Category Archives: buddhism

To Book or Not to Book?- That is the Question!

Inside Terminal C, Newark Airport

Inside Terminal C, Newark Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s early enough in the morning and I have been going over plans for travel in my upcoming future. I have to parlay how much money to put aside for travel.Every week I put aside just enough to pay for the trips I am planning for a year in advance. That means I look at my airline miles and decide whether this trip will take miles away or is it cheaper to buy the ticket.

First thing you could do is to take a look at the landscape of what the airlines are pricing and then divide that round trip ticket by the amount of months ahead you are  ready to travel. So if the trip is lets say $350 and you are leaving in 10 weeks then  put aside $70 a week plus the cost of parking and gas it will cost to do this. With careful planning  buy the ticket and have it paid off before you are ready to book. It is a forced savings. Also look at how much money you will need to make up for while you are  away.  Make up your own vacation fund. You are in charge of your life no matter what happens to you.You never want to be short money when you come home as well. Why be stressed out about life? It just makes my head hurt. So lets face it I am always trying to save for travel.

I seek out through all different web sites the availability of flights and put together all types of fares by leaving from one city and looking for bargains in the others.

At times this is a part-time job just looking for flights that suit my budget. In the end I usually end up saving more than $400 or greater per trip. That savings allows me to purchase another ticket for another trip.

Travel does have its rewards. Right now I am in Gold Status with United. What that means is I am usually bumped up to first class by my carrier. So I pay the lowest price possible for my round trip ticket and get to fly  first class. Things they never teach you in school.

Right now since the merger of United and Continental Airlines I am revisiting my status and leaning toward another Star Alliance air carrier US AIRWAYS. They have been decent so far in US travel and my son will experience first hand how they are (US Airways) on an over seas flight. I am looking forward to hearing the report.

I am a bit disappointed at how the service is with United Airlines,lately . Its a cattle car experience in all classes of travel. Maybe the merger caused some hard feelings with the workers. I noticed that the flight crew are not treating the customers (who pay for their salary) as well as they have in the past.

Back to the discussion of to book or not to book. Why would I not fly directly to my destination? Why not just give up the coin for the time being spent? A couple of reasons. Since I have a United credit card I am able to sit in the Presidential Lounge. That access allows me to sit in a comfortable chair. Enjoy free coffee, tea, water, drinks, fruit, cheese ,crackers, newspapers, magazines, and a way to recharge my laptop or cell phone. There is privacy.

All this for way under what I have paid for my economy ticket. So if I find a ticket that usually cost around $450 or $500 round trip and pay $250 to $350 and sit first class well, ultimate score on my part. I do not know about you but I look for all types of ways to be able to do what I enjoy and not pay full price.

What if you had a layover in a city that you always wanted to explore? That is what I will do sometimes. If it is for a prolonged trip then why not sit the extra couple of hours and see the town. There is usually a bus or train at the airport.

I also take into consideration in planning my trip – parking at the airport. That cost can be quite high here in the New Jersey/ New York area. There are budget parking lots and then there are alternative airports. I found on a few occasions it was cheaper to leave from SWF ( Stewart’s – Newburgh) Airport then either EWR ( Newark) or LGA ( La Guardia) or JFK airport. On the rare occasion there is an airport in Allentown, Pa. that is approximately one hour from my home that is cheaper to fly out of. You just have to add in the costs.

By this I mean with each trip add in the cost of travel. That is why I look around the various sites. The $100 I save in airfare will pay for the parking. To give you an idea of what we pay here in the NJ/NY area. JFK, LGA, EWR all cost approximately $18-$24 a day to park.This is at the airport not the budget competitors that sometimes are not so user-friendly at the end of your trip.

SWF parking per day costs are $8 daily. Parking for one week at the airport may end up costing anywhere from $56 SWF  to $158 EWR/JFK/LGA on the high side. Let’s not forget the valet parking at Newark Airport which is $40 a day I believe.

That is why looking for sales when flying become such an important part of the planning. This is what most people do not add into their travel plans. You can save by parking at a train station and taking the train to the airport. Smart ways to park include the park and fly at some bus stations. Stay and fly at some hotels also could be a way to save. There are private companies and if you have great friends or family then you are going for free. Of course you will bring them a present or take them out to dinner.

The extra expenses of travel can be reworked into your daily budget. Sometimes you have to fly out of specific airport just due to schedules. Then look at all the carriers and see if there is anyone who is less expensive going to the same place.

In my search engine I wrote flights NYC to MAD (Madrid). I found all the air carriers their prices and flight schedules. I chose the one that worked and booked the flight. The price range was from $985-$1825. These were all the economy flights. I changed the dates of travel and the prices dropped by a couple of hundred dollars round-trip. If you are able to be flexible with your planning you will save a bundle.

