Tag Archives | couple travel ideas

How to Read a Travel Blog

Travel blogs are quickly replacing the trusty, but dusty Frommer’s or Rick Steves’ guides as the go to resource for the modern and savvy traveler.  Today’s travel blogging community has expanded to become a viable resource to suit just about any traveler. But be aware, there a number of pros and pitfalls associated with using travel bloggers to plan your trip.  With this handy guide, you will be prepared to make the most of the travel blogs out there.  Lets go!

couple on ocean

Take the stress out of your vacation. Use a travel blog!

Picking the Right Travel Blog

Step one is the most obvious, you need to find blogs that match your travel style.  There is an ever-expanding collection of sites to choose from.  Blogs are reflections of those that write them.  Example, if you are looking for a carefree and relaxing solo vacation with the best booze joints:  The Fighting Couple is not for you.  Our focus is off the beaten path, history focused sites from a couple perspective (and we don’t drink).  Surf a lot of sites.  Most travel blogs, including our,s have link love pages (here is ours).  This is a great way to quickly hop from one site to the next in your quest for the perfect fit.

The about me/us section are often helpful tools to quickly evaluate the site’s focus.  Granted a baby boomer can learn something from a 20 something blogger, but the perspective would be clearly different.  Let’s give it a try.

Go ahead and enter www.suzyguese.com

Click on the about section and give it a quick scan.

Here’s what we can quickly divine:

Female (redhead!)

Solo travel

Many mentions of Italy and Europe

25-35 age group

Simple huh?  After you check out the about section that fits your travel style, look for the site’s search button.  Type in the location you are looking for.  On Suzy’s site, I typed in Rome and quickly found a dozen posts on the city.  From there, you can quickly scan the headlines to find the post that best fits your travel needs.

Get Interactive

The best part of reading travel blogs are their interactivity.  You can’t ask a Frommer’s book a question, no offence to Mr. or Mrs Frommer.  Travel bloggers are passionate about travel and the locations they feature.  Most travel blogs offer a comments section where you can ask questions and interact with other readers.  Cool huh?  You can also share your experiences right there for the rest of the community.  Candidly, this is our fave part of travel blogging.  Join the discussion.   Travel bloggers are also adept at social media.  Engage them on Twitter or Facebook.   Ask your questions free of charge!  If that is not enough, most bloggers offer some form of a contact me section, where you can send direct questions.  Most will answer you right back!  Here’s a little secret: travel bloggers use other travel bloggers to find new and exciting locations, restaurants and hotels.  During our recent trip to Budapest, we sent out  shout out to help us find the best goulash.  In a matter of seconds our friend @confusedjulia pinged us back with an awesome recommendation: Kadar Restaurant.  It ended up being our fave meal of the trip.

travel blogging couple

Travel bloggers: The Fighting Couple fight their way through Peru.

Mix and Match

One of the fun things that blogs offers are micro niches.  Use a combo of different genres of blogs to plan you trip.  The fun part of using blogs is that you can read a foodie blog to plan out your gastronomic visits, then check out a fashion blogger to tell you where to snag the best designer deals.  One blog we follow, Beers and Beans offers great tips on taking really good travel pictures.  The travel blogging world is a virtual buffet of travel insights!  Best of all, its free!

Blogging is a lot of work.  Often the only payday we have are the kind comments of our readers.  If you find a blogger that you identify with, shoot them a quick line telling them how much their advice meant.  It also doesn’t hurt to give one of their ads a click.

A Few Cautions About Travel Bloggers

The old adage, “you get what you pay for”…  is true.  There are a few pitfalls to using travel blogs as your single source for travel planning.  But if you look past a few spelling errors and are aware of a few drawbacks up front, you will find your visits more meaningful.

warning sign

Warning!

Challenge What You Read

I have heard it said that if you get 99 travel bloggers in a room you would end up with 100 opinions!  We tend to be a very discriminating bunch.  We strongly believe in our take on the world.  So much so, we broadcast it around the planet.  Our take on the world, a country, a hotel, a restaurant is jaded.  We view it through the lens of our own perspective.  Challenge what you read.  Look to more than one source.    Case in point: sometimes we get exhausted as we travel.  I know…it can happen to anyone.  After a grueling day, the last museum or church of the day might not get the rave review.  Someone else on the other hand, hit that one in the morning and it changed their life.  Challenge what you read.

Bloggers Travel on the Cheap

The life of a lonely travel blogger is difficult.  Except for a small handful, full time travel bloggers are barely making a living.  Sad, but true.  Travel blogging offers an exciting lifestyle, but no one is getting rich.  Many more, including the Fighting Couple do it part-time.  Most travel bloggers travel on the cheap.  More often than not, you will read hostel reviews 2 to 1 in the travel blog world.  We don’t stay in hostels…its not our thing.  Again, search out the blogger you identify with and your wallet can hang with.

Bloggers are Biased

Its no secret that bloggers are given free stays and free tours.  Destinations pay to bring in bloggers to review a resort or area.  Tourism is a business, a huge business.  Be aware that a glowing review of a resort that lacks any sort of critique might be a lame attempt by a blogger to keep their client “happy.”  Look for a sponsored tag somewhere on the post.  This can clue you in that there could be some editorial pressure.  Sponsored trips are not all bad for the reader.  Bloggers are often given inside advice and insights that would serve you well.  We always try to make it clear when we are “comped” and we always make it clear that we are going to be honest in our review.  We are the “Fighting Couple” after all!!

Where Blogs go to Die

Reality check: Most blogs don’t survive.  Every day new blogs are born and some fade away.   The blogosphere is littered the corpses of former vibrant travel logs.  Always check the date of the last post.  This will let you know if the blog has a pulse.  Don’t read dead blogs.  Too much changes over time.  A once great hotel or location can fall apart fast.  There is a reason that even Rick Steves in the “tree killing realm” updates his books every few years.  Too much changes.

Even with these drawbacks, blogs still offer the novice to the most advanced traveler an unrivaled peek at some of the best destinations on the planet.  Keys to effectively utilizing blogs: 1) Find a blog that matches your travel style. 2) Study the about sections to get feel of blogger personality. 3) Mix and match other blog genres.

We truly hope you find that best travel blog that matches your travel style.  Happy hunting!

15

Take a Kissing Tour!

