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Re: How has travel changed you?

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My wife & I just got back from DC for a week and decided to change some things next time.  Our ages are 71 and 67 but we can both walk even with my my Osteoarthritis of the back & knees.  But we decided to stay closer to our intended tourist sites next time.  We stayed at military bases in Maryland & DC but had to rent a car and go to the Metros which was not that easy, etc. Driving roughed up my back. It almost pays to stay close to the sites to prevent so much walking, driving, and getting metros. Use AARPs discounts or military discounts at hotels that are close. Restaurants can be expensive so we ate breakfasts at hotels that have free breakfasts, Burger Kings, Denny's or IHOPs. We took healthy snacks and fruits for lunch and ate well for evening dinners and always watch sugars, fats and salt. Planning out itineraies also helps and taking breaks too. Don't forget the pain meds and Ben-Gay. Jerry (X Army RN and Grace (Dietitian)

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Wonderful!
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What a wonderful trip and how beautiful was your telling of it!!!
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Re: How has travel changed you?

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Hi there,

 

I think flying has helped me evolve the most. When my kids were young, they wanted to go to all these different places and it always involved me getting on a plane. After 9/11, I really stopped flying and like a lot of people, began to avoid it. My temporary hiatus turned into something permanent and then a decade went by and my wife and I only traveled to as far as we could go in a car without going crazy. Don't get me wrong - those trips were amazing! But, the older my wife and I get, the more you begin to realize that you should do things while you're able to. After my heart attack in 2011, I realized just how fast life can change on a dime. After that, I realized that I needed to work on my fear. 

 

Since then, we've traveled to Oregon, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, the Bahamas, and Canada. It's been absolutely amazing and I'm glad to have finally overcome that fear. I mean, don't get me wrong - turbulence is still the worst, but it's not as bad as lying in a hospital bed and me not knowing if I was going to get that chance again. 

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My wife has always talked about wanting to go on a cruise. I always shot dow the idea because I'm not much of a people person and I hate crouds. In 2016 I finally said yes. We talked my daughters (28 & 24 at the time), my son inlaw and my son (18) into going with us. I think they just wanted to go to witness the train wreck (me and alot people). To everyones suprise I never got upset with peoples rudeness and I had a very good time. I had our next cruise booked before we got home and we go every year now. I am a social butterfly on a cruise ship!! LOL

I think going on cruises has helped me to be more social in every day life.

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Re: How has travel changed you?

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I have always been afraid of flying – all my life.  I did like to travel but if I could go by car, train, bus – I was happy.   I had never been on a plane until I met Dan – age 75.  I was a widow, age 66, and met Dan quite by accident – on line.  I was working as secretary to the president of a telecommunications company and part of my job was being in charge of contracts.  We were working on a large contract which involved many long nights in the conference room with our lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc.  All changes in the contract were made by me and then I had to email the contract to the client for their lawyers to go over.  The contract was almost 100 pages long so it took time for me to make the changes and for them to respond.

 

One night while I was waiting to hear from their lawyers, the gal in the next office popped into my office and said, “Hey Dee, you have to check this out!”  I looked at the ad and it was from an online dating service called “My One And Only.com” I had nothing else to do while I was waiting so I went to their website.  There were so many pictures of men with their write-ups.  I thought to myself “wow – I would never be so stupid as to get involved with such a site.”  Just before I closed the program, I noticed that there was a write-up at the end – this one with no picture.  I stopped to read it and was pleasantly surprised to read such a beautiful essay.  It was from Dan – he was a retired teacher, a widower, and he always wanted to travel and see the world.  His method of writing really impressed me – I had never read such eloquence in my life   so, before I clicked off, I typed a very brief response.  I said something like “I enjoyed reading your essay – you really have a knack for writing.”  Then I signed off and forgot the incident.

