Travel Tips and Tricks for Your Next Trip!

15 Travel Tips and Tricks for Your Next Trip!

I discovered these travel tips and tricks while traveling a ton last year. Say that three times fast. I thought I’d share my favorites. Oh, man, now I’m rhyming. These tips save time, help with packing, and have made traveling so much more enjoyable. Travel season is almost upon us!

I hope to travel again soon if Danny can get out of jury duty. *crosses all body parts*

Travel accessories - purse, dinky wallet and carabiner

Carabiners and Pint-sized Wallets

You’ve seen carabiners hanging on backpacks, maybe even on purses. I hang one on mine. They are so important for keeping things together. I’ve spent hours looking for my car keys. What a waste!

  • Clip a carabiner to Airbnb apartment and rental car keys to keep them together. I can easily find them in the great abyss of my purse or backpack since my carabiner is gargantuan.
  • I pared down to a tiny wallet. My driver’s license can be seen through the plastic making it super easy to use. It also holds my credit cards, cash and important stuff including business cards for my Wild Ride. You never know who I might meet along the way.
  • Since my pint-sized wallet has a ring attached, I clip it to my keys to keep from freaking out while going through airport security. I can clip it to a belt loop too.
  • THE OBVIOUS – I snap my headphones, hat, and water/coffee bottle to my backpack.

A Carryon Pack

I’m done with carryon bags. I’ve used almost every kind out there, but they are unwieldy to navigate down the narrow airplane’s aisle. Once stashed away in the overhead compartment, I always think of something I forgot to take out. Since I can still stuff something under the seat, I tend to take too much along on the plane.

Now I use a backpack! It carries all my important stuff: The crown jewels and my crown, of course, headphones, laptop, phone, book, camera, cords, and chargers. If I’m not wearing a jacket or sweater, I throw one in. I carry a protein bar, just in case we sit on the tarmac for a few hours. It happens.

Phone charger for the rental car.

I’ve “donated” a few phone chargers to Hertz, but they come in so handy when needing a charge while on the road so I always bring one along.

The Best Tip and Trick? Social Media!

socialmediaiconcollage

Twitter

I’ve used Twitter several times to contact people in the area I’m visiting. One time, I tweeted that I was heading to #Scotland and a young woman tweeted that her cousin Adhamh O Broin ran tours. We didn’t connect in Scotland, but ironically met in Boulder a few months later!

A selfie with Adhamh O Broin

I also check to see what’s trending to stay on top of the news. I found out about the London Bridge stabbings right before traveling there a few days later. Then I found out in person how they deal with terrorism.

Instagram:

When deciding where to go or what to bring, I always check out the city’s hashtag on Instagram. It’s been amazing to find out what locals wear and what they do to have fun. Plus the most Instagramable locations will trend. It’s an insider’s view!

If everyone is dressed to the nines, I bring my evening gown. If jeans are de rigueur, I pack accordingly but still bring a nice outfit for going out at night.

Same with outerwear. I paid close attention to how locals dressed for outdoor activities when heading to Europe for a month last summer. I planned for rain when I discovered several soggy Instagrammers.

Blogs

Sometimes when Googling an area, I want a personal viewpoint. I’ll Google the village, town or city with the word blog afterward. It’s a great way to find a new perspective before traveling.

Pinterest

I’ve pinned loads of travel information to boards on Pinterest. I always check to make sure the pretty photograph is linked to an informative blog post. This is a great way to make a list of things to do while visiting a new location. I especially love the unusual ones. Sometimes getting off the beaten path is the road to amazing discovery!

Culloden House view from the gate

The standing stones of Scotland

Waze 

This driving app will get you from point A to B no matter if you’re in Boulder or on a winding road in Belgium.

Weather

This can be a nightmare and very unpredictable as you know. I don’t ever check until two days before since no one really knows beyond three days. I hope for the best and plan for the worst. The last thing I want to do is sit inside while waiting for sunshine. I throw on a hat and jacket and go!

When we were in Scotland, we were shocked by how many slogged through the downpours while visiting castles. I bring a ball cap to keep the rain off my face.

Sterling Castle on a rainy day

What not to wear!

