A short weekend getaway is so important, it can do wonders for the mind, body & soul. I’m lucky enough to have family living on a farm in the country, about 3 hours drive from where I live. It’s far enough away that it can feel like a holiday yet close enough that it’s still worthwhile to just stay for one night.
A different environment can make a world of difference to my mood, especially the really fresh air you only come across the country. I often don’t realise how polluted the air is in the suburbs. When I was a kid my asthma would clear up after just a few days at the farm. And the stars! You can see so many more stars on a clear night in the country.
There is so much to do on a farm that there isn’t much time to check your phone. When there is a moment spare we often sit in the lounge room reading magazines or books. This time I read a magazine from 1996, oh how times have changed! The television is only generally on to see the weather forecast.
I had the chance to rediscover the childhood memories I have of the farm. It was great to share these memories with my husband & reminisce with my Nan. When I was about 6 years old it snowed enough for us to make snowmen & throw snowballs.
Even without the household chores, there is still so much to do, I am certainly out of my comfort zone. There are animals to feed, gardens to explore & people to visit. Each day is jam-packed, I am exhausted by dinner time & I always sleep well.
Being out of my comfort zone allows me to look at things with a fresh perspective when I return home. Sometimes you realised the things you worry about aren’t so important any more, or that the worry they cause isn’t worth your precious time. Some time away also allows me to approach obstacles from a different angle or helps me build on other ideas.
It’s much easier to relax when staying with relatives that enjoy having company. My Nan is 89 years old but insists I relax while she does everything. Occasionally she will put me to work if I persist in trying to help. Because of her age, she insists on many meals throughout the day. We have breakfast, morning tea, lunch often with dessert, afternoon tea, dinner with dessert, then supper.
While the trip home can be tiring, the amazing week that follows a getaway is always well worth it.
Heavy traffic can be the bane of your existence if you drive to work. Here are the things I do to keep calm in traffic & make the commute a bit more bearable.
The main reason I listen to the radio when I’m driving is to get the traffic report. Most radio stations deliver a traffic report roughly every 15 minutes during peak times. Because of this, I can make an informed decision about which roads to take to my destination.
The music & DJs also help pass the time. I often think about how I could contribute if I had to call in about the topic they are talking about.
I keep my phone on silent most of the time, not just when I’m driving but when I am work too. I also keep it in the phone pocket of my bag, on the floor on the passenger side of my car. The radio is generally up loud enough that I don’t hear it vibrate & I occasionally have missed calls, text messages or notifications when I check my phone at my destination.
In case you need to take a different route, it helps to know the roads. My car doesn’t have a built-in GPS, so knowing the roads comes in handy. Sometimes you will have no choice but to figure it out as you go.
A bonus here is to be able to orient yourself by knowing which way is north & knowing which general direction you need to go.
I like to take note of some of the cars around me & track my progress against theirs. I try to pick a memorable vehicle or two (usually ones with branding of some sort, it makes them easy to remember) & compare which lanes are moving faster. It sometimes interesting to see further along the road once the traffic has cleared if I see them again.
Knowing which lanes flow better on the freeway help you take advantage of the ones that move a bit faster than others. Generally, the lanes where traffic merges tend to move slower, but that is not always the case.
For long trips, I like to listen to audiobooks. If I know I will be in the car for at least an hour, it’s a great way to multi-task. Most of the audiobooks I like to listen to are ones I can learn from such as business, personal finance & even self-help. The only time I avoid this is during peak traffic periods where I find its best to listen to the radio for the traffic report.
Australia Day is synonymous with many things. A warm summers day. Sausages cooked to perfection on the BBQ. Ice cold beer in the esky. A lazy day at the beach. Southern Cross flags rippling in the breeze. The strange tan line on your feet from your thongs. Even if the weather is not quite perfect, you know the beach will be busy. It’s best to get there early in the day to secure that prime piece of real estate. You want to be equal distance from the car to the water. And don’t forget to take the tide into account if you plan on being there all day. If the beach has toilets, that’s also another consideration when choosing your spot for the day. However, the most important thing to remember at the beach is sunscreen. Preferably one that is water resistant, SPF 50+, as well as protecting you from UVA & UVB rays. I’ve recently been using the Banana Boat New Sun Comfort Lotion SPF50+.
The most effective way I have found how to save your feet at the beach is burying your thongs. You could just put a towel over them but I find they are still scorching hot. Bury your thongs next to or under your towel (so you can conveniently find it). Keep the straps above the sand so you can easily slip your feet in when you are ready to go, It certainly helps to locate your buried thongs if they are a darker colour. You can see in the photo that mine are a little camouflaged in the sand.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution to save your feet from the hot sand at the beach. Best run back to your thongs!
I am absolutely amazed at the number of things I learned while travelling in Europe with Contiki back in 2011. I’m sure a lot of these are still relevant and can be used in many travel destinations.
• Try to keep up with your travel diary – It gets really hard to remember what you did 2 days ago after experiencing so many new things.
• Carry wipes – these are great to freshen up on the plane or in the airport, in case there isn’t any toilet paper, & possible bird poo incidents.
• Use hotel soap – and don’t forget to take the packaged ones with you. The next hotel might not have any & you can generally wash your underwear with soap.
• Pack light – I packed 5 pairs on underwear for my 6 weeks in Europe. Each night in the shower I would wash them & hang them to dry. Plus you never know how many clothes & souvenirs you might buy.
• Spending money – take some in cash, some on a travel card & have access to a credit card just in case.
• Carry change to pay for restrooms – I was a little surprised by this but not annoyed. Be prepared to pay around £1 or €1 each time to use a public restroom (including service stations).
• Be prepared for NO PHOTOS – while viewing some beautiful things you may be reminded you are not allowed to take photos. I never asked for a reason. But wasn’t allowed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel, of the English Crown Jewels or Michelangelo’s David.
• Throw it or leave it – another way I managed to pack light was by packing items I was prepared to throw away. I was willing to throw out jeans, a jumper, thrift store handbag & shoes if I found suitable replacements. The only thing that did get replaced was my handbag.
• Throw it or leave it– throw out or leave things at your last destination if you don’t need them. Leftover moisturiser, toothpaste, things that you have replaced.
• Take note of your photos – each night I went through the photos on my camera and wrote down what they were of. Chances are you won’t remember & may delete it when you can’t tell friends & family what it is.