So enjoy your travel. Be creative. Save money for your trip and you will be happy to pay that trip in full. Planning in the future means you never have to feel stressed to see new places and be a world traveller even if it means finding new and exciting places in your own back yard. Book wisely and you will be smiling while you sit comfortably in your economy plus seat that your purchased for the same price if not lower than regular economy.

Peace, Denise

Views of My Posts- Took My Breath Away

Coat of arms of Nepal

Coat of arms of Nepal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Spain (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)


I may not be the best viewed blogger,Yet! However looking at the stats. For all of us bloggers people are looking. This is a shout out to bloggers every where. Keep writing!

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Travel, Food and Working Out


New Additions to My Travel Pack
New Additions to My Travel Pack (Photo credit: nickgraywfu)

So here you are. You are on the vacation of a lifetime. You have always wanted to visit- Paris, New York, Rio, St. Kitts, or San Francisco. You are where you want to be. Even if the city or destination is not what I have written you are on your way visiting the city or the country side.

Just because you are on vacation my fellow travelers and dreamers you have not entered into the world of all you can eat. The world does not become an endless table of consumption. So how do you balance enjoying the local treats and still come home in even better shape than you left?

Stay active! While visiting Barcelona, Spain my son and I enjoyed all the treats the city had to offer. We had the fixed price lunch meals, pastries, amazing coffee with cream (cafe con leche), and so much more.

When I came home from that visit I noticed that I had lost 6 pounds. We walked all over the city and did not use the metro for short stops. We clocked an amazing amount of miles and enjoyed ourselves in the process.

It is simple math as far as I am concerned. Calories in versus calories used will always do one thing. Weight loss or weight gain. No matter what plan you use that is how it is calculated. No matter how techno advanced we become one thing is for certain our body is as how it was made since we first entered on the this planet.

So where are you going to work out? You are not working out! I am on vacation! Be creative. Dance. That’s right go out and dance. The easiest way to not only work out but blow out stress and feel great. Walking that is the most obvious way to work out. Snorkel, scuba dive, rock climb, and any other way you are able.

Vacation is just that. A time to relax, enjoy and explore or for some just sit by the beach, pool or lake. What is your definition of vacation. Mine is for exploration and seeing new places. To embrace different cultures, meet new people, and broaden my knowledge. Scuba, snorkel, dance and etc..

When I am home it is a vacation. Sure I have chores and home repairs. This past week I was using pre-mixed cement to fix the foundation around the house. Repair the cracks on the steps and other places that needed mortar. Dragged bags of mulch in the hot sun to places around the yard. Lifted heavy bags of marble chips and placed then in between the concrete patio. The earthquake last year shifted part of my back yard and the steps shifted. I use my push mower to do the yard. I work hard at home.

However, I also have made a small oasis to enjoy the moments I am at home after working with clients and being at the hospital taking care of patients. Home for me extends itself when I go on vacation. I have shifted the way I look at travel and how I see myself when I am visiting new places.

I have stumbled upon a website called Loseit! The name of the site is exactly what it is for. Weight loss. This is a handy tool for those of you who are traveling through out the US or Canada. You can track what you are eating and put in your exercise for the day. It is not for a guilt trip. It is there to help you track every delicious morsel that you put in your mouth. I have not tried it in other countries yet.

The  plan seems to work. I have lost 4 pounds the first week. I have a goal. I am headed to Hawaii in November 2012 and there is personal reason to look my best. It is me vs. me. I am no longer that hard on myself about life.

So why the discussion on travel and taking care of yourself? Quite frankly, from conversations I have had with people on how they feel after a vacation. There have been more times than not that I see the joy in someones face when they relay their amazing vacation and then they cast their eyes downward and say they have put on more pounds. One person grabbed their belly and laughed. Then quietly said ,”I guess I will have to work out harder to lose it.”

Vacation is designed to renew the soul. Give yourself the time to relax and enjoy life. Vacation is not designed from my humble opinion to create more guilt. We have the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. We have the capacity to work and grow. We have the capacity to know what we want out of life.

In the book,”The Path of Least Resistance” the author speaks about “knowing what you want,” That is a simple phrase. What do you want out of life? I want to be able to enjoy life. I want to remain healthy. I want to have enough to always pay my bills, travel and save. I want to share my joy with others.

So far what I want seems to be on track. Enjoy your travel. Make plans. Find creative ways to stay healthy while you are enjoying all the food and drink of where you are. That was my thought for the day. It is just what I wanted to share. Check out that website and let me know what you think.

