Before You Go!


Views on The Inca Trail

Who LOVES to travel?

I do!

I get a massive buzz from it. For the past several years, my life has followed somewhat of a pattern. I work, save money, travel, return, rinse, and repeat! In the US, vacation days are like gold dust! There is something to be said, about the thrill of hopping on a plane, to a place you’ve never been, where no one knows your name, and the excitement of a different experience every day! I’ve told a loving universe, of my desire to travel for months at a time, volunteering from one country to the next, without the worry of having to return home, because I’m out of vacation days, or need to earn money!

Getting away can also be stress-inducing, especially as your departure gets closer. Years ago, I put off my trip preparation for weeks! The anxiety drove me nuts. I am so much better now at planning. In recent months, I’ve gotten inboxes, asking travel-related questions, from friends and co-workers alike. I am always happy to share my love of travel. I come alive giving tips, and hacks. Recently, I found myself reliving so many experiences, as I looked through multiple photo albums, containing years of memories. I am so grateful for the people, experiences, and opportunities presented to me.

In a month, I am off on a two-week adventure to Europe. I am so damn excited. This vacation is different, because it’s the longest one I’ve taken to date, coupled with the number of countries I plan to visit. Earlier this year, I set a goal to visit fifty countries, by the time I am fifty. I am approaching my mid-forties, and only just realized, by the time my birthday rolls around next year, forty countries will be off my list! So, I figured, why settle for fifty? Not me! So, it’s now sixty I am certainly going to try and smash this number!

The questions gave me an idea for this topic. Listed below, are things you should take into account before you go. Of course, the list is not exhaustive. If you find them helpful, have suggestions, or questions, I’d like to know! You can also email me, using the contact form above. In the future, I plan to blog about more travel-related topics; surviving the airport wait, long haul flights, trip planning, in-country support, etc. Follow my blog to get instant updates on new posts.

Ready. Set. Go.

What are the vaccination requirements for your destination?! If you are traveling to parts of South America, Africa, and Asia for instance, you need to be prepared. In some cases, you will not be allowed to leave the airport without proof of certain vaccinations. Consider the fact there might be a nationwide shortage of the one (s) you need. Always check at least 3 months in advance. There is a chance, you have not graced the door of your Doctor’s office in a while, for an annual checkup, no time like the present. Some health insurance plans, do not cover certain travel related vaccines. I needed Yellow Fever for Ghana, and was close to $200 out of pocket.

Seriously consider getting travel insurance! This aspect of trip planning is often hotly debated in groups. To me, it’s a no brainer. While I love the excitement and unknown in distant lands, there are some things I need to prepare for. Sickness, accidents, evacuation, repatriation, and yes, even death! I have seen, one too many Go Fund Me’s on social media, from families, begging for donations to bring their loved ones back home. Have you planned, and paid for a trip you can no longer take? You’ve lost out on thousands, in most instances. Consider annual plans if you’re a frequent traveler. Buy shortly after your initial trip payment, to save time and get better coverage.

If you are traveling with a friend or spouse, try selecting the middle and aisle seats respectively. Not many travelers want to sit in the middle. Unless the flight is full, you will end up with a seat between you two, giving you space to get a bit more comfortable. Go to sites such as Seat Guru, enter your flight details, and get advice. Sitting in the back of the plane, is also a good way to go if you are not fussy.

Make copies of your flight information, itineraries, and other travel documents, especially your passport. Take an extra step, and email a copy of the front page to yourself. There is nothing worse than being the victim of pickpocketing, lost/delayed luggage, etc., and not having access to this most important document. In the unfortunate event, you need to apply for a new one, it will speed things up. Always give a copy of your travel plans/itinerary, to at least one trusted person back home. Notify your State Department/Foreign Office of your travel plans (can be done online in most instances). Write down the address and phone number of your country’s embassy.

