5 Tips to being a Good House Guest…

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

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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.

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5 Tips to being a Good House Guest…

A Pre-Road Trip Check List…

A bit ago, I wrote a post on my desire to get back on the road. Well, this weekend I will get that chance, though not as I had originally planned.

It’s one on my college friend’s final recital up at Sonoma State University, so this weekend my best friend and I will be taking a familiar 6 hour road trip that I haven’t taken in just over 3 years.

We’ve made this drive many (many!) times, but on each trek I was always the one driving…. faster than I probably should have. But this time around, I’ll be sitting in the passenger seat and doing my very best to stay awake… which is more than my regular passengers can say!

While there are definite must-haves when you decide to take off (your favorite snack foods, drinks in a cooler, you know, sustenance!), there are also things to negotiate between your party. Some of these just deal with cost – who covers gas or food and what your manageable and agreeable budget is – while others are just to make sure you and your companions aren’t bored out of your minds.

So budget is really first since that’s the hardest thing to talk about, and if you don’t have the conversation, one person will always be left holding the bag. You and your companions will have to figure this on your own but you must have this talk before going! Trust me, it will save you many headaches.

While I am a fan of fashion and style, if you are in a car for an extended period of time, fashion should take a back seat. Skinny jeans don’t have great stretch or give and shorts or small skirts make your legs/leg sweat stick to your seats. I’m opting for some easy leggings and a long shirt, throw in some boots and a hoodie of warmth. Again, like prepping for an airplane: easy, comfortable, and movable.

As long as there is more than one person, you should have “games” on hand. I’m not talking games like punch-buggy – I’m not allowed to play this game as I’ve been deemed to competitive and aggressive… – or the license plate game.

My best friend and I are total nerds so we’ve recently gotten to highly academic debates over nerdy topics – the most recent was: which would you rather have the Doctor’s (of BBC’s Doctor Who) TARDIS or psychic paper? Can you guess who won?

I like these fun nerd-offs because you can pull from all over the logical spectrum and note episodes if you want. It not only tests your knowledge but gives you quite the lively conversation as well – this helps with the not falling asleep thing. Also, unlike all the purchasable games available now, debates are free! Just steer clear of topics that will cause animosity more than fun whether this be politics, your favorite Doctor, or Marvel/DC.

The other thing that can help you in the case of falling asleep – or better yet, not falling asleep – is a killer playlist. Just like everything else in this situation – you are trapped in a tiny space with other people with no real way of getting out – music must be a mutual decision. Whether this is a mixed playlist that pulls joint or a few of everyone’s favorites or just a rotation of everyone’s favorite radio stations, keep the tunes peaceable.

Just remember, if you opt for radio, if you are going any sizable distance, the radio will eventually cut out the stations you know and you’ll be flying musically blind! Never fun.

So clothes, games, music, money, and food… so the only thing left to consider (along with money) is planning for sleep on journeys lasting longer than a day. This ends with deciding if you want to plan ahead going from point A to hotel B to motel C and so and so forth, or if you want to go as far as you possibly can in a day and then see what’s around when you are able to stop. Either way, it’s good to talk this all out before leaving home to make sure everyone in your party is comfortable.

That’s all and I can’t wait to feel the wind in my hair!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Pre-Road Trip Check List…

The Paris Wishlist…

Because you should always look forward.

Wishing for a Day Along the Seine. Paris, France. February, 2015.
Wishing for a Day Along the Seine. Paris, France. February, 2015.

Since I’ve been neck deep in exams and revisions, this week I’m dropping a quick post covering my Paris revisit checklist.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris twice, so I think I’ve managed to hit most of the major spots and areas of interest. And while seeing many of these over and over again isn’t a bad idea by any measure, there are a few personal musts that I just haven’t managed.

Above all, I want to finally manage a river walk along the Seine. While anyone whose read my posts up until knows my love of walking along cities’ river-ways, Paris has some extra significance as an avid media junkie.