Understanding What Has Changed in Europe.


Euro (Photo credit: Fernando D. Ramirez)

There are changes everywhere in regards to travel. In Spain there is a 6 Euro charge per person per flight that went into effect this week. That is an increase that will help the collapsing economy. Updates on travel are very important from the standpoint that you need to be able to address this when making plans.

You can be assured that this will be ongoing and may affect travel in the European Union. This brings me to the topic at hand. Understanding what has changed in travel. Preparedness is not just for the home. The news in the USA has shown power outages and water main breaks. That affects not only the population who lives there but also affects all the services that are available.

Hospitals, hotels, restaurants, 911 services, supermarkets, gas (petrol) stations and others. When you think about it everything is affected. So what is a person to do if they find that a vacation is planned and then a natural disaster hits?

Changes of plans always occur in life. This is the reason you have purchased travel insurance. You will be reimbursed. This is not the end of the world for you. You have been only,inconvenienced remember that. If you find yourself on vacation and nature happens try to stay calm. If you are able to contact family, friends and work do so. Let everyone know where you are and what your plans are.

If you are able to contact the airlines find an alternate city to fly out of. You may have to pay an additional fee or the airlines may compensate you that you need to find out before your leave on your trip. Always look at airports that are within a 50 to 100 mile radius and alternative types of transportation to get there. There is always the one way car rental.

Safety is a big concern when traveling. That is why I have emphasized in a prior post to know where the emergency rooms are when you travel. Speaking of which if you are traveling to Spain they are requesting that you pay upfront any costs if you use a clinic. International temporary health insurance is worth its weight in gold. My son had to use their services and was not charged due to the health insurance policy that we had purchased.

The economy is going to have a major impact on travel to Europe. The future of the Euro is uncertain but, what is certain is that you need currency. Be prepared for the changes in travel and you will not be taken by surprise. Know before you go is a great phrase. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy the journey.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Oxygen toxicity occurs when the lungs take in ...

Oxygen toxicity occurs when the lungs take in a higher than normal O 2 partial pressure, which can occur in deep scuba diving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most read topics in the world is how to stay healthy. Weight loss is another big topic that relates to health. So how do you stay healthy and watch your weight when you are traveling?

There is belief by some, that being on vacation means anything goes. I know plenty of individuals that this is their idea of a vacation. Some people cannot wait to be able to do things in excess. We hear the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Guess what? What ever you do anywhere has a ripple effect in your life.

I am not saying enjoy the food and have a good time. I am asking you is there any fun in having a hangover while you are on vacation? Some of you are saying yes there is. Why am I being a party pooper?

Well it’s your business how you manage your life. I am not here to tell you how to run your life at all. I do want to share with you how I see things. Vacation is a wonderful word. It means that you have time to either stay home and enjoy your life anyway that you chose.  Some of those things may be: finish chores, begin a new project, get in touch with friends, relax, mow the lawn, paint the house, the apartment, have a bbq, go fishing, camping, bike riding, hang gliding, scuba diving, etc..

I look at vacation of the continuation of my daily life just with visiting places that I have not seen before. Life comes at us fast. I try to the best of my ability to have down time daily. I have started working out again with weights and my favorite dvd Turbo Jam. Hey I am frugal in my everyday life as well. I bought a work out bench weights, bands and a collection of dvds that act as my in-house coach.

The “gym” is located in my laundry room and I take the time to make it happen. Its my health after all. Working out has taken away a lot of stress that builds up in the day-to-day of my life. I have also been meditating. Taking time to sit and reflect is very important. There is nothing like it for me. I also take time to go to church. That is for me and not to say that is what you have to do.

If you are not geared towards a more spiritual side then read what makes you feel relaxed. Take a walk. Stop and just be. The more relaxed you allow yourself to become the less likely you are to accumulate stress related diseases. The less likely you are to want to do things to excess. One exception to that rule is – you can never have more joy than you know what to do with.

So about going out on vacation and enjoying the moment. I chose to walk around most cities and try not to use the metro system if I can walk to my destination. I clock around 7 to 10 miles a day. I eat what I want and I never seem to put weight on while on vacation. I like to be active when I visit. Sitting by the pool and just sunning I can do that at home sans the pool.

Even if I am in the country side I am exploring. When I am in the water I am swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving. I have not been on my motorcycle for a while. That to me is a great form of meditation . You cannot be focused in on anything but the road in front of you and staying alert. Extremely relaxing.

What are the benefits of taking a deep breath and enjoying exercise? For one while you are away you will feel awesome. You can work out in your hotel room. I do push ups against the wall in the morning. I do squats and lunges. I also do a bit of cardio by doing jumping jacks or just dancing to music. Stretching and working out in the morning limbers up your body. You are never too old to exercise.

