You know them when you meet them: those people who always keep their passport on hand, who can pack for an international trip in about twenty minutes flat, who’ve almost never met a travel idea they didn’t like, who would rather take three international trips a year than own a car. They never get tired of exploring.
Scientists might have discovered why some people tend towards wanderlust and others don’t.
One gene in particular, simply known as DRD4, is associated with dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain’s natural “feel good” reward chemicals. For example, it’s released when we eat a delicious piece of chocolate cake or when we win at a race after training for months.
A derivative of DRD4, called DRD4-7R, is what’s come to be known as the “wanderlust gene.” In people who have it — only about 20 percent of the population — it shows up with an increased curiosity, restlessness, and desire to explore. And the one thing that almost all people who have DRD4-7R share in common? A history of traveling.
While nailing down the urge to explore and travel to only one piece of DNA might seem a bit simplistic, part of this unique gene mutation might be linked to the fact that the human brain and body are uniquely suited for exploration: unlike other primates, we have legs and hips that are designed to walk long distances; we have hands that can perform incredibly detailed tasks; and our brains are large and are naturally wired for creativity and change. Another source of the 7R gene might be those people groups in human history that experienced mass migration over long distances — they cultivated and passed on a relentless curiosity about new territory because that was what they were doing for generations.
Dr Richard Paul Ebstein, Professor of Psychology at the National University of Singapore, explored the question of the “travel gene” more in depth in this recent article. Regardless of its origin, Ebstein notes that people who possess the 7R mutation are people who exhibit “novelty seeking or extroverted behavior”.
Sound like anyone you know?
If you’re longing for your next great adventure, let’s talk travel! You can get in contact with me today by clicking here.
Four types of spiritual vacations — which one is right for you?
Researchers speculate that the surge in spiritual tourism involves several factors, ranging from our skewed work-life balance to the current global popularity of Pope Francis. Bestselling books like Eat, Pray, Love and Wild can make spiritual tourism seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but as author Lori Erickson points out, “People have been making treks to holy sites for millennia — in fact, these types of locations are probably the oldest form of tourism.”
The stereotype of the seeker-traveler is the unencumbered college student who’s trying to “find himself.” But people of all ages and all walks of life seek meaningful experiences for many reasons: a longing to reconnect to the Big Questions in life, as a response to dramatic life changes (grief, loss, milestone celebrations, overcoming adversity), or simply out of genuine curiosity and devotion. Whatever the varied motivations, over 300 million people will visit the major religious sites each year (this year being an exception), and a quarter of all Americans say they’d like to plan a faith-centered trip. Even if you don’t consider yourself a religious person, there are many ways to approach this type of travel, depending on what you’re interested in. Here are four ways to consider planning your spirit-nourishing trip.
1. Person-centered journeys. While this type of trip might be more common for people who practice a specific religion, it can also be centered around people you’ve deeply admired, are curious about, or who’ve had a profound impact on your life. It’s a wonderful way to connect with the history and cultural context of people in religious history, and to connect with the real stories of spiritual figures. Examples: Visiting places of significance to Jesus, the Buddha, Rumi, Mother Theresa, or St. Francis. Or picking a theme, like your favorite women in religious history, or the hometowns of your favorite saints. Where: The Holy Land, Montenegro, India, Turkey, Italy and more.
2. Location-centered journeys. There are certain places that in and of themselves are thought to be spiritual. This can be connected to their histories — specific events such as Oberammergau’s nearly four-centuries-old Passion Play, certain people or groups of people that lived there — but it also can be the surrounding landscape or the breathtaking architecture in that location. Sometimes places are considered spiritually “charged” because of the presence of certain magnetic or energetic fields in the area (this is common in deserts). Examples: a holy temple, synagogue, mosque, or chapel; energetic vortexes in deserts; mountaintop monasteries. Where: Rishikesh, India; Sedona, AZ; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Mt. Shasta, CA; The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock), Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
3. Activity-centered journeys. Maybe you’ve been practicing yoga for several years and want to learn more in an intensive course. Maybe you’re looking to deepen your meditative practice. Maybe you’re searching for ways to give back, to have your travel also be an act of service to others. There are many places that offer a wide variety of ways to nourish your spirit by engaging in activities that are meaningful to you and to others. You can even be a monk for a month — a cultural and spiritual immersion program in Nepal, Cambodia, or India — if that’s something you’re interested in trying. Examples: Yoga intensives; silent retreats; voluntourism with a reputable organization; writing, art, or music retreats. Where: yoga centers around the globe; Taize in Burgundy, France; Nepal; Thailand; Cambodia; South Korea; India; meditation centers in the US and globally; anywhere where trusted organizations operate and organize volunteer opportunities.
