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3 Easy Mistakes to Avoid at the Nara Deer Park

July 28, 2016 at 2:42 pm


3 Easy Mistakes To Avoid at the Nara Deer Park

Before we traveled to Japan I read plenty of blog posts about happy visits to snow monkey pools, rabbit islands and bowing deer parks. They all involved up close encounters with wild animals in a gorgeous setting. Naturally, I was excited to have my own brush with these critters. We had our first chance at the Nara Deer Park when we took a day trip from Kyoto. The over 1200 deer are considered national treasures and are semi-domesticated. You can also see the Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Shrine, both UNESCO World Heritage monuments. The visit turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip, but for goodness sake, don’t do these 3 things:

Don’t Get Lost

This turns out to be my most common mistake on nearly every outing we take. GPS, Google maps, paper maps and helpful strangers don’t seem to be enough to keep us from losing our way. In this case the train was packed with Japanese school children on a day outing.  We hopped off the train from Kyoto at Nara assuming the park would be close by. The children stayed on the train. As it turns out we needed to get off at Kintetsu Nara Station. Follow the school children!

Hungry Nara Deer

Hungry Deer

Don’t Immediately Feed the Deer

After a bit of wandering we got back on the train and made it to the correct stop.We’d learned our lesson and followed the children from the station to the park where you can’t miss the deer. They’re everywhere, in the street, on the sidewalk and all over the park. They are cute and smaller than we’re used to seeing with sweet fuzzy horns. I couldn’t wait to give them treats (deer biscuit) and watch them gently nibbling from my hand. I purchased three packs of cookies pronto. One pack for each of us, although my children had drifted off, holding back just observing the deer. Sillies! We were there to have the full experience, feeding deer included. I began to unwrap the biscuits and look for a hungry deer when all hell broke loose. Within seconds, I was surrounded by 8 to 10 hungry, very assertive deer. There was a lot of gobbling and snuffling. Before I knew it one large guy had flanked me and then it got ugly. He bit me on the back! By this time my children were laughing hysterically and I had thrown all three packs of biscuits in the air. School children were snickering and pointing and the back of my shirt was soaked in deer spit. Anyway, just hold off on the feeding until you’ve got the lay of the land and are near only one  or two deer.

Deer at Nara, Japan

Soft Fuzzy Horns

Watch Your Step

Don’t step in deer poop. It’s everywhere. This seems like obvious advice, but I can’t stress enough how much poop there is on the grass, street and sidewalks.

Resting Deer at Nara

 

If you heed these three bits of advice, you should have a marvelous time in Nara. The deer are amazing and unlike any we see in America. You can pat their downy horns and take photos with your arm around them. They aren’t out to get you. They just really like their snacks!

 

Harry, The Hedgehog Cafe, Tokyo, Japan

July 25, 2016 at 3:39 pm


Harry, The Hedgehog Cafe, Tokyo, Japan

In so many ways Japan proved to be one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited. There is an amazing mix of ancient shrines and temples, stunning natural beauty and over the top cuteness. In Japan “kawaii”, the quality of cuteness, is pervasive. Stores carry a huge variety of cute stuffed animals, stickers, key chains and clothing printed with darling images. Young women dress in all manner of cute styles from lacy little anklets to giant, floppy hair bows. In the early 2000’s the passion for cuteness and the inability to own pets due to small apartments and long work hours gave birth to the cat cafe craze. These themed cafes attracted young people who couldn’t enjoy the affection and stress reducing qualities of a pet at home. Quickly, tourists caught on to the fun and all sorts of themed cafes started popping up. Cat, rabbit, owl, goat and hedgehog cafes. Yes, hedgehog! How could we pass up the chance to play with hedgehogs?

