Wednesday, May 15, 2013
When I'm traveling, I sometimes feel like I can't possibly watch what I eat. I always make a promise to myself when I leave the house, but I have been known to sabotage myself as early as the airport. I even pack healthy snacks, which always seem to make their way back home in the same Ziploc bag that I sent them off on in.
But why are the temptations so much stronger and harder to resist when I travel vs. at home? Granted, I don't eat meat (fish, pork, beef, chicken, and eggs, too!) so that certainly narrows down my choices, but that doesn't mean I don't have any choices whatsoever. I have finally come to the conclusion that part of it is because I allow or excuse myself from living a healthy lifestyle while traveling.
You might be expecting me to offer up some great advice or suggestions, but I'm going to make an effort on my upcoming trip to see how I'm able to maintain my healthier eating with exercise and not make excuses and I'll document my trials and tribulations right here on my blog. Here are some of the things I'll be doing on my upcoming trip:
1. Packing protein bars and protein powders so there's no excuse about not getting enough protein.
2. Pack my water bottle so I can refill it wherever I go and keep hydrated.
3. Choose wisely on menus and look for healthy options and be willing to ask for something off the menu when there are few choices available.
4. Exercise everyday.... no excuses!
5. Stop confusing food (or drinks) as something I deserve. I deserve to be healthy and I can't sabotage myself with sugary sweets, drinks, or carb heavy meals.
What do you do to stay healthy while traveling? Have you ever been on a diet while traveling? What did you do to stay on track? Share your tips in the comments below.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Technology and travel go hand in hand and staying stylish and fashionable shouldn't be left out of this important equation. I've had my fair share of iPhone and iPad cases and they either functional, but not stylish or stylish, but not functional. But I wanted both and when the Travel Shop Girl wants something, believe me -- she gets it!
That's where the great people over at the Snugg.com come in. Not only do they have great cases for all types of accessories like iPads, tablets, Kindles, smartphones, and more, they have great looking and fully functional cases. Back in January of this year, I reviewed another one of their cases (see review here) and they were kind enough to send another case for me to review.
Take a second to watch their short YouTube video showing all of the features of the case first!
|The Snugg iPad 3 Pink PU Leather Case alongside my iPad 3|
From The Snugg website:
Our Snugg iPad 3 case includes a number of unique features to help you make the most of your iPad. The wrap-around design keeps it safe, but we’ve ensured all of your iPad 3’s buttons and sockets are accessible. Open the cover and it folds and becomes a stand, allowing you to position your iPad upright or at a shallower angle for typing.
Don’t worry about your iPad 3 case failing over time. Not only is PU leather strong and wipe-clean, but we offer a no-quibble Lifetime Guarantee upon registration, too. You’ll never have to buy another iPad 3 case again. All of our cases are manufactured under our Snugg Promise, which guarantees the best possible materials and craftsmanship.
|The Snugg iPad case on my iPad - isn't she pretty?|
If you're looking for a durable case that is functional and stylish, then you need to check out TheSnugg.com. This particular case comes in ten different colors to fit everyone's personal style! You can order directly from their web site or from Amazon.com.
Friday, April 26, 2013
|Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA Campground|
|My kitchen in our Cruise America RV|
After getting up and showering, I prepared breakfast for the guys on my little camper stove inside the RV we rented from Cruise America. It has two burners and runs on propane, but does a pretty decent job. I made cheese omelets for them and I was glad that I had packed some seasonings and picked up some shredded cheese at the store. Hot beverages again were coffee and hot chocolate as well as orange juice that we had picked up in the store. As long as they had a hot breakfast, the days seemed to start out alright despite cold nights and hard beds.
Then it came time to set up our plans for the day. When we had driven through Gettysburg on the way to the campground, we saw a tour on Segways and I made the comment that I only ever see old people on them. Rich and Cristian said that they thought it looked like fun and I kept saying it was an old people activity. When it came time to decide what we were going to do, somehow the Segway tour came back up again. I looked online to see when the tours were and there was a 12:30 pm tour and it was already after 12 noon. Yikes! I reserved our spots online and we inadvertently drove to the Visitor Center in Gettysburg as the person in the KOA office had said that all of the tours start here. This absolutely does NOT apply to the Segway tours, called SegTours, which start in their office in the Gettysburg Shopping Center near the Dollar General store in Gettysburg.
|Watching the safety video at Segtours, Gettysburg, PA|
Before exiting the office, we had to go through a small course inside the SegTours office. Set up with small cones and obstacles to help us adapt to the outside world, I felt like I had a grip on the Segway and was ready to head outside. Andrew, who was helping me, was extremely patient and had me run through the course until I felt confident enough to go outside. Then I realized I only had a faint idea of what it was that I was doing.