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.– Ingrid Bergman

Now a soft kiss – Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss.— John Keats

This installment of our 7 questions series features none other than the kissing couple Tara & Mike Myers of the Kissing Tour.  Their self proclaimed mission is to live big and kiss often.  This wonderful motto comes alive on the Myers blog.  Lets get to know a little more about Tara and Mike:

Blog:  http://kissing-tour.com/

Twitter: @kissingtour

Facebook: Kissingtour

Instagram: Kissingtour

 

First off…tell us a little about the two of you. How did you meet? What inspired you to travel? How long have you been together? Do you travel full time? Do you have day jobs?

Tara and Mike Myers are a Las Vegas-turned-Chicago couple who donated 80 combined years of “stuff,” exited the mainstream and traded conventional comforts for what they call a “less-is-fabulous” lifestyle filled with love. They say they don’t know anything about tarot cards or tea leaves, but they do know the universe conspired to bring them together. They say they met in the most unusual way. They share a brain. Possibly a childhood. Definitely a heart. The kissers became “The Myers” on September 1, 2012, when they traded their own vows at the PrayerBook Cross in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. There were no guests, just a very special female Buddhist monk they met on Facebook and her student, who served as witness and photographer with Tara and Mike’s weather-beaten point-and-shoot camera.

Mike, 46, retired as fire chief from the City of Las Vegas in early 2013. Six months later, his wife Tara, 36, resigned her position as a national brand director in Chicago so they could spend every minute together. It would give them time to focus on their lifetime project – journaling their life one kiss at a time – at www.kissingtour.com.

Having both been divorced and consumed with distractions – big houses, big jobs, big negotiations, big wardrobes, big stress and big to-do lists – they learned countless important lessons. The most valuable? Live big, kiss often. That mantra has had such a profound, positive impact on them that they’re now inspiring others through the kisses they capture on their blog and Instagram account.

kissing in london

London Kissing!

It started on Capitol Hill. Couples posed rigidly. Tara and Mike kissed passionately. At the White House. The Washington Monument. The Smithsonian. People clapped. Giggled. Snapped away. Even a 7 year old. That night, they conceived www.kissingtour.com on a barstool. They vowed to journal their life one kiss at a time, and they have. From San Francisco to Sweden. From Paul Bunyan’s boot to the Papal apartment. From New Mexico’s fiestas to the Chicago Blackhawk’s victory parade. In 7 countries, 16 states…and counting.

When they’re not kissing, this inseparable, coffee drinking, vegetarian couple who loves to make homemade guacamole, can be found running, hiking, talking, reading, laughing, traveling and chatting it up with locals. They may be mistaken for wanderlusts, but they actually live a deliberate, albeit non-traditional, lifestyle so they can focus on what’s truly important to them. They have a lifelong strategic plan and live by 10 values (tattooed on their ribs, ouch!). They travel as often as possible. Sometimes that means a weekend road trip to Notre Dame in Indiana. Sometimes it means a three-month hiatus to travel 18,000 miles across 5 countries, 26 cities via 12 planes, 16 trains, 31 buses, 3 taxis, 8 host rides and 1 hitchhike.

People ask Tara and Mike how they stay in love. Onlookers cheer and encourage them to keep kissing. Most of all, they want to know if the kissers are writing a book. The kissers have decided to tell their love story, and they’re busily writing from their matching pink velvet chairs in their 450-square-foot Chicago apartment. Pink Chair, No Underwear is due out by summer.

1) We love your travel motto: Live Big, Kiss Often. Tell us why you chose this and what it means to you two.

Oddly enough, we never sat down and said, “We need to adopt a really catchy travel motto. Let’s strategize.” We just started saying it, signing off with it, and it’s stuck. People love it, and so do we. Our philosophy is exactly that, every single day, we live big (take every single possible opportunity to experience people and places, right down to chatting it up with the clerk at the grocery store) and kiss often (no explanation needed!)

2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?

He Said: The Dalai Lama

She Said: A super hero with magical bug-zapping powers, because the world is big, and so are its bugs.

kiss castle

Kissing in Ireland

3) We have to ask…what has been the very best kiss? Where?

He said: Our very first kiss, on a perch overlooking Vegas. How did I react? I whispered, “I knew it.” And then last night’s…that was really good.

She said: Our very first kiss. We were sitting atop a picnic table watching the sun rise over Las Vegas’ mountains. It was a special spot because we learned that each of us had previously gone there to meditate and think quietly before we ever met. When we kissed, Mike said, “I knew it.” So did I.

With all this kissing talk, ever wondered if you are doing it right?  Click here for a quick Kissing lesson.

4) On your motivation page, you list the book Anthem as one of your inspirations (one of our faves!) Tell us what inspires you about this powerful book.

He said: The power of the human is in individuality, uniqueness, creativity. We appreciated the book because we’re creative and dynamic individually, but together the synergy, love and innovation is explosive.

She said: Very simply put, there is another way. Don’t be fooled.

5) We must ask…what is your secret? You two are obviously madly in love. How do you keep the fires burning.

He said: That is a long story. There is no secret. It’s about being with the perfect person. I don’t have to keep the fires burning. There is no manual stoking of the fire, it just burns ever brighter, ever longer.

She said: What he said. Exactly.

kissing in Las Vegas

Kissing on the Rocks!

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Indifference. It boggles my mind that most people go through life in a shoulder-shrugging passive state, hoping life will get better. They wait for the phone to ring…love to come…the weather to change.

She said: Gross over-consumption.

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

He said: It wasn’t between us. It was between us and the “Corpo della Gendarmeria” (The Vatican police). We thought we were in line to see the Sistene Chapel, so we waited for an hour in the rain. When it was our turn to enter things got a little hot under the guard’s collar, as he explained in Italian, which we don’t speak, that only one of us could go. So we bailed. Turns out, we weren’t in line to see the chapel, we were in line to see The Pope! If only one of us could go, neither of us would go. Take that “Corpo della Gendarmeria.”

She said: One of the most amazing, unbelievable things about us is that we are completely on the same page, about everything. Every single thing. We know it sounds ridiculous and stranger than fiction, but I actually spent serious time trying to answer this question. I can’t.

1000Fights:  ok, we think the fight response was a little on the weak side!  Thanks to Mike and Tara for being so much fun.  They are both an inspiration to us couple travelers.

5

How to Conquer Your Fear of Flying

Do you have a fear of flying?

Are you a nervous flyer?

Recently one of our loyal readers confided in us that she LOVED travel but was a bit of a “nervous flyer”.  For her, the thought to getting on an airplane nearly ruins her rare vacations.  Candidly, Mike and I fly a lot for our “day jobs” and flying has become a bit routine.  We really couldn’t relate in a meaningful way.  In our search for something that might help, we came across Captain (ret.) Tom Bunn.  The former Air Force supersonic jet pilot, commercial airline captain,  turned therapist helps people everyday conquer their qualms about flying.  We caught up with Captain Tom and asked him some tough questions:

Are planes really that strong?  Can they withstand strong turbulence “bumps”?

