My Christmas Gift Guide for Vegan Travelers – 2014 Edition

Every year I publish a Christmas Gift Guide for vegan travelers. This year I have found some great vegan-friendly travel accessories that I would like to share with you! The items are indeed wonderful additions to my travels and hopefully you will enjoy them just as much as I do!

Christmas Gift Guide for Vegan Travelers – 2014 Edition
Let’s start with stocking stuffers. Whether you wish to brighten up the day of your friends or family, these treats are sure to please!
1. Vegan Marshmallow Snowmen – Sweet & Sarah(Marshmallow Snowman) is a vegan company that offers 100% gelatin-free marshmallow treats. For the Christmas holidays, they create vegan marshmallow snowmen. Complete with marshmallow buttons, scarf, and a top hat; these little cuties make the perfect stocking stuffer!
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2. Vegan Chocolate Christmas Figures – Everyone loves chocolate! I recently found these little treasures that are offered during the holiday season by Premier Chocolatiers(Chocolate Christmas Figures). A bag full of little Christmas figures such as jolly Santas, Christmas bells, and Christmas trees made of vegan chocolate wrapped in holiday foil is another great option as a stocking stuffer. The assortment of chocolate figures comes in a clear plastic bag, displaying the decorative foil wrappers.
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3. Vegan Candy Canes – Candy canes are an integral part of Christmas snacking! However, most brands use red food coloring(red dye#40) which most definitely is NOT vegan. Vegans may rejoice, however, since a vegan candy cane manufacturer has entered the marketplace a few years ago! Tru Joy (Vegan Candy Canes) offers candy canes that are organic and completely vegan! Organic fruit juice is used as the coloring agent. The sweet peppermint taste will make you yearn for more.
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Vegan Travel Gifts – The following are wonderful products that I recommend as Christmas gifts for the vegan traveler in your life:
1. Language Translation Cards – Select Wisely(Vegan Language Translation Cards) were created with travel in mind. These nifty little cards display images with a red line through them, indicating what you can NOT eat(no meat, no dairy, etc). On the flip side, the cards display phrases in the language of your destination country. When ordering online, you select the language of your choice. If you are traveling to Cambodia for example, you can select the Khmer version of the language cards. The compact language cards take up much less space in your carry-on bag than language phrasebooks or language translator devices. $14.99us
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2. Vegan “Faux Ostrich” cosmetic bag – Whether you are participating in a group tour or traveling with friends, a night “out on the town” to experience local culture is part of everyone’s travel itinerary! Pura Botanica(Vegan Cosmetic Bag) designs glamorous and cruelty-free travel accessories for the discerning vegan. Their vegan cosmetic bags have a sleek and elegant look, while practical and lightweight too. The zippered pouch is a perfect fit for lipstick, mascara, eyeshadow, and other small cosmetic items. $18us
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3. Vegan Travel-Size Skincare Set – This travel-size skincare set by “Do Naturals”(Vegan Travel-Size Skincare Set) contains the skincare products that every vegan traveler needs to pack in their luggage or carry-on bag! Four, 2 ounce bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and moisturizer is packaged in a lightweight, eco-friendly mesh pouch. Each product is infused with pomegranate and organic berry extracts. $18.50us
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4. Vegan Travel Wallet – Lavishy(Vegan Travel Wallet) is a vegan company that designs vegan travel accessories. This travel wallet is made of eco-friendly and biodegradable materials. It contains 4 slots for credit cards, an id pocket, passport and boarding pass holders, and two compartments for cash and receipts. The colorful animal appliques are adorable! $22.99us
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5. Vegan “Hidden Pocket” Tank Top – Tourist destinations can sometimes be a mecca for picketpockets. Fortunately, the “Clever Travel Companion” company(Hidden Pocket Tank Top has designed clothing that can deter would-be thieves. These undergarments have a secret “hidden pocket”. The zippered pocket lies flat on the tank top, so as not to draw attention. However, its dimensions provide room for a passport, credit cards, and cash. Traveling on an overnight train to your destination? Then this is the perfect clothing item to safeguard your money and cards! The rayon/spandex fabric is soft and breathable. It can comfortably be worn under a cotton blouse to add an extra layer of protection and invisibility. Mens and womens sizes are available. $29.90us
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Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a newbie, these items are must-have Christmas gifts for any vegan who loves to venture across the globe!

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“Vegan World Trekker Blog” Contest Giveaway – Vegan Travel Accessory

I have exciting news for all of you! I am running a contest this week, as a “thank you” to my blog readers! The vegan accessories company “Lavishy” has graciously partnered with me to offer a wonderful travel accessory item to the winner!