Hedgehog Cafe, Tokyo

Hedgehogs Waiting to be Chosen

I booked our hedgehog extravaganza online at “Harry,” the hedgehog Cafe located in Roppongi directly underneath the rabbit cafe. I’ll say even their web site is cuteness on steroids. “Try to gently feel the softness of Hedgehog. Lovely eyes, little hands and legs, fluffy stomach but tingly back, their cuteness could make you so amazed that sometimes you need to pinch yourself.” The hedgehog cafe was too popular to just drop in, so we booked for our return to Tokyo in 9 nine days. The fee was about $9.40 per 30 minutes, per person and included self-serve beverages such as tea. We could bring our own drinks(non-alcohol) and snacks, but honestly it was all about the hogs for us.

Hedgehog Cafe

Number 4 Awaiting Some Snuggles

We arrived about 15 minutes early and there was already a large line of people both with and without reservations. At precisely 11:00 the approximately 8-10 of us who had reservations were called in and given our hedgehog handling instructions. Sanitize your hands with alcohol, select your hedgehog from the 12 or so in large glass habits, sit down on a stool and your hog will be brought to you in a shoe box sized container. You may pick them up, but be sure to hold them securely, over their little box.

Bonding with Her Choice

Bonding with Her Choice

Hedgehog Cafe

A Properly Held Hog

It was time to get personal with the hedgehogs. I picked a fairly active looking little guy. Hedgehogs are nocturnal so many were curled in little balls. My son picked a sleeper and daughter chose a very active hog. The personality of our choices emerged at once. Shannon’s squirmed so much it was challenging to pick up. My son’s slept through the entire experience and that was just fine with both of them. Mine immediately pooped and peed all over me. Yikes. Hedgehog pee is stinky and I was a mess for the rest of the morning. The hogs are definitely prickly. We never actually got to tickle their “fluffy stomach.” They are not cuddly, but darn are they cute! We found that 30 minutes with them was plenty of time to acquaint us with hedgehogs and fully appreciate how adorable they are. I was cured of my desire to keep one as a pet, however. What with sleeping all day and the prickliness, I’m sticking with ordinary house cats.

 

Our 2015 Denmark, Sweden and Germany Trip Budget

July 22, 2016 at 3:31 pm

tOur 2015 Denmark, Sweden and Germany Trip Budget

In the interest of comparison, I’ve decided to take a look at our budget and expenses for our 2015 Europe trip. You can read about our 2016 Japan budget here. We knew we wanted to go back to Europe after spending two weeks in Ireland, London and Paris the year before. We weren’t sure where we would go, so we watched for airfare deals in countries we might want to visit. When a good deal on a flight to Copenhagen popped up we jumped on it. Scandinavia is well known for being pricey, but was definitely on our bucket list. We had heard wonderful things about Berlin, so we added a week in Germany. Once again, there were three adults and the trip was my treat. So here’s what we spent:

Airfare (American)                                            1954.

Hotels: Copenhagen (3 Nights)                       460.
Stockholm (3)                                                      354.
Hamburg (2)                                                        361.
Copenhagen Airport(1)                                     267.

Airbnb Berlin(5 nights)                                     459.

Eurail Passes and Reservations                     1028.

Stockholm Subway Pass                                      60.
Hamburg Subway Pass                                        62.
Berlin Subway Pass                                             137.

Tours: Hamburg Miniature Museum               38.
Berlin Fat Tire Bike                                             165.
Berlin Trabi Tour                                                 132.

Starting Cash (euro, Kroner, etc.)                   500.

Spending Money                                               2700.

__________________________________

Total                                                                   $8677

 

The conclusion? This was a 14 day trip for 3 adults. We averaged $620 per day and $2892 per person. Again, certain expenses were shared, so the average doesn’t reflect what a single traveler would pay. Compared to our Japan trip(18 days, $7989 total, $444 per day,$2663 per person) we spent quite a bit more. I’d say we’re learning.

