Creating a Travel Vision Postcard

Creating a Travel Vision Postcard

On a recent night at All Over the Map, I invited people to come talk about travel and make a travel vision postcard. (And drink some bubbly drinks.) Guided by art therapist and author of Positive Art Therapy and Practice, Dr. Gioia Chilton, attendees created mini vision boards about their dream trips.

Travel Vision Postcard with scenes of Italy

Making an Italy dream that much closer to reality. Travel vision postcard by Jody B.

Creating a travel vision postcard is fun and easy and not at all intimidating, even for those of us with sketchy (ha) art skills. I recommend doing it like we did: with friends and drinks and music and great conversation. You can share vacation stories and travel tips along with your own travel dreams.

The Travel Vision Postcard

Here’s what you need:

  • art supplies – scissors, glue sticks, watercolors, oil pastels, markers
  • travel magazines
  • blank postcards or heavy paper cut to postcard size (or whatever size you want, really!)
Travel Vision Postcard - Embrace soulful Adventure

Embrace Soulful Adventure – Travel Vision Postcard by Dr. Gioia Chilton

Imagine your perfect vacation.

Travel Vision Postcard - an beach scene with clear blue water

Someday… soon – Travel Vision Postcard by Paige Conner Totaro

Or not perfect, necessarily, but perfect for you. (I’m a big fan of the imperfect vacation.)

Create your vision.

Travel Vision Postcard - mountains, sunglasses, water

Someday – Travel Vision Postcard by Susan F.

Grab a stack of travel magazines – and if you don’t have any, come over to my office and grab some – and rip out any pictures that draw you in. Use them as inspiration to create a postcard from your dream travel destination. You can collage, paint, or draw your dream – whatever will make you “remember” this dream destination and create your vision postcard.

Write a message to yourself.

On the reverse, write yourself a note from the destination as you imagine you would from that place. You might congratulate yourself on manifesting this amazing trip. Or you might tell a made up story about what you imagine you might do there. Or describe a scene you think you might find there. Or taunt an ex about the great time you’re having without them. 😉

Travel Vision Postcard - three orange airplanes on a blue sky background - watercolor

Going Places – Travel Vision Postcard by Dr. Gioia Chilton

Setting your intent to travel and envisioning your trip are the first steps toward making those dream trips come true. And what are the next steps? Budgeting and planning. And then going!

What kind of travel insurance do I need?

What kind of travel insurance do I need?

People ask me this question all the time and the answer, as with most important things, is, “It depends.”

It depends on what you want it to cover. I used to only buy travel insurance during seasons when there was a possibility of extreme weather (snow, hurricanes) that might delay a flight. If I’m going somewhere for a long weekend, and weather delays cause me to lose a day, that might mean I’d have less time in my destination than I would in transit. But not all policies cover weather delays. You need to really understand what you’re buying.

Nowadays I almost always buy a plan that includes medical coverage and evacuation insurance when I’m traveling in addition to the standard cancellation insurance. I don’t always get coverage for lost luggage (though it almost always is included) because I usually go carry on only. But I do check to see whether there are any exclusions to the coverage and when and how one has to make a claim.

First, there are several different kinds of travel insurance you may want to consider.

Second, you need to make sure that the thing you want the policy to cover is actually covered.

Are weather delays covered?

Some policies cover cancellations and delays due to weather, but others don’t. Some policies exclude cancellations due to hurricanes, for example, while others specifically include them.

Are family members covered?
Some plans include coverage for children under 18 for free.

What if I get sick while traveling?

Check your own health insurance plan to see if there is any coverage while you are traveling. If not, find a health care plan that will.

Is lost luggage covered? Or delayed luggage?

Most plans will include some coverage for lost or delayed coverage, but check the limits of coverage, especially if you have expensive clothing or gear in your bags.

The most important thing to remember is to always, ALWAYS, read the policy so that you understand what is and is not covered.


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New for 2015 – Travel Coaching, New Writers, New Website, and More Travel Ahead

New for 2015 – Travel Coaching, New Writers, New Website, and More Travel Ahead

In my book, the new year (and thus the new year’s resolution) doesn’t really start until all the holiday cookies and candy are gone. And by “gone” I mean “eaten.” Generally by me.

So that’s why I am 10 pounds heavier than a month ago, and just now getting to our new year’s announcements here on All Over the Map, nearly two weeks into the new year. It is still January, so I feel like it’s ok.

We have some very exciting news for the new year!

