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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:

Key Stats: 

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)

Royal palace

The Royal Palace in Bangkok.

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.)

ice cream cone

COWS Ice Cream in Prince Edward Island

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.

Angkor Wat

We are jumping for joy that 2012 is done. Now onto 2013!

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!

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Why Do We Do This?

“Life throws so much at you: bills, pressure, work, stress, kids, “real” life, drama, mother-in-laws, mortgage payments.  The day in and day out battle of life slowly drains the love out of our relationships.”

 

An enlightening question from a friend this week….”So, why do you blog?”  My first automatic response was something like, “To share our travel ideas, to be a part of the travel blogging community, give encouragement to others, to get out and see the world.” Yada, yada, yada. Blah, blah, blah.

But the real reason we travel blog, is YOU.  Boil it all down, we want others to find happiness in their relationships.  Luci and I have our struggles that’s for sure and as our “catchy” blog name reflects…our relationship is far from perfect.  We fight.  A lot.  But it’s ok.

cote adzurWe count ourselves blessed to have visited some incredible places together during our 15 years of marriage.  But when it comes down to it, these places don’t really matter.  (We are totally serious!)  What matters most to us was that we did it together as a couple.   The number of stamps in our passport doesn’t matter.  What matters is what is stamped on our souls.

We set out our blogging journey with a simple mission:  Encourage other couples to leave the kids with the grandparents for a week and go somewhere together.  If you don’t have the $$$ to do it today, set a goal.  Don’t be stupid and put it all on a  credit card.  BAD MISTAKE!  You will make things worse.  Trust us, a vacation that you saved and scrimped for will be sweeter.  Work together.  Save.  Sacrifice.  Then do it.  Most importantly don’t let the time together be wasted.   Savor every second.   Talk to each other.  Renew.

Life throws so much at you: bills, pressure, work, stress, kids, “real” life, drama, mother-in-laws, mortgage payments.  The day in and day out battle of life slowly drains the love out of our relationships.   It happens to us.  It continues to happen.  A loveless relationship loses hope.  You become roommates.  Then bad things happen.

So why do we blog?  What keeps us going?  It is you.  You on the other end of this Internet.  We hope that there is something that we write that inspires you to make a change.  If you could find one thing to work together on.  Just one thing…maybe something as simple as planning a trip together.

Change is hard.  Life is hard.  You need a friend by your side to face it.  We hope you have/find/love that special someone.

Bon voyage!

Mike and Luci

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Our review of HotelCalculator.com

Recently 1000fights was asked to review an innovative hotel search engine:  www.hotel calculator.com.

Hotel Calculator is truly a helpful tool amide the sea of hotel search sites.  Unlike their competitors..they have avoided becoming all things to all people with searches for Hotels, rental cars, flights, coffee, and the perfect cucumber.  Hotels are all that they do.  And they do it well.
They have even recently added an IPhone Ap.  So you can search for the right property on the go!

One stop shop
There are a ton of really good hotel booking sites out there.  Hotel Calculator collect them all and offers you the best deal on a silver platter.   Some of our fav booking sites are Venere (great for Europe), Expedia (Great for the states), Hotel Chart (another really good Europe site), and Late rooms( great for last minute booking deals) .  Hotel Calculator pulls rates from these and another 25+ sites!

HotelCalculator.com allows you to select multiple hotels to a “Short list”.  You can then compare and contrast to pick the best hotel for your needs.  They feature not just hotels..but apartments, bed & breakfasts, residences, hostels, motels, guesthouses and more.

Reviews and Maps
One of the most helpful functions on the site is the PI (Popularity Index).  This is a super secret code that Hotel Calculator uses based on actual reviews, location amenities and hotel popularity.  It is a built in tool to find the best match for your needs.  Another helpful tool built into the search is the mapping function.  Each hotel is linked to a handy Google maps locator.

Locations
While some hotel search engines specialize in a certain geographic area, Hotel Calculator is a hotel search engine.  You get the best deals from across the globe!  You can search from 100,000 different locations!


Hotel Calculator is surely a handy tool for pro and novice traveler!  Give them a  try.


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Guest Post: Ever thought about global volunteering?

Image001You may have heard now about short-term international volunteer opportunities, where you’ll have the chance to soak in a new culture while giving back to your host community. You also might have looked into different programs – figured out where you’d like to go, what you’d like to do, how much it costs, and more. It sounds like a fun trip, so what are the pros and cons?

Pros

–          You’ll help an underserved community! There are so many options out there, whether it’s education, health care, orphanage work, wildlife sanctuary assistance, business startup, and more.

–          Many organizations charge very little for your assistance. My website, for example, lists hundreds of groups who ask their volunteers to pay only $15 per day for their food and accommodations.

–          You’ll experience a new culture, and in many cases, live with a local family. Depending on the type of trip, you’ll be immersed in the host community’s way of life – from working alongside them to living with them.

–          Many new opportunities are short-term, allowing those who only have limited vacation time to help others and explore a new area.

–          You’ll meet new people – both in the local community, and from around the world.

Cons

–          Is the group helping or hurting the community? Unfortunately, some organizations may have the best intentions, but aren’t going about their “help” in ways that are sustainable, or that involve the host community in the best capacity. Try to find one that actively involves locals, giving them the tools necessary to help themselves.

–          Costs can pile up. The first organizations you’ll find in Google searches charge upwards of $5,000 per week, not including your airfare! Look around until you find something affordable, and don’t become discouraged. Find people who have volunteered before, and see what they recommend – many can be found through Facebook and Twitter.

–          Immersing yourself in a new culture will take you out of your comfort zone. Perhaps you’ll be in a community that views women’s rights differently than your own; are you comfortable adapting to and being respectful toward it?

–          Short-term isn’t always the best. My general rule of thumb is that if you’re working with animals, children, or victims of violence, disaster, or neglect, it may be best to go for at least one month. A revolving door of one-week-workers isn’t exactly the best plan for vulnerable people or wildlife.

–          It’s work! And it can be tough, uncomfortable, frustrating, and you probably won’t see the effects of it by the time you leave. But if you understand that before you go, and prepare yourself for it, you’ll have a great time.

Are you up for it?

As you can see, there are pros and cons for embarking on international volunteer projects. They can be frustrating but rewarding, and as long as you prepare yourself and know what you’re getting into, I can almost guarantee you’ll love it. And by “almost” I mean, I’ve only met one person who didn’t.

I’ll sign off here with one last bit of advice: Figure out whether you want your trip to emphasize “volunteer” or “vacation”, and then find a group that’s on the same wavelength. Once you do, you won’t be disappointed – and probably want to go again and again!

Cherry Blossoms

A huge thanks to our friend Sarah Van Auken for a great guest post!  Sarah runs a website called www.Volunteer Global.com.  Her site highlights the ins and outs of volunteering!  Volunteering is the next best thing to fighting!

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