“G” is For Getaway-ABC Relationships

It’s snowing in our part of the world.  Winter is my least favorite time of year.  This sounds like the perfect time for us to “get away”.

  • Where should we go?  Somewhere warm.
  • What do we want to see?  Something exotic and culturally different.

These were the criteria we used for planning our next adventure.

The ability to get away and travel has been hard for the past couple of years.  With the shutdowns caused by a Pandemic, the regulations around Covid and the subsequent supply chain and employee shortages, it has seemed easier to just stay home.

We love to travel.  Even during our early marriage, when we had no money, we  prioritized getting away.  For nearly each of the 40 years we have been married, we have traveled “somewhere”.

It has always been Alan’s desire to visit New Zealand and Australia.  It was suppose to be his retirement gift, but that was two years ago, before the world shut down.

Now that things are opening up again, I have begun to dream.

When I found a super deal on a Pacific Island Cruise, I knew immediately that we would be booking it. At 29 days, this would be our longest cruise to date. We added on an extra couple of weeks of land exploration and suddenly realized we would be going on a two month journey.  This was the longest we have ever been away from home and our family.

There were times that we questioned our own sanity about getting on a cruise ship (these saw some of the greatest challenges during the outbreak) but as the snow began to pile up, we grew more and more excited to travel to somewhere warm and exotic.  Part of the travel experience is taking risks and overcoming challenges.

Vacations are a way to reset.  Did you know there is actually a National “Plan For Vacation Day?”  It is January 28th.  It is humorous to me to realize that vacations are so important that there has been a full day set aside, to do nothing but plan for them!  This trip has taken me six months to prepare for!

Vacations are so important that Alan and I prioritize them as part of our life.  This is a big reason we became ABC Explorers.

Maybe your vacation will be to stay close to home, or perhaps you will visit someplace far away.  Maybe you will camp, or travel by train.   One thing is for sure, travel will have an impact on you.  Here are a few things we have found to be true through our experiences:

  1. Getting away breaks up the monotony of our days.  Routine can lead to predictable (and boring) results and relationships.  “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (the same is true for Jill).
  2. Travel gives us something to dream about, to aspire to save for.  It gives purpose to earning money.
  3. Travel creates stories.
  4. Travel helps us to bond with family and form lasting memories.  When days are busy with school activities, work responsibilities and day to day chores, there is little time to really “see” each other or to spend quality time together.
  5. Traveling is a great way to make new friends.  Travelers often have a lot in common.  The bonus is you then have an excuse for visiting new people and places.
  6. Travel gives you photos. Photos capture a tiny bit of life.  They allow you to revisit your memories over and over.  Remember, without a photo, it never happened!
  7. Travel allows us to be creative in “how” we experience the world…we can sail, fly, or ride a train.  You can go by tuk tuk or ride an elephant.  You could choose to visit art galleries or hike a mountain.  Our journey is really only limited by our imaginations.
  8. Travel allows us broad introspection as we experience different cultures and traditions. We are more open to the differences in people as we understand the world which they live in.
  9. Many parts of the world are impoverished, yet I have often found the people to be extremely welcoming and happy. We can return from a vacation with a great appreciation for what we have.
  10. History, geography and anthropology come to life as one travels.
  11. Travel allows the mind, body and soul to rest.  Working can be very stressful.  Sometimes we don’t even realize how much pressure we are under.  Stress leads to illness.  Sometimes you just need a moment to let some steam off.
  12. Travel can allow you experiences you could never get at home.  I do not live by oceans.  I do not have penguins or elephants nearby.  I do not have mountains to ski or climb.  The USA is a young country, there are few monuments or buildings which date back to the period of the Roman’s or earlier.
  13. Travel allows us to learn new languages. Communication is universal, language is our only barrier.  There may be great humor and humbling moments in learning to ask where a bathroom is.
  14. You don’t have to go far to “get away”.  In fact there is always plenty to do, see and discover, even in your own back yard.  Much of the time, this is an unexplored place.
  15. Life is short.  We have known so many elderly people who wish they had seen and experienced more.  They waited too long until they “had time”, then found they were unable to travel due to illness (or the loss of a partner).  There are only two things guaranteed in this life…taxes and death.  Travel while you can.

So what is stopping you from designing your next adventure?  Isn’t time to “Get Away”?

Continue checking back often as we get ready to set sail on our Pacific Island Adventure!



ABC World Travel-A List of Countries to Explore

We are on a mission to see the world.  This category will link to many topics about individual countries, which we have alphabetized below because that is how we roll.

