Author Archives: enrichedthroughtravel

Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn?

Lodging 101

You are contemplating a vacation.  You have the location selected and now you must decide where you want to stay.  Ever realize how many options there is in our world today?

The choice used to be simple.  Some folks went camping, some stayed at motels, and some at hotels.  Today lodging has amplified into a conglomerate of multiple entities all vying for your vacation dollars.

The typical mainstays in the lodging business remain today.  Those range from campgrounds, to hostels, motels, and hotels.  This option is not as complicated as some think.  Campgrounds are an easy choice if one is looking for an inexpensive close to nature experience.  I for one am not a camper as I prefer to have a room with a view and minus the weather elements that camping requires.  Motels are not so plentiful today as larger hotels have been built to accommodate corporate events and convention business.  When choosing a hotel there are many features one needs to consider besides the price.  Some choose a close proximity to city center or where the most sightseeing will take place.  Others prefer a unique experience, such as an ice hotel.  Some like luxury experiences, others just prefer a clean room with a bed.

Having been in the travel industry a long time, I have  my own list of hotel requirements that suits my needs.  When I began searching for Helsinki lodging, my main requirement was to use my American Express points.  Further, I knew that I wanted to be city center and near transportation options as I prefer to get from the airport to town on my own accord utilizing public transportation.  My search continued by checking out Tripadvisor ratings and reviews and what previous guests experiences were.  I then narrowed down my choices and went to the membership page of each hotel to see how many points it would take to stay at each of the hotels.  The hotel I was looking at was a luxury property, city center, and part of the Starwood group to which I have a membership.  I looked at how many points it takes booking through AMEX and how many booking through Starwood.  In the end, the Starwood (SPG) had a better rate than AMEX.  I moved my points from AMEX to my Starwood account and booked directly with Starwood. Helsinki done!

One of my new favorite types of lodging is Airbnb (  I have used Airbnb on a couple of occasions last year.  Airbnb is a very popular and less expensive alternative to hotels for the right person.  For one thing, one has to be an independent traveler.  By that I simply mean, one has to be willing to explore on one’s own.  In addition, there is no daily maid service, and one has to be open to living in someone else’s space.  My first experience in Copenhagen last year was a very good one.  I chose a 2-bedroom flat in a nice neighborhood approximately 20 minutes from the airport.  My biggest fear was arriving after dark and trying to find the place.  That fear was soon conquered as my host gave very implicit directions.  It was a breeze.  What I like most was my ability to get to know this little neighborhood and talk to the people who live there.  Further, I prefer to have a large space with a couple bedrooms, versus a small one-room hotel for a fraction of the cost.  And, I enjoy having my own kitchen to make coffee as I watch the world go by below.  Getting to know about the life of my host is very important to me.  Learning about other cultures and being able to experience life as a local versus as a hotel guest makes a huge difference!

This year, I decided to look again at an Airbnb flat in Reykjavik.  Having been there before, I knew approximately what area of town I wanted to be in.  I searched on for available properties and added a few to my ‘wish list.’  Contacting the host and asking questions gave me a great deal of knowledge in making my decision.  I prefer when the host is a good communicator.  And my choice in Reykjavik was soon made when my host responded quickly to my questions.  I will update you following my trip with all the details!

For my latter trip to Amsterdam, I chose similar lodging.  I chose a hotel close to the central train station in Amsterdam (again using my AMEX points) avowing me to come and go by train for my day trip down to Delft and The Hague.  I chose a 2-bedroom flat in central Amsterdam for 4 nights.  I have a wonderful host, Brett, and he has been offering to help with my travel planning or anything else I need.  His flat is on a canal and I look forward to living as a “Dutch” girl for a few nights!

Whatever type of lodging you choose, whether you are a conservative traveler and prefer to be on a tour, an independent traveler, or an adventurer, the choice is yours to make.  My choice is to be an explorer/adventurer and learn about life around the world, departing feeling enriched and fulfilled in my journey.

