The Long Haul Flight Essential Checklist

We are three weeks away from our Mediterranean Cruise and Barcelona Trip and we have pretty much all tied down (as much as possible).  We are starting to look into packing our clothes, finishing our excursions selections, and getting to know more about Barcelona. So as I start packing our bags and getting ourselves ready, I wanted to share our packing list for both the airplane flight and our small backpack we will be using when we walk around Barcelona and during the excursions at the port.

Airplane Back Pack: We will travel with three backpacks (one for my husband and two to be shared between me and my two sons). I will focus on the one that I will be sharing with my sons since the flight will be a long one (Houston to Frankfurt and then a two-hour flight to  Barcelona). I like to make sure that we will be able to be comfortable in the airplane and therefore I will be packing:

  • Passport and Flight Tickets Holder
  • Tablets (yes we each get one)
  • 3 headphones
  • Chargers
  • Portable Chargers (just in case)
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Wipes
  • Small hand cream
  • 3 small books (one for each of us)
  • 2 neck pillows (I am skipping on this one)
  • My notebook (journal)
  • 2 pens (yes, I always travel with two)
  • Passport holder 
  • Wallet
  • Very small make-up bag: stick foundation, lip balm, lipstick, blush stick, sample size perfume)
  • Gum
  • (3 underwears and 3 lightweight shirts)
  • Headache and allergies medicines

We will be wearing comfortable light sweatpants (for me it will be leggins) and comfortable cotton shirts with light jackets, socks, and tennis shoes.

For our days in Barcelona and our excursion days we will be carrying:

  • Small backpack – We are getting one for the four of us.  Big enough to carry at least 2 bottles of water, but small enough that my 9-year old can easily carry it too.  
  • Portable Battery Charger
  • Passport Copies – We do not walk around with our passports, but a copy of the passports and we leave the originals in the hotel’s safety box.
  • Anti-bacterial Gel 
  • Pre-paid tickets receipt (hop off hop on the bus, or museums)
  • Camera (yes we still travel with one)
  • Phones
  • Small wipes
  • Wallets
  • 2 bottles of waters (at all time)

If it is going to be a rainy day we will be wearing our rain jackets.

Hopefully, these two lists help you when doing your own checklist and help you make sure that you and your family are comfortable during the flight and when doing tourism in an unknown location.  It is important to keep it short as we will be doing the same packing every day we get out of the hotel or cruise ship so it should be easy to put all together in a matter of minutes. Please take note that when doing the excursions on the Cruise we will NOT be going to beaches, but cities where we will mostly walk around or be in bus tours.

Just wondering… what am I missing???

Family Rules Got to love my children Happy Go Travel Loving Life

Photos from the past… time to remember

The other day my cousin sent me a photo unexpectedly. I kept looking at the picture for a while, trying hard to recognize the place. I was so surprised when I finally recognized it! It was the beach house we use to go when we were younger when we were kids, it was our vacation spot, it was our Adventureland. What I could have remembered as a beautiful place, with very comfortable beach chalets, and a gigantic pool was nothing more than small cabins with a grill and plastic chairs in the front porch, and a small pool that certainly had to be overcrowded when we would swim and play in it. 

In those little cabins, I had created memories that are surrounded by happiness and pure joy,  encapsulating that moment in time when fun was the main driving force of my days. I could clearly remember the happiness of my parents. The happiness of my cousins ​​and friends. The happiness of freedom. The happiness of not knowing that life hits hard and takes away your loved ones. The happiness that only the innocence of youth can make us feel.

Now, seeing that picture, trying to piece together the puzzle  of my broken memory I realize that it is impossible. That beautiful beach, with its very comfortable chalets and its gigantic swimming pool, will be forever engraved on me, and cannot be reconciled with the photos of reality. 

Speaking with my cousin of those times, almost 27 years ago, we felt nostalgic for the innocence we lost over the years, we felt sad when we remember the people we lost since then.  It was painful to realize that so much time has passed. That we grew old.

