Monthly Archives: May 2011

Shoe Success!

We’ve passed the unofficial start to summer, and I would just like to say that I successfully wore a new pair of shoes, twice, and did not get any cuts, blisters or any other negative reaction! Minor discomfort but that went away after the second wear. I’m pointing this out because I typically have some kind of issue that requires an insert, moleskin or Band-Aids.

I bought these shoes online, and so far, so good!

WAHOO!

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Take a Moment to Remember

Today, between the burgers, beers and baseball, please be sure to take a moment to remember those who gave everything for all the freedoms that we regularly enjoy. After all, remembering our fallen soldiers is what this day is ultimately all about.


Leave to enter until 19 April 2001

While most of my friends concentrated on getting jobs right after school, somehow I convinced my parents, and got them to agree, that moving to London, sight unseen, was the best route for me. Turns out, six months and a work visa WAS the best route for me. I should point out, short of family vacations to Toronto and Niagara Falls, spring break in Cancun and a couple of trips to the Caribbean, I never even had a passport. Back then, a birth certificate was good enough.

As it turned out, my first passport stamp EVER was permission to enter AND work in a country I had never been to, and aside from Mary Poppins, funny accents and a famous bridge, it was a place I knew little about. But I knew I’d love it. Eleven years later I have never been more right about anything in my life.

While living abroad, I learned that what I did is what most of the world calls a gap year.  I can’t really call the time I spent abroad, a ‘career break’ since I hadn’t even started my career yet. To most, it looked like career postponement!

As I found out earlier this week at the NYC Meet Plan Go event, extended travel, however you do it, is in the back, and front, of a lot of travelers minds! Check out this article from the New York Times.


So You’re Saying There’s a Chance?

Sadly, the US trails the rest of the world when it comes to handing out vacation days so when planning trips I have become an expert at maximizing my days like extending international trips during US holidays to get that extra bonus day, or really maximizing the long weekend.

Even so, every time it’s time to return home, I’m always the one begging the gate agent to bump me so I can squeeze out at least one extra day. As I’ve learned from gate agents in Frankfurt, Zagreb, Buenos Aires and San Jose, Costa Rica (I’m persistent, okay?), airlines don’t typically overbook international flights, since it’s one of their last moneymakers, so getting bumped is quite slim.

But…the gate agents always tell me I’ll be the first they will tell if a bump is possible. I remember landing in Frankfurt, en route to Newark, the gate agent and I became BFFs.

Gate agent: ‘I can pretty much guarantee 100% you will be on this flight.’

Me: ‘Can you guarantee a football team won’t show up and need my seat?’

Gate agent: ‘No. But your flight is scheduled to depart within the hour so it’s not likely.’

Me: ‘Ha, so there’s a chance.’

I’m sure my file is flagged with ‘crazy.’


Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day honors those who have died while serving the US military. It is formally recognized on the last Monday in May, giving most workers a three-day holiday weekend.

In New York City, there’s the annual event of Fleet Week. Everywhere you turn there’s another man or woman in uniform enjoying all that the Big Apple has to offer.

Memorial Day weekend is seen as the unofficial start to summer. For the past few years it has rained in the Northeast and this year I think this year, that streak may change!

Weather (!) or not it rains, at least we know it’s the end of May. And my favorite season, summer, is right around the corner!


Wild with Wanderlust

Earlier this week I attended an informal gathering of Meet Plan Go, which is a resource for those taking a career break — get it…meet (other like-minded people), plan (lots of things to think about like storage and shots…) and GO! (duh!)

A friend of mine hosted the NYC chapter’s meet and he suggested I attend even if I wasn’t actively contemplating a career break, which I’m not. It’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind, but there’s no active planning right now. My friend told me it also serves as a support group for those of us plagued with wanderlust and that I’d fit in just fine.

Boy was he right! I met a few people whose friends and families think they are the crazy one with all sorts of wanderlust. Ah, I finally found my people! They knew, and even worked for, travel sites I read regularly!