4. The-journey-is-the-destination journeys. The poet Gary Snyder said, “Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind.” Perhaps there’s no better evidence for this than the ancient tradition of taking a walking pilgrimage. Sometimes silent and often lasting for days or even weeks, these journeys provide the unique opportunity to still the mind and spirit, to be in nature, to take a much-needed break from screen time, to challenge the body, and to experience the warm hospitality of strangers along the way. For the devout and non-religious alike, pilgrimages often prove to be powerfully transformative undertakings. Where: El Camino de Santiago, Spain; Char Dham, India; Kumano Ancient Trail, Japan; Machu Pichu, Peru.
Given the frenetic and frantic pace of modern life — and how easy it is to feel disconnected from the things that matter most to us — a vacation that is truly a retreat might be the exact thing you need right now. If you’re feeling the urge to reconnect with a part of yourself that’s essential and meaningful, but that sometimes gets lost in the busyness of daily living, I’d love to help design your spirit-centered journey. Contact me today!
Here are some creative tips on how to save money for your next trip. Use these tips and start ticking off all those destinations on your bucket list.
1. Get rid of your expensive habits
If you can cut 50% of these habits, you will have enough money to do anything you want. Drink less coffee, try cheaper liquor, prepare your own meals, avoid expensive nightclubs and seek alternative ways to have fun.
2. Get an app to track your daily expenses
You can either download a budget app or you can open a Google Sheet to help you to track every dollar you spend and get a handle on where you can save. Examples of the apps you can use include; Trail Wallet, TrabeePocket, and Concur.
We all have our favorite shopping targets. Sign up for their newsletters and apps so you’re always in the know. Most companies notify their subscribers when there are offers to be had and provide a heads up on upcoming promotions and sales. A good trick is to create an email address for all your newsletter subscriptions.
5. Unplug all your devices during your absence
Imagine how much saving you will make on utility bills if all your devices are offline when you are not using the house? Use an extension cord and connect all your devices to it so that with one flip, you can switch off all your appliances.
Warning: leave the alarm on!
6. Change your cell phone plan
You do not need 1200 minutes a month. Try to use internet tools such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook to chat with your friends. They are almost always online anyway. Downgrade your cellphone plan and use a Pay As You Go plan.
7. Cancel your Memberships
Are you going on a long trip? Cancel your gym membership, your country club membership and all those other places that you will not be going while on the trip.
8. Pick up some freelance work
If you are planning to travel on a budget, you can pick up small gigs such as teaching English to supplement your traveling budget.
9. Don’t buy books!
Almost any book worth reading is available online. Unless you have a problem staring at a screen for long, you will save a lot of money just downloading the book into your laptop or smartphone.
10. Sell your old clothes on eBay
Why do you keep making room for clothes that you no longer wear? You are better off selling them and putting this money in a checking account that you can use during your vacation. Even better, why don’t you sell off everything that you can live without?
11. Wait for the movie on Netflix
You do not need to go see the movie in the theater. All you need is to wait a little bit longer for it come out on Netflix.
12. A change jar
Grab an old vase or large beverage container and repurpose it into a change jar. Every time you come home with small change in your pockets drop it in the jar. You’d be surprised how fast it accumulates. This will help fund your next vacation and/or give you a little more spending power during your travels.
13. Got a raise? Save it
If you recently got a raise, don’t include it in your budget. Save it for your next trip. The same can be done when you pay off your credit cards! Put that amount in a separate account and watch it grow.
14. Limit your utility bills
You do this by spending a few less minutes in the shower, dry your clothes outside, don’t drain your water heater, turn off your automatic sprinklers during the rainy season, cancelling your cable subscription and use Netflix, eliminate your land line, etc.
15. Offer to babysit
There are hundreds of parents in your neighborhood who would want some free time and are looking for a responsible adult to take care of their kids for a few hours. If you are the kind of person who loves children, you could make a few extra bucks spending time with them.
