Best and Worst Destinations


For my final post on this travel blog, I thought I might list and explain some of the best and worst places to which I have traveled.

It would be great if readers added their own in the comment section. when we are looking for a place to travel for education or for recreation, it is often helpful to have some advice on where to start. Travel can be costly, and taking time from work or school or life responsibilities is difficult and often rare, so we want it to be worth our time and money when we take a chance on a destination.

Of course, one person’s preferences and personality will make some destinations more enjoyable to them then to people of other preferences and personalities. the classic question, would you prefer to spend a week at the mountain or at the beach, demonstrates there are different strokes for different folks and different destinations for different personalities. So take my comments in this post and any added by readers in the comment section as personal opinion and not as a guarantee of a pleasant experience for yourself.

Another factor besides personal preference would be the nature of one’s visit to a certain destination. For an example, allow me to explain why would one of the United States most popular vacation destination is, for me, a least favorite. Myrtle Beach South Carolina has beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, interesting places to eat and shop, and all the things a couple would look for in a vacation destination. So on my honeymoon, I booked a limousine with Midnight Express Limos of Myrtle beach (recommended to me by my friend Ryan over at Best Limos Irvine and took my wife to Myrtle Beach for several days. It was a disaster. Not at all because the city or the beaches are inferior in any way or inadequate to have a good time but because we happened to pull into Myrtle Beach the same weekend Continue reading Best and Worst Destinations

How to Travel on… (Part 2)

How to Travel on… (Part 2)


If you have not read Part 1 I have these blogs about how to travel on…, please take a few moments to do so. I do not suggest this because I automatically think I have included some insights or information that will be new or unknown to readers. In truth, I have only taken the time to suggest this because, well, if I’m being honest, I am probably just looking for ways to add a number of words to this blog post. I have stated unequivocally that I am by no means an authority on the subject of travel. I have done my share of traveling, perhaps even more than the average person in adulthood, but my travel has been pretty conventional. Still, as I have now found myself having inherited a travel blog and their responsibilities filling them with words of my own, I and using the space to discuss how to travel on various modes of transportation.

My previous post, how to travel on…, part 1, addressed walking and bicycling and driving a personally owned vehicle and writing the public transportation bus system and what makes them viable and reasonable and potentially preferred mode of transportation. This now leaves riding the public transportation train system and flying commercial airlines to be discussed.

The irony of the fact that, the my name is Trane, I had not really ridden a real train until my mid to late twenties, does not escape me. I felt very accomplished and a great deal of closure when I finally experienced a real live train. The first I recall was with my family–my wife, my son and my daughter, who were both fairly young, probably ages 3 and 1– and we’re on our way to the texas state fair in downtown dallas. We wanted to beat the traffic, plus we thought it would be and unique and special experience for our kids if we rode the train from North Dallas into downtown where the fairgrounds are and then back again when we were done at the fair. The experience did not disappoint. It saved time, gas money, the hassle of being stuck in traffic for who knows how long, allowed us to merely relax while we were chauffeured home, and prove to be a fun and exciting experience for the kids.

Since then, I have come to consider riding the train as an efficient option for travel, especially to and from and within metropolitan areas. These tend to be congested with personal vehicles and the streets can be difficult to navigate for travelers who are not familiar with them. If that is the case with you, consider this an endorsement to encourage you to consider the public train system an option.

If you are traveling long distances, you can’t beat the time efficiency of commercial airlines! It is true that they cab be pricey. An experienced traveler can find ways to score tickets for less money. Booking weeks or months in advance is a must to save money. Also, be flexible about what day(s) you fly on. Certain days, high travel days, tend to be much more expensive. Popular business travel days, around the holidays, during peak vacation seasons, for instance. Other days are significant less because there are not as many passengers. Also, flying to and from certain cities is less expensive than flying to or from other cities. If your departure airport or your destination are flexible, you can save a great deal of money.