Yes. Absolutely. If you look at videos on youtube of wing testing, you see wings bent almost into a u-shape. That’s during testing. In actual flight, you never see the wings move 1 percent of what these tests show the wing can take.

We have a free app that measures G-forces during turbulence. The plane is built to handle a continuous 2.5 Gs with no damage to the plane. It is built to handle twice that, but may need repair. On the G-force meter is a variation of 0.2 Gs during light turbulence – variation from a normal 1 G up to 1.2 G and down to 0.8 G. In severe turbulence, the variation would be around .6 G, thus up to 1.6 and down to 0.4 G.

There is no safety problem. But, knowing the plane is up high, and aware of all that space between the plane and the earth, it is easy to imagine the plane falling. Free-fall is a zero G condition. Free-fall never happens. But, when a person feels lightheadedness at around 0.8 G, due to anxiety they may think the plane is falling, which of course, is not the case. By using the free app in flight turbulence, an anxious passenger can scientifically prove the plane is not falling. They can also prove the plane nowhere near its limits.  Flying anxiety be gone!

fear of flying

In the air….the safest place to be.

Why don’t pilots give us the full story?  They know that a section is going to bumpy that day, yet they don’t tell us right out of the gate?

They don’t know the full story in advance because Clear Air Turbulence forecasts are not reliable. The best CAT forecasts can do is specify areas where, due to jet stream activity, turbulence is possible. The only reliable information is what we hear on the radio from other pilots ahead of us on the same route. Even so, conditions change from minute to minute. When a pilot twenty minutes ahead reports turbulence, when we get there, it may be smooth. Of visa versa. A pilot ahead reports it is smooth, and when we get there it is bumpy.

Not knowing more doesn’t bother pilots because they know turbulence is not a safety problem. Pilots are mystified that passengers fear turbulence. It is my belief that turbulence causes fear in a round about way. Anxious fliers try to control anxiety by keeping the flight out of mind. If the flight is smooth, they may be able to pretend they are not on a plane, but are sunning on a beach. But if there is turbulence, this pretense falls apart and the person comes face-to-face with the reality that they are on a plane, 30,000 feet up, and that they not in control. If they start to panic, they have no way to stop it because they have no means of escape. In other words, fear of turbulence is fear of fear. And, when they feel afraid, they tend to believe there must be danger. There is no danger of the plane crashing, but there is danger of emotionally crashing.

fear of flying

One of Capt. Bunn’s suggestions is to meet the pilot prior to take off.

Often we hear pilots say we are going through light “chop”…what exactly does that mean in English?

Chop is like the ride you get on a speedboat she the surface of a lake is choppy. If the bumps are regulate, or rhythmic, we call it chop; if irregular, we call it turbulence.

 

Crazy question, do pilots feel the same level of turbulence as passengers?

Actually, it is an interesting question. Pilots spend so much time in turbulence every week that they get immune to it. Turbulence is so ordinary thing that pilots often don’t even notice it. I’ve gotten calls for irate flight attendants asking why I haven’t turned the seat belt on. I hadn’t even noticed the turbulence. They did because, though they are used to it, they have trouble serving passengers during turbulence. So, they want the seat best sign on so passengers will understand they need to discontinue service..

In turbulence a pilot regards turbulence regards as of no consequence, an anxious passenger can be terrified. Why? First, because turbulence makes it impossible for them to pretend they are not on a plane. And second, because a part of the brain releases stress hormones when something takes place that the person is not used to. If the plane drops twenty times in a minute, a pilot gets no stress hormone release. But, passengers, who are not used to turbulence, get twenty shots of stress hormones. These hormones add up and cause a high level of arousal. A psychologically secure person regards arousal as arousal. But a psychologically insure person equates arousal with fear, and fear with danger.

That is a point that anxious fliers need to catch on to. To the anxious flier, arousal = fear = danger. That is not true. Arousal is just arousal. Fear is an interpretation of the meaning of the arousal. The anxious flier’s interpretation is wrong; the fear they feel does not mean danger. On the other hand, some believe lack of fear means safety. That’s wrong, too. Driving late at night, some drivers you encounter are impaired. since you don’t know that, you don’t feel fear. Though you are in very real danger,  you don’t feel afraid at all. When flying, you can be completely safe, and due to imagination, believe you are in danger.

fear of flying

The only turbulence in the air should be between you and your lover.

Is it safe to fly through thunder storms?

The plane is safe when flying through thunder storms. But we don’t do it. We have weather radar that is color coded – green, yellow, and red – to show the intensity of a thunderstorm. We try to avoid them completely, but if we can’t we go through a green area.

 

The best dressed in the sky!  Have you read out post about Flight Fashion?

Is it better to fly in the morning, afternoon or evening for a “smoother” flight?

Morning is the better because it is usually less windy and the thunderstorms have not had time in the sun to billow up to great heights.

 

With the whole “lap child” incident not long ago, are children safe on laps of parents?

I’m sure that if the parent holding that child had not been caught by surprise, there would have been no problem. How can I be sure? Because the child did not go far out of the parent’s arms. Since the child did not continue upward and hit the ceiling, the force was not great.

 

In your experience, which airport is the worst for turbulence?  Denver, PHX other?

Denver is the worst because the Rockies extend up to 14,000 feet. The Rockies disturb the air flowing eastward from 14,000 feet down to the ground. When flying at 15,000 feet, the air can be completely smooth, and then when you hit 14,000 feet, you get turbulence,, and that turbulence usually lasts all the way to the ground. Perhaps knowing that this is really very mechanical and predictable may help an anxious passenger think of it as normal for Denver, which it is. Phoenix – and Las Vegas – get turbulent in the afternoon due to the sun heating up the surface of the desert.

 

What is your take on allowing cell phone calls on planes?

As in a theater or a restaurant where you are necessarily close to other people, I would rather not be bothered by that.

1000Fights:  We agree!  NO CALLS!

cell phone yelling

No calls on planes!

 

I fly a fair amount…once a month-ish.  I am not afraid of flying, but I am a nervous flyer.  Bumps can unnerve me.  Any suggestions on overcoming that fear?

First, know it is safe. Second, know you get shots of stress hormones because the bumps – to you – are not routine. The arousal that results  is just arousal. Arousal is not fear. There is no danger. Third, use the app to prove everything is OK, that the plane is not overstressed, nor is it falling.