We are offering travel coaching services

You can call us travel consultants, travel coaches, or travel concierges – just don’t call us late to board our flights! We are launching our travel coaching service to help travelers like you plan excellent vacations for your family. Read all about it here, and please get in touch if you’d like some help planning your trip.

We are bringing two new writers into the All Over the Map family

We are really excited about this. We’ve got a new writer/photographer over on our sister site, Belgium with Kids. Martha Hepler has spent a third of her life living outside the U.S.–though often wrapped in the overprotective embrace of the U.S. military. She has SCUBA dived Panama’s reefs, broken bones in the Dolomites, birthed a child in Japan, been to church in Berlin, swum in the Andaman sea, koala-stalked in the Australian bush, and found her grandfather’s tiny birth-village in Spain’s lush northern hills, but she’d say that the greatest and toughest adventure of all can be getting out the front door with her beloved offspring in tow.

She, her husband, and their two kids are thrilled to now live in Belgium. She is excited to share the sights, sounds, tastes, and unexpected low country adventures with you. You can also find her on her blog, Our Gypsy Camp.

Paul Carlino and his family are getting ready to embark on a one-year camper van adventure through Central and South America, and we are delighted that he is going to document their adventures here on All Over the Map. As they get ready for their departure this summer, we’ll run a series of articles on how to prepare for long-term travel, and follow along with their experiences.

We’re launching a new website

We’ve been planning and discussing and designing and soon it will be time to launch East Coast Escapades, a website about quick trips from the East Coast of the United States. We’ll feature city weekends, country retreats, spa getaways, and Caribbean escapes.

We’ll be traveling, of course

In addition to featuring Martha’s travels in Belgium and Paul’s travels in Central and South America, Paige and Vero will be doing some traveling of their own.

Paige will be traveling to the New York Times Travel Show in January, then taking a mother-daughter trip to Austin, Texas.

In April, Paige will travel to the Costa Brava region of Spain where she will attend the TBEX conference, one of the largest gathering of travel bloggers in the world.

This summer, Paige will be traveling to Newfoundland with Writing Walking Women, a group of, yes, women writers who will walk the East Coast Trail after a week of writing workshops in St. John’s.

Vero and her family will travel to Scotland, where her son will perform with his high school drama department in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The family will extend their trip into northern England as well.

What’s new with you?

So now you’ve heard our news, and we’d love to hear yours. What do you have planned for 2015, travel or otherwise?


Interactive Packing List for Long-Term Travel

One of the most frequent questions I am asked about our 11-month round-the-world trip, is “How did you pack?” And when I tell people that I packed everything I needed into one carry-on bag and a daypack, their eyes widen. Frankly, I used to pack more than that for a weekend away, so I understand the incredulity. The folks at Round the World Experts have worked with me to create an interactive packing list for long term travel, so you can see exactly how I did it, and you can click on each item for details. I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below. Would you add or subtract anything? This packing list for long-term travel was made by Round the World Experts who provide round the world flights for those looking to travel the world

Trips that make the whole family happy

Trips that make the whole family happy

When they were toddlers, my children’s level of enthusiasm for a destination largely mirrored my own, whether fake or real. I don’t want to brag, but I could shamelessly promote just about any trip and make them believe it was their idea. How about an awesome long drive up the entire New Jersey Turnpike!? I promise we’ll stop at Sbarro!  Yes, I had that kind of power.

Now that everyone has an idea, an opinion, and their own particular aversions, trip planning has become a bit more involved. And since their ages vary quite widely (12 ½, 10, and 5), their physical abilities are an additional challenge. But there’s nothing I like better than a travel challenge!

Oh, before I proceed, I have to share another one of my travel philosophies: if you’re traveling with your family, avoid places that are designed for families exclusively. Counter intuitive? Only if you believe that you and your spouse don’t deserve a vacation as well. In other words, I don’t plan vacations for the children, I plan them for our family. I’m also not a fan of having expensive marketing items/toys/treats thrown at us every ten steps and spending vacations saying “no.” This is why we’ve never been to Disneyworld, Disneyland, or Disney anything, for that matter. It would make my husband John and me miserable—ergo not a good family destination. Conversely, I have never taken the family on a tour of 19th century TB sanatoria, a particular interest of mine that may not resonate with the rest of the family. Hold on while I lower myself off my soapbox.

OK, so what does it take to make us all happy? These days, it comes down to this: fresh air, the opportunity for all of us to try new things, hiking trails we can all handle, clean comfortable lodgings, good food, and friendly people.

