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Leave the Kids at Home

It is OK to leave the kids at home, and travel as a couple.  Forget the guilt trip and take a real one!

In the mad dash that is life, today’s couples need to leave the kids at home and take a weekend getaway .   Couples need time to build their relationship, reconnect and make plans and priorities.  Some couples just need the quiet time to recharge.  Marriage is difficult.   Families are under a lot of pressures from outside and in.  When it comes down to it, you must ask, “Is it important that the adults in the family have a strong and committed relationship?”  We are convinced that it is.  It’s not selfish.  Strong relationships take time and effort to keep healthy.  We promise that what follows is not a “preachy sermon” just a few of the many benefits of finding time to travel as a couple.

I can’t leave my kids!

crying boyI am sure you are wondering, do you guys love your kids?  Don’t you want them to get out and see the world too?  Of course.  PBS Kids is great, but we want our kids to get out and see the world.  We love to take our kids on vacation.  Each year we plan an annual family vacation, sometimes near,  sometimes far.  We always involve the kids in the planning and try our best to include some education points of interest along the way.  Our kids are required to compose a power point presentation on their assigned topics, and must present to family prior to the trip.  Yeah… we are those kind of parents.

For some parents, leaving the kids with grandparents or friends is very difficult.  With very young children, a weekend away might be all that you are able to muster.  Some parents find it difficult to be away from kids for a week at a time.  Then when the kiddos leave the nest, they find that you have lost their relationship with their spouse.  Taking time away is good for both the adults and the children.  Trust us, a week with grandma is going to be a blast!  We were a little shocked, when we started leaving for a week each year to travel, our kids wouldn’t even call us, they were having too much fun.  Kids need a vacation from their parents sometimes as well!

couple travelAdult things

Adults need to do adult things.  On our recent trip to Turkey, we had a chance to have an extended stay in Selcuk, Turkey home of the famed biblical city of Ephesus.   The entire area is dripping in history.  We had a chance to visit one of the more interesting landmarks, the Celsius Library.  Whilst there, waiting for the crowds to wander off, we witness a harried couple with three kids.  We could tell that the mom was trying to read the guide book and figure out what they were looking at and why.  Frustrating her concentration was a 5-6 year old tugging on her sleeve.  The father was negotiating who knows what, with a teenager.   In the end, the mother was pulled away down the path toward the food stands.  Luci and I smiled at each other.  We missed our kids, but we were grateful to have a few moments to contemplate what we were seeing.  We would never trade our adult holidays to Turkey.  You need that time together.

Let’s be honest, many adult outdoor activities are just no fun for kids.  Hiking over temples in Cambodia in the heat of the day is a major bummer for teenagers.  Wandering around a cemetery in upstate New York can be pretty pointless to a 4 year old.  Yet both of these adult activities have been highlights of our couples trips.    You also need time to do other adult things (ah hum)…but we wont go into detail on that, we will leave it up to you.

Talk

One of our favorite pastimes on vacation besides fighting of course is talking.  Like many of you, both Luci and I have demanding jobs.  There is a tremendous amount of pressure placed on us in our careers.  Both of our occupations are the 24/7 and 365.  We rarely get the chance to just sit down and talk.  Our conversations are usually the sort :  who is going to take the kids where on what day.  In the harried everyday life, we just don’t get many opportunities to discuss what’s going on in our lives.  Traveling is the perfect time to have those important conversations.

The Sound of Silence

One of the more underrated gifts of couple travel is a little peace and quiet.  Kids can be loud.  (Again, we are not kid haters, just being honest here.)  Kid’s activities are usually high energy, active, and exhausting.  We have done the Disney’s.  Parents should be awarded a medal for spending a week in the parks!   I can’t tell you what it has meant to us to sit on a make shift bench aside the Amazon river and watch the sunset over the jungle together.  Or what it was like enjoying a makeshift dinner at our hut on the savanna in South Africa, while listening to the elephants in the distance.  You need quiet time together.

Set Goals and Priorities

The final and perhaps most important part of traveling as a couple is setting goals and discussing priorities.  We talk a lot about our kids when traveling.  We talk about what they need from us, what they need help with and how we best can meet their individual needs.  We talk about what our individual goals are.  Both of us have a set of lifetime goals.  We bring those out on our couple trips and mark our progress.  By setting goals and priorities together will actually make you better parents, better lovers, better friends if you only leave the kids with grandma.

