Archive for category Travel

Wading our Way to the Winery

Travel can often lead to unforseen obstacles and unexpected delights. Toward the end of our stay in Uruguay, we experienced both.

Narbona Wine Lodge vineyard

vines @ Narbona Wine Lodge

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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American Expectations, Argentinian Delivery

hammock on horse ranch

Mr. HalfFull relaxing in a hammock @ Estancia Los Dos Hermanos.

Part of the fun and adventure of travel is experiencing another culture. It certainly broadens our horizons. But sometimes it makes us appreciate what we take for granted at home.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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The Kindness of Strangers

Walking on Av Pres Figueroa Alcorta

Ms. HalfEmpty walking in Buenos Aires.

Living in foreign countries where we didn’t speak the language even close to fluently and weren’t aware of all the customs led to some interesting experiences on our South American Adventure. Fortunately, strangers stepped in to save the day!

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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5 Things I Missed in South America

Sometimes you get used to things — things that seem commonplace and make your daily life easier. But some of those things were missing on our South American Adventure.

This is merely based on my experience of eight weeks in three South American countries — Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. I can’t speak for all of South America or even the totality of the countries I visited. But these are the five things I missed most during my travels…

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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The Language Barrier

With only a semester of Spanish in college, I served as the language expert between me and Mr. HalfFull on our South American Adventure. We are decidedly not fluent speakers. So over two months in Spanish-speaking countries, frustration, ridiculousness, and perhaps even some learning ensued.

HalfEmpty vs. HalfFull

Chocolate Grandmother

In typical halfFull fashion, Mr. HalfFull poses with his Chocolate Grandmother.

The language barrier further highlighted our halfFull and halfEmpty tendencies. I wanted to understand everything and communicate with ease, whereas Mr. HalfFull didn’t take himself too seriously and had fun making up his own words.

I cringed each time I made a Spanish error and tried to replay what I should have said in my head. But somehow Mr. HalfFull was able to laugh and didn’t stress much.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Why is Travel so Stressful?

Invariably, Mr. HalfFull and I will end up in a fight before trip. This is our pattern, and we know it.

napping in the park

Mr. HalfFull is an expert chillaxilizer wherever he goes.

HalfFull vs. HalfEmpty Prep

I think this unfortunate routine stems from our HalfFull and HalfEmpty tendencies. I am a planner, who likes to optimize for all contingencies. On the other hand, Mr. HalfFull likes to relax and figure it out as he goes (or not…no biggie).

For me, it’s stressful to think of and strategize for all possibilities. It’s even more taxing when I feel like I am the only responsible party with the entire burden.

I think Mr. HalfFull’s lack of stress makes me doubly stressed. Even though I know it’s not his modus operandi, I try to spur him into action. This exercise in futility further irritates me. Rinse, repeat.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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I’m Back!

Ms. HalfEmpty is jumping back into blogging!

Ms. HalfEmpty is jumping back into blogging!

Hello? Is anyone there?

I’m the blogger who posted here almost a year ago (although I did edit the most recent post earlier this year). Yes, it’s been too long, but I’m back!

International Travel

I’m excited to announce that Mr. HalfFull and I are going on another epic adventure this summer!

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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The Early Bird Who Didn’t Get the Worm

Cypress Point Lookout (17 Mile Drive)

Beautiful view from Cypress Point Lookout along 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach, CA

Last month, I visited my oldest friend in gorgeous Monterey, California. No, my friend isn’t that old. It’s a longtime friendship — since 8th grade, in fact!

Knowing that I had an open invitation to visit, I booked my flight in July for a trip in October. I found a great price and jumped on it.

I thought everything was perfectly arranged until the day before my flight.  I checked-in online and discovered that my window seat was no longer a window seat!

Flying across the country is a decently long flight.  After our 30/40 World Tour, I realize it’s not going to win any longest flight contests.  But it’s still nice to have a wall (or Mr. HalfEmpty’s shoulder) for my pillow.

I rechecked my original reservation and noticed that my seat number had not changed. I was still in 23F. What had changed was the plane. There must have been so much demand that they switched from a Boeing 757 with 6 seats across (3-3) to an international Boeing 777 with 9 seats across (2-5-2).

