Looking Forward: Germany.

So it turns out that my best friend from high school who I’ve been spending almost all my time (that I’m not working) with while he visits SoCal will be moving out to Germany later this year and he’ll be staying for another 3. In that time, I will definitely be heading out there for at least one visit and while I need more research once I pick out the exact when.

Yes, I have been to Germany briefly in my WWII adventures with mom and Bex but the more that I research the more that I feel the urge to jump on a plane as soon as possible.

From my last experience with Germany, I’m already convinced it’s the land of fairy tales. Looking through Pintrest, I’m convinced more and more. Wile I am nowhere near finished (and I should probably take those I’ll inevitably travel with into consideration) a few broad ideas are definitely on my list.

First up, Burg Eltz Castle. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful castles in Germany but Burg Eltz has a totally different feel – based on the pictures that is. If you are here in April to November, you’ll be able to take a castle tour, but if not, everything I’ve read indicates great views and hikes that will still be worth the visit (Don’t forget to bring good shoes!).

While Berlin and Munich are amazing cities, there are little towns straight out of fairy tales that are dying to be explored. As with most of these kinds of sights, you may need a car to get to them but, when there’s a will right? Also, as a personal joke, I want to visit the city of Dresden. This is a cultural center and filled with natural features from the river to parks and forests.

Finally, Germany is a country that is really well traversed so, essentially, without much work, there is probably a plan already out there on the internet waiting for you to discover it. Try searching road trips through Germany and you’ll probably find some great guides with more than a few hidden gems.

Even though this trip is a long way off, researching is making me more and more excited at the prospect. If you have any other suggestions – which may include where to take a bestie who is less travel savy (as a civilian at least) than I – leave them in the comments!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Looking Forward: Germany.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

This past weekend, I was at a camping event that seemed to be fighting the environment. We were all sandblasted by a veritable dust/dirt storm the fist two days and had off and on showers (more on than off) on the final day – mostly while trying to pack everything up (which brought out many more bugs than is ever necessary).

I camp with my sister, meaning that we have a easy system. One works and packs in the wet, flooded tent while the other takes a break (you can nap, eat, try to get warm, whatever) inside the car and then you switch. Once camp is broken down, we work together to get everything in the back of the truck and settled. most things have a specific place or weight-derived order – to limit the chances of flying debris later – so again, this all goes rather quick and without incident.

I am also the driver and I like to help pack everything up so that I know I won’t have issues when driving. I also like to be the person pressing the buttons to look for music when we drive – I know where everything is without driving and it keeps me going and she knows not to touch my buttons unless asked.

Ki is the passenger. She looks for food, keeps an eye on the navigation, puts up with my music and – most the time – my rants or weird topics of conversation, and she makes sure that when we get food, I am easily able to access mine without killing us both.

The point? She knows her driver. we are partners in this and very rarely – with the exception of terseness over hormonal or exhaustion fueled outbursts – do we have any kinds of problems and ever those are usually apologized for and waved off before the drive is even finished (usually within 5 minutes of said outburst).

Not everyone gets to have these kinds of relationships.

This was abundantly clear while watching others in our group trying to pack up over the course of the day. These ladies were trying to balance multiple duties while tearing down so they had more to accomplish than ki and I, however, I’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion.

Packing their car is insane. Everything has an exact order and placement to make it all fit which makes sense but was easily thrown off by the incremental packing and the elements (rain) fighting against them.

The big problem comes to a head in a matter of workload and conflicting ideas on who and how things need to get done. This groups driver has very specific ideas on how things should go in the car for all three ladies things to fit. She also seems to think that the others should know how to pack said car the way it needs to be packed so that she doesn’t have to guide every step of the packing. As she puts it, she can’t tire herself out with all the packing, because she need to conserve her energy for staying awake while driving so if it looks like she’s lazing around during the process, that’s what’s going on.

Her passengers, however, know that she will get frustrated if things aren’t packed just so – even when certain things don’t make sense to them – so they will need her input and help to do things like set up and tear down. They have admitted that changing some of the tearing down order would probably be done before hand to smooth out the wrinkles.

Despite years of camping together, these small bumps between passengers and drivers makes me believe communication is a real issue and if you are going to road trip with someone, the very first thing you need to do is find out what your companion(s) needs from you. Every driver is different and as someone who fills this road a lot, it’s really nice when we don’t have to think of everything. But drivers, don’t forget to speak up and even set some ground rules.