Lavishy, based out of Toronto, Canada; is a vegan and eco-friendly fashion accessories company. They focus on “fun, functional, and affordable” accessories such as tote bags, wallets, passport covers, jewelry, and more. Their inspiration was the idea of doing good for the environment and for the animals. The designs they create are influenced by global cultures. Techniques such as applique and embroidery are combined with designs of whimsical animals.

Toxic-free, vegan leather is used in their products and is biodegradable in ten years, thus ensuring a healthier environment for us.

The contest winner will receive a vegan luggage tag.

This travel accessory is both practical and stylish! The winning entry can chose among three different designs: Dragonfly, Ladybug, or Owl.

Per Lavishy website:
“Designed to look and feel like leather, vegan leather is an animal friendly material, is safer to produce, and healthier for consumers to carry. This material is also biodegradable in 10 years, ensuring an eco-friendly life cycle for each LAVISHY vegan leather products.
- 1 clear vinyl window photo ID pocket at the back
Measurement: 11.3 x 8 cm / 4.5 x 3 inch ”

Embellish your luggage with a stylish and playful luggage tag!
#1: The Dragonfly applique is done in a green color with a blue background.
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#2: The Ladybug design is an orange/reddish color on a green leaf applique with a brown background.
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#3: The Owl design is a brown applique on a green leaf with a red background.
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Luggage tags are indeed a necessary travel accessories so we do not lose our belongings! We are fortunate that Lavishy has designed tags that are practical, eco-friendly, and vegan! In addition, these designs are so adorable that I’m sure you’ll want to own one!

RULES OF CONTEST ENTRY:
1. Post a comment on this blogpost saying “I want to win” or post a comment saying “I want to win” on my blog’s Facebook Fan Page Vegan Travel Information.
If you post on my blog and on my facebook Fan Page, you get 2 entries into the contest.

2. If you share my Facebook Fan Page to your Facebook wall, you get another entry.
Thus, you can get one, two, or three entries based on posting via these three methods.

3. On December 7th at 9pm (Eastern Standard Time), the contest will end. I will write down the names of the entries on pieces of paper and place them in a bowl.

4. On Dec. 8 (one week from today), I will pick a name from that bowl. I will announce the winner on my blog’s facebook fan page.

5. The winner will then be expected to send me their email address and their selection from the 3 luggage tag designs, which I will forward to Lavishy. At that point, Lavishy will process the item and send it to you.

Best of luck to everyone! :)

Lavishy Website: Lavishy website
Lavishy Facebook: Lavishy Facebook
Lavishy Twitter: Lavishy twitter
Lavishy Instagram: Lavishy Instagram

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An American Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner With Boston Vegetarian Society – “Travel Back in Time” To Pilgrim Days

Every year during Thanksgiving week, the Boston Vegetarian Society hosts an animal-compassionate, pre-Thanksgiving dinner. It is a five course all-vegan meal offered to us for only $25us. Thanksgiving is the American holiday when we commemorate the first harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims during the year 1621. Each year on this day, Americans acknowledge and give thanks for our blessings. Vegans, of course, celebrate with a bountiful feast of grains, vegetables, and beans.

For those of us who enjoy travel, this holiday celebration is like “travel back in time”, to the time when the United States was first settled by colonists. We dine on all of the wonderfully delicious plants and grains that nature has provided for us, many that were planted back in the Pilgrim era. We give thanks for this food and express our gratitude for our freedoms and personal good fortune.

This year’s Boston Vegetarian Society Thanksgiving dinner was held at the vegetarian/vegan-friendly Red Lentil Restaurant(Red Lentil Restaurant) in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Huge crowds turned out for the event! It took place over two evenings: the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was a great time to socialize with other vegans and vegetarians! The seating area was located in the main part of the dining room, while the buffet stations of food were setup on tables in the back of the space.
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The first food station offered two different soups. Cream of Cauliflower Soup with a Garnish of Fresh Mint consisted of cashew cream and coconut cream based cauliflower soup touched with the flavors of celery, onions, star anise, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon stick.

The second soup was a Creole-Spiced Red Kuri Squash and Macintosh Apple Bisque. It was a velvet smooth bisque made with leeks, white wine and carrots, and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds
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A hot Apple Cider beverage was contained in the third bin.

Diners could select one or both of the salads in the next set of serving trays.
The Fall Harvest Salad consisted of mesclun greens and romaine mix, diced and roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, maple toasted pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate seeds, with sherry vinaigrette on the side.