I’m sure the UC Santa Barbara Cross Country Team on my flight helped secure that bigger plane.  Grr…college kids!  Now I sound like a crotchety, old, half empty woman.  Yep, that’s about right. =)

During online check-in, I noticed that there were still a few window seats available.  But they were all considered an upgrade despite being in the same section as my current seat!  I decided not to panic and would request a seat change at the airport.

But at the airport, they told me the flight was full. So basically I got penalized with a middle seat in a block of 5 for booking early.  This early bird did not get the worm!  Lesson learned:  if you want a window seat, always pick A.

I’m really surprised I didn’t learn that lesson on the 30/40 World Tour with all our flights, some booked 6 months in advance.  But perhaps our exotic locales don’t have the same kind of demand as DC to CA.

When I boarded the plane, it seemed like the situation might be okay.  In my center section of 5 seats, only 4 were occupied — a Chinese guy in the aisle seat, a big guy in the 2nd seat, me in the 4th seat, and a woman on the other aisle.  I had an empty seat next to me, but I didn’t assume it would be there for long.  At some point, the Chinese man on the aisle realized that he was in the wrong seat.  So he moved into the center seat on my left.  This prompted the big guy to move into the aisle.

Now I was sandwiched in a middle seat.  It was the worst possible configuration for me.  I didn’t understand why the Chinese guy didn’t move back into the other guy’s seat so that the center seat would be free.  That would have given us both an empty seat on one side.  But now the big guy, who originally had a middle seat, had an aisle AND a free seat next to him!  I got a raw deal.

I was even more irritated when the Chinese guy kept using my arm rest.  At one point, I erected a pillow barrier in retaliation, but he didn’t seem to notice.  The best scenario for my already unfortunate middle seat went to the worst scenario rather quickly.  I was doubly mad because I had been counting on my window seat.

During my stay in California, my credit card number was compromised and used in Chicago.  I’m still not sure which restaurant did that to me, but I have 2 in mind.

On the way home, my return flight was delayed over 2 hours due to fog.  Since I knew about the delay, I went to the airport late. But I was worried the entire time that they might reduce the delay and I would miss my flight.  I was also concerned about making my connecting flight after the delayed flight.  If it had been on time, I surely would have missed it.  But fortunately, it was also delayed.

My final flight was delayed so much that they changed the gate 3 times!  After a while it got a bit comical watching a full flight of people migrate from one gate to another.  The last 2 gates were actually in a different terminal, so that was a long hike.  I wonder if anyone missed the flight because of the gate changes.

I finally arrived back in DC at 1:30 AM.  Even though I had a carry-on sized bag, I had to check it since there was no overhead space left.  So I had to wait for my suitcase, and then head home to catch a few hours of sleep before teaching my morning class.

The C Restaurant (Intercontinental Hotel)

Enjoying sun and cocktails at the Intercontinental Hotel along Cannery Row in Monterey. I’m pretty sure this restaurant was not the one that compromised my credit card.

After reading this post, you’re probably thinking that I had a horrible trip filled with uncomfortable flights, credit card fraud, and flight delays.  But actually, the trip was amazing!  Monterey is beautiful, and I soaked up the sun every day with my friend.  How’s that for half full thinking?

Next time you book a flight, remember the moral of my story and pick A for a window seat.  I’m not sure what to tell those of you who like aisle seats…perhaps, just good luck!

  • Have you ever booked a specific seat on a flight and later found that the seat configuration changed?  How did you react?
  • Has your credit card been compromised?  Did you or the credit card company discover it first?
  • Have you ever had a flight delay change back to an earlier departure time?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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End of the Journey

Last year, Mr. HalfFull and I embarked on our 30/40 World Tour:  Quest for Passion.  But it all came to an end 10 weeks later, and we returned to the real world of jobs and schedules.

Sailing in Fiji

Our sailing adventure in Fiji was nothing like that of Robin Lee Graham. I prefer to take airplanes between countries.

A few months ago, I read Dove, the true story of a 16-year-old boy who sailed around the world.  My trip was nothing like the solitude he experienced on his sailboat, but the wanderlust and thrill of adventure on land are similar.  During his journey, he met his wife, Patti.  This passage about her really struck me; it reminded me of my writing here and thoughts as my journey was coming to an end:

There are gaps in Patti’s diary, which was written to remind her of days that meant much to her.  She knew as I knew that we had got too close to heaven too early, that our time in the islands must come to an end; that we would soon have to return to the real world again.