I don’t know about you, but I easily get lost in my handbags; so it’s crucial to be able to navigate new surroundings. Duh, get a map! Of course, some have a preference for paper versions. Furthermore, you might not have access to Wi-Fi/data to access one electronically. I love offline maps, such as maps.me, which gives turn by turn directions, of practically anywhere in the world! The app is FREE, detailed, and very functional. Another good option is Tripso; which doubles as a guide and map. Roam at your own pace, and discover thousands of locations, packed with experiences to suit a variety of tastes. There are many paid apps available.

Take a mini first aid kit, or at least, the essentials. Use items already in your medicine cabinet. When I hiked the Inca Trail earlier this year, altitude sickness was a beast! Headaches every day, lack of sleep, tiredness, and sore muscles, only contributed to the discomfort. I didn’t need to purchase extras. Walking around all day can result in calluses, blisters, and tired, aching feet.

Roll clothing, or fold them the Marie Kondo way. I have not used her methods. However, I can attest to using packing cubes and rolling clothes. Cubes are space-saving, allows for easy identification of items, and avoids clutter. Total game-changers. I have not reverted to my old habits! I always pack two extra outfits in my carry on. If your checked baggage doesn’t arrive the same time you do, you’ll have clean clothing to tide you over.

Regardless of what’s in your suitcase, mark FRAGILE on the outside! This tip came directly from an airline employee. I’m willing to bet, all of us have seen videos of the total disregard shown by baggage handlers. Marking your items as fragile reduces the risk, of them being tossed around, and protect them from damage.

Invest in a decent international adapter, and a portable charger. When I volunteered in Dodowa, Ghana, electricity was unstable. To my dismay, I couldn’t charge my phone using the outlets. To make matters worse I had left my charger at home, relying solely on the mercy of others. Ugh. An extra battery would have come in handy. I was a lot more prepared for the Inca Trail, as we couldn’t charge our devices for almost four days.

Today, with so much technology readily available, it’s easier for us to remain in touch with family and friends while traveling. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are great for this purpose. Add your friends and family, on the latter, before you leave. Notify your cellphone carrier of your travel plans. Turn OFF data roaming BEFORE you land. Unlock your phone before you leave, this allows you to purchase a cheap local sim plan if you chose to. Most major US carriers, have long-distance plans either already included or available to purchase, with slow speed data.

Look up monetary conversions ahead of time, though exchange rates change daily. Buy local currency before you go. With proper notice, most banks will order these for you, charge the regular exchange rate, minus fees. Avoid airport exchange counters. If you need more, use a bank or ATM at your destination. Some travelers prefer to load money on a cash card. Find what works for you!

Finally, let your bank/credit card companies know you are traveling! Nothing worse than having a transaction declined abroad, for being flagged as fraudulent. Same thing for credit cards. A simple phone call will do, or in many cases, use the mobile banking app. One extra thing to note, if you live in the West, look into travel hacking. Please be responsible with credit! With that being said, you are already paying monthly cellphone, cable, rent, and other bills, but are they translating into rewards for flights, hotels, activities, etc? Stop leaving money on the table. Travel hacking has revolutionalised the game for me.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Traveling has changed my life, which only began, outside my comfort zone.

Where will you travel to next? Perhaps a fun quiz can help!

Wherever your next flight takes you, remember, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.”

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Earth Strong Day!


another_year_wiser-117350(Photo : google images/quotesgram)

In a few days, I’ll celebrate another Earth Strong Day! As I look back on the past year, my thoughts are very much dominated by the types of fires I’ve had to put out. Fires, I never thought would come to my door. While most have been smothered, a few are still smouldering. I’m used to it, just another day, on the wild ride, that is my life.

Another year in life’s journey has come upon me. I wonder what adventures, trials, and ridiculously happy moments will come my way. How will the next year play out for me?

While the struggles are being slowly filed away in the recesses of my mind,  the idea came about to record the happy, wholesome, and fabulous memories of the previous year.