Layering, layering, layering. Whenever I bring some super thick sweater, it always sits all lonely-like in my suitcase unless it’s snowing and we’re heading out for dinner. Coming from the most unpredictable weather in Colorado where nights can be cool during our most scorching summers, I’ve learned to prepare for everything. Except for rain. We’re always on the lookout for those little black rainclouds.

Athletic wear. Even if I don’t plan on going to the gym while on vacation, there are days when I want to protect a clean shirt or stay warm so I wear a lightweight poly T-shirt underneath.

Thick Socks. I bought the most wonderful pair of super soft plush socks. They are great slippers when on vacation.

Loungewear. Because lounging.

Bring a scarf. Wear it on the plane to keep from inhaling every sneeze. Not a scarf wearer? Wear a hoodie and hide inside it. You don’t want to come down with the sniffles.

I could go on and on but I have to start packing. I’m an Aries optimist!

Do you like to travel? Are you a last minute person or do you have to plan everything?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

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Skiing Heavenly is Pretty Much, Heavenly!

Where do Colorado skiers and boarders go on spring vacation? To ski and ride Heavenly Ski Resort at Lake Tahoe of course. We soon found out why it was aptly named, Heavenly. We found it most heavenly. Come along on my surreal photo journey.

Heavenly ride to the top

Situated in South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada and California border there were surprising differences. The Nevada side looked out over the mountain range and remained sheltered during snowstorms. The California side was, well, you’ll see!

The Nevada side of Heavenly Ski Resort

Heavenly snow totals piled up during the week!

Skiing, snowboarding, Heavenly, Lake Tahoe

Snow clung to trees like hoar frost, making the snowy heaven complete.

Top of Heavenly

With Lake Tahoe in the backdrop on the California side, we enjoyed the incredibly beautiful landscape.

Heavenly view of Lake Tahoe

With nary a liftline, we skied most of the mountain.

A heavenly view from the top

We skied hard and played harder!

heavenly moments

When we finally stopped for lunch, we spent time pondering deep thoughts while enjoying the outdoors.

Deep thoughts

We took breaks when needed….

taking a breather at heavenly

And then skied the catwalk back home.

Check out the video! The view of Lake Tahoe is surreal.

Heavenly Ski Resort is Heavenly Family Vacation in Lake Tahoe

 

Have you gone on a wintry vacation? Do you prefer the beach? What’s on your bucket list?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride.

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What to do in Reno when you have four hours to spare!

When some of our bags didn’t make the flight from Denver to Reno, Nevada, the six of us hit the road in a mega-vehicle to entertain ourselves for four hours.

First on the agenda? Lunch! We found Midtown Eats and enjoyed a filling meal complete with industrial surroundings and a lively atmosphere.

Enjoying lunch in Reno!

In a town known for its quickie divorces, we found a unique advertisement for another way to deal with regret – Tattoo removal.

Tattoo removal in Reno

From the residential area, we drove downtown and were greeted quite stupendously.

Downtown Reno sign

When we noticed “striking architecture” up ahead, we decided to take a closer look.

The International Bowling Museum

The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame was free and very quiet. In fact, we were the only people there. The only sound came from a loop explaining the history of bowling shoes.

Entrance to the International Bowling Museum.

Huge bowling ball and pin sculpture

As we drove down the street, I noticed a peculiar park where children played called Playa Art Park. It looked as if Tim Burton had been its creative consultant. A child climbed out of the eye socket before I snapped the picture.

Skull sculpture in a Reno Nevada park

Only in Nevada!

Nukes license plate

My son, Kelly, discovered a most unique way to travel in Reno. A TARDIS!

Reno Tardis

Since Nevada is home to lots of weird phenomena and alien sightings, it wasn’t that surprising to discover an INFINITY RAINBOW.

infinity rainbow

Weird phenomena

We collected our luggage and the six of us headed to Lake Tahoe.

More of my wild adventure to come!

Have you been to Reno? Do you have plans to take a vacation this spring? Have you ever seen an infinity rainbow around the sun?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

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What to do in Reno if you have four hours to spare

10 Reasons Why a Challenge is Worth the Whiplash

As we get into our comfort zone of routine, we challenge ourselves less and less.

