Travel Adventures – Are You Read to Carpe Diem?

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Phyllis Stoller recently led a group of “carpe diem” travelers to the Yucatan.

Every woman knows you never miss a bathroom while on a trip. The rule is carpe diem. But what are carpe diem trips? These are the trips that you know you should take now. But you might have concerns.

Health issues: if you are healthy and can travel. Do it and do the more difficult trips first. Health issues might be: chronic low resistance, inability to take certain inoculations like Yellow Fever, or bathroom problems we need not go into or surgeries which leave you embarassed. Most of these are solvable but, in case not, do the exotic stuff when you can.  Ahead of time: begin walking more than normal, speak with your doctor about prophylactic medicines to take before you go, and set aside budget money for bottled water for tooth brushing. Pack your own medicine cabinet and forget about your mastectomy at the spa (been there myself).

Another carpe diem trip might be difficult because of long flights or internal driving.  Flights to places like Dubai are13-14 hours.  In our industry, we call these flights: 3 movies and 3 meals. Stretch beforehand, walk around the airport, stretch when you get to the hotel. Deal with it in coach by bringing your little pillow (LL Bean has excellent ones which I hesitate to say with the currently political climate). Internal driving is becoming less an issue: some countries still have bumpy dirt roads which can jar a bad back. Not surprisingly as the Chinese prepare to take over the world, these dirt roads are disappearing. An example was on our Ethiopia trip 5 year ago, the road to Simien National Park shook us for 7 hours on rocks. Last year, only 4 years later, the new Chinese road was paved and took two hours.


Scary perceptions are the hardest to overcome. Our Iran trip in November was smoothly run; flights were on time, nice hotels ready, meals swiftly and well prepared,tourist sites open and empty. and locals friendly and curious. Even immigration was quick, surprising since the US and Iran do not have diplomatic relations. Scary perceptions- usually unfounded- can steal fun times.There was a short interval when you could have safely visited the amazing Roman ruins in Libya. Damascus and Aleppo in Syria? Lebanon? Tunisia? These are off our list now and you missed them!  Iran is a recent example, Brazil during the Zika outbreak last year is another and Russia is now. You didn’t go to Iran, well you probably will delay this trip for a while.   Never been to Russia? GO IMMEDIATELY while the iron is not hot.

Of all the carpe diem places we will never see, there are others back with us: Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, S. Africa. There are also the ones we are not sure about with the new administration’s tweets and off the cuff comments. There are the new State Department warnings of unknown duration: Turkey for instance. There is friendly Mexico where the Peso is 22 making the top restaurants in Mexico City $25 for a world famous meal, and fine hotels at $80 a night.

So here are five rules to test whether or not you should go:

Are you in decent health and have been for a year and can you bring your medicine cabinet with you? Can you discipline yourself to use Purell and keep your mouth, ears and nose away from local water?

Are you willing to open up to new experiences? Perhaps see films written and directed by people in the country you are considering? Sometimes a local film humanizes the country in a way a book does not. Strawberries and Chocolate about Cuba? A Separation about Iran? The Barber of Siberia about Russia?

Did you ask your travel insurer if they will insure your trip there? (Ours had no issue with Iran). Travel insurers obviously have the most to lose if the country, its airlines or roads are not safe.

Did you actually read what the State Department said about the country, from beginning to end. Re Mexico, if you actually read the whole analysis, you will go. If you read only headlines, you will not. Truly how many readers of this article are planning to drive at 3AM on a rural road near the border?

Can you assemble fun stuff to nibble on and read during a long flight, and without whining? Some things: cross word puzzles, learning your new phone/ipad off line. Listening to Podcasts of fun subjects or lectures on a topic connected? Did you bring your own earphones for less scratchy listening. Are you not daunted by telling the aisle person you need to go to the bathroom 11 times?

Carpe diem ladies, and as I wrote earlier, many of my friends have died of breast cancer, none of them from terrorism, long flight embolism, tacos eaten with salsa, car rides with lousy transmissions, of from bathroom phobia.

Phyllis Stoller who is off to Russia with The Women’s Travel Group this summer. 25 years of travel for women

facebook: toursforwomen

646 309 5607


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1 Response

  1. Thanks Phyllis for the great encouragement here, I’ll be passing it on. Your last paragraph is the most compelling – thank you.

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