 

The next morning when I got to the office, the first thing I do is check my email.  Well, wouldn’t you know – there was a response from “Daniel”.  It was a very friendly note, telling me a little about himself, his children, that he lived not too far from me.  Just a few lines.  He asked me some questions about myself and I typed a brief response and got on with my day.  That began our daily correspondence for months.  Every morning when I checked in, there was an email from Dan.  After some months of emailing, one day I was startled to read his email that asked if perhaps we could meet and have lunch one day.  That really startled me – I thought to myself “this could be dangerous – he could be another Jack the Ripper, and all that kind of thinking filled my mind.   I did not answer that email for several days – I really had to think about that.   But then I thought that if we met in a very public place, like the mall and in the daytime, if I didn’t like him, I could make a quick get-away.  So – I emailed him and told him that I would meet him in the mall for lunch.  He was so happy to hear this and it was all set.  First of all, I asked for a day off from work which surprised everybody because I never took a day from work.  My whole life was working – I even lost lots of vacation days because I never used them.

 

I met Dan at the appointed time and place and he bought me my favorite lunch – a shrimp salad sandwich and a seltzer.  He was a perfect gentleman and I listened to him talk and knew he was intelligent – he was also very sweet.  Actually, he told everyone later on that I did all the talking but that wasn’t true.  We sat there and talked for hours.  All I know is that the sun was shining when I walked into that mall and by the time we left, it was dark outside.  Yes – we talked that long.  He walked me to my car and I kissed him on the check and thanked him for lunch.  Dan was from the old school, the kind of gentleman who pulls your chair out for you and tips his hat on meeting you, etc.  He opened my car door for me and while I was driving home I thought to myself “that fellow is going to be part of my life” 

 

As it turned out, while I was meeting with Dan, my daughter called the office to talk to me and was told that I took a day off.  She was completely floored – she knew I never took a day off work. So, when I got home that evening, there were several messages from my daughter looking for an explanation.  I called her back and she said “Mom, did you have to go to a doctor, what was wrong?”  I sort of stammered and said “No, I didn’t have to go to a doctor – I met someone for lunch at the mall.”  She then said “who did you meet?”  I started to stammer and she said “Mom, did you meet a man?”  I said, “Actually, yes, I did meet a man for lunch”.  She said “Oh my goodness, I am SO happy.  I have been telling you for along time to get a life and it looks like you are finally doing it.”  Needless to say, after we got off the phone, she called her brothers to report the “news”.  The rest is history.

 

After months of dating, Dan asked me to marry him and I said yes because I really fell in love with him.

 

Dan had always wanted to travel and see the world – now that he was retired.  I told him about my fear of flying and he explained to me how I would be safer in a plane than in a car.  He started to get all those travel magazines and one day I agreed to fly to Paris with him.    Yes – I was terrified but I wanted to make Dan happy.  The day of the flight, we had a limo pick us up and take us to Newark Airport. We checked in and then went to get a bite to eat.  I was feeling tense but I was handling it.  Then it was boarding time and we were directed to our seats and I started to feel the tension in me mounting.  The engines made lots of noise and we started to move and then I felt the plane take off.  Then I lost it.  I started to shake and cry – I was terrified.  Thank goodness it was so dark in the plane and so much noise from the engines that the people around me couldn’t hear me.  Dan really was upset.  He said he knew I was afraid of flying but he never fully understood how afraid I really was.  He whispered in my ear that he was sorry I was so frightened and he felt bad for ever asking me to do this.

 

Well, that was the start of my travelling.  We have since travelled to over 49 countries and yes, I was scared every time I went.  But I knew it was making Dan happy and that’s how I managed to do it.  Once the plane landed, I had a wonderful time. People always ask me which country I like the best and it is difficult to answer that.  I guess I would have to say Italy and Israel.  Dan took lots of pictures and every time we got home, he put together a volume of pictures for that country.  My bookcase now has many, many volumes of travel memories. 

 

Dan has since passed away at age 93 and every time I take out one of volumes to look at it, it’s like travelling back to that country again.  My mind is filled with so many wonderful memories of the people we met and places we’ve seen.