 

The Madonna Inn

July 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

[The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

As a child growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s a highlight of any road trip on California’s central coast was a stop at The Madonna Inn. It was built in 1958 by Alex and Phyllis Madonna in San Luis Obispo as a roadside inn for travelers headed up and down the coast.The iconic inn continues to delight children and adults today. The inn is mentioned in countless travel articles and shows. The rise in vogue of all things mid-century it is making it even more celebrated. Let’s take a quick tour!

The Kitsch

From the second you walk through the door you realize this is no sleek, Mad Men style 50’s retreat. This is over the top, pink and jewel toned, Bavarian, silk floral, carved maple work of brilliance. There are copper tables and lite fixtures, plush red leather banquettes and possibly acres of floral patterned carpet. The Madonnas had a hand in every aspect of the design from the leaded glass windows to the signature goblets. Mrs Madonna loved roses, anything pink and plushiness. A woman after my own heart.

The Madonna Inn Dining Room

The Gold Rush Steak House

The Deliciousness

The food at the Inn is vintage American style fare. The Copper Cafe serves burgers, sandwiches and a generous breakfast. We found them reasonably priced and tasty. The Gold Rush Steak House is a wonderful place to experience a 1960’s posh style dining experience. Take a look at the giant rock fireplace which includes real dinosaur vertebrae as you enter. We’d recommend a martini, the Green Goddess avocado toast appetizer and the local Abalone entree. They serve a great variety of local central coast wines, including their own label, and the dessert……. well dessert is one of the best reasons to stop at the Madonna Inn! The bakery is world-famous for a reason. They have a great selection of pies, cookies and pastries, but their cakes are truly amazing. We tried the pink champagne, which wasn’t pink that day due to a pink chocolate shortage (I’m not kidding) and the toffee crunch. They were both delicious and so pretty.

Amazing Cakes

Amazing Cakes

The Restrooms

As a child I remember being enchanted by the tiny toilet and wash basin in the ladies room which remain today. The restrooms alone are worth a stop to the inn. The ladies rooms feature hand painted Italian tile and marble counters. It’s the downstairs, men’s room, however that is the most awesome. The giant waterfall urinal and clam shell sinks have been a lure for women sneaking into the gents for years. Ask a male companion or any man exiting if the coast is clear. Really, ladies, it’s a badge of honor and worth the potential embarrassment.

The Madonna Inn Ladies Room

Your Beauty is Your Smile!

The Grounds

 

Mrs Madonna loved roses and flowers of all kinds. There are gorgeous pink roses, fanciful wishing wells, water fountains (rare in California these days) and loads of whimsical features covering the property. Take a walk out to view the lion cage that was once home to, Duchess, the Madonna Inn lion. Rumor has it that you could actually pet her. Yikes!

The Madonna Inn's Gorgeous Roses

Gorgeous Roses

The Hotel

We haven’t had a chance to stay at the hotel but it is famed for it’s 110 unique rooms. They are each, individually decorated to the hilt in fun themes. Personally, I’d like to try the Daisy Mae with rock floors and walls, waterfall shower and garland lights. The Just Heaven looks wonderful with spiral staircase, cherubs and private viewing tower. It would be so hard to make up my mind! Click here to get an idea of all the choices. They have a gorgeous pool, whirlpool, spa, hot pink tennis and basketball courts and horseback riding.

I love any spot you can get a glimpse of another time and The Madonna Inn is pure vintage 50’s and 60’s. What about you? Have you “time-traveled” recently?

 

 

5 Things to See at Harrods

July 15, 2016 at 3:16 am

] 5 Things to See at Harrods

Covering over 5 acres and 1,000,000 square feet, a visit to London’s Harrods department store can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get sensory overload and miss some of the standout experiences on a trip to this iconic store. In 2010 the store was sold to the Qatari royal family who have continued Harrod’s reputation for opulence. We spent an entire afternoon wandering the store and still just saw a fraction of the glamor and spectacle. Their motto “All Things, For All People, Everywhere” gives a clue to how much there is to see. These are our 5 “must see” tips for visiting Harrods.

