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Vacation Budget

May 30, 2015 4 Comments

I worked as an outside sales travel agent for many years. I took care of my own clients and split my commissions with the agency where I worked.  I served all kinds of different clients, mostly recreational.  They knew the destination and how long they would stay.  They wanted to find the best airfare.  Back in the day only agents or the airlines themselves had access to the digital systems used for booking.  Some people wanted nothing more than the best fare for a flight, but others wanted some guidance in planning.  Naturally each vacationer wants to think they have a great bargain package, but very few would tell the agent how much they had planned to spend.  This question was rarely answered.  Today, of course, consumers shop for their own travel and have resources available to do research.  Yelp and TripAdvisor help prospective clients judge destinations by reading the reviews of other holiday makers.  This helps people fit the vacation to personal taste, and avoid costly bad matches in accommodations.

In summer thoughts turn to vacation.  I no longer book travel for other people but I do want to offer some advice for a stress free and happy trip, no matter where you roam.

  • Pack your schedule lightly so you can take advantage of surprises
  • Compare all kinds of lodging located near your destination
  • Choose some splurge activity you have dreamed of doing and do it
  • Indulge your own passions and collections when browsing and shopping
  • Less is best when choosing how many times to move base camp
  • Take less gear than you need with plans to purchase a souvenir you can use
  • Pack old items of clothing you no longer want and throw them away as you go

You need to budget both time and money in order to get the most value out of your time on holiday.  Think first of the beginning and the end of the trip.  Leave plenty of time on both ends for unexpected events and delays.  Don’t fly to a wedding on a flight that is scheduled to arrive 3 hours before the ceremony.  Don’t drive home for 12 hours straight on the last night of your time off from your job.  I always like to have a full day at home before I have an appointment, just so I can recover and/or be delayed in transit. If you give yourself plenty of leisure time you will come back refreshed, even if you use it to be very energetic.  Cramming too many destinations or plans into the time allowed can ruin the rhythm of your rest and relaxation.  It is bad to return exhausted.

It is worse to return home in deep debt.  A satisfying vacation is one you can afford without sweating.  After you calculate your airfare and special events be reasonable about how you will want to dine, shop, and entertain yourself.  There is a strong association between freewheeling spending and American Dreaming.  Remember this especially if you plan to spend time in Nevada.  I think the worst buyer’s remorse is that of the vacationer who has not yet paid for the trip that did not really come up to snuff.  That charge on the credit card remains to add insult to injury for a long time.  Please set a limit, a budget, and a goal for your holiday spending. Be creative to make the most of your free time.  Bon voyage, gentle reader.

Reverse Culture Shock, Being Home

August 2, 2014 2 Comments

Travel is exciting and broadens the mind. I love to go, but I love to come home even more. When I compare my ease and comfort at home with life on the road, even at wonderful places, I am always pleased that I live where I do.  My midtown location makes it simple and fast for me to shop for anything I want.  I am surrounded with very high quality body workers and Chinese Medicine practitioners.  My esthetician is the best in the world, and her practice is just blocks from my home.  I miss my pool and giant jacuzzi when I travel because it is private and rarely used by anyone but me.  I go in the morning during the summer and have the water all to myself every day.  I do like the pools at my health club, the Tucson Racquet Club, in the winter months because they are heated and next to a steam room.  This time of year (August) nothing pleases me more than to walk around the corner and have hours with the private pool all to myself.  I have never been anyplace else where this is true.

I am happy to be back in my kitchen.  Dining and tasting all over town has its merits, but whipping up anything you want to eat because you can is better.  I am a good cook, and have brought some of the flavor ideas home with me that I learned in my neighborhood of East Austin. I met more than one great craft cocktail maker who have given me new ideas for shrubs, punches, and custom soda drinks.  I tasted some pickled veggies that made sandwiches pop, and are very easy to prepare and keep on hand in the fridge.  I was served the best mac and cheese which was baked in the same black cast iron pans I use at home to bake bread.  I will knock off the black bean, jicama, avocado, romaine salad from El Chilito and it will be as if I never had to leave Manor Rd.

The University of Arizona students will come flooding back into town, but there are fewer of them than at University of Texas.  While I was on holiday the new tram opened downtown which will make our transportation system much fancier and desirable.  The students will now be able to tram all over downtown to drink, then tram back home without getting behind the wheel.  This new attraction will be fun for us also.  We plan to ride down to check out some of the new businesses along the tram line very soon.  There is still plenty to discover right here in Tucson.  I am shocked at how much I love my hometown.

Paracelsus, the Luther of Physicians

June 3, 2012

Paracelsus was born in 1493 Einsiedeln, Switzerland.  His father was the physician at Einsiedeln Abbey, a Benedictine baroque monastery with a grand history.  His father was his first teacher. When he arrived at University of Basel medical school he was familiar with alchemy from working with his father. He left Basel quickly after he was accused of heresy , and  became a wandering healer, traveling all over Europe.


Some of the contributions he made to the science of medicine are well known.  He is attributed for introducing opium into use as medicine.  He is credited with being the first physician to seriously consider dosage as well as the particular part of the medicinal plant being used.  His theories included science as well as natural magic, all part of the healing culture of his time. The Doctrine of Signatures is an important concept he used to explain and research how plants interact with humans. He expanded on the work of former herbalists as he taught and worked in different countries. His travels included a visit to China.

His practice included both magic and science. He understood and worked with elementals, which were a common belief in his time.  He took this concept farther when he posited that we have both a sidereal and an elementary body, linked while we are alive.  He was both controversial and well respected.  I learned about him when I traveled to Switzerland for the first time.  I adore the tiny mineral water spa town of Bad Ragaz, where he practiced for a time with the local Benedictine monks, who operated a healing center using the mineral water spring.  The Quelle Paracelsus is now a modern medical and therapy center of the highest quality.  I have been many times over the years and always enjoy walking up the Tamina Gorge to experience  the well preserved museum and springs.  There is a small chapel up there dedicated to Mary Magdalene that I love for it’s charm.

For his time Paracelsus was radical and disruptive.  His ideas about health and alchemy clashed with the medical schools, but accomplished many cures that were unusual for the time. The springs he recommended that I have visited, Bad Ragaz and  St.Moritz,  have enjoyed long healthy development around the mineral waters for centuries.  This dedication to “the cure” creates a magnet for the best therapists and medical professionals to be drawn to live and work in the beauty and the elegance of these special places.

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