 

So, yes – travelling has changed me.  I am a better person today than I was before all my travels.  I learned that people are the same the world over.  If you smile at them, they smile back.  And, although I don’t work full time anymore, I am still working part-time two days a week – only because I love to work and have responsibilities.   I miss Dan so much but for my mental health, I have kept myself involved with other activities.  I signed up for two bowling leagues, I go and work out at the gym every other day, I take country line dancing classes two nights a week and I also run a self-help mental health meeting one night a week.  I have learned to change my thoughts and move my muscles.  The muscles are the re-educators of the brain.

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Oh yes - travelling has changed me.  I don't know where to start.  I was always afraid of flying and then I met Dan who had this yen for travelling and seeing the world.  After much discussion we decided to take a trip to Paris.  I was honest and told him how afraid of flying I was but he managed to convince me that it was safer than driving in a car, etc. so we booked our flight.  We arrived at Newark Airport and I started to have second thoughts but kept them to myself.  We checked in and then went to have something to eat.  When we were boarding the plane, I started to feel the hair on the back of my head start to stand up but I didn't say anything to Dan - I didn't want to make him anxious about me. I heard the plane's engine start and a stewardess gave instructions on the do's and don'ts, etc.  I had this thought that I was going to die and that I would never see my children or grandchildren again.  Then, the plane took off and I started to shake uncontrollably.  I also started to cry from sheer terror.  Fortunately, the plane was dark and the engine was  making so much noise that no one saw me shaking or crying.  That is - no one except Dan.  He held me close and told me he was so sorry - that he knew I was afraid - but not THIS afraid.  He told me he was sorry he suggested the flight and he felt so bad.  Then I felt bad for making him feel so bad.  He just held me close and kept whispering things into my ear to try to calm me down.  This went on for about 30 minutes.   It took that long for me to stop crying and shaking.  Then I started to look all around me.  There were people reading, some had their shoes off, some were laughing and watching TV or their own movie that they brought with them,  some were just talking to each other as if they were in a restaurant - everyone seemed to be so relaxed.  I thought to myself "if everyone else can relax and enjoy this flight,  maybe I can too".  I calmed myself down and told Dan I as so sorry for acting the way that I did.  It was just the fact that I had never been on a plane before, etc.  He was so happy to see  me calm down.  Of course, I must admit that if the plane hit any air pockets and sort of shook, it really panicked me.  When the plane landed, I felt SO happy.  That was my first flight and I will never forget it.  I had the most wonderful time in Paris!

 

Over the years, we both travelled to over 49 countries - I know - you can't believe it - either can I.

I must tell you that I have never lost my fear of flying but I did manage to keep it under control.  We always had such a wonderful time visiting all these wonderful places and Dan make a photo album for each country we went to - he had the patience of a saint to do this.  He would write out something to put under each picture.  I did all the typing (since I am secretary and have typed since I was in high school).  He would insert under each picture exactly where we were and what we were seeing.  He had the patience of a saint to do this.

 

I have learned so much from travelling.  People are the same all over the world.  A smile goes a long way.  And - if you treat someone nice - they usually reciprocate.  Also, I've made a lot of friends from all over the world and still exchange Christmas cards with some of them.  There are so many funny stories of things that happened to us.  Once, while in Japan, we had a day free from our tour, so we ventured out by ourselves.  We stopped in a local restaurant and, of course, the menu was in Japanese.  We looked at the table next to us and noticed what the local people were eating so we told the waiter we wanted the same thing.  The waiter brought us first two big bowls of soup. He brought no spoons.  We looked around and noticed that other people in the restaurant were just picking up the bowl and slurping it down.  So, when in Rome, you do what the Romans do (in this case Japanese).  I picked up the bowl of soup and slurped it down - however most of it went all over my blouse.  We had a good laugh over this.  We loved Japan although Dan was a little disappointed because there was no snow on top of Mt. Fugi.  Smiley Happy

 

People always ask me what country did I like the best?   It is most difficult to answer that because we really enjoyed all the countries - but - if I am forced to narrow it down to two - I would have to say Israel and Italy.  And yes, even though I am still afraid of flying, I would go back to these two countries in a heart beat.  

 

Dan has now passed away but I still have all my travel books that he so meticulously put together for us.  Some days when I am feeling lonely, I take one of the travel books and "revisit" that country.