If a topic is highlighted it means we have visited the location and you can find the stories within the blog.  You may also use the search bar to find our adventures.


General World Tour

A is for Africa, American Samoa, Antigua, Australia and Austria

B is for Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Belgium, Belize and Brazil

C is for Canada, Chili, China, Costa Rica and Cuba

D is for Denmark, Dominica and Dominican Republic

E is for Egypt and England

F is for Fiji, Finland, France and French Polynesia

G is for Germany, Greece, Grenada, Grenadines and Guatemala

H is for Holland and Hungary

I is for Iceland, India, Ireland and Italy

J is for Jamaica and Japan


L is for Laos

M is for Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco and Morocco

N is for  Nevis, New Zealand and Norway

O is for Oman

P is for Panama, Peru,  Philippines, Poland and Portugal

Q is for Qatar

R is for Russia

S is for Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland

T is for Thailand and Turkey

U is for USA

V is for Vietnam

W is for Wales


Y is for Yemen

Z is for Zambia, Zimbabwe


“L” is For Lightweight Luggage-Packing Tips and Tricks

Don’ t waste your weight limits by owning heavy suitcases!  On a recent trip, I weighed our cases before I even began packing.  They weighed over 13 pounds and this was before I had even added one pair of socks!

With average weight restrictions on most flights being only 50 pounds, I was frustrated with giving up over 20% of the maximum allowance to the suitcase.  But where to begin looking for a new case?

There are so many options when it comes to luggage.  Since we would be making a substantial financial investment in them, I wanted to give some thought to what we needed.

My body is aging and lifting cases has become more difficult over the years.   I want to be able to move the cases easily.  I was looking for a case which could be pushed or pulled.  My last wish was for adjustable handles, since there is a significant height difference between my husband and I.

We knew we would be taking these cases around the world.  I needed them to be sturdy but as light as possible since we might be away for long trips, which might require a lot of clothing.

There were many things which distracted me while I was shopping, such as built in power banks, but sticking to my original wishes, I realized these would just  weigh the bag down.

A little research and a shopping trip later, we ended up with these great bags from Travel Pro.   With over 8,000 reviews, customers consistently expressed how happy they were with the cases.  Many had completed hundreds of trips and still saw the bags outperforming others.  I was sold.

The Travelpro Maxlight 5 is regularly featured on many travel blogs (which is how I had found it).There are 4 different size options ranging from carry on to 29″.  There is also an underseat tote.

We chose the 26″ for our needs.  This large suitcase weighs just 7.5 pounds!  This gave me an additional 5+ pounds of wiggle room, compared to our older luggage.

With 10 choices of colors, the most difficult decision was which one to choose. In the end, we defaulted to our trustworthy black.  Although we loved many of the color choices, we worried that some of the lighter ones might show the dirt (even though they are stain restistant), we just wanted low maintenance.  We also knew that we would eventually tire of the colored cases,  or they would become obsolete in time.  Since we expect to keep these for a while, we stuck with the tried and true.

There were additional features which attracted us to this luggage such as:

  • spinner wheels- so we don’t have to pull the case.
  • multiple locking positions on the handle-adjusts for tall/short people.
  • a water and stain resistant exterior- which is handy if the case sits outside in inclement weather (as ours did on our 2021 trip to England).
  • side handles AND top handles-for easy grabbing in every direction off of those overfull baggage carousels.
  • an expanding zipper- which adds an additional 2 inches of depth to the case.  Great when you buy too many souvenirs.
  • many zippered sections-to tuck in those odd items.
  • a separate lid pocket-great for separating and organizing.
  • patterned interior-this was especially helpful with the small tote.  No more caverns of dark fabric when reaching into a deep bag.
  • interior straps-to keep the contents snug.



“A” Is For “Altered States”-Cruising


Cruising Through The Alphabet-A Is For Altered States


In our real world, Alan and I don’t drink much alcohol.  Usually we’ll have a glass of wine at Christmas and a Mimosa on New Year’s Eve.  We might indulge in the odd wine cooler or a glass of wine with friends.  On average, we probably have 8-10 drinks of alcohol, per year.  Take us on a cruise though and we become different people, usually enjoying at least one drink a day, sometimes a lot more!  Maybe it is the freedom from driving, kids and work that we feel.  But I think there is more to it than that.  What is it about this change of environment that makes us alter our behavior so radically?

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“A” is for Atriums-Cruising


While cruising, we challenged our fellow travelers to document their time on board the ship.  The goal was to find something to photograph, which began with the letter “A”.  We chose atrium.