The other salad was a Roasted Beet and Poached Apple Salad with Orange Tahini Dressing.
It contained Roasted red and golden beets, pine nuts, golden raisins, parsley, Granny Smith apples, sesame seeds and shaved carrots.

Four appetizers were offered. The mashed potatoes and brussel sprout offerings are traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.
The Herbed Baked Zucchini-and-Pepper Gratin with Cashew Ricotta Cheese was made with Zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, tomato, Piment d’espelette and mint.
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The Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts were displayed in the next tray.

The Round Polenta with Mixed Mushrooms and Cilantro Harissa Gremolata included Polenta, butternut squash, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, shallots, parsley, green peas, and harissa.
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The Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy was the final side dish.
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Two main entrees were offered. The Braised Seitan Medallion in Mushroom Gravy was a dish of Tender seitan strips in a savory gravy of mushroom, red wine, rosemary, sage, thyme, and carrot. A Moroccan Pumpkin and Lentil Stew was prepared with green lentils, pumpkin, cumin, tomato purée, spices, with a hint of jalapeño chili.
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A couple of decadent and tasty desserts were offered to complete the five course meal! The Creme Brulee was a vegan treat made with bananas.
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The final piece de resistance dessert was a lovely pumpkin cheesecake with a chocolate ganache and a raspberry sauce. Pumpkin desserts are traditional for this holiday.
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Upon my arrival, I headed over to the buffet tables. I grabbed a plate, soup bowl, and utensils, and proceeded to take a serving from each of the offerings! Since some of the options were specifically sliced into small portions, diners could easily select a bit of everything and not feel like they have overeaten. Hence, I took small amounts of each offering, so that I could sample each of the wonderful items on the special Thanksgiving menu!

I filled my dinner plate with each of the soups, appetizers, side dishes, salads, and main entrees!
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Mere words can not sufficiently express how delicious and flavorful my dinner was! I enjoyed every side and main course very much!

Now it was time dessert! I headed back to the dessert table and placed a pumpkin cheesecake, a creme brulee with bananas, and some vegan coconut milk vanilla ice cream onto my plate. What a delightful treat! Every one of my sweet treats were scrumptious!
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During the meal, each of us shared our “vegan story” and got to know one other through discussions ranging from favorite meals to our careers and hobbies. The Boston Vegetarian Society and Red Lentil Restaurant did an amazing job with the organization, preparation, and the execution of the event. The meal selection was wonderful! The food was incredibly delicious!

Most travelers are unable to travel each and every day of the year. For those times when we are home, it is still possible to experience some of the joys of travel by enjoying an evening at an international music performance or a global music concert. For this week, my travel experience was more of a “travel back in time” to the first American harvest, celebrated by a Thanksgiving dinner with the local Vegetarian Society.

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Do Not Fear Travel to Africa – A Talk by Ebola Survivor Dr. Rick Sacra

This past Friday evening, I was privileged enough to attend a local talk given by ebola survivor Dr. Rick Sacra. He was the third American doctor that contracted the ebola virus while working in a West African country. Dr. Sacra spoke highly of the ELWA Hospital that he oversees, in Liberia’s capital city Monrovia. The hospital was originally built in the year 1951 by missionaries. They have an Ebola specialist onsite, as well as a 50 bed facility for patients. It is the facility in Liberia for patients being transported for critical care, due to the ebola virus.

He spoke of the vast spread of the disease due to the uninformed general public, the remote and difficult terrain to reach villagers in Liberia, and the initial response of medical staff to treat any patient that walked in the door. The hospital medical staff now uses protective gear, regardless of the medical procedure, even during the delivery of a baby. Other staff members assist them with their protective gear removal and subsequent disinfecting with bleach.

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The doctor also talked about misconceptions and irrational fears that some of the general public still harbor to this day. He stressed the fact that the illness can only be spread by bodily fluids such as blood or saliva and direct contact with eyes, mouth, or broken skin. Another fact that he mentioned is that none of the relatives became ill, after the infected Americans arrived back in the USA. Even being in close proximity to an infected person, will not spread the disease, as long as no bodily fluids are exchanged.

