17 Jul

OneGiantStep Summer Reading

Photo Credit: opensourceway


Ahhh…the dog days of summer. Looking forward to nothing but a shady spot to chill out, a cold beer and some good reading.

There’s a great meme heading around the blog-o-sphere right now that helps with the last part. TripBase’s My Seven Links is a chance to look back at some favorite posts and to discover some new blogs to check out. Thanks to Geoff of ItinerantLondoner for nominating me!

So…sit back, grab a cool one and cast your eye over these:

Most Beautiful Post

Given the start to this post, and my recent laments about the Beer Out Here, it’s probably no surprise to find that I think my most beautiful post is the photo essay I did; I LOVE German Beer. Looking at it reminds me of all the Altbiers, Pilsners, Dunkels, Weissbiers, Radlers, and Oktoberfest beers that we sampled. Must. Go. Back.

Most Popular Post

The most popular post recently, based on traffic and number of comments, is Responsibly Irresponsible. I liked that there were so many well-wishing comments but also that so many people shared their own Responsibly Irresponsible plans. I was right in thinking that many of us return from a big trip with other ideas quietly incubating and waiting to hatch.

Most Controversial Post

Although I know that writing a knowingly controversial post can sometimes get you ‘on the map’, I have never written anything contrary and have never hosted any argumentative comment sessions. Oh well, so much for the quick trip to notoriety!

I think I quietly dipped my toe into controversy though in the opening paragraphs of Insuring A Good Time where I say that I think people are “being naive, short-sighted, and irresponsible” if they think that traveling without health insurance is anywhere near a good idea. In hindsight I think I should have written more about this because I believe that it is our responsibility as travelers to take care of ourselves and not to rely on others to do it for us. If you can afford to travel you can afford insurance.

Most Helpful Post

Singularly I think that RTW Dollar By Dollar is the most helpful post on the entire site. Before we left we struggled to figure out if we had enough money. I don’t think enough people write about the money that it costs them to travel and so, when researching, it can be very difficult to tell where your own travel style will fit in the budget spectrum. In this post I reveal the big number, lay out exactly how we traveled (what type of place did we stay in, where did we eat, how did we get from place to place) and linked to the extremely detailed spreadsheet we kept of our expenses.

Managing Your Money: Before You Leave and Managing Your Money: On The Road are also great resources showing how we planned our finances before leaving and how we took care of it all while traveling.

Surprise Success

I’d be hard pressed to think that any of my posts are ‘successful’ in the grand scheme of things; OneGiantStep is a bit player, at best, in the world of travel blogging but I like to think that those who read get something out of the whole endeavor. Looking at the statistics of site visits and search traffic though the post about creating our South America Itinerary gets steady (although still insignificant) traffic. There is a hit or two or three a week from people looking to travel to our southern relatives. Interestingly I think it’s because these destinations are still not the huge draw that some other areas of the world are for travelers (such as Europe or South East Asia).

Post I Think Did Not Get Enough Attention

I really like the Twitter Travel Tips series but it really didn’t have the impact I was hoping for. In this set of ten posts I lay out what Twitter is and how we can use it as we travel to get recommendations or information about a place, learn about local opportunities, and get in touch with travel companies such as airlines, hotels or restaurants but most importantly how Twitter can help you connect with the travel community and find like-minded people to share with and even meet.

Post I Am Most Proud Of

The hardest post I have ever written is Leaving India: One Year Ago; and it is the one I am most proud of; partly because leaving India is the one decision I am most proud of during our year of travel (it was also the hardest decision) and partly because, in writing the post, I had to come to terms with my part in the whole affair. It is an honest look at a time that I am not most proud of but that has become an unforgettable part of me.


And now for my chance to pass it on and your chance to discover some new writing! Check out these travelers as they share their 7 posts and help us all with our Summer Reading.

