Monday, April 20, 2015

Capital City Washington DC

I had the opportunity to drive down to DC over the beautiful weekend and spend two days wandering around. I decided a week prior that I needed to visit DC once more. There is so much to do in DC. With free entry into all Smithonian museums, beautiful architecture and sprawling parks, you can spend days exploring. 

I drove down from Philly on Saturday morning taking back roads to avoid tolls and parked at Landover Hills Metro station, which parking is free on weekends and took the train into DC. The metro in DC is one of the easiest to use. With clear maps and not too many different lines and routes it's easy to figure your way around the city. I took the metro to Federal Triangle to get to the national mall and monument, Smithonian stop also works. I walked along the epansive park from congress all the way to the Lincon statue. It was a beautiful sunny day. 

Along the way I stumbled upon the Global Citizens Earth Day Festival. Could not have been a more perfect day to visit. Not only did I enjoy bands like Train, Fall Out Boy and NoDoubt, I also got to hear speeches from leaders around the world talk about important issues of poverty and pollution globally. Tents were set up to show off new innovations to decrease pollution and end world hunger. Entry to the festival was absolutely free. 

Empowered and exhasted I headed to Burgers Taps and Shakes near George Washington University. I enjoyed a falafel burger and a cookies and cream shake and headed back to my car for some sleep. 

One of my goals recently was to try out car sleeping, boy was it hard. I slept in a Walmart parking lot because I heard it was good to car sleep, because people are around. I laid out my camp mat and covers and tried to fall asleep. First it was too hot so I cracked the windows, then I got nervous that security would see me and arrest me so I put shades over the windows, next I got nervous that someone would break into my car to i rechecked the locks and turned off the smart car feature. Finally at around 4am I was finally able to fall asleep. I woke up at 7am to realize that no one had arrested me nor had anyone broken in. I was still alive!

A little tired I again boarded the metro back to federal triangle station to explore some of the free Smithonian museums. I first visited the Air and Space museum. I watched a show in the planetarium, I walked around the exhibits and even tried out the flight simulators. I then headed over to the Museum of Natural History where I learned about weird ocean creatures, got really excited about stuffed mammals and awed over gems and rare crystals. I even turned myself into Paranthropus boisei, an early ancestor of the human species. I was thouroughly exhausted so I headed back to my car and drove back to Philly. 

Overall DC is a great place to visit especially for someone who wants to travel on the cheap. With so much stuff to do for free, everyone will find something exciting and interesting to discover. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bucket List: In It for the Long Haul - Long Distance Hiking (19-25)

As I sat in my car listening to the book Wild on audio books I imagined myself walking the Pacific Crest Trail with Cheryl Strayed. Her large outlandishly heavy backpack strapped to her back. I laughed as she reminded me about my previous treks. How your feet blister with each step. The way your shoulders feel after a long day of hiking. The encounter with the black bear and rattle snake.

Trekking the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
I have always dreamed of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, although I have hiked some portions on backpacking trips of my youth I have never hiked the whole thing. I also have always wanted to hike alone. I have traveled alone to far off countries taking buses, booking tours, walking winding streets and even hitch-hiking. The idea of pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere, alone in the dark, weird sounds coming from all directions scares me. Even leaving the tent in the middle of the night to go pee even with a group scares me. 

Cheryl Strayed in her book Wild battles with these fears on a daily bases as she sets off alone on the PCT. She says “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” 

I have always been one to challenge my fears. What is life if you live in the safe confines of comfortable? Life is more exciting when you face your fears with bravery. So as I write this bucket-list I will remind myself that. I am strong. I am brave. Nothing can vanquish me.

19. Great Himalayan Trail - Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan

This 4,500 km trail rises to over 20,000ft of elevation running across the highest mountain range in the world, making it both the longest and the highest trail in the world. The Nepal section of this trail is 1,700km (1,056mile) it passes through many different terrains. 

20. Te Araroa - New Zealand 

This 3,000km (1,864 mile) trail traverses New Zealand. If your not currently a Lord of the Rings fan get ready to have your breath taken away. This takes about 100-150 days depending on how fast you hike and how long you want to take rest stops. With such beautiful views I can imagine wanting to stay at each campsite for days. 

21. Pacific Crest Trail - California, Oregon, Washington - USA

This 2,650 mile trail  (4,265 km) trail spans three states from the boarder of Mexico to the boarder of Canada. It transverses through Mohave Desert and the High Sierra's. Its elevation ranges from sea level to 13,000 ft.  only 180 out of 300 who attempt this hike finish it. This is the most west trail of the Triple Crown long distance trails of USA.