Security screening can be and great annoyance and a deterrent from flying. However, with a few tips, you can breeze through this process more easily without it putting a damper on the whole travel experience. First, be sure to show up at the airport an hour and a half or more early. If traveling on a higher traffic day, earlier than an hour and a half is recommended. This way, you won’t feel so rushed and therefore so stressed about getting there quickly. Another tip is to pack light. think ahead about all items you’re carrying that could be flagged or raise alarms or slow down the process. Liquids, nail clippers, tools, strange items, these will call attention to your luggage, your carry on, and all but ensure that you will be screened more closely, possibly even searched. Next, wear shoes that can easily be slipped off without having to be untied and retied. Also, don’t wear a belt. If one is needed for the day, put it in your carry on until you are through security. Then put it on at the gate. Same for a belt or other jewelry. Lastly, know the procedures and be prepared when it is your turn to act. for instance, have your laptop already removed from your carry on and ready to be placed in its own bin.

Hopefully these tips help when you feel the urge to travel.

How to Travel on…

How to travel on…

Who knows what gives people that itch to get up and go? I’m sure it’s different for different people. Whether it is an afternoon out of the house or a week long vacation, most people at some point are motivated to travel. There are extreme hermits who rarely if ever venture over their thresholds, who would prefer to stay home more than anything, who have no outside social life besides what can be cultivated online without actual face to face interaction, and who even have their groceries and other essentials delivered to their door. Such people may be the exception to the above-mentioned assumption that all people at some point feel the urge to travel.

But I digress. Excluding the obvious extreme exceptions, most people do indeed have some impetus not to remain stagnant, which motivates some degree of travel, weather a few miles from home for a movie or across the globe for a backpacking trip across Europe.

For such people, allow me to offer some helpful, albeit limited, advice on how to travel by various means.

Some I will address in this particular blog, which I have titled how to travel on…, include but are not limited to walking, bicycling, driving a vehicle, riding a bus, running a train, and flying on an airplane.

Some people may choose walking as their mode of transportation. They may choose walking as a mode of transportation for a number of reasons: exercise, mental and emotional well being from the therapeutic nature of walking, saving money by not having to pay for fuel, or even necessity due to not being able to afford other modes of transportation. Walking is certainly a healthy and beneficial way to travel. That is definitely the case if the destination is within a reasonable distance, but travel by walking is not as limited as many would assume. I wants passed a church that had written on it sign by the highway, anywhere is within walking distance if you have enough time. I know people who have walked dozens of miles, and there are those who have walked hundreds or thousands. these of course our distance is most would never assume reasonable for walking, but these people prove it is possible. And therefore, always an option.

Bicycling is similar to walking, in that it may be done for exercise or the therapeutic nature of it or for as a less expensive way to travel. Is also similar in that many would not consider it a reasonable way to travel long distances, but again, people have proven that bicycling can be a viable option for even long distances.

At least in America and many other developed countries, driving cars is probably the most popular way to travel. the number of personally owned vehicles per family in America is staggering. the number of drivers in Beijing China, as is likely the case in many other large cities around the world, that I am told drivers are limited to using their vehicles only certain days a week unless they pay a special tax. I witnessed the traffic congestion firsthand, and it both confirmed how vital vehicle travel is and how inefficient it can be. Factors to consider when traveling by car would be the cost of fuel, the wear on the tires and brakes and transmission and other components of the vehicle. Frequent and thorough maintenance can prolong the life of the car and therefore the efficiency of this type of travel.

Thankfully, because of the congestion of personal vehicle travel on highways and particularly and metropolitan areas, there are often other alternatives including but not limited to public transportation. One that I am less familiar with but know it to be a vital part of a city’s life is travel by bus. There is a cost for the bus fare, which is inconvenient, but compared to the cost of fuel and maintenance of a vehicle, and that savings can be made by buying bus fare in bulk, this is still a very economic way to travel. People who prefer their privacy may not prefer this mode of transportation. Also, such frequent and close proximity to other passengers certainly provides opportunity for the spread of germs. The friendliness of the bus driver and/or passengers cannot be guaranteed. however, under many circumstances that are not too far fetched, this may be a pleasant and worthwhile experience.

