The pros and cons of hotel jumping

A Stop in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. 1 July 2017.

During my 5 days in Kansas (and Missouri), Ryan and I stayed in three different hotels in three different cities – if traveling to one place isn’t enough to drive you nuts, having to pack up your bags everyday and switch outfits between driving and dates is quite a pain in the butt.

As we have talked about, I am the kind of traveler that (first) likes to take her time when exploring new places – you don’t get a lot of this when you are traveling between two states in 5 days – and (second) likes to settle into the places I am staying – I pack in such a way that I can live out of my suitcase if I need to, but it is nicer when I don’t (toiletries have their place, separating clean and dirty clothes, and hanging up dresses because I get to unpack, is absolutely lovely). Again, you don’t get to do this a lot when you are moving from place to place.

Still, when you know that you will be moving from place to place – even if you do plan on staying for more than two days –  if you unpack or not, you must always triple check every hotel room you stay in, because, in all likelihood, you will not be coming back for anything. And honestly, the more hotel room jumps you make, the more likely it is that you are going to misplace a thing or two along the way.

Luckily for me, on our journey from Kansas City, Missouri to Wichita, Kansas, I didn’t forget anything. However, Ryan left his dress clothes either hanging in the closet or laying on the bed for the play we had in Wichita that night.

Basically, due to the late night at the Starlight Theater and my slight jet lag, we got up a little later than we expected, but with an 11 am checkout time, I wasn’t to worried about us being late. However, with me showering and doing my basic bathroom routines (that I need the sink for) then him showering and doing all his business (while I folded both our random bits of clothes – mostly his since he had the room before I came into town – and finished getting ready), the time did slowly ebb away until I was knocking on the door giving him 15 minute updates.

Once we were both ready to go – after I had reminded him about his suit which he may or may not have moved – I double checked my stuff and we headed down to the car. I will admit that we may have been distracted by one another even as we were walking down the hall – new couple who hadn’t seen each other in about a month: yep. Also, Ryan was more interested in fighting over who carried my bag than double checking himself.

I talked about the stuff we did in Kansas City in my last few posts, which was followed by the almost three hour drive to Wichita. We chatted, sang, watched videos, and snapped pictures – basically having a gay old time. Then, about 30 minutes from getting to the hotel (that he booked earlier as we left Kansas City) which was a tiny bit out of the way of the actual city, but really convenient for a night stop over, he looked over his shoulder and burst out laughing. At my confused look, he told me to look out the window and pay attention to both the completely unblocked back windows – no suit.

We were still 30 minutes or so from our hotel (which was not located near stores) and probably had another hour and 15 minutes before we were supposed to get to the playhouse, which would be another 30 minutes away (give or take). It was time to reevaluate and arrange accordingly. Ryan jumped on the phone and canceled our reservation, looked up any local department store that we could pick up some nice clothes at, and locate a hotel close to both the store and the playhouse so we could have time to breathe and get ready before heading back out.

And somehow, he managed it.

We did the quickest run through a department store – being a good shopper with a good sense of direction within stores finally paid off – to pick up a tie, button up, slacks, and a belt (replacing all the slightly nicer but missing items –  he had had the old ones fitted and dry cleaned, while the new ones didn’t even have time to be ironed) and then crossed the street and check-in to the new hotel.

So yep, hotel jumping is hard and you should always, always send someone to do a final run through check after you get everyone and everything else out of the room – you never know what you may have missed! If you did forget something and aren’t too far away – ie, Ryan lives a few hours away – you should also definitely call the hotel and see if they can send you your lost items.

However, as always, when it comes to misadventures, sometimes the unexpected become great adventures and great stories for later.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The pros and cons of hotel jumping

5 Tips to being a Good House Guest…

House guest etiquette for broke post-grads staying with other post-grads.

Together again! Rohnert Park, California. April 2016.

I’m back! As a few hours ago, I wrapped up the end of my road-trip/visit back to my college three and a half years later (strangely enough, the same amount of time I lived there!). The trip was incredible and in the weeks that follow I will definitely be filling you all in on the fabulous places we went and everything we saw, but I’m starting out with a huge thank you post to one of my college flatmates and our host for the weekend.