22. Via Alpina -  Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtensteinm Switerland, Italy, France, and Monaco

The Red Route is the longest of the trails traversing all 8 countries and spanning 1,500 miles. This traverses the backbone of the Alps from the Adriatic Coast of Italy to Monte Carlo on the Mediterranean. Although its almost impossible to do in one shot due to weather who says you can't live in a small remote town in the Alps for a season?

23. Tran-Panama Trail - Panama

This 700 mile (1,127 km) trail traverses the length of Panama from North to South. Its much different from the other treks in that it traverses through jungle terrain. Huge spiders the size of your head, carrying your pack above your head as you wade through deep swamps, and batting away mosquitoes. 

24. Appalachian Trail -Georgia, North Carolina Tennessee, Virginia, WestVirginia,Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusettes, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine -USA

When I moved to the East Coast for medical school, I had in my mind that I would be able to hike this 3,510 km (2,180mile) during my four years of medical school. Turns out medical school takes up too much time.  This is the west coast sibling of the USA Triple Crown long distance trails. Its is said that only 1 in 4 who attempt the AT complete the thru-hike.

25. The Continental Divide TrailMontanaIdahoWyomingColorado, and New Mexico.

This  3,100 miles (5,000 km) trail runs along the rocky mountains from Mexico to Canada. Like the PCT and the AT it is part of the Triple Crown long distance trails of the USA. As I crossed the state in with my father with our Prius I remember climbing the winding roads of the rocky mountains. It transverses some of the most beautiful US National Parks including Glacier National Park, pictured here. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bucket List: Worlds Wildest Whitewater (14-18)

I have white water rafted in Chile, Costa Rica, USA and India. I have lazily floated down class I sections and have gotten my butt kicked by class VI+ rapids. I ride Witewater for the epic feeling as you looking ahead at a rolling rapid, sizable falls and dangerous holes and rocks scattered through your trajectory. The heart racing, palms sweating, body shaking, mind racing feeling. The cold wet feeling you had before from previous rapids is gone, replaced by the excitement and fear that sweeps across your body. 

Three of the most important aspects of choosing a whitewater adventure is: Callenge, Good Guide and Scenery. It's important to choose a rapid that challenges you, starting out on a class III and working your way to the top (class V). Second item to look for is a challenging guide. Guides come in all shapes and forms. Depending on your group skills the guide can make any rapid more exciting with tricks and hidden gems. I remember my two day adventure on the American River, lead by a air force guide who knew the river like the back of his hand. He would guide us to the most exciting parts of the rapid, passing us over shallow rocks, spinning our raft, catching waves, diving us into unsuspecting holes. He made class three rapids into a terrain park for a raft, challenging us at ever turn. 

The last most important characteristic when choosing a rapid is scenery. Most of the time, no matter how challenging the river, you will lazily be floating down smooth segments. This is the time to relax, sit back, and enjoy the views around you. This can be jungle, sky scraping mountain ranges, lush meadows, busting towns, dry desert, steep canyon walls, or green forests. This is a great way to travel and see a new country. This is why picking a river where you will enjoy the scenery is one of the most important reasons to pick a rafting adventure. 

These are a few of the rivers on my bucket list:

14. Colorado River - Arizona, USA
The Colorado River in Arizona carved out one of the largest canyons in the world. It's strong Rapids shaped the famous Grand Canyon. Since I was a little girl I have always wanted to raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The steep orange/red rock towering around you as you try to stay inside the raft, makes this trip one of the most spectacular and adventurous Rapids in the world. Trips range from 6-14 days many incuding hiking in and out. This breathtaking trip is not for the poor or spontaneous, you must book at least a year in advance and pay upwards of $4,000 for longer trips. 

15. Rio Upano, Ecuador
Translated as River of Sacred Waterfalls, this challenging River dives deep into the Ecuadorian rainforest. With a rapid named Godzilla, with 15 ft waves, toppling many rafts that dare to attempt it's wrath, why not take on the challenge. 

16. Sun Kosi River, Nepal
While in Nepal, I heard many stories about the spectacular rafting trips through the Himalayas. Since returning I have dreamt about the day I can return to take on the challenge. The Sun Kosi River, translated as River of Gold, combines spectacular views of the Mount Everest Rigion and challenging whitewater. With many tours leaving from Kathmandu it's easy to book when you arrive. Most trips last between 10-14days. 

17. Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho, USA
Salmon tastes good and is very health for you, but that's not the reason you raft down the Salmon River. This is one of the most challenging rivers in North America and one of the most popular whitewater destinations in the USA. The river is sandwiched between beautiful evergreen forests, towering mountains and North American wildlife. 

18. Zambezi River, Zambawe/Zambia
This is the forth largest River in Africa and boasts one of the worlds most challenging stretches of high adrenaline, class V madness. The rafting starts just below Victoria Falls. Trips range from day trips to week long expeditions, where you can enjoy riding by local African wildlife, including the most dangerous animal in the world, the hippopotamus. Dangerous Rapids and dangerous animals, sounds like my kind of adventure. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Live Below The Line 40 Days

It's impowering to preform self sacrifice. A couple of years ago I participated in Live Below the Line where you feed yourself on $1.50 a day, which is set as the poverty line. I was impowered by the growling in my stomach as I went to bed at night. And decided to do it again but for 40 days (lent).  

Yesterday I went to Aldi's discount food store and spent $60 on 57 items for the next 40 days. Included were pasta, tomatoe sauce, eggs, bread, ramen, beans and rice. I will document my next 40 days of living below the line. Some exciting finds was penut butter and jelly together for $1.89. I will update with some other finds soon. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tastebud Traveling

One of the most exciting parts of traveling is eating. There are so many types of foods to try around the world. If you are an adventurous eater there will be infinite flavores to expose your oral chemical receptors too.

First it's about trying something exotic, maybe something you have never had before. Anytime a tour guide grabs something from a tree I am the first one putting it in my mouth. Anticucho (cows heart) on the streets of Cuzco or maybe some parana wrapped in banana leaves in the Amazon. Seafood arepas in Puerto Rico? Have you had fresh civiche (raw fish) in Costa Rica? Have you had someone hand you a freshly opened coconut with a straw? Have you perused the offerings at a Indian wedding? 

With adventurous eating sometimes comes adventures in the bathroom. Is it worth it? It sure is. The memory of sitting on the toilet and vomiting in the sink at the sametime will fade but that amazing curry you just had will stay in your mind forever. 

Sometimes the best food is the food cooked in someone's home. The warmth that is stirred into the meal will fill you up more than anything on the street. As you sit with the family you will learn about the traditions and customs that come with the food. There are rules about eating. Maybe it's a prayer before Shabbat dinner in Israel or eating with your hands in India. Maybe the family maid in Chile cooks the best Chilean Sea Bass. If your lucky you might even get a cooking lesson. 

As you explore different flavores you need to quench your thirst. Have you tried a terrimoto (earthquake) in Santiago, Chile? How about wine in Argentina? Non-alcoholic beer in Israel? You can't leave India without enjoying a hot cup of chai. A day on the beach in Costa Rica is not complete without a fresh fruit smoothie. Of course it's important to have a mate while hanging out with Argentinian friends at the top of Machu Picchu. Of course purifying your water while hiking through the Himalayas in Nepal is important so you don't end up with Giardiasis. 

After a filling meal their is always room for a dessert. Have you had Beaver tail in Canada? Maybe a huge cupa of ice cream in Chile? Jalebi on the street in India is the best company for a cup of chai. Does a Havanna Alfajor from Argentina make you salivate, if not then a Sufganiyah from Israel or a Baklavah from Jordan will hit the spot. 

Sometimes it's not about what your eating but who your eating with. Food always tastes better with good company. 

And as any realtor knows location, location, location. I have had the opportunity to eat with some of the most beautiful views. I remember cooking bland mashed potatoes and pasta in Torres del Paine national park, Chile. Sitting with my sad plate of food I watched the sun dip behind the glacier and tuck itself behind the snowy mountains. My dal baath didn't compare to the clear view of the Annapurna mountain range as I ate at a local tea house in Upper Pisang, Nepal. Eating lunch with a view of Machu Picchu or the epansive Uyuni Salt Flats brings tears to your eyes. Enjoying a cup of tea in front of the Monastary in Petra Jordan and eating above the crashing waves at the Cliff House, San Francisco have been some of the most memorable moments of my life. 

