What Happens When You Are Too Sick To Travel?

Intravenous IV dripI’m sad…

I should be in the Olive Grove Hotel in Namibia, enjoying the very first stage of my big trip. Instead, I’m in my home in Denver writing this post. I can’t help but torture myself by looking at the itinerary and imagining myself there instead of here. Never would I have guessed that less than 48 hours before I was to climb on the airplane, I would be lying on a bed in the emergency room of my local hospital.

Imagine extreme gut-wrenching pain radiating from my stomach and around my rib cage including my back. I was very concerned that I was having a heart attack. Thank goodness they ruled that out immediately. As the pain and vomiting continued, it was clear that I was in no condition to travel or to even begin to attempt 33 hours of four different flights, with layovers, just to get to my first hotel. 

Thousands of dollars of special lenses and photography gear I rented from Borrowlenses, sit on my kitchen island and my almost fully packed bags lay on my bedroom floor. I am so disappointed, I can’t even tell you. I very seldom get sick, so this was a real shock.

What happens when you are too sick to travel? I’m finding out from personal experience.

First, as always, I purchased travel insurance for the trip when I booked it late last year. The policy is with Travel Guard, a company that friends highly recommended. I insured my trip for $13,000 so it included flights and all the on ground transportation and accommodations. My plan does cover sickness of the traveler. As I read the policy in more detail over the weekend, I discovered it would not have covered me if I had traveled with an illness that began before I left the country. It will not, unfortunately, cover the photography equipment rental.

I always buy travel insurance for my international trips. Still, I hate to use it. After all, it means that something has gone wrong. But, that’s why I purchased it and while I couldn’t travel at this time, I hope to reschedule. Namibia is calling and I still plan to answer.

I booked my flights through United Airlines, where I have frequent flyer miles. I called them on Friday afternoon and cancelled the trip. The ticketing agent was wonderful and patient through my emotional explanation. The upgrade fees were immediately refunded and my flights cancelled with the costs credited for future travel. There is usually a $300 cancellation or change fee, but they have waived it because of the unusual circumstances.

Ian from Africa Adventure Company, who coordinated my travel arrangements, was very kind. My costs are not refundable. It’s very clear in the contact I signed and I completely understand. It would not be possible for all of the companies on the ground to fill my slot at such late notice. I love working with Ian and he will definitely be my go-to guy when I’m ready to rebook the trip.

I’ll be completing all of the insurance claim paperwork requesting a refund of $7,205.00 this week and heading back to work on Wednesday. I need my vacation time for when I am able to reschedule my trip. I’m not sure how long it takes to process a claim through Travel Guard, but I’m hopeful they will respond quickly.

While I know it was the right decision for myself and the people I would have been flying and traveling with, I’m still so very disappointed that I’m here and not there. As my sister says, there’s a reason for everything and while I don’t understand it, it will eventually all work out.

I’m not sure when, but soon, I’ll be walking the streets of Windhoek, Nambia, and this disappointment will live only in a post on my blog and as a footnote in my travel journal.

Sisters’ Trip Update – Planning our Trip to New England

Camden, Maine
Planning for our trip to New England is moving along at a fast pace. 
Once you helped us select the amazing destination two weeks ago, Wendy and I began our research. Our excitement level is high and we’ve discovered that there is simply too much to see in such a short time. It’s been difficult to narrow our choices. I anticipate this is the first of many trips to the area. All of you have great taste!!

The budget for our five day trip is $500 each, not including airfare. I’ve run the numbers for either three or four travelers since we may have one additional family friend (adopted sister) traveling with us. The travel dates have been modified to better fit our collective schedules, so we will be traveling in late September, a perfect time for the area.

Airfare:

We are flying from Denver to Boston on Southwest Airlines at $314 each roundtrip, including the early check-in fee.

Car Rental:

The rental car (full size) from Advantage is $275, including taxes.

Lodging:

After spending an hour or two on HomeAway, we were delighted to find a mother-in-law style apartment near Camden, Maine. It sleeps four people and is a real bargain at $425 for four nights. The ratings are exceptional and the owners are very friendly. We debated staying in two different places during our travel, but after reviewing the options, decided to find one location more central to all the places we are planning to visit. We’ve never used Homeaway before or stayed in a home style rental, so this will be a new experience.

