Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

My Itchy Feet Part 2



More tips from guest travel writer Arlene Davis who enjoys traveling alone at age 76.

Pack light! (J Jacobs Photo)

Pack light! (J Jacobs Photo)

Decide what kind of trip you want:  Are you a theater-goer, a sports nut, a walker? I spent 3 weeks in London never went to the theater; that just doesn’t appeal to me; I would rather be out walking. By deciding on your type of trip, you can pack accordingly (see “Pack Light”).


Pack light:  You don’t need a fresh t-shirt every day. If it’s warm, your shirt may need to be hung outside the closet so it ‘airs out’ a little. A day or two later you can wear it again. While you might not be “out of the shower fresh”, who cares? At some point that shirt will need to go into the outside pocket of your suitcase to be laundered at home, but on this trip it can be worn for several days. The same is true for shorts, slacks, etc. Coordinate tops and bottoms so every top can be worn with whatever shorts or slacks you are taking.


Disposable underwear (don’t laugh):  The smartest thing I pack is disposable underwear. They are individually wrapped (look like Tampax) and fit easily into all corners of your suitcase. It’s wonderful not to worry about finding a laundry in some out-of-the-way place. Wear ‘em and toss ‘em. When you add the cost into the total cost of your trip, the expense is negligible.

I purchase mine from the Magellan’s Travel website.  If I’m on a trip lasting more than 4 days, disposable undies go with me.


Soap your shoes:  Small wrapped hotel-type bars of soap are perfect to keep your shoes smelling fresh. Place 2 bars of soap (still wrapped) into each shoe overnight. You’ll be amazed at how your shoes are ‘ready to go’ the next day.  I’ve used the same bars of soap for several weeks. This way you can pack only one pair of sturdy walking shoes. My trips never include ‘dress-up’ days or evenings, so my one pair of cross-trainers is enough to carry me for the whole trip, without having to pack more.


Talk to (almost) everyone:  Standing in line in a market, waiting to be seated in a restaurant, waiting for public transportation, etc., start a conversation with someone else in line. While on a bus in a small village in the Costswolds (England), I met a woman who has become a close, valued friend over the last 11 years. Of course, language can be a barrier, but it’s surprising how many travelers know enough English to have a conversation. It makes waiting much more pleasant, and it’s fun to talk to someone from another corner of the world.


‘My Itchy Feet’ Part 1

American Airlines at O'Hare International Airport. (J Jacobs photo)

American Airlines at O’Hare International Airport. (J Jacobs photo)

Here are five tips  from guest travel writer Arlene Davis that make up Part I:

Arlene Davis is a 76-year-old world traveler who took her first trip overseas at the age of 65 where she was clearly hit by the travel bug. These days she loves to explore alone and has picked up quite a few savvy rules of the road along the way. She’s now sharing her best travel trips for women who would like to “go solo.”



Do your homework

Request brochures from travel companies, tourism bureaus, use the library, etc. Decide what you want to see and how much time to devote to each. Figure out what attractions are near each other so you can see more than 1 each day. Have your days planned out, but leave lots of time for unexpected finds along the way.  If you’re lucky enough to have more than just a few days, try not to exhaust yourself. You can start out at 10 a.m. after a leisurely breakfast, and plan to be done sightseeing by 4 p.m. Then you have enough time to rest and relax before going out to dinner.


Plan ahead 

Prior to my first trip to England, I purchased tickets online to many of the most popular tourist attractions; i.e., Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, etc. I was able to walk past long lines of people waiting to purchase their tickets and be admitted immediately. Most tickets have a 5-7 day window of time to use them. I also had all my train and bus tickets between London, Bath, and the city where I stayed in the Cotswolds.


Be flexible

In addition to advance planning, be sure to remain flexible. I can’t count the number of times I was headed to a particular place and en route something else caught my attention and it was hours before I reached my original destination. These little diversions are one of the great joys of traveling on your own and not being locked into anyone else’s schedule.


