Thursday, July 24, 2014

Moments in the Rear View

Lately, after a few different conversations with different people in my life, I've been thinking a lot about what's really important, what we base our lives on and how differently we all equate wealth and success in our own lives.  For me, it's never about the money, it's never about how much I can make or how much someone is willing to pay me, and while I work really hard on many different platforms to make a decent living, the money that comes in isn't what makes me get up everyday, it's not what drives me, it's not what propels me forward.  

For me, when I look around at my life, wealth is in the experiences I've lived, in the memories I've made with people I love, in the pins on my world map, in the tea kettle from Marrakech and the wooden elephants from India.  When I look around my little apartment, I don't see just five-hundred square feet, I see love, I see pictures on the walls from our travels and I see moments.  Moments and memories that are worth more than any dollar anyone could pay me, moments that have made me who I am, moments that will forever define me and move me forward.

Sometimes in life we tend to forget what's under the surface, what really makes the world go round, what really defines our lives.  It's not money, it's not the powerful jobs and the corner offices, it's not the giant house in the suburbs or the designer clothes, what really defines our lives are the moments that we live them.  When we look back on our lives, what will we remember?  Will we remember the bosses the had, the bank accounts that fluctuated?  Personally I hope not, I want to look back on a life I know that was lived with purpose, a life filled with love and laughter and memories.  I want to look back on a life that stood for something, that wasn't just the cookie-cutter version of what so many people do, I want to look back on a life full of things that weren't material.  I want to see moments in the rear-view, not what money bought.

I came across the quote above on Pinterest the other day and it was one of those moments when you're thinking about something and then a quote happens to appear along the same lines.  It's those serendipitous moments in our lives that often propel us to do something, write something, be someone.  And as I read the quote, I kept coming back to the last line, "It's about our hearts and who they beat for."  It's so easy in life to get caught up in everything around us, in the bills, in the jobs, in responsibilities, to forget what we really should be chasing.  We should be chasing those people we love and those life defining moments that really make us happy.  We should be chasing a life full of love and memories.

I was speaking to someone close to me not long ago about life choices, about jobs he was deciding on, about a girl he loves but that lives far away, and I could hear the the struggle to choose between them in his words.  And as I thought about it more, why is that even a choice for us as humans and when did that happen?  Why wouldn't love always win out over a job?  Why wouldn't someone that means so much to us always come over anything else that comes our way?  I know that for me at the end of the day, when I look around at my little five-hundred square foot apartment, I don't think of my job or the money I could be making, I see what I have built around me and I see the moments with my husband, the things we've done together, the places we've seen, the life we've built, not of material things but of love and moments together.

And so I challenge you today, what do you want to look back on and see at the end?  Personally, I don't want to remember the jobs and the money made, I want to see moments in the rear-view.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Travel Tips : Getting Lounge Access in Airports

Traveling can be brutal: long layovers, uncomfortable seating, having to lug your bags around.  So whenever possible, your travels can be made a lot easier by gaining access to the many lounges throughout airports around the world.  Often, I find many people don't know how they can gain access to these lounges and they can be a life saver in more ways than one while you're waiting for hours at an airport.  These lounges offer everything from showers to free food and drinks to comfortable areas to wait out your layovers.  And actually, there are many ways to gain access to these lounges and make your airport experience that much better. 

Become a frequent flier with a specific airline.
Becoming part of airlines' loyalty programs can have lots of perks, but one of the best is the access to lounges.  Not all airlines handle this the same and many of them you have to be top tier fliers to achieve free access, though some airlines will allow you to pay a minimal fee to have access to their lounges when you're an MVP with the airline.

Daily passes.
It's becoming more and more common for lounges (especially in major airports) to offer day passes for purchase.  We've done this in the past including once at the Virgin America lounge in LAX.  The day passes are usually around the $30 range and you get to use the facilities all day.  This is a great option if you have a long layover.  Keep in mind too even though you're paying for it, usually it's free wifi, free food and soft drinks and comfortable areas to stretch out and sleep or do work.  Considering you'd probably spend that much on food or wifi charges anyways in the normal terminal, it's usually a pretty fair deal.

Priority Pass.
This is a program you pay yearly for but that let's you have access to any lounge worldwide.  My dad pays for the premium membership for work but for Christmas last year, he signed up Nick and I for the Friends and Family membership plan at a discount.  With this plan, it's around $100 per year and every time we use it when traveling, we pay $24 per person for access to any lounge at any airport worldwide.  It's been a great thing for us and we've used it multiple times already since receiving it in December of last year.  My favorite use so far was at the United lounge at Newark in February en route to India.  We had a 6 hour layover in Newark and with bag weather in NYC, we decided to stay at the airport instead of venturing into the city. So we holed up in the United Lounge, were able to take showers, stretch out and be really comfortable for 6 hours.  They also have a great app that you can see all the lounges at your access and what each one offers.  It's a great program to check out if you travel a lot.

Get upgraded or book a business class ticket.
Whenever you book a business or first class ticket or get upgraded, you'll get access into the airline's lounges.  The only time this has happened to us internationally was from London to Seattle last November and though we got upgraded to Business Class and would have had access to the BA Lounge, our flight time was soon and we didn't really have time to use it.  But keep in mind, when you get that magical upgrade or you've already booked a business class or first class ticket, you'll get lounge access on your boarding pass.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Those Special Places

I've seen a lot of the world over the years, starting with my childhood in the Middle East and then subsequent travels around the globe for work and pleasure.  I've traveled alone and with other people, I've liked many places and loved others, but when I look back on the places I've seen so far in my life, there are a handful of places that have totally left a permanent mark on my heart.  They are the places that I see myself living someday, or places that I've never felt emotions quite like I have there, they are places that have a deep hold over me, places where my emotions seem to answer all the questions.  They are places that I have felt an instant connection with, places that pull me toward them.