Safe journey,




Categories: airbnb, hotels, lodging, motels, Travel, vacation | Leave a comment

Airplane Food: Whats a person got to do to eat around here?

airplane food

I have been flying for a really long time.  Used to be that all airlines served meals in economy class, while first class got their upgraded meal served on china.  Those were the days when getting a meal meant you would get ‘real’ food and enjoy what was served.  Eating while flying was an experience, good or bad.  Yet, it was something to look forward to while passing the time en-route.  Airlines used to appeal to consumers of flight by their service with a smile motto.  Along with deregulation and mergers, came a new way of flying that appeals to some palates and not to others.

Today, eating while flying has taken on a different dimension.  One can no longer fly and expect something to be served.  There are choices.  Many, many choices and options to consider before boarding a flight.

What happened?  If we look back to 1978 when the Airline Deregulation Act took place, the government imposed price restrictions were removed.  Airlines were freed of their boundaries and given the opportunity to change the way consumers purchase flights.  With this important change, airlines discovered they could set the prices, and have complete control over their own profits and losses.  And losses there were.  One of the first to go bankrupt if I recall, was Eastern Airlines.  Following 9-11 airlines took a big hit and profits declined rapidly.  The government had to bail out some of the airlines to help them stay alive.  Airline merger after merger helped the airline stay afloat.

Profits began to soar!  Most in part thanks to baggage fees!  Yep, by charging fees for things such as checked luggage, carry-on,sitting near the front of the plane vs the back, and fuel surcharges the airlines are finally turning a huge profit.  At this point the air carriers became less service oriented and more profit oriented.  As a consumer, we lost all perks of flying and soon fell to the mercy of the carriers new rules.  Food, was no longer a perk, overhead bins were filled to capacity, and service with a smile is now just, well, service with a lack of effort.  We now fly according to what the airlines dictate.

Food on-board the airplane has suffered the most.  Snacks are gone for the most part, and so are economy meals.  I will be flying economy on Icelandair next month.  I soon discovered Icelandair has a 3-tier flying class.  Economy, free non-alcoholic beverages only, no snack, no meals.  One has to pay significantly more to fly ‘economy comfort’ in order to receive a free meal.  While Saga Class has more perks such as bigger seats, meal and lounge access.

I chose economy because it was such a good round-trip fare that it allowed me to travel twice overseas rather than once.  I don’t really care whether I eat on-board or not because I will eat at the airport prior to the 9 PM overnight flight.  I do however, have the option to purchase snacks, food and alcoholic beverages on-board should I choose to.  Because I have flown Icelandair in the past, I am a Saga club member.  I have points which I can use to purchase these items en-route if I choose.  I cant say I have had a bad ‘meal’ onboard Icelandair, however it was nothing I care to brag about. I much rather prefer to grab my favorite open-faced salmon sandwich at the Keflavik airport before my next flight than to eat what the airline serves anyway.

As a travel agent, I would prefer to see the airlines return to the days when the consumer mattered, and service on-board was a flying perk that everyone received and not just the select few.  Airlines should be happy that we chose their company to get to our destination and thank us by providing more consumer oriented service.  I want to get back to the days of flying when I was not stressed out over whether I had to pay for a ‘comfort’ seat or not; whether my overhead bin would be filled, or even whether I needed to bring my own meal or not.  Flying should be flying, and consumers of flight should be rewarded for being loyal to continuing to do so!

Safe journeys,  Debbie

Categories: airplane food, airplane service, airplane snacks, flying, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weather or not, here I come!

I live in a warm part of the U.S.  I am in Florida.  I have lived here most of my life.  I did not choose to move here, rather my parents chose it for me, back when I was a teenager.  As I grow older, I realize that I am bored by the constant,  warm climate the majority of the year.  I am tired of running my air conditioner 24/7 for 9-10 months of the year.  Further, I cannot stand sweating every time I open the door or attempt to blow dry my hair!

I long to see the trees in Autumn when they change colors.  I also dream of winter wonderlands!  And just like my thermostat on my air conditioning unit, I wish I had the ability to change outside temps by the turn of a dial!  But, the warm weather is here to stay whether I like it or not.