I took on a challenge last weekend and learned why facing fear and abject humiliation is important for personal growth. I still have a lot of growing up to do. Ask anyone!

I’ve been a skier since the seventh grade. It took years to master the intermediate runs and even more time on the slopes to tackle the expert black diamonds, and moguls, let alone the double blacks. I’ve been heli-skiing where the guide led me right into the trees of Canada while I prayed Hail Marys. I got the hang of it and my skiing skills greatly improved. Now I can ski just about any part of a mountain.

I skied this bowl right after I was released into the wild after double boobectomies.

Double black diamond sign at Breckenridge

Here’s the thing. You can slap on a pair of skis and make it down the hill pretty easily in “pizza position,” toes pointed toward each other like a plow. But it takes tons of practice to “carve up” the harder, steeper, faster runs. It’s a bell curve created over years and years.

Learning to snowboard is the polar opposite of skiing.

The beginning of the learning curve for snowboarding is a freakin’ headwall. It’s super hard at first and painful, but after a week or so, most snowboarders are linking turns down most of the mountain. They make it look so easy!

Years ago, I left my skis at home and snowboarded. I fell so hard and so often, I bruised my tailbone and couldn’t sit down for a week. Ouch.

A few weeks later, I decided to try again and prepared for pratfalls. I wore every pair of snow pants in the house along with children’s mittens with thumb and wrist guards. Overdressed and sweating, I could hardly move. I hoped a lesson would give me the confidence to “shred.”

While the rest of the class focused on their boards, I stood on my toe edge and looked up the mountain. After a few feet of sliding sideways, I fell backward so fast I didn’t know what happened! I smacked my head into the snow and saw stars for the first time in my life. It was a slight concussion. I toughed it out and got through the rest of the day. My butt survived, but I ended up with a nasty case of whiplash.

Flash forward fifteen years to the next challenge.

It’s been the worst ski season ever for Summit County in Colorado, at least in my memory. Days have been too warm and the snow too lean. When the weatherman predicted 50-degree temperatures on Saturday, my daughter, Courtney, suggested we all switch equipment. She’s a snowboarder and rented skis. My husband, Danny, Courtney’s boyfriend, Dan, and I all geared up for snowboarding.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. With a partial knee replacement only three years ago, I couldn’t rely on falling forward uphill, which is so much easier on my body. Luckily, Danny brought up some sturdy knee pads and I wore elastic braces. This time, I didn’t worry about my rear end and wore regular ski clothes. It was hot outside.

While pulling on my boots, I strained my thumb. No lie! I was in denial since it was such a stupid injury. I hoped it wasn’t foreshadowing of injuries to come.

When we arrived at the mountain, I stood and stared at the toddlers on the super small bunny slope. I wondered if adults could join them. Then I noticed a longer 1% grade hill with a moving sidewalk. YES!

After walking up the small slope, I strapped on my board, scooched myself forward to slide and fell backward! I smacked the ground and heard my neck snap. Dang! Not a good start. I knew endorphins would kick in and I wouldn’t feel anything until tomorrow. There was no way I’d give up that easily.

I used special effects so it looks like I’m moving faster than 10 yards per hour.

 

10 Reasons why facing any challenge is worth the whiplash

I thought I would remember how to snowboard, but too much time had passed.

My daughter and her boyfriend watched while Danny and I took super slow turns on the 1% incline with others, age four to adult. Ha! I was cool with that.

Courtney warned me not to take the Poma lift. “It’s easier to take the chairlift.” I looked up the slope at the throngs of people skiing and riding down the mountain. I’d kill someone.

Instead, I hiked up the baby slope and rode down a few times. Then I graduated to another area for rank beginners with a 3% grade. My driveway is steeper.

Slowly but surely I got the rhythm of heel edge (falling leaf) and toe-edge. Every time I tried to link them, I face-planted. Exhausted from hiking up the hill, I tried the Poma lift. When I was almost at the top, my boot slipped from the board and I wiped out. I dragged myself out of the way. I rode my board down and tried the lift again.

