Beignets, Boys, and the City of Bath: My Travel Manifesto

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my upcoming big, fat, European vacation and how it had taken me two years to plan because I kept getting in my own way.

But now that the tickets are booked and it’s a sure thing (God willing and the creek don’t rise) I am BEYOND excited. (Photo: Beignets and Croissants via Flickr)

And still a little anxious.

I probably need several hours days on someone’s couch to figure out all the reasons why, but I know a big part of that is my fear of things not turning out the way I think they should. I usually try to deal with that by over-planning everything. But this time, not so much. This time instead of letting the anxiety and worry rule, I intend to let the trip reveal itself to me. There are definitely things I’m planning on doing – as a Jane Austen fan, visiting the city of Bath is a must for this trip – but there are also things I don’t want to do. Planning my day from the crack of dawn until the sun sets is one of them.

So I wrote a manifesto. A travel manifesto. The official definition of manifesto is a public declaration of intentions, opinions or motives. This started out being my travel manifesto, but then I realized that these are all things that I’d like to be doing everyday, especially the part about the men…

Beignets, Boys, and Bath: This Woman at Forty’s Travel Manifesto

I will expect the best, prepare for the worst, and be grateful for all of it as it comes.

I will eat croissants and beignets in Paris, pizza and pasta in Rome, and in London…well, in London I’ll find something to eat, without guilt, without anxiety, and without fear. I won’t eat as though my happiness depends on it (see my struggle with compulsive eating ), but as though my life – the life I want – does.

I will walk. Everywhere I can. Up stairs, around neighborhoods, whenever and wherever it’s a viable option I will choose to move instead of being moved.

I will take pictures – lots of them. I’ll allow myself to be in many of those pictures (more on that in a later post).

I will begin conversations with strangers and hope to end them as friends. I hope a high percentage of these conversations happen with men :-).

I will attempt to speak in the language of the country I’m visiting even though my vocabulary is limited and my accent and grammar are imperfect.

I will live outside of my comfort zone, every day doing at least one thing I wouldn’t normally do.

I will pay attention. To everything. The sights I’m not used to seeing, the accents I’m not used to hearing, the foods I’m not used to tasting. I will be present in the moment during all these experiences not wondering what’s next.

My experiences won’t be overshadowed by my expectations because I will enjoy the journey, regardless of the destination.

I will write. And then I’ll write. And then I’ll write some more.

And if I’m bold enough to share what I’m dreaming, it’s that I can organize a trip like this for a group of Women at Forty in 2014. A tour where we can continue to live out our own personal manifestos.

You don’t have to be in the process of planning a trip of a lifetime to write a personal manifesto. What’s your intention and how will you give direction to that intention? Share your manifestos (travel and otherwise) with the Women at Forty community. Email them to contributeatwomen(@)forty.com (no parenthesis) and I’ll post them here.

 

Kalin’s Chronicles: New Year’s Eve — In Every Time Zone!

One of the things on my bucket list is to celebrate at least one New Year’s Eve at New York’s Times Square – preferably from a balcony.  The closest I’ll get to that this year will be catching the new movie “New Year’s Eve“.  In the meantime, here’s a sampling of hotel deals to help you plan your New Year’s Celebrations — no matter what U.S. time zone you’re in.

New York (Eastern Time)

Celebrate at Ground Zero in New York’s Times Square for a $600 package that includes hotel accommodations, free admission to the Empire State Building Observation Deck , water taxi around the Statue of Liberty,  and shopping discounts at Macy’s and Bloomy’s.

New Orleans (Central Time)

This home of Mardis Gras knows how to party.  So for one of the best locations for French Quarter partying and a rooftop view of the fireworks, stay at the Omni Royal Orleans hotel.  Currently room rates are $299 per night for a New Year’s weekend stay.  For more information on New Orleans New Year’s fun, click here.

Phoenix (Mountain Time)

At the Hyatt Regency, $189 per night let’s you enjoy a New Year’s Eve party with free champagne, and a breakfast buffet the next morning.  And if you’re just getting back to your room at 5am, no worries – you get a 2pm late checkout.

Las Vegas (Pacific Time)

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  So get your party on at the MGM Grand, where you can celebrate New Years on The Strip.  Various packages include a $1400 New Years Wedding Package, Cirque du Soliel at Ka Theatre for $69 to $180, and a dance party at Studio 54 for $150.

And if you wake up with a hangover the next morning, you may wonder  how in the world this outrageous celebration got started.  Check out this site for the history of the holiday, and all things Times Square.  I’d love to hear about your favorite New Year’s Eve destination.  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

It seems that women have more rules to adhere to than men when it comes to world travel.  This can be very frustrating — especially for women from the United States.  I’m a fan of Sex in the City, but I was appalled by Samantha’s disrespecting the culture of Abu Dhabi in the Sex in City 2 movie.

So you won’t get dubbed “The Ugly American,” I’ll provide a few tips throughout the year on cultural etiquette in international destinations.  We’ll start with Japan…

I love Japanese culture – especially their emphasis on spirituality.  But I had a bit to learn about their cultural etiquette while reporting on tourism in Tokyo.  I noticed that the Japanese were always speaking to the male members of my crew instead of to me.  I was the only black member of the crew, so I thought it was my race.  But then I found that in the Japanese culture women always defer to the men in the group. It’s customary to bow when you greet people.  And if you’re doing business, you should also present your business card to the person – always with both hands. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan