Archive for June, 2011

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIPS: Homemade Instant Oatmeal—Just Add Water

Friday, June 24th, 2011

I’m not a big breakfast person but I know it’s an important meal. So when I’m out-of-town, I always try to eat something small but nutritious, especially if I’ll be driving cross-country, working outside or heading into an all-day event.

Instant oatmeal was a childhood favorite but they put a lot of junky preservatives in the store-bought kind and it gets thick and pasty. Turns out you can make a  delicious oatmeal drink—mixed to your own taste—using natural healthful ingredients. It’s fast and easy!

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIP #5: Prepare some baggies of homemade instant oatmeal for quick easy meals on the road.

I got this recipe from my Costa Rican friend Alberto on a 4-day kayak trip. He camps a lot and makes this delicious oatmeal drink every morning in the field. Individual servings can be put in zip-lock sandwich baggies so you can carry a stash in your tote.

Single serving (mix to taste):

1/4 C fine-ground organic oats (thicker oats will be chewier)

2 Tbsp dry whole milk powder

1-2 tsp raw cane sugar

pinch of sea salt

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

pinch of cinnamon (optional)

1 C hot water

Mix dry contents and pour into a mug. Add the hot water and stir. It’s ready to drink! 

I do hope you’ve discovered something new and helpful in this week’s series. If you have some travel tips of your own, please share them with me on Facebook. And as you embark on your summer get-away, here’s wishing you safe and happy travels!

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIPS: Register with the Embassy

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

I went to Kenya many moons ago, when Kenya was safe for tourists. Things have changed. Because of swings in politics and economies, it’s vital that you have access to international travel information when planning a trip abroad.

While certain destinations may be foolhardy to consider, most are generally safe. That said, some of the most beautiful places on Earth come with a bit of risk, requiring you to pragmatically consider your wellbeing.

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIP #4: Register your international trip with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is free service, provided by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. It is available to any U.S. citizen who is traveling to a foreign nation.

Basically you enter a few details about your upcoming trip and the system registers you with the U.S. embassy or consulate at your destination. The information, which is protected so it can’t be shared without written authorization, will serve you should trouble arise. If you face any emergency off U.S. soil, our government can provide help faster and more effectively. This includes lost or stolen passports, which can happen anywhere.

STEP also sends you automatic updates, travel warnings and alerts that may affect the country you will be visiting. This is especially important when you are heading off to places facing political fluctuations like, for example, Thailand.

I found out about STEP when I was planning my 2007 trip to Guatemala. It was to be my first solo venture into a developing nation and registering my dates, itinerary and emergency contacts—knowing I was “on the radar” so to speak—definitely helped put me at ease. The trip went smoothly, as they usually do, and I never needed any assistance, but I appreciated the insurance and I’ve utilized the service several times since.

Tomorrow is Friday and my last tip will be a recipe for a simple traveler’s breakfast.

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIPS: Make a Reusable Packing Checklist

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

It’s a dash to the airport! Pausing in the driveway, you do a last-minute mental rundown of the stuff  you should have packed. T-shirts—check. Sandals—check. Shampoo, toothbrush, shaver—check, check, check. And off you go!

Only later you discover you’ve forgotten your camera. An umbrella. And the neck pillow for the plane. Dang! There’s just too much to manage!

Today’s tip ensures you pack everything necessary, every time. No matter how long or short, fancy or modest the journey, you will be ready to go before anyone can say, “Remember socks.” 

TRAVEL TIP #3: Make yourself a custom master packing list.

In my computer, I have created a personalized master list of ALL things I might POSSIBLY take on ANY trip. Whenever I am heading out of town, I simply print off a copy and pack whichever items are applicable.

The articles are divided by category. For example, my first category is Documents/Tools/Electronics. The photo to the right shows an excerpt from that section. It’s highly unlikely I would take all those items on any single trip, but by reviewing the options, I am sure to include the things I will need.