Ten, twenty, forty years from now, if I’m still walking  the earth, I will look over these posts,  laugh, shake my head and say “What a bloody amazing ride that was”! It’s been a year of many firsts, and there is so much more waiting for me.

In no particular order, below are some of the notable highlights of the past year:

I got trusted with my first credit card with a sizeable limit, which have been increased twice.

First time being asked to help represent my company at an Employment Assessment Day!

Interviewed for two roles at a company, got offered both, and had to choose!

First retreat in Devon.

Met Ann Lewin, and got an autographed copy of “Watching for the Kingfisher”

Helped to man a stall, and raise funds for a charity at Bristol’s Nature Festival.

The unknown strangers who took care of me, the morning of my collision.

Helped to make history, while working on a four month contract. My colleague and I brought in more revenue, over the same time period, when compared to the previous five  employees! Our efforts were recognized in the annual AGM.

Became the first employee to bring in a total of six job outcomes for the same company above.

New car insurer accepted my no claims certificate from the USA, saving me a bundle.

The sweet flat in Fishponds.

Three different summer festivals in one year.

Plug and Drive Gold Standard driver…which led to insurance discount.

Shaun’s Trail.

Arcadia Spectacular with Jenny (show of year).

First contents insurance policy.

A year of BOGO cinema tickets.

Attended a Dreamboys show (no apologies here).

First epic Three Cities /6 days holiday, and all the famous landmarks (Geneva, Berlin, and Paris).

First cable car ride 1100m up Mt Saleve.

During my epic holiday, I got off the bus in Geneva, crossed the street, and entered France.

Secured a permanent role in July 2015, and within three months, I achieved Gold Medal Performance Winner for meeting and exceeding my targets.

Saw Boys II Men in concert (and secured tickets to Nelly and Jeremih)

Finally found a sector I LOVE.

I’ve read over 25 books in the past year (including E books, and the reading frenzy started in Jan this year)

Finally, sorted a Will!

Student Loan sorted

First Vintage Fair.

Clubbing, twice in one month.

When a Manager says: “I hope you never leave”

First Masquerade ball NYE party!

First professional photo shoot, and registration with a modelling agency!

Visited Alice’s (Alice in Wonderland) Sweet Shop.

My cousin has begun illustrating the cover of my next book.

Became Reiki Level II Certified.

Completed Life Coach Training.

Naturally, the good has outweighed the bad. Bring on the next year. I hope your year is even more amazing!

Until the next post,

Love and Light,

Juan

 

 

#lookforthegood#


#lookforthegood#

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. For a host of reasons. I figured, if there are improvements to be made; I can work on them, at any given time, throughout the year. While strolling through the park on New Year’s Day, I decided that 2015, will be the year, I start looking for the good. In people, and more so, in my own life. As often as I can. Every day. There are several projects, which, true to my nature, I am juggling at once. So, I hope I can keep at this, and turn it into a lifelong habit.

I have to remind myself to look for the good in everyone, often. I recognize this will be the most challenging bit of the exercise. Generally, (except for family, friends, and work) I dont look for anything. I mean, how often do we need to? We go about our daily lives, not a thought for the other person. We interact, and move on. Let me hasten to add, my friends and family, would tell you, I don’t automatically look for the bad. However, I know; I need to do a much better job, of seeking out the positive attributes in everyone, especially, when it would be so much easier to see otherwise.

As for the things in my own life; at the end of every day, I write short notes, about the things I experienced, the people who helped, etc, and place them in a jar. The photo above is the actual one I use. I started with white for January. Eventually, I will need to get a much larger, nicer model.

With so many grim images and stories, of terrible things happening in the world, I want to find another way to escape its brutality. One that is often very difficult to accept. The past few years have been rough. I am sure it is for the next person. This exercise, will offer peace and comfort, when I look around, and find dimness.