I shook hands with Dr. Sacra myself, and confidently understand that it is perfectly safe to do so with a person who has recovered from the ebola virus!
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His talk culminated with an encouraging amount of new information! Several medications and a couple of vaccines will be transported to Africa soon. They hope to be a positive step towards the fight of Ebola.
The general population in Liberia is being reached by ELWA’s radio station which is broadcasting a program by ebola survivors. The survivors respond to questions and share information about the virus, its causes, and how to go about their daily life in order to avoid it. More and more people in western African have been informed to not touch the body of anyone who has succumbed to the disease. This information is helping to halt the progression of ebola. Debbie Sacra, Dr. Sacra’s wife also spoke highly of the hospital and of their beloved Liberia.
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A question and answer session with Dr. Sacra followed his talk. I specifically asked him questions pertaining to travel and the mass hysteria of the media and the global population, in regards to traveling to Africa at this point in time. His first response was that no one should delay or cancel a trip to an African safari in East Africa due to the ebola crisis in the western African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. He stated that the distance from Liberia to Kenya is just about as far as the distance from Anchorage, Alaska to Houston, Texas in the United States! In other words, the African continent is huge and one should not worry or fear travel to the eastern part of the continent, due to what is occurring on its western coast! Likewise goes for western African countries, such as Ghana that do not border those three countries. Additionally, Ghana does not currently have an outbreak of the disease.

The distance factor between ebola-stricken countries and the rest of Africa, the fact that many African countries are not in the middle of an outbreak themselves, and the fact that the disease can only be spread by direct contact with bodily fluids(not airborne) should be sufficient proof that travelers should continue to travel and tourists should continue to book tours!

The ELWA hospital in Liberia and its brave and caring physicians are doing amazing work treating ebola patients. They appreciate financial contributions to keep the medical supplies and treatments ongoing. I feel honored to have attended this talk by Dr. Sacra. He alleviated any concerns that I may have had regarding travels to the African continent at this point in time.

Given the health info that was shared, why not plan an amazing vacation to an African country?! Prior to your holiday, you could sample some of the local African foods in your own city! Fortunately for me, there are restaurants offering many international cuisines in my home state of Massachusetts, here in the United States!

I found an East African restaurant in a local city near my home. The restaurant serves food representing the countries of Uganda and Tanzania. I opted for a delicious plate of cornmeal, beans, cassava, plantains, spinach and carrots, and sweet potatoes with a peanut sauce. My beverage of mixed fruit juice was a nice complement to the meal.
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For my next African meal, I visited an outdoor African festival in Boston, Massachusetts. My entree included collard greens, spinach in coconut milk, tomato and onion salad, and jollof rice. The rice dish is popular in both East and West African cuisine. What a wonderful meal it was!
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Next up was my visit to a local Senegalese restaurant. I selected the nem fried spring rolls filled with veggies, as my appetizer, served with a dipping sauce. For a main course, I chose the traditional mafe veggie stew in a peanut sauce base, with a side of rice. My dinner was superb!
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For my final dab into authentic African cuisine, I dined at a Nigerian restaurant in Boston. I chose the fufu with a veggie stew in a peanut sauce base. Fufu is a staple food in West Africa. It is made by boiling a starchy crop and pounding it into a dough-like texture. Fufu is dipped into the stew then eaten. The fufu I ordered was made with pounded yams. The spicy stew was quite flavorful!
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I also enjoy a guava juice with my meal.
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Given the health and safety information that Dr. Sacra shared at his talk, there is no reason why anyone should avoid traveling to uninfected countries such as Tanzania in East Africa or Ghana in West Africa. The fascinating culture and music, the scenic landscapes, the incredible wildlife, and the amazing African food that I sampled locally, should be incentive enough to want to plan a visit to the African continent!

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“The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” of Travel: Getting ill, Missed Bus Connections, & Other Challenges

An ice cube, a fly, a metal overhead door on the luggage compartment of a tour bus.. What do these things all have in common? They are all sources that can cause illness or injury during your travels! Now don’t get me wrong.. I LOVE travel! I love airports for the excitement mounting in my thoughts while I eagerly await my journey. I love being on the flight and daydreaming about my upcoming adventures. I love BEING in my destination country and experiencing all that the local culture, landscape, food, and peoples have to offer. However, we must face reality too. Nothing is as glamorous as it initially appears. We must accept and yes even expect “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of travel!

Those who are familiar with my writing, know that I always focus on the positive experiences of travel. I am not trying to deter from that focus. This time, I am merely wanting to illustrate that bad things can happen, that you should prepare as best as you can to avoid unfortunate circumstances, and that you can frequently bounce back and enjoy the remainder of your vacation!

