Traveling Through The Fear

I never considered myself brave until I stood up to terrorists and refused to cancel my travel plans. I'll pack my bags, plan my trips, and I will have a good time. But I'll do it knowing that being brave is part of the plan.

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I'll admit it. I'm pretty scared sometimes to travel. After the attacks in England, I actually considered canceling our trip to London. But that is what the want, isn't it?

I stood in horror watching from Seattle, as video of the attacks in London came through. Minutes earlier I had been looking at restaurants in London and planning to visit the Borough Market.  Our hotel overlooks the London bridge, overlooks where people died.  We could have been out there.

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This isn't my first time.

I've lived through terrorist attacks already.  I just didn't think of them the same way.

We were in Baltimore during the DC sniper attacks.  Each day we woke up to see if they had killed anyone we knew. We avoided getting gas, ran from our cars into the grocery stores and hid our children off playgrounds. But we lived.  We were part of terrorism, but with a different agenda, but the drive to cause terror was still there.

What made this very real was that the terrorists weren't caught immediately, we didn't know who or how many. We didn't even know exactly where.

I still remember looking at every car that drove slow, fearing we were next. The reality was that for 3 weeks, they drove around killing random people. They murdered 10 strangers without any reason at all.  3 weeks that felt like 3 years.  But life went on.

9/11 wasn't enough.

It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet I still remember the silence.  We were still living outside of Baltimore when 9/11 happened. We all know the stories, many of us still remember where we were when we heard.  We had friends at the towers in NYC and family in DC.  Terrorists came for our friends and family, and for a few hours, we were scrambling to call them, find out more, and scared this wasn't the end.

Yet the thing I remember the most was the silence.  I stood outside, looking for my husband who had to go into our sons' school and physically take them out of their classrooms because the schools didn't have a plan on how to send the children home.  I stood on the steps looking around and the silence struck me.  No cars on the highway, no sound of trucks going by.  There was a stark contrast to the day before.  No helicopters or planes overhead. Everyone just stopped moving for a little while.

But after a few days, life actually went on.  It took some time before I was brave enough to get on a plane.  But that next summer, we packed up the kids and boarded our flight.  You can't let terrorists or tragedies stop your life.  Not now… not ever. Or else they win.

Don't stop living!

I'm still planning where I'm going and planning all of the yummy food we will eat. We are not backing down and hiding from scary things.  Life has to keep moving forward and we have to keep living. Pack your bags and book your flights!

An article I read suggested that it is far more likely that you'll run into trouble in your own car, in your own town, just simply driving than traveling the world. Honestly, that made me feel better about taking the time I have to enjoy the world and going out to see what's beyond my horizon, instead of sitting in my house afraid of what could happen if I leave.

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I've taken greater risks without even knowing it.

I am going to go explore ancient ruins this fall.  I'm headed to London in a couple of weeks to ride the double-decker buses and wave to the Queen! Because I've taken greater risks and lived to tell the stories.

I've held on tight to a boy and his motorcycle as the wind tangled my hair.  And I lived to be old enough to shake my head at that craziness.

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Photo Credit: Wesley Tingey

I've driven across the country back and forth a few times, ate snacks at late-night truck stops, I talked to strangers. I love the feeling of going your own way, exploring along the route, and not letting time be your guide.  Just go… be free.  Turn off the media and turn on your sense of adventure.

The best way to move through your fears of traveling is to grab your bags and go!  You are more likely to come back with great memories than scary stories.  You can't hold back chasing your fireflies just because someone else wants you to be afraid in the dark.

Fulfilling A Passion For Travel After Cancer

 

Fulfilling A Passion For Travel After Cancer

Hey everyone, I'd like to share a fantastic story with you today of a young woman I recently met who has a fascinating story about learning to love traveling the world after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Sam Rose has a great story about moving forward in her life and discovering new places that inspire her to live beyond her diagnosis and live each day full of life instead of fearing the future.

I hope you will feel as inspired as I was by her story and her adventures. – Crysta

Fulfilling A Passion For Travel After Cancer

I love traveling. Well, not so much the actual traveling to places, but I love being on holiday! I’ve been to a few different places now, and I feel very lucky that I have been able to do this despite a cancer diagnosis and major surgery.

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010. After a trip to the emergency room in January, the next few months brought tests and hospital visits, and in July I had my colon removed. I had a colostomy bag from July until the following January, when I had the colostomy reversed and an internal pouch created. I later discovered I had Lynch Syndrome, which is a genetic condition that means I’m more likely to develop certain types of cancer in my lifetime.