Every ship needs a captain – figure out how your ship sails best and I wish you many happy adventures.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Rules for Road Trips: Knowing your driver

That time of year again….

For many, today this means Valentine’s day, but in the Gallagher household, this means the lead up to Gallifrey One, the premier annual Doctor Who convention that takes place in the LAX Marriott Hotel. This will be my 6th year attending (not including my facetimed from France experience!), and if you have gone or attempted to get tickets for this, you know how lucky that is.

This year, I’m coming at the prep and thought process for this event differently than I have before. The hotel is fairy close to home so while I could go out and retrieve anything I accidentally leave behind quite easily, this is always a pain; in this light, I’m not talking about checking and double checking on all your gear, including fittings.

Since experiencing the magnitude that was Boston Comic Com. and the shifts in schedules, shifts in lines, crowd control, and so many things happening all at once that you just miss out, I’ve begun to appreciate planning ahead so much more (as if I didn’t already, right?).

So, this week (besides binge watching a bit of DW Series 1) I will be going over the online schedule and picking all my time slots – and time to grab a bite or two to eat! – and plotting out my  budget. This online schedule has a customizable option I will definitely be checking out asap!

If you do have tickets, be aware that there is a new ‘no videotaping panels’ rule – pictures are great but, because people have been posting whole panels rather than clips, there is no unofficial filming. Still, if this ruins your weekend, remember you are lucky to be there!

So, wear your Union Jack with pride, take my hand, and (as always): Run!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

That time of year again….

Staycation? Make it a day trip.

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Isles Anniversary, California. November 2016.

This weekend, there is a camping trip for the SCA and while I would love to get out of my life for a weekend (it’s getting addicting), I have way too much stuff on my plate to add in planning a long, busy weekend. What I can happily set out to do is give myself a day off and road-trip up and back to the campsite.

Remember, the whole point of a staycation, whether you get just beyond your own city or explore your city, is to get out of your own head and relax.

In this case, a friend and I are road-tripping about 2 hours (so barely a road trip – but again: staycation!) up to camp and, just like any road-trip, there are things to consider.

Money: Are you splitting costs such as gas, snacks, or anything else that comes along? Sometimes it’s worth it to divide these costs but other times when they are so small, it’s not worth splitting hairs. Best policy is to discuss before setting out.

Timing: When do you need to leave and when do people need to be home by? Where are you meeting up (important to know for your personal timing)? Never ever make the person who is driving wait for you! I have had to wait on people many times and there was nothing worse than starting a road trip ticked off by the people you are going to have to sit in a car with for hours on end.

Doing Your Part: This could mean picking up coffee for everyone, or volunteering to drive part of the way, or working as the DJ or navigator (taking into consideration everyone in the car with you!). Basically, stepping up so that no one is left doing everything themselves.

Now, just because a staycation doesn’t make you go as far (and in my case, for very little time), doesn’t mean you should skip out on the prep and planning. If you aren’t going far from home for a day or two, having to buy anything because you forgot supplies from batteries to sunglasses to power chords and chargers can put a real damper on your trip. In that case, so can getting lost if you don’t look up your directions beforehand.

So yes, go out and hike, to a campsite, to a beach, anywhere out of your element and center yourself.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

 

Staycation? Make it a day trip.

To Splurge or to Save.

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A Disaster in Planning: The hours of misguided hiking with all our baggage (in more ways than one!). Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Summer 2013.

This week, I was talking to a friend who is planning a trip for himself and his family, and he was talking about how hard it is to stick to a budget and he has no idea where to cut corners that will not cause an uproar from the rest of his brood.

In planning any trip, this is one of the hardest questions you will be faced with and, unfortunately, there is really no cut and dry answer – no specific place you can always cut down on.

The question you really have to ask yourself is: what do you want out of your trip?

If you love food, why would you skip out on trying out local foods even if they pushed your budget a bit. If you can’t sleep unless only you are in a single room with all your luxuries, that’s where your money has to go (you cannot not sleep when traveling). And on and on and on.

This in no way means that you shouldn’t have a limit, but it does mean that you need to work on what you will regret giving up.

My friend is currently trying to convince his family that renting an apartment in London is the best plan since most of their budget has been spent on expensive lodging elsewhere. London hotels are so expensive and every flat I’ve rented has been cheaper yet very well maintained – really think about how you can get around those higher prices whenever you can and your budget will thank you.

