Why My Near Death Experience on my Honeymoon Started My Startup

I am a meticulous planner because I like planned spontaneity. Planned spontaneity sounds like an oxymoron but I can assure you it’s a real thing. Planned spontaneity or PLASPO for short (I just made that up) is the kind of planning where you know where you’re going to sleep at night or how you are getting to A & B because not doing it would give you hives.

 PLASPO is the kind of planning where you have a general idea of what you’re going to doing but no solid plans because you want life to take a hold of your travel. To a certain extent. Like I said, avoiding hives.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

PLASPO is the kind of planning where you generally know what you are going to use as means to go about your day but not every hour is known. For instance, I know when the urge takes me, I will use Google Maps as my navigator, OpenTable to find a table to eat at, Google to look up ideas, Facebook to my travel groups for advice and inspiration and Instagram to post and show off #travellife worthy pictures.  A lot of apps, I know. But not much of a choice at the time.

For my honeymoon, I planned an epic trip -

  1. Get married in Mexico with a crew of nearly 90 people;

  2. Whisk away to Rio a few weeks before the Olympics

  3. Then a layover night in Morocco

  4. Few more days in Paris

  5. A week in South Africa with a safari thrown in; and,

  6. Lastly a short 23 hour layover stay in Dubai.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Three weeks for globetrotting. Amazing, right? Flights and lodging all taken care so we just need to let life take over to an extent.  Okay, I’m not being completely honest. I did have one activity that we absolutely had to make which was a skip the line for the Eiffel Tower on our first night in Paris. But other than that, life took the wheel!

 One thing I believe that we Americans tend to do is believe that the solutions we use at home are exactly the same overseas. You know McDonald’s at home and know it’s overseas so how much of a difference could there be (check out the Black and White Burger, the Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Toastie and Shaka Shaka Chicken - full list here). The one thing I had a misconception on was a certain ride-sharing app that shall remain nameless. For the sake of this blog we’ll call it Hot Mess.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Hot Mess was a staple to me especially as I lived in NYC and used it for pretty much everything. So why wouldn’t use it in my travels?

From our first day in Rio de Janeiro, we used Hot Mess to get about everywhere. And as Hot Mess had two different kind of options (Hot Mess Cheap and Hot Mess Class), we used Hot Mess Cheap to save money. And for three full days, we had no issues. We used multiple times in our quest for planned spontaneity. We wined, we dined, enjoyed nightlife etc using Hot Mess Cheap. And we were quite happy until we reached the end of Rio leg.

The early morning of our departure both myself and hubby called for cars. I called from Class and he called for Cheap. Cheap got there first - a small little car that could barely contain our suitcases. Just as we drove away, the Class I tried to cancel showed up. I would come to regret getting in that car.

Because we were set up.

Cheap Driver decided to drive through one of Rio’s infamous favelas to get to the airport. And two kind gentlemen with a semi-automatic riffle, shouted at the car in Portuguese, had us and driver get out the car and robbed us. Shoving the gun in our faces, they drove away with Cheap Driver’s car with our suitcases and bags (save the small bag at my side which had our passports, credit cards, phones and iPad).

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

After ping-ponging through a series of emotions, we went through with the rest of our trip as we much as we could (unfortunately the trip to the police station derailed our flight to Morocco and we had to get new tickets to Paris - I wasn’t missing my skip the line!) and got new things along the way. I compartmentalized the incident and tried to enjoy the rest of our trip with a husband who I knew I now could get into anything with and remain strong - talk about initiation.

But as we continued on, we relied on our friends and travel groups for support. And it was also then that we learned from someone from our travel group that there is a major difference between Hot Mess Cheap and Hot Mess Class and that’s background checks! In Brazil, they are not done on everyone. Everyone seems to believe that our Cheap Driver was in on the heist.

Now after everything I have told you about my planning process, two things I am most concerned with - means of travel and lodging but it’s all in the name of safety. Why wasn’t this on my radar? How could I have missed this? I had spent months planning this out, going over options, double and triple checking and I didn’t catch this. And perhaps I never would have because there is so much information out on the internet that is a miracle to find anything.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

What if there was a way to get information truly catered to you? That you only get information that pertains to what you need for your trip? That fits your whims and desires? That you can find a community of people who have this pertinent information and not need to go through pages of pages of blogs and websites? And kind find reputable vendors that are matched to you so you have your planned spontaneity on your own terms?

And it does this automatically? Cut down on my time so I can enjoy life?

Yeah, it didn’t exist. So I and my co-founders created it.

It’s called Viageur. And in the end, if you are a traveler who likes flying off the seat of your pants or like meticulous plan, Viageur can meet you where you are and find what you need so you can simply be traveler again rather than a travel agent.