Firstly, if you’ve watched this season of Vikings, you’ll know that we just covered the siege of Paris. Seeing how vital the river and its surrounding area where in these events, I’m desperate to see the city with this in mind.

The second reason stems from my love of the film Sabrina, though the 1995 Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford version, more than its earlier Audrey Hepburn counterpart. In the film, Sabrina talks about walking by the river until you find your favorite bridge or spot and then coming back every day to sit peacefully and have your lunch by the river. This is the idea which has really inspired my love of completing river walks in every city I can.

When it comes to places to see, I have a great need to go into the Musee Carnavalet (exterior) and the Musee Jacquemart-Andre (interior) —the museums which makeup the heist worthy setting of Audrey Hepburn’s How to Steal a Million. This is probably my favorite of her films—it’s a quirky comedy with a splash of romance and a young Peter O’Toole as a fantastic male lead—any evening spent with Ms. Hepburn is well worth the effort, but this one will makes it even better. I don’t even need to know what’s being displayed here—I just want to skulk around the museum as if I’m casing the joint. Maybe I’ll pick up a boomerang if they have any on hand.

Then, of course, it’s all about exploring cafes around Paris as all the stereotypes of French living emphasize. Again, as a media girl, I still have to figure out where Audrey’s Sabrina cafe hangout is, where she sat and wrote her letters home (to round out the trend). Maybe run by Le Cordon Bleu while I’m at it.

As for revisits, I’d love to go through the Paris catacombs again as well as explore Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur again on a clear day where I can actually see the city stretched out before me. While I’m in the area, maybe next time I’ll see more than the outside of Moulin Rouge.

That’s the checklist and, hopefully, I’ll be back soon enough to tick these off! But until then:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

The Paris Wishlist…

Rolling with it…

The art of staying flexible in the planning process.

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At Hampton Court Palace. East Molesey, Surrey, England. Summer 2013.

As promised, this week we’re going to continue to talk about nerdy book travels, although, as it always seems to happen in most attempts at planning, things have shifted slightly since my last post. But have no fear my fellow travel junkies and book nerds alike, while I’m still definitely keeping the nerdy book tour, it’s become more of an extended theme crossing through my travel plans for the rest of my time here in the UK.

When you look at the planning process, there are a lot of factors you must take into account when you get down to actually putting your plans into action. Whether you’re looking at finances, time, distance you’re actually able to travel, and/or simply those basic resources available to you, things don’t always work out as you had originally hoped for and mapped out.

This, as it turns out, is exactly what I’ve been dealing with.

When I started this planning process (as you can see if you look at last week’s post), I was planning on visiting two bookstores in France and then a few throughout England, mostly London and one up in the north—Alnwick.

I’ll be honest and admit my first problem was a lack of knowledge concerning geography. Simply put, I thought that everything was closer than it actually was—I was looking at a list of books and not really taking into account travel time.

As I started breaking my trip down and putting my hopeful destinations onto my maps, I was able to see not just the distance I’d have to trek across, but the transportation or sometimes lack of transportation (at least, cost effective transportation) to get me there. This became an even bigger deal when I took into account the time I’d be able to spend in those areas.

The first thing I thought about cutting was Lyon, France because, as it turned out, it costs more (and with extremely limited options) to get from Paris to Lyon than it takes to go from London to Paris. Therefore, visiting the city for a single day and (with travel time) visiting a single location wasn’t worth the cost.

After this paring down, however, I realized I would have more time to see the areas around other bookstores I had planned on my list.

The one that stuck out most for me was Alnwick.  I know that areas nearby have been used in filming various movies and TV show I’ve enjoyed and (unlike, Paris) I’ve never been there before (not that one trip to Paris lets you see everything the city has to offer!).

But as I researched the main areas I’d want to visit—the castle—I discovered that it’s actually closed until the end of March. Factoring this in, I’m opting to hold off visiting Barter Books until a later date. I’m thinking it’ll be a great weekend trip at the end of March, or possibly planning a larger trip which would start there and then continue up into Scotland.

