Wine Doesn’t Grow in Ugly Places
My husband and I really enjoy trips to different wine regions. We’ve been lucky enough to visit Champagne, France, Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Central Coast California (Santa Ynez) and Willamette Valley in Oregon. One thing is consistent – wine does not grow in ugly places. To have really great wine, you need moisture (preferably an ocean nearby), lots of sunlight and fertile land. All of these things translate into some pretty spectacular scenery.
Other places on our “to do” include Mendoza in Argentina, New Zealand’s wine island (Waiheke) and Southern France.
Pack Light – You can buy it later if you forgot it
I still have a tendency to want to overpack. I try to carefully plan out my outfits for each day of the trip and occasion but I always seem to have at least 2 shirts I never wear and at least one pair or pants or a dress that never even make it out of the suitcase. I’m getting much better at paring down what I pack as I set everything out a few days before the trip and then come back to my pile and strip a few things out. Steve and I hate checking bags so packing light is a necessity and I need to leave room for at least 1 or 2 souvenirs or purchases.
Take Off the Extra Day
This one has been hard for me to learn. I have shoehorned in trips before, like a 6-day trip from Dallas to Kenya’s Masai Mara to witness the Great Migration. Was it worth it? Yes, but I felt like crap for several days afterwards and Steve ended up getting a nasty cold which I think was mostly due to being exhausted. We flew back straight from the game reserve to Dallas with back-to-back layovers in Nairobi and London. It was 33 hours of straight-up traveling and in coach the whole way. Needless to say, we were exhausted, jet lagged and worn out when we got home and we both stupidly tried to get up early the next morning and go right back to work. We should have just taken off one extra day to recover. I often do this because I feel guilty about taking time off from work but I’m starting to get over this. It’s really stupid because I am absolutely useless at the office the next day and I can always plug in and start checking email from home anyway.
If it Tastes Spoiled, Spit it Out
I’ve only gotten sick from something I ate on vacation twice before. Once was last year when we had dinner at our hotel in Antigua and we both thought the food tasted “off.” We picked at the dish some but then decided to forego most of it which was good because my husband and I were both struck with major intestinal issues for the next 36 hours. Another time was eating some fish in the Caribbean that tasted too fishy and ended up making me nauseated and then later sick to my stomach for the next 2 days. I have gone out on a limb a few times but in general if I think someplace doesn’t look sanitary or the food smells or tastes off, I won’t eat it. It’s not worth having precious vacation time ruined.
I also suffer from FOMO while on vacation and it had led me to pushing some fairly aggressive sight seeing and dinner reservation schedules that annoy my husband and turn me into a bossy taskmaster on vacation. Two years ago we visited Morocco and it turned out to be one of our best vacations ever and I think it was mostly because I didn’t overbook us on things or push it too much. I had originally planned this big excursion to the desert dunes, which would have involved a 12 hour drive, a 2 hour camel trek and basically camping in the desert with bedouins for 2 nights. I finally scratched that in favor of a 2 hour drive to the coastal town of Essairoura with a stay at a nice Riad, which was far more relaxing, yet still very interesting. The fresh seafood was also incredible here.
I also planned a 2 night stay in a spa resort outside the crazy medina of Marrakech where we laid by the pool and soaked in the sun with mojitos in hand. It ended up being the perfect blend of sightseeing at the beginning of the trip, traveling and relaxing so that is pretty much my formula for a week long trip now. I mix in sightseeing and “doing things” with some days of downtime and chilling out. Everyone is happier!
I know I have learned a few other lessons along the way, including no more than 2 rum punches at dinner in the Caribbean (okay, maybe 3), don’t wear high heels on cobblestones, don’t leave food out in your room in the tropics and always bring an extra charger for your phone.