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5 Travel Hacks for Families

I love the thought of traveling but I must admit in this day and age it is a little scary to travel outside of the United States. So this blog covers five basic travel hacks for families traveling to distant or not so distant lands.

When you think about action-packed movies of traveling overseas the thought conjures up Americans being insulted, taken advantage of and robbed by rude foreigners. One word proves my point…TAKEN. For me, these images were enough reason to keep me from traveling to Paris. A trip that was at the top of my bucket list for the last ten years. Finally, I decided that enough was enough. I wasn’t going to let my fear control my life, so I planned a trip for my family and I to go to France. Once there, I was shocked by what I discovered. My preconceived notions of how I thought we would be treated couldn’t have been further from the truth. I quickly realized that being aware of your surroundings, courteous to others and allowing for some flexibility in your schedule goes a long way…in any land.

My husband is a driver development coach who works for professional race car drivers and travels all over the world. This year he has had the privilege to travel to Sweden, Norway, London, France, Canada, and South Africa and has discovered a few travel hacks that have helped to make his trips a little less stressful. Like I mentioned earlier the travel bug spilled over and as a family, we traveled to Hawaii, Turks & Caicos and France. My hope is that the travel hacks below will give you some piece of mind and will inspire you to start planning your own trips to distant lands.

Listed below are the five major travel hack categories.

Documents

Know what documents you will need for the country you are traveling to.

  • Passport: When traveling outside of the United States, every member of your family will need a passport.
  • Trusted Traveler Program:

Travel Hack #1: If you travel often then you might think about enrolling in the Trusted Travel program and applying for Global Entry https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry.

The major benefit is that you skip the customs line when coming back into the United States. Just make sure you get one for every person in your family. If you have a Platinum American Express, they will reimburse the fees for the primary cardholder. Either way its $100 for each completed application.

  • Visa: Research if the country you are traveling to will require you to obtain additional travel documents. If you find that your destination requires a visa, check and see if they will issue one upon arrival.  You may want to consider applying for one in advance just to be on the safe side. It will save you time and unnecessary frustration to have your visa in hand before your trip begins.

Air Travel

Know what you should and should not bring on the plane when traveling long distances.

My family lives in California, so our trip was a little over ten hours to go to France and about eleven and a half hours to come back. When traveling with the family there a few things that you are going to want to do.

Travel Hack #2: Bring meals with you on the plan because the food is usually awful.

Bring noise canceling headphones with an airplane adapter for the in-plane entertainment and to help you drown out crying babies. Download your favorite movies, games, and books. Pack your phone, tablet and laptop charger in your carry-on because most international flights have a power outlet on each seat of the plane. Bring things for the kids to do that can be confined to small spaces. Like UNO, Battleship, and coloring books.

I brought a rubber band bracelet making kit which was a very bad idea. There were way too many pieces, and we lost the crochet needle 30 minutes into the ten-hour flight. Make sure you bring the 4oz bottle of kids Benadryl…don’t judge me. Pack slippers or flip-flops because you will want to take off your shoes. You don’t want to go into the bathroom barefoot. Trust me!!! A word of advice, bring a toothbrush and toothpaste because after ten plus hours your breath will not be so fresh. Your family will thank you for thinking ahead… Okay, “thank you” might be a reach but do it anyway.

To Rent A Car or Not To Rent A Car

More often than not our family rents a car when we are traveling abroad. The exception is when we are booked at an all-inclusive resort because you mostly stay on the property. But that is typically the only reason why we wouldn’t get our own transportation. When traveling abroad, you want to familiarize yourself with the laws and traffic signs.

Travel Hack #3: I have found that it is pretty cheap to rent the car, but the expense comes when you get the insurance which I would always recommend doing.

You can call your insurance carrier, get it at the rental car company or check with your credit card company to see if they offer car rental insurance. While in Paris we rented a car for eight days. The car cost under $200 and the insurance was $1,200. Paris had roundabouts that were 6 lanes across and no one ever seemed to slow down to let you in or out.  People drove absolutely crazy in the city so having insurance gave us a little less spending money but peace of mind.

Things to Do

As a family decide if you want your trip to be leisurely or planned out. Think about if there are sights that you must see. If you choose the later do your research and plan ahead. Know the time and days that the venue opens and closes. If they allow flash photography, if they translate their materials and provide audio tours. (Most museums do this) I usually wait to buy the tickets until we have arrived in the city unless there is a chance they might sell out.

Travel Hack #4: Download the google translator app on your phone. It saved us on more than one occasion when we were traveling through the countryside and couldn’t find anyone who spoke English. I left my phone at the hotel one night when we went to a restaurant. I thought I was ordering pasta for dinner and was surprised when the waiter brought out a fancy plate of watermelon.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Money

Travel Hack #5: Use credit cards, minimize the cash you carry, make copies of your passport, utilize the hotel safe and always be aware of your surroundings.