We highly encourage couples to make time to travel together.  Leave the kids home with grandparents of friends.  Your kids will love it.   Do you need to spend loads of money on a couple vaykay?  No.  A perfectly timed weekender can work magic on you marriage.

We know that this might be controversial   We want to hear your point of view.  Do you travel alone?  Never leave home without the kids?  What works for you?  Leave us a comment below and give us your take.

6

Fontainebleau: France’s Finest

France is known for its high style and cultural avant-garde….one of the most overlooked masterpieces in Paris is hands down Napoleon Bonaparte’s Fontainebleau.   It seems like Fontainebleau must always live in the shadow of its big sister the Palais de Versailles.   Located just an hour south of old Paris is one of the most captivating royal residences in all of Europe.

The official site of Fountianebleau.

Like its former occupant Napoleon, who was always one for over the top self-promotion and flash: as you arrive at the property you are welcomed by a broad courtyard with a dramatic stairway leading to the entrance.  Once inside you can stroll around the palace in awe at the nearly 1500 rooms!

FountainebleuA Quick History Lesson

Fontainebleau has been appropriately called, “the Home of Kings.”  It has played host for more than 700 years to the French monarchy and later to the French Emperor.  The area first welcomed the eye of Louis VII in 1137 and continued welcoming blue bloods and potentates till the end of the second empire in 1870.  Walking the halls of Fontainebleau you can’t help but feel that you are in the midst of history.

The mansion has always had a close connection with religion.  In 1169 the Archbishop of Canterbury, in exile in France at the time dedicated the chapel of the castle.  In 1812 Napoleon held Pope Pius VII prisoner in the cozy confines of the castle’s apartments for nearly two years.

Fontainebleau’s development has been classified into two distinct eras:  the first (from the 1530’s) and second school (From the 1590’s) of Fontainebleau.  These eras not only decorated and designed the palace, they are decorated the halls of the French elite.   The first was created by Francis I partnering with famed architect Gilles le Breton.  Italians Sebastiano Serlio and Leonardo da Vinci also were involved in the design and layout of the villa, gardens and water features.  Leonardo also has another interesting connection with the palace.  One of his lost master pieces (Leda and the Swan) was las seen in the palace in 1625.  It has since been lost.

The second school of Fontainebleau was lead by Flemish artist Ambroise Dubois, Toussaint Dubreiul and Martin Freminet.  At the turn of the 17th century, the word of interior design, originated from the heart of Fontainebleau.

Key rooms to visit

Library

The highlight for the entire tour was for us the Library and map room.  Unfortunately you are prevented from ascending the four stairs to the elevated library.  You can only lean over the red velvet ropes and look into one of the most interesting rooms in the world.

Library  and globe

Napoleons study

Napoleon, besides being a detailed oriented military general, was a city planner, inventor, cartographer, lawyer.  He worked 24/7 on his many various endeavors.  To assist in his workaholic nature, he attached his own personal bedroom to his office.

Cathedral

Our next favorite room if you can call it that is the cathedral inside the mansion.  It actually has two areas, the viewing balcony which the master of the home would view, as well as the nave proper.   The art, woodwork and the sculptures within the cathedral are stunning.

Fountianbleau

Gardens and Lake

The gardens and forests of Fontainebleau rival Versailles.  We actually prefer the wonderful “backyard” of the palace.  A small lake with a wonderful gazebo type structure an island is an idyllic setting.

beautiful lake house

Getting there

The short journey from Paris to Fontainebleau is defiantly part of the adventure.  The train takes you through the south gate of Paris, past the sleepy town of Saint Genevieve de Bois and gives you some fleeting moments to capture some views of the wandering Seine River.  Sounds wonderful huh?  Just wait!

wood carved doorYou will need to purchase the billet Ile-de-France ticket as this is well outside the metro range of Paris.

Take the Transilien (http://www.transilien.com/web/site) Train from Gare de Lyon Station in Paris.

Board one of the many trains that make a stop at the Fontainebleau-Avon stop, these can include: Laroche-Migennes, Montargis, Montereau, and Sens. You can confirm that you are on the right train, by checking the monitors along the train’s boarding lane.  It should list Fontainebleau-Avon.  (The journey from Paris to your stop should take 35 mins.)