With only one successful trip to the top out of six attempts, I tried again. As I approached the end of the lift, I thought I had made it! Just as I moved to release the lift, I fell hard. My elbow struck the ground and my head hit my shoulder as if someone struck me with a baseball bat. How is that even possible????

I avoided the Poma lift the rest of the day and didn’t fall. During my last two runs, I linked turns from heel-edge to toe! YES. The feeling of victory!

A successful day of challenges

That night, I woke up and couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. My neck and shoulders had seized up. As my muscles warmed up the next morning, I was able to see my toes. The pain wasn’t too bad.

Why put myself through this?

Because challenges are good for us!

It’s what we ALL did as kids. We were introduced to new activities all the time. As we age, we settle into routines and seldom try anything new. That’s a mistake.

10 reasons why you should challenge yourself:

  • Challenges provide choices. When you make the choice to keep trying instead of bailing out, it’s good practice for life in general.
  • You’re capable of a lot more than you think.
  • Every challenge builds character and confidence. This is true! I’m a real character.
  • Being out of your comfort zone presents new problems to solve. In my case, I had to learn that the lift was harder than snowboarding.
  • Taking a risk by trying something new carries over to everything else in life. I risked several limbs and a noggin and lived to tell the tale. Working out in the gym is cake compared to this.
  • Pride is won through achievement. Life is good at putting us in our place. A little bit of pride won’t hurt you.
  • Saying yes to new activities or anything else that may be uncomfortable will broaden your horizons and can make you feel proud. That’s a very good thing!
  • No pain, no gain. In this case, the pain was REAL!
  • Even if you fall short of your expectations or fail, at least you tried.
  • The more you get out of your comfort zone, the less you have to be afraid of, especially if you survive.

Bored and uninspired? Challenge yourself and move forward!I double dog dare you to make a list of all your fears. 

Now I triple dog dare you to face them.

Imagine if we faced all of our fears. Since I haven’t spoken in front of a huge crowd, public speaking remains one of my biggest. Someday, I’ll face that one head on, literally. It will be terrifying, just like edging downhill with a board strapped to my feet.

Will I snowboard ever again?

I’m traveling to Lake Tahoe to ski for a week. I hope to take a snowboarding lesson. My main goal? To take the chairlift without killing myself or anyone else. I won’t have to hike up the mountain while carrying my board.  I’ll be on my way. Three more times this season and I’ll be on the leeward side of that bell curve!

Do you avoid challenges or embrace them? Do you see a steady decline in trying new things? How could you get out of your comfort zone?

Click here for more inspirational misadventure on the Wild Ride.

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Escape Room – You Have to Try This!

Escape Room in Breckenridge

When I heard an Escape Room had opened in Breckenridge, I had to try it. The idea of solving clues in order to escape during an allotted time period piqued my wild imagination. When I told my family about it, one of them said, “I wouldn’t want you to be on my team. You would freak out.” I wondered if they were right. I have been known to be impulsive under pressure. The challenge was on!

When I met our team, I worried that eight of us inside a small room would be too many people. Would I end up being an onlooker while others solved riddles or would I become Little Miss Bossy Pants? I would soon find out. Our new teammates introduced themselves as family and friends from Texas who were engineers. Hmm. Engineers, a businessman – my husband, Danny, and a novelist/artist – moi. It would either be a great combo or a major failure in communication.

Our guide instructed us not to take photos or videos and then led us into the room. He showed us the TV that would count down from sixty minutes. We could ask for three clues. Then he shut the door and the game was ON!

Why you should try an Escape Room!It’s killing me NOT to share the details of the game, but I don’t want to prepare anyone before they go. We used a wide variety of tools. Surprise and discovery were the best parts!

One of the Texas women took charge of the group and made some suggestions. We spread out to search for the first piece of the puzzle. Every time we solved a clue, we made a huge stride. We hooted, hollered, and high-fived. It was such a rush!

As the clock wound down to thirty minutes remaining, I was surprised by how chilled-out I was. One of the men said we should ask for a clue. It seemed like cheating to me.

“Let’s wait another five minutes,” I said. When the minutes passed, we used the phone to ask for one.

Our leader read the clue on the TV and then we dashed around the room with this new piece of information. After that, we didn’t waste any time asking for the last two.

