I never get on the plane without:

Do you have personal items that must get on the plane with you every time you travel? They don’t even have to be practical, just something that may be a necessity only to you. This is my personal list of I can never get on the plane without:

1. Chapstick- Everytime I travel, my lips suffer terribly! They get dry and cracked and I sometimes even get these really painful cuts that go all the way down my lip. That’s why I need to have chapstick with me, and apply it constantly throughout the flight.

2.A jacket- I don’t know why planes get so cold, but their blankets never really keep me completely warm. I bring something extra just in case!

3. Ear plugs- At times the pressure gets on my ears, at times its the noisy passengers that do. This really helps eliminate the annoying buzzing feeling and the noise!

4. A good book- I always bring something to keep me entertained on board, so I don’t notice the time!

5. A photocopy of my passport- I’m always wary about my passport going missing, so just in case, I bring extra proof of identification and a photocopy. There’s no price to security.

These are my top 5. These travel tips might also help you determine what you should bring. Care to share yours?

Sun, Sand and Self-defense: New things to do on your vacations

With the equality of the sexes more evident that ever before in the spheres of politics, economics, and in the workplace, it seems to be a great time to be a woman. Women of today enjoy more freedom and privileges compared to the many generations before them.

However, all is not as sunny as it seems. Crimes against women have been on the steady rise too. Just yesterday, I read in the news of a 13 year old girl who was raped in Detroit. Reuters recently reported on a Bosnian Serb indicted on the rape of 2 Muslim women. Just as the world is opening more doors for us, it is proving to be a more dangerous place too.

Women shouldn’t stand idle while all this is happening! If they are earning enough to buy nice houses and go on nice vacations, then they should think about investing in ways and means to protect themselves!

The next time you go on a luxury vacation, why don’t you consider a destination where some effective self defense methods hail from too. Aside from getting a well-deserved break, you’ll also walk away from your vacation with a good amount of exercise, and something that could potentially save your life. If you don’t know where to go, here are some suggestions:

1. Brazil– the streets and beaches of Sao Paolo or Rio de Janeiro are rife with fun, flavor, color and all things that we love about the Latin culture. However, not many people know that Brazil is also the home of Capoiera. Capoiera is a mixture of dance, martial arts and acrobatics that originated from the African slaves. Its aesthetics are so unique and draw on its rich African heritage.

Capoiera
 2. Israel – Many consider visiting Israel for the Holy land tours- trips that take one to Jesus’ homeland. Israel is also the homeland of Krav Maga. Krav Maga is a self-defense system that utilizes hand-to-hand combat. It applies “real life” context to its movements in the sense that it employs just the minimum practical movements to defend oneself from attack. It is the self-defense method used by the Israeli Security Forces.

krav maga

3. China– While the great wall and the upcoming Olympics are great reasons to visit China, they are not the only ones. Karate, arguably the most famous self-defense method hails from China. It developed from Southern style Kung Fu and is a striking art, involving punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes.

karate
4. Thailand– A very popular destination for those who want a taste of the “real Asia”, Thailand offers wonderful shopping, great food and beautiful beaches. Thailand also includes in its offerings Muay Thai or more popularly known as Thai Boxing. Thailand’s national sport uses a series of punches and kicks which targets the “8 points of contact”. It is so effective that the military even employ it as their form of defense.

muay thai

5. Japan– With the Yen in a not-so-good state, It’s the perfect time to head to Japan to enjoy a taste of the Hariijuku street life, while partaking in authentic sushi and wagyu beef. The dropping Yen has also made the art of Ninjitsu more affordable. Ninjitsu, in laymen terms is “Ninja training”. This martial art follows the way of the Ninja, with rapid and fluid hand and foot movements.

nunjitsu

These destinations are just a miniscule taste of what the world has to offer. Each country actually has its own native and specialized form of self-defense. It is only up to you to ask and look.

The next time you go on vacation, come home with more than just a nice tan. Come home with a means of protecting yourself and your loved ones as well.

Travel Trivia Time

The Easter brought along with it a wonderful dinner with friends and family. Of course, any gathering would be remiss with engaging conversation. The topic at hand? Travel of course. I was thoroughly entertained with the various bits of trivia and factoids that everyone shared. Allow me to share those that I remember..:)

1. Which city is sinking faster than Venice? Bangkok! (Who knew? It apparently sank an inch back in 2004).

2. Apparently American Airlines saved about $40,000 in the 80’s by eliminating one olive in each 1st class served salad. A little goes a long way indeed!