On a cruise, the atrium is usually one of the first places that a passenger will see on embarkation day.  Similar to a hotel lobby, it is the heart of the ship.  In this location, you will also find the customer service desk, the shore excursion office, the purser’s desk and the cruise consultant.

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Journal Prompts-Travel Writng Prompts For “After” Your Visit

The following journal prompts can add interest to your travel journal.  Here are a few to use “after” your visit.

  1. Describe the highlights of your trip?
  2. What was your favorite tour or activity?
  3. What was your favorite meal?
  4. Describe your favorite day or evening on this trip.
  5. Recall something funny that happened on the trip.
  6. Were there any challenges or outright disasters?
  7. What was the worst thing that happened on your trip?
  8. How did this adventure help you grow?
  9. Has your perception of the destination changed because of this trip?
  10. Has this trip inspired you to make changes in your life at home?
  11. What is something new you learned from this trip?
  12. Is there anything about this trip that didn’t meet your expectations?
  13. Is there anything you would do differently next time you visit? (For example, experiences you missed or mode of travel?)
  14. Overall, would you visit this location again?
  15. What is one thing you wish you would’ve done?
  16. Did this trip challenge your limits physically or put you out of your comfort zone? Will you make changes on your next vacation?
  17. How did you feel when you arrived home?
  18. What do you wish you had packed and what could have been left at home?
  19. What is one piece of advice you would give someone else going on this trip?
  20. Where do you want to go next and why?

Journal Prompts-Travel Writing Prompts For “While You Are There”

Use the writing prompts below to add a little interest to your travel journal entries.  These prompts offer a reflection of your travel while you are “at” your destination.

  1. What was your first impression of your destination?  What did you see, hear and smell when you first arrived.
  2. Describe your accommodations;  your hotel lobby/room, Airbnb residence, cruise cabin etc.
  3. What has been a total surprise about this destination?
  4. What did you experience today that you enjoyed?  Even the small things…
  5. What emotions have you felt during this trip?
  6. Did anything make you smile, laugh or cry?  Did anything make you angry?
  7.  What was the worst thing that happened today?
  8.  Did you try anything new?
  9. Describe how people dress for work and play.
  10. What are the cultural differences between your culture and theirs?
  11. How do the people here spend their time on the weekends?
  12. How did an experience, person or place make you feel today?
  13. Have you met any locals?  Describe them.
  14. Describe an everyday activity you observed.  Have any of your perceptions or opinions changed?
  15. What traditions would you like to adopt?
  16.  What new foods did you try?
  17. What meal could you eat again and again?
  18. Have you tried a local beer or wine yet?  Describe it.
  19. Are there any current events at your destination that are affectng you?
  20. Did you learn any new words or phrases today?  How did you learn them?
  21. Sketch a moment you want to remember and/or a landmark.
  22. What will you miss when you return home?

Journal Prompts-Travel Writing Prompts For While You Are “En-Route” to Your Destination

Use the following to prompt your writing activity “en-route” to your next destination or adventure.

  1. What made you choose this destination or experience?
  2. What part of this trip have you enjoyed planning for the most?  What has been difficult?
  3. List some facts about your destination.
  4. What are your expectations of your destination or experience?
  5. What do you hope to learn on this adventure?
  6. Is there anything about the trip that worries you or makes you anxious?
  7. How will you prioritize your health while you are traveling?
  8. Make a list of things you can do for self-care while on the trip.
  9. What essential item(s) did you pack that you will never travel without?


Journal Prompts-Travel Writing Prompts For “Before” You Travel

Need a little writing inspiration?  Use the following prompts to get your creativity flowing.  The following are all about the activity “before” you travel:

  1. Detail your itinerary.  Why did you choose this itinerary?
  2. What have you researched about this destination already?
  3. What is on your bucket list at this destination?
  4. What is your purpose for traveling to this destination?  What are your expectations at this location?
  5. What advice have you read or been given about your destination?
  6. What are you most excited about? Why?
  7. Who are you traveling with?  Is this a solo trip or are you traveling with friends or family?
  8. Are you celebrating a milestone moment such as an anniversary, birthday or retirement?
  9. How will you get to your destination?  Describe your transportation and flight details.
  10. Are there local delicacies or new foods you can’t wait to try?
  11. What cultural customs did you research?
  12. Are there phrases or words in a new language?  Write them in your journal.
  13. Are you hoping to relax or do you have plans for big adventures while on this trip?
  14. What souvenir do you want to bring home? For whom?
  15. Give yourself a piece of advice before you leave on your trip.
  16. Share your to do lists or packing list.
  17. What movies or music did you download?
  18. Is there an inspirational quote? Either something you hear and want to remember or something which is a favorite? What feelings does it invoke?