In another post, I plan to expound on travel by train and travel by airplane, both of which are recent to me and, in the case of travel by trains, still novel enough to be new and fresh and intriguing to me. but I hope this post has made it clear that anyone who wants to travel near or far has many reasonable options on how to do that on any budget.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

planes_trains_automobilesI recently took a long, long trip from the city where I live, Lewisville Texas, to the great city far far away, Atlanta Georgia. To be honest, it was a much longer trip than I would prefer to take, because I do not prefer to be away from my family much at all. At all! And I certainly do not like to be away from them separated by hundreds of miles for a week and a half. It was a unique opportunity to speak at a retreat for a church youth group in a city to the north of downtown Atlanta where my brother is the youth minister and has been for almost 10 years now. So I guess in one sense it was worth it. In another sense, it was pretty tough. Also on this trip, I was able to attend a conference that, really, has been a highly anticipated conference for me to attend. It is called the orange conference, based on the symbolism of the colors red and yellow. The red stands for the love of the home, and the yellow stands for the light of the church. Thus, the strategy is to connect the home as a primary dicipling environment of the church. Obviously, this was a vital conference for me to be able to attend. So with a little bit of prompting and persuasion from my brother, I registered for the conference, committed to the retreat speaking gig, and booked my flight.

The much, much anticipated trip came sooner than I expected. Before I knew it, I was packing to leave the next morning. Pajamas and underwear & socks and jeans and shirts, both short sleeve and long sleeve since cold weather was predicted, shoes, jacket, toothbrush and toothpaste, towel, deodorant, all thrown quickly into a bag just in time for a short night of sleep before leaving early in the morning.

A friend of mine was my ride to the airport. he showed up in a car. The ride to the airport was pleasant but uneventful. We had even timed it perfectly to dodge the bulk of the traffic. I made it to the airport with plenty of time, check my bags, pass through the semi long security check line, found my gate, and settled in to wait. My flight was delayed because of bad weather. In fact, it was delayed several times, but eventually it was time to board the plane. I was flying Southwest Airlines, so I had no assigned seat, as they do not have that practice, but I did have a pretty good placement in their boarding order. after a short wait, I took my place in line, walk the long tunnel to the aircraft, found a seat and settled in.

Because my flight has been delayed, I have been in touch with my brother, who was feverishly making the final arrangements for the retreat that weekend. The Friday of a retreat, the day that retreats begin typically, is usually a frantic sprint for youth ministers. I had tried to be sensitive about this when booking the flight, arriving long before time for families to begin arriving for the trip, but with the delays, it put me right in the red zone of his busy time. So we arranged for me to board the public transportation train from the airport in downtown Atlanta to the northern most station, where he could pick me up and avoid much of the traffic. So when I landed, I found the baggage claim area, waiting for my bags, collected them and found the train station. It was all very easy to do, even in a strange city I had really been to. The train ride was estimated to take about 1 hour, and my estimation is that it took a little less than that. To some, this may have been an inconvenience, but to me, it was extremely helpful. I was running behind on preparing my lessons for the retreat, and so the train ride gave me a little more time to polish things up.

My brother picked me up in a car, and we merged into the heavy traffic in North Atlanta. I was grateful to have bypassed most of the traffic because even the short way we had to go was extremely congested. I made a mental note to do the same when I returned to Dallas, only this time instead of writing from North Atlanta on the train to the Atlanta Airport, I would save my wife the trip into downtown Dallas by riding the train from Louisville Airport to the northernmost station in the Dallas area. Already I had learned a lesson about how to travel more efficiently.

Time Travel


I wanted to test just how fluffy these fluff blogs can be. With only a little bit of shame I say and admit that I am trying to see what I can actually get away with. How little can I do and still get the job done? So I will write a completely nonsense post. The running theme of these articles is travel, so hey, why not make this about time travel?

I am only an amateur history buff and only somewhat interested in sci-fi, at best. Neither of those qualify me to make any remarks of any weight or offer any insights of consequence and a blog on time travel. If you are unfortunate enough to have accidentally stumbled into the black hole that is this travel blog, and happen to be reading this, consider yourself warned. This will be a gigantic waste of your life. Continue reading Time Travel

This Guy? A Travel Blog?

imageThis guy? A travel blog? We’re going to need to see some credentials.

I grew up in a family of ten kids and two parents. Needless to say, my parents were exhausted. They limited our outings, including even the most basic errands, as much as possible. Of course, no one could blame them. Irritation short of an act of Congress to get their troops moving. And we were a much less disciplined, much less orderly company. It certainly was much like herding cats…cats with ADHD and selective hearing. That was the challenge just to get us started.