3. The world’s oldest airline is KLM, established in 1919.

4. Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork.

5. Tennessee is bordered by no less than 8 states!

6. The continent with the most countries represented in the UN is no other than Africa.

7. The oldest city in the world is Damascus. It’s been around since 8000 B.C.

8. The tallest building in the world is Taipei 101 standing at 1667 feet.

9. British Airways passengers consume in a year:

41 Tons of Chicken
6 Tons of Caviar
22 Tons of Smoked Salmon
550,000 boxes of chocolate

10. The American Airlines packet of Peanuts says: Open packet. Eat Nuts 😀

Featured on an American Airlines packet of peanuts:

“Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.”

Featured on an American Airlines packet of peanuts:

“Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.”

Where’d my luggage go? Lost Luggage Trivia!

Lost luggage. Probably my biggest pet peeve about traveling. It seems that this has happened to me countless times, and to about everyone that I know.

I did some thinking and calculating. If this happens to just about every other person on the planet, then there must be a lot of lost luggage floating around. Have you ever wondered where they go? Well, I did a little google sleuthing and came across this very informative article about lost luggage.

Here are bits and pieces of trivia on lost luggage:

1. Airlines mishandle 7.34 out of 1000 pieces of luggage. Mishandle may mean damaged, stolen and most especially lost!

2.Most lost luggage get claimed with 24 hours. (Do you guys agree with this?)

3. Lost luggage (here in the US) end up in Scotsborro, Alabama! (Who knew?!) The stuff inside the luggage is then sold to the public at really affordable prices!

4. What happens to the bags? The bags usually spend 5 days in the airport, waiting to be claimed. After that, they spend 60 days in a storage center and are eventually either donated to charity or sold.

5. Clothing makes up 60% of the contents of lost luggage. Electronics like digicams, video cameras, jewelry, souvenirs and toiletries make up the rest.

Here’s someone who shares my sentiments on lost luggage:

Now I know. And now you know too. I guess the next time I lose my luggage, I better book myself a plane ticket to Alabama! 🙂

Please Don’t Read This If You Don’t Want to Save Money & Go On Being a Broke Loser!

break glass in case of emergencyAs much as I enjoy dining out with friends, seeing the latest blockbuster film, updating to the newest tech gadget, and of course, traveling to the most exotic locations, I am not impervious to the fact that all these things cost money! Unfortunately for me, I don’t have a wealthy aunt somewhere, or a hefty trust fund, and therefore I have to make-do with my precious hard-earned cash.

It would be safe for me to say I’ve tried it all- from the self-help books, to the “instantly- double- your- cash” schemes! You name it, I can bet you I’ve experimented with it in some shape or form! Through the years, I’ve found what stuff works for me, and what should be thrown out the window. So for those of you who have some goal in mind, listen up as I share my “infinite knowledge” on saving tips that have really worked!

1. Set a goal and make it visible! Are you dreaming of owning the latest mobile phone or laptop, or maybe that Safari to Africa? Find a huge picture of your elephants, or your dream mac, or whatever it is that makes you tick, and stick it up to where you will ALWAYS ALWAYS see it! You won’t easily blow your money away if you are constantly reminded of what you’re losing if you do so.

As the old adage goes, “Eyes on the prize”.

2. Set little financial goals that equals your big financial goal.– Chances are, if you get it in your head that you need to save say $10,000 right away, you’ll get frustrated and never even start on it, but if you set your mind to a more attainable, and approachable goal, like a thousand bucks at a time, it’ll seem more reasonable to put that extra hundred bucks into your savings.

3. DO NOT GO to the mall if you have no real purpose of being there! Boredom is most people’s downfall! You have nothing better to do, so you go into stores, just to harmlessly check out stuff, but then you find something you “just have to” get, and there goes your hard earned cash! Not only that, when you’re at the mall, you can’t help but eat a snack, drink a latte and this adds up to even more spending! If you have a real legitimate reason of going, get in there, buy the stuff and zip out as quickly as you can! Out of site, out of mind, right?!

