If You’re Mourning Carrie Fisher- Laugh

Carrie Fisher the very big Star Wars actor that we knew and loved. The Princess that didn’t needed saving, and that could fire a gun and actually hit her enemies….. well she passed away this week.

Huge Star Wars fan, or not, many of us have taken time to reflect on her contribution to film and women in film. She was also the daughter of another iconic performer, Debbie Reynolds, who they say died of a broken heart the day after her daughter died. Reynolds contributed a hell of a lot in her life too, and the loss of both this week is a blow to film nerds around the world.

Yet, while I am saddened by these losses, I know there is something really cool we can all do right now. It not only honors the memory of these performers, but it also cheers the soul. I did this when Bowie and Rickman died in January, I took to their art and I devoured it. I watched movies and listened to music and loved their art. I’m doing this right now with Fisher.

I just read her book Wishful Drinking over the last 48 hours and I laughed my ass off. It’s a hilarious book, full of comical  (intentional) stories and moments from both Fisher and Reynold’s life. I plan on reading more of Fisher’s work and just enjoying her contribution to the world. Ya know what, she would have wanted it that way.

Weirdly Wishful Drinking is almost prophetic of her own death and passing, but in a loveable way. In a “it’s gonna happen” way. Because, that’s the end for all of us.

Because that’s this planet, this universe, and not so far far away or long long ago. We’re all mortal, and we’re all trapped in that truth.

So, wipe the tears (don’t deny them) and enjoy what artists made when they pass. That was the whole point, a lasting contribution on a world that’s ever changing and temporary. Laugh at their jokes and their writings, and love that we get to live NOW and enjoy these pieces of humor and life. Also cry if you must, that’s okay too. We’re laying to rest and saying goodbye to some friends from our own journey.

From Wishful Drinking:

George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes one look at the dress and says, “You can’t wear a bra under that dress.”

So, I say, “Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”

And he says, “Because. . . there’s no underwear in space.”

What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t—so you get strangled by your own bra.

Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit—so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.

What I’ve Learned From Travelling….

…to be a better traveler.

A friend posted on Facebook just now…which inspired this post, that she, after travelling part of Europe HATED her massive luggage that she took and never wants to travel with it again. To which I reply….well duh!

However, 6 years ago I learned this lesson myself, and have learned it many times since. Travel with less= enjoying more. TRUTH.

I found on my first trip to Europe, 6 YEARS AGO that taking extra crap was a waste of my time and money (you know you have to pay more for heavy bags on planes). I stupidly took books to read (which I never had time to), I took travel guides (now I rip them apart or use my phone) and I took a massive book to put ticket stubs and other crap in (this was EXTRA DUMB) this book weighed about 5lbs and now 6 years past most the ticket stubs have fallen apart or the thermal paper has erased itself….so that was also a waste of time. Anyway my first trip also meant that I bought a shit-ton of books at different places I went, which was well-meaning, but it also meant that I had a hell of a lot of extra weight that I had to ship home or pull all over Europe.

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Oh to be 19, young and stupid…

Since then two more trips to Europe have taught me a lot, and mostly by mistakes.

First of all: DO NOT plan on mailing anything home unless you have like $300 extra to spend because international mailing rates have gone up, up, up. That goes for U.S. or Europe and let’s just say you can throw away a lot of money on knick-knacks and then to send them home, and the reality is YOU ARE BUYING CRAP so STOP!!!!!!!! This also goes back to a philosophy of DO NOT buy people souvenirs unless they are SMALL and light weight and squishable.

Second: Invest in good luggage. Luggage that is lightweight, can take some knocks, can stretch and that maybe has a warranty. My first suitcase barely functions (I keep souvenirs in it) and it started to fall apart halfway through a 2.5 month trip. ALSO- buy one with WHEELS and four wheels that are fully rotating. Even if you don’t do much walking with your luggage, the few hours at the airport make it worthwhile. If you are backpacking, then different rules apply.

Third: Plan for the length you will be gone. For 1 week-3 weeks, take a carry-on or medium suitcase, and plan to do laundry, and pack extra undies. For 1 month+ you’re allowed a larger bag, however if you are traveling a lot (in the moving place to place sense) keep in mind that a backpack may make trains and hostels a lot easier. For longer trips I take a larger bag and only pack it half-full, then there is room for gifts/souvenirs/supplies that I may need. For instance, the Hostel I was at last year in Edinburgh left me FREEZING every night, so I bought a wool blanket that not only helped with the cold, but now I use daily as a throw. Having extra space meant I could bring it home.

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All you need for a month, minus the kitty.