No matter if you are with friends, family or all alone food can bring you comfort and memories that last a lifetime. Stimulating your taste buds with a snack while hiking through Yosemite, CA or a questionable cup of corn in the busy streets of a mumbai bazaar is a memory that will last a lifetime. It's important to respect the food you eat and give thanks to the people who prepare it for you. Many people go to bed around the world with empty stomachs, as you travel and try food, remember not to waste and to give back to the community if possible. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Building Castles from Sandstone

I walked through the maze of sandstone walls. The sun brought out the red, orange and yellow lines of the smooth stone walls that surrounded me. I walked on letting the walls lead the way. The remnants of Nabathian street signs and welcome statues lined the maze walls. I felt like Indiana Jones as horse pulled carriages zoomed past me. I turned the corner and as if a curtain had been pulled open the walls gave way to a spectacular castle carved into the orange stone before me. 

The treasury is the first carved building that visitors of Petra will see as they navigate the old streets of the once bustling Nabathian city. It's spectacular detail and size makes you wonder how they carved it by hand. This magnificent building is only one of the thousands of rock carved homes and buildings. 

Petra's history starts as early as 312BC with the Nabataean culture who carved the city of Petra and created the trading hub of the Middle East. With thousands of inhabitants and hundred of thousand traders visiting, Petra had to be designed to sustain them all. Built in the middle of the dessert, water was one of the big challenges.  Nabataean people created systems of aqueducts and cisterns to collect the water, it's convenient location near Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses- where it was said that Moses used his staff to bring water from the ground), gave Petra a natural source of water. 

Exploring Petra takes time, although they sell a one day ticket, one day is not enough to see most of Petra's most famous sites. It's a good idea to have at least two days, if your a fast hiker you can see most of Petra in two days. As you walk Bedouin people will be offering you their wares. Some will offer you rides on their horses, donkeys and camels, they might even say it's "free" or "comes with your ticket". Do not believe them, as soon as you get on they will not let you off without paying a hefty fee. If you need to ride, negotiate a price before hand, and stick to it. Some of the animals don't seem to healthy, so be sure to choose carefully. But if you are able to hike you won't need to ride. 

The first thing we did was hike to Urn/Silk/Corinthian Tombs on the right side of Petra valley. You can enter these temples and the views from their entrances is spectacular. From here we took the long hike up to the monastery. This is the furthest building on the map. It's good to start early, especially if you don't like stairs. Just like the Treasury, the revealing of the Monastary is breath taking. The grueling hundreds of stairs will be forgotten when you turn the corner and the Monastary appears out of nowhere. Even more impressive than the treasury, the Monastary towers 50 meters high. At the top you can enjoy a outrageously priced tea and snacks with a view of the Monastary. 

From there you can hike to the various view points. Each trail has a sign claiming "best view", to settle the competition my friend and I hiked to each of them. They all offer different vantage points and it's hard to say which is best. The view is composed of what the bedouins call the "Jordanian Grand Canyon" and the Monastary. 

On the way back we visited the free standing Roman temples, walked along the Roman road and visited the amphitheater. All of this along with picture stops took the whole day it was about 15km of walking. 

 When we were good and tired, we hitched a ride on camel back to our bedouin homestay with Mariam (find her on airbnb) in Umm Sayhun. Although they offered it to us "free" since they were going back too we negotiated to pay 15JD for two, half of what they usually charge. We had tea upon a rock before setting off on camel through the desert back roads of Petra. 

I realized that the half priced ride also came with a wedding proposal. Not the first time I have been proposed to while traveling, I decided to show indifference. The young Bedouin suitor dropped me off at home and left his number. With no intention to call him I thanked him and headed inside. After 17 missed calls to my host mother, we finally told one of the Bedouin leaders to tell him to stop calling. 

At the home we enjoyed a dinner of chicken, hummus, salad and pita. The next morning we woke up early and headed back to Petra. The second day we hiked up to the high place of sacrifice, it wa really interesting and the views were amazing. We took the back road down from the high place of sacrifice to the Roman Soldiers Tomb and the Garden Tomb. From here we set off through the desert toward the Columbarium. Instead of going back to meet the roman roads we looped around a mountain towards the Monastary, we took a trail carved into the cliff which lead back down toward the museum. We took a quick peak at the artifacts in the museum and then headed back down the Roman road to the trail that would lead us to the viewpoint overlooking the treasury. 

To find this trail, head toward Sextius Floentinus Tomb and continue past it heading away from the main road, here you wil find a set of staircases to your right. Hike up until you reach the top, the trail seems to end, head to the left to find a less well marked trail that leads you in the direction of the Treasury. You will see a small flag and the treasury to your right. Continue walking to the viewpoint. Here you will find a small tent with cushions and rugs and a nice Bedouin man that will offer you tea. Sit down and enjoy the view of the treasury and hear the yelling, laughter and camel screams from below as people stumble upon this gem. 