If I am blessed to be alive next year, I will open it on Jan 1st, and be reminded of all the wonderful things, and people, which made up 2015. It’s been a wonderful exercise, thus far. I find myself looking forward to writing the notes every day. WHY didn’t I do this sooner? I had to resist the temptation, to reread the slips of paper. Even though I just added them. I am sure, at some point I will, as the lure will be too great. It’s a good problem to have, isn’t it? 🙂

I will update you on this project throughout the year. Wish me well.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Thank You Very Much.


thank-you-facebook-cover2014 is a year I will never forget. For a myriad of reasons. I am sure, if I sat down with each of you, we can spend hours, days even, swapping stories on the lessons we learned. When it comes to chindeepinlife however, I wanted to make this post brief, and to serve one purpose.

Thank you. For following. Commenting. Liking. Sharing. Visiting. Encouraging. Your loyalty. I write for so many reasons. One evening, a few short years ago, while I sat in my small university dormitory, I decided to start writing again. I never imagined where the journey would take me. And what a journey it has been.

Through it all, you keep returning. I know days, even months might go by, without a visit, but I find great hope in knowing the blog is here, when you need it. I will keep writing as long as I am physically able to do so.

I hope and pray the year ahead brings us every good thing. I ask the heavens for continued strength, and healing.

Once again, thank you very much. See you next year.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

A Happier You!


LettingGoAfter one stage comes another. The incredibly good thing changes, is the fact, that we are able to look at things from a different, fresher perspective.  One thing I learned this year is the power of positive thinking. Times are hard as it is. Anything which takes the pressures off, even for a short time, I try my best to hold onto it, and revisit often.

I have the Learnist app. Subscribers get daily updates of everything from helpful hints, news stories, reading material, and how to’s. Carmen Sakurai offers some rather simple, yet powerful advice on how to be happier. I hope you find it helpful. Take what you want, and leave the rest.

Over the next several months, I will use a few of the ideas below for future posts.

Let Go of Worrying about What Others Think of You. You see your world through eyes of your own personal life experiences and interpretation… and so does everyone else. It’s important to understand that when someone has an opinion of you or your life, it doesn’t make it a fact. You don’t need anyone’s permission to set your worth.

Let Go of Making Superficial Judgements. Just as you shouldn’t worry about what others think of you, it’s important that you avoid judging others and their life choices. The only life you get to live and are responsible for is your own, so leave others to live their own lives full-out.

Let Go of Anger or Resentment. Don’t punish yourself for poor choices made by something outside yourself. Process any negative thoughts and feelings quickly, then free yourself from the damaging energy by forgiving and letting go.

 Let Go of Making Excuses. If you have a goal, you must do whatever it takes to achieve it. Otherwise, you’re doing nothing but throwing empty wishes up in the air. Remember, while outside forces may temporarily block your path, you have the power to take responsibility for the attitude you choose in situations which you have no control over.

Let Go of Setting Perfection as a Goal. By obsessing over perfection, you become so consumed in finding imperfections to fix that in the end you will have nothing to show for except unfinished, imperfect work. Practice progress over perfection instead, by making constant improvements to live a life of accomplishments.

Let Go of Waiting for the Perfect Time.“Stop waiting for the perfect day or moment….take THIS day, THIS moment and lead it to perfection.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli. Time won’t stop and wait for you to take action, so it’s up to you to either move forward and create a positive momentum… or sit and wait. So why would you want to sit in a puddle of stagnation when you can invest your energy into your happiness and success!

Let Go of the Need to Always Feel Comfortable. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” ~ Neale Donald Walsch. Avoid setting limits to what you can achieve in your life by remaining in your personal comfort zone, because when you break out of it is when you grow the most. Look at it this way, if a single seed that’s fallen under a side walk can find a way to break through to bloom under the sun, so can you!

Let Go of Your Past Mistakes. The past has already happened and that moment no longer exist. Your past does not define you or limit what is possible for you to achieve from this moment on. If you suffered in the past, recognize that you are here today, and you are OK.