Thinking about all the things that happened in 2010 and 2011 is difficult because my timeline is so fuzzy. I know when most of my hospital visits happened but I couldn’t tell you when I went to a genetic counselor and found out I had Lynch Syndrome – I couldn’t even tell you what year that was. I can’t tell you when we went on holiday in those years, but I know that we did so a few times –probably as more of a way to distract ourselves from what was happening than anything else, though nobody said so out loud. I will take you through the places I went to and the things I have done so far as accurately as I can, in the hopes of showing that a life-changing diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean an end to your adventures.

2010 – Travelling in the UK

2010 is very fuzzy for me, but I think my parents and I may have taken three trips in the UK – to Portsmouth, Great Yarmouth, and Poole. All are seaside resorts with beaches, shopping and arcades. We went to Poole in spring around the time I was looking for my first full-time job – so before it all really kicked off. We took a tour around the south coast – Bournemouth and Chichester also made our list. I think my parents wanted to distract us all from what was going on, and it did turn out to be a great respite.

The couple hours’ drive to each place was a short enough journey for me to handle, and we didn’t plan anything too taxing during that year.

travel after cancer

In 2010, I also went to London to see one of my favourite bands, 30 Seconds To Mars, twice – once in February and then in November when I had my colostomy bag. My colostomy bag proved to be no problem, but I know Sam Cleasby, an ulcerative colitis blogger over at So Bad Ass, has had a few negative experiences when going to gigs and festivals, including being refused access to the disabled toilets because she doesn’t “look” disabled.

I like to think if I ever needed to use the disabled toilets and was refused, I would teach the person in question a thing or two, but in reality, I may be too timid. There is a lot of work to be done to change people’s attitudes around invisible illnesses – but that is another blog entirely!

2011 – Orlando, Florida

Florida is my favourite place in the whole world. I’d add “so far” to the end of that statement but I really don’t think anywhere else could ever match up in my eyes. It feels like another planet entirely. So when we planned to go back in 2011, I was really happy.

I remember having a check-up at the hospital that year and feeling so glad when the results came back clear. It was such a relief to know that nothing was going to get in the way of me going back to my favourite place.

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2012 – Portsmouth, Jersey and Cheddar Gorge

Portsmouth is one of my favourite places in the UK, so it was great to travel there again. We spent a couple of days there, then came home for a day or two before flying to Jersey. Not the US’s New Jersey, but the little island in the English Channel near France. It is absolutely beautiful, and we had many a happy holiday there when I was a child. The clifftops, the beaches and the sea are glorious.

travel after cancer

In September 2012 my parents and I also went to Cheddar Gorge and Weston-super-Mare, which are both in the west of England. The caves at Cheddar Gorge are really pretty – and of course, that’s where they keep the cheese!

2013 – Orlando and New York City

After having cancer I decided it was more important than ever to have a bucket list, to make sure I do all the things I dream of doing. New York City was on that list, and I asked my mum if she would go with me.

She agreed, but my dad decided we would get terribly lost on our own, so he should come with us – and 8 hours is a long flight if you’re only going somewhere for a few days, so he also thought we should go somewhere else while we were out there. And that’s how we ended up spending nine days in Orlando and six days in New York.

New York was so busy and a bit of a culture shock, but very exciting and I’d love to go back one day.

2014 – Bruges, Porto Santo and Amsterdam

In 2014 my partner and I had our first holiday abroad together, to a tiny Portuguese island near Madeira called Porto Santo. There isn’t much going on in Porto Santo, but we explored the island in a 4×4, enjoyed the untouched 9km of glorious beach next to our hotel, and were spoilt with a free room upgrade.

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The same year we took a two-day cruise to Bruges, Brussels as a special treat with my work. The company was celebrating its 21st birthday, and paid for all 20 or so members of staff and their partners to go on the cruise. Another thing to tick off the bucket list – and cruising is so much less hassle than dealing with airports.

Curaçao sunset

After that, my parents made plans to go to Amsterdam, and I’m not about to pass up the chance to go somewhere new. Amsterdam was a city I immediately felt at home in – I think there are some places that give you a great vibe as soon as you arrive there, and this was one of them.

2015 – Fuerteventura and Gothenburg

Thanks to a love of YouTuber PewDiePie, I developed an interest in the Swedish language, so when my parents suggested we go to Sweden, I was all over it. We went to Gothenburg in the summer, and a week or two later I was flying out of the country again, this time to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands with my partner. A little less sleepy than Porto Santo, but just as pretty and a little hotter.