Once you disembark at the station, descend at the rear of the station, walk a short ways to the well marked bus stop.  There are three different bus routes for the area.  You will want to take Bus 12 A.

Cant get enough of Fontainebleau?  Check out our post: Fountainebleau:  The Better Versailles

Paris and its surrounds is truly one of the Fighting Couple’s very favorite destinations.  Paris proper offers a lifetime of exploration and learning.   Fontainebleau is one of those perfect day trips from Paris.  Have you been to Fontainebleau?  We want to hear from you!

 

 

7

Which is Better the Bed or the Breakfast?

In advance of every one of our adventures, we do a ton of homework on where and what to eat. The Fighting Couple likes food, A LOT.  We peruse all the typical sites: Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon, Yelp etc. We like food so much we’ll walk for hours in a foreign city just to find the restaurant we read about on the internet. True story: once we wandered aimlessly around Amsterdam for two hours because Mike wanted to eat at a certain restaurant, but that’s another fight.

Finding the perfect undiscovered café is always a chore.  Finding a great breakfast is even more difficult.  Sure, you’ve probably been victim to the free hotel breakfasts of Wonder bread and Smuckers Jam. But what if you could stay at a charming place and wake up to a gourmet breakfast that would blow your food budget if you ate it separately?  You can!

Prince Edward IslandWe introduce you to Kindred Spirits located in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.   1000 Fights toured Prince Edward Island this summer to worship at the altar of Anne of Green Gables, oh and to golf.  There’s a lot to like about PEI and really in our experience zero to dislike.

But what we liked most was the food and particularly the food at our bed and breakfast. Kindred Spirits is the kind of place you stay and like so much you come back to stay again and again. And for the Anne followers, who couldn’t like a place named, Kindred Spirits?

When we read the room included breakfast, we imagined the typical fare you get at any standard hotel. Imagine our surprise when for breakfast we walked and found the homemade meal that would make your grandmother envy!  French toast made from French bread with an apple and caramel sauce to slather over it.  Or try the homemade blueberry scones with the lemon blueberry preserves or raspberry champagne jam.  Don’t forget the breakfast casserole that includes cheese, potatoes, and sausage. And that’s just the main entrees. There is also fresh fruit, yogurt and cereal, plus fresh juices. Are you hungry yet?

Breakfast Prince Edward Island is truly a culinary mecca.

Bed and breakfasts have long been the choice of traveling couples who want something that feels like home, but a room they don’t have to clean up.  But a new movement is brewing where the breakfast is becoming just as important as the bed. A quick internet search and you’ll find many of the the B&B’s proudly advertising what guests will eat, not just where they will sleep. There’s also a site dedicated just to recipes at premiere B&Bs.

Thanks to Kindred Spirits, 1000 Fights is pleased to publish the Inn’s signature breakfast dish: Blueberry Cake. I took one bite of this and then another and another and another. It’s embarrassing when a grown woman goes for thirds, not just seconds. But it was that good! So here’s the recipe for you to enjoy! Who knows maybe it will spread like the $250 Neiman Marcus cookie recipe!  You are probably wondering where the Pinterest worthy picture of the cake is?  Yeah, the cake is so good…we kinda forgot about blogging for a few mins….  We hope you have the same experience!

 

Kindred Spirits Blue Berry Crumb Breakfast Cake

Ingredients for cake: 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 2.5 cup flour, 4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2/3 cup milk, 6 tbsp melted butter (or margarine), 2 cups blueberries (small, wild berries preferably), 4 tbsp sugar

– Grease 9 x 13 pan

– In medium bowl, beat eggs with wooden spoon.  Gradually beat in sugar until well combines

– In separate dish, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the sugar/egg mixture alternately with the milk.  Beat well after each addition

– Add the melted butter and beat thoroughly

– Gently fold in blueberries (fresh or frozen).  Batter should not be blue!

– Pour into the greased pan

– Sprinkle the top with 2 tbsp sugar

– Refrigerate Overnight

The following day, bake in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for approx. 45 minutes (until springs back when poked!)

– When finished, pour a mixture of 1/4 melted butter and 3 tbsp lemon juice and then sprinkle the following topping to cover thecake:

– Topping: 1/2 cup shortening, 8 tbsp flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 cups of brown sugar, 1/4 cup oats (optional).  Mix together with a pastry blender

YUM!