The particular countries and attractions to which I will refer, will not be mentioned by name, as to “protect the innocent”. After all, it is usually not the fault of a tour company or the accommodations that these negative circumstances occur. The displayed photos are indeed from my travels. However, the photos that I display with each scenario below, were not taken at that particular destination. Only the last scene depicted in this article, is shown with its actual photos. This is so that we don’t easily recognize or point a finger to any location, to associate it with a particular bad circumstance. Despite the scenarios that I am about to describe, I thoroughly enjoyed my trips abroad!

I will now share the worst travel experiences of my life: the injuries, “Montezuma’s Revenge”, missed bus connections, and so forth.

1. Food Poisoning – My travels to a particular country were hassle-free.. That is, up until my final meal there. The restaurant where my tour group dined was a spacious and clean establishment filled with customers. The meal was good. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen during my visit to that country. I decided to go for some salad at the salad bar. The vegetables appeared to be in decent condition. However, I noticed a few flies swarming above the veggies. I was fine for a couple of hours. When my flight that afternoon took me to a neighboring country, I fell ill shortly after arrival. The hotel staff told me that they would send for an English-speaking doctor. When he arrived, it was obvious that he had not mastered the English language. In fact, he could not speak any English at all. Fortunately, I could speak enough of HIS language to describe my medical symptoms of nausea and so forth. What caused my malady? Could it be the flies carrying disease over the salad bar?
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Or could it be an effect of poor air quality on my incoming flight, as the doctor suggested? OR was it the food itself? It most likely was one of these possibilities. He gave me some medicine for my aches and nausea and I was well enough to join my tours on the following day! With quick and proper care, your condition can turn around soon enough for you to enjoy the remainder of your travels!
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2. Bad Water & “Montezuma’s Revenge” - Bacteria-ridden water can also cause “Montezuma’s Revenge”, as they say! In many parts of the world, tourists are warned “not to drink the water”. I typically abide by those rules! However, the ice cubes in your beverage can also be a culprit! At one particular destination, I drank some orange juice with my breakfast. Apparently the ice cubes were made with the local water, not from the supermarket. Again, I was fine for a couple of hours. During my train ride to a popular attraction, I threw up. The nausea started to kick in! Upon arrival at the touristic site, I threw up violently at the entrance gate! Fortunately, a doctor’s office was located just meters away. He gave me an exam and an inoculation for a mere $35US, while I reclined to alleviate the sick feeling! He stated that within 15 minutes I would feel well enough to join the tourists. Indeed, he was correct! Within 15 minutes time, I was able to get up and even RUN to catch up with my tour group and enjoy the attraction tour! My meals in several other countries(four total) caused extreme nausea also. In one particular country, my symptoms and pain were to the extent that I didn’t think I would survive! The stomach pain and sensations were excruciating! However, everything turned out just fine! Was it the water in the ice cubes? Was it the meal itself? Either or both are good guesses!
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3. Altitude Sickness – Altitude sickness is another common woe that befalls many a traveler. As a well-prepared traveler, I had taken some prescribed medication for this very reason, prior to my trip. This mountainous region took my breath away, both figuratively and literally! In general, I fared much better than most of my fellow tourists. However, it was still quite a feat to even climb one step on the stairwell or to walk across the field. It felt as though my foot was weighted down with lead, as well as my stomach. Every step took what appeared to be an exorbitant amount of energy to accomplish! Regardless of this inertia, I was able to maneuver around comfortably enough to experience and enjoy my daily walking tours!
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4. Injury & Concussions – Sometimes to be more budget-friendly, I chose to take overnight buses between my destination cities. You really need to be observant during evening travels. Things can go “bump in the night”..literally! I learned this the hard way! After a fairly length bus ride, we were told that we needed to switch to yet another one. Every time we had an overnight journey, I waited for the bus driver to remove my luggage from the luggage bin. That is, until one fateful night. It was quite late and I was concerned about potentially missing that connecting bus, so I decided to grab my luggage myself from the bin. The luggage compartment was located on the side of the bus under an overhead door. Well.. when I stuck my head in there to grab my luggage, I stood up too swiftly and banged my head on the compartment door above my head. The hard metal surface made me shriek from the impact on my head. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Although it hurt, I ignored it for a few days since pain was common for me at this point: sore shoulders from carrying tote bags, back pain from cramped sitting quarters, and headaches from various noises were all “par with the course”. Four days later, the severe nausea, tight headache, sharp neck and shoulder pain, and dizziness set in. Yes, I needed to get to a doctor pronto! The tour agency asked its English-speaking guide to accompany me to the nearby hospital. I received a cat scan of my brain for free due to their free medical care for all. The exam showed no brain bleeding. Thank goodness! (However, my own local hospital upon arrival back in USA, confirmed that I had a concussion. Physical and emotional rest were prescribed for me). I was able to return to my tours the following day, after getting some much needed rest.