Fourth: Listen to friends/family that have traveled a lot and don’t be too proud to look stuff up. If I had listened to more Samantha Brown and less grandparents/dad’s friends I would have taken WAY less on my first trip and had a better time.

Fifth: Take a big enough bag. It’s a fine line between too much and not enough, but when I went to Italy for my study abroad and lived in Florence 5 weeks, I accumulated a lot of stuff. Such as clothing….because fashion and street markets….. So taking the train to meet some friends to get to Germany was a nightmare. It was stuffed train+ suitcase+ two bags I bought + other random crap….It was bad, and embarrassing and HEAVY. Lesson learned.

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From Paris with Love….

Sixth: Use tech to your advantage. BUY A SMARTPHONE already! Seriously, on my last trip that is all I took was my iphone, leaving back my DSLR and computer. Why? Well usually I LOVE taking lots of photos but for only a week of running around and some extra time with family, my IPhone 6S was PLENTY to take fun photos, stay in touch and pull up maps/directions. Also, buy a GOOD smartphone, and make sure you have international coverage where you go. T-Mobile offers FREE texting and slow data overseas and is about $0.20/min to call. Which is pretty good! If you are going somewhere a long time and think you want to call a lot (I use SKYPE btw) then think about getting an unlocked phone and buying sim cards abroad that you can “top-up” or buy a month-to-month plan. It really helps and in this day a phone can be a lifesaver if you get lost or can’t find a taxi at 3am. Even if you take a DSLR in addition, having the cellphone can lighten your load by leaving the computer at home, and carrying important information (scans of passport etc.) Along with access to people back home. Anyway, just join the 21st century and be savvy. Compared to traveling 6 and even 3 years ago, having a SMARTPHONE make a HUGE difference and is worth the time/headache it saves.

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Seventh: Buy disposable entertainment. MEANING: download audio books/digital books (utilize the library), books you can leave at a hostel, movies that are digital, music that is digital etc. This keeps things lightweight and also if you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have to feel guilty about lugging around the weight.

Eight: Pack minimal clothes and buy new things. I try to leave some room in my budget and suitcase to buy some clothes. This is my “backup” for not only weather conditions and “unknowns” on what might be fashionable or more comfortable for the travel conditions. This acts as an awesome souvenir and a great amount of fun.

Happy Travels!

~Rebecca

Hidden London, the city that you need to see

platform 9 3/4

London, as many great cities are, is full of your typical tourist spots, and one can spend plenty of time hitting museum after museum, and visiting royal sights.

Yet, there is a lot more to see in London, such as unique and vibrant culture in the pubs and waterways that are away from the tourist trail.

Such as the Dickens Inn at St. Katherine Docks. That is an old haunt of, you guessed it, Charles Dickens and in the area that so often found itself in his stories. 

Or haunt around Kings Cross and check out Platform 9 3/4! Along with the Harry Potter shop.

How can I resist? #HarryPotter #london #england

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Even at the big tourist spots there are magical places that sometimes get missed. Such as the 13th century reconstructed palace at the Tower of London.

Not bad for the 13th century #london #medieval #england #historynerd #luxury

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The reality of London is that wandering gets you to some neat places. Some cool shops, some exciting places, interesting people and unique sights. If you can, make a connection with a local, because they will always know a place or two worth exploring.

Happy Travels!

~Rebecca Lee Robinson

Summer School

Some of you may or may not know, but I am working on my master’s in International Journalism.

As a result I haven’t been blogging so much lately.

So attached is my summer work, a documentary on geek culture in Fort Collins, Colorado.

ENJOY!

Consider Scotland for your next adventure!

If you love and live in Colorado it can be hard to find somewhere as beautiful to vacation in. Not to sound snobby but when sights like this

Gorgeous #sunrise in #Colorado #nofilter #mountains

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are in your backyard, it’s sometimes hard to be blown away other places.

Yet I have been to Europe quite a few times and it has never disappointed. My most recent trip left me in Scotland for most of the month I was away, and it was amazing!

Edinburgh is my favorite, for being a gorgeous gothic city with ancient and medieval bases.

Can't complain about the views! #edinburgh #scotland

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I'm just gonna live here. #edinburgh #edinburghCastle #scotland

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and the castle is awesome!

#edinburgh #edinburghCastle

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Graveyards feel more romantic than macabre.

Always fun to watch the #busker in #edinburgh #scotland #royalmile #highstreet

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The street performers are a hoot and a half.

Good #morning from #DeanVillage!!! #edinburgh #scotland #grammasters3

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The architecture stunning

#Bonnie Bonnie banks of #loch #lomond

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and Scotland has so much natural beauty everywhere

Even when you’re freezing in winter

#BenNevis #scotland #highland #scottish

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Just amazing! #scotland #highland #isleofskye

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#hairy #cooooos #cows #highland #ginger #hairtwins #scotland #scottish

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and there are COWS!