On the other hand, my sister and I tried to skimp on lodging when we went on out UK trip which led to the disaster that was Stratford-upon-Avon. The hostel we booked was miles outside of city center which meant that by the time we walked there, all the sights were closed down for the day. I’m all for exercise, but I would have much rather have spent more money for closer accommodations that would have let me spend more time wandering rather than marching.

It’s really about what you are going to regret in either money you miss out on or in the experience you don’t get because you are worried about money.

In London, we went to an attraction called The London Experience which (thank god(!) was free) ended up being a bad cheesy historic horror show followed by a bad horror maze filled with all the worst features of horror mazes, including the dreaded, static-filled squeeze machine. Again, we got in for free because of the London pass, but otherwise we would have had to spend money because the description was bad and we assumed it was a real history tour.

Then in Edinburgh, we opted out of going through the castle because it was too expensive and we had plenty of other things to do. Now, however, I regret not just doing it. I’ve heard great things about it since coming home and would love to compare it to all the other castles I’ve explored.

Yes, these are all relatively small things in terms of the great scope of all the things you will do when traveling but you can never guarantee the chance to do these things again and you will have to go back out and pay your bills so the balancing act is an important one. Your best bet in all things is to find a happy medium and really work on the fine points of budget to travel.

It’s all pretty self-explanatory but if you want to plan it out research, research, research. Start with making a list of the things you don’t want to or can’t skimp on; food, lodging, castles, full tours, ect. or pick a theme you can’t miss out on and build from there. Keeping yourself specific and then building your working budget will truly be your best friend. Finally, leave wiggle room and don’t sweat days (as long as it’s not most days) that you go a bit over budget.

So go, plan, budget, research, wiggle and, as always, have fun!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

To Splurge or to Save.

Traveling (Comic) Cons…

5 days round trip to Boston Comic Con and the truth of the matter is: I am so tired.

Today is the fist full day back in the California time zone and, as I was barely on Boston time, I feel like my whole internal clock is stuck in Wonderland – time means practically nothing at all to my body right now. Add in some post-travel, recycled air crud, amplified by the ever present pot-con crud, and I’m not in tip-top shape.

But, alas, onto some big points on traveling for any kind of dress-up/costumed cons:

1. Check and double check your luggage

I have definitely pulled brain blanks multiple times in packing for cons and, as a complete detail-oriented freak, this never goes well. For my first Doctor Who convention, I bought solid white velcro shoes for one of my Rose Tyler costumes and, of course, I left the ruddy things sitting in my room. Luckily, we were an hour away from homeand my dad was coming into the area for a class so it was easy to meet up, say hi, and pick up my shoes. You can’t do this, however, if you have flown across the country.

So yes, check and double check all the details of every outfit and costume you’ve planned for your weekend and – at least for me – this means packing a few mundane outfits but I’ll cover that in a moment or two.

2. Look carefully at the time/season when you are traveling

Most people going to a con have bulky pieces and that is a major pain no matter what season you travel in, but in the peak seasons, this is just insane. It’s bad enough with more people bringing more carry-ons in lieu of high check-in costs overfilling the regular cabin space, but with clunky cosplay gear, this doesn’t work at all.

If you can de-bulk your cosplay, seriously consider it. Between lack of space, cost of multiple checked items,  damage in the transport process and chance of lost luggage, you may well end up without your gear (at least in any shape to wear proudly). However, if you are going to fight to bring your biggest and bulkiest – costs be damned – you must plan ahead. You should try and check in early as a few airlines will let you on in order of priority and check-in (this is if you are pushing the carry on limit). Secondly, you need to show up earlier than the airlines recommended time; this guarantees a higher chance of your bags getting onto the correct plane. If you are late to check in, only you are responsible for your bags not making it in, especially if you are checking multiple items – law of averages goes way up in a time crunch!

This includes post-con luggage! You may travel to the con with one carry on, but if you over shop, that can easily escalate and as stated earlier, travel space can just as easily become scarce. When packing, remember to leave space the first time around in your checked gear and you’ll be able to really work in souvenirs if you haven’t completely overindulged yourself.

3. Check the weather and make your costume choices accordingly

Just as your con gear can get bulky, generally this bulk also increases the heat of your outfit. While convention centers are generally air conditioned (if they are done correctly!) to the point of needing a sweater, there are always areas inside and out that are disturbingly warm.  If you are in a hot region, watch-out for fleece and layers or else make sure that you take breaks outside of your gear to cool down.