Then came the challenge of adequate transportation. Twelve bodies in a minivan built for seven. Like herding cats with ADHD…into a single sardine can. By the laws of physics, it simply doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t have been possible, but somehow, we were able to travel this way throughout our childhood. Obviously, though, this is not conducive to long trips with protracted periods of time smashed miserably into a sweaty mass in the van.

In addition to all this, my parents being tired and inadequate square footage Of space in our family vehicle, we also had to pinch our pennies.

Therefore, we rarely took any major trips. Aside from the one to the beach where all of us got sun sickness and my eyes swelled shut for days and days. Or the one to my Brothers wedding 18 hours away. It was already going to be a very full minivan, including my dad and my mom and my dad’s aging and sickly mother and myself, who had just graduated high school, and five siblings all over the age of twelve. Needless to say, we were dreading the trip. Don’t get me wrong, we were thrilled to be going to see my brother and celebrate his wedding with him. But we were not thrilled about the drive. That’s when my dad announced that we would have another passenger. Nate would be coming with us. Nate was going to be in the wedding. He was a friend of my brothers from college. So yes, if you do the math, that means we were adding a tenth passenger. But not only a tenth passenger. A college football lineman. Long legs and broad shoulders. This Neanderthal needed his own row in the van. But there was no room to spare. There was not even a full seat to spare. So I sat wedged between him and the window with my middle school sister on my lap cutting off circulation to my feet for eighteen hours. I begged and pleaded for my dad to let me ride on the roof of the van, a much preferable location than where I actually had to ride. But to no avail. It was unavoidable. It was miserable.

With this being the Wyatt wait to travel, I did not mind not going on many trips during my childhood. Of course, there were the trips to grandmas house and family weekend at a craft show for my parents to sell their wooden toys. Also, trips with the church, specifically the youth group when I was in middle school and high school. One such trip took me even as far as Wyoming and North Dakota. But for the first eighteen years of my life, I rarely ventured outside the state of Tennessee.

Then why am I writing a travel blog? Well, on one hand because I am being paid to write whatever blog I am assigned. And since Sammy began a travel blog, I will add my travel blogs to it. But also because travel interest me. And since leaving my house at eighteen years old, I have traveled even as far as China. (That long flight was sadly reminiscent of the trip with the college football lineman.)

I would never claimed to be the best traveled person, and I am by no means the most qualified to write a travel blog. I guess when I can be is an example to those who have not had the benefit of a great amount of travel in their childhood of taking advantage, in whatever way they are able, of doing so as adults. I don’t claim to have the credentials or even the extensive experience to back up all my insights. But maybe something you will find in the blogs will help or inspire you to get moving.

Travel is not about comfort, it is about experience. It is not even about he destination but the adventure it takes to get there and, hopefully, back again.

Traveling with Kids

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION, Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Barron, 1983
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Dana Barron, 1983

Traveling with kids can be quite a precarious adventure. It can be challenging and sometimes downright dangerous. It is not for the faint of heart.

As a child, one of ten kids, I underestimated all that went into even a quick trip to the grocery store. I now know that my mom had to spend hours preparing herself mentally for such an adventure. And a trip out of town, even if for only a few days, might as well have been an epic on the same scale as the Lord of the Rings or the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

As a father of three, all under the age of seven, I marvel at what a production is it is even to go to church. I have remarked to my wife on multiple occasions, practically weekly, that we need to just begin bringing a wheelbarrow or a wagon to haul all of our Bibles, crafts, backpacks, diaper bags, Bible class papers, snacks, toys, crayons, coloring books, and miscellaneous items that somehow pile up on our pew. I have considered petitioning the leadership of the church to install a loading dock at the rear of the auditorium to be able to unload and reload all of our supplies. This issue is not unique to us. I have observed it in practically every parent. The problem becomes exponentially worse with each additional child.