The most beautiful castles…

Good end to another perfect day #scotland #castle #scottish #highlands #eileandonan

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#eileandonan take 2 #scotland #highland #highlands #grammasters3

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Look!! We saw #Nessie and co.! #lochNess #scotland #highlands

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Keep a lookout for Nessie

#scottish #dance #torture where the dance is made up and stomped toes don't matter #ceilidh #BurnsNight

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And wear some dancing shoes.

Perhaps the most #beautiful place in the #world #scotland #highlands #isleofskye

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It’s truly magical, and something dreams are made of.

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Little Fish, Big Pond- from country girl to world traveler

I grew up in the Pikes Peak region, very rural. Where the closest neighbor we had for many years was about half a mile away. Where the roads were dirt for three miles back to my childhood home. Where you could hear traffic from a mile away if you listened hard enough. Where big horned sheep hung out in their back yard and mountain lions were a real threat.

When going to school as a kid we literally lived at the LAST stop on the school bus route, for either school we went to either in Cripple Creek or Woodland Park. Both of which were a 30 minute drive in either direction.

When I was 19 (in 2010) I decided, while taking a gap year and a half, to take a trip. By myself I would go to Europe. I started in Germany and France with some dear friends that lived in Stuttgart. By the time I got to traveling alone I was in the UK and that meant a wakeup call on public transportation and how much of the world lives.

In London, I rode on my first subway, real subway- not one at an airport.

Out of London I rode on my first public train, not just a touristy trip through the Royal Gorge, to Diss in East Anglia.

In Edinburgh, I rode in my first cab, EVER….I kid you not.

Out of Stirling, Scotland I took my first public bus to Dirleton, Scotland, which quickly turned into a mess because I didn’t understand bus schedules…anyway.

Out of Holyhead, Wales I would take my first ferry and land in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.

As a trip of firsts in public transportation and seeing the world it was a wonderful experience and preparation for moving to the city for college.

In January of this year I took a third trip to the UK with my aunt, from Kansas, who had:

  • Never been in a cab
  • Never been on a commuter train
  • Never been on a subway
  • Never been on a public bus.

It was strange to think that someone in their 60s could just be experiencing these things for the first time. Yet, when I think about how strange the mid-west and western United States could be for people, it’s kind of a weirdness that is unique to that part of the world. Growing up in rural environments means that we have some experiences with raising farm animals, or hiking hidden trails. Yet we miss out on more urban pursuits. Which, when traveling have an interesting way of sneaking in. All part of the experience.

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Resources

Parts I, II, III

Based on my travels to Europe, and planning other trips these are my favorite websites/organizations. Many of these are good to look at to help decide on budget and time you are wanting to spend places.

General: Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak

Airfare: Kayak, Cheap Flights, Frontier, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Easy Jet

Sleeping: Air BNB, Booking.com, Kayak, Hostel Bookers

City Passes: London, Paris, Berlin

Regional Passes: Historic Scotland, English Heritage

Train: Eurail, Britrail

Happy Travels!

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part III

Read Part I and II

BREAK DOWN- 1 month travel- budgeting for Europe

$40- travel guides (or FREE with apps, but I always suggest books unless you know an area)

$1000-$2000 plane tickets, depending on how much you’re moving around and where you’re going

$500- extra travel- buses, trains, metro etc.

$500- entrance fees/travel passes

$200- souvenirs (more if you want jewelry/more expensive items)

$1000- sleeping arrangements ($30/night) (more if you hotel alone, less if you can split rooms/stay with friends)

$500- food and drink

$500- emergency/misc. (Bring an emergency credit card)

Total:

around $4200

The good news is that you can spend more or less  on what you personally like to do. I’ve done trips for $6000 for 2.5 months and only $3000 for a month. Also consider traveling in the off season to get better deals and save money. Keep in mind looking for large tours that can be very affordable ($900/9 days). Comment with questions.

Resources

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part II

Read Part I Here.

3. Decided where you’re willing to stay.

  • Or better, decide how you can stay.
  • Hostels are great if you don’t mind sharing a room with numerous people, which can be noisy, hot, uncomfortable and busy. The best reason is that you have a kitchen to cook meals. Sometimes hostels have private rooms or smaller women’s dorms that help with the chaos.
  • If hostels are too much chaos:
    • look into less expensive B&Bs
    • Discount hotels like IBIS are very affordable, sometimes as low as $70/night for two people.
    • Look for air BNB options, which is also a great way to make friends.
    • Also, look for small apartments so you can cook and get a more local feel.
  • In Asia it is often best to stay in hotels.