|Route Map of the Segway tours available from SegTours|
|Les, our Segtours certified National Tour Guide|
|Relaxing in our spot (#4) at the Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA campground|
The Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA campground is a really clean and well maintained campground. It is well laid out, spacious, and relaxing. In addition to a camp store, they have a couple of shower and bathroom areas, including one that has private showers with bathrooms. In addition to RV spots, they also have cottages and cabins and tent sites. They also have bikes that were a cross between go-karts and bicycles that you can rent for $5 for ½ hour or $8 for the hour and yes, we did those, too, although I suspect from the smiles on the employees' faces that they might have been meant exclusively for children. Hey - I'm still a kid on the inside!
|Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA Mighty Bone dog area|
When you think of Gettysburg, don't let your mind wander directly to Abraham Lincoln as there is so much to do if you visit. Next time we have a spooky adventure on top so you'll want to come back to read about that!
22 Springs Avenue
Gettysburg, PA 17325
20 Knox Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
|Our bed inside the RV|
|Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA Campground|
|Snacks on the road|
We had a water situation on our first day, which was finally resolved when Rich discovered that the washer was so clogged up on the main faucet that water wasn’t coming out. He was able to chip away at the buildup and replace it and that let the water come out easily. We stopped at a Walmart on the way through to Gettysburg to pick up a few of the items on our list. This list kept growing by the minute as we needed D batteries for the lantern I picked up, AAA batteries for a speaker for our iPads, orange juice, blankets (so I don’t freeze at night), and matches so we could start a fire at the campground. Although I had planned in advance by picking up batteries, I inadvertently picked up C and AA batteries, which of course, we didn't need.
|Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA Campground|
|Nature trail at the Gettysburg/Battlefield KOA Campground|
|Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA Campground|
|Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA Campground - Playground area|
For the rest of the evening, we sat around talking for a few hours and even played a game, Banana, similar to Scrabble with tiles, but with different rules. Cristian lit our fire and we cooked hot dogs (regular for him and veggie dogs for us) as well as marshmallows. If it was up to Cristian, he would have eaten the entire pack of hot dogs. Then it was time for bed as we had a full day of exploring Gettysburg ahead of us. Make sure to come back to learn about all of our activities in Gettysburg during our stay!
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
|Our RV parked at the Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA campground|
After what seemed like days of driving, but was only about 5 hours including our bathroom and food stops, we arrived to our first campground, the Delaware Water Gap/Pocono Mountain KOA. I guess you could say that we knew we were close when we saw an opossum in the road staring up at us like Golum. Yup, I was a little creeped out until I saw a dead one in the road a mile later. Country here we come!
Rich parked the RV and walked inside the country store on property for assistance. Our paperwork indicated we would be in #200 and getting there was a snap. He backed into the spot easily and we were connected with power and water in less than five minutes. Ok, so maybe I didn't do it and the guys did, but I was there for moral support.
Cruise America’s website has great videos and information that you can review prior to your trip, but it seemed overwhelming and confusing before we took possession of the camper. I’m glad that Rich reviewed everything at least twice and they do give you a “Renter’s Assistance Guide,” which also helps. By the end of day one, we were starting to really feel like we were getting the hang of it.
At only 5'4" it's not a big deal for me, but for my 6' tall husband, it was interesting. If you look closely at the above image, you can see a blue strip across the middle. That strip is the mattress you'll be sleeping on throughout your trip. The first night we were exhausted and didn't know what we were about to encounter for the remainder of our trip, but don't worry. I will provide tips to help you avoid a difficult night's sleep in a rental RV in a future post.
We didn’t go straight to bed as we stayed up and talked, the boys ate some more, and we watched a few shows on the iPad. I didn’t realize that campgrounds were so advanced as this one, like others, not only have WiFi, but also cable TV. I felt guilty even watching a TV show, but I wanted to relax for a bit before bed and that did the trick.
Thinking that it was April and it wasn’t terribly cold back at home, we packed a few pillows and a quilt and thin blankets. That wasn’t enough so I “borrowed” my son’s sleeping bag, the kind that makes you look like a mummy and he promised me I would be hot in no time. I wasn’t sure if I could fall asleep with my teeth chattering, but apparently, you can. Isn't it funny that we rented from Cruise America and we love cruising? The RV felt like the size of a cruise cabin except our captain at the helm of our ship was Rich! Instead of water, we were about to explore areas of the US we had heard about but never encountered. Stay tuned for more details from the great American RV Road Trip 2013.
Monday, April 22, 2013
The rental location is in Stoughton, a good half hour from our home and with all of our supplies on display in our livingroom, my son began to get suspicious. I created an intricate story of needing to get supplies to his grandparents in New Hampshire and for the most part he believed it, except that he saw something vegan sitting on top of one of the boxes. Darn!