BONUS! Volunteer on a cruise ship and travel for free
Cruise ships are always looking for people to do tasks such as cooking, serving, entertaining etc. Research and understand what’s on offer on a cruise ship. You’ll get to visit all the destinations that the cruise ship docks without spending a penny.
Have a creative way to make or save money on your next trip? Don’t hesitate to share with us in the comments. Are you ready to chat about your next trip? Contact Us!
Having to stay home during the pandemic isn’t easy for anyone. Even if you are taking advantage of the slowed pace, or are finding unexpected joy in the quiet — this time can still be a time of restlessness, uncertainty, and anxiety. You probably know someone (maybe yourself!) who had to cancel a destination wedding, a summer vacation, or a trip they’d been anticipating for months or even years.
If you’re someone who loves to travel, restricted movement can feel especially discouraging. Travel isn’t just about going places. It’s about the entire experience, the anticipation, the joy, about who you are and who you become when you visit someplace new.
There can be a real sorrow in the letting go, especially amidst so many other changes and unknowns. One thing I’ve heard a lot of people saying is, “I wish I hadn’t put off taking that trip I always wanted to take.”
But believe it or not, now is a great time to be planning your post-Corona-celebration trip.
There are a few reasons that this downtime is the ideal time to give me a call and get started planning your vacation of a lifetime.
1. The travel restrictions won’t last forever. I know it can feel like it when you’re staring down weeks or months of having your biggest excursions be to the grocery store! But this is an event with an end. Beginning to dream and plan now can be a wonderful way to nurture hope and excitement, and to keep your mind focused on all the good things that will be possible again.
2.There are many deals to be had. All around the world, resorts and venues and restaurants and parks are just as eager to have you return as you are to get out into the world again. They want you to visit, and they are ready to offer incredible deals. As your agent, I have access to discounts and VIP perks that these businesses are waiting to offer.
3. It’s easy to build in travel protections when you book. You don’t have to worry about losing money if something comes up. Many airlines and resorts are offering penalty-free cancellations or adjustments. They know these are unusual times, and they want to be as flexible as possible. Remember: they want your business! Travel protection insurance offers additional peace of mind.
4. Perhaps begin closer to home. We may be a bit hesitant to circle the globe for a while. There are so many amazing destinations near you to enjoy! National Parks, river cruises and significant sights abound in many countries. Some of the best National Parks in the world are located right here in the U.S.! Destinations of breathtaking natural beauty, a number of them feature fascinating cultural significance. Cruise along one of many U.S. rivers in luxury onboard charming paddle-wheelers, reveling in captivating history and incredible scenery along the journey.
One of the many amazing gifts of traveling is that it teaches us resilience, curiosity, and how to find joy in the little things.
Wherever you are right now, I encourage you to embrace this moment and start dreaming of your next adventure. When we emerge again, imagine the new appreciation we’ll have for things like bustling cafes, sunlit beaches, and just being able to interact face to face again. There are so many beautiful things ahead. When you’re ready to get started, you can find me here. I can’t wait to chat with you about future adventures!
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to taste and savor all kinds of new and delicious foods, whether you’re driving across the state or flying across the world. And, without a doubt, it’s fun to let go a little and eat things you wouldn’t normally eat during a week at home—that’s part of the freedom and excitement of being on vacation!
But we all know the feeling when we’ve had way too much for too many days in a row: the total lack of energy, the bloating, dehydration, headaches, or hangovers, the pronounced jet lag, the increased susceptibility to getting sick. All of these things can really get in the way of maximizing your travel enjoyment. And if you’re someone with food restrictions, you know the added frustration of trying to find good food that will be good to you, too!
The great news is that it’s easier than ever to make the kinds of food choices that will keep you healthy and energized while you’re away from your usual routine. Here are some simple ways to eat great while you’re taking in the best moments of your trip:
1. Plan ahead
Often when we’re traveling, we’re out of routine and aren’t eating at regular intervals. Sometimes we can go several hours without eating anything. Contrary to the popular myth that you should hold off eating to “save room” for a big meal, going for long stretches without eating actually slows metabolism and causes your body to become sluggish and tired and hang on to calories. Our bodies experience these periods as “mini-starvations” and send our brains into panic mode. To keep blood sugar stable and avoid energy lapses (which can then lead to overcompensating with high-sugar or fried foods), aim for eating a little bit every couple of hours while in transit and while you’re out and about, in the form of foods that are nutrient-dense and high in lean protein. Pack snacks for easy access: nuts, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, firm fruits (like apples), veggies and hummus, or natural fruit-and-nut bars.