One day I noticed that she had stopped typing.  She had put the typewriter back in the locker where she had found it.  I asked her why, and she smiled and said, “I don’t want to write the last chapter.”

Robin Lee Graham

Well this is the last chapter and it’s been written, like it or not.  As they say, all good things must come to an end.  But the memories will last a lifetime.  Perhaps those memories will continue to inspire me, and help me on future quests.

Recently, I was telling a friend about my Quest for Passion.  He stared at me incredulously and asked why I had to travel to find my passion.  I explained that travel wasn’t required, but it’s a good way to get out of normal routines and change thought patterns.  If you are in the same place, with the same schedule, interacting with the same people, you are less open to new possibilities.  But when you throw yourself into new environments, you are forced to make it work and challenge yourself in different ways.

Mauritius

Mr. HalfFull practicing mental relaxation and flexibility. But he doesn’t need as much practice as much as Ms. HalfEmpty!

This is part of the reason why vacations are so important.  They help to free your mind from chores at home, and give you the opportunity for mental relaxation and flexibility.  Stay-cations can be useful to accomplish projects at home, but they don’t have the same freeing power as getting away and changing your environment.

We are generally creatures of habit.  Many of us say we like change, but change can be hard.  Perhaps we like the idea of change, but the work to get there isn’t always enjoyable.

I think the Quest for Passion is lifelong for many of us who are not innately drawn to something.  My trip is over, but I think my quest will continue.  Patience is not one of my virtues, so I need to learn to appreciate the journey and live my way into my answers.

…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…

Rainer Maria Rilke

I hope you stick around to find out what life is like after the 30/40 World Tour.  Or perhaps you have found my passion, the key to the locked room, or can translate the very foreign language for me.  If so, let me know in the comments.  Living my way into the answer seems like it could be very frustrating!

  • When your trip nears the end, do you worry about writing the last chapter?
  • Has travel helped you think in different ways?
  • Are you a creature of habit or spontaneity?
  • Have you found your passion?  Was it a struggle or did it come naturally?
  • Are you patient?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Packing List Reflection

Early in our 30/40 World Tour, I posted a list of what I packed.  Since our return, one of my readers asked how well those items worked for me as I traveled.  Did I use all of it?  Was anything missing?

Overall, I think we did a good job of packing useful items.  We brought versatile clothing that got used over and over despite the variable climates.  Since we didn’t hang around the same people for more than a couple of days, no one knew that we had such limited outfit choices!

Electronics

Netbook in New Plymouth

Ms. HalfEmpty using her netbook at the art gallery café in New Plymouth, New Zealand

Our electronics served us well.  The netbook was a great size to tote around and jump on the internet when we had access.  Of course, you know that we used our digital camera throughout the trip, as evidenced on this blog.

The all-in-one travel adapter that we bought at the airport was amazing.  That one compact adapter worked in every country we visited.  Plus, the USB port was perfect for charging the iPod.

We didn’t realize we would need a USB charger, but it came in handy.  Since we used our Mac at home to load the iPod, the Windows netbook wanted to reformat the iPod each time we plugged it in.  Charging with the travel adapter was a much better option and prevented inadvertent data loss.

Thankfully, we did not experience a netbook crash or theft, so we didn’t really need our external hard drive.  But I was glad we had an extra copy of all our photos, just in case.

The audio splitter was great when we were standing in airport lines.  Mr. HalfFull and I passed the time listening to an audiobook or podcast together.  You might ask why we didn’t each use our own iPod.  The answer is that we found it fun to have this shared experience.  It’s like watching a movie or play with someone; you vibe off their reactions and can discuss it together afterward.

I can still remember Mr.HalfFull and I laying on a hammock together on a small Fijian island listening to The Art of Mindful Living.  At one point in the recording, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the sun overhead and the rustling of the trees before he ends the meditation with a gong.  We were completely in the moment underneath the sway of the palm trees, experiencing the gentle swing of the hammock.  Maybe we weren’t as hopeless as originally suspected after our meditation class.