 

There is only one country that we didn't visit and that was Australia.  That's because I was still working full-time and it took so long to get there.  I only had just so many vacation days and we kept saying that once I retired - we were going there.

 

Well, life happens.  Dan passed away before I retired.  I am now working only two days a week (only because I love to work).  Dan was a retired school teacher, age 76, when I met him and he never understood my love of working.  He passed away at the age of 93.  I am now 86 and have so many wonderful memories of our life together.  So, yes, travelling has changed me for the BETTER! 

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Re: How has travel changed you?

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This is an article I recently wrote. It has copious pics to go with it.

Living Abroad While Black (LAWB…and old): In and Out of Peace Corps

Sequel to TWB: Traveling While Black*

                Four continents, 21 countries (including the USA), 19 states (including DC) and counting….

                My first trip abroad was when I was 19. I won a trip to Vancouver, British Colombia on The Dating Game. Although my male counterpart was the same age, I got a chaperone and he didn’t. She was a nice white lady.

 

                She noted that whenever we ran into other Blacks, we acknowledged each other. She found this very interesting and asked me to explain.** I hadn’t even realized we were doing it. But then I thought about it and understood it was part and parcel to my first experience with traveling while Black (TWB). It was repeated every time I trekked, in and out of the States, even in places that were predominantly Black like Jamaica. It was the first time I truly understood that I was a member of a universal family but not, to many, an individual.

 

When I arrived in Johannesburg in 2011 with 34 other Peace Corps invitees, in route to Kanye, Botswana where we would begin our in-country training, I was pulled out of the group and waived through immigration. They apparently thought I was South African and in the wrong line. The same thing happened the first time I came to Panama. The assumption was that I was Panamanian, and obviously not too bright. Since being here, three+ years, I have been asked if I was Colombian, Brazilian, Belizean

 

*'Traveling While Black' Guidebooks Aren't in Print Anymore — But They Still Resonate in Modern America, The NAACP’s decision to issue a travel advisory calls attention to the dangers that continue today. In the summer of 2017, the NAACP issued a  travel advisory for the state of Missouri.

 

**she also asked how I got my hair to go like that (natural, it was 1972 and Black women that didn’t straighten their hair were still the exception). I told her I rolled it one strand at a time on toilet paper during the full moon. For half a second, she believed it.

 

but not norteamericana….until I open my mouth. After being here for more than two years, another African-American woman close to my age came to visit. She’s been a frequent visitor and constantly, consistently mistaken for me and me for her.

 

               

                I share this to illustrate another persistent element of traveling and living abroad while Black –you’re very often reduced to a stereotype, not seen as an individual. I was not Karla, I was the Black woman. You simply become the representative of your race, your ethnicity but not necessarily your nationality, and certainly not just yourself.

 

                Some of my PC colleagues were told they weren’t ‘real Americans’ and host families expressed disappointment that they didn’t get one (read that to mean white person). Yet, we were expected to learn the local language, Setswana, faster than white Volunteers and to already have some knowledge of local culture, traditions. I even had one young woman tell me she didn’t know how to cut my natural hair because it was dyed blonde. This phenomenon was an eye opener.

 

                Before joining PC at 59, I described myself first as Black (African-American was acceptable), female and, as a distant third, American. I was very Afro Centric, wearing African prints, changed my name for a while to Amani Nia, in love with the Motherland, especially Tanzania. When I got off the plane in Johannesburg and was waived through, I announced I was home. I wasn’t.

 

Living rather than simply visiting, I found very quickly, and shockingly, that in a country of almost two million Blacks, I absolutely had more in common with a handful of predominantly white Americans. It had nothing to do with ethnicity but with culture. I was, am American, Black certainly, but  most def American. I learned the true meaning of culture in its many facets that included not just music, dance, language, art, but such things like tribalism. I discovered my identity was defined in large part by not only my ethnicity but my nationality, even though it’s a tie to a nation that has never fully embraced me because of my ethnicity. Fascinating. To many there, I wasn’t African but I wasn’t really American either.