We have never had an issue with pickpockets (knock on wood) but to be on the safe side, I would suggest using a money pouch that you can pin inside your bra or pocket. For men buy a cheap wallet that you can use for just the necessities and don’t put it in your back pocket. If a stranger seems to be getting a little too friendly check for your wallet and your watch.

I’m just saying…

These are five simple hacks for traveling abroad. If you have always dreamt of going to another country or exotic land start planning your trip today. Don’t wait until tomorrow to live the life we want today.

Today’s Hidden Treasure Moment is that life is short!  See and do as much as you can and appreciate every minute of the journey.

I hope that you found another reason to love life. If you would like more, you can purchase my book for a special discounted price by clicking here. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog as an added bonus I have included a link to my FREE happiness survey.

Please leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

Until we meet again…

Are You Living an Empowered or Imprisoned Life?

Are you living an empowered or imprisoned life? The questions below are designed to make you think about your life. As a result, they will leave you asking yourself,

“Am I making decisions that move me closer to living in my purpose? Is my life really mine or has my time, my hopes and my dreams been imprisoned by someone or something else? “

You will evaluate what is truly important, and you will begin to take steps to live your best, most glorious, empowered and magnificent life.  Because of this blog I asked myself the questions below and was surprised by some of my own answers.

Are You Empowered or Imprisoned? Take the next few minutes to answer the five questions below.

1. Does your job, house or car define who you are? Would you lose your identity without these things?

2. Does the thought of taking a day off on a Tuesday and going to the spa, movies or just doing nothing at home seem inconceivable? But at the same time makes you a bit sad because you should be able to take a day off without it seeming inconceivable? Is your first thought “how could I possibly take time off when I have so much to do?” Do you have so many people who depend on you doing SOMETHING that no one else but you could possibly do? Do you brush off the thought of taking a day off for yourself because…

“What’s the point, I’d just spend the entire time feeling guilty, thinking about work or cleaning the house.”

3. Does your scale in the bathroom dictate your mood and how you feel about yourself? When you step on the scale (after depriving yourself from anything that tastes good and working out like you are getting ready for the Olympics) tell you if you have been good or bad? Does your weight leave you depressed and feeling like a failure because you find yourself losing the same 10 pounds over and over again? Do you find yourself saying…

“I have no self-discipline? What’s the point in watching what I eat when the second I eat something I like I gain 5 pounds… which took me two weeks to take off!!!”

4. Do you take care of yourself after you take care of everyone else?  Do you make caring for yourself and showing yourself love your last priority?

5. If you were to die tomorrow would you have regrets? Would you regret not working hard enough, not climbing the ladder high enough and not being available enough? Or, would you regret not getting to know your kids more, not kissing your partner more and not doing more of the things that are on your bucket list?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of the empowered or imprisoned questions above, then the empowerment you seek might feel more like a prison of self-doubt and anxiety. I asked myself these very same questions, and I wondered why it was so hard for me to switch how I thought. Especially when my old way of thinking wasn’t serving my best interest. I knew better…didn’t I?

Had society imprisoned me with its rules and predetermined notions of what it thought was right for me? Had the universe decided what I should be when I grow up? Or has it been me who has held myself back with my fear of being spotted and standing out? Had I held myself back because it was easier to come in second? You don’t have the same pressure to perform when you come in last. No one is watching you, no one is waiting for you to fail. WAIT… No one has to hold you down when your own internal thoughts are doing it.

If that is, in fact, the case, then your mind is the prison guard, and your heart is the one who holds the key to its release. If you’re the one holding yourself down and you’re the one keeping yourself from living in your purpose, then you have the power to change. We know happiness doesn’t come from the things we own or the car we drive. It comes from living in your purpose and living a life that pushes you to your fullest potential.

Finally, my goal for you in writing this blog is that it should do three things. It should make you think. The blog will make you see that you have the power to change your priorities. It can show you that you control your thoughts. You can stop measuring yourself up to everyone else’s standards anytime you want to. Make today the first day you choose to be happy and to life live by your own design.

Today’s Hidden Treasure Moment is that we control our thoughts and how we perceive and react to a situation. If you want more… know that you can have more… and take the steps to get more.

I hope that by reading my blog you found another reason to love yourself and others. If you would like more, you can purchase my book for a special discounted price at https://karaadams.com/gem18. As an added bonus I have included a link to my FREE happiness survey https://karaadams.com/happiness-survey/.