Attractions:

So far, it looks like we will be seeing parts of Acadia National Park, the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the coastline between Bar Harbor, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time for the Ben and Jerry’s tour in Vermont, so I’ll just be buying a pint or three of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and eating along the way.

Preparing our own breakfast and packing lunches and other snacks will help us stay within budget. However, dinner will be out on the town at fabulous restaurants. We plan to take advantage of all the amazing seafood options. I’m not sure how we are going to decide where to eat. Any suggestions?

At this point, it looks like we’re on track and have a little extra money to spare for park entrance fees and unexpected costs.  It has really helped to split the expenses between more than two people. Here is our budget so far.

DRAFT BUDGET

  Three Travelers Four Travelers
Airfare $942 $1,256
Budget $1,500 $2,000
Rental Car $275 $275
Lodging $425 $425
Gas $150 $150
Meals Out $300 $400
Meals In $150 $200
Balance $200 $550

It’s amazing that we can visit so many states in five days. I love planning a trip, don’t you?

Can We Be Truly Objective – Travel Writing

Travel WritingWe had an interesting discussion in my new writing class yesterday. The instructor is a travel writer, previously working for Outside Magazine and then as an independent with articles appearing in the New York Times and National Geographic, among other major publications. So, he’s a pro.

“What is the future of travel writing?”

The question he asked hung in the air for a moment before he began talking about how the internet has changed writing. In the past, writers proposed stories to editors and, if interested, they would be sent out to complete the piece. Travel costs were covered and the writer would be paid for his/her time. Articles may have paid a writer up to $10,000. At that time, writers could get by with 6-8 published articles a year, depending upon their lifestyle.

With the advent of the internet, magazines and newspapers have shrunk in size, some even going out of business. Online reporting is at an all time high. Frankly, that’s where I get my news. Where writers were paid for content before, many bloggers submit articles or posts for free for the “exposure”. The Huffington Post comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others.

Then the discussion moved specifically to travel blogging. There are successful travel bloggers who earn a good living, not many, but there are some. Our instructor believes that blogging may be the future of travel writing, with bloggers earning money from ads on their sites. That brought up another questions to ponder.

“Can you truly be objective if you receive free accommodations, access to activities, meals, flights or other subsidies for your travel?”

In order to be “objective”, magazine publishers would not allow writers to accept “gifts” from businesses they were going to be reporting on. In comparison, travel bloggers may receive free “gifts” that essentially discount their travel in exchange for those businesses being included in the final review.

Most bloggers disclose receiving discounts and free products or services to their readers and mention that their opinions are their own. What happens, however, if the accommodations are horrible and that information is reported in a post? Would other businesses still want that same blogger to write about their product knowing that the writer is brutally honest? And, if you enjoyed your time, could it be because you were treated differently than a regular traveler because the business knew they were being evaluated?

I certainly don’t have the answers to these tough questions. If you are a travel blogger, how else do you get “paid” for your work? It’s definitely a dilemma. As someone who wants to include travel reporting in my blog, I’d love to be as objective as possible, but does that mean I can never be paid for my time?

What do you think?

New Mexico Road Trip Part 2 – Found Treasures

Road trips bring me up close and personal with the many treasures that I would  otherwise miss looking down from an airplane at 35,000 feet, like…

local wildlife.

Deer

stepping over the state line.
Welcome to New Mexico

unusual art that makes me smile.

Metal Giraffes

places with a lot to say.

Hollywood Rejects

a sight for sore eyes.

Eyes Graffiti

“moo”ving moments.

Lone Cow

We even saw a road runner, but it was too quick to capture on camera. What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with plenty of time to stop to appreciate those magical moments.

Enjoy!

New Mexico Road Trip Part 1 – White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

It was still dark on Saturday morning when I picked up my friend Emelyn and all her photography equipment and started the long drive. We were meeting a small group of photographers down in Alamogordo, New Mexico to visit White Sands National Monument.

I love road trips.

We started in Denver, which is a large and very busy city. The metropolitan area stretches almost twenty miles and after that there are very few sections of Interstate 25 where you won’t see at least one house or in the distance for the next hour and a half drive. It’s a beautiful area of the country and we have the Rocky Mountains that stand as sentinels overlooking the front range.