2016 – Orlando, Florida

Another trip to Florida, but this was a special one. This was a three week trip instead of our usual two weeks, and we were flying premium – all to celebrate my mum’s retirement. We’ve booked another two week trip for May 2018, and I can’t wait.

2017 – Stockholm

In July my parents and I ventured back to Sweden, this time to visit the capital. I had hoped that my Swedish was better than my first visit, but unfortunately, I still can’t manage an actual conversation. Maybe on my next trip! Stockholm was beautiful – the archipelago means it offers the best of both worlds in terms of bustling city life and chilled out nature.

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Making Provisions For Travelling

So it turns out, you don’t need a colon to go travelling. You do need travel insurance, and of course any medication you need both regularly for just-in-case situations. I have been known to buy my own toilet paper while on holiday because the stuff provided at the hotel was so rough! When I’m away from the hotel exploring or going on day trips I like to know I’m not too far from a toilet in case I need one, so I like to suss out the toilet situation first. As long as I’m prepared, I’m happy.

 Lymphedema after cancer

I know it isn’t always that easy, and sometimes our bodies do seem to be plotting against us. The trick is to make accommodations for ourselves when we need to, and to not make big plans that are going to be impractical or wear us out. When we do have an opportunity to get away, it can be just what we need to forget about the medical world, even if only for a little while. And most importantly, it is still possible to live well and create great memories even after a life-changing diagnosis.

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Bio:Sam Rose is a 29 year old colon cancer survivor, diagnosed with Lynch syndrome. She lives in England with her partner and in her spare time she enjoys rock music, learning Swedish and eating chocolate. Sam is a digital marketer by day and a poet, writer and editor by night. You can find her on Twitter @writersamr, and at her website http://www.writersam.co.uk.

Flying with Service Dogs

Service Dog - training

I love traveling on exciting expeditions with my service dog, Wynter.

While we have done road trips from the East coast to the west, extended day trips, and overnights. But until recently, Wynter and I have never had the chance to fly together. I often fly with my husband and daughter, choosing to leave my service dog home on her own vacation away from the stress of air travel. But this time she and I were on our own.

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Planning For A Smooth Trip

Wynter is amazing. She's alert, smart, and always keeping her eye on me. So planning this trip was something I knew she could do, but I planned ahead to be sure she was as comfortable as possible.

pier - Service Dog

After contacting my airlines and letting them know I was traveling with a service dog, I was happily surprised at how smoothly I was able to book our flight. Because she is a larger dog, we chose to upgrade my ticket to first class and the bulkhead seat, so she had more room. Although she tucks in nice and tight under most seats, this flight was a long one and I also wanted to make sure I wasn't holding my feet off of her and cramping up.

Vet Check Is A Must

Next, I took her in for her pre-flight physical exam. As always she got a clean bill of health and updated shot records. Both are needed for her travel.  In this exam, the vet checks her heart, makes sure she is physically ready for a long working day.

service dog on a plane

Flying is not easy for dogs.  This isn't a fun trip to the dog park.  It is exhausting and very stressful.  So if you are just taking your dog along because you think it will be fun to go on vacation with your pet, love your dog enough to get a good dog sitter and leave them home.

After being cleared to fly and getting her flight clearance form filled out by our vet, we were ready to go.

Training Is A MUST

Wynter's “down stay” is great and I knew she was small enough to wiggle down under the seats, but I am glad we moved to the front to give her more room.

But there is more to flying with a service dog than just getting on the plane.  You have to consider the long lines getting into security, hectic travel rush, and lots of strange noises that most dogs have never heard before.

Wynter has been working for almost 9 years, and for the first time, she heard the “Whoosh” of subway air-brakes, and it actually scared her.  I know she's getting older and her time to retire has been here a while.  She works less and less each year.  But I had no idea that this sound would make her so upset. I felt terrible.

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Once we got to the gate, she was fine and ready to settle down for a 5-hour nap.  However, many dogs won't react as well to upset and being scared.  So please consider this before your flight as well.

Traveling with a dog isn't easy.

There are extra things to pack, more planning involved, and yes even thought out “potty” breaks that must go into the scheduling. Wynter didn't like the indoor “doggy bathrooms” and refused to go when we landed.  I am thankful that she's a pro and I had withheld her food from the night before.