So part one in my good guest guide is thoughtful gift giving. For our host, this was a Dodger Dog – a stuffed dog which stretches out into a pillow perfectly sized for an airplane ride which she takes often for US marathons. As a SoCal native, she is a die-hard Dodger fan living in Giants’ territory so a gift that cost us $10 was thoughtful, personal, but didn’t break the bank. The key to this is knowing your host and doing something that brightens their day.

Another money step is paying in your share. Yes, we’re broke and we paid for gas to get to their home, but then we stayed for free – any of us that can afford to do a road trip can afford to buy our respective hosts a few meals and/or drinks. Remember, they are saving you more by letting you stay over than you will spend on food so you are still saving. Again this comes down to knowing your host – ours is quick handed and gives to others as much as she can so it was always a fight over the bill. If you have this kind of host, be quick but also gracious when/if you don’t win or, better yet, try heading off the waiter when you go to use the bathroom so they’ll hand the bill directly to you.

Now moving away from money – again we are talking as poor post-grads here – always be a gracious guest.

This means cleaning up after yourself. This can be cleaning up towels and any makeup/toiletries from the bathroom so you aren’t taking over, or keeping all of your clothes and unmentionables out of sight and out of the way.

This also means knowing what will work in your space and what won’t – and not by your want or opinion but your hosts! We were very lucky that our host was out with us for a large amount of time and, therefore, we never had to remake the couch bed every morning and night, but this isn’t always the case. For many households our age, roommates can be a issue, especially in terms of them needing your borrowed space during your stay, so be courteous and clean up the areas you are borrowing without moaning about it.

Lastly: time management. Invite your host to anything that you can invite them to but don’t feel like you need to stick with them at all times. Just be upfront with them from the get-go. There may be plans that they can’t go with you for – we had a film preview and book signing that only two of us could attend through work connections but timing meant that our host had work of her own – but other outings, they may have no interest in. If you talk out your plans, all should be well!

But that’s all for me tonight, but with much, much more travel and posts to come!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

5 Tips to being a Good House Guest…

A Walk Through a (London) Yellow Wood…

And a few other fantastic London sights.

Statues in York House Gardens. York House, London. December 2015.

With two weeks left living here in London, I have begun to explore my last bit of green spots marked out on the map between London proper and Heathrow airport.  This covers Twickenham and Richmond (two areas I will dream of affording after my wander!!), along the river ways through Isleworth, over to Brentford and Chiswick.

This week I’ll be looking at my first day wander-through which covered Twickenham, Richmond and along Isleworth; York House, Petersham Nursery and back and forth along the river past Kew Gardens.

First stop: York House Gardens.

What first drew me to this particular stop was the large Grecian statue instillation in the second half of this houses bisected garden area. However, in the first half there is also a great pond area with a wooden bridge that is easily overlooked, a little under groomed but a lovely stop to take a few moments to oneself in.

Feels like an Austen Novel. York House Gardens, London. December 2015.

The house is currently closed but, as we come out of winter, you should check for opening dates and times to extend your visit to this lovely house. In the meantime, I suggest taking a wander through the local town area and along the water for great views and fresh air.

For me this was a quick stop along a much bigger walk in an absolutely beautiful area of greater London, leading us to the second stop, but, being me, happened the long way round.

The issue with this area, as it soon became apparent, is an utter lack of bridges.  I walked from York house up toward Richmond where Richmond Road crosses the Thames which is about half a mile to a mile (depending on your approach) to my second stop.

This being said, this river walk is breathtaking on a day like mine—which was absolutely amazing for London in winter. The color was in full bloom and the sun was shining.

This second stop was to the Petersham Nursery.

A greenhouse at Christmas. Petersham Nursery, London. December 2015.

Again, this is a short stop but if anyone is interested in photographing greenhouses filled with chandeliers, garden supplies, and plant life, this is a great stop. Admission is free and you can walk around and take all the pictures you want.

Just a note: if you want to get here quicker (and leave more quickly) take the path through the meadows as you head away from the Richmond Bridge. Once you hit the street, turn left and the nursery will be at the dead end to the right.

As I came in winter, there were a lot of empty trellises which would be gorgeous in spring or summer, but coming at Christmas meant the greenhouses gave me a million and one ideas for decorating back home.