So whats a girl to do with all this hot air?  Travel!  Yep, I immensely enjoy my winter travels.  Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Estonia are some great winter destinations.  I get to put on my down-filled coat, strap up my boots, and cool off!  Winter travel has it pros and cons, but for me, it is all a good thing!  I have been snowed in during my travels to Iceland, and I have lost countless hours waiting for the winds to die down enough to fly.  I wear layers upon layers to stay warm, and traipse through snow, wind, and rain to explore my surroundings.   But all in all, it is worth it to me!

We have had our share of ‘cooler’ temperatures this past month in Florida.  I have loved the few drops to 50 degrees (fahrenheit) and the sweaters I have been able to wear.  But there is nothing like preparing myself for a winter trip.

In two short weeks, I will take out my wool socks, my winter boots, sweaters, hat and gloves.  I will pack my warmest and wear them all with the excitement of knowing I am traveling to far distances to explore people, places and things I have never before seen.

Has weather ever stopped you from traveling? Or are you an adventurist who travels with total disregard knowing what awaits you on your journey?

Safe journeys,



Categories: adventure, iceland, Travel, travel delays, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Travel is to Live

world is a book I have often wondered why some individuals do not choose to travel.  I know for some, travel is expensive and thus not within the budget.  I also know that for some, routine is what makes some individuals happy, so even the thought of anything outside their ‘normal’ routine is not acceptable.  Further, I know that some have no desire to travel.  And some are fearful and do they have the courage to step outside their comfort zone into new and unexplored territory.  Of course, there are those who have never in their life set foot on an airplane nor have any inkling how to plan a trip.  Whatever, the reason behind not traveling, I find that it puts some individuals at a disadvantage in life.


collect memories Every human being has his or her own way of going through this journey called life.  For myself, I prefer to have experiences that influence who I am and how I relate to my world.  I cherish the times I travel with loved ones to faraway lands.  As the image states, I “collect memories” and not things.  I would rather spend my hard-earned money on feeling connected to others and sharing my experiences.  Unlike myself, many Americans spend more of their money on material things to make themselves feel good.  I make no judgement here as what works for one does not work for others.  I simply appreciate my shared experiences more than what I own or not own.  I do not care if I drive the most expensive car, nor do I care if I live in a humongous house.  I care more about feeling good from what I see and where I go.  I guess I am more of an emotional creature and moved by my emotions in life rather than caring whether I am living up to someone else’s standards or not.  I also do not care whether I have money left at the end of my life or not.  I care more about what I do with my money and who I share it with while I can still enjoy it.

I have said it before however it is worth repeating many times over, travel broadens one’s horizons and makes them a better person.  Better how?  Better in respect to being open and understanding of other’s cultures and ways of life.  Travel creates open-minded, intelligent individuals in a way that a travel book does not.  These unique life experiences in other lands opens the mind up to acceptance, and compassion for others in the world.  Those who do not travel often are narrow-minded and cannot see beyond their rose-colored glasses.  This is not to say that all individuals are narrow-minded, rather, many cannot fathom a world outside of their own spectrum.

ones destination

Travel is exciting!  Just as a kid in a candy store for the first time, travel is just as enticing and delightful!  Seeing things for the first time adds to the excitement and takes one’s senses to new heights!  Think back to childhood, every time you saw, or tasted, or smelled something for the first time, you were renewed with feelings you never before experienced.  Travel does this as well.  Travel enhances one’s emotions and feelings and brings a sense of renewed life into a boring routine.  What once may have been is now renewed and hopeful and opens new ways of looking at the world we exist in.

i travel alot  We only have one journey in life.  Why subject ourselves to the same routine day in and day out?  Why not explore this amazing world we were given and travel to new destinations beyond our present reach?  Imagine, explore and reach for new experiences!

Where would you go if there were no obstacles in life to get there?

Safe journeys,



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According to, wanderlust means to have  “a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.”    In this particular instance I am sick with ‘wanderlust!’  I desire to travel when I am not traveling.  Exploration of new places and meeting new people is very enticing to me.  I never quite considered myself to be ‘adventuresome,’ however, in some sense I am adventurous to have the courage to travel to new places and explore new territory.  