Art

Check out the Halcyon Gallery on the second floor. The gallery displays works by world renowned artists such as Lorenzo Quinn, Salvador Dali and Bob Dylan on a rotating basis. When we were there we saw Andy Warhol’s Mao series.

Harrods Andy Warhol Mao Exhibit

Architecture

Don’t miss the Egyptian escalator located in the center of the store running up all seven floors. At the base of the lower ground floor you will find one of two memorials to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. Complete with sphinxes, hieroglyphs and celestial ceiling the escalators make for a fun ride. At the Basil Street entrance to the Grand Hall you can see the Amber and Gold Chandelier commissioned by Dale Chihuly comprised of 1400 hand blown glass elements.

Events

Be sure to check their website or handy app for timely events happening during your visit. Are you interested in a free coffee masterclass, children’s toy detective mystery game, storytelling or mind blowing creations out of jelly? Harrods is famous for their unique and sometimes quirky special events.

Food Halls

A shopper could spend hours exploring the food halls and come away with an appreciation for the huge selection of food and drink from all over the world. Truffles, caviar, champagne, chocolates, jams, jellies, oysters, even Krispy Kreme Donuts….the list is endless. You’re bound to see ice sculptures in the fish department and each item is artfully displayed. Spend a few minutes taking in the wall murals and gorgeous art deco ceilings. In case you’re worried it’s all outside your budget, a recent survey found Harrods meat prices less than Asda and Tesco. This is a great place to put together a picnic to enjoy in the park after your visit.

Harrods Oyster Bar

Luxury Items

We had a wonderful time wandering the store gaping at the ultra-luxury items on display. We saw $400 t-shirts and $250,000 watches. There are tiny, golden python handbags and itty bitty $1000 bottles of perfume. While none of these items fell within our means, it was such fun to daydream and window shop.

Harrods Watch

A visitor could spend days exploring Harrods’s. They truly do have something for everyone. Have you wandered the Food Halls? What was your favorite site?

 

 

 

Our Meeting the French Bakery Tour

July 12, 2016 at 7:37 pm


Meeting the French Bakery tour

My two adult children are often aggravated with me because I am an over planner. I believe half the fun of a vacation is researching and booking your time well before hand. My daughter was very surprised when we got to Paris and didn’t have every minute of the trip planned out. I knew we would see the big sites, but to be honest Paris overwhelmed me a bit. I had been apprehensive about the Parisian’s brusque reputation . From the minute we got off the train however, things felt really wonderful. We got lost walking to our hotel and a lovely French woman led us all the way to it.  This was the first of some great surprises. The Parisians were so warm and welcoming!  

I asked my daughter what she wanted to do and she decided she would love to tour a French bakery.  I didn’t think I would be able to make this happen without reservations weeks in advance, but started researching on the internet just in case. There were a number of companies that offered bakery tours or special tastings, but they were very expensive and already booked up. Then I found Meeting the French. This company offers special experiences like tours of bakeries, flower markets and vintage shopping excursions with a Parisian guide to give a behind the scenes experience. After some discussion, we decided to book a baking lesson at a French bakery for the next day.

The bakery was tucked away on a quiet street, but we had no trouble finding it. We met our guide and the one other participant inside and were taken to the back room for introductions and an overview of the morning’s activities. Our guide was amazing! She graciously translated the French of the baker to Japanese for the other guest and English for us. She never missed a beat and was able to make the complicated process of making baguettes understandable to each of us.

French Baker with Baguettes

Our Charming French Baker

We headed down into the basement of the small, family-owned bakery, where our baker charmed us with humorous anecdotes and inside stories about life as a Parisian baker. He gave us an overview of the types of flour and other ingredients used to bake traditional Parisian baguettes. He explained the difference between boulangeries (bread bakeries) and patisseries (pastry bakeries.) Baguettes are created using a very specific set of rules: #55 flour, Parisian water, hot steam ovens and careful shaping techniques. Once we had the rules down, we started  baking. He guided us through each step until we had created a variety of breads and croissants. When we got our loaves into the oven we headed back upstairs for a mini pastry baking lesson. It was fun to see all of the fillings for the elaborate pastries.

Learning to Mark Baguettes

Learning to Mark Baguettes

Two hours later we left the bakery loaded with toasty, fresh baguettes, croissants and a deep affection for the French. We would heartily recommend this tour. Our tour cost 113 euros each and lasted over 2 hours. Our guide and baker were warm, friendly and knowledgeable. We definitely loved “Meeting the French!”

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Bua Tong, Chiang Mai Thailand’s “Sticky” Waterfall.

July 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm

[Bua Tong, Chiang Mai Thailand's Sticky Waterfall

In October, 2015 I visited Chiang Mai, Thailand with small group of friends. Our itinerary included some intriguing day trips to the countryside. From the beginning, I was very excited to see that we were headed to the Bua Tong waterfall, also known as the “Sticky Waterfalls.” The trip makes a wonderful day, or even just half day, excursion outside of the city. These very unique falls are a “must see” stop that I definitely recommend visiting.

Sticky Falls 10-22-15 2

 

 

We were picked up in the morning by our Thai hosts and made a quick stop at the Rimping supermarket to load up on snacks for our picnic lunch. We hit the road in a 10 passenger van for what was a pretty 90 minute highway drive up to the falls. We parked, walked a few hundred yards and set up our picnic at the top of the falls. My first impression was that these were definitely not your average rocks under the water.

 

Bua Tong Chiang Mai Sticky Waterfall

Warm Water, Firm Footing and a Beautiful View

 

 

The limestone rocks are covered in mineral deposits which look slippery or even muddy, but are rough to the touch making them perfect for climbing. They are sort of a putty color with crystal clear, warm water flowing over them. We visited at the tail end of the rainy season, so the water gushed quickly, but climbing the rocks was remarkably easy. We hiked down the uneven steps to the bottom of the first, top fall and started the climb back up the actual falls. I was tentative at first, being 56 and not much of an athlete. I didn’t want to get stuck halfway up, so I took it slow. Whenever I needed a rest or wasn’t sure of the best route up I took a break and just relaxed, enjoying the experience. The falls are steep but truly “sticky” with rough, porous hand and foot holds. By avoiding any green, mossy patches and going slowing I got a feel for it. In some of the steepest areas there are guide ropes but I was careful to plan the best route from the bottom up first.

Bua Tong Sticky Waterfall Chiang Mai Thailand

It Looks Slippery, But It’s Great For Climbing!

 

 

Eventually, I gained enough confidence to walk all the way to the bottom of the five waterfalls and slowly make my way climbing through them back to the top. It was a workout and so much fun! The green forest, clear warm water and strange, sticky rocks make amazing scenery.

We enjoyed our picnic at the top of the falls where there were just a dozen or so other visitors. We relaxed, changed into dry clothes and then headed back to town for a stop at Love at First Bite Bakery to share stories of our adventure.

Tips:

Songthaew drivers can be hired for the half day to drive you to the falls and wait for you for a very reasonable fee. Your hotel or hostel can be helpful setting this up for you.

Bring a change of clothes, snacks and a Zip lock bag for your phone to take pictures.

This is a much loved place for Thai people to relax and picnic. It is prudent to dress modestly. Shorts and t-shirts are more appropriate than bikinis.

We saw a tiny water snake in the falls. It was probably harmless, but like anywhere in nature, it is wise  to be aware of your surroundings!

I would wear flip flops or water shoes for the steps to the bottom and then remove them for the actual climb through the waterfall. You will want to feel the rocks beneath your feet.

 

I hope you have a chance to visit this special and unique spot.