 

 

3

A Day at Bangkok’s Grand Palace

On the banks of the Chao Phraya River stands a 200 year old tribue to power and wealth of old Siam.  The Grand Palace is a must see for any visit to the Thailand capital.  First off, the Grand place is not simply one building, it is a entire village of palaces and temples.

Before you go:

Palace Thailand

Anyone planning on visiting the Grand Place must understand what The Grand Palace is and isn’t.  First off, the grand place is a holy place held in reverence.  Monks and priests live and work on the campus.  Certain areas are held with extreme revence.  People come to the Palace to worship from all over Asia.  The Palace is also a ceremonial home to the Royal Family of Thailand.  King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit Kitiyakara are the longest current serving monarchs in the world, and according to the Forbes list the King is one of the wealthiest individuals in the world.   Thai’s revere the King and disrespect toward him or the royal family is a punishable offence.   Needless to say, visitors to the Royal Palace should be prepared the conduct themselves in a proper manner.  Here are a few of the requirements directoy from the official site of the Palace:

Proper Dress in The Grand Palace for Visitors

Visitors are requested to be dressed properly and appropriately upon entering the ground of the Bhubing Palace. Thus the following dress – code (applicable to both ladies and gentlemen) will be strictly enforced:

1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, as well as tights can not be worn as outer garments.
2. See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culotters or quarter length trousers can not be worn.
3. Sleeveless shirts or vests can not be worn as outer garments.
4. Sandles (without ankle or heel straps) can not be worn.
5. All shirt sleeves, whether long or short, can not be rolled up.
6. Sweat shirts and sweat pants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers can not be worn.

The point above saying “strictly” enforced is just that.  You will be turned away of not dressed appropriately.  Security is tight.  Of the many sites we have visited, this is only rivaled by the Vatican.  We are going to insert our opinion here, we are the Fighting Couple, it is our nature.  We couldn’t help but overhear complaints about the rigid guidelines as we were in line to enter by other tourists.  Frankly, this disappointed us.  Showing respect by the clothes you wear is appropriate.  The rules are clearly posted and advertised.  Prepare ahead and you will be fine.

We recommend getting there early.  The audio guide that is offered for a fee is actually very helpful in understanding all of the many structiures withing the compound.  We are going to highlight some of the key things to see within the Palace. Frankly, there is so much to see and expiriance, this is just a few things that we found interesting.

Budda

Many religious statues line the halls of the Palace.

Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

Grand palace tower

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

 

Chinese man beard

Many Chinese statues adorn the Palace grounds. These were actually used a ballast on ship trading between Siam and China.

Lotus

Many gardens small and large decorate the courtyards.

Asian rooftop

Even the rooftop eves are ornately decorated.

 

The Grand Palace   We made the mistake of only allowing a morning for our visit.  very bad idea.  There is so much to see and take in.  Allow the better part of a day to really experience the Palace grounds.  Photographers are going to find a new angle at ever turn.  Thailand truly holds so many great adventures!  There are many low cost airlines that fly into and out of Bangkok.  Book yours today and enjoy your visit!

7

Kissing Capitals: Barcelona

Best places to kiss in Barcelona

“Her lips on his could tell him better than all her stumbling words.”-Margaret Mitchell

Are you looking for a few good places to kiss?  We are here to help.  We are launching a series of the best places to kiss in the world.  We are calling it the best of the kissing capitals.  Our first nomination is Barcelona, Spain.  Barcelona with its warm ocean breezes, Eclectic art scene, and Latin vibe is well deserving.  The Entire Catalonia region of Spain is steeped in romance.  Kiss in Catalan is pronounced petó.  Peto has a number of different meanings…we will leave that between you and Wikipedia.

Lets begin our kissing tour at the top literally.

BarcelonaMontjuic

Overlooking the entire city of Barcelona is Montjuic. It is more of a hill than a true mountain, but the vistas night or day are dramatic.  Nestled on the banks of the hills are wonderful walking paths that meander through gardens.  Montjuic is a wonderful place to pack a picnic, or take an evening stroll.  Montjuic came to its prime through development during the Olympics.   Many of the Olympic events were held at venues on the Mont.  Montjuic continues to be a favorite of both locals and first timers.

Sunset is truly the best time to visit Montjuic.  There are a number of benches and stops along the trails up and down the mount that offer great places to watch the sun go down and steal a kiss or two!

