Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, that is me with Rick Steves

Last month I attended a talk by Rick Steves and got to meet him afterwards. He has some unusual opinions but an open mind, both of which probably contribute to his enjoyment of travel. I'll bet he loves that Mark Twain quote I posted a couple of days ago! As you probably know, he's built himself into quite the one-man (not really, I think he has at least 50 employees by now) travel industry. My ambitions are not quite that expansive but it's always good to grow, isn't it? Onward and upward with the Mon Voyage "brand", then.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mark Twain et Moi

Mark Twain and I share a birthday (along with David Mamet, Dick Clark and Winston Churchill, G. Gordon Liddy, Shirley Chisholm, Abbie Hoffman and Jonathan Swift, to name a few). I was recently reminded of a favorite quote from Twain, which I wear emblazoned on a T-shirt featuring a map on the front and these sage words on the back:

"Travel is fatal to bigotry, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness"

The t-shirt stops there, but the entire quote reads as follows:

"Travel is fatal to bigotry, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

Truer words could not be said.

That latter sentence actually reminds me that Roman Catholic social teaching tells us that we have a moral obligation to participate in public life, i.e. to be active members of our civic community, to the extent that we are able. This might range from voting to volunteering, and from lobbying those who are in public office to running to serve as elected officials ourselves. It all boils down to loving our neighbors. If we seal ourselves off from our community or from fellow human beings, both nearby and far away, it's almost impossible to put that commandment into action.

That's a good New Year's resolution: not to vegetate in one's own little corner of the earth (or the town), and to try and develop broad, wholesome charitable views of our fellow man.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Road Trip!??

It's looking like we'll hop in the car and drive about 250 miles to be with a favorite cousin for Christmas. I thought this would be the perfect excuse to share a peek into what makes a road trip more tolerable for me.

If I'm already on a vacation and driving between various destinations is part of the plan, that's one thing. Say, for example, driving Route 66, or hitting several national parks and monuments in one week-long or ten-day stretch. Or spending a week and a half snaking up the unforgettable California coast with several days of winery visits interspersed. On those occasions the scenery makes it more enjoyable, without a doubt. But I'm not the kind of gal who wants to take off on a three-week road trip to the west coast...let me fly out there and THEN we can drive. (Of course, my own lack of enthusiasm for such does not prevent me from designing a humdinger of a road trip for a client.)

So, anyway, we're talking a four and a half hour trip, really not bad in the scheme of things. What are the things that go with us inside the cabin of our auto?

First, a supply of snacks: I need something sweet and something savory. That usually means box of crackers, a couple of granola bars, a bag of roasted cashews, a bag of dried pineapple. We also carry a loaf of some kind of hearty bread. If I'm feeling like a real adult I might take a couple of bananas, too.

Beverages: I wish I could say that wine makes a great road trip sipper, but, alas, that is not legal in most states, and besides, it would make me too sleepy. Instead we'll take a Thermos of strong, hot coffee (decaf, doctor's orders), a few diet Dr. Peppers and some juice boxes. That Thermos full of coffee is not sweetened because darling hubby likes it bitter, so this means that I also carry some sugar packets or a baggie with cubes, plus a spoon, so I can doctor mine.

Music: I must have a supply of music, whether that be on my iPod or in a thick folder of CDs. Nothing too quiet for me on a road trip, as the music is meant to help keep me alert. Our musical tastes run far and wide, so I've got to pack a little bit of everything because I never know what kind of musical mood I might be in from one hour to the next. And you've gotta have music that both driver and passenger(s) can live with. It'll just make people cranky to have to sit through an hour of music they hate when they are cooped up in a car all day long.

Comfort: Gotta wear shoes that slip off and on. And a sweater in case my husband wants more A.C. (or less heat) than I do. Speaking of which, I really should get my car heater fixed at some point...it just doesn't get that cold where I live, so I keep putting it off. Say, the next two or three people who hire me to plan a trip can consider themselves my heater saviors.

Maps: Being a travel geek, I love me some maps. So the car will always contain every map we might need along the way and then some. I've never used a GPS because I dig the folding and unfolding of the paper (ok, maybe more the unfolding than the refolding) and being able to see the big picture of what lies ahead.

It doesn't hurt to make a list of the things you'll need, and then to position those things in the car so that they are easily accessible to the driver and/or navigator.

Have a great trip this holiday season, get there safely, enjoy the company, and hurry home only if necessary!