What entices me to travel is not only the experience of getting to a new land, but also the idea that I get to see something I have never seen before.  Like a newborn who opens his or her eyes for the first time and sees their mother or father, travel to foreign places is a similar experience for me.  There is renewed excitement and anticipation, unforeseen thoughts pop into my head, and I become like a small child who craves the taste of chocolate over and over again.

Visiting new lands and meeting culturally different people than myself sparks my brain cells into a display of fireworks going off in my head.   The implosion of information and sights leaves me feeling as if I ran a marathon of sorts.  I am renewed with a zest for life unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

I crave travel.  I breathe, eat, smell, sleep and desire travel experiences.  I am akin to an addict who craves his or her favorite drug.  For me, travel is my drug and I choose to travel for the ‘high’ it gives me.  Nothing else can compare to this ‘high’ like travel.

Are you sick with wanderlust?  Do you crave new experiences and new journeys?  What are your favorite places that you lust for?

Safe journey,


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When things go wrong..really wrong: Germanwings Plane Crash

It comes with great shock today to learn that the Germanwings plane that crashed this week was an intentional act by the co-pilot.  It is hard to accept that someone so callous would do something so horrendous and take the lives of innocent people.  There is no way that one can know for sure what was going through this man’s mind at the time he made this decision to take the plane down.  And there is no way of knowing if those onboard knew what was going to be their fate, other than the screams that were recorded on the black box.  All we can know for certain is that there are a great deal of families who today are trying to come to grips with the loss of their loved ones.

How do we as travel professionals ever explain such a bad scenario as this?  How do we explain to those who choose to travel that this is a rare happening and that air travel in and of itself is safe?  How can we, move forward and get back on the travel bandwagon and presume it to be safe?

These and many more questions will arise out of this tragedy.  I do not wish to ponder the why’s and the what for at this point.  I only wish to honor those who lost their lives as well as pray for those who lost their loved ones.

I hope if nothing else, that Lufthansa (the parent company of Germanwings) as well as other European carriers implement new policies that make the pilots and passengers safer.

My condolences to those who are suffering from their loss.

Safe journey,


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Living in America: Feels good?!!

James Brown, the infamous ‘godfather of soul’ crooned about Livin’ in America.  “I feel good, eye to eye, hand in hand while living in the promised land” touted Brown in his 1986 hit song.  But does it really “feel good” to live in America in the 21st century?  For the past week, upon return from my recent travels to Denmark, Iceland, and Norway I have been contemplating this very thought in my mind.

I am an American, born and raised here my entire life.  I am however, no economic major, nor have I ever really paid attention to politics or the state of the American union.  I like to think of myself as a ‘typical’ American who goes about my day thinking only of myself and my immediate family, how hard we will have to work, how much money we will make, and how much money will be left after paying all the bills to spend on personal luxuries.  As a ‘typical’ middle class individual, I rarely spend time thinking about those less fortunate than I, nor do I think about what I could be doing to help make the world a better place.  I don’t have to, after all I am American and live in a capitalistic country where each citizen is clearly out for their own personal gain – including that of our government.  We are raised to be a hard-working, money-making society, and those who have more money are in a higher class in society than those who do not.  Money drives our daily lives and brings us happiness to those who have, and unhappiness to those who do not have.  True Capitalism at it’s best!

Each year, the Wider Opportunities for Women compiles a report on the basic economic security tables in the United States..  This report “measures basic needs and assets for workers required for economic security in American households” (  In 2014, it was reported that 44% of Americans lacked basic economic security.  It went on to report that those households with greater education levels scored somewhat higher on meeting basic economic security than someone without an education.  This struck me as ironic since our country does not support paying for our children’s education, hence only those who can afford a college education can attend and those who don’t are obviously stuck without any means to gain economic security.

