Who’s going to watch the pets?

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Who is Going to Watch Pets When You Travel

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We have four dogs, a guinea pig, and a fish until recently (RIP Atreyu, may your story never-end).  Jodi has two dogs, a bird, hamster, and chickens.  Oh yeah and bees.  When we are traveling, someone has to take care of the animals for us.  Obviously the bees will take care of themselves, but the rest of our  broods could turn into an Animal Farmesque situation without some human supervision.

Over the years, I’ve relied on family, friends, co-workers, and paid pet sitters to watch our pack.  I’ve never used a kennel, but have friends who swear by them.  Kennels can be ideal if you have a smaller number of pets who need care and who are comfortable outside your home.  All our dogs are rescue, varied ages, and some have serious medical needs.  Basically, they are high maintenance and in home care is best.  Making certain they have good care is crucial to enjoying a trip away from home.  The last thing I want to be worried about while flying to London is if my pets are OK.

Here are some questions I ask and things I consider before asking someone to pet sit:bremen-town-musicians-1651945_1920

  1. What am I capable of and willing to pay? It’s best to get this question out of the way in the beginning.  Sometimes a pet sitter will have an established fee and other times, you need to negotiate one.  I recommend a daily price point that includes a set of expectations the sitter will meet each day.
  2. Will the sitter stay in my home or only visit during the day?  I always prefer and will pay extra for round the clock in home care.  I don’t mind if the sitter has a day or night job, just so they come home and spend time with my pets during their off hours.  I don’t even care if they bring their families to stay at my house with them.  Jodi’s chickens might not notice if anyone is around all day long to pet them, but I know for a fact and from personal experience that her Beagle wants to sleep with someone at night.
  3. Is the sitter able to understand and meet my pets medical and health needs?  I have both older and infirm pets who need medication administered during their meals.  It’s important that any sitter you choose will be able to take care of medication but also the health needs of your pet.  Daily exercise in the forms of walks, outdoor or indoor play time, and lots of love are part of a pet’s health needs.  Health needs can also include food preparation.  One of our dog’s has heart disease, and we cook all the dogs food fresh once a week in a crock-pot with low sodium chicken, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn, etc. to make sure he never gets anything in his mouth that will hurt his heart.  Basically, knowing how to take care of a dog and a chicken aren’t necessarily the same skill set.
  4. Is the relationship with your pet sitter worth losing?  Let’s face it.  Sometimes people let us down.  People who love us might say “yes” when they really mean, “Do I have to?”  It’s not worth losing a friend or straining a family relationship if you can find a good sitter somewhere else.

A few final thoughts for choosing a professional pet sitter.  If they have one, visit their website or social media page to get a feel for their services and personality.  Ask for references and then CALL THEM.  If your state has pet sitting licenses, ask to see theirs.  Ask them to explain in detail their contingency plans for inclement weather, illness, or other unforeseeable events that might effect their ability to provide care.  Finally, ask to see their contract before you sign or agree to anything.

Travel with peace of mind by finding the best possible pet sitter for your pack.  As for your kids, just let them run wild while you are gone 😉chicken-918418_1920

Jodi wants to backpack in the Pyrenees

I’ve never backpacked.  So, there’s a learning curve for me to make this trip.  First step is to try out an easier backpacking trip in the Appalachian Mountains together in July.  There are so many things to think about for an endeavor like this.  For instance, water is heavy.  I can’t possibly carry enough water to make it a week in the mountains. Where will I get water?  How many bugs are going to try and suck out all my blood while I am sleeping on the rocky ground?  What are we going to eat?  What things do I need that I don’t even know I need?

I did a little digging and found this list for the 10 most essential things to take with you when you go hiking in a mountain.  Very helpful.

 Note-  If you want to purchase any of the below items, click on the pictures and Jodi and I will make a commission supporting our blog and podcast without costing you any more money than if you went to the site yourself! Thanks for supporting us!!

 

    1. Navigation (map and compass)
    2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  1. Insulation (extra clothing)
  2. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  3. First-aid supplies
  4. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  5. Repair kit and tools
  6. Nutrition (extra food)
  7. Hydration (extra water)
  8. Emergency shelter  

From: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html

I have a water filter straw still from our India trip and I’m bringing that along just in case.  I have a sleeping bag liner that should be cool enough for July temps but enough protection from bugs at night.

 

I still have lots of research to do before I am ready for this trip, but I am excited to try something totally out of my normal experience.  After this trial trip, I’ll be ready for the mountains of France.

Calming Jet Lag with Yoga


Jet lag is for amateurs, but it is a real challenge anytime you are traveling through different time zones and there’s not much time to let your body naturally adjust.  Yoga can help make the transition easier and certain poses can help you get you adjusted to your overseas sleep schedule.

Here is a sequence you can use when you need to sleep, but your mind and body want to stay awake.IMG_8441.JPG
IMG_8440.JPGBegin in hero pose for 5 breaths.  Let yourself feel grounded to the space you are currently occupying.  You can move into tip toe hero pose for a few breaths and then reclining hero if you feel comfortable in those positions.  If not extend your basic hero pose for 3 more breaths.IMG_8443.JPG

Move to table top and then begin a series of cat cow breaths, inhaling in cow and exhaling in cat.  Stay wiIMG_8444 (2).JPGth the breath here for 5 cycles.

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Slide your body back into child’s pose and let gravity pull your body into relaxation and grounding.  Notice where you are holding any tension and breath into those spaces.  Stay in this space for 8 breaths.  Remember to pause at the top and bottom of each breath.

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Lie down on your back and put your legs up against the wall.  Bring your right ankle to your left knee for figure 4 against the wall pose.  Stay here for five breaths and then switch legs to balance the body.

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Put both legs back against the wall  for legs up the wall pose and let gravity pull your lower back down to flatten and release any tension.  Stay in this position for 10 breaths.

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Lie flat on your mat, legs outstretched.  Pull your knees up and feet on the ground hips width apart.  Allow your legs to drift gently to the right side to bIMG_8452.JPGegin your supine spinal twist.  Put your arms out to your sides and turn your head in the opposite direction of your knees.  Breath into the spine for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.  If you want a deeper stretch, use your ankle on your knee to lengthen the muscle.

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Return to your back, pull your knees towards your chest, and grab your big toes.  Flatten your lower back and rock side to side in happy baby pose.  Stay here for 8-10 breaths.

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Using bolsters, blocks or pillows for your knees, move into reclining goddess pose.  Be gentle with yourself and don’t push.  Let gravity do the work and use those props to help you release your tendency to tighten the inner thighs.

End in corpse pose, palms turned to the floor for grounding.  Lie here and let your breathing be natural.  Stay in this position as long as it feels good.  You can use a block or pillow under your head and another under your knees for more comfort.

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This sequence will help you ground to your current time zone and help you prepare the body and mind to sleep.
Always remember, no matter where you travel to, never forget to pack YOGA!

Staying sane on road trips with kids (No, it is not impossible)

Every trip we take isn’t going to be international and sans children.  In fact most trips Jodi and I go on in our lives includes our kids in the backseat of a car.  Let’s all just take a moment to remember what it was like the last time we went on a road trip with children . . . horrors.
You can only play the license plate game so many times before you want to leave your precious offspring along the side of the road by that sweet little farm house and hope someone else will pick them up and care for them so you can just enjoy scenic ride through the country.

Next time you start packing for another joyous family car trip, add these to the list: kids activity bags.
Activity bags are easy to adapt for each child’s interests and age using things you already own.  Let’s hear it for being cheap!  No really, I love cheap.

Here’s how it works:

1. Gather a gallon ziploc bag, paper lunch bag, or pencil box if you are really “Matha Stewarty”, for every hour of the car ride.  If it takes you 8 hours to drive to Grandma’s house, each kid will need 8 bags.

2.  Fill each bag with the following: one coloring page, five crayons or pencils or markers (or switch these up per bag), one book, one toy, one snack and small juice box, one game (the games can be paper or not; puzzles count, paper mazes count and so does origami for older kids.  Be creative or just steal other peoples ideas from Pinterest).