My other standard categories are Clothing Items (Shirts/tanks, Sweaters/sweatshirts, Dresses, Pants/shorts, PJ’s, etc.), Toiletries/Medications (Sunscreen/aloe lotion, Vitamins, GSE, Hair dryer, Makeup, etc) and Miscellaneous (TSA bag locks, Backpack/fanny sac, Snacks, Water bottle, etc). I have extra lists with items for going Scuba Diving, Camping or Piloting an Airplane.

One special category I created is called Extra-Light Load. This checklist serves me when I have to travel with naught but the bare essentials.

Whatever time you put into making your own personalized master packing list, it will be readily offset by the time you’ll save packing for future trips. You may even consider laminating a copy and keeping it in a drawer.

Want to take your preparedness a step further? Keep a basic toiletry tote packed, so it’s ready on a moment’s notice.

If you are thinking about traveling to some exotic country, I have a tip that may give you peace of mind. That’s tomorrow…

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIPS: Don’t Forget the Grapefruit Seed Extract

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

There’s nothing worse than getting sick when you’re out of town! Away from home, an upset stomach becomes a ball and chain; the aches and pains of a common cold feel more like the flu. We all know germs lurk in crowded places. But even if you stay off the beaten path, travels expose you to new strains of illness. Do you just take extra Vitamin C and hope for the best?

I once heard a packing expert suggest, “Lay out everything you will need for your trip… then put half back away.” It’s a darn good formula. But there are a few items I simply won’t leave home without. And one of those is GSE.

TRAVEL TIP #2: Take GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) at the first sign of a cold.

About 10 years ago a visiting friend gave me a dose of GSE for a tickly nose and throat. By evening the symptoms were gone. Since, it has saved Kevin and me from dozens upon dozens of colds. And we’re not the only ones. Touring in Norway, I supplied this natural remedy  to travel companions who complained of looming colds—four or five people in total. Nobody got sick.

Grapefruit seed extract has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties. It works best at the very first sign of illness. Take some at that moment when you think, “Hmmm, I hope I’m not getting sick,” and you probably won’t.

You can find GSE at almost any heath food or vitamin store, or on Amazon. It comes in two forms: tablets and liquid drops. Each tablet delivers a single dose. Doses can be taken up to three times a day for several days.

The liquid is extremely bitter and must be diluted with water, but it has more uses. I recently talked with a woman whose intestines hate to travel. She takes just a few drops (a mini dose) several times a day when she’s in foreign countries and no longer worries about dining out.

The label also gives directions for using liquid GSE as an oral rinse, throat gargle, facial cleanser, nail treatment, cutting board cleaner and meat/vegetable wash. Talk about an all-in-one product!

GSE may not be a panacea, but it definitely earns its space in my suitcase.

Tomorrow I’ll help you streamline your packing.

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIPS: Wear a Wrist Wallet

Monday, June 20th, 2011

As I prepare for my July departure to Costa Rica, the floor is a colorful sea of clothes and supplies awaiting the duffle. Perhaps you too are packing for a summer adventure. After all, this is the season for family vacations, visits hither and thither, and once-in-a-lifetime tours to far away lands. 

So this week, I’m offering a special series with  travel tips. Each day I will give you an idea to consider—a suggestion that comes from my own personal experience—which will hopefully make your journey that much better. 

TRAVEL TIP #1: Carry cash, credit cards and ID in a wrist wallet. 

I switched to a wrist wallet a few years ago while traveling alone in a developing nation. It works wonderfully! I never worry for the safety of my money. There are several companies that make them, but the one I use (and love!) is the Sprig’s Banjees Wrist Wallet available at REI in an array of colors. It is convenient, comfortable and inconspicuous—even when it’s not hidden beneath your shirt sleeve, nobody will guess it has money inside.

By the way, if you are traveling abroad, it’s also a good idea to carry a color copy of your passport in your wrist wallet. If the real one somehow disappears, you can use the photocopy to seek help at the embassy.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s tip, which will keep you feeling great on the road.