 

fountianMagic Fountain

At the base of Montjuic you will discover a wonderful display of water, light, music and magic.  We give you our next stop on the kissing tour: the Magic Fountain of Barcelona.  A little history on the fountain, it was erected for the World’s Fair that the city was playing host to in 1929.  The original plans by designer Carles Buigas were initially cast off as an overly ambitious impossibility.  One year later, thousands of workers completed the fountain ahead of schedule.

Today the fountain continues to wow its crowds.

You will need to time your visit when the Fountain is in full splendor:

 

Winter: (October to April)

Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Music sessions: 7:00 PM 7:30 PM 8:00 PM 8:30 PM

Summer: (May to September)

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm
Music Sessions: 9:30 PM 10:00 PM 10:30 PM 11:00 PM

 

Gaudi parkPark Guell

Could we have a tour of Barcelona without a Gaudi location?  Impossible!  Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan master of art and architecture designed a number of unique attractions throughout Barcelona and the Catalonia region.  One of his most expansive projects was an entire housing development for Barcelona’s well healed.  Located on a hill just outside the city is his vision of subdivision living.  Fortunately for today’s visors, Gaudi’s vision was a little deeper than the pockets of prospective investors.  Today, the entire development has been transformed into a public park and greenspace.  It is a masterpiece.

You and you lover can walk on trails criss crossing the entire development.  Climb the famous “lizard” stairs, and arrive at the main terrace.  It commands excellent views of another Gaudi masterpiece the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.  The terrace is surrounded by cozy benches that are designed to a tee for couples.  These unique benches are actually in the design of a sea monster!  Park Guell is a wonderful place to kiss your sweetheart.

 

Mountain tramOn the tram to Montserrat

Clinging to the crests of cliffs outside Barcelona is the Monastery of Montserrat.  For those couples demanding a little more adventure in their smooching venues, we highly recommend the tram to Montserrat.  The highest summit of Montserrat is called Sant Jeroni (Saint Jerome) and stands at 4,055 feet above sea-level.  The tram ride up to the top is truly an experience that cannot be fully described or missed!  Visiting Montserrat can be a full or half day venture depending on your interest level.  Don’t get conned into taking a special tour bus ect.  There is train service to the tram station.  It is a very affordable side trip for any stay in Barcelona.

How did we do?  Did we miss any special places in Barcelona?  Where do you nominate that we discuss next?

4

Three Things That Will Ruin Your Vacation

The Devil is in the Details

At times, on our blog and others “we” glamorize travel.  Our posts are dripping with pics of white sandy beaches, dense lush jungles, and wild and crazy adventures.  We kind of like it that way.  But at times, we must take a step back and fill you in on some the more “boring” yet practical details of travel.  We hope that these “Devil is in the Details” posts help.  Let’s dive in:

customs visaVisas:

Some countries want to make it as difficult and confusing as possible to get into.  Other countries want to collect half of their gross national product by charging unsuspecting tourists for the “privilege” of coming to their country.  One of their best tools in inflecting this pain and suffering is the almighty VISA.  Sheepish tourists land sleep deprived and loaded to the gills with cash to spend on trinkets to take home to prove that they have been somewhere.  They are herded through a zigzagging maze to the Visa window.  At this point in your adventure, a stuffy uniformed attendant lightens your wallet.  Nothing says, welcome to our country, like taking your money.  (Some more interesting visa charges: Bahrain: $280, Russia $150, UAE $250, but Angola takes the cake with a whopping $600. Ouch!)  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.  Hey Angola….enough already.

Visa requirements are one of those know before you go details.  Every single county is different.  Some countries require you to purchase the Visa weeks or even months in advance.  One of our friends neglected to look into this detail, and tried to board a plane to Vietnam.  Bad idea.  Vietnam requires a Visa that takes weeks to get.  Once you pick you destination and book your tickets, seek out info on the all-important Visa.  Regrettably, we couldn’t find a website that had all the requirements of every country in one place.  We would recommend your own due diligence and look it up the old fashion way-one country at a time.