Personally, I think these capitalistic attitudes are draining, not only mentally, but economically in my pocket as well.  I may fall into that ‘middle class’ society according to my tax returns, however it seems more and more as if I am left with less in my pocket, and more stress and worry than ever.  With stress and worry comes a decrease in the happiness quotient, and an increase in dissatisfaction with my life as an American.

I have expenses, huge expenses that I feel would be taken care of in some fashion or another if I lived in an egalitarian country.  Out of our monthly income comes  expenses such as: food, gasoline for the cars (3 of them), household living expenses (such as electricity, water, sewer, etc), education (currently paying $2400 for tuition and $3000 for dorm fees, plus food per semester, approximately 4 months, for my son in college), insurance (car insurance for 3 vehicles is $6000 per year, health insurance is $14,400 in annual premiums plus $7,500 out-of-pocket before the health insurance pays a penny, homeowners insurance $2000 per year, disability insurance, flood insurance, etc). and if anything is left at the end we are advised to invest money into a retirement account.

Speaking of retirement account, “they” say social security benefits which I have been paying into throughout my adult life may or may not be available when I retire in the future.  Americans are told we should not count on it as our only means of retirement income.  Thus, 401-K came into being and now we must take what little disposable income we may have and invest it ourselves (and sometimes with the aid of an employer) with the hope that when we retire we can afford it.  Based on the figures I demonstrated earlier you can see that I have little to any disposable income left, thus I worry about what will happen when I eventually retire. Worry and stress, stress and worry, it takes up a great deal of my life and leaves me with less and less quality of life and time to spend with family and friends as I am always worried about having enough money.

After returning home from Norway I began to look at and wonder how different my life would be if I were to live in an ‘egalitarian’ system such as in Scandinavia.  From what I gather, egalitarianism focuses on low social inequality.   There are no divisions between low class, middle class and upper class. One is not looked down upon for making less money than another.  All citizens are treated same and/or similar in respect to what they have or don’t have.  In egalitarian countries one works for the good of all.  With this type of system, those individuals who work are taxed heavily and the government is responsible for giving out funds to help those in need.  With this system comes health care and an education at no expense to any citizen.  Norway in fact has a great deal of highly educated people for this very reason.

Because all medical expenses are paid for, as well as a full education, no one has to stop and think where this money will come from.  Hence, the people who live in an egalitarian system have less stress, less worry, and have a higher happiness quotient.  In fact, in Denmark I spoke to a gentleman in a coffee shop who said to me “I gladly give my money to the government because I don’t have to worry about anything.”  With little to no stress or worry, Scandinavians work a moderate amount of hours per week, have something like up to 6 weeks paid vacation per year, have one year of maternity leave paid for, and have time left over to enjoy spending time with friends and family.  I was amazed to see a great deal of people having a leisurely lunch with friends and I watched intensely at how much enjoyment they had on their faces.  This would never be the case in the States as we are lucky to have a one hour break where we scarf down our food, pay the bill, and race back to work!

In my opinion, the United States capitalistic mind-set has created a huge disparity among its citizens whereby the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Self-satisfaction and personal gain are prominent features in our country.  The leaders of our country abide by these principles and make decisions on our behalf with the underlying premise being what is politically best at the time these principles go into effect.  I have never heard a political leader premise his/her actions by doing what is best for the citizens of our country, rather they act based upon once again – personal gain and how much influence their political power ensues.

On the other side, Egalitarianism means that all of one’s basic needs are met without question of who you are or where you fall in society.  This type of government does not base their decisions upon who deserves what over another, rather it treats its citizens with respect and believes in honoring the basic needs of all individuals and not just the chosen few.  If I lived in such a place, I would no longer have to pay out of my pocket for health expenses, nor would I have to worry about my retirement.  My kids would have an excellent education and future.  I would be living ‘the high life’ with an abundance of happiness and increased quality of life.

I am ashamed at my country for treating me and all other citizens with such disdain for human life and sustenance.  I feel there is a better way for us all to live and it does not include the American way.  I want my children to grow up in a land where all are treated the same – as human beings with basic needs.  I do not wish my children to look down upon another simply because they have less than we do.  It’s time our country steps up and takes care of the basic needs of its citizens!  And I think it should begin with free education for all!