 

Something we have always wondered…why do they fly so far north when flying from the states to asia and Europe?

It is actually the shortest distance. That would be obvious if you were looking for the shortest distance on a globe. If you stretch a string from your departure point in the U.S. to your destination in Europe, the string goes over Canada, and just south of Greenland and Iceland. A globe is, as the earth is, spherical. A paper map, being flat, has a lot of distortion. It makes it look like the shortest route is much father south than it really is.

 

What is the most difficult case of flight fright you have ever had to work with?

Really difficult cases involve “psychic equivalence.” If the person repeatedly imagines disaster, they produce a condition called psychic equivalence. In this condition, what is in the mind (imagination: what one fears will happen) is – when stress hormones build up – accepted as real.

Most people can distinguish imagination from reality. But for some,, when they FEEL like something is true, to them it is true. If they FEEL something is going to happen, they “just know” it is going to happen. And, if another person tries to tell them otherwise, they get nowhere. The mind is locked. They “just know” if they get on the plane, they will die. As ridiculous as that sounds, it happens to a lot of people who having trouble flying.

fear of flying

Capt. Tom Bunn

Captain Tom Bunn, an airline captain and licensed therapist, is President and founder of SOAR, Inc.’

Website:  www.fearofflying.com

twitter:  Capt. Tom Bunn

Captain Bunn has helped over 5,000 people overcome difficulty with flying. He was part of the first fear of flying program, which was started at Pan Am in 1975.  He founded SOAR in 1982; and to offer the most effective help possible, he completed graduate school to become a therapist. He spent five additional years in training at psychological institutes, finally developing a therapy that has made it possible for everyone to fly

1000Fights:  Thank you kindly to Captain Tom for taking our questions about flying.  We hope that there was something that proved helpful.  We definitely want all the Fighting Couples out there to love Flying.  If you are struggling with a fear of flying, give Captain Tom’s program a try.    Happy travels!

 

4

How to Speak Australian

In prep for our upcoming trip to Australia this summer we asked our friend Alistair McGuinness an “outback specialist” to give us quick course in being and speaking Australian.

On your way to Australia?

Think you know the language?

They speak English don’t they?

Well think again.

After 10 years in the country I have picked up some of the lingo (language).

Here is a few examples of what to expect.

 How to Speak Australian

Bush tucker is the name given for natural food native to Australia (kangaroos, Emu, Lizard, berries etc.)

Boozer is another name for pub.

A bluey is the Australian term for a couple having an argument.

A Sheila is a name sometimes jokingly used for a woman

Stubby is what Australians call a bottle of beer

Yakka is a term used for work.

So if you hear an Australian say:

I’ve just had a bluey with the Shiela about who does the hard Yakka round here. I’m off to the boozer for a few stubbies and on the way home will get me self some bush tucker.”

Then now you will know that he has just had a fight with his wife!

So apart from the language, what else is different?

The Beautiful Down Under

12 apostles

12 Apostles Monument

The coastline of Australia measures over 20,000 miles and with such a large land mass, it’s possible to follow the sun all year round, as you traverse the smallest continent in the world. But this takes time, effort and finances. Australia has long been marketed for its beach culture, balmy evening’s, and endless skies and many travellers flock to the outer perimeter to soak up the atmosphere. Sydney draws the crowds and rightly so. It boasts a stunning harbour and has two iconic attractions, the harbour bridge and the Opera House.

When my friend and his wife came to Australia from the UK, they opted for a full tour of Sydney and spent days exploring the coffee shops, beachside shopping parades and hidden coves. Mel was in her element amongst the trendy back streets but my best friend Steve craved adventure away from civilisation. Their holiday was in danger of losing its way, unless there were compromises.

This is how they came to be in the outback, the epicentre of ancient Australia. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territories and I met them at the airport a few days later. Maybe it was the extreme humidity, or a touch of jet lag but I sensed a disparity between them as we made our way to the nearest hotel.

Within days, the wildness of the outback had captured their imaginations. The extreme humidity was somehow liberating, as they embraced the empty roads, red dirt and chance encounters with wildlife.

At river crossings they were warned about man eating crocodiles, at road stations they met local characters who shared numerous tales about life in the bush.
Visit 1000’s profile on Pinterest.

Go Walkabout

Most that venture into the heartland, do so in air conditioned comfort and find themselves in an ancient world of shimmering deserts and lonely roads. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is the magnetic attraction that draws visitors from every part of the globe, but to really feel the outback you need to ditch the air conditioned coach with its multi lingual coach driver and “Go Walkabout.”

Kangaroos

Kangaroos!

Walkabout is a term used by Australians to describe the spiritual journey undertaken by adolescent Aboriginals to earn their rite of passage into manhood, in which the youngsters would spend up to six months alone in the wilderness.

Walkabouts still occur in Australia, although these days, most are done in four wheel drive and are enjoyed by anyone who loves adventure!

Before you are tempted to stop the air conditioned bus, grab your bags and romantically trek into the outback then stop right now!

The Australian interior can be a dangerous environment, with extreme temperatures and the vast red centre can easily lure you into danger. Each summer there are reports of missing travellers, disoriented explorers and lost gold prospectors. Some are unlucky and succumb to dehydration and each year there are deaths.

If you are considering travelling into the interior, then preparation is critical. If you want to see the real Australia, not its coffee strips, shopping malls and drive through bottle shops then consider going walkabout with an Aborigine.

Steve and Mel found an aboriginal guide called Patsy, who lives in Kakadu National Park and offered to take them on walkabout. Within hours of meeting, they were walking across ancient game trails, hunting for their dinner.

Patsy gave each of them a long wooden stick and explained where to look for tortoises and how to poke under the moist earth then listen for the sound as the pole hit a shell. She was a natural provider and while they squelched and poked in the mud she successfully probed and oozed two hibernating tortoises from the soft earth and handed them to Steve.

I was standing nearby and overheard their conversation.

“Hey mister. Hold please.”

Steve took hold of the tortoise and stroked the gnarly neck affectionately.

“No time to stroke the tortoise mister. Your wife is hungry, so break the neck and then we eat.”

Patsy walked away, in search of more bush tucker. Steve’s children watched in awe as he killed their dinner. His wife saw this man in a new light. He was now a hunter!

Kangaroo sign

Not your typical sign?

There wasn’t anything else on the menu and no restaurant for hundreds of miles. The dissected geese was wrapped in green leaves and paperbark from nearby tree, then roasted on rocks that had been heated in the fire.