Paper

The passports and tickets were essential since we didn’t travel with a printer.  I actually ended up having to boot up my netbook at certain customs counters to prove that we had plans to leave the country.

The only paper I started out needing, but grew out of was my checkbook register.  Yep, I went spreadsheet digital!

Wallet

Our International Student Identification Cards (ISIC) were invaluable!  We used them to get all sorts of discounts throughout the trip.

Clothes

Ms. HalfEmpty @ Sofitel

The extent of Ms. HalfEmpty’s ability to “dress up” at Restaurant V at Sofitel in Fiji

I think we did pretty well with clothes.  Everything served multiple purposes and was reused throughout the trip.  My dress and scarf allowed me to dress up a bit, however, we did have a few instances when we felt a bit underdressed.

This gave Mr. HalfFull the opportunity to get closer to my uncle, who he’s never met, by borrowing his shoes and a button-down shirt!  But I don’t really think it would have been practical for Mr. HalfFull to have packed those items; dress shoes are heavy and button-down shirts wrinkle.

I also felt underdressed with my shoe selection at times.  But if I could only have two pairs of shoes, I picked the right ones.  Sporty sandals weren’t the ideal dressy compliment, but the crisscross design helped provide a little elegance.

Luggage

Palisades Park

Duffel bags also double as pillows at nap time

Our duffel bags were great!  It was easy to see the stuff inside when unzipped, plus we could clip wet stuff or shoes easily on the outside.  But it was also useful to have a small day pack for the airplane and daily outings.

Toiletries

Towels are generally big bulky items.  I didn’t think we would need towels on our trip, but some of our pre-trip information was incorrect and neither of our small Fijian islands provided towels.  So our towel in pouch purchase was perfect!

Our list of toiletry items looks ridiculously long, but many of the items were thrown in because we already had them and they met our size requirements.  I ended up loving the Crabtree & Evelyn grapefruit scented shower mousse.  I don’t think I ever would have purchased such a thing, but it was a gift.  It always smelled so fresh and the pump produced a perfect lather without a loofah or washcloth (items I did not have).  Plus, it was an enclosed container which was easier to transport than a wet bar of soap.

maxi liner

Fun facts on maxi pad liners purchased in New Zealand

We didn’t end up finishing all of the toiletries we brought, but there were others (like deodorant, hair gel, feminine products, and SPF face lotion) that we had to replenish during the trip.  The one downside of transferring your liquids into smaller reusable bottles is that you still have to carry those empty little bottles back if you want to keep them, which is the point of reuse.  It’s a lot less eco-friendly, but more space-friendly, to buy travel size bottles and chuck them when empty.

I rarely wore makeup on the trip, but I was glad I had my little samples for nights out on the town.

Other

I wanted to do sink laundry often since I only had 3 pairs of underwear.  So I wish we had brought more laundry detergent, as it’s rather difficult to buy in small quantities.  We ended up buying a whole box in Sydney, filling our little travel bottles, and leaving the rest for the next occupant.  I’m not sure if there is a good solution for this since we didn’t want to carry around the extra weight.

Ms. HalfEmpty eats breakfast

Ms. HalfEmpty eats cereal by headlamp

The headlamps were critical!  I’ve never used one before and thought they were only for spelunkers.  I didn’t understand why I would need anything other than a flashlight.  But the headlamp was invaluable for walking to the bathrooms in the dark while carrying a towel and toiletries.  Plus, who wants to hold a flashlight when you are in the stall?  It also made toothbrushing much easier.  Headlamps are hands-free lights for people who need to get stuff done!

The only thing we really didn’t use was the metal cage and lock.  The original plan was to use the cage to enclose the duffel bags and secure them to a permanent fixture when left unattended in our various rooms.  But we always ended up in private rooms because I’m not much for roughing it.  We did try to use the contraption once, but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth.  The metal cage was quite heavy and is probably the only thing I wish we hadn’t brought in retrospect.

Verdict

I think we did a great job packing.  Aside from one heavy, bulky item, we used everything in our bags.  No half empty judgements here!

  • Do you usually pack too much or exactly what you need?
  • What are your essential items?
  • Do you pack to be prepared for any occasion from casual to elegant?
  • How do you do laundry when you travel?
Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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