I have always believed that the purpose of remembering is to relive again. And when talking to my cousin about those years, we felt the urgency to recognize that our children now have the opportunity to experience the happiness of innocence. That it is not the beauty of the place, nor the spectacular hotel, nor the giant pool what will remain in their memories … but our company, our laughter, the moments with their friends, the talks in the sand next to a campfire … those will be their memories and no picture will match it and the time will not corrupt it either.

Family Rules Got to love my children Loving Life Personal Journal Writer's drawer

Book List: February 2020

What are you reading this month? Today I wanted to show you the books on my bedside table. It’s normal for me to have more than four books at any given time … What can I do?, reading is my entertainment every night and where I give myself permission to splurge.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama: I’m going halfway through the book and I’m totally at awe with this book. I have always felt a lot of admiration for Mrs. Michelle Obama, and this book just gave me the motivation to continue to grow my love for the Obama Family and legacy. This book is motivating, hopeful, full of nobility, love, and loyalty to this country.
  2. The New Writer’s Handbook: This is a library book. I am trying to improve my way of writing and expressing myself, additionally, I do try to get at least one book from my local library.
  3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert:  I am really very happy with this book because it tells us about the power of being creative, letting creativity take the wheel and letting go of the fear to the unknown, it is so important to me to believe that we have the power to create beautiful things.
  4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: I have already read this book in Spanish, now I am reading it in English. With our scheduled trip to Barcelona in three weeks, ​​this book is once again making me want to make time go faster so that I can finally make it to Barcelona.
  5. The Power of Self-Coaching by Joseph J. Luciani: This book changes lives, we should all read it. I am a Life Coach and for me, this book has to be read in order to understand the true power that we all carry inside and the ability that we have to change our lives and achieve our goals.
  6. 1000 Books to Read before you Die: My Christmas gift from Barnes and Noble, gives me a guide to the books I want to read and I am putting them on a list … the first two I have already bought and will be on my March list.

What are you reading? How many books at a time? What is your favorite subject? Your favorite Author? Do you also read many books at the same time or one by one?

International Book Reviews Loving Life Personal Journal Writer's drawer

How can we be a better friend?

We are all unique in our essence, in our abilities and in our personal qualities that allow us to contribute positively to the lives of the people we love most and the people around us.  Many times, although we are aware of these wonderful people who are part of our lives, we tend to spend our time being able to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations and we do not do enough to show our love and our appreciation to these people.

I have been very lucky to have seen friendships that lasts a lifetime and through my own experiences, I have been a witness of the importance that a solid friendship can have in our lives.  After thinking for a while, I have come up with a list of the actions we can do for our friends. These actions do not have to be large or elaborated, but they have to be initiated by the love and gratitude we feel.

  • If you know of someone close to you who is recovering from an illness or struggling with a disease, make a casserole or lasagna and take them home, without asking if they want it or not, just knock on the door and hand them the plate so they have a meal (or two).
  • If you know of someone close to you who is recovering from an illness or struggling with a disease, make a casserole or lasagna and take them home, without asking if they want it or not, just knock on the door and hand them the plate so they have a meal (or two).
  • Participate in those activities that your friends are coordinating and need help or participants.
  • Go to the soccer, baseball, or dance recital of one of your nephews, especially if it is an important championship. Your friends will appreciate your sharing such a special moment in their lives with them.
  • Help a friend who has just started working on a new job, either with new unknown software, or by offering advice on his / her new line of work.
  •  If your friends are trying to make a change in their health and are taking actions to be healthier, support them and encourage them.
  • If your friends are asking for volunteers to help them in moving to a new house or painting their house or setting up a new office and you can, sign up and help them.
  •  Give a compliment if they got a new haircut or are trying to eat healthier.
  • Give thanks for something they have done for you, no matter if time has passed, take the time to say thank you and express appreciation

We all have high expectations of our friends, but at times is good to ask ourselves, are we doing all we can to make sure our friends feel loved and appreciated by us.  Next time you have the opportunity to show it, take it. You are cultivating a lifetime of great moments and experiences shared.