Our team and quite the international team at that is really passionate about making it easier for you to travel.  No more barriers. No more excuses. Just #perfecttriplife.

Let us know what you need to reach that #perfectTripLife! Send me an email (and yes this is my real email) - kristina@viageur.io and let’s chat!

learn more by checking out & following Viageur below:

 https://www.instagram.com/viageur/

https://blog.viageur.io/

From a.png

11 Tips for Overcoming Flight Anxiety

Vacation time is here!  You're ready to relax, unwind, explore and just leave all your stress and cares behind.  There's only one problem - you have a long flight standing between you and your amazing adventures. Recently I took an informal poll on my Facebook page asking friends what they do to help with flight anxiety.  Here are a few of their responses - maybe you can identify with some of them:

  • Watch a movie, work or sleep

  • Chew mint gum and listen to a book or play word cross

  • Crown and Coke. A few to be exact.

  • Xanax

  • Valor (essential oil blend)

  • Listen to the Calm app

  • Klonapin and vodka

I have always envied those who can just hop on a plane, fall asleep, and wake up refreshed once they reach their destination without a care in the world.  Not me! I get sweaty palms and feel tense each time I fly, even though I've been traveling for basically my entire life (since age 1) and have now been to 36 countries.   If it's a smooth flight, I'm generally able to relax, but when it's bumpy or has a lot of turbulence, I have a hard time calming down.  I'm still not at the point where I can say that I enjoy flying, but I feel like each time I fly I'm able to manage my fears a little more effectively.  Here are some things that have helped me get through flights without feeling as scared as I used to!

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Come Prepared With Entertainment

For me, there is nothing more disappointing than boarding a plane only to find out that your 8+ hour flight does not include any seatback screens for entertainment.  After being tired of that letdown, since then I have always made sure to download movies, TV shows or podcasts for my flight ahead of time so that I have plenty of things to keep me occupied.  For me, the more immersive the entertainment, the better. The more I can be distracted by something during the flight, the less anxious I feel.   I like action movies and thrillers that keep me engaged, but comedies can also be helpful!

Write

If possible, bring your laptop or pen and paper to let your creative juices flow.  You'd be amazed how much you can get done with a little bit of nervous energy. I love journaling or writing blog posts while flying because it's not often I have such long periods of uninterrupted time to put my thoughts on paper and to work on my to-do list.  Whether you're writing for pleasure, answering emails, working on a budget project or anything else, it's a great time to be productive, so try to focus your energy on what you want to accomplish during the flight and you'll find that you won't be dwelling on your anxious thoughts as much.  Maybe you don't journal or write blog posts - flights are also a great time to write a letter of gratitude to those who you appreciate or even just a nice letter or postcard to those you miss.

Talk With The Crew

Share your anxiety with the flight attendants.  They are trained to assist and reassure you and will be glad to spend a little extra time with you or check on you more often.  On our last flight, I was seated next to a group of elderly ladies who were incredibly fearful during the flight. It was nice to see the flight attendants coming by to make sure they were alright and to ask if they could do anything for them.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Seating

If you can book far enough in advance to have a lot of seating options, always opt for seats closer to the front of the plane.  Not only will this allow you to de-plane more quickly, but it will also help you have a more comfortable experience. I have experienced FAR more turbulence and movement of the plane sitting in the back, so I always try to choose a seat in the front when I have the option.  Also, I find that sitting on the aisle allows me to feel less claustrophobic.  

Sleep

If you're able to, sleeping is a great way to avoid flight anxiety and fear.  Some people can easily fall asleep on planes, but I've only been able to sleep with the help of full-spectrum hemp oil (my favorite brand is from Ned).  Even then, it's still really tough for me to stay asleep on a flight because the hemp oil provides more of a subtle relaxation feeling rather than a heavy sleep-inducing effect.   Natural supplements like valerian root, magnesium and melatonin can also be helpful in promoting sleep, so those may be good options to look into if you're not interested in trying more intense or addictive sleeping aids that may require a prescription.  Side note: alcohol definitely helps to put me to sleep, but I always end up feeling pretty crappy and dehydrated when I get to my destination if I have a drink on the plane. For that reason, I'm trying to avoid that and use healthier methods to help me relax and sleep.

Forecasting Apps

There are several apps developed by pilots that will provide you with a flight model, expected weather and even a turbulence forecast so you know what to expect for your flight.  The ones I like the most are called SkyGuru and SOAR. The knowledge provided by these apps gives me some peace of mind knowing what the outlook is for the flight.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Music

You can use apps or create your own playlists before the flight with calming music or upbeat music - whatever helps you feel most relaxed.  I like using noise-canceling headphones for music, watching movies, and when trying to sleep so I can drown out the noise from fellow passengers or from the engines.  