Live like (and with) a ‘Local’

Name brand chain hotels are pretty much the same the world over. Try to stay in a small, family-owned hotel/inn. The desk clerk at the name hotel will steer you to all the typical tourist-y places, while the local owner will know exactly what restaurant serves the food you are craving.  The accommodations may be a little “quirky” and not what you’d expect in a typical name-brand hotel, but isn’t that one of the reasons you travel?  I rely on books by Rick Steves, available at your local library, for recommendations to local inns.


Go with the flow 

When things aren’t exactly up to the same standards as in the U.S., remind yourself that you intentionally left the U.S. to absorb a different culture. When the shower’s water pressure feels more like someone dribbling on you, don’t tell the front desk “Back in the U.S. we have …” Delete that phrase from your vocabulary for the entire trip.  If it takes an extra two minutes to rinse out shampoo, so what? If the bathroom is so small you have to turn sideways to get into the minuscule stall shower, so what? Enjoy each and every experience, no matter how different from back home, they make wonderful stories to tell.



Good news this Groundhog Day

After the predition. (Photo courtesy of Woodstock Groundhog Organization)

After the prediction. (Photo courtesy of Woodstock Groundhog Organization)

Maybe the handlers of Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and Woodstock Willie in Illinois decided the Midwest and Northeast US deserved spring.

But whatever guideline they used from how cloudy it was when they woke their respective groundhogs early in the morning Feb. 2 when no shadow was seen, to possibly consulting the Farmers’ Almanac, they both announced an early spring for 2019.

Visit  Groundhog for Phil and Woodstock for Willie to learn more about their history, town fun and predictions.

For the movie connection to Woodstock visit Where Groundhog Day was Filmed.  It also has a link to the movie clips.


Visit Woodstock where ‘Groundhog Day’ was filmed


Hearing Woodstock Willie's winter prediction. (Photo courtesy of the Woodstock Groundhog Org.)

Hearing Woodstock Willie’s winter prediction. (Photo courtesy of the Woodstock Groundhog Org.)

Maybe you don’t believe that a groundhog, a large member of the squirrel family also called a woodchuck, can predict if spring will come soon or if winter will remain will stay around six weeks past Feb. 2.

The historic background of Groundhog Day, supposedly founded in a European agriculture belief, doesn’t really matter if you loved the Harold Ramis/Danny Rubin movie that came out in 1993.

What should motivate you to travel to Woodstock, IL, about an hour northwest of Chicago, is that the town celebrates Groundhog Day every Feb. 2 by reenacting the movie’s prognostication,  showing the movie and giving tours of the movie’s Woodstock sites. It’s fun and free.

Even though the action supposedly takes place in Punxsutawney, PA with groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, most of the movie was filmed around the picturesque square in Woodstock, a location  within commuting distance of Harold Ramis’ north suburban home.

The fun begins very early in the morning with groundhog Woodstock Willie taken from his tree-trunk abode. A whispered conference that really depends on if it’s sunny enough for Willie to see his shadow and so scurry back into his hole for six more weeks or cloudy enough for him to stay out because Spring is on the way.

Woodstock Square and 'Groundhog Day' movie sites. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Woodstock Square and ‘Groundhog Day’ movie sites. (Photo by J Jacobs)

It all takes place on the town’s square with a polka band playing in the bandstand as in the movie. Surrounding the Square are such recognizable “Groundhog Day” places as the tall structure that really is Woodstock’s historic opera house, its old-fashioned movie house, the café and the slippery “Bing” stoop

So, go see the reenactment at 7 a.m. Feb. 2, the movie at 10 am Feb. 2 or Feb. 3, the walking tour of movie sties at 1L30 Feb. 2, 12:30 Feb. 3. ending with hot cider at the B&B where Bill Murray as TV weatherman Phil Conners, stayed and woke up to the radio alarm every morning, every morning, every morning. The event will feature actor Stephen Tobolwski who ‘Groundhog Day’ fans know as Ned Ryerson.

Make the trip easy tby snagging a reservation at , the Cherry Tree Inn, the B&B where Phil Conners stayed.  (if filled this year, try for next year), or one of the nearby roadside hotels like the Best Western.

For event schedule visit Woodstock Groundhog. For accommodations visit Woodstock where to stay. To see clips from the movie go to YouTubeWatch.


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