Lunch at the Tea House. Petersham Nursery, London. December 2015.

This is a nice stop for grabbing lunch which is served until 3 pm. The food is delicious but cost is pretty high. There are a few different areas to grab food but if you aren’t looking for a nice place to stop—meaning if you don’t have a jacket and your boots are covered in mud—don’t hit the café which can cost upwards of 20GBP for the entree alone, but hear back to the tea house. I got a warm, filling butternut squash, mushroom, and sage lasagna with a side of fennel salad and a small tea (3 cups) for about 15 GBP. Not the cheapest meal, but worth it.

Plus eating in the green house was nice.

Walk along the yellowed wood. Richmond along Thames, London. December 2015

Both of these were more photo stops than anything else but again, the area is more than suitable for an all-day wander so the trek is worth it if you choose to make a day out of the trip.

While you are in the area, there are more than a few stops that I know I won’t manage this time around but you should definitely look into walking through including Ham House, Richmond Park and Kew Gardens (this last stop I am hoping to hit in my part two of the final trips out there).

But until next week,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Walk Through a (London) Yellow Wood…

(Not so) Forgotten Spaces…

The first of London’s great green spaces to lose yourself in: Hampstead Heath.

All that green. Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampsteam Heath, London. September 2015.
All that green. Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampstead Heath, London. September 2015.

While most people know this huge expanse of green park-age for its famed view of city proper off of Parliament Hill (a spot worth the small climb on a good day), the first time I had heard of the area was planning all those summers back (about 3 now) when researching the English poet, John Keats. While his house is a short jaunt away from the greenery, it’s not a stretch to think about the young (though sickly) poet strolling through the great wooded expanses, even if the grounds are doubtlessly different.

Kenwood house. Hampstead Heath, London. September 2015.
Kenwood House. Hampstead Heath, London. September 2015.

And that is what I love about this area, whether you wander through after a quick stop in at Keats House, or stop by to check out the penned in animals, or wander the woods, or checkout the viewing points, or the beautiful Kenwood House (the actual family home as depicted in the 2013 film Belle, which was great!), or just come to get lost away from the grey of the city, Hampstead Heath has it all to offer.

But out of everything, what I loved was the deserted looking (but only looking) Pergola and Hill Gardens on the western part of the Heath.

This is an amateur photographers’ dream landscape and I want so badly to go and have some kind of occasion/fashion shoot in these overgrown walk ways.

Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampsteam Heath, London. September 2015.
Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampstead Heath, London. September 2015.

I swear, my camera and I are once again in love!

One of my favorite things in the world are places like this, where the world was built up and then nature comes along and takes over.

Luckily enough, we managed to go in when few others were also wandering, so there weren’t many long periods of waiting for people to move as to not ruin the lost civilization/forgotten place motif I had in mind.

This is a great secluded part of the park, far enough away from the animal enclosures and children’s play grounds to avoid heavy foot traffic which makes it an ideal on sunny days for a wander, a quite park read, or (like my day) an impromptu photography session.

Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampsteam Heath, London. September 2015.
Pergola and Hill Gardens, Hampstead Heath, London. September 2015.

While this is an area where the average traveler should try to hit if their stay in London permits (double so if your historic and/or literary tastes lean this way), I feel like I loved it so much more after having spent so long in the city surrounded by gray. So here is my call to all the city dwellers: take the train out; it’s an easy day in the green to free yourself. A more or less free detox thanks to good shoes and mother-nature; go and take it!

But then, I’m the kind of person who becomes claustrophobic in a city, so I’m one who will always look out to find new green places to offset it. In the next few weeks, as I finish out my stay here in London, I’ll be posting about some of my favorites and adventures through them, but for slightly more immediate coverage, feel free to follow my Instagram (more pics of this and other adventures await you!) as well.

And until next time, with luck in all your green-y (mis)adventures,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

(Not so) Forgotten Spaces…

Give people a break…

Travelers can be nasty people so be kind to them, especially those working and trying to help.

Skies over Claifornia. Northridge, California, USA. October 2015.
Skies over California. Northridge, California. October 2015.