After the almost constant presence of people in Colorado along I-25, it was fascinating drive for hours without seeing any indication of people except for fences on the long stretch of roadway. The countryside is arid and filled with the shorter piñon pines, yucca plants and grasses moving in the wind. New Mexico has its own unique beauty of simplicity and shadow.

After a brief stop in Sante Fe, we finished the long drive and checked into the White Sands Motel. Sunset was still more than an hour away and we didn’t waste time headed to the White Sands National Monument. One word…INCREDIBLE!

I’ll be adding more updates and photos over the next week.

Sisters’ Trip Update – New England It Is

New England  Lighthouse
The results are in!

Thank you for all of your input and votes. My sisters and I are headed to the New England area for our sisters’ trip. Now we just need to decide on our itinerary and what areas we will be traveling.

The initial plan is to fly into Boston or Bangor, rent a car and then drive through a number of states. Each one of us is going to pick two places we want to see and then we’ll set up the schedule. From lighthouses, to specific towns, covered bridges and a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour, we’ve already received some great suggestions from those who recommended New England.

Being landlocked in Colorado, the a visit to the Atlantic Ocean is a definite. The rest will develop as we select our must sees. We are still intending to try to keep to our budget of $500 each, not including airfare. I’m finding that renting a car at one airport and dropping it off at another adds to the expense, so we’ll see what discounts are available.

Travel Budget Plan

  1. Do our research on places to stay and book in advance
  2. Select B&B’s, motels or hotels that serve breakfast and are not in the costly city centers
  3. Buy a cheap cooler when we arrive and fill it with snacks so we can limit our eating out
  4. Select and budget in the key places we want to see and then fill in with low cost or free places to visit
  5. Rent a small car that gets better gas mileage, but is still comfortable enough for three people and luggage
  6. Utilize discounts that may be available to us: senior discounts, AAA, online booking

If there is anyone who can spot a discount, it’s Wendy. I know she is already on the hunt. Do you have any tips that you use to stay on a travel budget?

In Other Travel News:

I’m headed to White Sands National Monument  in New Mexico this weekend with a small group of my photographer friends. When they say “white sands” they mean it. What a beautiful place. I can’t wait to share the pictures.

With my trip to Namibia less than two months away, I visited the Global Travel Clinic and recieved one shot in each arm yesterday afternoon. One to prevent Typhoid and the other Hepatitis A. Ouch! I have a couple prescriptions to fill, including anti-malaria pills, Cipro and motion sickness prevention patches. Planning continues…

Sisters’ Trip Update – Submit Your Vote

Travel Destination copyHere’s your chance to vote on the destination for our sisters’ trip!

First, all the suggestions were submitted.

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure
Get Your Travel Agent Hat On – Sisters’ Vacation Update

Then, we narrowed the choices to three destinations.

Sisters’ Trip Update – The Destination Finalists

And now, we’re eagerly awaiting your vote.

[yop_poll id=”2″]

The poll is only open for one week, so vote early.

Sisters’ Travel Update – The Destination Finalists

Many of you suggested destinations for our sisters’ trip scheduled later this year. We received an incredible list of proposed destinations. Curious as to the results? My sister, Wendy and I, have recorded our very first video in order to provide an update.

Listen closely to discover the three destinations we have chosen as finalists.

So what’s next? Your vote!

Later this week I’ll be adding a poll so everyone can vote on one of our top three final destinations and everyone who participates will help decide where we’ll be traveling. Once the selection is complete, we’ll start the process of planning and report back on the journey every step of the way. Remember, all of you are making the final decision. We will not be voting.

Thank you for playing. We’re looking forward to our trip.

Related Posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure
Get Your Travel Agent Hat On -Sisters’ Vacation Update

Travel Trippin’

travel to Namibia
I’m infected. It began in 2000, when my neighbors pulled out a brochure on the World’s Fair in Hanover, Germany and invited me to go along. I applied for my first passport and packed my bags. It didn’t take long to be bitten by the travel bug and…you know what happens when that occurs. The only way to keep it under control is to feed it. So each year, I’m planning a big trip and several small ones.

The BIG Trip:

The Fed Ex package packed full of all the final details came earlier this week. I completed the remaining forms, made the final payment and mailed everything back to the Africa Adventure Company. My trip to Namibia is PAID IN FULL.