If only the United States would see to the betterment of its citizens, then and only then would James Brown’s song ring true!  “Eye to eye, hand in hand, promised land!”

Safe journeys,


P.S. I would like to say that this was written from my personal perspective only and not necessarily the views of all Americans or of the United States.  I am simply stating my thoughts and have no intention of offending anyone.

Categories: America, American, capitalism, economic security, egalitarian, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel delays and how not to go crazy!

If you are a frequent traveler, then travel delays are inevitable.  Winter travel can be especially treacherous given the amount of snow the northeast U.S. has had this winter alone.  Add to that travel conditions in other parts of the world and that spells  d-e-l-a-y.

It is a known fact that if you are someone who has the expectation that not all will go 100% as planned, then it can be somewhat less stressful and disappointing if something out of the ordinary occurs.  Knowing this fact alone, does not change the situation when you are faced with delays.  And unfortunately, one travel delay only adds to the outcome when it involves other airline carriers besides the primary carrier.

I recently experienced weather related delay on my last trip.  Keflavik (Iceland) airport had to close due to extreme weather conditions and consequently cancelled my primary flight home from Oslo through Keflavik.  I found out the night prior to travel.  I spent over four hours on the phone trying to reach Icelandair to change my travel plans to the following day.  After I completed the transaction I had to contact United Airlines which was my final connection home.  I must mention that both airlines were quite accommodating in getting us home the next day.  I was fortunate in that I had one more day built into my plans that allowed me to come home later than planned without any consequences such as missed work or school.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I was in getting this to happen the following day with few disruptions.  One thing I always do that I suggest others do is to purchase a travel protection plan.  No one likes insurance per say as it is a gamble.  I prefer to be safe rather than sorry.  For the nominal fee I paid, it was worth it.  I am able to make a claim that will pay for my extra night at the hotel, meals, and fare differential that I had to pay.  For me, travel protection plan is a peace of mind when traveling great distances.

In addition, I think it is essential when traveling far to pack extra medicine as well as extra underwear!  I had just enough meds to get me through the extra night.  However, on future trips I will plan to take a few days extra.  And well, it should go without saying that clean underwear is an essential!  Of course, you can wash out what you have already used, but I have a personal preference for clean, unused!

Another tip I think is important when dealing with delays, is to plan ahead.  What I mean by this is to consider on your next trip, what would happen should I be delayed for an extra day or two?  Would I need a back up plan for work?  Or for pet care, child care, etc?  It is something I definitely will implement for my next travels.

Do you have any tips you might want to share of what to do in planning for trip delays?  If so, please let me know!

Safe journeys,


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Planes, trains, and cars,oh my! Oslo to Voss Norway

Early settlers may have considered themselves lucky to get from one location to another by horse and buggy or other means of transport.  What might have taken days or even weeks in the past takes only hours in the present.  For many, myself included, transportation is a necessity as well as a nuisance that is often taken for granted.

I have traveled many  milesimage this week to get to my present destination in Norway.  Four days ago I flew from Tampa to Washington Dulles airport, followed by a flight through Iceland to end in Oslo.  That’s a total of 10.5 hours of flying to travel thousands of miles!!!

imageAfter a good nights sleep in Oslo, I boarded the morning train for  4.5 hour ride from Oslo to Myrdal. I was amazed by the beauty of Norway from her pristine greens to her whitest whites of the countryside. One minute it was grey skies followed by blue, then blizzard like conditions s the elevation climbed and the temperatures dropped.

In Myrdal I climbed aboard the Flam railway for a short 30 minute ride to Flam where the boat was waiting to sail through the Fjords.  This voyage was surreal. It felt as if time stood still as we cruised to Gudvangen in 2 hours. Along the way I saw quaint homes on hilltops in the middle of nowhere. Further along, the captain spotted a few reindeer staring at us as we stared at them.  I was mesmerized by the bigger than life fjords. I kept repeating “wow” like a child who sees something for the first time. My senses were on overwhelm as I took it all in.