Audrey and Jack of Travel Footprints
Kristen Zibell of Take Your Big Trip
Jenny McIver of RTW In 30 Days
Amy and Brian of Roaming Rileys
Matt of 1 Year Sabbatical


04 Jul

7 Ways from Flying Phobiast to Flying Diva

Two years ago, as we set off on our round-the-world trip, I was worried (heck I was terrified) that I wouldn’t be able to hack the flying. I could handle leaving my job, selling my home, putting all our stuff in storage and saying goodbye to friends and family but the thought of spending hour upon hour in a flying sardine can…well, that just about did me in!

I can say that, although it wasn’t always pretty and often I just white-knuckled it, I managed all 19 flights of our trip.

I flew a lot this June. Almost half as many flights as our whole round-the-world trip. Nine flights in three weekends. Yes I count every take-off and landing as a flight…even if I don’t get off the plane before it takes off again. It counts! And I did them all with no anxiety, no heart palpitations, no sweaty palms…and no drugs.

Here are 7 ways that I went from Flying Phobiast to Flying Diva:

  1. My office is at the airport (I know, strange place to have an office…when you work in health care!) so I am at the terminal every day but with no impending flight I am there without any anxiety. Every lunch break I make my way to the terminal and watch planes take off and land and notice that every single one of them is successful, day after day after day. I take note of how smooth they look and imagine all the stress free, relaxed passengers on board.
  2. I don’t watch the news and so don’t hear of any possible airplane mishaps. Unless something big happens I am unlikely to hear about it. No filler news of planes having to turn back because some warning light didn’t work properly or because the pilot was hungry or any reason what-so-ever. I don’t fill my brain with pessimistic outcomes.
  3. I do have Ativan in my flying kit but I haven’t used it since before we returned from our RTW trip. I like having it though; it’s a safety blanket. If, for some reason, I became anxious I know that it is there to help me through it. I wonder if I stopped taking it because there are very few pills left in the container – every one I take is one less for when I might really need it!
  4. I like to get a seat in the front of the plane; rows 4, 5 and 6 are my favorites and I usually have either an aisle or middle seat. The front of the plane (ahead of the wings) is a smoother ride and in the aisle or middle I can stare toward the center of the plane and pretend I’m on a bus if I have to. I did notice these last flights though that I was coveting the window seat…a sign I’m progressing even more?
  5. I have a ‘flying system’ that I have perfected over many flights. First is the seat selection (see point #4). I have a ‘flying kit’ which includes the Ativan, a Sudoku book that I only use for flying, my iPod with my favorite tunes, and a book. The iPod is on as soon as the attendants can’t see me any more. I don’t like to hear the noise changes in the engine so I always either have music on or the TV once we’re at altitude. For taking off and landing I like a good song with a strong beat – preferably some new song that I can totally get lost in (current faves include Black Eyed Peas ‘Dirty Bit’ and ‘Rolling In The Deep’ by Adele). I have the easy Sudoku puzzles at the ready to keep my brain engaged (ie. not thinking about falling from the sky), the Ativan is in the seat pocket just-in-case, the music is pumping in my ears and I rock/move to the music to minimize feeling the plane movement. It’s ritualistic, and it works.
  6. I look down. During a particularly harrowing bus trip alongside cliffs and crevasses in Peru I wrote to my sister and told her how I was so scared that I couldn’t even look down. She replied urging me to look down; that I was missing out on the experience if I didn’t and that looking would not change the inevitable, whatever that might be. She was right. Looking down from an airplane gives an unbeatable view of our world. Watching cities disappear in the distance, seeing entire mountain ranges, viewing meandering rivers, being above the clouds and then reversing it all as we descend; it really would be a shame to never really see it.
  7. I drink; not because I have to but because I would anyway. If I’m on a flight then I must be on a holiday (I generally don’t fly for business) and, if I’m on holiday then it must be time for a drink. Of course it helps relax me and, believe me, I have paid a pretty penny in airport bars getting relaxed! But I don’t feel I have to anymore – in fact a good portion of my flights in June were dry flights and I did just fine.

Are you a Flying Phobiast or a Flying Diva? What do you do to get yourself on a plane? Do you have a system, or just try to get through it? What advice do you have for others?