Games

If you're fortunate enough to be traveling with a friend or significant other, bring a deck of cards, a travel-size game, or good old fashioned pen and paper to play some old favorites like MASH, the dot game or even tic tac toe!  My husband and I like to play Scrabble with each other while on the plane (you can download a pass and play version for your phone) I see plenty of people playing Sudoku and most of the time the in-flight magazine in the seatback in front of you will have a crossword puzzle you can complete if you didn't bring anything of your own.

Be Mindful And Pray/Meditate

Being mindful probably means different things to each person, but I remind myself that ultimately the outcome of the flight is out of my control, so worrying about it isn't going to help direct the plane to a safe landing, as much I wish it could.  Try taking a few deep breaths and reminding yourself that in just a few hours, you will be enjoying your destination.  Also, take the time to pray for those in your life and take the focus off yourself and on lifting up the needs of those in your life instead.  Meditate on Scripture verses that will help you emphasize peace, calm and safety.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Educate Yourself

It's true what they say - knowledge is power.  Take some time to learn about turbulence and how common it is.  Though it can be unsettling to feel the unexpected bursts of rough air, remember that planes are made to withstand all of this and the best thing you can do is to obey the fasten seatbelt signs in case turbulence does occur.   Especially if you're a first-time flyer, there are some helpful videos on YouTube where you can watch a Pilot explain the typical noises during a flight from start to finish so you will know what to expect.

Conversation

If you're traveling alone and the passenger next to you seems interested in talking, try striking up a conversation.  You might make a new friend and at the same time, help to take your mind off feelings of anxiety. I'm not someone that typically likes to talk to someone for an entire flight, but it can help to break up the monotony especially if you find you have things in common.

by Emily Adams

by Emily Adams

by Emily Adams

Emily Adams is a travel consultant and creator of The Planking Traveler.  She provides guidance on budgeting, off the beaten path travel guides and ways to incorporate enjoyable movement into your travels  She resides in North Carolina with her husband and rescue dog, Sasha. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.  


11 Tips.png

5 Tips for Traveling While Vegan

Veganism is the next big thing. It is easier now than ever before to pursue a plant-based diet either as a full-on lifestyle change, or as a method of incorporating more veggies into your diet. But what do you do while traveling? Chuck it all out the window? You don't have to! As a vegan of over 5 years and a lover of all things travel, here are my 5 tips for traveling while vegan.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

1. Use HappyCow.

If you haven't heard of HappyCow, check it out! I absolutely love this website. Other vegans and vegetarians will add restaurant listings, which are approved by the facilitators of the platform, and add reviews. You can see whether or not a place is vegan, vegetarian, or sells meat but has some vegan items on its menu.

 I find myself veering towards vegan restaurants if I'm traveling solo, or with others that like vegan food. If not, then the veg-friendly option is super helpful! You can see what vegan options they have, and whether or not they're any good, from the reviews on HappyCow.

 Some of my favorite meals in my life have been from restaurants listed on this website, and I have yet to visit one country that doesn't have a listing on HappyCow. Try this out if you're new to being vegan while traveling. You won't be disappointed!

 

2. Go to the grocery store.

I find this the best piece of advice for my wallet, travel experience, and veganism. Why? Because grocery stores vary quite a bit depending upon where you are in the world. There is a wealth of information you can learn about a culture just by perusing the aisles of its grocery stores.

 If you're staying in a place with a kitchen, you can even pick up some food and cook, instead of eating out for every meal. I have saved who-knows-how-much money just from this travel hack alone. And, to top it all off, I've experienced grocery stores so different from mine at home. What a cool outing!

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

3. Be culturally sensitive—but stick to your guns.

There is a sometimes-heated argument about whether or not vegans should change for travel, in order to be culturally sensitive. I lean more towards no, because there are secretly vegan local dishes all around the world. Also, this is more of a personal choice, because I went vegan due to health issues. If I eat meat, I run the risk of becoming seriously ill. However, I still want to be respectful of my hosts when I travel. It can be difficult to balance!

 In my experience, it is best to be honest and forthcoming about your dietary restrictions, but not to compromise them. This is especially important for those of us with severe allergies, or stomach problems. At the end of the day, do what's best for you! If that means eating differently while traveling and adopting a vegan diet sometimes, then that's that. But, if you want to be vegan 100% of the time, it is doable while traveling, and you can do so without being disrespectful.

 This is another reason why HappyCow is so great! It helps you connect with vegans from the country you're visiting, because the overwhelming majority of the restaurants listed are locally-owned and operated. It's also a way to contribute to the local economy. I always like to take the opportunity to ask the staff their favorite places to see and things to do in the destination. Sounds like a win-win to me!