At sunset, a herd of wild buffalo trampled past our camp while we devoured the turtle and magpie. For desert, Patsy took Steve and Mel to a nearby tree, rolled her hand along the smooth trunk and collected a palm full of ants. She crushed them into a ball and ate the lot. “Come taste.” She laughed. “Lemon ants”

By sunset they sat in silence by the fire and watched the last of the buffalo disappear into the wilderness and the friction that I sensed at Darwin airport melted away.

Australia is a mystical place, filled with intrigue. Its cities are modern, its outback towns friendly and the beaches are some of the best in the world.

I hope you find the Australia you are looking for and if you do have a bluey with your partner, I suggest taking a romantic stroll onto the Opera House foreshore and enjoying an outdoor picnic of fresh prawns, washed down with a chilled bottle of white wine.

Happy travels!

 

Alistair McGuinness

 

Alistair McGuinness

My adventure travel book is called Round the Bend

www.thecreativenomad.co

 

 

 

 

9

Cologne for Couples

What is the most romantic city in Germany?  We would make a strong case for Cologne!  With its 2000 plus years of history, the city is beckoning to be explored.   We put together a few ideas to help you create the perfect couples trip to Cologne.

 Mr.Cake CupCake Manufaktur

Lets start our couples tour of Cologne at our fave site, Mr. Cupcake!  We always say: Life is short…start with dessert.  Mr. Cake is no ordinary Cupcakery.  He is the Picasso of the modern cupcake.  Each delicious creation is a work of art.  Sweetness to the very last bite.  The bakery boasts that it only uses exclusive Belgian chocolate and eggs from “happy chickens” (they said it, we didn’t.)  Regardless of the disposition of the chickens, the end result is nothing short of amazing.  Try flavors that include: Apple Cinnamon Royal, Poppy Seed Royal, and of course the original: Mr. Cake chocolate.  The good news is these little morsels of joy are priced reasonably!  You will shell out 5 euros for two delightful cakes.  You cant beat that price!  Don’t worry about the calories, we are going to work those off further down the list. (Mr. CupCake Filzengraben 1-3 – 50676 Köln http://www.mrcake.de/)

The Love Locks of Cologne

Do you want your love to last forever?  Yes?  Then you need to head over to the Hohenzollern Bridge and affix a love lock to the “wall of love”.  If you are able, shell out a few euros and have a lock engraved with you and your lover’s names.  Once you lock your love to the bridge, simply toss the key into the Rhine River below.  If the tradition holds you love will prove true.  Do us a favor…don’t quit fighting though.  The lovely stroll across the bridge is a bonus couple activity.

Aachen

Our next stop in our couple’s quest is not located in Cologne, but an hour east of the city.  A lovely side trip for an afternoon is to the quaint town of Aachen.  Located on the Belgium border, this little burg is bubbling with romance.  The city was once home to Charlemagne or Charles the great depending on which history book you read.  We do have a strong recommendation on how to get there.  Take the train.  Trust us, avoid the fights and stress of driving and navigating.

“Traveling by train is definitely the most interesting and romantic way to travel. You have a chance to see the landscape and enjoy your journey in a relaxed way.”, says Naren Shaam, founder and CEO of GoEuro.

Aachen Cathederal

Aachen Cathederal

Once in Aachen, make your way to the city center.  There a number of delicious bakeries, chocolate shops, and coffee houses are waiting for you and your lover.  Once you have recharged, head into the church.  It is one of the most beautiful and warm gothic structures we have ever entered.  The treasury in the back has an amazing collection of Charlemagne artifacts.  Items include holy relics and even part of the arm bone of Charlemagne himself.  Once the sun sets, they light up the exterior of the church.  We took some amazing pictures.  Simply beautiful.  Get back on the train for the short trip back to Cologne.

Charlemagne arm

Mike giving Charlemagne’s remaining arm a high five.

Cologne Cathedral

How could you visit Cologne and not tour the Grand Cologne Cathedral?  This world heritage site and monument is smack dab in the center of town and cannot be missed.  According to the cathedral’s website, construction on the church was commenced in 1248, halted in 1473 and finished in 1880.  It is the largest gothic church in all of Northern Europe.  Some 20,000 people visit the church a day.  One reason that it survived WWII was it was used as a navigational reference for allied pilots.

Cologne Cathederal

Cologne Cathederal

Chocolate Museum

If you didn’t get your chocolate fix from Mr. Cupcake, head over to Cologne’s own Chocolate Museum.  Located on its own island in the Rhine, this unique museum caters to children with interactive displays on chocolate making and history.  The museum is sponsored by Lindt Chocolate so if you are a fan, this is your place.  For the adults there are a number of yummy tasting stations that are included for the price of admission.  The museum includes a company store and café.  (http://www.schokoladenmuseum.de/)

Chocolate Museum Cologne

Chocolate Museum

Koelner Seilbahn

Some of the best views of the city are available from the high perch of the Koelner Seilbahn  (Cologne Cable Cars).  These cars take you on a journey across the Rhine that you will never forget.  The only drawback is that the cable cars only run from April to October.  The Cable car begins and ends at the Zoobridge.  The view of the cathedral is definitely the highlight of the short trip. (http://www.koelner-seilbahn.de/)

Claudius Therme

Its time to heat things up a little.   After hiking all around Cologne, we are sure that you are exhausted.  It is time for some relaxation.  Look no further than the Claudius Therme.  What is interesting about these hot springs is that they are relatively new.  Unlike the old Roman bathes of Baden-Baden or even Budapest, these springs were developed in the mid 1970s.  The water temp ranges 91-100 degrees F.  If you are lucky enough to time your visit on the weekends, they offer underwater music and lights to enhance the bathing.  The “healing” waters are also enriched with salt from the Dead Sea!  (http://www.claudius-therme.de/)

We hope that you enjoy your couple’s trip to Cologne.

6

Adventure: Horses that Walk on Water

Northern Germany has much to offer traveling couples, but this is one experience we never imagined:  riding on water!  The morning before our adventure, our good friends in Cuxhaven, Germany, took us down to the seaside and said, “Tomorrow we are going to take a horse ride across the sea to the lighthouse.”  We thought that something might have been lost in translation.  German is one of the languages where certain words take on different meaning in English.  Nothing could prepare us for the next day’s adventure.