As a youth minister, we began traveling with our first child almost immediately after he was born. I had no idea what would be involved in that short overnight trip. I can’t believe we didn’t rent a u-haul truck or trailer for the night! Suitcases upon suitcases upon suitcases were strapped to the roof of the car until it had reached the weight limit of the vehicle’s structure. We had to place them there because the trunk of the car was so full of a pack-and-play crib, a tub for bathing the baby, blankets, toys, cases of diapers, and topped with more blankets. Oh, and not to mention the suitcase full of every possible ointment and medical supply for every conceivable bump, scratch, sniffle, rash, or ailment. With all the luggage we were bringing for the baby, there was scarcely any room for my wife and me to merely bring a toothbrush. It was on that trip, when I found myself begrudgingly lugging all of that up seven flights of stairs to our hotel room, that I realized that “pack mule” was definitely part of the job description of a dad.

As I stated earlier, this problem grows exponentially with each child. After all, the first aid suitcase now need supplies for a whole other person, and parents have had enough experience to conceive of even more outlandish disasters that could befall the family. Then there are each child’s FAVORITE toys, FAVORITE blankets, and so on. And heaven forbid you have children with different taste in snacks. Unfortunately this will almost certainly be the case for any family. And as they grow, there will be the need for movies and handheld game systems and tablets and other electronics. Not only does this require almost its own trunk space, but also requires hours of work ahead of time for dad to install all of the necessary equipment–another surprise in the paternal job description–not to mention that the plethora of cords and wires stretched all over the vehicle in different directions like an elaborate web create a hazardous tripping hazard to all passengers.

I have called this a problem that grows exponentially with each child. But something must be clarified is a problem that is well worth the effort. Of course it was certainly be easier to avoid all travel or even short errands, but so much is gained from traveling family experiences. This post is not at all intended to frighten young parents or would be parents, deterring them from venturing out in any way. instead, it is intended to give a light hearted glimpse into the realities of all that is involved with traveling with kids and hopefully to prepare them to accept the challenge with an indestructible sense of humor.

Of all the things parents will pack for a trip, a sense of humor is perhaps the most important for a successful trip. More than any of the first aid supplies, it will heal all wounds. More than tablets, movies, and handheld games, it will make the time fly. And more important than a map or GPS, a persistent sense of humor will make any destination, whether the intended one or not, feel like the perfect place to be.

Special Occasions

My car has been with me for many, many special occasions. My first prom, my high school graduation, summer camp, my second prom. I think the most important of them all was when I went to drop my sister off for her first semester of college. I am the oldest and had decided years ago to go to college close to home (I had always been a homebody). When my sister graduated high school she wanted to explore the world. We had never moved before, grown up in the same house our entire lives. She had applied to many, many different schools and ended up picking a school half way across the country. Our entire family decided to travel to help her move in. She rode with me in my toaster car while the rest of the family traveled in my mom’s mini van behind us. My car was jam-packed full of my dear sister’s stuff. I am not even kidding when I say that there was only enough room for us to sit. She was anxious and completely unable to sit still. I could tell she was in this state of nervous excitement and I tried to calm her down by talking about random things to keep her mind off of the imminent change. I could also tell that it wasn’t really working well.

After a few hours of driving she looked at me and just plain asked how I dealt with the change of college. The conversation that ensued is one that I will never forget. She looked so scared and so afraid that my heart hurt for her. We have always had an unusually close relationship for siblings, but that car ride brought us even closer. She let me open up to her and tell her about how afraid I was and even though I was close to home, it wasn’t any better. I told her about how scary it was to have to make new friends and how getting used to have a roommate would be hard. But I also told her about her unlimited opportunities. About how there were hundreds of organizations to get involved with and new adventures, activities, and festivals to be seen. It made her smile when I told some of my dorm room experiences and I could almost see her excitement rising. She relaxed into the passenger seat as she let me talk and share with her what an amazing experience she would have in college and how being afraid was natural but not necessary. I finished and glanced at her. She smiled at me and thanked me. She genuinely seemed more at ease. The rest of the drive consisted of us cracking jokes and laughing and recounting stories from our childhood. I think I was more upset when we left her in her dorm room, than I was when my family dropped me off. I knew that a piece of me was now ten states away, and as excited as I was for her, I didn’t really like it. The ride back home was lonely and quiet and the entire way, I just couldn’t help but with she was riding beside me.