4. What do you want to do?

  • Read about all the things to do where you are traveling and narrow it down. Then add up entrance fees, bus/travel fares etc. and get an idea on how much it will cost to go somewhere.
  • To SAVE: look into city passes that offer transport with it. Such as the London and Paris Pass
    • If you don’t want to see a lot of touristy things, you might avoid this.
  • Decide what you can’t go home without seeing, and rearrange your budget for that.

5. Challenge your budget

  • Figure out how much you want to spend a day and try to stay in that, say $100/day is your budget. If you spend $50 on a hotel/hostel, $20 on food and $30 on adventure you will be at your budget. I’ve tried to stay at $50-75 on many trips and have been successful.

6. Food and where to save

  • ASK LOCALS
    • they will know the best food for the best price, this is especially true in Italy.
    • Look for “meal deals” at mom and pop restaurants and pubs.
      • In Italy there was a dinner deal for 14 euros, which included wine, water and three courses of AMAZING food!
        • They were right by my apartment too
    • shop local markets
      • the best place for the freshest food!
    • Look for local bakeries for breads and sweets
      • they’re often VERY affordable if not dirt cheap and delicious
  • With allergies
    • ask around about this too
    • As the world becomes smaller and more aware many places advertise gluten free products.
    • LEARN what words indicate “gluten free” etc. and then go to the grocery store to stock up on snacks
      • this will save you the most money
    • Ask around about gluten free bakeries

7. Souvenirs

  • Street market
    • good deals, a chance to barter and less money spent on good quality items.
  • Museums
    • support the preservation and work of historical societies that keep up castles and artifacts by shopping in their gift shops. They also charge less, and do much more with the money.
  • Shops
    • if you have time, price compare, and try to barter (totally acceptable in most places)
    • Many times they have some better quality goods, but not always
  • Ask Locals
    • ask around about quality, where goods come from, and what is a waste of money or not. Locals usually have something to say about it.

8. Drinking/Partying

  • Save by only buying one or two drinks and avoiding places with cover fees.

Part III

How to Travel Without a Fortune, Part I

It’s a common misconception that traveling is far too expensive for the average person.

Which it can be.

But it doesn’t have to be.

True Story Bro.

In total I have taken three trips to Europe, and have only spent a total of $12,000- which you may say “holy shit” that’s still a lot of money. Let it be known that’s 6 months worth of travel. In Europe. In some of the most expensive countries and cities in the world.

So here is how to do it.

1. Figure out where you want to go.

  • Depending on the location, your airfare will vary from around $300-2,000, once you know how much it takes to get there, then you can figure out how long you should stay and how much more you can afford.
  • If you’re going to Europe, consider flying to Iceland, Ireland, or England. Usually flights are cheaper and you can get a connecting flight to the rest of Europe from the airport you hit first. This usually can save you a few hundred dollars if not close to $1,000
  • Research time difference and ask around about jet lag. Many times it takes about a week to adjust to time difference, so keep this in mind. If lack or change in sleep doesn’t bother you much, then just decide how long you can/want to go.
    • I suggest at least a month in Europe, and a week or two if you are staying in the Americas.
  • Think of your bucket list and decide what you want to do the most. For me it was the British Isles, followed by France, Germany and Italy. I’ve done all of them at one time or another. Next up: Asia
  • Consider if you need a travel buddy.
    • In Europe I’ve never needed a travel buddy, but I have had some family travel with me. I’ve also had friends and family to check in. This makes the trip less lonely. But it also isn’t necessary, do some research on staying safe, cultural norms, and how to avoid trouble. Even email and/or try to talk to police officers in other countries to get an idea of how to behave. It made a big difference for me in Germany and Italy.
    • If you are going to Latin America: do your research, especially if you are female, on where to go or not. Ask a lot of questions. Most guidebooks offer tips for solo women travelers.
    • Asia, Africa etc.: Women alone can travel in Asia, but many cultures see solo women travelers in a negative light. If you can travel with at least one man, it helps a lot from what I understand. The good news is that much of Asia is still inexpensive to travel in, and you can save money even with two people.
  • Ask yourself what you want from a trip.
    • Parties?
    • History?
    • Art?
    • Food?
    • Culture?
    • All of the above?

2. What is a realistic amount to save?

  • Look and add up what you think you can afford.
    • If it’s less than $2000 try to go somewhere closer to home such as Latin America
      • some resorts are only about $1000/week
    • If you can raise $3000-6000
      • Consider that transatlantic adventure to Europe or Asia

Part II