 

Our 2016 Japan Trip Budget

July 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Takayama Village

We decided to go to Japan on a whim when we found a Black Friday sale on Singapore Air. My daughter had been lobbying to go there for a long time, so the opportunity to fly for just $600 a piece was too great to pass up. I had heard that Japan was expensive, but also that this was a good time to go with a strong dollar and weak yen. I purchased first class Japan Rail passes so that we could reserve seats. To be honest, I was excited to experience the Japanese rail system at it’s best and we had 7 cities to visit, so the extra splurge felt justified. I reserved all of our accommodations two to three months ahead and was pretty careful to balance our needs and budget. I decided to spend about two thirds of our time in Airbnb rentals to give us a bit of extra space, the chance to do laundry plus the ability to cook meals ourselves. During the planning stages, my budgeting felt prudent, not too decadent.
When we arrived, as has happened before, I began to worry that I was spending money hand over fist. I seemed to waffle between one minute throwing caution to the wind, because we may never have the opportunity again and other times running constant numbers in my head. I think because the yen doesn’t simply convert to dollars and taking large sums of cash out at a time saves transaction fees, it was easy to feel like we were barreling through money. So, how did we actually do? When I got home I looked at our spending and jotted down some figures.

 

Airline Tickets (Singapore Air, Black Friday Sale) 1900.

Japan Rail Passes (First Class)                             1648.

Airbnb   Tokyo (4 nights)                                         621.

              Kyoto (3 nights)                                           349.

              Hiroshima (2 Nights)                                 233.

              Asakusa Tokyo (3 nights)                          361.

 

Ryokans Narita  (1 night)                                         161.

               Kanazawa (2 nights)                                  272.

               Takayama (2 nights)                                 348.

               Yudanaka (1 night)                                     149.

Sumo Tour (Viator)                                                  363.

Starting Cash                                                             500.

Spending Money                                                     2568.

___________________________________________________________

Total                                                                     $7989.

My conclusion? This was an 18 day trip for three adults, averaging $444 a day. At $2663 per person, it feels quite reasonable. Granted, it’s not realistic to average all costs because accommodations and many meals were split, but I’m still content with the final figures. I think the important lesson is to do my best to plan wisely, include some extra padding for unexpected costs and then relax and enjoy the experience.

 

Put Away Your Smartphone and Bring These 5 Items on Vacation.

July 2, 2016 at 4:54 pm


Put Down Your Smartphone and Bring These 5 Items on Your Next Vacation
Since we have started traveling together in their adulthood my kids and I have been lost looking for the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen, one block from our hotel in Stockholm, driving through the countryside in Ireland and pretty much every square inch of Tokyo. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been by the same spot three or four times, one of us always swears we’ve never been there before. We all diligently drop a pin on Google maps for our hotel or Airbnb location the minute we check in. We have been led to our destination by literally dozens of kind locals who have taken pity on us. Sadly, most of this confusion has taken place even with the use of SIM cards, Google maps, TripIt, HyperDia and many other technological aids.

 

Back before the smartphone we traveled in a completely different way. Sure, there were occasional clueless bumblings but on the whole we had a far deeper sense of where we were going and what we were up to. An uncharted territory felt less like a mistake and more like an adventure. Another great aspect of this old-fashioned, retro style travel was that when we got there we looked around, we participated and were present. We didn’t need to check Instagram for the best angle to photograph the Eiffel Tower. We looked at it! While I would not recommend traveling without a smartphone, including these five, old-school items in your bag can change your perspective and enhance your trip.

 

Maps

 

Some benefits of paper maps are obvious. More than once we’ve been lost and worried our phones would go dead because we forgot to charge or didn’t bring a charging device. Using a real map forces us to look around instead of staring at a dot on Google. We’ve been known to run across town from one attraction to another, when there were interesting things to see right in the same neighborhood. Successful map reading leaves us with a sense of self reliance and opens our eyes to our surroundings.