The Checks in the Mail:

One of the key details you should never neglect is mail collection.  Sounds like a boring detail for sure, but life can get really interesting if you neglect it.   Make arrangements with friends, family, or a service to regularly check your doorstep for deliveries.  Better yet, arrange with the major package delivery companies to hold you items.  Put your regular mail service on hold.  If you live in the States you can do that HERE.  Nothing says, “We are not home, here are some packages you can steal, and feel free to come back and break into the house because we are gone,” than a stack of goodies on the doorstep and mail gushing out of the box.  Bad form.  You might also be at further risk of identity theft if a Baddie takes your credit card bill out of the box and goes on a shopping spree in Angola (granted they have $600 to get into the country).  Really bad form.

moneyMoney, Money, Money:

In the immortal words of AC/DC:  “money talks.”   We could write an entire post on the topic of travel money.  Let’s keep it simple.  Step one is to have good credit cards which means – ones that don’t charge horrendous fees and interest.  That is a given.  Step two is to let them know where you are planning to travel.  Turn the card over, call the 1-800 numbers and give them all your details.  Ask about exchange rates on the card and fees.  Take at least three different types of cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.  Time and time again we have found that one card didn’t work at one ATM or hotel while another did.  Compare the benefits and don’t keep them all together.  Each traveler should have their own card.  Leave copies of each card, your passport, and medical card at home.  One little suggestion that we always do before departure is buy some foreign currency before we leave from our local bank.  We do this for a number of reasons.  It avoids stress of finding an ATM right out the gate.  More importantly, it helps you acclimate to what the new currency looks like, and what denominations are available.  Some currency is different sizes and colors.  Having some of the new cash in hand creates options for you.

Thailand beauty

What if something happens abroad and you need currency quickly?  While we have yet to face this challenge, learn more about international money transfers.  Accidents, robberies and other “stuff” can happen whilst abroad.  Knowing a few of your options is never a bad idea.  We get asked a lot about traveler’s checks.  We don’t believe in them.  They end up being more of a problem than a solution.  During a visit to Israel a number of years ago, I struggled to get them cashed in a pinch.  This search cut into my get out and vacation time.  Credit cards have become the payment tool of choice in most countries. Nothing says, “I don’t travel and I have no idea how to function in the 21st Century,” like buying travelers checks.

Heed these three details and you will have a much better trip.   Never neglect the so called little things.  Now go back to looking at the glossy pictures of pristine beaches and green jungles…this stuff is no fun.  Happy travels from the Fighting Couple.

Did you neglect a “detail”?  Did it impact your travel?  Drop us a line below in the comments section and tell us about it!

5

7 Questions with World Flavor

Rachel and Jeff are on a mission.  They are on a grand quest to seek out everything delicious and interesting in the world.  The duo runs a travel blog called World-Flavor.com.  The entire site is stuffed with amazing pics of food porn.  They lived and taught in South Korea,  if you are planning to explore Korea, spend some quality time with their blog.  So helpful.  Jeff and Rachel have graciously accepted our challenge to answer our 7 questions.
1) How many countries visited between the two of you?

We’ve been to 18, but after our upcoming trip it will be over 30.

girl climbing2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: I would travel with one of my three brothers. I already know I get along great with them. For all I know Einstein and Julius Caesar both snore and whine all the time about how much their feet hurt.

She Said: I want to travel to other countries with my mom. We have done plenty of within-the-US travel together, but she is afraid to fly. My dream has always been to take an exotic horse trek with her, so I guess I would travel with a version of my mom who isn’t afraid to fly.

Petronus tower3)What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

He said: I love when I find unique experiences that make me feel like part of the local community. For example, a friend of mine took us to a tiny rural village in Costa Rica. They were baking bread and had spent all day warming up the great big earthen oven in their backyard, the only oven in the town. This giant extended family welcomed us in and shared what they had, put us to work crafting empanadas, and let us hold their adorable newborn pigs.

She said: When I was in New Zealand, I was constantly amazed at how beautiful the country was. I kept thinking to myself “surely, nothing is more beautiful than this,” and there kept being other more amazing views around every bend. Also, I did a lot of high adrenaline activities which made it stick very firmly in my mind.

noodles with chicken4)  If you had to eat one last meal, what/ where would you eat?

He said: I would want a world famous chef like Ferran Adrià to cook me a 30 course meal. And, since we’re going all out, I might as well invite all my friends and family and hold it in space.

She said: Truffle mac and cheese and a plate of delicious Spanish cheeses (for example: Garrotxa, Idiazábal, and Queso de Varé) on the side.