Why Namibia? I knew I wanted to go back to the African continent. I traveled to the southern part of South Africa and the area around the Okavanga Delta in Botswana ten years ago. It was incredible and someday I’ll visit again. But this trip, I want to see other parts of Africa. Namibia offers such diverse environments and a chance to see white rhinos, desert adapted elephants and other fascinating wildlife.

Here’s the sample itinerary:

Great Namibian Journey Group Safari

I’ll be taking about my planning process as the trip gets closer. Check back for updates.

The SISTERS Trip:

Planning for the trip with my sister, Wendy, is ongoing with all of your great suggestions. We are so excited. We have decided to move the trip to September so we miss some of the crowds.

Here are the original options:

  • Find an event we want to attend, like a concert, and make a trip out of it.
  • Several locations in North Carolina, including the outer banks and South Port
  • Hawaii
  • Puerta Vallarta
  • Tahiti or other Caribbean Cruise
  • Alaska Cruise
  • New England road trip, possibly including Maine
  • Guatemala

We’re adding a few new destinations from your comments last week.

  • One of my favorite nieces suggested the area around Eureka Springs, Arkansas
  • Kirstin from KidsAreATrip: Flagstaff or the Sedona area of Arizona or Puerto Rico
  • Carol Cassara: A road trip in southern Florida down through the Keys

I’ve begun preliminary reviews of some of the locations. It may be difficult to stay within our $1,000 budget (not including airfare), but we’re going to give it a shot. Next week, we’ll narrow down our choices a little and then put the numbers and options together.

So that’s how my travel plans are lining up. What’s on your vacation agenda?

Previous posts:

Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure

Get Your Travel Agent Hat on- Sister’s Vacation Update 

Get Your Travel Agent Hat On – Sisters’ Vacation Update

vacation

I’m not sure what kind of hats all of you were wearing, but many budding travel agents responded to last week’s request for help planning our sisters’ vacation trip. Thanks! Let me back up and give you a quick overview.

My sister Wendy and I, and possibly our older sister Mary, have decided we need something to look forward to after all this frigid weather. Here’s a link to the post, Help Two Sisters Looking for Adventure, so you can get a little more background.

The parameters:

  • Budget of $500 each
  • Five day trip
  • Someplace off the beaten path (Wendy)
  • No strict agenda (Wendy and Jennifer)
  • Someplace that is or has an unexpected surprise (Wendy)
  • Things to do besides sit on a beach (Jennifer)
  • Wonderful places and people to photograph (Jennifer)
  • Costs for airfare and souvenirs are in addition to the stated budget

The current fabulous results:

  • Kate from Another Clean Slate: Schedule the trip around a fun event. Kate is headed to West Palm Beach to see Jimmy Buffett. He’s on tour in a number of locations this year.
  • My friend Shelly Dennis, a fellow stock photographer: South Port, North Carolina, with all it’s history, an aquarium and beaches.
  • Michelle from Getting Literal: Hawaii. Is there anything else to say about the draw of this location?
  • Kristi from Finding Ninee: Puerto Vallarta or another location in Mexico or the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
  • Mike from Past My Curfew: Cruise to Tahiti. (If we end up doing this, Mike, you are welcome to join us.)
  • Diane from On the Border: She and her husband have scheduled an Alaskan cruise for $550.
  • Clark from the Wakefield Doctrine: My friend from New England recommends a road trip through that beautiful area of the country.
  • Dana from Kiss My List: Small towns in Southern Maine, including Wells.
  • Chris from The Mom Cafe:  Caribbean cruise.
  • Aussa from AussaLorens.com: Guatemala.

Wow! Wendy and I are excited about all the possibilities, especially since we’ve never been to any of those places. Over the couple of months, we’ll be researching all of these destinations and any new ones that get added. In April, we’ll narrow it down to three and all of you will select where we’ll be headed, possibly sometime this summer. Can we do it on our budget? I’m not sure, but we’re going to give it a good try.

Thanks to all of you who have already made suggestions and those of you who offered encouragement. But we aren’t done yet. We still have several weeks to add more possibilities to the mix before we narrow it down for your vote. 

Any other suggestions?