Lost in Austin

I do believe that in an earlier post I mentioned that I get lost easily. And by easily I really mean ALL THE TIME. I don’t understand it but anytime that I have to navigate for myself, I get hopelessly and utterly lost. There was one time when I was in my toaster car and on my way to my younger brother’s band concert in Austin. I was navigating there by way of my phone’s GPS (first mistake) and failed to also print out written directions (second mistake). My phone was being super slow in deciding where on Earth I was and sometimes it would lose connection leaving me to wander around hoping I would run into the building on my own until it decided to reconnect. I mean, it was seriously very, very bad. As I was wandering the Austin area, I found myself on sixth street. For those of you who may not know, sixth street is a street right off of the University of Texas campus that consists of shops, bars, restaurants, and bookstores. Basically, if a college kid could want it, you can find it on sixth street. At this point I had been driving around for over two hours and my brother’s concert would be underway in about five minutes. I could have turned around and gone home, but I probably would have just gotten lost again, so I decided I might as well stop for some lunch while I was out. I parked my toaster and hopped out. Walking down the street, I lamented the fact that I missed the concert and couldn’t see my brother. I went into a little restaurant and ordered a sandwich and sat down to wait for my food. I looked out the window and watched the people go by. One guy was standing on the curb and although he had his back toward me, I instantly recognized him. It was my dad! I instantly forgot my food and ran out the door. I tapped him on the back and startled, he turned around. His eyes widened with shock. He looked excited to see me. Apparently he was coming from work to try and catch my brother’s concert as well and his GPS died on his way. He had parked to call someone for help navigating but the concert had already started and Mom’s phone was either off or on silent. I couldn’t help but laugh. I invited him into the shop and we ended up having lunch together. Although we were both a little bummed that the concert continued without us, it was fun and special to be able to have a nice lunch together. Since I am out of the house now, I don’t see him or any of my family as mush as I would love to. To be able to sit down with him was exciting. This was just a great example of how sometimes and misadventure can turn into something really, truly great.

A Journey to Remember

What’s with the toaster you may ask? Great question. I have this super awesome car that my grandparents gave me when I turned 16. It’s a nice boxy car, really small on the outside, really big on the inside. My roommate in college used to always call it the toaster. As unfortunate as this name might sound, it just kind of stuck. Something you may want to know about me is that I’m a wandering spirit. I’ve always wanted to travel; in the country, out of the country, it doesn’t really matter. In my short life thus far I have had some pretty epic adventures in my little maroon toaster. One in particular that I though would be fun to recount would be about three weeks after I acquired the beautiful toaster. I was so proud of myself. I had a brand new drivers license, a new-ish car, and a spirit that longed to wander. I told my mom that I was going out for a short drive to which she was hesitant. I pleaded with her to just let me go out for half an hour or so. I complained that my car was just sitting in the garage wasting space because she wouldn’t let me use it. She rolled her eyes and grudgingly agreed to let me go for half an hour, but if I was not back exactly on the dot, I would be in some major, major trouble (you know how moms get). I basically skipped to the car grabbing my keys on the way out. I jumped in the drivers seat and started the car. It was still a strange feeling not having anyone in the passenger seat with me. I plugged in my phone and turned the stereo up as loud as it would go and I took off.

My plan was to just cruise around the city for a little while, explore places and streets I had yet to see. First thing you need to know about me is that my internal compass is basically nonexistent. I’m serious. I get lost so easily it is not even funny. So, basically I’m roaming around my home town, which I’ve lived in my entire life by the way, and I find myself in a peculiar situation. I have no idea where I am. I am seriously totally lost. I turn my car around and try to go back the way I came, but still I have no idea where I am. I turn down this little dirt road to try and turn around again. I drive all the way to the end and try to find a good place to execute a u-turn. All of a sudden this dog runs in front of my car. Yes, I said a DOG. He deciders to lay down right in front of me. Don’t worry, I didn’t hit him. So, I sit there for a few minutes trying to decide what to do, when this woman comes out of one of the houses next to the dirt road. I see her walk toward me, and suddenly I am really embarrassed. She too walks right in front of my car, staring at me the whole time. She gets in her car and drives off, but the dog remains. Eventually I just honk at it. It takes a couple of tries but it eventually moves! In case you were wondering, I did make it home, but not in half an hour!