1000Fights:  Ok…now we are really hungry!  YUM!

5)How do you pick the places you visit?  Spontaneous vs. planned?

He said: My top two criteria for choosing places are expense and cuisine. We recently went to Malaysia largely because the flights were so cheap.It was also one of the best countries for food I’ve ever been to.I like to have a basic plan in place, but leave some flexibility to enjoy whatever opportunities arise when I’m actually there.

She said: I read a ton of travel blogs, and if some place captures my imagination, I add it to my list. I love lists – I’ve got a ‘where to go’ list and a ‘what to eat’ list. I enjoy planning, but only to a certain extent.

dancing by the sea6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: It’s hard not to answer this with something extremely general like, “I would solve the problem of everything not being perfect for everyone all the time,” but I’ll do my best to narrow it down a little bit. I would solve the problem of people and organizations making shortsighted decisions. Whether it be about health, environment, spending, or something else. Minimizing regrets seems like a good idea.

She said: I guess illiteracy. I know it might not help that much, but it’s better to be able to read than not, in my opinion.

7)You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

She said: I can’t seem to decide…

He said: Generally when we fight it’s because we are both too indecisive about something and we get really annoyed that we’ve just been sitting around trying to get the other person to make a choice for, like, half an hour. I think that neither of us wants to feel liable if we choose to go somewhere and it ends up being terrible.

1000Fights:Rachel we think that is a bit of cop out!

 

What a great traveling couple!  Give their blog a look-see.  A word of warning…dont go there hungry!

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Travel vs Vacation: How to know the difference

Machu pichu

To understand this post, you must understand we are strange.  We really are.  We have been meaning to put down our thoughts on this topic for some time….We aren’t trying to make a judgment call, rather explain ourselves a little.  You’ve heard of 1000 Fights’ travel plans based on crazy detailed spreadsheets and timetables.  We map out activities and restaurants timed down to the millisecond. Yes, we are Type A planners.  We are over the top and take our travel time extremely seriously. It takes a lot of effort to get us on the road (getting off work, babysitters, plant waters) that once we go; we want to make the most of it. We usually plan our adventures a year out.   Our planning rivals many military campaigns!  People have said to us, “your vacations look a lot like work!”.  They would be right, we don’t vacation….we travel.

What’s the difference?

couple walking1000 Fights “Travel” Definition: Where one goes to a foreign place to see and experience a different way of living.  The primary purpose of traveling is to expose oneself to a new culture, cuisine, ideas, ect.

1000 Fights “Vacation” Definition: One takes a break from their normal activities to vacate from every day experiences. The primary purpose is to relax physically and mentally.  Vacations can occur in a foreign place or in their hometown AKA “Stay-cation.”

Which is better? There is no one perfect answer. Sometimes your soul needs to travel and other times your body needs a vacation.  From a few fights (or a 1000 of them), the Fighting Couple has discovered that you can have both with proper planning, of course. In our recent vacation to Thailand, we packed in a lot of activities, while also taking time to vacate.  This gave us the best of both worlds, gaining the intellectual stimulation that true travel can offer while letting the body recover.

We try to have our cake and eat it to.  One of the best things to do when planning is to build into your schedule one day where nothing is planned. Give yourself a “vacation” from your “traveling”.  Schedule a free day at the end of each of your travel segments. For instance, if you are spending five days in London, plan four days, and keep the last day free.  Splurge and go for a massage in London.  That way you can let your body catch up. When 1000 Fights went to Cusco, Peru, we kept a day free and were able to get some much needed rest and a massage to ease the tension from hiking and altitude.

woman massageIf you need to plan your free day, do some advance work on quality spas in the area and look for some spa day offers in advance. That way it’s scheduled (which calms the spreadsheet obsessed husband) and gives you something to look forward to as your husband runs you at Olympic speeds from museum to museum.  For the guys, hitting the golf course might hit the spot.  At times, having a little down time makes the rest of the travels more meaningful.

The fruits of a good vacation are so valuable.  Your body and mind are recharged.  The result of a positive travel experience is your soul is educated and invigorated.  So whether you choose to travel or vacation or a little or a lot of both, make sure you plan so you can get the most out of whichever method is in your future.