Places in general shape me deeply but there are certain places in this world that upon my first steps there, I know immediately that it's a place that will stay with me, a place I'll miss when I'm not there, a place that will always mean something more than other places.  I've been fortunate to encounter a few of these places along the way, and while I hope I come across many more in my life, these are some of the places around the world that will always mean something incredibly important to me, that will always reside in my heart when I'm not there and places that truly have shaped who I have become.  These are "my places" if you will, places that mean something to me more deeply than the others, they are places that are rooted in my soul, places that will always be my special places.

If you've read this blog for any period of time, it's pretty obvious that I have a long standing love affair with the French Capitol.  Paris, for me, will always be that dream city, that place that I long to be, that place that I feel a comfort come over me when I'm there.  It's a place that I have a long history with, a place that just fits me completely.  It's a place that I feel at home, a place that holds so many of my best memories, a place that will always be a city that I hold extremely dear.

Portland, my home city, is a place that is extremely special.  I've seen a lot of the world and a lot of the United States and I have yet to find a place like Portland.  It's a city that I could list on and on all the reasons why I love it, why I fit here, why I've chosen it as my home.  It's a place that I immediately felt at home in, a place that I sort of knew I was meant to be, a place that has held my hand through some of the biggest moments of my life so far.  It's the place I met Nick, the place I lived on my own in for the first time, it's the place I graduated from college and the place we got married.  It's the place I know like the back of my hand and the place that to this day, still takes my breath away.  Portland is a city that will always be in my heart, it's a place that has engrained itself deeply into my soul and it will always be my city.

It's hard to describe the way I felt in Dublin when I first visited last Fall.  Ireland is a place I've heard about my whole life, it's a place I'm deeply connected to with my family, a place I still have lots of relatives.  It's a place that has always held this mystery for me, a place I wasn't sure I would like but hoped I would.  Turns out, I felt a deep connection to Dublin when I finally stepped foot on Irish soil. Dublin is one of those cities that just breathes an electric energy, it's a city that inspired me, a city that I could see myself living in someday.  It's a place that I felt an instant connection with, a place that in a spiritual way I felt a kinship with.  Dublin is a place that I'll always feel connected to, a place that holds more than just a deep love for the city but also my heritage.

I've never felt the way I did in Iceland anywhere else I've ever traveled to.  I'm not sure if it was the biting cold or the spontaneous decision to take this trip, I'm not sure if it was the time of year we went (November) or the few hours of daylight each day, but Iceland changed me.  Never have I seen such serene beauty as I did in the Icelandic landscape or felt such a spiritual pull as I stood alone in the middle of the snow and clouds.  Iceland is a place that will forever be a turning point for me, it was a place that I felt emotions while traveling I never had before, a place that we spent every moment in wonderment at the landscape, at this beautiful untouched place.  

A list of special places to me wouldn't be complete with beautiful Udaipur, India.  I have a long history with India, family connections to the country and many visits as a child, but in spite of all my connections to this magical country, I didn't know if I would love it as an adult.  And truth be told, I could do without the smoggy congestion of Delhi (though totally worth the experience) and the poor streets of Agra (but don't miss the Taj Mahal here), but Udaipur was a place for me that pulled at my heartstrings, that made me fall completely in love with India.  The magical lakeside city of Udaipur was one of the most naturally beautiful places I've ever seen, a place that I felt an instant connection with, a place that holds a sort of magic in the aura of the place.  Udaipur is a place I see myself going back to again and again over the years, a place that is beyond special to me in a country I fell in love with.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why You Should Book That Ticket

One of the things I hope to accomplish here on True Colours is to inspire people to travel, to see the world in front of us, to open ourselves up to all the amazing things that exist out there beyond our doors.  And one of the things that I hear a lot from people in my every day life as well as readers are all the reasons why they can't travel.  I hear all the things holding them back, all the things in our lives that we have the power to change but most never will.  The part of that I won't accept is that there is always a way if you make it a priority and rearrange things to make it work.  So while I've done many posts before on how to make it happen, from how to fly to Europe cheaply to getting around Europe on a budget and from ways to save money while traveling to credit cards that can help you save money on trips, I've not touched much on the reasons why you should book that ticket and take the trip you've always wanted to.

There are always going to be obstacles in our lives but finding a way to work around them and figuring out what your priorities are will help you get to the point of booking that ticket to wherever it is you want to go and here's why you should!

The biggest push to book that ticket and see those places you've always dreamed of is the fact that we don't know what will happen in the future.  We could get sick, lose abilities to travel or have major life events come up that make traveling harder.  Today is what we have in front of us and if you want to see the world, don't wait around to make it happen, make plans to do it as soon as you can.

One of the things I hear a lot is, "oh that will be there for years and I can see it later" and while for many places that might be true, there is a lot of the world that might not always bee there to see later. Places that are old already and may be crumbling, world monuments that might fall apart over the years of use or even countries that may be falling apart politically.  There are places in the world that I long to see but due to political unrest may not be the same when we see them down the road.  Don't bank on those dream destinations always being there because there are lots of reasons why they may not be there down the road.

Traveling the world opens you up to lessons that you can't learn any other way.  Lessons in tolerance, in language, in experience can be used everywhere in your day to day life as well and will help you become a better person and a better citizen.  Traveling only enriches your life and will offer you lessons and experience to fulfill you in ways you never thought possible!