Let Go of Insecurity. You were born perfect as YOU can be with everything you need to live a successful and fulfilling life. That means you can relax and stop comparing yourself to others or setting your standards based on someone else’s expectations.

Let Go of Excessive Worrying. “Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.” Worrying about something that may or may not happen won’t change anything – and you miss out on the opportunity to make the present great.

Let Go of Negative Influences. No matter how positive you are, if you constantly surround yourself with people who always complain, procrastinate, and make excuses, there’s a strong chance you will begin to absorb their toxic energy. Make it a point to surround yourself with positive and proactive people who will lift your spirit and inspire you.

Let Go of Trying to Change Others. Just as you were born as uniquely perfect as you could be, the same goes for everyone else. No one is obligated to change their attitude, thoughts, or actions just to make you feel more comfortable or secure. Appreciate the differences… they’re what makes this world so interesting!

Let go of One-Sided Relationships. This is when one person is fully committed while the other is not. We want to believe that if we give someone all of our love and invest enough attention and effort for both people involved, we will be able to “convince” them to love us back. Listen, you are an incredible individual deserving all the love, security, respect, and happiness that a healthy relationship can offer.

Let Go of the Attachment to Money. Being financially secure certainly can help open opportunities, relieve stress, and offer some piece of mind. But all the money in the world cannot make you happy if you are unable to feel happiness from within. Instead of measuring your success by how much money you have, define it with happiness, inner peace, and the positive contributions you can make in this world!

Let Go of Wishing Life Was Fair. Sure, there are people who have advantages in certain areas of their lives, but know that you also have advantages over other people in different areas of your life as well. Just because something that’s worked for someone else didn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean you’re less than or incompetent.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

Guilty…


Pleasures. That is. My definition: things I am powerless to say “no” to. I have an abnormally high level of them. So. Don’t judge me, cuz I sin differently than you 🙂 . I’m sharing a few. No particular order. I don’t like to use the phrase “guilty pleasures”. Because, they are things which make me happy. And gives pleasure. And I don’t feel a single ounce of guilt.

  • Eating Haagan Daas vanilla ice cream out of the container.
  • Checkers fries. By the bucket load.
  • Cuddling until I fall asleep.
  • Men with a wicked sense of humor.
  • Sleeping in late in the morning.
  • Being waited on by my significant other.
  • Spontaneous shopping sprees.
  • Staying in bed all day during bad weather.
  • Holding hands, and strolling through quaint villages.
  • All night pillow talk.
  • Dancing in the rain.
  • 800+ thread ct sheets.
  • Receiving “just because” gifts.
  • Listening to a man with a sexy voice.
  • Long, breathless kisses. With a partner who has perfected his craft.

Live. Love. Laugh. And be happy.”What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about pleasures” Tom Hiddleston

Best,

Juan.

The Reasons Why I…


It’s great to be alive!! This morning I opened my eyes. And like days gone by, I was reminded many people didn’t. I’m grateful. Life is hard. Sometimes, it’s impossible to see the rainbow. Through the rain. Let me share some of the reasons why I get up in the morning. Here’s my invitation: make a list. Or two. Place it in a spot, where it can be seen. Often. The result? You’ll see. Go on. I dare you.

  • I love life.While there is life, there is hope.
  • The love of family and friends.
  • I believe in my dreams. I have goals to accomplish. Many things to do.
  • People need and depend on me.
  • My motto:“Life is the ticket to the greatest show on earth”. It’s not a dress rehearsal.
  • The dreams I have for my family. One day.
  • The feeling that I could change a life. Today, might just be the day.
  • I have everything I will ever NEED.
  • It could be a lot worse. And it’s always darkest before dawn.
  • I was destined to be here. At this time. In this life.

Until the next post, enjoy #100reasonstokeepliving

Best,

Juan