Since it’s 2013, we, like most people, no longer use paper maps to navigate. However, when we’re at home, we use our iPhone’s connected to our vehicle’s stereo to navigate. The RV we are in has a “line in” feed, but we didn’t have a cable. Rich decided to use Google Maps to plot our course, but as I predicted, this isn’t as reliable as some other navigation apps, like MapQuest. It asked us to get off the highway to get onto 84 West but then take the next exit to get onto 84 East. She was going to have us doing circles, but I put an end to that quickly.
|Driving along I-84 in New York|
We made a quick restroom stop in Montgomery, NY and filled up on gas when the tank was ½ full. This time the fill up was $87 and considering we were getting about 11 miles to the gallon, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Despite the case of water, soda, and snacks I had already packed, my husband and son decided while they were there that they needed more. Rich opted for an energy drink and since he was driving, I wasn’t about to say no. This RV isn’t a huge one, but I’m a little intimidated about driving it at this point. I think I’ll have to work up to it, but since I did all the driving in Ireland and he refused to (opposite side of the road and stick shift), I think it might all even out in the end.
Directly opposite the Hess Express station was a Subway and knowing we could grab a fast dinner for the road here, we jumped on it. Apparently, there was a friends and family promotion or something like that and we were able to “buy one and get one free.” That meant a Veggie Delite for both Rich and I while Cristian lucked out and got two BMT’s, both of which disappeared fairly fast. I wish I had his metabolism!
|Cristian setting up his mobile office in the RV|
Now that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to do this trip. Yes, we could have taken another cruise and stuck to the status quo, but I wanted my family to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and try something new. Since our son will be going off to college in the Fall, there won’t be many more family vacations like this in the future and quite frankly, I wanted to take advantage of all of the time I have left like this together. That means not saying “No” to a family picture and not diving headfirst into my email or FaceBook or Twitter or anything else while I was on this vacation. This trip was about creating memories that we can hold onto for a lifetime and I was determined to make that a reality.
Where were we headed to in our RV? Our initial plan may not have turned out as we like, but we did get to travel to some interesting places. Read my next post to learn more about our road trip where you'll be able to read about all of our mishaps including what we learned about ourselves and camping, what we packed and should have packed for a week of camping, and dealing with stress while on the road.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Walking, in my opinion, is the best way to get around Berlin. We initially were going to walk to Alexanderplatz, but decided to save it until the next day as it was getting late. As we walked, we continued to straddle the remnants of the Berlin Wall wherever we went.
|A reproduction of the original border sign now stands in place of the original|
Checkpoint Charlie, along with Glienicker Brücke (Glienicker Bridge) was the best known border-crossing of Cold War days. The sign, which became a symbol of the division of Cold War Berlin and read like a dire warning to those about to venture beyond the Wall – YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR – in English, Russian, French and German - stood here. It is today an iconic marker of territorial boundary and political division. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, it signified the border between West and East, Capitalism and Communism, freedom and confinement.
|Reproduction of the original US Army Guardhouse|
|US Soldier indicating you're entering American sector|
New buildings stand in this part of East Berlin with an image of a US soldier at the point of entry into West Berlin. The watchtower, which was the last surviving Checkpoint Charlie structure, was demolished to make way for new office and shops. Despite the city's attempts to save the tower, since it wasn't classified as a historic landmark, it came down in the middle of the night.
|Image of a Soviet Soldier indicating that you are entering East Berlin|
|A chocolate "Reichstag" on display at Fassbender & Rausch|
It was way back in 1863 that Heinrich Fassbender opened a confectionery store in Berlin and whose chocolates were soon regarded as fine enough to supply the royal court. In 1918, Wilhelm Rausch, a chocolatier's son, set up his own shop in Berlin. His shop became extremely successful and he decided to open seven more. It was only in 1999 that these two Berlin chocolate making families came together to become Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers at the Gendarmenmarkt.
|A chocolate "Brandenburg Gate"|
There is more variety here than I have seen in many bakeries or even restaurants. You can take a few home to enjoy and share with friends and family.
Many tourists miss the restaurants inside Fassbender & Rausch so I definitely don't want you to miss out on an amazing dining experience. Cafe & Chocolate serves hot chocolate and cakes while the downstairs restaurant, Schokoladen-Restaurant, offers a full menu, cooking seminars, and dinner shows. The Schokoladen-Restaurant, the first and only chocolate restaurant in Europe, opened on September 15, 2006, and every dish on the menu contains cacao from Ecuador, Tobago, Trinidad, or Venezuela. Imagine a hot smoked garlic and chocolate soup, fish with cacao butter, or venison with dark chocolate. You can have your dinner and chocolate, too at Schokoladen-Restaurant.
Feeling hungry yet?