Archive for Travel Off The Beaten Path – Serving Others

CouchSurfing. Sounds Pretty Cool For Anybody But My Daughter.

Not sure what to think about this one. On the one hand, it sounds like a great way to meet people, go cool places on the cheap, get a real community going. On the other hand, it sounds like hitch hiking with a twist. I haven’t tried it but I bet it’s filled with a lot of stories of awesome people and lifelong friends, coupled with a horror story every now and then cs6 master collection mac. Just like any risk sport where each success makes you more and more confident until that one hairy moment is a reminder of reality. Also, as with any risk sport, there are safe and unsafe ways to do it. When a paraglider pilot looks at the weather and it isn’t a sure thing, that’s when you pack it in. Likewise, if a situation feels the least bit weird, time to bail.

Off The Beaten Path or ON the Beaten Path.

Just thinking maybe we should be avoiding Egypt these days. Do I really want my tourist money to support a government that arrests Christians for being beaten up by a religious mob? This isn’t a one time incident in this place and the attacks have been increasing They love to beat up the Christians in Egypt. Maybe I’ll take a trip to Israel instead. If you want to read about it, you can find it here.

“That You May Walk (Travel) in Peace”

It can get a little wild in a foreign country where tourists sometimes have a target on their back. You have money, you are distracted, you are not expecting a problem. The underbelly of humanity, in any country, knows this and can take advantage. The above quote comes from an Israeli self defense system known as Krav Maga.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga

It’s made for average people without a lot of time on their hands to be a Judo master or anything. Old, young, heavy, small, it doesn’t matter in this system as the Israelies created it for their army (everyone has to join). The FBI and many police forces have made this their primary training as it’s so easy to learn yet brutal towards attackers. Knowing what to do if it gets dicey will certainly help you “travel in peace.”

Yotel, I kind of dig this.

You know those Japanese sleeping pods, just big enough to lay down in? Well, the idea is catching on at other places, too. They’re basically mini hotels complete with bed, television and kind of look like something you would get on a railroad car. Bathrooms are communal in most of them but they’re clean, safe, and the savings are great http://blogs.asbur..ra.html. Now they even have some at Heathrow, in Amsterdam, and at other places around the world. For me it’s perfect for a few quick zz’s between flights or a place to be if I’m coming off the field feeling poorly. You can rent a few hours, a day, whatever you need. If you’re interested, take a look at

Build a house in Mexico….IN TWO DAYS!

If you’re looking for a way to help others, learn a bunch, and make the most of your time off, try this off-the-beaten-path trip. This group builds houses for very poor families in Juarez, Mexico. They have it down to a science and can throw up a sturdy, warm house in just two days! The family goes from living in a shanty made out of scraps of wood to a small but comfortable home where they can be out fo the wind, cold and dust. It’s an awesome experience with the added bonus of getting some perspective on our blessings. If you are interested, just visit This is one of those trips where you will feel like you’ve been away forever even though it’s only been a few days….in a real good way.

Paying to LEAVE a country; be ready for it.

Just one little quick tip today when traveling to an off-the-beaten-path country. Sometimes you have to pay to LEAVE! The scenario is like this: You have had a wonderful time, saw the sights, bought some souvenirs, spent your last bit of money on a trinket or two. You went through the airline ticket line and customs as well and now your are headed toward your gate…. or so you think. Ah, look, one more line! What’s this for? It’s an “airport tax” to leave the country! I know that in the Philippines, it’s somewhere around 25 USD but must be paid in pesos. What does one do if he or she doesn’t have it? I have no idea. Fortunately we were tipped off and had saved the money for each person in our group of 15 people. Yes, that’s right, a cool 375 extra US dollars for our group to leave the country. OUCH!!

Do a Layover in Hong-Kong. Inexpensive and totally worth it.

If you’re heading “off the beaten path” anywhere in Asia, you might as well make a stop in Hong Kong on your way in or out. For roughly 100 USD, you can stay in the local YMCA which is situated in an awesome part of Kowloon. Best of all, it’s really quite a nice place to stay, just like any hotel.

Not Bad

Not Bad

 If you were roughing it in some jungle somewhere or schmoozing at some beach somewhere, it’s always good to touch one more place before heading home. For me, the two day layover was a highlight of my trip. Hong Kong is so beautiful and interesting, I will include it on any trip I can. Just remember to bring an umbrella!

Learning Languages, The Truth

I once heard of a businessman who wanted to learn Russian fluently in a 3 week crash course. Something got in his mind (advertising maybe?) that made him think this was possible with hard work. He learned a lot but barely touched the edge of what he needed to converse freely. Another person accumulated lots of dictionaries, books (unread), games, stickers and so on but never did the hard part: memorizing and practicing. She got nowhere.

Flashcards Rule!

Flashcards Rule!

THE SECRET: Flash cards and being willing to make a fool out of yourself. Make or buy thirty flash cards with the most common words on them. Keep them in your pocket and go over them everywhere you go. At red lights, waiting in an office, hold them under a table at boring meetings. As you learn the words, take them out of the pile and replace them with new words. NEXT, use them every chance you can, even if you look stupid. Learning a language is about work. First you need the tools (words in your head) then you need to practice using those tools. It will take time and you will also need instruction for native speakers, but until you suck it up and get the words out of books and into your mind, you will be struggling. AH, BUT THE PAYOFF IS WONDERFUL!!! As are the relationships you will form

THE AMAZING SIM CARD – and being “local” everywhere

Imagine this: I’m in the Philippines, making calls on my local cell phone. A little bit later, I’m in Cairo doing the same thing. After that I’m in Russia and on it goes. It’s always the same phone and I’m always local. How does this happen? By understanding how phones work overseas.

It’s not about hooking up with phone services and getting the right calling plan. It’s merely a matter of going into a kiosk or booth, buying a SIM card stocked with minutes and putting it in your phone. Violla! You’re local. In the Philippines I bought a SIM chip for $10 and was calling and texting home to my heart’s content. Everyone at home could find me whenever they liked so it was good all around.

The catch: First, you have to have a GSM enabled phone (quad band). In America many are already like that so no big deal. I bought an ATT Tilt that gets me anywhere and opens up easily to change the SIM card. Second, you have to get the code to unlock your phone. This means talking your carrier into letting you get off their system while out of the country. My phone is with a business so they were happy to accommodate. Just so you know, it can be difficult sometimes if you have an I-phone or something else you got on a deal with a 2 year contract.

Perfect for calming down the parents who are worried about getting a hold of you.