7 Uses Of Technology That Made Traveling In England A Breeze

In case you're new here, my dad and I just got back from a 10-day trip to Manchester, England, to visit family and to do research for my upcoming book and it was as amazing as I'd imagined, except for a few annoyances, the first being my cousin's daughter was due to give birth while we were there and I was very explicit in saying that I expected to hold my new tiny cousin before I left to come back home, but alas, there is still no baby as of this writing.

The second annoyance was my inability to exhibit one ounce of control when it came to meals. I ate like a velociraptor and can now only fit in sundresses or waistbands with some "give."

Dad and I talked about how different travel is nowadays because of technology - more efficient and seamless.

I started to include the different apps we used in my last post, Texans In England By The Numbers, but once I started listing out the ones we used, I ended up with seven and decided it needed a post of its own. 

I didn't even include the social media apps, FaceTime, and email, but those were certainly big players in our daily travel, as well.

Here's the technology that made for a dramatically different travel experience than back in the day: 

Texans In England By The Numbers

4 - Butt-puckering close calls of death by stepping off the curb while looking the wrong way. Everyone knows they drive on the opposite side of the road in England, but our muscle memory makes us look the wrong direction, apparently. Combine that with complicated intersections in a busy city like Manchester, along with two clumsy-footed Americans, and you’ve got yourself a dangerous touristy cocktail.

0 - Air conditioned spaces. England is experiencing record-breaking heat at the moment, and - despite the weather being gloriously cool compared to the 100+ temps we’d left behind in Texas - when the buildings and homes are all closed up tight without any air movement inside, we Americans who are used to cold, recycled air blasting in our faces start to get panicky. And very sweaty.

"Making Memories" In Galveston

We just got back from a long weekend down at the Texas coast with my brother's family, and overall it was a great trip, but just like on all family vacations, I have to sometimes hide away in a bathroom and tell myself, "we're making memories... we're making memories."

Here's the thing about family vacations: they are not only memory makers, they're also memory triggers. As in, "Oh yes, I remember now why I swore I'd never go anywhere with a teenager," or, "Oh that's right, now I remember why you should remove sand pronto from the seat of your swimsuit."

Historic Geek-Out at The Bürgenstock Resort on Lake Lucerne

In case you missed it, we just returned from Switzerland, where Mark went for a business trip and I got to jump in his suitcase and ride along. Here's a fun recap of our ridiculous trip over there. 

Thursday was a day of meetings for Mark, so I signed up for the historical tour of the resort, which was flippin' amazing.

First things first. Here's how you pronounce the name of the resort: byorg-in-shtock.

They say it as if there's a bunch of thick, sticky taffy in their mouth that they're trying to work around when they say it.

Toodling The Mediterranean For 10 Days Aboard The Disney Magic

Hopefully I don’t come across as self-absorbed as a Kardashian by assuming you’ve read about our Disney Cruise through the Mediterranean over the summer.  

We chose a Disney Cruise because we wanted a trip where we could see beautiful and historic treasures for us and for our then 18-year-old, but would also appeal to our 10-year-old.

If you’ve ever experienced anything Disney, you know that the up-side to the price tag is their reputation for providing high quality service, cleanliness, safety, and - of course - fun for all ages.

And let’s be honest: despite my housekeeping skills, I’m a bit of a germophobe, so cleanliness is important, especially if it’s a place I’ll be laying my head. I have been known to abandon hotels and drive in the middle of the night to another town if even one little thing makes me feel gaggy.

First Stop On Our Mediterranean Tour: Monaco & Monte Carlo

The first port stop of our 10-day Mediterranean cruise on the Disney Magic was at Villefranche-sur-Mer, which means “free town on the sea,” per my French minor in college, which has gotten me exactly nothing in life, aside from a seat at the ass-end of jokes from my family for remembering how to only say “jar of mustard” and “shut your mouth.”

Villefranche is a tiny beach-side village in the heart of the French Riviera, with Monaco on one side and Nice on the other.

There are worse places in the world.

Austin to Barcelona

As usual, I've put the cart before the horse.

I told you all about all about the shippy parts of the cruise, and even told you about our first port, Villefranche, but I didn't even tell you about the first leg of our trip and how we even got there, yet. 

Isn’t life just the craziest thing sometimes?

We got to the Austin airport and ran into my son’s friend from high school, who also happens to be his college roommate! We had some fun chit chat about the odds of running into them there, and got to even have lunch with him and his mom before we boarded our flights.

How freakin’ random is it that they then headed to the same gate as us?

Y’all! We were on the same flight!

Prepping For A Disney Cruise And Beanie Weenies For Life

Mark and I haven't always had our head screwed on straight, when it comes to priorities (I'm thinking of one incident in particular to share with you as Exhibit A: we'd bought a massive fish aquarium that spanned the length of a wall in our new (to us) house, and then filled it with a bunch of fancy, expensive fish, maxing out our one little baby credit card and we couldn't even afford groceries.

It was so sleek and tacky, with its blue LED lighting and the shiny black pebbles at the bottom, it looked like the backdrop for a budget porn.

This was "back in the day," before we had kids and we made about three dollars too much to qualify for the government cheese line. 

We paid more for that damn fish tank than we did for our honeymoon to Mexico, and I am dead serious, y'all.

Family Vacations: Memories of Armpit Hairs and Salami

We're about two-thirds of the way to our destination - Panama City Beach, Florida - for a family vacation with my husband's side of the family, who we'll be hanging out with for the next week.  

This is the longest road trip we've ever been on with all four of us, and I'll admit that I was worried about being cooped up in a car for the 12-hour trip, mainly because I remember what road trips were like when I was a kid. 

The main things I remember about those trips was leaning up over the front seat to chitter-chatter with my parents, my mom reading a book in the passenger seat, responding with, " yah?  Hmmm..," my brother announcing to my parents that he could see a hair growing in my armpit, and my dad periodically leaning over the back seat with one hand on the steering wheel, the rest of his body almost completely in the back seat, as he swatted at anything he could with his other hand, shouting, "Do you want me to pull this car over?  Huh?"