This week, I traveled back to London, marking my second long trip in the span of a month. While to some this much back and forth seems crazy, for me, this is a warm up for moving back home in December and then coming back for graduation (a round trip) in January —not to mention any air travel needed once I figure out where I’ll be getting a job and living after that.

On the way back here, I encountered a lot more travel issues than I ever expected.

At LAX, our flight was delayed boarding for about an hour, in which time we were shuffled from one gate to the next, 4 times over. In Seattle, we were delayed another 40 minutes. Then we lingered over Heathrow for yet another 30 minutes due to an overcrowded flight deck. Once inside, customs took another hour and a half—which, including deplaning and getting to the tube, was more like two hours.

So, while, as an experienced, traveler I understand how these things add up and compound with normal travel stress, causing tensions fly high, nothing excuses some of the passengers’ behaviors I have seen in these last few trips.

I’m not going to list everything I have seen, but here are a few examples of the big travel don’ts I’ve witnessed:

1. In LAX, I watched a woman fight over pushing a wheelchair from one gate to another. The TSA agent literally had to move the woman’s hand off of her own and say very slowly, “Ma’am, you are not allowed to move this wheelchair. I will get you both to the gate, but you have to let go.” This was said three times within my hearing.

Guys, airports have strict procedures that you may not understand—you don’t have to! Seriously, your job is to follow directions and get on your plane. That’s it!

2. Going through customs, as the line wrapped around the corridor, I heard another woman exclaim when she saw the line: “oh my god, we are not waiting in this line. Come on, we are going to talk to someone about this mess.”

This mess was an unexpected buildup took half as long as any of us expected thanks to the teamwork of those working on the ground. I saw more tiny women running in heals, trying to keep smiling, and everyone happy than I had ever witnessed before.

3. And finally, a scene created by a mother of two whom left her baggage unattended outside of customs while her husband waited in line because her son needed to use the restroom – she didn’t want to take said luggage with her. When the TSA told her she could not leave the bags unattended, the woman yelled at her about her kid needing to go to the bathroom and how she would be back. The TSA woman was stern but polite, continuing with stating the airport protocols. Finally, the woman’s husband got out of line and stood with the bags.

This should have ended the confrontation. However, when the mother got back, she went back and continued to explain/ argue with the agent a little more quietly while her husband (alone) dragged the family bags back with him in line.

Seriously, ladies, why does it always seem to be us?!

There were a few men causing issues—ie. men taking up too much room when room is tight, men who drink too much and talk to loud, ect—but no one was as belligerent as these women.

And here’s the thing, especially with the holiday jams approaching: traveling can be a major pain. It’s stressful physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally. It’s a pain to get to the airport, it’s stressful being confined onboard where you have no control over where you are and who you are with, and then it’s stressful getting out of the airplane and through the rest of the airport (sometimes, again, because of those you are with).

Still, can you imagine how much worse it feels for someone who has to do all of this every day, and then gets yelled at by belligerent people who can control the situation just as much as you can?

So instead of being a belligerent passenger, travel smarter.

Carry as little carry on baggage as you can—this gives you a little more under the seat room.

Check in early – etickets are so easy now and save you tons of issues and time; dropping off your bags will be the only thing you have to deal with.

Stop carrying makeup and other liquids through security—your face will thank you for a day off and security will be a breeze. If you forget to remove these from your bag, you will be held up at security as they go through your whole bag. It’s really not worth it!

And seriously, schedule large gaps between stops for those tricky layovers, especially during the busier seasons. This is especially important for overseas travel as places, such as Heathrow, have you go through customs there before you move further on.

If you do need help, always be kind. Sometimes people who are working, whether as TSAs, in food services, on the plane and off, can be flustered, hasty, and even rude. But trust that their day is probably a lot more stressing than yours and they do it every day. So do good, be kind, smile more. The world is a tough enough place without you adding to it. You’ll be happier for it.

Now as I fight off jetlag, I hope you have many happy travels and until next time,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Give people a break…

And standing in for…

or the art of avoiding awkward selfies.

Sam and Dean's Awesome Summer Adventure. Neuschwanstein Castle. Balvrian Mountains, Germany. June 2015.
Sam and Dean’s Awesome Summer Adventure. Neuschwanstein Castle, Munich, Germany. June 2015. Credit: Tamara Gallagher.

