-go for the long haul.

Moving along, we have Fat Tire in cans. Everyone freaks out about Fat Tire. Maybe it’s the biscuit flavor. Maybe it’s the cool bike on the can.

Whatever the case, you will be a hero if you show up with Fat Tire in cans. The can even conveniently reminds you to “Pack It In Pack It Out” giving your idiot friends no excuse to litter.

Much like Dale’s Pale, though, Fat Tire is only good for a round or two. Again, unacceptable. Feel free to pick up a sixer of Fat Tire and a sixer of Dale’s in preparation for obnoxious campfire sing-alongs.

But you must aim for longevity!  Without it, you have failed.

Where does this leave us? Stay focused. We are left with one extremely suitable candidate.

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you the champion of all river beers, Tecate.

Eww, Tecate?! You got that right, mister.  Let’s do a quick rundown, shall we?

River ready cans? Check. Low alcohol content? Check. Halfway decent taste? Check. We have a winner.

Load up on this stuff. Your river rat buddies will plow through tons of Tecate before they even know it.

Plus, these babes love Tecate, so you got that going for you, which is nice.

You drink Tecate on the river? Me too! You're awesome. Let's hang out.

I’ve seen people drinking cans of pineapple Hawaiian beer on the river, but I seriously doubt you want to go there.

Bottom line: stick with Tecate, and you’ll be fine.