Here are two of our favorite destinations—places which have ticked off all our boxes.

Costa Rica

We spent two weeks there a couple of summers ago and went zip lining, surfing, snorkeling, horseback ridings, sailing, swimming, hiking, and rock climbing. We spent one of those weeks at Leaves and Lizards, a fantastic small rainforest resort and working farm at the foot of Arenal Volcano. Their wonderful staff took a shine to our youngest, Jeremy, and he “helped” collect hay, feed animals, and even prepare breakfast. We had our own little two-bedroom cottage, and an outstanding view which we shared with the sloth who lived on a tree right above us. (For more on our experience at Leaves and Lizards, click here).

Yosemite National Park

John and I had camped in Yosemite several times on our own before returning with our children. The majestic views, the wildflowers, the peaks, crevices, and rock faces took our breath away. And we found plenty of hiking trails which were just their speed. They still talk about Evergreen Lodge, a chic but rustic resort with a beautiful natural themed playground complete with teepee, evening movies for the older kids, outdoor ping-pong, and fantastic food. It will always be remembered by Julian (12) as the place he ate boar.

Acadia National Park

This national park is so nice, we went there twice! Both times, we rented a lakefront house which came equipped with canoe, kayak, and fishing dock. It gave the boys a sense of freedom to be able to step right out and fish while I sipped on coffee and admired the views from the deck. The house was about a ½ hour from Acadia National Park, a favorite hiking spot for all of us for its intense sea views, hidden coves, and rock-hopping.


Family Travel Friday
Staying Connected on the Road: World SIM Card roundup

Staying Connected on the Road: World SIM Card roundup

We’re getting ready to be away from the U.S. for a year beginning in, um, just a few days, and we’ve left this until the last minute. As I sit in a coffee shop with my two daughters and a niece, all of us perched in our comfy chairs and tucked into our electronics, I realize we need to figure out what we’re going to do about our all-important phone devices while we’re overseas.

We already know that one of our phones will not work overseas at all. Most U.S. cellular phones work on the CDMA network, whereas most of the rest of the world is on the GSM network. CDMA phones will not work on the GSM network. In order to have a phone that will work overseas, you will need a “world phone.” I have an iPhone 4S, which CAN be a world phone, but it was not shipped that way from Sprint. I called them and told them where we’d be, and they unlocked it for me, which required connecting it to iTunes for an update.

Having the phone unlocked, I will be able to use it overseas through Sprint, but upon further investigation, I discovered many less expensive ways to use it. Purchasing a SIM card in each new country we go to is a possibility, but in each new country I’ll have to find a place to buy one, and each one will give me a new phone number. And in some countries we’ll only be there for a few days at a time.

iPhone waiting for a World SIM cardThe best option for us seems to be a World SIM card, which gives us a single phone number for use in many countries around the world, and even offers data at a much lower rate than Sprint. The main downside to this is that they all use a technology that requires, when making outgoing calls, calling a central number and then receiving call back from them when your call is connected. It sounds a little like calling the international operator of old. But if it gets us a 49-cents-per-minute rate instead of $2.49, I think we can live with that.

The three main providers I looked at are Brightroam, OneSimCard, and Telestial. Each has slightly different coverage and rates, as outlined below. Honestly, I don’t use my phone as a phone all that often. I want to be able to make an occasional local call for reservations or information, and to receive texts. I’ll use Google Voice and Skype for calls home. I wanted a local US telephone number if possible, both so that family could call me on a domestic number and so that Google Voice could reach me (though it remains to be seen if this will work!).



Card cost – varies – some free

Incoming calls – from 0.69

Outgoing calls – from 0.49 in 95 countries

Incoming texts – free

Outgoing texts – from 0.49

US number available? – NO – UK number only

Data – 10MB/month $40, 50MB/month $100, 200MB/month $200


Card cost: $29.95 +$5 for micro-sim

Incoming calls – free in 150 countries

Incoming texts – free everywhere

US number available? – YES – $4.99 setup fee, $19.99 per year

Data – $2.49 for 10 MB day per 24 hour period in Europe


Passport card – $19 includes $10 credit

Incoming calls – free in 75 countries

Outgoing calls – from 0.49 in 95 countries

Incoming texts – free

Outgoing texts – from 0.69

US number available? – yes – both UK and a US +1 number are offered

Data – from 0.49/MB – depends on country

For me, Telestial made the most sense (and they had the least expensive overnight shipping, at $24.90 – key for Mrs. Procrastinator). I’ll update this post when I’ve had a chance to use it.