In the morning. our wonderful hosts said, “We are going to the post office to pick up our horses.”  We chuckled and said we were game.  We bundled up as it was a brisk fall morning expecting the worst.  As promised, we arrived at the Wattwagen Poste (loosely translated Mud Wagon Post.)   The wagons double as tourist carriers and delivering mail.

 

Sea horses

Boarding our yellow “mud wagon.”

All Aboard!

We met our wagon master.  He was a chipper fellow and he instantly had all on board that spoke German in stitches laughing the entire trip.  Those of us that were Germaniclly challenged, just nodded and smiled.  I need to work on my Deutsche.  We climbed up the yellow elevated carriage and wrapped up in woolen blankets.  With a whistle and a snap of the whip, our driver encouraged our two steeds onward.  We crested the dike and lo and behold, the tide was out…letting us travel across the sea on dry ground!

Cuxhaven mud wagon

Headed our to sea in a horse drawn wagon.

 Yellow Wagons!

Our yellow wagon train headed across the sea!  The horses loved traipsing through the water puddles and little tidal streams.  There were bundles of sticks set every so often to mark the best path out to our destination, a lighthouse in the distance.

Wattwagen

Follow the sticks!

Along the path, there were elevated cages.  Our friends explained that these are rescue pods for the high tide.  If the water starts to rise and trap you between the island and the shore, you simply climb up one of these.  You have two options…wait it out or send up a flare.  Option two comes with a stiff fine and fee as a rescue boat is send out to deliver you back to terra firma.

Rescue pods

Rescue pods along the way. Rumor is there is some whiskey in the first aid kit.

 Neuwerk Lighthouse

Our journey across the water ended at the island of Neuwerk.  Population 39.  Is it really an island, if you can take a carriage to it?  The focal point of the entire island is one of the most quaint light houses we have toured.  For a small ticket (5 euros)  you are allowed to climb the circular staircase up to the top of the lighthouse.  What is most interesting, the lighthouse…and the entire island for that matter is officially a part of Hamburg, Germany (the city is 75 miles away).  Technically the lighthouse which was built in 1367 is the oldest surviving building in Hamburg.  For its age, the entire lighthouse is in very good shape.  The views from the top show the sea and Cuxhaven.

Neuwerk Lighthouse

Stairs of the Neuwerk Lighthouse

During the summer, you can walk around the island and see the farm. There is also a nice museum that explains the ecology of the area. After we had milled around for a time, our wagon master mustered us up again, we boarded our yellow carriage and headed back to the mainland.  It was a great day trip.

Hamburg horses

What a great day! Who knew we could walk on water?

Cuxhaven and Neuwerk are wonderful off the beaten path locations to visit as a couple.

12

The How-to Guide to Traveling in Sin

Meet George and Lisa of the couple travel blog: “We Said Go Travel”.  They are hands down, one of the deans of the couple travel blogging world.  In 2013, this dynamic duo penned a hilarious and candid travel memoir titled”Traveling in Sin”.    The book outlines one of the most epic online hookups of all time.   Their wide-eyed adventures have taken them around the globe including adventures in French Polynesia, New Zealand and Mongolia.

We Said Go Travel   www.wesaidgotravel.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/We-Said-Go-Travel/

Twitter @wesaidgotravel

Instagram www.instagram.com/wesaidgotravel

Buy the book:  Our memoir: Traveling in Sin 

George and Lisa were gracious enough to sit down with the Fighting Couple to answer a few questions.

Traveling couple

Lisa and George of We Said Go Travel

1)     Lisa, we hate to start off with this one, but it is the new year…  You are so BEAUTIFUL!  We read the article about your weight transformation.  Give us some pointers for eating and living healthy in the new year.  How do you make healthy choices when you travel? 

She Said: Thank you! George is a big help in making healthy choices. We eat regular meals and we do not snack while traveling. When we are going to spend all day on a bus, we prepare by finding foods to eat on the road so we are not tempting by ice cream and candy. I think the most important thing is to not get too hungry (or tired) because then it is harder to make good choices.

 

2) 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: My friend, Dr. Jimmy because he makes me laugh, he is fun to be with and I know we would have a good time.

She Said:  Charles Darwin: I read a great book about his experiences, experiments and adventures in the Galapagos when I was young. I have always wanted to go and it would be incredible to travel and study science with him there!

 

3)  You are both highly educated.  What has been the reaction of some of your associates as you headed out on your world adventure?

He said: People in my life are so accustomed to me traveling on every vacation from the education system that I don’t think anyone was too surprised when we left for a longer trip.

She said:  When I first left graduate school and ended up spending seven years on cruise ships, people thought I was nuts! After returning to Los Angeles and getting settled after September 11th when my cruise line went bankrupt, no one including me thought I would travel long term again. My sabbatical adventure with George, which we wrote about in our memoir, Traveling in Sin, was as much a surprise to me as my associates. When we left in July 2012 for this journey, it seemed very natural!

 

Travel couple

We Said Go Kiss?

4)  Members of the Travelers Century Club?  Wow!  Curious, what has been your favorite destination in your wanderings? Why?

He said: I don’t have a favorite place but my favorite sector of the world is Asia, particularly Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia. The reason is the value, the unique culture, the architecture and food.

She said: I have so many favorites! I loved our ten-day journey in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, trekking in Nepal and the beaches of Thailand. In our latest travel writing contest, one of the writers wrote about Murree, Pakistan where everyone goes on honeymoon and now I want to go there and meet her!

 

5)  As an educator Lisa, how has travel enhanced your ability to teach?  How are you able to help other teachers?

She Said: Sharing travel stories in the classroom has been one of my students’ favorite things. When we talked about physics in our unit, “May the Force be With You,” I mentioned that stupas in Sri Lanka are round and not all buildings are built in squares and rectangles. One of my first grade students raised her hand and said,  “Mrs. Rajna, that is just like the gers in Mongolia where you stayed in those tents!” I said, “You are right! What a great connection!”

I founded a peer-to-peer professional development group in Los Angeles which now was over seventy schools participating. Through the network, I have been able to share about teaching and traveling and the importance of integrated education. I was invited to be the first teacher on the national television show, Career Day, and share the life of a teacher!

 

 

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Hunger and poverty.

She said: I would like to make sure everyone has clean water, plenty of food and a safe place to live. For my birthday last year, I organized a 45×45 project and together we raised enough money to help fifty refugee families from Darfur to receive solar cookers so that they can stay safe in the camp and not have to forage for wood outside.

Whale Sharks

George and Lisa swimming with Whale Sharks

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

He said: Deciding to return to America for family events.

