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2012 The Year of the Dragon
According to Chinese tradition: “The dragon is a legendary creature in Chinese folklore. The image of dragon is blurred, strong, mystic, noble and untouchable. It is the symbol of power. Chinese emperors wore imperial robes adorned with dragon symbols.”
2012 truly was a “Dragon” of a year for us on many levels. It brought us Luci’s first trip to Asia. It was Mike’s first attack by leeches. So here it is, our Dragon year in a nutshell:
Biggest month in traffic: June 2012: 19,604 unique visitors
Biggest day in traffic: June 5, 2012: 1,921 unique visits (Thank you Google!)
Countries visited: 4 (Thailand, Cambodia, Canada and Spain)
Number of posts written: 64
New Twitter followers: 2127
Number of travel photos taken: 1,653
Movie Stars spotted: Jon Hamm (AKA Don Draper from Mad Men), Mathew Broderick, Ben Stein (No it wasn’t a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off convention.)
Number of blood sucking leaches removed: 1
Sponsored blog outings:
Prince Edward Island, Canada
San Francisco Weekend
Most rustic accommodation: Our treehouse in the Thai jungle.
Most elegant accommodation: It’s a tie between the Waldorf Astoria in NYC and Hilton Millennium Bangkok Hotel.
Favorite Meal: This one is easy. It was our first taste of Cambodian Amuk Soup in Siam Reap, Cambodia. It is a mix of ginger, mint, and other spices. Soooo good. The entire meal cost us $5 USD.
Most popular Google search terms: Fontainebleau and Travel Ideas for Couples
Strangest Google search term: Ways to meet Korean women (good luck finding that on our site whoever you are in Internetland.)
Best dessert: COWS Ice Cream in Prince Edward Island. We may or may not have went back 7 times during our three day visit. Thanks to Cailin for turning us onto the delicacy.
Scariest moment: It takes a lot to unnerve us whist we are traveling. But while we were in Barcelona, we got boxed in during a protest clash between police and an angry mob with drums and chipmunk signs. Not really sure what it was all about. But both sides were fired up.
What books we read in 2012:
Mike: The Night Trilogy by Elie Wiesel, Stand for Something by Gordon Hinckley, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larsson, A Journey by Tony Blair, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, Drive by Dan Pink, Built to Last by Jim Collins, Great by Choice by Jim Collins
Luci: Ghost Solders by Hampton Sides, Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox, 1776 by David McCullough, Year of Wonders: A Novel about the Plaque by Geraldine Brooks, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson, Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
Travel Blogging Conference attended: 1 TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) in Colorado. This was our second year attending TBEX. We were not disappointed. Candidly, we thought that it was even better than the first. Both TBEX and 1000 Fights were a lot more organized this go around. We made some great connections. We also were finally able to meet in person two of our blogging buds: Overyonderlust and Worldlillie. We have decided NOT to go to TBEX 13. We want to try a different blogging convention. Any ideas?
Most popular Post: This one surprised us a little. 50 Ways to Say I Love You.
Luci’s fave post of 2012: My favorite post for the year is “Our Day of Decadence.” It was one of the best days of my life! My day of chocolate.
Mike’s fave post of 2012: I would have to say that our post on the Traveling Innkeepers is my favorite. Dan and Becky were so gracious to us. We loved our time in Prince Edward Island.
We rarely give a peek into our “non-travel” lives on this blog (way too boring.)…but this year was a whopper for us. Luci’s work was dominated by several pieces of legislation that she worked on tirelessly for two years to pass, only to be placed on a statewide referendum and repealed. Major bummer. Mike’s boss left the company early in the year and was replaced by two new bosses. Despite the challenges we have faced, travel continues to be an escape for us. Escape is not the right word, more like an old friend that we only get to see once a year, someone that strengthens and encourages you when you are with them. Something like that.
Of course we had our fair share of good fights this year as featured in our many posts.
To all of those couple travelers out there, we wish you the very best in 2013. Stay tuned to 1000 Fights, we have some pretty amazing plans for 2013!
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!
I 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!
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.
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.
The Danger of Expectations (in Marriage and Travel)
One of the many precautions we take in our travels is getting the proper immunizations. Before our Amazon trek, we went in to our local medical clinic and said, give us everything you’ve got! We felt like human pin cushions! Those pesky shots, while painful in the short term prepared our bodies to reject the attack of those pesky yellow fever things. But no immunization or medication can protected someone from an unrealized expectation. We have found this out the hard way.
Perception is Reality?
We just returned from a two week trip to Asia, visiting both Thailand and Cambodia. I had lived in Taiwan for a couple of years in college, this was Luci’s first visit to the Orient. It was so intriguing to watch her experience a new culture, and dispel and confirm some of her preconceptions. She thought that the food would be spicy, and it was! In other areas she discovered that she was completely off base. Each new place we visit we arrive with the rose colored glasses of glossy guidebooks. (That’s one reason we love the travel blogging community, for its candid un-gussied up descriptions.) As travelers, we tend to be loaded with pre-conceptions. These notions rarely hit the mark.
Just like travel, we build in our minds some times unrealistic expectations from our marriages/ relationships. We think things should be a certain way. Simply because…that’s the way things happen in the movies or on TV. Why would we want to model a relationship after a fictional portrayal? #epicfail ! (I just used a hashtag as a complete sentence! Cross that off the bucket list!) Our culture, our environment push us to envision and quite frankly expect the ideal. Look no further than Pinterest to see well-meaning people create a palette of perfection. The never ending quest for the perfect wedding centerpiece. Then there’s the dress! All of this leads us to create in our mind an expectation, typically unrealistic and unattainable.
Is that really healthy?
How to overcome?
Some of the best advice we have ever received was offered by Javier, our young Peruvian guide in the Amazon Jungle. Before embarking on our night safari in the Jungle he counseled us, “don’t set your heart on seeing any one animal or insect..just enjoy what you find in the jungle.” Wise words for sure. We have often reflected on this advice. Enjoy the ride. Don’t say..i want this, that and the other or the experience is an abject failure. Don’t do that to yourself. Enjoy the journey for what it is. Leave your expectations at the lodge of life and open your heart to the experience.
Finding the perfect in the one you love
Come up with your own perfect. One thing that we have discovered in 15 years of marriage and 25 some years of friendship is that neither one of is perfect. We likely know each other’s flaws and quirks better than anyone else in the galaxy. For a relationship to thrive, we can’t expect our lover to be a combo of every perfect character we have read about in Jane Austen novels. Likewise, it is completely unrealistic and a little dangerous to expect our sweetheart to look like a supermodel 24/7. It is up to us to find the best in those we love, especially our significant other.
How do you overcome your preconceptions? What are your secrets to rejecting the pressure for perfection? Let us know in the comments below.
How to Beat the Post Trip Blues
Jet Lag. We all know the feeling: you just got back from a great trip and now it’s back to “real” life.
I love the buildup leading up to our next big trip: learning the language, researching the new food, planning what to see and when. It is such a rush! But once our passport reentry is stamped, and the luggage collected, and laundry started, the blues sets in: the Post Trip Blues.
Jet lag: Returning from our latest adventure to Cambodia (a 24 hour endeavor). It was Jet Lag 2 vs. Fighting Couple 0. Exhaustion sets in during the day, and we were wide awake at the unseemly morning hours. We felt like we had the flu: stomachs upset from adjusting to our native fare, dizzy, and thinking in a fog. We transformed from the fighting couple to the grumpy couple!
The Learning Let Down: For us, our trips are an academic exercise. Every waking hour is engaged in learning new things, meeting new people, eating new things, adjusting to new challenges. Then, once we get home…not so much.
The Left Overs: Both Luci and I have pretty fast paced and demanding jobs. Upon our return, we face hundreds of emails, fires to put out, and fires to start. Then we have our kids who haven’t seen us in two weeks and we have to “peel” them off of us because they missed us!
At times we even question why we do this to ourselves.
The Secret to beating the Jet Lag!
So what’s our secret to beat the post trip blues? We don’t have one. The fact is-You travel so you can get away from home and coming back home means going back to “normal life.” But we have found a few things that seem to help a little.
