404 2013 June

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Rare Weekend Blogging Flashback: Alphabet Meme

We just got back from a quick day trip to Cologne and I saw that Farrah tagged me to complete an Alphabet Meme. Seeing that it’s a Sunday and I’ve reserved my weekend blogging for more random topics, I thought why not. Here’s a rare chance to get to know the Ann behind Travel Turtle.

Attached or Single: Attached and happy!

Best Friend: Definitely my husband. Being an expat, I actually don’t have too many girl friends locally, so I can’t really think of any girls specifically. Though, in my past I’ve had great friends who have proved themselves reliable time and again.

Cake or Pie: Both, I usually have cake, though. Pumpkin pie over everything else.

Day of Choice: I would enjoy Sundays more if stores were open. Or I’d enjoy Saturdays more if I knew I could save the shopping for Sunday.

Essential Item: I hate to say it, but it’s my phone. I take pictures all the time, video some of the time, and have recently started playing Tetris Blitz.

Favorite Color: Red and blue

Gummy Bears or Worms: Bears, but only haribo.

Hometown: I’m a military brat, so I either consider it to be Miami or Orlando.

Favorite Indulgence: Sleep. What I would do to sleep for 5 hours uninterrupted. Or to wake up past 5:00 am.

January or July: January! It’s also my birth month.

Kids: Two cute ones who keep me up all the time.

Life isn’t complete without: The other members of my clan. Even if I complain about sleep, the other members of my family complete me.

Marriage Date: My husband and I are both math geeks. It only makes sense that we married on 02-04-06.

Number of Siblings: None. And because I’m an only it was hard for me to accept that we were having a second. Now that I see them together, I think it’s the best thing.

Oranges or Apples: Oranges! I’m a Floridian at heart.

Phobias: Flying, squirrels, and putting too much about myself on the internet.

Quotes: ‘‘Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild, With a faery, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” -W.B. Yeats. This was in my English teacher’s classroom and I always liked it.

Reasons to smile: Three and four day weekends, my kids smiles, a good dinner, a clean living room… not in this order.

Season of Choice: I like spring and fall.

Tag 5 People: I’m going to keep this open to whoever would like to respond.

Unknown fact about me: Stand By Me is my favorite movie. The first time I watched it, I watched it several times a day for a week. Then once a day. Then once a week. Then it was a movie I watched every five or so years. I’m watching it right now.

Vegetable: I’m a huge fan of green beans.

Worst habit: Not putting things away right away.

X-Ray or Ultrasound: Ultrasounds!

Your favorite food: Chicken, rice and beans from Puerto Rico.

Zodiac Sign: Capricorn

This post was part of OLD SCHOOL BLOGGING.

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Families and Business Trips Can Mix, Sometimes

A few weeks ago I went to a blogging conference. My whole family joined me. I sat in sessions, they explored Rotterdam. It was a switch from the typical working trip we take. It’s always been my husband who goes, and we follow. We go with him when he’s visiting a city I want to see myself, or when he’s heading back to the US and we tack on a trip to see our extended families, or when we just really want to go with him. We’ve done it many times, and we will do it again. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely not hard. If you are going to bring the family on one parent’s business trips, here are some tips to help you along the way.

We recently joined my husband on a business trip to Erfurt, Germany. There were lots of things to do to keep us busy.

We recently joined my husband on a business trip to Erfurt, Germany. There were lots of things to do to keep us busy.

  1. Know when to go and when to stay home. Most of the time, it’s easy for us to go with him. The other times it’s just not possible. He may be traveling with other coworkers in a rental car and there’s no space for all of us. Or his schedule is too hectic and it makes planning the logistics for three more people not worth it. Sometimes there are things that have to be done at home, so I need to stay here. We don’t go, or expect to go, on every business trip. Just the ones that work with all of our schedules. If it’s a trip that is more low stress for him, we go. Otherwise, we stay home.
  2. Know what to expect. Each business trip is different, each company is different. For us, I know that when my husband goes on a business trip he is expected to go out to dinner at least once or twice in a week. We don’t join him during these meals, but we eat together when we can. If there are social or networking events in the evening, the working spouse may not be available to help with bed time. If this is a problem for the trailing spouse, it’s better to just stay home.
  3. Know how to contact each other. It’s usually easy when we’re traveling within Germany. However, in another country using cell phones without the right plan can get expensive. I like to have a local phone number for his office that I can contact in an emergency.
  4. Know how you want to spend your days. Don’t go on a business trip and spend the whole time at the hotel. I suppose there might be exceptions to this idea, a business meeting at an all-inclusive resort with a kid’s club for one. (Oh, how I wish my husband’s business trips were in the Caribbean…) But, more often than not, the point of joining the working spouse on the business trip to is so that you can get out there and take the kids to see some new sites.
  5. Ask the hotel for early check-ins and late check-outs. Most business trips don’t start and end in alignment with hotel check-in/out policies. It’s hard, especially when you have younger kids, to check out at noon and spend the rest of the time waiting for the work day to end. Most hotels are understanding and give you a few more hours than regular guests. Even if you don’t spend those extra hours in the room, it’s nice to know you can.
  6. Be honest with money. Again, this is something different with different companies (and countries). In Europe many hotels charge higher rates for double occupancy than single. Don’t let the company pay for the trailing spouse. Ask the hotel to split the bill. One bill for the single stay, one for the remainder. Pay the difference out of your own pocket. Many people are tempted to let the company pay the entire bill, but it’s just not honest and not worth the possibility of losing a job.