She Said: We made a pact; when we have an early morning flight, there is no fighting. We used to always fight when we get up too early so now we have a plan. Early morning there is an automatic truce. No fighting allowed!

 

The Fighting Couple:  A huge thanks to George and Lisa for visiting with us and sharing their adventure.  They are great examples of making couple travel a reality.

4

Best Places to Kiss in Budapest

When you think of the most romantic capitals of Europe places like Vienna, Paris and even Rome come to mind.   We want to add one under-discovered capital of love….Budapest, Hungary.  Straddling the blue Danube, this former eastern bloc country offers lovers wonderful vistas, inviting hospitality and delectable cuisine.  Budapest is often called the Paris of the east.  We would agree!  Here is our list for lovers:

 Love locks

Our first stop in our quest for all things romantic in Budapest is making a love lock.    The Couples declare their love with inscribed love locks.  Simply write your names on the lock and walk hand in hand across the Danube and toss the key into the river…then seal the ceremony with a kiss.  Love Lock Park is located at Erzsebet Square not far from the Chain Bridge along the Danube.  According to tradition, a love that is locked in Budapest will never fade!  So far so good!

love locks

Budapest Love Locks

Budapest’s Thermal Baths

Lets heat things up a little!  Dotted across the entire city of Budapest are wonderful geothermal hot springs.  Budapest’s spas and baths are truly world class.  One of the Fighting Couple’s favorites is the Szechenyi Baths Budapest.  It is the largest medicinal bath in all of Europe.    The prices are responsible.  They allow both sexes to bathe together( not all baths allow this…).  Szechenyi offers a wide selection of different pools for your choosing.  Each has a different mineral content as well as temperature.  The baths offer a wonderful dessert after hiking the hills of Budapest all day.  Sitting in the outdoor pools sneak a quick kiss in the wafting steam.

 

Szechenyi Bath

Szechenyi Bath

 

Fisherman’s Bastion

Located just across the Danube from the parliament, the Fisherman’s Bastion offers romantic views of the Danube.  Built in the 19th century, the wonderful castle like structure has 7 turrets representing the seven tribes that founded modern day Hungary.  Yes, it does resemble the castle of Walt Disneyland.  The entire area is well lit and is open to visitors year round day and night.  An evening stroll…hand in hand… along the bastions ramparts is the perfect setting for capturing a kiss.

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman’s Bastion

Four Seasons Budapest

Even if you don’t have the cash to stay the night, grab dessert at the Four Seasons Budapest.   Perched at the end of the chain bridge, this historic hotel’s vantage point of the Danube and the castle are impressive.  We would recommend the national dessert of Hungary: Poppy Seed Apple Cake.   The hotel is a perfect place to watch the sun set over the Buda hills.

Stroll down a Parisian lane

A little known secret of Budapest is that is has a Parisian flair.  The tree lined boulevards almost make you forget where you are!  The streets of Budapest are very walkable.  Small pastry and coffee shops call out to star-crossed lovers.  Hand holding with your loved one along one of these thoroughfares is nothing short of magical.

Looking for advice on Three Days in Budapest?

Budapest’s Opera House

How about stealing a kiss during intermission at one of the most historic opera houses in Eastern Europe?  Housed in the neo-Renaissance style masterpiece, the Hungarian Opera is one of the finest in the world.  According to the results of testing done in the mid 1970s by a group of international engineers the opera house has the 3rd best acoustics in Europe after La Scala in Milan, Italy and the Grand Palais Garnier in Paris!  Impressive!  The opera offers a mix of contemporary and classical offerings.  An evening at the Budapest Opera is not to be missed.

 

Budapest at night

View from the Fisherman’s Bastion

Danube cruise

We have saved the best for last.  Take a candle light dinner cruise along the Danube River.  How can you top that?  There are a handful of operators that can arrange for your cruise.  Some offer high end 7 course meals.  Others have more a party atmosphere with live music and dancing.  The choice is yours.  As you boat past the city line of Budapest, you will agree, this is one of the most romantic cities in the world.

 

How did we do?  Would you add any romantic locations to our list?  Budapest is truly the best place to kiss!

4

7 Way to Add Spice to Your Relationship

We interrupt our regularly scheduled travel programming for a dash of relationship RX.  Ok, its 2014.  Do you want to improve your relationship?  What is your plan?  As the New Year begins we want to help you find a few little ways to spice up your relationship.  We asked some of our favorite relationship gurus for the one thing that would help couples the most.  They came up with some pretty incredible ideas.  Regardless if you have been together two weeks or two decades, these tried and true suggestions will make a huge difference.  Pick one of these things and give it a try in the new year!

1)  I really appreciate it when you….

Relationship coachWe are continually on a journey of learning to love each other.  Ask your partner for a list of 10 things they would like to be appreciated more for and how they would like it said.  “I really appreciate that you almost always cook. It’s so great.” Then, make a point to say these things over the next 30 days. Maybe they will like it so much, they will ask for your list.

Jessica Sabatini—FindingMyRealLove.com

2)  Love or Like

For just marriage advice, probably our number one is “Love them even when you don’t like them. Respect and care for your spouse even when they are being annoying. You can find a way around irritating.”

Gregory— @ratedgromance

 3) Create a Loving Ritual

Finding loveWant to warm up your relationship quickly? Show your appreciation on a regular basis! Whether your partner does something big or small, tell him or her how much you appreciate the time and effort. You can also create a loving ritual where you share three things you appreciate about each other every time you see each other or if living together, before you go to sleep. This is a wonderful way to connect and acknowledge your partner and keep your love alive.

Ronnie Ann Ryan—  www.NeverTooLate.biz

 4)  Trust Each Other

Rated G RomanceI’d encourage couples to work on developing trust. For some, that means trusting that the occasional cold wind or thoughtless gesture from our loved one is not the harbinger of doom for the relationship. For others, it is as simple as asking our spouse for what we need and trusting that they will do that for us. Vulnerability is required to build intimacy and trust is at the core of that vulnerability.

I’d encourage couples to work on trust. Lack of trust can keep us from explicitly asking our spouse for what we need from them. Why even ask if we don’t trust them to respond? Even worse, a lack of trust can make a thoughtless gesture feel like the harbinger of doom for the relationship which, ironically, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you trust in each other’s love, there is always hope to move forward and get over the bumps.

Gregory— @ratedgromance

Just a reminder…You can ask the Fighting Couple ANYTHING!

5)  Be on the Same Team

Sometimes love can feel like a battle.  Your sworn partner so easily becomes your enemy.  It’s important to remember that you are on the same team.  Start this year by creating a team name, and use it when you travel, do home projects, go to a stressful event.  It can be as simple as Team Sabatini.