I now am working out harder. One thing I have forgotten to mention about vacation. Take time to laugh! Laugh as hard as you can. Put a big smile on your face. I cannot tell you how many wonderful people I have met just because I am usually smiling. People will walk up to you and want to know why you are so happy. True story.

Sometimes people share with me how stressed out they get on vacation. Why? Because you got lost? Who cares? Just enjoy.

I know things can get frustrating. On my birthday in Zaragoza, Spain I was having a great time with my son. While we were having dinner at a local restaurant we noticed a large group that was trying to speak to the waiter in English. He did not speak English so we watched. No one in this group could speak Spanish so my son offered to help them order their meals.  We were in the courtyard and it was a beautiful night. They were so grateful they asked us to sit with them and  bought us wine for the evening. The group was from England, Australia and the USA. They happened to be working for the WHO organization. It was a great unexpected birthday surprise.

The next morning we were going to Madrid. I went into the garage to grab the car and found I had a flat tire. Well after a series of phone calls that matched any Monty Python skit I had to use American know how on the laid back car company and had a replacement car within……..7 hours. So yes, I was a bit stressed. When I saw they had delivered and Audi that replaced my VW Golf I said, “Yeah baby.” Put the car in gear and my son and I zoomed down to Madrid at warp speed. It was a stress relief. Kids do not attempt this trick at home.

My stress was gone. I was listening to music and enjoying  the country side passing me by. I saw ancient aqueduct systems and modern turbine windmills. What a contrast to say the least! So stress does come but it goes. What is better to be all upset and waste time that you will never get back or to let it go? You can always make more money folks you can never make more time.

So relax, enjoy, and  take a deep breath. I am going to work out after I post this. After seeing that woman on You Tube. I have no more excuses but to get in shape and enjoy my life so I can get ready for my next trip. This year its Texas to see Mom as always, Kona, Hawaii, Palm Springs,California and Spain again. I do it all on a shoe string and because I do I enjoy the ride. Have a great day yourself.  Denise

The Road Most Traveled

A personal photo of the Sandy Hook lighthouse ...

A personal photo of the Sandy Hook lighthouse taken in October 2004. Viewed from the south end of the lighthouse, facing north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was enjoying this morning soap from Brazil. Yes it is the simple things in life that make me smile. You know for the last few years when ever I travel I collect two things. Stones and soap. That is right. The first flight was to India. I went with a group to experience Darshan. It was a wonderful experience. I watched everyone else picking up really great things to bring home.  I looked at the ground and picked up the most amazing stones and geodes. I still have them to this day. I have a small collection of rocks from all over the world.

I am not talking about boulders. I mean pebbles that are still there. They are not big enough to be called rocks. Still they are colorful and I did not break apart the road or trail when I picked them up. I live in a very rocky part of  New Jersey where my garden seems to grow rocks on a daily basis. So taking one or two stones from an area is not going to create erosion.

The next favorite part of being in a country is buying soap from where I am visiting. Some countries have incredible soaps. They are light and fragrant. When I have visitors who come and stay with me that is the one thing that I ask for. Please bring me a bar or two of your favorite soap. It is simple and the memories that it brings up are wonderful.

Well I am in search of today. I am going to the Ironbound section of Newark which has a supermarket that may have what I am searching for. The reason I started this post was really to provoke in you what do you bring home from your vacations? Is it something simple like a feather or a sea shell that you found on the shore.

I had a visitor from Finland who stayed with us for two weeks. We went to the Jersey Shore which is amazing number one. She was really taken aback looking at the mountains one day and the ocean the next. She thought that New Jersey was what most people think it is. I guess we like it that way. Who would guess that the phrase the Garden State is still true. Well as we say here “Stay Away”. You would not like the beauty of the ocean and the magnificent coast line anyway.

Back to the post. Oona collected some shells that had washed up on shore. We carefully looked around and she found the most delicate small shells and polished stones. My guest grabbed them as if someone else might take them out of her hands. She smiled and said that her mother would really enjoy them as a memento of her trip.

It is the simple things that make me remember the good in life. When I visited Hawaii last year I enjoyed the coffee and a sun tan lotion call Maui Babe. I ordered it when I ran out. I have fresh coffee “imported” from Hawaii monthly. I know being a part of the US it is not really imported but I dream about Hawaii and the can still see the mountains and peaceful coast when I settle down with a cup in the morning.

So what do you take home with you when you go on vacation. How do you make memories? A book of matches? Its the simple things in life that make me smile.

Peace Denise