 

Being a PCV required that I, to the best of my ability, integrate into the communities I lived and worked in, learning the language, the taboos, do’s and don’ts. I was advised early on to leave my ‘American at the door’. At first, I thought this very good advice but found that although there were times when it was necessary to do just that (i.e. adapting to a very patriarchal society by covering my hair, entering certain places via the entrance reserved for females, giving up my seat to a male at a funeral, and more), I found there were times when it was unequivocally crucial that I not only bring my American in but to put it on the table, wind it up and let it dance its ass off. Integrate, sure, but not at the expense of remaining true to yourself.

 

I became even more me than before.

 

But even in my private life, ‘isms’ were an issue, colorism and tribalism. During my final year living in Botswana, I dated a young man from Zimbabwe. I thought our age difference would raise eyebrows (I’m six years older than his mother), but it was his nationality and our skin color that were the apparent problems. Those that weren’t part of the ruling class, Batswana, with ancestral roots in South Africa, were looked down upon by many. This included the indigenous people, the San*, who were in my opinion treated much like Native Americans had been, moved off their traditional lands, put into settlements, separated from their children who were sometimes put into boarding schools far from their families.

 

*aka Bushman. I was once told the San ‘were not civilized’ which, I guess, explained and excused their treatment

 

                Zimbabweans, many of whom are immigrants in Botswana, were sometimes also viewed negatively, sorta like how some Americans view Mexicans and other migrants. I was told that the ‘boyfriend’ was too dark, there was too much of a contrast between my skin color and his. Colorism.

The people, the sights, the wildlife, the adventures were extraordinary and I am truly grateful. But staying true to me was one of and probably the most important lesson I learned as a result of traveling and living in Botswana. I brought it with me to Panama where I have lived for three years.

 

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Re: How has travel changed you?

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In January 1996, I went to Antarctica!  Not on a big, cruise ship, with all the amenities, but on a former Russian Ice Breaker. The ship carried 38 people, including the crew! 

I went by myself. I didn't know anyone until I met my fellow travelers in tge airport in Chile. The plane carrying me and 2 other tour members was 6 hours late arriving, so instead of showering and getting some sleep, as soon as I dropped my duffle bag and backpack at the hotel, we started the city tour. 

My roommate was assigned by the tour line. She was actually younger than my daughter, totally different race, careers, urban vs wilderness living, she was childless and had never been married. I had married too young, divorced by 19 and raised my daughter, worked full-time and went to college at night full-time. We somehow clicked and for the next two weeks aboard the ship in Antarctica, we never had a cross word. I still have the watercolor she painted of a mesa iceberg, on my living room wall. 

I climbed an extinct volcano, visited an abandoned whale factory, watched as a whale whose eyeball was the size of the Zodiac I was in, kept pace with us for over 30 minutes, almost stepped on a walrus who was sleeping after mating, watched dolphins playing with their newborn calves in Half Moon Bay, visited an abandoned Russian Science Station (gross!), saw more than 20 different types of penguins and their hatchlings (the adults always had the right of way), ate more than 4,000 calories daily and still lost weight due to the cold and exercise, survived -38° F weather, "greasy ice" closing in on our ship, storms in the Drake Passage that tipped the ship more than 60° and we had to belt ourselves into our bunks, an international group of tour guides, a Russian crew, and wishing the trip would never end! 

I discovered I was capable of doing things that I thought this city girl would neither do or like. I loved it all!

I hope in a few years, when my granddaughter is old enough, she will want to go on the trip with me. I would love to experience it all again, through her eyes. Unfortunately, some of the icebergs have melted and the land areas are now covered with water! I dont know if anything will be there in 8 years! 

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Since October of 2017 I had been planning to spend 10 days in the Lake George area camping with my siblings.  I had been feeling a lack of self direction and wanted to go see my family.  The trip was 1500 miles in each direction, which I was breaking into 500 mile days.  As the time for the trip approached, I was a little nervous about my ability to drive the whole thing myself.  But after the first day on the road I felt so good at having done it, I couldn't wait for the next day! It really made a difference to my outlook to know I could do this!

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