If you know where you’re staying, scout out restaurants in the area of your hotel. Check with your hotel or resort to peruse menus and see what’s available. Once you arrive, you can use an app like AroundMe to locate healthier restaurants in your area. And check out these smart phone apps that can help you find gluten- and other allergen-free optionswhile you travel.
2. Don’t forget the grocery store!
A supermarket, and especially a local co-op, can be your best ally while traveling. You’ll have easy, cheap access to fresh produce and bulk healthy snacks. You’ll find a wider variety of great foods that are free of gluten, dairy, and other common allergens at a reasonable cost. Plus, many co-ops also have a deli where you can get delicious sandwiches, salads, or wraps to take with you during the day.
3. Your mother was right: get your greens and take your vitamins!
While you’re traveling, your immune system is exposed to tons of new pathogens—especially on airplanes and other mass transit. You want to make sure your body has what it needs to stay healthy and fight germs and process toxins. Don’t forget to pack your multi-vitamin and your other supplements! If you can’t get ready access to fresh greens, consider getting some powdered greens that you can bring with you and easily mix into a glass of water or a morning smoothie.
4. Speaking of morning smoothies….
If you’re really dedicated to getting your daily intake of fruits and veggies, you might even consider bringing along a travel blender. This might seem extreme to some, but consider this: most of them are under $20, fit easily into a suitcase or the back of the car, and can be just the thing to quickly make a power breakfast of fruits, nuts, and vegetables that will keep you going all morning.
5. Drink way more water than you normally do.
Planes and hotel rooms are notoriously dry. Walking around all day expends energy and dehydrates. Often people drink alcohol or sodas with meals, which also are dehydrating. Drinking more than your usual 8 glasses of water a day will keep you energized, hydrate your cells, keep your skin glowing, and will help flush out toxins.
6. Drink less alcohol than everyone around you is drinking.
This can be challenging especially on business trips, where drinking is a familiar pastime. But in addition to worsening dehydration and jet lag, tossing back more than two drinks leads to more unhealthy eating. (A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men take in an extra 433 calories on average from alcohol and food when they consume more than two drinks!)
7. Get your eight hours’ beauty rest.
Easier said than done, I know! But getting decent rest helps steady your metabolism, resets your adrenal system, and boosts your immunity. Being sufficiently rested will make every other choice you face on your vacation so much easier.
8. Try the “one and done” rule.
Let yourself have treats and enjoy them—just keep it to once a day. Get that gorgeous piece of chocolate cake. Have an extra helping of steak fries. Order the thing that’s happily doused with butter, and love every single bite. And then, be done with the less-than-healthy food for that day. There’s always more.
Enjoy the culinary adventure that goes along with your fabulous vacation! However you decide to plan meals on your trip, I’d love to help you get there. If you’re ready to start planning, contact me today. I can’t wait to chat!
Stumped about what to get the traveler in your life? Try these ideas!
When it comes time to buy a travel-loving friend a gift, it’s easy to feel stuck on what to get. Journals are great — but not all travelers are journalers, and those that are often have at least a few blank ones on hand. Here are unique takes on classic ideas for the various kinds of travelers in your life.
For the foodie: send delicious global flavors right to their doorstep. Try The World with top chefs from Argentina to Morocco who assemble gorgeous boxes filled with curated delicacies from each country. Delivered every month, each box contains descriptions for how to use the tasty and exotic flavors in your own recipes.
For the well-accessorized: customize a favorite map to make cufflinks, a bracelet, or pendant. Have a special place you want to commemorate? Maybe the place of a first date, or a favorite childhood destination? This can be a beautiful and deeply personal way to show your traveler that you know what matters to them most.
For the crafty commemorator: check out this simple, beautiful way to re-trace steps and wonderful memories with a map and thread. The maps can be titled, as well. Imagine a wall decorated with these minimalist representations of adventures!