So what is your preference?  Do you prefer a week on a white sand beach with an “umbrella” drink in hand?  Or does the thought of hiking the Inca trail in the quest of ancient Peruvian ruins appeal to you?  Leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear your take.

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Couple Road Trip Survival Guide

How to survive a long road trip

Long road trips can be great couple time for busy couples.  They also can be an exercise in trench warfare.  We put together some handy tips to make your next trip a little more civil.

Bigger is Better

A confession:  I am a bit of a petrol-head so this is area that I feel passionate about.  One of the most often overlooked “secrets” to a happy road trip is the choice of car.  Now I know the first thing that you are going to say is…but I don’t have the budget to rent an S-Class Mercedes.  You don’t have to.  First off, when you do your initial car rental search, don’t just select the economy class only, search three or even four levels above.  Check out the luxury level.  We have found that at times the luxury or even the SUV price is cheaper than the mid size.  Crazy huh?

road tripIf you headed out on an extended road trip, don’t skimp on the car.  Pay a little extra for size.  You are likely to spend more waking hours in this metal box.  Skimp a little on the hotel.  Size does a number of things for you:  larger cars ride smoother, are more safe, give your more “personal bubble space”, and typically have dual climate controls (very helpful).  Although tempting, never, ever rent a convertible.  I know, they are sexy and the desk clerk is going to give you a great deal on one.  Don’t do it.  The problems with convertibles are many.  First off the are small.  Trunk (boot) space is at a minimum.  Convertibles (unless they are a BMW, MB, Porsche, ect.) are LOUD.  The outside noise is going to get annoying.   Driving in any sort of weather can also be harrowing. Convertibles are great for a day or two in places where going “topless” is a must.  Leave them at the rental agency on the long trips.    A few more pesos on the right car will go along way.

Lets recap:  cast your rental car search wide.   Price out a number of different car class options, and invest a little more than you would normally.  Rent the largest car that you are able.  Our last pointer would be to ask for an upgrade at the rental car counter as well.

Give America Car Rental a look for great deals on rental cars.

The Three F’s

We classify stops into three general categories: food, fuel and fun.  A word about food.  If you follow our posts at all, food is extremely important component to our relationship.  I know all of you health-nut types out there are going to mummer…but fast food makes for the best option on road trips.  You can defiantly make healthy choices at fast food places.  Get out of your car and order to go in the restaurant.  This gives you some much needed vertical  and lou time, but why sit in the restaurant and eat?  If it takes 30 minutes to sit and chow down the whopper you could be 30 miles down the road.  The sooner the road trip ends the better.  Fuel-let your blater define fuel stops.  Don’t wait till the tank is on E.  Fill up mid tank during a bio break.  Save yourself time.  Stops equal slow.  The last F is important.  Build in some fun on the road trip.  Find stops where you can get out, and do something active.  Get the blood flowing again.  We have found outlet malls to be great stops.  It gets you apart (very helpful).  They also get you walking.  Make the most of your food, fuel and fun stops!

rental car

We had a few problems with our rental car in South Africa.

Tunes

Many wars have been fought over control of the radio dial.  The Fighting Couple are not immune from this clash.  Luci loves Broadway tunes.  She really does.  She loves to sing along.  Me….not so much.  On the flip side…I do enjoy me some bluegrass on occasion.  Luci….not so much.   On our most recent auto expedition we chose an audio book: Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank Abagnale Jr.  Great book!  Books on tape are amazing “time killers”.  Most novels are 8 hours long and if you pick the right one, time flies.  It also give you a topic for discussion.  Cool huh?

The Little Things

couple road tripThe little things on road trips make a big difference.  Buy/borrow/rent a gps.  This small item has almost single handedly saved our relationship. This little devices of genius save time, prevents arguments (darn!) and most importantly they find food and fuel.  Gotta have one.  Don’t rely on an Iphone or worse a wireless connection to navigate.  Trust us.  The other small thing is keeping the car clean.  Junk and clutter are distracting to the driver and they invade on the “personal bubble space”.   The little things can make all the difference.

Couple road trips can be a ton of fun.  It gives you quality time to talk, listen and fight!  These are just a few of our hints to make the trip a little more enjoyable.  So what have you found that works?  How do you avoid killing each other on long roadies?

A couple more posts that you might enjoy:

5 Things Every Woman Should Know About Men…While Traveling.

The Man’s Guide to Traveling with a Woman

 

 

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