 

4. Try local cuisine made vegan.

Depending on your destination, there may be a plethora of vegan options available from cultures all around the world. I still like to try at least one meal, even if it's at a veg-friendly place, that is a local dish made vegan. I've found that some of my favorite meals are these!

 For example, I recently tried vegan haggis in Scotland. Haggis is a sheep dish that is very traditionally Scottish--I'd never heard of it before arriving to Edinburgh. A local veg-friendly restaurant had a vegan version of it, and I fell head-over-taste buds in love.

 Should you try that highly-rated Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Amsterdam? Absolutely! But, should you also try the vegan haggis in Scotland? Yes, yes, yes. Not only is it a culturally enriching experience, but it also appreciates and celebrates the uprising of the vegan community all around the world.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

5. Engage with vegans from all around the world.

This also comes from trying local restaurants that are either all vegan, or have a few vegan options. Chat with the staff a little bit! Obviously, if they're busy, then they're busy. But, if not, then ask them about their hometown. I'm always happy to share off-the-beaten-path advice about my own hometown of Nashville, TN. Locals are a gold mine of information about places to see that you maybe never considered, and you can give advice based upon your own experiences in return.

 From using HappyCow and then traveling to different areas of the world, trying vegan restaurants, and chatting with the staff a bit, I have met so many incredible people. The owner of a vegan restaurant in Tokyo walked me through their whole menu, asked me about my experience as a vegan, and told me a little bit about day trips I should take. This was only my first night in the city, and I already had ideas for all the loose parts of my itinerary!

 There are vegan friends to be made all around the world. All it takes is for you to put yourself out there, and try something different.

 

There you have it, folks! I've learned so much about the world, myself, and my body as both a vegan, and a traveler. My experiences around the globe have been made so great by my interactions with the vegan community that can be found in every corner of the world. Veganism and travel have both brought me such balance and inner-peace. Vegan or not, I hope you find the same. Be well, and keep exploring!

 

 by Sarah from Sarah L. Travels

Sarah is a writer and blogger from Music City, USA with an intense case of the travel bug. On her blog, Sarah L. Travels, she writes about travel, veganism, and plain ole life. When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book or planning her next adventure.

 You can follow her & her adventures below:

Blog: https://www.sarahltravels.com/

 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahltravels/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sarahltravels/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahltravels/

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarahltravels 

5 tips.png

A Guide to Hawaiian Cuisine

Hawaii is a vibrant and fascinating location, with the same applying adjectives to the island’s culinary history, which has led to a melting pot of cuisines. In 300 AD the first islanders arrived, yet there was hardly any edible animals or plants in Hawaii at the time. It is believed that the voyages brought dogs, poultry, pigs and plants to eat. They taro they brought proved to be a success story, as they discovered it was suited to the island’s humid and wet conditions, which is why it became a stable.

But, this only scratches the surface of the melting pot. Captain Cook introduced seeds for pumpkins, melons and onions, as wells English pigs and goats. When the Chinese came to Hawaii around 1850 to work in the field they bought their stir fries and woks, which influenced the cuisine. Portuguese people then brought their love of malasadas, chilli peppers and pork. After this, the Japanese came to Hawaii, adding another touch of cultural culinary flair to Hawaiian cuisine and this is why it is known as a melting pot of cultures and influences. 


Traditional Hawaiian Dishes

•    Laulau – Laulau is made using taro leaves. Pork is wrapped in these leaves and then it is cooked in a hot rock oven underground for a number of hours until smoky flavoured and soft.

•    Poke – This is a raw seafood dish. Poke is essentially the Hawaiian version of Japanese sashimi. It is served in cubes and many different types of fresh saltwater fish are used, although tuna is the most common.

•    Poi – Thick paste that is made from taro root. This is a must-try when you travel to Hawaii. The root is either baked or steamed. It is then pounded and water is added to create the right consistency. 

•    Pineapple – If you are going to embrace Hawaiian cuisine you definitely need to incorporate fruit into your diet and the islands are famous for their pineapple, making it the ideal choice.  

Given that Hawaii is such a journey away, a lot of people tend to incorporate this trip with visiting other countries around there. It is not uncommon to visit Central America, for example, a lot of people incorporate Los Angeles into their trip. You could go a bit further afield and visit some culture-filled places in South America too. Where should I travel to in South America? There are lots of amazing options, including Peru and Lima. the best thing to do is align with a professional company who can organise all of this for you. After all, you may even want to do a worldwide tour and venture into Africa and Asia too!


So there you have it: a glimpse of the amazing Hawaiian cuisine! It’s reason enough to visit this part of the world.