If you are close enough to your hotel, go back and forth from costume to mundane clothing as needed and if not, wear light mundane layers under your clunkier gear that you can take off periodically.

Also, take care of yourself. Drink lots of water and pack snacks; there are days where you will barely have time to use the bathroom let alone any of your other necessities. Speaking of, make sure you can move and do things like use the bathroom without help – no one really wants to be your bathroom friend, no matter how much they love you.

4. Plan your budget to suit what you can actually afford

Cons have all the nerd gear you could ever want – and most that you will never need – and all of it more than your wallet can stand in a single weekend. From gadgets, to costumes, to trinkets, to photographs and autographs, everything at the con has a steep price that can add up quickly when you aren’t paying attention.

If you plan out your costs before heading out – buying what you can ahead of time, having money on hand, ect. – you’re much more likely to stick to your budget. Also, make sure that budget fits your lifestyle. If you have a lower income, you can’t spend your whole rent or food budget on trinkets that you are never going to use. Be sensible, nerds!

5. Make a plan to combat your jet lag

Cons are generally short lived – Boston was a weekend which we extended to five days with travel – and therefore, you will barely get used to the time zone you are in before heading back home, leaving you in a state of weird time-limbo.  You can push all the caffeine (beware of the crash) and fluids you want but you really just need to get yourself out on that first morning and go.

Our first morning, my dad and I were scheduled for a 6:30 50 minute run and, between the adrenaline and endorphins, I felt more awake than I expected after getting through the workout. Just make sure to fuel up after because jet lag, no food, and in a calorie deficit, you will not make it through the day.


 

There are obviously many more things that are vital for you to have a successful con and I’d love to hear some of your top things to remember. This being said, I loved Boston Comic con – small enough to handle but wider appeal than my regular stop – but I’ll probably just be sticking to my local favorite, Gallifrey One, for the foreseeable future.

Many more topics to cover from this quick trip, but until the next time,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Traveling (Comic) Cons…

It’s Always the Things We Don’t Think to Bring to Disneyland…

I just got home from chaperoning a trip to Disneyland for a group of 32 8th graders – for those of you who do not know, this means 13- to 14-year-olds; I am exhausted.

I’m a California native and someone who has ‘grown up Disney’ as I like to call it. My mom worked for Disney for the majority of my childhood and up until I moved temporarily out of the state, I held an annual pass so I more or less know the parks like the back of my hand.

Tuesdays are not supposed to be this busy – but we forgot to calculate High School grad night.

So today was more or less a madhouse of crazy, maze-like line preparation which we all had to navigate on top of the beginning of summer vacationers, our 32 kiddos (as well as a few other middle school day-trippers), and the high schoolers who now have extended Grad Day hours.

I figured that going to the park as a chaperon wouldn’t require much more thought and focus than my normal day trips down – for the 8th grade trip, the kids roam in groups with specific in-person check-in times so it’s not labor intensive – but apparently, even at 25, Disneyland chaperoning makes your body feel old.

I’m not going to get graphic here, but even though we told the kids to make sure they had all the medication/supplies they might need along with our phone numbers for emergency circumstances, we as the adults were less prepared.

One by one, we fell to various issues – I did have my pain specific medication, however, it took much longer than normal to work with much worse symptoms through that waiting- from cramping to flu stuff to back pain (for other leaders!).

We were a mess.

So my advice for theme parks:

  • Bring a simple first aid kit with any and all quick-fix medications dosed out by person and labeled so security knows if you are stopped.  They do sell individual headache medicine packets, but it’s easier if you just have one set.
  • Bring in a leak proof water bottle and a bag (like zip lock) to stick it in just in case – they won’t stop you from carrying a water bottle, you’ll save money, and the baggy almost always comes in handy as I have learned in the past.

If you are chaperoning:

  • Have the parents give instructions for pain/headache medication (ie. check box if we can give your child Advil/Tylenol) on the permission slips. Teachers carry these forms anyway and it’s easier for us if we can leave you a message saying this happened and we did this, rather than playing phone tag while your child complains about their head.
  • Don’t just give out your number to the kids; have them send you their contacts as well for the trip. This is just a basic know how for emergency/check=in purposes and can be digital or written on the permission slip along with parent/emergency contact information.

Alright that’s all I have. Again, as the school year comes to a close, everything feels like a mad rush so thanks for sticking with me and, as always:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

It’s Always the Things We Don’t Think to Bring to Disneyland…