Archives for October 2007


Five Reasons to Travel Home this Holiday Season

Travel is a drug, a good drug but no less addictive than narcotics and it leads many of us to stay away from home and family gatherings to save our precious vacation time for travel. Well, I’m suggesting you go cold turkey this year and expend some time on the home this Holiday Season. Here’s five reasons to convince you:

1. Mortality – We all have a limited tenure on this world and you can never hope to have recently visited every friend or relative who reaches their time but how many times do you say next year? If you have not seen someone you love for over a year it’s time to go home for the Holidays.

2. Make Mum Happy – Walking through the door unannounced this Holiday Season will bring a tear to Mum’s eyes, just don’t spend three hours in the pub drinking with your brother and father first like I did one year.

3. Save Postage – You get to deliver the presents in person rather, save postage and enjoy the true spirit of giving. It also forces you to do something less lame than a gift certificate.

Sisters together at Christmas

4. Hometown Adventure – I wrote about frugal vacations at home recently, and the same ideas work back in your old stomping grounds. Things change and just a walk through the old neighbourhood can reveal some natty new places to explore.

5. Budget Savings – Accommodation, food and entertainment for the bargain price of an airfare and you save on utility bills at home to boot. Add the savings to your travel fund and you are on your way to the next far-off destination.


Observations on Life

My last post is featured in the Observations of Life blog carnival hosted by Anja. The collection of posts is not strictly travel-related but there a bunch of interesting topics that you could apply to your travel experience. Let me know which posts you found useful.


What Makes a Memorable Vacation?

These days will soon be passed but memories I know will last of the times I spent with you.

Chris Bailey, The Saints

What is your strongest and happiest vacation memory?

Take a minute to think about it…

My best friend and I lead very different lives; I travel the world and have rarely lived near my childhood home while Karen always lived near home and never travelled far. Yet I suspect our strongest and happiest vacation memories are very similar. Why?

People experience their strongest emotions when they interact with other people, and it is human contact that makes any vacation or journey memorable. Karen commented to me that I done a lot with my life, and yet when I list the vacation memories I treasure they are the simple events that come flooding back to me.

Learning to ride a motorcycle during a visit to the farm Karen called home but holiday heaven for this city kid.

Days spent on the beach, swimming and fishing, with our best friends and family.

Sightseeing around Seattle with a succession of friends and family who made the familiar new again.

Every memory stronger for the people we shared those adventures with us, so if this is the key to a memorable vacation, why is solo travel so popular?

Serial solo travellers all have one common trait, they love to meet people and build relationships that become the focus of their journeys at that moment. It is a trait I nurture but do not naturally thrive on so I tend to seek out travel partners, a position my wonderful wife has forevermore. Whether you travel solo or on tour groups, schedule your time to connect with people, your fellow travellers or locals you meet and make that moment a memorable one for everyone.


How to Buy Art on your Travels.

How many souvenir knick-knacks are gathering dust in your closet? Probably more than you want to admit, and all too chintzy to display proudly. Impulse purchases to remember the journey rarely remain on display, so consider an alternative purchase. Instead of the plastic Eiffel Tower, buy local artwork that you will be proud to show your friends and evokes the memories of your adventure.

Do your Research

There are dozens of artists churning out pictures for you in every major tourist destination but to find something unique and interesting you need to find the local art scene. For example, a young vibrant art scene is blossoming in the dreary buildings of eastern Berlin that I would never had found without some prior knowledge or contacts.

Establish a Budget

Using your accommodation money to buy a painting from an emerging artist is unlikely to lead you into a great travel experience (although it might prove profitable one day). Establish a total budget and a per object limit for multiple purchases.

You have to Love It

Visit as many galleries and artist studios as you can fit into your schedule. Note the artists and objects you like so you can research them further before you purchase.

Look for an artist that is producing consistent quality and style over time but their body of work should not look like handmade Xeroxes of the same scenes (this is what you get in the tourist traps). Avoid the cliché scenes, and look for objects that evoke a memory or emotion you associate with the destination.

Unless the art evokes a strong emotion in you, it is destined to the same fate as that plastic knick-knack.

Street Sculpture Berlin

A sculpture I found in Berlin

Reputable galleries normally provide you documentation to verify the authenticity of the object you purchased including a biography of the artist.


Depending on the size and value of the object, the best way to get it home is for the gallery to ship it for you. Some buyers worry about galleries substituting objects with lesser quality items but if you distrust a gallery I’d reconsider your purchase.


Travel Photographs – Churches

This week the photographs I have selected are three interesting churches I visited last year.


Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche, Berlin

Russian Orthodox Church Seattle