From Gudvangen I caught a bus for the one hour ride to Voss. In Voss I grabbed a taxi for a 30 minute drive to Myrkdalen. The snow was piled nearly six feet! Coming from Florida this was quite exciting to see such a sight. Finally, my travels were over for the night as I took a room at the beautiful Myrkdalen hotel. My balcony opened over the ski hill and I could barely contain myself at the sight of the cabins up and down the hill with snow piled half way to the roof!

The next day I boarded the ski bus back to Voss for another 1.5 hour train to Bergen.  I walked along the streets with the young skiers as they returned home. I felt as if I were accompanying future Olympic skiers!

Tomorrow I have my final train back to Oslo in 6.5 hours. I cannot even imagine the miles I have covered on this trip. I have learned that transportation is not only a means for getting from one place to another, but it is also a unique way to see the world.  I still have many more miles to go to return back to the states. With the aid of transportation I was able to explore the beauty of this great country and appreciate the journey.

Safe journeys, Debbie

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What I learned in Denmark and Iceland

True to my blog’s name, travel really does enrich your life and make you a better person or in some cases, a more aware person.

I had a great deal of personal enrichments on my last trip that I will share with you today.

My pre-trip goal was to have fun, learn about the Danish culture, find my own “hygge,” and to step outside my comfort zone.  I have not only accomplished what I set out to do, but much more!

First, I found my true “hygge.”  Hygge for me was experiencing the entire Danish lifestyle and embracing what was in front of me daily.  That goes for everything from the local coffee shops, the conversations with locals, and even to the slip and fall in the middle of the street in Copenhagen (I definitely learned I need to look more where I am walking and not assume the curbs are all even as they are in the states!).

When you travel, it is best to expect the unexpected.  By expecting things to not go perfectly one is better equipped to go with the flow.  I had never expected the Danish ground crew to go on strike and delay my plane.  I also did not expect the gate the change and be on the other side of the airport!  By not being upset, and calmly dealing with these travel snafus, I was less stressed and a much better traveler than I would have been had I taken everything so seriously.  Let’s face it, things happen.  Accept it and move on!

I also learned that the Danes are well taken care of by their government and have little to worry about.  This gives them a sense of security that we Americans do not have.  I understand why they live the way they do and how less pressure they live under.  This affords them the opportunity to enjoy family and friends as well as leisure time.  As Americans, I do not think we will ever have this.  At best, all I can learn from this is to want less, and to appreciate what I have and not to yearn for more and more.  If I have less, it follows that I would be able to work less if I am spending less.  It would all even out.  I know this sounds kind of far-fetched, however, I think some of this is possible in our country (America) of excess and materialism.  As I have been saying, less is more.  I intend to make changes in my life such that I am less and less of a materialistic girl and more of a  connoisseur of what I already have.

This trip also taught me that it is ok not to straighten my hair to perfection daily – my hair straightener would not fit in the adapter plug so I had to do without!  I learned that I can survive and go out in public with my hair just the way it is!  Further, it is ok, not to have to put on makeup to go out.  I am who I am and those who pass judgment or do not approve can take a hike!

In addition, I learned what it is like to truly be myself, not caring what others think.  By being myself I experienced spontaneity and freedom.  I played in the snow like a 12-year-old, and I had so much fun!  True, we don’t have snow here in Florida to play with, however, it felt darn good to run in it, throw snow, and make a snow fairy just like I did up north as a child!!  I intend to work on this aspect of being myself while at home so others too can experience the “real” me!

Finally, I have all the experiences and memories in my head that will be with me forever.  I will never forget waking up in my Danish apartment (thanks to airbnb!), or tasting Swedish meatballs in Malmo.  I will always have a sense of peace and rejuvenation every time I re-visit the Blue Lagoon in my mind and in my pictures.  And I will always savor that first bite of Icelandic cod I had in Reykjavik.  These moments will never be forgotten and I will cherish them always.

I am as always thankful for being able to experience my journeys and to come home safely.

What have you learned from your latest travels?

Safe journey,



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