Jessica Sabatini—  FindingMyRealLove.com

6)  Spice it up!

Spice up marriageHas sex in your marriage become routine, scripted and boring?  It doesn’t have to be this way. Profound sexual intimacy is possible when you devote yourself to understanding what arouses your spouse. Explore each other’s bodies this year with a renewed focus on touch, foreplay, tenderness and passion.

Julie Sibert—  www.IntimacyInMarriage.com

7)  Take a vacation!

If there is one thing that we would encourage couples to do is to block out some time to travel together.  There is something special about getting away from all the stress of work, family, and every day life.  Make time for a couple trip.  Leave the children with grandma and get away together.

The Fighting Couple— @1000Fights

We truly hope that these ideas give you some helpful objectives to work on together.  Relationships are so hard!  Add in the pressures of work, family, and everything else sometimes the most important person in our life takes the back burner.  Every year at this time, we set goals to lose weight or earn more money.  Are you setting goals to improve the most valuable thing in your life, your relationship?  We wish you the very best in your relationships this year!

 

7

7 Secrets to Safe Winter Driving

Picking the right Rental Car for Winter Conditions

The most important decision you will make in regards to safe winter driving is selecting the right car.   So often we just take which ever car the rental car company assigns, but for winter driving you must be proactive.    Often the overeager falls into two camps: Overkillers and Camaros.  The overkillers see that it is slightly windy and requests a Hummer.  The Camaro camp throws caution to the wind, and can’t believe how cheap renting a Camaro is with the temperature 20 below and 3 feet of snow.  They have ALWAYS wanted to drive a Camaro and this is their chance.  Big mistake on both counts.

Winter driving

Winter driving is not always this glamorous! Be careful!

A few key car terms to understand:

RWD-Rear wheel dive.  The vehicle is “powered” by the rear two wheels.  The front two tires are only used for steering.

FWD-Front wheel dive.  You guessed it…the vehicle is “powered” by the front two wheels.   The front tires do both the steering and the pulling.

4WD or 4×4-Four Wheel drive-Power is supplied equally to all four tires.  Each tire receives power independently.  This function must be mechanically engaged to turn on.  Think SUVs, pickups and trucks.

AWD-All wheel drive- Through electronic or mechanical means, power is constantly shared to all wheels on a percentage basis.  Some of the finest performance cars in the world have very complex and intelligent AWD power distribution systems.

Which is better?  It depends.  Luci drives a rear wheeled drive Mercedes Benz sedan.  It drives like a dream in the snow and ice of our fair Idaho.  Mike on the other hand drives an AWD drive Subaru.  It is also a sound slick road driver.

Key is selecting which you feel most comfortable with at the time of rental.  If you regularly drive a RWD car, know how it handles when you head to the slopes opt for the RWD.  If you have never driven a RWD and opt for a Camaro, you are asking for trouble on snow.  Trying out a “cool” car driving on snow is NEVER a good idea.  Save it for the summer.

Overkillers

We have all seen them.  The novices leave their Sentra at home and show up to the ski hill in a huge SUV or truck.  If you are not accustomed to driving a huge vehicle with 4×4 powered wheels, you are asking for disaster.  Heavy vehicles are difficult to see out of, even more difficult to stop.   Mike in his able Subaru often passes “monster” trucks on snowy mountain passes.   You really don’t need a huge vehicle to be safe on snowy roads.  You need a vehicle that you can operate comfortably.

winter driving

Be careful out there!

Wheel base

The next step in finding the right car once you have made a decision on driving wheels, the next consideration is the wheel base.  This matters a lot for safe winter driving.  You can easily get into trouble especially in Europe where the entire continent worships short wheel base cars.  Short wheelbase-think Volkswagen Golf.  Long wheel base-think Cadillac.  There are hundreds of choices between these two extremes.  Key to remember longer is better.  Mike took a trip this past year to Austria, Czech Rep, and Poland.  He went cheap on the rental.  He ended up with a lightweight, short wheelbase car in the middle of a huge snow storm.  It was lucky he made it back alive.   Longer is better for driving on ice.

winter driving

Leave room between you and the car in front.

Visibility for Winter Driving

One of the inherit dangers of driving in poor weather conditions is visibility.  When you get into a car that you are unfamiliar with you are already a few points behind.  Add into the mix snow, fog and ice and visibility becomes serious concern.  Before leaving the rental yard, check to make sure the window defroster for both the front and rear windscreens are working properly.  It is wise to check the windscreen washer fluid level before setting out.  The reservoir is under the hood/bonnet and is usually blue in color.   Check to see if the rental agency has included an ice scraper in the auto.  The ability to visually assess what is happening around you is key to survival on snowy roads.

Helpful hint:  Always drive with your low beams in fog.  Water reflects high beam light and make visibility difficult.

Tires

This is a difficult one.  If you agree on the right car and you get out to find that the tires are bald, go back and demand a different auto.  Proper tire tread is a must for driving on snow covered roads.  Acceleration, turning and braking are all affected by the tire tread.  A good rule of thumb is a 3rd of a US penny and half a euro cent is preferred.  The deeper the tread the better.  Tire tread allows you to grip the road and handle the water and snow.

Technology

Use the tools that you are given.  Read the weather reports online.  Have a good GPS unit in the car.  Read the weather and road advisories.  Being adequately informed about the conditions and terrain will give you a heads up if tire chains are required.  Cell phones are always handy for long road trips.  Use the tools provided to avoid being stranded and understand what the conditions are like in front of you.

Helpful hint: Do I need an International Drivers Licence

Eliminate Distractions

White knuckle driving is par for the course for winter.  It goes without saying when you enter dangerous driving situations increase your focus and uses of your senses.  Turn the radio down or off.  This will allow you to hear the road noise: slush or water.  Hearing how your car is braking will also give you insight into the conditions.  Do you slide every time you apply brakes?  As stated above, make sure that you make the windshields are clear as possible.  Make sure you can see what is happening around you.

Speed kills

We saved one of the most important factors for safe winter driving for last.  Slow down.  Cars and trucks are incredibly heavy.  It takes an average of 235 feet to stop a car going 50 MPH on dry pavement.  If you are on solid ice or snow, double that.  Just because you do not see the ice, doesn’t mean that it is not there.  So called black ice is invisible to the driver and is deadly.

We hope that this winter driving refresher course is helpful.  We wish you safe and happy travels this winter.  We hope that winter driving takes you somewhere fun!

10