With that being ousted, I realize I would have more time to explore the French areas on my tour.

Bringing Lyon back and extending the time I spent there, I was able to do a little research and find a lot of very interesting sites which would fill the time, would interest me and would make the cost of travel worth both the time and finance I’d put towards that part of the trip.

Did I mention this was going to be watching me really get down to the details of planning my trip? Yep, but hopefully this is helpful!

But, where does that leave us?

My basic plan as of now is (rather than last week’s jumping around to a new place every day with travel days between them) to split most of my reading week between Paris and Lyon before returning home in time to join my friend on the way to Bath and my birthday trip. Any spare day around the fringes I’ll be running round London getting to see any of the other nerdy book things I can get up to between balancing out my school work and fun.

So that’s my up-to-date plan, but here’s a look at what you guys can expect to see from me in the next month!

  1. Next week will cover transportation and how to best plan a quick trip like this (probably better than I have!), as well as a more in depth look (than my posts last year) at hostels and what factors you should take into account, especially (like me) you’re young, female, and traveling alone in a foreign country.
  2. The week after we’ll cover any last minute wrapping up needed before I head out as well as packing for small trips.
  3. The Tuesday I’m traveling, I’ll give you guys a live travel update/account of what I’ve been doing and some of the sites I’ve visited and people I’ve met (if there are stories to tell, I’ll do my best to share them!).
  4. And then once I’m back and getting back into my school work we can wrap it all back up with details from the second half of my travels.

I know that was a lot but those are my plans so I hope you guys stick around for the journey! Don’t forget, I’ll be covering some of the extra lifestyle bits of this planning and journey on my other blog site Silk Sheets & Grilled Cheese so stop by there if you’re interested and we’ll see you next week!

Until then, stay safe and happy travels.

This is a leaf on the wind, helping you soar.

Rolling with it…

A Case of the Nerves…

This is new.

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Along the Waterfront. Erie Canal, Waterford, Ireland. Summer, 2013.

I am 12 days out and I beginning to feel the pressure… and maybe need to stop eating my feelings (I’ve had a latte, 2 scones, and the works of Morningstar breakfast foods… that’s a whole lot of empty carbs for me!). This a really new experience for me (the nerves part).

I’ve been traveling since I was three years old (my first trip to England—where I threw out my bottles and learned to climb out of my crib). Since then, I’ve been to Italy, Japan, Australia, France, the UK, Ireland, and all over the US, and yet, I’ve never felt this kind of anxious. I know this is different; I’m moving away—alone—for at least a year, and not just 6 hours by car like in college, but a 10 and a half hour plane ride from anyone I know. The last time I moved (besides the 6 hour college drive), I was 7 years old and I had both my parents, three sisters, two cats and a dog coming with me.

So what to do?

I’m making lists and trying to tie up loose ends; seeing friends and making plans; keeping busy.

Basically, my list for now is:

  1. Get my banking done
  2. Pack my boxes to ship
  3. Get the necessities to pack in my suitcase and carry-on bag
  4. Figure out what I have to buy when I get there (and how to pay for it)
  5. Clean out my room
  6. Double check my lodgings
  7. Double check my classes and work out the details for my internship
  8. Contact my UK contacts and set up meetings
  9. Check any of my annual contracts to postpone or cancel the contract/payments*

Well, it’s a work in progress.

*this is something to look into if you are suddenly moving to a new place. Some contracts have clauses saying that if you are moving a certain distance from one of their facilities (like a massage parlor), you can cancel your payments after the next month’s payment if you bring in proof of your new address. It’s nice to look into.

Like I said, I’m 12 days out, I have my ticket, and all my paperwork in order, but I have so much left to do. It’s no wonder I’m starting to eat my feelings…

In the next week and 5 days, I’ll be working through this list (and probably adding just as many points as I delete from it) and hopefully putting my excess jitters into running rather than eating everything in sight!