We’ve all done it; we’ve all been the person trying to hit just the right angle, fighting with the selfie-stick, or searching for a friendly face in the crowd, all in search for some kind of image with us that shows where we are and who we’re with (hopefully) at the same time.

Sam and Dean's Awesome Summer Adventure. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. June 2015. Credit: Tamara Gallagher.
Boys Cont. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. June 2015. Credit: Tamara Gallagher.

Well, this may not solve all the issues, but while traveling with my mom and sister, I think I have now found my favorite way of avoiding not only the awkward travel selfie, but having to be in my travel pictures at all while still feeling like these are MY travel experience pictures:

Find your double.

Across this post, you’ll find a mix of images from our trip of WB’s Supernatural brothers my family brought to help track their journey.

Also, this can really be anything you are willing to cart around on your back from a childhood toy to these handy figures (from Funko POP Vinyl collections) to your travel book of the moment. The point is to find something that represents you in some small way that is playful and easy.

Friet Museum, Bruges, Belgium. June 2015. Credit: Tamara Gallagher
Friet Museum, Bruges, Belgium. June 2015. Credit: Tamara Gallagher

When it came to us traveling, what I loved was how creative this got. The boys had a twitter feed, some Tumblr posts and more than a few facebook updates via our accounts or their own (run by my sister). I could easily throw some instagram into the mix. Whatever you would normally post with, these can fill in.

This is also great if you are like me and really can’t be bothered to be in (read: actively avoid) your travel pictures, but don’t want your pictures to be just anyone else’s photo album.

I’m a little sad that my Tinkerbell didn’t make the journey, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing this in the future (though not until next year!).

Again, this is another quick post during my (second round!) of moving this month, but enjoy and let me now how you might avoid the awkward selfie!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

And standing in for…

Moving week…

… aka. hell week.

Skyline at Sunset. London, UK. August 2015.
Skyline at Sunset. London, UK. August 2015.

This is another week that we’ll be keeping things short, sweet, and casual, here at Leave on the Wind.

Why? Because on top of my first days (kind of) at my internship and scrambling to finish my dissertation (thank God it’s finished), I have had to pack up my life, clean my old rented room, and high-tale it out to the other end of London right in the middle of the rest of my suddenly very hectic life.

In the process of finding a new place to rent, I looked at a few different renters sites to get a feel of the market and then pick my next home for the next four-ish months.

And, oh my God,  were some of these places scary – and that’s just the websites!

After my searching, I landed on AirBnB and this is a site I can really recommend.

While, like any site on the internet, there are a few listings that made me skeptical, the proportion of sketchy to  easily livable or outright lovely compared to every other site were tremendously improved.

What makes renting through AirBnb so great comes down to a few simple points:

  1. The website is exceedingly easy to navigate – you get to set your specific parameters from cost to time needed to rent to type of let to pretty much anything that you might need to consider.
  2. The places are certified – what you see is really what you get, and with (generally) clear pictures, you can count on these rentals even if you aren’t in a place where you can physically go and check the room out before paying for it.
  3. Everything goes through the website – you are told to never directly pay the person who owns the room but to go through the site. This is great in case something goes wrong because the company can come in as an intermediary. This is equally helpful if you end up having a problem with the letter, such as things not living up to the agreement, the company can be contacted.

On the down side, during busy season like August into September when schools are coming back and new students are flooding into the city and old ones, like me, are scrambling for last minute housing as they wrap everything up, spaces can go very quickly so you don’t always have time to sit around and consider your options. If you take too long, the places you like will not stay around!

In the end, I’m going to be staying in two rentals I picked through this sight. The first is a studio I’m splitting with a friend until she heads back home and I wait for location 2 (a private room rental in another studio/warehouse setup) to be free.

Once I get a feel for both of these locations (and my life more under control), I might give a little bit more on this whole process, which should be wrought with pain, adventure and hilarity but until then:

Be safe, travel well, and I will be back, same place, same time, next week… if I survive it:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Ps. and if you have any great stories on moving, feel free to share them below; make me laugh or share my pain, I’d love to hear them!

Moving week…