When I told some friends that I was going to this ‘meeting’ I was met with some hesitation and raised eyebrows. I wasn’t the only one who got those reactions. One girl I met told me her mom thought she was joining a cult! Even my parents, who have a sense of adventure, are sometimes taken aback at places on my travel wish list. And they have traveled to – and would go back – to Cartagena, Colombia!

Out of the people I had met, some had already taken a career break, some were in the midst of planning their second and others, like me, were seeking like-minded people. I fit right in! Some career breaks lasted a few weeks, most were between five and nine months, others even longer. One of the founders of MPG wasn’t able to attend because she is still traveling!

You must see where I am going with this.

My loosely thought out career break, come on, you didn’t think I had a wish list (!)  would take me to southeast Asia, where I’ve wanted to go for some time, and it’s helpful that the USD goes far there. Apparently these routes are popular with ‘my people.’ Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos topped many people’s lists…and mine!

And then, in my imaginary plan, I’d head south to Australia and New Zealand in order to chase summer. I should note that while the plan is in only in my head, it’s ideally planned around avoiding winter in the US…always thinking 😉

If I’m up for more, I’d get myself over to South America and work my way back to the States through Central America. I’d get to further experience the Latin culture I’ve fallen in love with. I would also continue to enjoy summer, and probably the start of the rainy season if I remember correctly, and bonus (!) get good value for my USD.

I am willing to bet that if you made it this far, you are crafting your own itinerary, if only imaginary, like me.

So here’s the big question…if you are daydreaming, even if you just started, what does your itinerary look like? I’d love to know! Feel free to share in the comments below.


WHY must you send me ten bills?

For a $250 emergency room visit, WHY must I get eight bills?

First, let me just say I am happy to have the luxury of health insurance. I know there are many people who are without it right now and I know I am fortunate to have it.

Couldn’t the billing process be streamlined a bit?

I have already received a bill for $161.20 from the actual hospital , $44.20 from the doctor IN the hospital and $3.57 for a variety of blood work. According to my health insurance website I’m still waiting for a variety of bills for people who helped treat me. Clearly I’ve just touched the surface. I only received these three bills so far. Looks like I can expect another four, and those are just the ones who have submitted the claim. The woman at my health insurance told me I can probably expect close to ten bills in the end. FOR ONE VISIT?

Couldn’t the hospital compile all the bills so I can just make one payment, in one shot? Some of the bills I am waiting for are $2.57 and $3.87. Seriously? It can’t be consolidated into one bill?  This is 2011. The system is this inefficient?

For all I know I am paying $4 to the guy who wheeled me around for tests and $6 for a technician to read results. These people are needed for the process, but don’t they work for the hospital that already sent me a bill?! Is there no way to streamline bills so the hospital can distribute payment to the appropriate parties? At this rate, I’m waiting to see if I owe any money to the woman who checked me in at the front desk or the man who gave me the CDs of my results.

On top of getting multiple bills for a 8 hour stay, there must be a lot of people who don’t pay their ER bills. Three days, THREE, after I got the bill from the hospital, I got another, identical to the first. I didn’t have time to pay it in three days, so they send another bill? Another day or two passed and then I got a call from the hospital billing department asking for payment over the phone. Really? I know I have about 30 days to pay it, but could you at least give me ten days before you send the billing department after me? What’s next – collections at two weeks?

When I lived in London, I had COBRA from my parents and thankfully I never had to visit a hospital or doctor in all the time I was away and traveling. If I was feeling sick, I went to the chemist. I’d tell him or her what was wrong, they’d direct me to an aisle, and I’d get meds…some of which would be considered prescription in the States. There, most everything was available over the counter. Paid for the meds and possibly pick up a few more things (it was like going to CVS or Rite Aid in the States) and I was on my way.

Obviously, when your doctor tells you to go to the emergency room – and he says ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200,’ you go. There was no way around it. But couldn’t the hospital just collect the $200 or $300, or whatever the costs after insurance will ultimately be, and distribute it to everyone that gets a cut?! WHY is this billing system such a waste of time, effort and paper? WHY?

WHY Wednesday.