5. Missed Bus Connections – And speaking of buses.. I have had yet another unsettling experience with a bus excursion. Another region..another overnight bus. No injuries this time. Instead, my tour guide was misinformed and in return had misinformed me about my overnight bus. Apparently it was not a direct route. It stopped in some town that was not known to me. Where was I?! Due to its arrival time, I ended up missing my bus connection(since my guide didn’t realize I need a connecting bus that left at a particular time) and thus worried about potentially missing my scheduled tour in the morning. But there were more immediate concerns on my mind. This was an inter-city bus. I was the sole English-speaking rider. Yikes! When I arrived at the final bus stop in this city unbeknownst to me, I tried speaking with the attending bus company representative. His broken English convinced him that I needed assistance, as he glanced upon the incorrect info on my bus ticket. He brought me inside the huge bus depot and found an employee whose brother spoke some English. She put me on the phone with him while he explained to me that his sister will try to get me to a proper connecting bus. After what seemed like an eternity of panicking, she brought me to a bus line that actually still had tickets remaining for the correct destination, leaving during the wee hours of the morning! She called my tour company’s owner and he assured me that he would reimburse me for the new ticket that I had to purchase for this other connecting bus. I proceeded back outside to await the next bus arrival. But to make matters worse, there was some kind of political protest at the bus station, with protesters beating on drums and setting off random loud fireworks between their loud verbal rants. I was scared! What on earth was going on here in the middle of the night?! It turned out to be a celebratory ‘send off’ for a young person entering the armed forces. No cause for concern among tourists! Fortunately, my connecting bus finally arrived to whisk me away to my proper destination! I arrived at my destination just in the nick of time to meet my guide, freshen up, and embark on my scheduled tour! Whew! Crisis averted!
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6. Smoke/Fire on Transportation – Yet another holiday tour brought a new and somewhat frightening experience under my belt! My tour group was cruising along the waterway in a small boat, when all of a sudden we smelled smoke! We saw smoke! The engine in the back of the boat started spewing thick gray smoke. Could our small craft be on fire?! We were terrified at the thought! Our quick-thinking and alert captain then shut off the engine and asked for volunteers among the tourists to start “rowing” the boat with oars until hopefully another boat would see us and offer to help.
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Dangerous creatures lurking in the waters!! – As if this wasn’t enough, we noticed a group of crocodiles in the not so distant view! One of the crocs started jumping out of the waters, flashing his grin then flexing his jaw wide open! Just what we needed at this point!(NOT!). Fortunately, they did not proceed closer to our small boat! Another boat did indeed appear and pulled us to safety with ropes, to a nearby island. Another crisis avoided! The small island was a tourist base for getting snacks and unwinding before or after their cruising. Our captain had us board a different small boat, with a working motor, which brought us safely back to our starting point.
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7. Insect Bites – The final travel emergency I’d like to share is an unusual experience I had during a pleasant dinner by the waterfront. My meal was delicious. The scenery was breathtaking. While I was soaking it all in, I felt an itch then a pain on my right foot. I looked down at it and noticed it had swollen up like a balloon! What could it be?! I recalled that earlier in the day I had taken a ferry to a nearby island to visit a tourist attraction. Had I been bitten by an insect as I walked through the brush and tall grasses? Had a creepy crawly thing bitten me as I strolled along the shore prior to my return trip on the boat? I may never know for certain! Back at the hostel, the manager suggested I go to the hospital up the hill. For a measly $50, the emergency room doctor examined me and gave me some ointment for my foot. I applied the ointment each day for the remaining seven days of my trip. Would my foot shrink down to its proper size so that it would fit into my sneakers on the day of my returning flight home? My foot was in pain during the rest of the week. To alleviate some of the pain, I kept my foot elevated on the bus tours. I was able to enjoy all of the remaining tours on my itinerary. Fortunately, my foot did return to its normal width just in time for my return journey back to the USA!
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All in all, the majority of my travel woes resolved themselves in plenty of time for me to enjoy my travels! I did not let these negative and somewhat frightening experiences destroy or take away from my holidays. With some slight logistical adjustments and a positive attitude, I have been able to truly focus on the positive and appreciate all of the spectacular adventures that world travel can bring! With a little pre-planning, caution, and a enthusiastic attitude, you too can experience the joys of travels!

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