The last tip I have is about packing for a business trip when the family comes along. And that tip is at Suitcases and Sippycups as part of their “What’s in my suitcase” series. Go ahead and take a look, and bookmark the site so you can see future installments of the series. But, before you go, let me know if you have other tips for families traveling together on business trips.Accessoires sexytranslate english to finnishcar cover 5 layeracheter les vicromasseurs onlineApple iPod nano 7 16Gb Purple

The Importance of Learning About New Destinations Before You Go

Before you spend any time researching hotels and things to do, spend some time reading about the place itself. Why does this place appeal to you, what there would appeal to your family? What is its history? What’s the climate like when you will be there? Get a feel for the lay of the land. Find out what vacation-destination has that interests you.

Why should you do this? It’s the key to planning a vacation that fits your family and the things you value.

I’ve spent a lot of formal education and working years learning about other cultures. It’s how I like to spend my time. I’m confident in my ability to get by when I’m traveling to a new place. I’m not the most well-traveled person I know, I’m not even close, but I get by. I’m pretty fearless traveling with my kids, and I’ve been known to say that being outside of my comfort zone is my comfort zone.

I recently learned, however, that just because I love other cultures, have a flexible travel attitude and a bit full of myself, doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy it as much as I could.

My story

We spent Easter weekend in Prague. I’m familiar with the city. As a travel agent, I helped many clients plan their trips there. As a study abroad advisor, I worked with professors to plan educational tours of the city for their students. I have good friends who are from the Czech Republic, friends who have told me about must see spots. I googled “kid-friendly Prague” and made a loose plan for our days. I was armed with knowledge from the broadest sense, from an educational standpoint, and from locals.


The Charles Bridge in all it’s pedestrian wonder.

On the way to Prague I told my husband, “you know this is the first time since I was about 8 that I have travelled somewhere that I don’t know any substantial part of the history, that I had absolutely no clue to the language, how to say thank you. I don’t even have a general idea of what the city’s layout is. Weird.” Yes, I downloaded an app to teach me basic Czech. But, the 5 minutes a day I spent a week before the trip just wasn’t the same as studying a language. I knew that our hotel was in an ideal location, but I didn’t know what made it ideal. I figured that I’ll just know when I get there.

Then I got there. I realized that I knew nothing. And I wasn’t learning through osmosis. I didn’t know what made the Charles Bridge so popular; I didn’t even know that it was a pedestrian-only bridge. As we were walking around this city, this amazingly beautiful city, I wasn’t fully appreciating it. I wasn’t connecting to it. All I could think to myself was how beautiful it was, and what now?

When we went back to the room, I was a bit confused. Why the disconnect? Part of the reason was that although I had all this “things to do in Prague” superficial knowledge. I didn’t have the “why do I care” part figured out. My husband, who had been to Prague before and loved it, wanted to help me. He took over planning the rest of our trip. The first thing he did was book a walking tour for Easter Sunday. During this tour, with kids in tow, in the rain, and with a large group of people, I started to learn about Prague. As we passed by various buildings and bridges, the tour guide pointed out some historical facts or told an intriguing story. I slowly started to enjoy myself and the city.

What I Realized

On the way home to Germany, this was the big topic in the car. Somewhere in my cockiness, in my” worldliness”, in my zest for going with the flow and just doing, I forgot the essential part of why I loved traveling. I’m a firm believer in the journey is the destination. Part of that journey is learning. Part of that learning is finding out why you think traveling to a particular place would be a good fit for your family.

I hear people who travel around Europe come back and complain that all the cities are the same. There’s no real difference. And this makes me sad. Each place, regardless of how small or how similar it is to other places, has its own history, story, and uniqueness. If someone is traveling and senses that every place is the same, it means one of three things: they haven’t taken the time to learn about what the place offers that applies to their life, they’ve been traveling too much and need a break to process it all, or they shouldn’t be traveling at all because they just don’t appreciate it. (Ok, there’s also the fourth reason which is like my mom, they spend too much time in the shopping zones and those truly are similar from city to city.)

I’m lucky. Prague is a 7 hour drive away. We can easily return. Not everyone has that convenience. Actually, I don’t have that convenience everywhere I travel. We are all limited by either time or money or both. We have to make the most of our travels, and as families, we have to do what we can so that everyone will look to traveling as a positive thing.

Three days after returning from Prague, I started this blog. My goal from the beginning has been to encourage families to explore and engage in the destinations they travel to. I think it’s more fulfilling. There is no right or wrong way to travel, but I  the more you learn about where you’re going, the bigger the payoff.

This post is the first in a series I will be doing about managing expectations while traveling. This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday with Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels click on the links to read more great travel tips! 

Have you ever felt disconnected to the place you were traveling to? How did you try to change it? Are you going to give that place a second chance? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.incase macbook pro sleeve 13 inchPrima micro