We returned down the stairs and headed home through the secret back entrance, this time by foot to prevent any more marriage proposals. It's a long hard journey through soft sand back up the the Bedouin village of Umm Sayoun. Here we were picked up by a cave dwelling Bedouin man for a once-in-a-lifetime stay in a true Bedouin cave. 

Below see a map of my two day guide to petra. Red is day one and blue is day two. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Cave Man Behavior

After exploring Petra for two days it was time to live like the Bedouin did for the past 200 years in Petra, before it became a UNESCO site. We were picked up by a Bedouin man and taken into the desert on dirt road to his cave. Currently some bedouins still live in caves, these humbe abodes are passed down into the family. Our host was born in a cave in Petra and had hosted visitors often. For $60 we were given transportation, dinner and breakfast, drinks, hooka and a place to sleep.

My friend Francios and I headed to the cave and were immediately sent up a mountain to watch the sunset. We climbed onto a large rock which offered us perfect seats to a spectacular desert sunset. 

After sunset we walked back to the cave for dinner. Our host made a fire and began cooking our dinner on the open flame. The meal consisted of chicken, eggplant, peppers, onions, potatoes and tomatoes cooked together in broth. We ate on the floor of the balcony of the cave with pita bread and our hands. Once we were stuffed we gathered around the fire as our host played the drum and sang Arabic ballads. His voice echoing against the desert rock. 

We turned in early, but as any solo female knows avoiding unwanted attention is often part of traveling. It was unfortunate to have to end my night trying to defend myself and resisting unwanted advances by our drunk host. These difficulties are not new to me, nor to most women around the world, travelers and non-travelers alike. Sometime a simple "no" will do, other times it takes much more to protect yourself. I was fortunate that Francios was there, but too often female travelers must fight for dignity. Women travelers should be able to travel without having to rely on male counterparts to protect them. I could not sleep much that night, the hard floors, lack of pillow and cold air were the least of my problems. 

In the morning I confronted him and I decided to pay less for my stay. I also reported him to my host in Umm Sayhoun, who had recommended him. She also confronted him and decided not to use him anymore as a  host for travelers. It's very hard, but incredibly important to report anyone who threatens your dignity, it's important that that sort of behavior stops with you. It can be very hard talking about what happened but I encourage everyone to try. Traveler complaints are taken very seriously with police, hotel management and travel agencies. It's important to warn others about bad experiences and prevent any similar situations. 

All women should remember that any attention that makes you uncomfortable is not ok. In most of the Middle East and Muslim countries, touching a woman is not allowed (even hand shakes). It's too often that men take advantage of women who are nieive to their culture. Someone along my journey told me to challenge unwanted attention with the phrase "think of me as your sister". It was evident early on in the evening that his idea of women travellers coming to Jordan for a "fun night in a cave" was tainted by western media, a few rougue females or made up stories of Bedouin one night stands. I defended women by telling him this was not the case in majority of female travellers, but he kept say "a lot of women" came to Jordan to try out a Bedouin man. This idea runs deep in many cultures of the world thanks to western media portraying women as hypersexual objects. Nonetheless this behavior is unwarranted, any woman who suffers similar attention should not tolerate it and should seek that the perpetrators be stopped. 

I ignored our hungover host the rest of the morning. I was dropped off at the bus station with Francious and we headed up to the capital of Jordan, Amman. 


The walls surrounding Old Jerusalem tell the stories of the past inhabitants, stuggles for power and monumentous event said to take place here. Old Jerusalem takes years to explore and study. Three religions have designated the land within these four walls as holy sites. The bustling narrow streets depict a land where three major religions can live in harmony, but the tension between cultures seeps through the touristic forsade. Muslims, Jews and Christians alike travel to experience some of the most holy sites.

As I walked through Demascus gate into the Muslim Quarter with my backpack in search for my hostel it was aperrent Jerusalem would take much more than one day to experience. I found Citadel Hostel up St Marks street down a small alley. I chose the hostel due to its incredible architecture. It's stone sloping walls make the hostel look more like a cave than a building. 

After setting my backpack down I headed off for a quick falafel and the 11am walking tour. As soon as I got the tour I realized a 2 hour free tour with a 50 shekel suggested donation was not going to cut it for me. The four walls of Old Jerusalem contained so many years of history. I decided to do the 4 hour Holy Tour for the student price of 85 shekels. 

My tour guide was Ryan. He was absolutely amazing. Our four hour tour ended up being eight hours due to his patience. He promoted questions and allowed for extra time at each site.