With a COUPLE MINUTES TO SPARE, one of the men was having a problem with a padlock. I asked if I could try. Danny told me the numbers. I took my time and swept the dial sequential order. IT OPENED! The Texas girl used the piece of information revealed and together we solved the last piece of the puzzle.

With one minute and thirty seconds left, WE ESCAPED!

Afterward, the Texan leader turned to me and said, “You were so good at finding clues!”

That surprised me. I hadn’t kept track of my contributions, but said, “Thanks. You were a great leader. I think we all helped one way or another.” It was true. We all focused on different parts of the room and kept moving around while working together. No one freaked out or gave up.

Victorious - Escape Room

V for Victory!

On our way home, Danny and I recounted the game. He insisted that I had done the lion’s share, but I was so in the moment, I didn’t notice. The biggest surprise was I was one of the calmer people in the room.

Somehow, working with everyone evenly distributed the stress. We all had one common goal. We depended on each other to escape in time. There was no question that we were all doing our best. It really taught me the value of teamwork.

Would I do it again? Absodanglutely! There are three levels of difficulty, so I expect the next escape room will be a lot harder. Don’t worry, I won’t wait thirty minutes for clues. Maybe we’ll escape five minutes sooner!

Have you ever gone to an Escape Room? Have you heard of them? How do you work under pressure?

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A Silhouetted Bonfire!

Last weekend, Frisco, Colorado hosted a roaring bonfire next to Lake Dillon. The Fire Department tended the blaze fueled by Christmas trees. That’s one way to get rid of them! Mesmerized by the crackling fire, I found magic in silhouettes of the onlookers.

Silhouette and bonfire

When the wind changed direction, sparks flew and the crowd moved to better locations out of the smokey haze.

Bonfire in Frisco

I had dressed in several layers to hang out in the long winter’s night. It seemed others were better prepared for the heat. A hoodie would have sufficed.

Bonfire at night

I took many videos, but the one that really struck me was a slow-motion recording of the fire. Click on the photo below to view and hear it consume the dry wood!

Have you ever been to a bonfire at night? Are you mesmerized by them? What do you do with your Christmas tree?

This post is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Silhouette.

Click here for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

 

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Night Skiing at Keystone!

My great plan a few weeks ago:

I thought it would be fun to go out for brunch with the family, ski a couple of runs before Breckenridge closed for the day, and then relax at night. A complete shutdown at Breck and skiing Keystone didn’t come close to niggling my wild imagination.

The day started out sunny and warm with a light breeze. After waiting an hour for a table, we enjoyed a leisurely meal and then headed for the gondola. As we were about to board, it ground to a halt. We were forced into waiting mode again. What now?

The lift operators talked amongst themselves. Then one of them turned to face the growing crowd. “The mountain has closed due to high winds!”

I looked at her with raised eyebrows. Dang! It was too late to drive to another mountain. All kinds of woulda- coulda-shouldas came to mind.

Then I remembered Keystone is open until 8:00 PM for night skiing!

I hadn’t skied at night for a long time but recalled the excitement of it. While looming shadows swallowed the landscape, the crisp air and contrast of dark and light made an otherwise easy slope, a decent challenge.

It came as no surprise that so many lined up at the base. Some of them must have driven over in the afternoon when Breckenridge closed. I took this photo around 5:00 PM. It looks like the middle of the night!

Night skiing in Colorado

I’ve always enjoyed the lighting while night skiing. Sometimes it’s easier to see the shadows pop from the snow.

Chairlift at night

It’s important to see where you’re going!

That said, after an almost blind run while wearing goggles, I took them off. The lenses were too dark. Then the wind howled and my sight blurred.

Night snowboarding

It didn’t take long until my eyes adjusted, but my camera didn’t. Ha!

Night skiing at Keystone

Even in the chilly wind, we found time to relax with my son, Kelly, and his girlfriend, Leksy…

Kelly and Leksy

And to take the obligatory selfie!

Susie and Danny night skiing

We had a blast!

It’s always fun to try something different when plans change. It forces you to step out of your routine and experience something new. It became a very memorable day!

How do you handle change? Are you up for experiencing something new? Have you ever skied at night?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

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