3. For older kids you can substitute the coloring page for a craft.

4. Every three bags, add in a music cd, playlist, or movie dvd (if your car has that capability) for the kids to play.

The activity bags help reduce the whining and impatience that inevitably ride along with your kids in the backseat by giving them something to look forward to every hour.  For every young children, reduce the time between bags to 30 minutes.  It also takes the pressure off of you to entertain them for 8 hours straight and reduces the number of times you threaten to turn the car around “right this minute.”

Happy road trip!

Photo: 1. Children and dogs in a car: Tomoka River Region, Florida by State Library
2. Joseph Kearns Jay North Billy Booth Herbert Anderson Dennis the Menace 1962

The "Tour to Die For"


Finding the “tour to die for” when you are planning an international trip can feel like a coin toss.  This is especially true if you are not traveling with a large group under the guide of a large company.  While there are certainly advantages to the “just show up we’ve got everything planned” types of trips, there’s something really rewarding about planning your own tour.  Here are some ideas for helping you get out there are really SEE your destination.

1. Be honest with yourself.  If you are a high energy person, you aren’t going to want a tour that moves slowly and is lower activity.  On the flip side, you are more introverted you want to choose something more suited for your ideal pace.  Sometimes when we travel, we imagine ourselves different than we really are and capable of things that normally overly tire us or drive us nuts.  Stay true to you and there’s no way to go wrong.

2.  Search all types of places for tour options.  Online, trip apps, blogs, traditional tour sites and hotels suggestions (and then steal them), Facebook, etc.  This process shouldn’t be rushed or you’re likely to regret it.  You never know what you’ll find if you spend a little extra time doing your research.

3. Once you decide on your tour or day trip, call them in person.  Don’t let all your communication be digital, even if you live in a drastically different time zone.  Make time to call the tour and ask to speak to a guide/driver.  You learn a great deal about how your day will go from speaking to someone whose boots are on the ground.  You might even discover that the language barrier might be too great to ensure a nice experience.

4.  Read the reviews, and not just the top three.  Scroll down in trip adviser, or on the website to get a well-rounded sense of what went right and wrong for other people.  Knowing that can help you fine-tune the tour by asking to skip or amend parts, know you need to bring your own water or snacks, and other little details that might ruin an otherwise great sightseeing day.


5. You are in control.  If things go poorly, you feel unwell, your tour guide seems untrustworthy, you can end the tour at anytime and return to your hotel.  Don’t be afraid to assert yourself in any situation that leaves you feeling unsettled.

Jodi and I immensely enjoyed the tour of the Bishnoi Village we took with our guide Chhotaram.  We were both interested in meeting local people and learning about the culture of the Bishnoi.  They offered both full and half day tours which gave us the ability to go at a pace that suited our energy level.  Chhotaram was a knowledgeable guide about both the local wildlife and culture.  In fact he and his family are still members of the community and are weavers by trade.  He was willing to answer every question, stop by any roadside, and explain any custom we didn’t understand in perfect English.  THis was one of the many great tours we took in India. 

How NOT to look like a train wreck in your passport photo


Your passport photo will follow you around the world for 10 years.  Consider carefully what kind of day you are having before you get that picture taken.  It easy for everything to become just one more item to check off on the travel planning to-do list and then you show up for your photo without any makeup, hair barely brushed (like a normal day at my house) and your comfy but ratty sweater that looks like the cat was chewing on the collar.  10 years.  That’s a long time to be showing immigration staff around the world your less than best face.

The U.S. Passport and International Travel office at the Department of State makes the application process super easy.  You can fill out your paperwork online and then print to submit.  You can also find a list of places for taking your official passport photo and tips for the perfect picture (according to the government). I went to our local post office.
It’s imperative you look in the mirror at least once that day.  That’s what I would tell myself now.  Put on some lotion and do something about those dark circles under your eyes.  Maybe some lip gloss and frizz tamer in your hair for good measure.  If you wear glasses you will need to remove them for the photo, so keep that in mind. 
It’s too late for me, but not for you.  Do yourself a favor and treat the passport photo like the glamour shots from the 1980’s.  First impressions at immigration and customs count!