4. Keep your eyes (as well as your ears) OPEN- There are tons of deals that link to anyone’s interest that are available ANYWHERE, be it online or your local community. Personally, I’m really into traveling and it’s probably my biggest expense, that’s why I subscribe to this newsletter that lets me in on great travel deals, and can even allow for 70% savings! How’s that for cool?!A friend who’s an APPLE and MAC die-hard swears by this site site to save on his latest toys. Another friend, who lives for the latest cellphone models check for online deals at sites like these As you can see, the options are endless!

5. Don’t forget to reward yourself! If you scrimp and only scrimp all the time, you may crash and burn in a moment of weakness. So enjoy little pats on the back for a job well done! Had to give up your daily Starbucks in the interest of saving? Get a small frappucino come Saturday, and it’ll be just the right boost to get you going for another week of cutting back!

 

These are my tried-and-tested, swear-by tips, and based on the things I’ve been able to enjoy, I don’t think I’m doin’ too bad. There are other things you can do too, which are a bit on the extreme side, such as letting your mother keep your money (Whoa!Good luck on getting cash for petty things now!), staying off the porn and online gambling sites that unsuspectingly eat up your moolah, or maybe subsisting on a Spaghetti-O diet a few times in a week! Want to get insanely extreme? Quit smoking, or drinking, or what about BOTH?!?! C’mon, I dare you to! Hey, whatever floats your boat! Whichever route you do decide to take though, let me know how you do with them- preferably through a chat from your new Macbook Air, or a call from your latest Blackberry, or maybe even a postcard from exotic Bali!

I’m Dressed to Thrill Coz’ I’m Travelling to Japan

japan-harajuku.jpg
Travelers like me know that April is the time to see the cherry blossom in Tokyo, the largest city in Asia. I see Tokyo as the most western face of the east. The buildings are tall and modern western style.

For me Tokyo is so fascinating. Even I have only a few days in this city, I experienced everything, from the mystique of the old eastern world to the techno-crazed life of the 21st century. Tokyo is a must see coz’ I see it as a treasure trove of things to see and do. Here are a few ideas to build on during our visit to Tokyo.

japan-garden.jpgClassical Japan: After the rush of jet travel, with my sister Susie, we spent our first day unwinding in the gardens adjoining Imperial Palace. Since the month is April, the cherry blossoms are at their best and it is a sight that I never tire of. We took the time to admire the floral displays of magnolias, azaleas and irises that we saw as we strolled through the gardens on our way to the Museum of the Imperial Collection. This is the home to the Imperial family’s treasure-trove of art. Our travel was well worth the experience.

 

japan-people.jpgShopping. We started in Tokyo’s Ginza district by standing in front of the Sony building. I’ve found some of the world’s best shopping here. My funds are too limited for a serious retail therapy. Spending a little is a treat on its own. When I reached Takeshita Street, It has the latest fashions from around the world with specialty shops and designer boutiques. At the next intersection is Mitsukoshi department store at Harumi Avenue. Also at Harumi is Sake Center. I sampled the various rice wines and I have no doubt you will come across that too during your stay in Tokyo.

 

japan-sushi.jpgDINING. One of the great things about Japan is that I would have to be very unlucky to find any food stall or restaurant that isn’t spotlessly clean. A taste of sushi, one of renowned dishes, I tried the Restaurant Sushi-ko. Here I discovered that they have been serving sushi for more than 120 years. Huh! The next day, we tried Robata Honten, coz’ we’re looking for the meals that the average Japanese enjoy. We ate mixtures of dishes like stews, fish and vegetables.

 

japan-american.jpgNightlife. Ginza, Shibayu, Akasaka and Shinjuk u are the city’s lively places that I find the most interesting restaurants, bars and clubs. Many establishments are offering a range of entertainments depending on the crowd. Some bars copied the interior of an English pub, a Spanish style salsa bar and even a Wild-West Salon bar. We specially enjoy the Japanese pubs that serve a good range of drinks and bar-snacks. Open from 6 p.m. to around midnight. Modern hotel bars with great views are always popular .

japan-restaurant.jpgThe Intercontinental, New Otani, Park Hyatt, Hilton, Nikko and the Akasaka Prince are just few of the excellent ones I find in Tokyo. It’s good that we brought some stuff that makes it appropriately to mix comfortably with the well-educated, elegant crowds that we found in the hotel.

On our way home we tried our luck at the national obsession — a game of pachinko at one of the many pinball parlors. Just a few minutes or so, we feel like local, a good feeling.