 

Guide Books

 

Sometimes expert advice makes a great difference in how you experience a new place. In today’s world of Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, everyone can represent themselves as travel critics. Fodor’s and Lonely Planet guides provide valuable, well researched background on the sites we come to see. We have walked through Japanese temples clueless about their history when if we’d used a guidebook we would have gained more appreciation for them.

 

Postcards

 

It can be fun to pick up a few postcards from each location you visit and write some impressions to yourself and friends during your down time. If you mail them from your hotel or a local post office, they will provide you with a special written memory of your trip when you get home complete with local stamps and postmarks.

 

Sketch Books

I’ve written before about the enjoyment I get from using a sketchbook to record my memories. They force me to slow down and look around, really taking in the sites of a new place. My sketches aren’t great art but I’m improving and spending less vacation time on Facebook.

 

Binoculars

 

There were so many times on our last trip when a small pair of binoculars or opera glasses would have made the trip more fun. We saw sumo wrestling matches and spent a lot of time on our phones taking photos to view later. Binoculars would have given us a better picture of the spectacle in the moment. They could be used to examine buildings up close and wildlife that is normally unapproachable.

 

I’ve spent loads of time researching travel hacks and smartphone apps, but I’m beginning to think it’s time to start traveling “old-school.” Maybe our parents were on to something? What do you think?

 

5 Ways to Save Beautiful Vacation Memories

June 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm
What Will These Guys Remember?

What Will These Guys Remember?

In my early 20’s I made two summer trips to London England by myself. These were wonderful, life altering adventures that I will remember always. It’s funny but the smell of exhaust will instantly transport me back to London in the early 80’s. I know, pretty crazy! Most people have negative associations to it but to me it brings joyful memories. One of the most important parts of travel in my opinion is the way it creates lasting memories. Here are five simple tips to enhance those memories.

 

Include Special Scents

 

Smells can powerfully transport us back in time. The scent of pine forests or lake waters will remind us of places we visited as a child. When I was 14 on my first trip to Europe I wore Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers piña colada flavor lip-gloss. Now, whenever I smell piña colada I think of that trip. I like to select a special travel size perfume and wear it every day while I am away. Then I only need to open up the little bottle when I get home to be reminded of the special place I went. I have included scented sachets in my luggage to keep my clothes fresh and create a memory.

 

Create a Playlist

 

The sounds of a place can create poignant memories. Whenever I’m in a natural setting I make a special point to listen for the birds, water flowing, or sound of the breeze in the trees. You can create your own special sound remembrances by downloading playlists of special music to Pandora or Spotify to listen to on the train or plane. Think of all the gorgeous Parisian songs like La Vie En Rose, La Boheme or the entire soundtrack to Les Miserables. How about Abba’s greatest hits when you stop in Stockholm? Then each time you hear these songs you will think of your trip.

 

Sketch Your Trip

 

I think we all know the importance of taking photographs to remember a vacation but I have recently discovered the joy of sketching. There are a many marvelous little books like Urban Sketchbook that will teach you to draw what you see. I practiced drawing bowing dear, snow monkeys and geisha on our recent trip to Japan. Sketching encourages you to slow down and be in the moment, noticing things you wouldn’t catch in a photograph.

 

Create a Video

 

There are plenty of apps like imovie and Splice that will help you make a simple video of your travels. One of my favorite bloggers, Laura Gummerman, created this sweet video of her trip to Paris. https://youtu.be/CIfZGiBa_ew

This is a great, simple article on making travel videos: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Good-Travel-Video

 

Have a Slideshow

 

I miss the days when neighbors, friends and family would get together to watch slideshows of each other’s vacation. This was a fun way to spend an evening at home. Invite friends who have also recently been on a trip to share their photos. Keep it short with each group contributing 5-10 minutes of their favorite photos. Mix up some cocktails, clear a space on your wall and use a projector to hold your own travel club.

 

How do you keep travel memories fresh? Scrap booking? Instagram? Let me know in the comments.

 

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