SO, how do you deal with travel anxiety whether for small or more major trips?

I love hearing from you and hope you don’t mind the randomness of the post…. Promise I’ll be more constructive in the next couple of weeks.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A Case of the Nerves…

Almost There…

Planning on packing.

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The Shard and London Bridge. London, England. Summer, 2013.

No banking today as I am waiting for a letter that will let me start setting up my account…. So, what to write about?

I’m less than three weeks out, my visa answer should be in tomorrow, my passport and paperwork should be back a few days later, I’m finalizing housing, have selected my classes, and am about to set into cleaning and packing mode. It’s an interesting experience, moving all by myself and further than a car ride away. In the next week, I’ll be going through everything I have to decide what I’m keeping, what I’m packing and what I’m giving away—but I’ll get to that as we go along.

But as I sit here, all I can think about is what I’ll be ABLE to take.

A few weeks ago, the school’s countdown blog did a post on buying vs. bringing. It advised only bringing things like prescription medications that you can’t get (making sure they are legal in the country you are traveling to) and enough for the entire time of your trip (if not a permanent move); and plug adaptor kits as buying them at home will mean they will work for you appliances like computers and chargers, while the kits will give you options as you travel from place to place—if you are able to work extra travel into you time away.

Buying on the other hand was a larger list. Things like hair driers, straighteners and curlers (as the voltage difference from country to country can cause serious issues); and bulky or heavy needs such as towels, sheets, toiletries, and books (with the exception of the one or two you take on the plane!), which just fill up suitcases or boxes which cost you just as much to ship as they do to replace.

I’m sure there will be plenty of other items to go on either of these lists as the packing gets under way and I would love to hear any of your suggestions. What would you take or buy that others don’t think about? Do you have an argument on taking one of the suggestions rather than buying?

No matter what you choose, there will always be things that you have to buy right when you move whether because your boxes haven’t arrived yet or starting from scratch, and you’ll need to budget a little wiggle room into your start of year spending.

Well, that’s all for now as I’m swamped and still figuring out the details.

Two weeks and five days; I think I can make it!

Thanks for reading and I love hearing from you,

Thins is Leave on the Wind, Helping you soar

Almost There…

And you’re on your way…

… with everything in toe.

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The road to Anne Hathaway’s house. Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Summer, 2013.

It’s really summer now. Schools are out, caps are tossed, and plans (and planes) are taking off. So here we are.
We’ve talked planning and packing, booking and moving, sites and cites.
So before you board your planes, trains, boats, automobiles, or whatever else you plan on taking to get you wherever you need to go, take the moment to go through your check list (we’re keeping this post simple) to make sure you really have it all:

Luggage:
Packed with clothes
laundry packets (if necessary)
secondary shoes
makeup bag and portable necessities (remember you can buy most on the road– hair care and body/face wash)

Carry on (if not your main bag):
travel book
empty water bottle
change of clothes(the tight roll method is best!)
extra underwear (!)
Chapstick
electronic charges and adapters
hair ties
medication
travel notebook and pen
travel info folder
small emergency packet of feminine products (you can pick more up if you need them later!)

In your travel folder:
print outs of travel itinerary
plane/travel tickets
event/pre-bought passes or receipt print outs
hotel/hostel booking confirmations
bus/train/ferry tickets/ confirmations

On your electronics:
Apps: transportation (some are hooked in with your travel passes)
whatsapp app (which can get hinky; test it)
contact your provide to up your international minutes and data

House: 
someone to feed/water/walk your plants/animal
Halt or someone to get your mail
house sitter

Home transport:
someone to pick you up and drop you off at the airport

Money:

You have called your bank and let them know you are going out of town so they don’t shut down your cards/ access to money

And that’s the main of it. If there is anything else any of you always stick on your packing list let me know below.

So as you take off, stay safe and merry travels,
I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

And you’re on your way…