50 in 40

I realized while working on a craft project that involves a cork map and flag pins, that with my current travel plans, I will have travelled to 49 countries in my first 40 years.

45 of those countries will have been visited since I turned 30...

49 is great... but not as great as 50. 

After asking to be included in a friend's vacation in the Fall to aid in getting to 50 countries by May (where we realized I'd been everywhere she's going with the exception of Gibraltar... which led to a discussion as to whether Gibraltar is even a country, and whether British Overseas Territories would count as a country), it was decided that a day trip from Barcelona in October will be just what I need. 

So Andorra... I'll be in you for about 8 hours in October... and I'll celebrate visiting my 50th country right on my 40th birthday. 

Travel Planning 101

I do a lot of travelling. I consider it a prize for not having children. Or a money-sucking relationship. 

Enough about that. 

Once I decide where I want to go, I dive fully into planning mode. 

Yeah... I'm the person that books things eight months in advance. Including flights. 

Although sometimes cheap flight deals are the reason I go to certain places (Iceland 2014, Istanbul 2013, Barcelona 2015). 

I use a couple of main resources when planning my trips...
- Tripadvisor
- booking.com
- Pinterest

Yes. I said Pinterest. 

I have boards for trips I'm currently planning. I have boards for trips I want to take. I have travel advice boards. Basically I have boards about everything. 

I use it to collate information, similar to how I used bookmarks in the past. But I find Pinterest a great resource for blogs posts of "real" people's adventures and advice. 

I just have to stay away from the 9000 posts on "how to pack" and "when the best time to book flights". Cause really, there are so. many. posts about those things and they all say the same thing. 

I'll write some posts about my use of Tripadvisor and booking.com over the next little while, since I think my planning neurosis may be helpful advise to others. 

Less than two months until I head to Spain and Portugal. 

And only nine months until Southeast Asia (oh yeah, I'm going to Southeast Asia)!

Addicted to Travel

Hello, my name is Carmen, and I'm addicted to travelling. 

Yes - I just got back from the Baltics and Scandinavia. 

And yes - I just booked a trip to Spain and Portgual for October. 

My excuse - the flight was less than $500. On KLM.

It is going to practically be cheaper than staying at home. Or something like that. 

Anyone wanna donate to a GoFundMe to support my travel habit?

Didn't think so. 


I'm less than three weeks from my cruise. 

I've started pre-pre-packing. 

Which will soon be followed by pre-packing, packing and then finally re-packing. 

I've double checked all of my accommodation reservations for pre- and post-cruise.

I've bought a number of tickets for my shore excursions to beat the lineups that will inevitably occur when a cruise filled with 3000 people invade a small Norwegian fjord community of 250 residents. 

I've exchanged some money. Yes - I'm one of those... I don't like going to a country without a bit of cash in the local currency. It's paid off in the past - I was able to pay my fine on Bulgarian transit with cash - I'd imagine a night in the clink would've followed had I not been able to. 

Now it's just a matter of time. 18 sleeps to be exact. 

The Mindset of a Fat Girl

I've been overweight pretty much my whole life. 

Not "My 600-lb Life" overweight, but overweight none the less. 

In the past five years, I've lost and gained the same 25-30 lbs no less than three times. 

It's simple really - the "better" or "more healthy" I eat, while limiting my calories to 1500 or less per day, I lose weight. 

I get to my goal, get complacent, and then stop doing what I know works. And that's tracking my food intake. 

Tonight, I lost a floor hockey final game. It sucked, but life goes on. On the way home, my first thought was "what could I have as a snack when I get home"... but I wasn't even hungry. It's like I wanted to to reward myself for working out for an hour with a treat. 

Even after losing 20+ lbs since the new year, I still have the mindset of a fat girl. Food is a reward. Food is a treat. 

But it doesn't need to be. I've got some good healthy recipes in my repertoire (thanks Pinterest). 

I need to start thinking about food as what it is - sustinence. While the odd treat is important (so I don't binge), I don't need treats. 

I need to stop yo-yo dieting. I feel better at the weight I'm at, and I know I'll feel better with another 10 lbs off. I need to be more active throughout the year, not just when the sports I normally play are in season. 

I need to give up my fat girl mindset. 

But it's hard. 

I'm a work in progress. 

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I may have been on this earth for almost 39 years, but there's still a lot I need to learn. 

I need to learn to not let things that are out of my control bother me. 

I need to not instantly react to things that bother me.

I need to learn that I'm paid to work seven hours a day, and should focus any of my time outside those seven hours on anything but work. 

I can't make people like me, and I can't make them proud of my accomplishments, even when they should be. 

There are many people with whom I don't agree with and don't like, and I can't change them into someone that I do like. 

And most of all, I can't waste time sweating the small stuff. It's the small stuff that'll kill me. 


My next trip abroad is in 69 days. I'll be adding a shwack of countries to my total number of countries visited, and like all of my other trips, I've entered planning mode earlier than most. 

I'll be spending 16 days on a cruise, followed by a couple of 24-hour whirlwind trips to cities I've never visited. I love the choices of airlines in Europe. For about $200 I've booked flights from Copenhagen to Riga, Riga to Vilnius and the Vilnius back to Copenhagen. I couldn't fly return to the next biggest city in Canada for double that. 

As per my last cruise (so the usual), I won't be participating in cruise ship excursions. The thought of being on a 52-passenger bus with a bunch of old people (face it, I'll be on the younger end of the age spectrum) makes me want to vomit. 

Instead, for the couple of places I'm doing tours (like St. Petersburg where you have to go on a tour to get around needing to apply for a Russian visa), I've booked tours that max out at 16-20 people - a smaller group means (in theory) you can do more as the tour guide isn't spending their time herding kittens. 

69 days... and then I'll take off for Copenhagen and land the next morning on my 39th birthday. A happy birthday to me!

Shit Disturbing

I caused some shit at work this past week. 

One incident was totally and completely my fault, and I'll take whatever (within reason) reprimand that comes my way. I was an ass, and it'll take a long time to fix it. But I've tried, and the best I can try and do is learn and move on. 

The second was basically getting shit on by someone in another department over email. That of course was forwarded up as high as it could in my department. The only thing I can really learn in this situation is to do less, because doing more means stepping on toes to get things done. 

But, I guess we have to learn something from every situation. Sometimes you learn things that can be put to good, and other times you learn that sometimes it just isn't worth the effort. 

It's sad, because I like putting in the effort. It's what makes things interesting. But it sure ain't worth getting in shit for. 

Lesson learned. 

Back on the Blogging Bandwagon...

So, by now, all of my faithful readers have disappeared, because you all think I got so lost in New Zealand, that I'd never be able to blog again. 

Seriously - my last post is a recap of New Zealand... almost a year ago. I didn't blog about Australia, or anything since then. I haven't blogged about my next vacation, about how the Canucks are killing me this season, or... well, anything. 

I need this outlet. I live by myself - which is fine, and as an introvert, I value my alone time. But it means a lot of time to think. I already suffer from mild depression and anxiety (and take medication for it), but when I have bad thoughts, I have no one to talk to them about, so they just keep bouncing around in my head. 

So - I'm going to start using this forum again as an avenue to get my thoughts out, as random as they are. Maybe that will allow my brain to shut down every once in awhile.