For the traveler who has everything and wants to give back: Why not make a donation to a favorite cause in your traveler’s name? You can choose organizations that support environmental stewardship, advocate for people in crisis, promote education, or help bring beauty, such as Tourism Cares, The TreadRight Foundation or Cool Effect.
For the traveler who’s always up for adventure: Experiences pack the biggest punch, happiness-wise. At Experience Days you can give the gift of a lifelong great memory to someone you care about. Try everything from hang gliding to art lessons throughout the United States. What a great surprise for honeymooners or a friend’s next big adventure!
For the gadget-junkie: this funky, universal worldwide travel adapter is perfect for the tech-savvy traveling family and will help ensure everything stays running smoothly. For the hardcore gadget-junkie, what about these stylish vests, hoodies, and jackets with interior pockets (for men and women) to hold everything from smartphones to keys to water bottles?
For the photographer: If your friend is never without her smartphone or camera, why not make it easy for her to create beautiful, lasting photo albums, calendars, or prints of her best shots? At Artifact Uprising, she can connect directly with her Instagram account and assemble her most gorgeous memories.
The famous playwright Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.”
Those who travel know this well. The places we visit — whether it’s a state park near home or a safari in an exotic locale — have the power to change us in many ways, both simple and profound. We learn about ourselves and others, about being able to deal with uncertainty, about gratitude, about being in the moment and appreciating the world and extraordinary people around us.
What if your next trip could not only change you, but change the world for the better? Have you considered taking a service-centered vacation?
As our world rapidly shrinks due to connectivity and easy access to information, we are becoming more aware of life outside of our small, comparatively privileged bubbles. More and more people are asking how they can make a difference.
Also known as “voluntourism”, service-based trips offer the opportunity to spend your vacation time, skills, and dollars with those who need them most. They’re also great opportunities for kids (and adults!) to learn empathy and gain a perspective on today’s most pressing issues like global poverty, the environmental impact of climate change, the well-being of children, and conservation of animals and the natural world.
Here are a few tips to get you started and help you make the most of any volunteer vacation.
Go with heart, but plan with your head. Like any kind of travel, voluntourism is vulnerable to scams and fraud. I can provide you with names of reputable and responsible companies. Make sure you know what to pack, which vaccinations are required, which fees might apply, and what challenges (if any) might be present in the area or the work you’re about to engage in.
Look for opportunities that encourage relationship. It can be easy and somewhat tempting to pop in someplace, make an appearance, and then leave. Your feel-good emotions are triggered, and you don’t have to commit much of yourself to a place or a project. But that shortchanges both you and the recipients of your good intentions.
The website www.govoluntourism.org puts it like this: “A balanced engagement alternating between voluntary service and tourism activities allows for a reciprocal relationship with communities. The economic impact of tourism is blended with the social impact of volunteering: recipients become servers and servers become recipients.”
Know yourself. If you’ve never been exposed to extreme poverty or the pressing plight of some of the globe’s endangered species, be aware that trips like these can be extremely emotionally demanding. Talk to people, research, ask questions, and be prepared for what you might see and experience.
Especially where kids are involved, always opt for good training and a true time commitment. There are many people who have a deep heart for the suffering of children worldwide, and they want to do something to lift spirits and support good work. Again, look for reputable companies that understand the complex issues associated with working with children and other vulnerable populations. For example, breezing into town and spending an afternoon at an orphanage and then leaving the next day can be very distressing for kids who are already dealing with the pain of leaving and loss. A good volunteer organization will tell you exactly what is required of you to have the greatest positive impact on others’ lives — and you can decide if it’s a commitment you want to make.
Take time to rest and process. When your engagement is over, take at least few days before leaving to get to know the community you’re visiting better (many organizations will build this into your trip), to rest, and to write or talk about your experience with others. Many people are surprised by how life-changing these trips can be — in the best possible ways! — and it can take a while to integrate that new perspective into your everyday life.
Stay in touch. Even if you never visit that particular location again, it’s a good idea and can bring your experience full-circle if you stay connected to the organization you volunteered with. Sign up for newsletter updates; share photos you took; write a note or email a few times a year.
Looking for some more ideas? Check out books like this one, or check out this list to see more trusted organizations. The world is a big place — but you can make a big difference!
As always, I’m thrilled to be in a business that helps connect people with the best places and the best parts of themselves. If you’re ready to plan your next adventure, you can reach me simply by clicking here.