Here are a few Must Haves when traveling with a Service Dog:

  • Water bowl & bottled water
  • food bowl & food
  • treats
  • travel bed or blanket
  • vaccination records and vet safe to travel slip
  • leash, collar with tags, and waste bags
  • downtime toys or bones
  • map of where airport doggy “bathrooms” are located.

As of 2016, all American airports that have over 10,000 travelers per year are required to have an area for service dogs to do their business before their flights.  This means many airports are busy converting spare space to accommodate our 4 legged friends.  I love this, and it is another reason why I am finding myself brave enough to bring my SD along.service dog at the park

If you are traveling with your Service Dog this year, we would love to read about your adventures.  Please share your links in the comments!  Do you have a Service Dog Twitter or Facebook?  Share those too!Love, Crysta - Dancing With Fireflies

More to Life than BS – Travel Blogging

 

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I love reading travel blogs. Who doesn't love the beautiful pictures and exciting locations> The idea of travel makes me daydream of exploring the world and swimming in warm waters, however, what I don't love about reading travel blogs is thinking that I am too old at 40 something to enjoy traveling as much as these 20 something seems to be doing.

There are hundreds of travel blogs being written every day. Which ones matter?

Travel blogging is trendy

Travel blogs are filled with beautiful, thin, model perfect tanned girls in tiny bikinis that are taking to their laptops and writing blogs about their dreamlike lives from perfect white beaches. Their counterparts are also studs with perfect smiles and abs of steel who cliff dive into aquamarine pools after trekking 50 miles through the jungles. I likely would die from heat exhaustion and be complaining the whole time. It's true… I hate being sweaty.

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On one of my adventures, I spotted this amazing building… and I went right in and asked for a tour. And I got one!

I want to read more blogs about real people going out and doing awesome things. And, truthfully, I want to read about what NOT to do. The other day, I read a really great article  ( DANG it, I wish I'd saved it and now I can't find it.)  about reasons you should NOT go to Mykonos.  And it was fantastic and real, and honestly, I am so glad that I read it before booking my trip there.  The top reason is that I hate getting to a place that looks amazing and wanting to relax and being smothered by 2000 other people who also are exhausted from trying to get to this perfect relaxing place.

Be YOU

When I write about travel it is a bit different. Recently I  wrote tips about not going to London in the summer because they don't have air conditioning and you will die from sweating in the tubes! When I was planning my trip, I had no idea how hot it would be and the lack of air conditioning was crazy. So,I try to write about the real things that happen on my trips without sounding like I am complaining.  I want my readers to know what to really expect. Not to mention, who really wants to go on a 3-hour hike uphill in Mexico to see some 1,000 other people somehow manage to make it up there without pulling a muscle, crowding in front of the lookout spot with their selfie sticks.  I write about finding a good lounge chair and getting a nap.

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I can't go back in time with my current bank account and start over.  And I wouldn't trade the life I've had with my family and friends to be able to tan on the beach with my 20 something-year-old body. I worked hard then to be able to take time now and enjoy life now.

Where the heck do 20 Somethings so much money to take a month in Bali before heading to Mexico for margaritas? Don't they have jobs, student loans, what about car payments?

I know life is different for the 20 somethings now. They were raised differently, given different goals in life. I know, I raised 5 of them!

When I was your age!

At their age, I was chasing kids and trying to keep them from cliff diving from our roof. ( Yes, they really did climb on the roof and jump off… into a pile of leaves and one of them did, in fact, put a branch through his foot. Thanks Uncle Nic, for watching them that day.. great idea. )

Explore

We didn't have the time or the money to travel to the world's best beaches. We were trying to keep our kids and ourselves with a roof over our head.

Now after almost all of the kids have left… and came back.. and left. Oh wait.. some are here, waiting for another one to come back. Yeah.. that room is empty now. Now after we have gotten to a better spot in our lives, it is our time to travel the world and enjoy all that we worked so hard for.

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No Time for BS

But the one thing that I really have to embrace is that I just don't give a shit about being perfect.  There is so much pressure to have the perfect body, to travel so many times a year to places beyond, and to live this giant life.  I am telling you that there are plenty of great moments to be had by just looking around, taking a trip to the neighbor town and exploring new places in your own state.

You don't have to break the bank to carve out time and a quiet moment enjoying the summer breeze at a local state park.  You can chase your travel dreams and still be smart about where you go.  I love the advice that I embraced many years ago.. If it looks too good to be real, it's probably fake. Don't take the fake. Say no to fake bodies, fake friends, and fake living.