Please leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

Until we meet again…

10 Steps To True Change and Transformation

Change and transformation is much easier said than done. It’s easy to change something about yourself for a short while, for a day or two but to change who you are or how you see yourself is a much harder proposition. Think about who you are today what changes you know deep down that you need to make to be a happy healthier person. In this blog  about change and transformation you will be given a short list of tools that can help you start the journey to being the you that you have always wanted to be.  

Here are ten action steps for continued, lasting change and transformational growth.

  1. Reflect. Look at your life, situation or circumstance today. Take time to see the lessons in your journey and then move on to greater heights.
  2. Accept yourself and love yourself. Live for today. Your life is happing right now, this is who and how you are. Decide that you love yourself no matter what.
  3. Take Ownership. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for all that you are doing and not doing (good and bad), and the effects your actions have on others and yourself (good and bad).
  4. Identify Areas of Opportunity. What are you doing that is not serving your greater good? What steps could you take today to change that?
  5. Make a Decision. Make the decision to do the work and to make the change(s) you’ve listed. Draw up a contract or agreement so you can hold yourself accountable for reaching your goals.
  6. Learn, Copy, Keep, and Repeat. Learn about the change that you want to make. Copy the behaviors of people that you admire, keep the behaviors that feel good to your soul, and discard any that don’t. Repeat the change until it becomes second nature
  7. Create a Plan to Meet Your Goals. Measure your outcomes to stay on track. Goals are not written in stone. Review them daily and make adjustments as you go. Reward yourself for achieving milestones that bring you closer to your goal. Don’t wait for the finish line to celebrate your achievements.
  8. Do it, Achieve It, and Be It. Take daily actionable steps toward your goals. Recognize behaviors that support you, make a note, and discontinue any actions that are counterproductive.
  9. Forgive Yourself. Change does not happen overnight. It takes at least twenty-one days to change a habit, so be patient and kind to yourself during your transformation. Forgive yourself when you have setbacks and move forward. Show yourself magnificent self-love every day and reward yourself for even the smallest of accomplishments.
  10. Reflect Again. Make note of where you started and how far you have come. Do this every few hours, every few days, or every month… whatever supports your journey.

Qutoe of the day

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences and failing to achieve anything useful.

~ Margaret J. Wheatley

My hope is that you found another reason to love yourself and others. If you would like more you can purchase my book for a special discounted price at https://karaadams.com/gem18. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, as an added bonus I have included a link to my FREE happiness survey https://karaadams.com/happiness-survey/.

Please leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below.

GEMs Are Made to Be Polished

When you work hard you should reward yourself. The Polish & Shine phase can be found in my book Hidden Treasure and it is the last step of my 5 Steps to Transformational Self-Love journey. It is how you practice the art of magnificent self-love. It’s the actions you take daily to remind yourself that you are a treasure meant to be loved and cherished. This is the phase that you recognize the events that have happened to you in the past and see them as GEMs. That have made you into who you are today Glorious, Empowered and Magnificent. This is where you shine and become radiant. You learn to love the person you are and stop worrying about who others think you should be.

Example from My Life:

I had to learn to love myself in my cancer recovery and recognize that it was okay to be taken care of. I gave myself permission to be “selfish,” and in doing that I gave myself permission to heal, to be quiet, and to be loved. I made a commitment to get my hair done and polish my nails once a week. I decided that I didn’t have to go to every event that my son or husband were involved in. I gave myself permission to be “missed,” and it gave my family the space to appreciate me more when I was there. When I took time to honor myself it filled me with an abundance of love that I could share with others. It allowed me to be more available to my family because I had taken the time to tend to my own needs. Self-love showed me that my life was worth saving and it gave me a hunger to share my lessons with other women—with you—so they won’t have to experience the same extraordinary challenges to learn what I had.

I listened to His whispers and decided to no longer live in the shadows not allowing my brilliance to come through. It’s my life’s mission to speak love, joy, and possibility into the lives of women all over the world. I realized that this is what all of the lessons were for. They were all for…you.

Your Turn… Go Deep:

  1. Think back on the things you have done for yourself that have made you feel loved.
  2. List the things that cost you the least money and made you feel the best.
  3. Circle the ones that you can do daily, draw a square around the ones that you can do monthly, and put a star by the ones that you must do before you die.
  4. Imagine how you would feel if you started with the one you starred first. Now, write that feeling down.
  5. Review your list and give yourself permission the complete at least one item today and make a plan on how you will add to it every week.

We all have healing to do after the cutting. Take time to yourself, mediate and heal your soul. Our tendency is to go back to what was comfortable and into who our family always knew us to be. But dare to be the truest version of yourself, show off the person who you have been hiding this entire time and show your family how to love and appreciate the GEM that has always been within.

To love yourself right now, just as you are, is to give yourself heaven. Don’t wait until you die. If you wait, you die now. If you love, you live now.

~ Alan Cohen

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