Family Rules Loving Life Personal Journal

Appreciating SOLO Time

Self-discovery is a journey

When I look back I have always being a loner… I like spending time by myself and with myself.  Always had. At times friends and boyfriends would complain about me being reclused and moody, and I always admitted to it, never fought it or felt insulted. It was true, I could recluse myself into solitary to study, to soothe my mind, to nurture my soul. I just need time alone.

I have always been surprised how after 20 years of leaving my home country, my friends (my closest friends) are the ones I have back in Panama.  Those amazing 13 women were, are and will be one of the best gifts life has given me, and thanks to WhatsApp we are constantly chatting, giving advice, reprimanding, complaining, encouraging and congratulating each other.  Of course, I have made friends since coming to the U, but 20 years later there are just about 5 people that have been close enough to call them a friend.

When I turned 35, there was a major shift in me. I started reading self-improvement books, marriage books, communication books, mindfulness books and with this new information I was learning, I became aware that me being a loner was a trait of my personality and most importantly I learned to embrace it.

So what are the things that I enjoy doing all by myself? Here are a few of them:

Watching a movie: I work next to a movie theater and ever so often I try to treat myself for an early afternoon movie on Fridays.  Maybe it happens once every two or three months but when there is a movie (especially a rom-com girly movie) I go in, popcorn in hand, and have a blast all by myself.

Having a meal in restaurants:  I know it’s not easy to see people eating by themselves, but what if that person is choosing to be alone?  In my case, there have been so many times in which I have been eating by myself, in a nice place, watching people walk by or just observing the restaurant.  I remember when I was in college I would go to this cafe for lunch and sit by the window just watching people walk by, I enjoyed the meal, the view, and the loneliness.

Traveling:  Walking into an airport is instant relaxation for me.  I like going to the airport at least 2-hours before my flight and sit in a food court or Starbucks and watching people walk by.  Also been by myself in a long flight (8 or more hours) is therapy to me.  Watching movies, reading, writing, or just plainly thinking, enjoying the constraint of not been able to go anywhere for the next 10 hours. Princeless.

It is my experience, now at 39 years old, that taking the time to get to know yourself better is pivotal in our continuous self-improvement.  We need to decipher ourselves and embrace our own thoughts. We are all different and when I am walking in a mall and I pass by a group of friends, I smile… my lonely trip is their group trip… and we are equally enjoying it.

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First time traveling solo…

traveling solo

When I was 16 years old my parents offered me the opportunity to go to Bournemouth, England to study English and I happily said yes.  The English course would take 4 weeks and after its completion, I would fly to Rotterdam, where my cousin was currently living, and stay with her for a week or so.  Once I arrived in Rotterdam, I and my cousin started planning out what I could do during the day while she and her husband were at work. She proposed for me to go to Bruges, Belgium for the day by train, my cousin would drop me off at the train station and after a 2-hour train ride, I would arrive at Bruges.  I was anxious about going by myself to a new city, but I felt confident with my improved English skills and felt genuinely excited to go.

I arrived at Bruges train station around 10:00 a.m. It was February so it was cold, although not freezing.  I walked from the Train Station to the City Centre to the Markt guided by the city map my cousin had given me. I walked the Historic Centre and through the channels by the lake. I remember vividly standing at Rozenhoedkaai for what it seems to be a very long time, looking at the water while seating on a bench, with my thoughts overfloating me.  I felt the excitement of being in a new place, of discovering the beauty of this amazing city, the freedom to walk at my pace while taking pictures and enjoying the peace within my silence.

After having a long lunch which consisted of Belgian waffles and a Coca Cola I continued to walk along the water, looking at my map while following my instincts, buying Belgian chocolates and small souvenirs and after eating fries with mayonnaise (European style), I walked back to the train station to find myself back in Rotterdam.  

During the years to come (24 years since then), I have had the opportunity to travel alone many times, Syria, Greece, London, China, among other places.  Always finding the perfect moment in which amazement meets self-enjoyment and happiness shows up, but I always go back to 16-year old me, sitting on the bench looking at the bridge in Bruges, Belgium and I cannot help but smile, knowing its true that old saying… To remember is to live again. 

Happy Go Travel Loving Life Wholesomeness is healthy Writer's drawer