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Adventures in Columbus,Indiana

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Columbus, Indiana

My husband and I like to travel. When we get a chance to explore new places, we are usually up for an adventure. We have voyaged across the country several times in search of unique places and adorable small towns.

We like to try new things and often we are thrilled to find local favorites off the beaten path. So when our friend asked us to come with him on a fun get-away trip to the unusual town of Columbus, Indiana we were up for it.

Like us, Nick loves exploring new places and finding dining experiences that don’t belong to a chain. So we make great travel friends and the anticipation of a week-long adventure made us giddy with excitement over our travel plans and the food!

Getting on the road began with flying to Kentucky.

Our adventure to this unique little town began with a flight to Lexington, Kentucky. This airport is one of the nicer airports I have visited.

We travel a lot and when you find an airport with clean bathrooms, plenty of seating and enough power outlets for charging electronics you find that everyone is a little happier.

After renting a car, we were headed out of town for a 2 hour drive towards Columbus, Indiana.

tumblr_msueg2zH6y1st5lhmo1_1280The countryside is beautiful. Lots of wide open spaces hold room for horse country and plenty of green space.

My husband and I usually enjoy car trips, especially when we have lively conversations Nick is always good for striking up odd conversations that go on for hours and car trips go by fast when he’s around.

However as we started getting closer to the area we would be staying, the conversations grew quiet as we found ourselves in a barren bleak area.  The buildings looked like they hadn’t been maintained since the early 60’s and as we grew hungry our concerns mounted. Where in the world had we ventured to?

 

We need Food!

After searching reviews on Yelp for local favorites we pulled into a quaint Mexican food place. I however had to pause as I approached the door and read the specialties: Tongue, Liver, and Chicken.

As a vegetarian you learn very fast to ask questions because eating animal products when you haven’t in a long time or ever leads to a fast reaction in your stomach and that is NOT something you want to happen on a road trip.

“Is there lard in the tortillas?” my husband asked the hostess. “Yes?” she asked puzzled.

“What about in the beans and rice?” He asked, thinking over our food options here. “Of course!” she responded quickly

And we turned right around and politely left, then got to the car and sat there wondering if we were going to have this problem all week. Looking around the area, our trepidations grew. Maybe we should have planned this out a little better?

Road Trip Advice: Always have a food plan.

However Columbus, Indiana is a sweet Mayberry town full of surprises and delights. And boy we did find some great places to eat on our stay.

Bistro 310 is a hip place with an expansive menu full of original creations from a top chef.  The starter of Garlic Fries was a great way to begin a great lunch. The Caesar salad is a large plate with fresh lettuce and a house made dressing that was perfectly balanced. The Green burger is a freshly made veggie burger that is indeed green and filled with flavor. Similarly the Green Pasta is a green pesto sauce with goat cheese and pine nuts.  The service was fantastic and it certainly changed our first impressions of Columbus.

Or next stop was to check into the Hotel Indigo. This hotel is beautiful and very unique. We stay in a lot of hotels and my biggest complaint with them all is the dark hallways of the upper floors. They all have the same feel, except for the hotel Indigo.  When the elevator doors opened I had to gasp at the bright contemporary feel of the hotel’s hall. Hardwood floors and bright colored walls filled with gorgeous artwork greeted us and led us to our hip modern rooms. Outfitted with comfortable furniture, a keurig coffee maker stocked with a variety of teas and coffees, and available upon request… a beautiful aquarium with fish.

Miles, the hotel ambassador dog gave us a warm greeting and melted us with his cuteness. A pet friendly hotel was something unusual and very cool. We can’t wait to come again and bring our dogs to meet Miles.

The rest of our stay was filled with delightful little shops, a tattoo parlor where Nick got some work done, and an ice cream museum with amazing ice cream. You will learn all about about soda fountains and mechanical music at Zaharakos.

All in all we had a great adventure in Columbus, Indiana. The local shops are unique and most of them take credit, however they are a little slower because everything is rang up the old fashion way. Some of the restaurants do not take credit, so bring cash.

By the way, the tattoo turned out AMAZING and well worth the trip.

 

hemp oil tattoo balm

Columbus is a quiet but cool little town. It's great for walking around and checking out the town's historic buildings. It is one of the safest cities in the United States and people there are very nice. If you are more of the outdoors kind of person, there is a canoe livery, Blue's Canoes, that offers canoeing, rafting and kayaking trips on the nearby Driftwood River.

Have you ever been to Columbus, Indiana? What did you do and what did you enjoy the most?

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