J is for the Journalers Journey

Why blog?

Truth be told I needed a place to practice writing.  Travel, writing, photography and scrapbooking have always been my passions.  These passions led me to open a scrapbook store in 2002.  My mission there was to give people their voice. Unfortunately I had to close the store shortly after the recession hit.  I had learned a great many things.   I love encouraging others to trump their own horns and to celebrate themselves and I needed a way to continue to be able to do that.  I also realized I had a great passion for story telling and adventure.

I truly believe that every day presents an opportunity to design your own life, living “on purpose” if you will.  But only you can tell your story.  Your perspective is completely unique.

We can use our creativity to take great pictures, but after years of teaching I often find that most people don’t take the time to really think about the “why”.  Why did you take this picture?  Aren’t photos a way to freeze time?

Have you ever looked at a photo and asked, “Who are these people”?  Have you questioned what they were doing or why they had gathered?  Have you seen great pictures of interesting places and wondered where the photo was taken?

Photos are a representation of the lives we have lived.  They are tiny snapshots of memories.  Each time a picture is viewed it should answer who, what, when, where and why.  It should never be left open to interpretation.

The same is somewhat true of writing.  Words on a paper will form a visual image, but it will be based on the readers experiences and interpretations, not necessarily on what actually happened.

I regularly taught my students the value of journalling.  I would begin my class by asking the students to view a photo of my sons playing in a cornfield.  I asked people to write a short note about what they thought the picture represented.  Most said kids having fun in the fall.  A few guessed a family reunion.  How far off the answer always was!  In actual fact, it was a funeral.

It was indeed one of my favorite pictures of my sons but without including this information, the photo was very difficult to connect with the event.

I began this blog as a way to push myself.  I want to lead a more purposeful life.  I am forever writing my own legacy, which means I have to constantly examine who I am, the values I am trying to teach and the ways I spend my days.

I am a perfectly imperfect human being.  I may not be a master at writing or photography but I can only improve with constant effort at learning better skills.   I love encouraging others to do the same.  So the blog has been born.

I hope you will join me on this adventure.  Life is a journey meant to be shared.

Let’s start at the beginning by getting to know each other.



“A” is for “Anniversary at Aonach Mor”!-Harbor Springs, Michigan


Thirty years is a long time to be married.  We wanted to do something different for this special anniversary.  Since our wedding date falls on January 8th, we are often at a loss for how to celebrate during the peak of Michigan’s winter weather.  We had booked a beautiful room in Harbor Springs, Michigan for the weekend.  As part of our Anniversary package, we were given $150 resort credit, to be used at any of the nearby Boyne Resorts.  I scanned the opportunities.  There was skiing, tubing, dog sled pulls, horse drawn sleigh rides and something called the Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner.  Since we were on an “A” themed adventure, this caught my eye.

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A is for our Amazing Earth

Acadia, Maine and the mighty Atlantic ocean!

Acadia, Maine and the mighty Atlantic ocean!


Perhaps you desire to stand in awe of our amazing earth.  National Parks are great for this.  In Maine, you could visit Acadia to view the Atlantic ocean.  Across the country, in the state of Montana, you might choose to discover an alpine meadow in Glacier National Park.

If it is high “adventure” you seek,  you might want to add Australia to your ABC bucket list, with a goal to see the Aurora Australis.  You’ll have to go  further north to view the Aurora borealis.  I hear the Alps, Alaska, Argentina and Africa are awesome too.   Where will you take your next “A” themed adventure?


A is for Airplanes

Air Show!


There is always something going on in a city A community calendar will show a list of events.  If you are lucky, you might discover an air show.  You could pass the time by watching  acrobatic planes, performing aerial maneuvers.    If you can’t find an air show, how about heading to a nearby airport and dreaming about your next adventure.


A is for “Anytime. anyplace, or anything” a great way to begin our ABC adventures.



One of our first adventures was to explore the town of Alden, MI.  You can read about it here.

Each state has its own list of cities and towns.  Every location offers its own unique flare.   Find out what to do there, then set your course for a new adventure.  If you live in Michigan, like we do,  you could also visit Acme, Adrian, Albion, Algonac, Allendale, Allen Park, Alma, Alpena,  Ann Arbor, Arcadia or Auburn Hills to begin  your alphabet journey.