Let’s take on the first symptom:
The Nasty jet lag. Step one is rest at the right times. This is hard, especially when your time change is significant. Our Cambodia trip put us 13 hours at odds with our home time. Resist the temptation to get up at 2 a.m. and do work. (Luci woke up and did work.) It’s only going to make it worse. Likewise, you must avoid the 2 p.m. naps. (Luci also took naps) Take it easy on the caffeine. (Luci likes Pepsi.) Drink your water. Our secret, if there is one, is sunlight. Luci take hers via melatonin pills and vitamins, I prefer walks or some tennis. Getting some sun tells the body that it’s day now and get with the program! USA Today recently had an article supporting sunlight therapy.
The Learning Let Down: This is a tough one. The one thing that we really enjoy is to inflict our friends when we get home with a “trip report party.” We invite a bunch of friends over, and share a few of our pictures, cook up some of the local cuisine (last year we brought back Eurocream from Bosnia and made crepes) and discuss what we saw. Not sure why people keep coming back to these because we can’t think of anything worse than looking at other people’s vacation pictures, but we have some really great friends and they ask about it every year. Plus, it helps us process what we saw and tie it all together. Once we land, we start putting together pictures and share some self-reflection on how what we saw has affected us. We highly recommend a trip report party because you get to share the world with your friends and encourage them to travel!
The Left Overs: It ceases to amaze us, every time we get back; there is two weeks’ worth of work awaiting us. We call it hitting the “post trip wall.” One of our little strategies to deal with the immersion is to hit the office in the afterhours. Email is kind of like the timeline of what you missed, so start with the most recent first. You may find out that half the problems emailed to you in week one of your trip are solved by week two. You also get a synopsis of what happened while you were gone, so when you do face folks in person, you have a reference as to what they are talking about. We have great coworkers, and they all want to know if we actually ate dog or cat on our trips and all the skinny on what happened, so getting a head start lets us be much more personal when we go back. Also, don’t make any major decisions the first few days back to work. You won’t be right in the head, so don’t risk your job.
Then, there are the kids….. 1000fights’ mission is to get couples to leave their children at home and take a trip. You love your children and they love you, but you’ll love them more after the trip. Getting accumulated to the kids, takes time. Expect a few of your children to punish you. When our girls were little, I remember one of our daughters being so mad at us when we returned. At first, she ignored us and then she yelled at us over silly things. This phase will pass. To ease reentry back to the family, do some snooping. The fact is, your kids aren’t going to tell you everything that happened while you were gone. Go through every one of my children’s worksheets from school, call the piano teacher or baseball coach and ask how things went. Also do a thorough debrief with grandma or who watched your kids. You’ll find things were fine while you were gone, but it doesn’t mean your kids didn’t miss you! Most important, share what you learned from your trip. It’s therapy for you and it’s a great social studies less for your kids.
So what is your secret for dealing with the post trip blues? What works for you? Never underestimate the power of a good fight to help as well! Next time your are Glasgow, check out the Windsor Hotel. Glasgow has been called the style capital of Scotland. It plays host to 13 plus free museums! It also sports over 70 parks and gardens, great for walking that jet lag away.
10 Reasons Why I Suck As a Travel Girlfriend
–A hilarious blog post at http://www.nomadicchick.com/. A must read!
There could be good reason why I’m single.
- I always pick nonsensical, dangerous destinations where you could be decapitated or kidnapped for ransom.
- I snore. So loud you’ll open your eyes expecting a 300 pound truck driver next to you. It’s ten times worse when I’m inebriated.
- I’ll always make you taste a dish first, in case of parasites or hair.
- If I even catch a glimpse of a rat, and let’s face it rats multiply across continents, I will shatter glass with my screams, thereby embarrassing the crap out of you.
- I’ll force you to carry the heavy gear. Cause I’m cute and can get away with it.
- My sense of direction is tragically bad, which leads to hilarity and serendipitous encounters – NOT.
- My bladder is the size of a kidney bean. Example: I demanded that a Thai bus driver stop in the middle of nowhere so I could take care of business during a precarious ride towards the Cambodian border.
- If you hanker for an erotic massage after a long day of traveling, forget it. My ex use to call my fingers bone spurs.
- I tend to wander aimlessly in markets. Welcome to two new emotions – annoyed and frustrated.
- Self-catering? What’s that?