We visited many sites including Temple of the Mount, the Western Wall, King David's tomb, the last supper room, Church of the Holy Seplicure, among other holy site. The guide explained in detail the history and religious representation of each stop. I will not go into detail about everything that was explained, but I will talk about three of the most important locations in Old Jerusalem. 

The Temple of the Mount. This holy Islamic site is said to be the place where Muhammad rose up on the rock to speak to God and bring to earth the Islamic faith. Security here is strict, you must enter through a metal detector and a bag check. Any religious items are not allowed in, this included crosses, bibles, Torah's, stars of David or Hamsas. It's important to give these items to the guide who will keep them until the end. Once inside the complex you only have one hour before you are shoed out by the guards. Once inside you are not able to enter the mosque or temple unless you are Muslim. 

When inside the animosities between Jews and Muslims became apparent. When a group of Jews came in the Muslims praying inside began to scream at them. They ran out quickly. This site is holy not to just Islam but also to Jews and Christians alike. 

Next we visited the western wall, here our guide gave us time to write a note and take it to the wall. Women and men are seperated, men are proveded a kipa for their head. The significance of the walls symbolism in Judaism became apparent as I stood quietly my hand against standing next to a sobbing girl to oneside and someone praying on the other. 

The most significant place on the tour for me was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Raised a Christian, I was very familiar with the story of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. Here we visited the last 4 of the Via Dolorosa. Here one can visit where Jesus cloths were removed and gambled over, next where he was hammered to the cross, you can touch the stone where his body was anointed. Lastly you can see where he was laid down in the cave and then resurrected. The church is beautiful, its significance in Christianity is apperent as you see pilgrim come from all over the world to crouch down by the rock where Jesus was layer down to die and light candles at the alter. The sound of organ resonating through the stone church brough on goosebumps. 

As I walked back to my hostel, overwhelmed by the history and emotions surrounding me I listened to the Muslim call to prayer, the Jews singing as they lit the menorah and the ringing bells of the churches mixing together in such sweet harmony. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Travel Woes

Traveling in general is an exciting, exploring new places, meeting new people, learning new languages, but traveling can also be stressful and scary, especially if things don't go your way. Flight delays and canceled flights can be a stressful way to start off a trip. Sickness, bad weather and canceled tours are unfortunate but often inevitable circumstances that come with traveling. Lost baggage and identification can be terrifying. Making the most out of your trip even if it doesn't go as planned is sometimes the best you can do. Accepting that things might not goes as planned, can help you come to terms with a flat tires on the way to Cuzco or a canceled flight due to weather changes. 

The best way to deal with unexpected changes is flexibility, but often that is not an option on short trips. Sometimes when all seems lost you get lucky, maybe the airline will be nice and comp you a ticket. Maybe the tour will give you free money to use for another tour while your waiting. Maybe you will have a new experience that you might not have had, had your train not broken down. 

When I first began to travel I booked a cheap flight to Lima, Peru through Spirit airlines. If you don't know Spirit Airlines yet, keep it that way. They are fairly inflexible and charge you for almost everything. After waiting almost 8 hours for a delayed flight they finally cancelled it stating that the next departure was not for a week. It was a great way to start off my first solo international trip. Fortunately a couple hours on the phone got me a refund and a new ticket through a different airline for almost the same price. With enough talking airline companies usually give in to your request.

On the way home from India my bag with all my gifts was lost, I was devastated that I had lost hours of bazaar shopping finds and souvenirs. Within days my luggage was returned to me. I was so happy to see my luggage that I had forgotten how sad I was. 

Today I jumped on a flight to Tel Aviv with a short layover in Moscow. When my flight was delayed it was hard not to be nervous about missing my connecting flight. When I arrived in Moscow only 15 minutes before my flight was to leave I high tailed it toward my gate, inevitably having to wait in a security line and then have a scary Russian lady yell at me in a language I did not understand after I lost the stub of my ticket. As she turned the light off in her little glass cube and shut the metal gate I was resolved that I would miss my flight, and I might be stuck in Russia forever. Luckily all her yelling probably consisted of "don't worry we will go look for it" she took me back down and we found my stub laying on the floor near security. I am currently writing this from the plane ... So that means although it's going to be late, I am on it. 

In the end stress and fear is a part of traveling, it makes traveling interesting and exciting. It takes courage to travel, especially alone and relaxation techniques to dissolve stress from bad luck experiences. The most important thing to remember is your still alive and things will always work out as long as your patient and kind to the people trying to help you.