In Anticipation of a Journey...
I'm writing to you from the past, a place that often times we wish we could go. In the present we don't have a time machine not matter, so that leaves now.... but it also leaves us a future. Our decisions today have a direct effect on the shape of our lives tomorrow and into the years ahead. In some future outcomes we possess a fair amount of control, and others are yet to be discovered. Quite a few emotions come along prior to taking the first steps. I can feel hesitation, indecisiveness, fear and doubt. At the same time and mixed in with those feelings are excitement, curiosity, wonder, eagerness, joy and happiness. It's the latter that wins the day. Always, and I don't use that word often.
As I write these words, I've just finished packing the van. With each passage through the front door and out towards the vehicle I wonder how it's all going to work out. Some of the questions I have are: Will I arrive safely? Will I learn about myself and others along the way? Will I be given opportunities to help others? Will I end up at my planned destination or is there something that could alter my course forever? What beauty lies ahead? What new relationships will be formed? Will Florida be a place I can thrive in or will it be a destination desert? All of those questions will be answered in a relatively short period of time. I do know that throughout my feelings and questions one thing is true. It's going to be ok. It's the way things are since I've applied faith in my life.
I've been incredibly blessed in this journey to have met friends in the Black Hills. I learned, and grew, and laughed. I've been invited back, and I accepted graciously. I look forward to seeing the Black Hills again.
Helen Keller was quoted as saying "A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn." There's quite a few bends in the road ahead for me, and for all of us. I encourage you and take to heart this.... When your mind and emotions are being pulled in a direction that is not of your own making, you're likely being pulled off course. Stop, breath, remember your friends and family. Look around at the things you've been given in this life. Perhaps quite literally stop and breath the air, use your eyes and ears to acclimate yourself to the abundance and beauty that surrounds you. Look at what has been provided freely for us all to enjoy. One another, the outdoors, and the power of knowing we are all in this together, and never truly alone.
These words I'll be repeating to myself as I set off on the new leg of a journey that started in April of 2020. Five months... Five months of what used to be the unknown manifested into this very moment as my fingers type the words. I am grateful. I am blessed. I have had and incredible journey. I love what I do. I will carry on. I will make plans. I hope that you will too. Thank you for reading my thoughts before I set sail. I look forward to seeing your comments along the way. Have a great day, and a great night. I'll be thinking of you, and maybe sometime our paths will cross.
Time for a cool change.
I'm feeling a little bit of angst at the moment, but it's a familiar feeling. It's been a challenging year. One of letting go, being stretched to the limits, one that required change of perspective and one that brought growth. I thought at times about giving up, but it seems in those moments come the boldest ideas. I feel most uncomfortable when I don't have a solution to a problem. It eats at me, and keeps me up at nights, until I come to a realization that I just need to breath and maybe do nothing at all.
When I set out to travel back in April on Adventures Across America, I had a lot of self-doubt that came to me about 500 miles or so into the drive. I never shared that; I just didn't write about it until now. Many of you may be feeling the same thing. Each time I had to confront the fear, overcome it and then move to the next step. It brought me as far as I am now, which is on the precipice of another journey. I mean this sincerely when I say, had I not been out in nature for most of those 3 months I would have broken down, given up and thrown it the towel. Being out in some of the most beautiful places provided me time to connect and reflect. It gave me time to better understand who I am and how I fit into this world.
I miss travel the way it was, and I'm eagerly anticipating the time when it returns. In the meantime, there is a big back yard that you and I share called the U.S.A. Get out in it! You may have noticed recently friends on Facebook posting their road trips and I find it heartwarming to see people beginning to go out and have fun. Many of them are visiting National or State parks and breathing in the wide-open spaces that offer exposure and safety at the same time. There are a lot of people out there in the travel world affected by all the instability that’s going on right now, but we still have the ground under our feet. (knock on wood)
If you follow my Facebook page www.facebook.com/myxoadventures then you know I like to have fun on all my travels and can be a bit of a goofball in the process. I assure you I am a true professional but a kid at heart too! If you have any questions related on how to travel or where, please reach out. Whether it's with me, on your own or even with another company I'm happy to help with what I know. As I leave Rapid City on the 29th of September and head to Florida, I'll be stopping at approximately 68 places along the way. My newsletter timing may be a little off, so I apologize in advance. Please take care, and come along with me virtually through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana!
A Festival to Remember in ABQ
Yes, there is a butt facing you in this image, but isn't there always? Let's go there.
For sure It's been a long year, for all of us. We look forward to the days beyond election time, maybe beyond the end of the year, certainly beyond a pandemic, and to happier times ahead. When you think about it, so many of those things I just listed are BIG BUTTS in our decision-making process, but they don't have to be.
As the season winds down here In South Dakota, I'm planning my route back home to Sarasota. It's the planning that's the exciting part. Hmmmm, well I haven't been to New Mexico yet, and it's been a while since my eyes have been graced by the striking colors of autumn. Colorado? Tennessee? Yup, for sure I'll be backpacking through those areas when I depart near the end of September because I'd like to make the most of my journey. In reaching Louisiana, I have a few friends that I'll visit, but also study and seek out the secrets of Zydeco, Creole, Jazz, Gumbo and the rich African American history that runs through it all. My GOD, the excitement and planning I need to do!
In that there can be anxiety, but it's the excitement that gets me off my BUTTS and on the road. Planning can be one of the best and most exiting parts of an adventure, and I hope you feel the similarly. Like Adventures Across America this month-long road trip has a few reasons. I'm educating myself, rekindling old friendships, making new friendships, and finding out ways to get you off your BUTTS in the process! This October ended up being a little too soon for many of you to travel, and I understand, BUTT I have a few new ideas in the works and a couple out now that you can explore.
First, for my Florida friends In particular there is the Key West Kerfuffle. It's caused a stir, so I think the name fits. To check out why it would be very cool to come along and stay on a luxury yacht, click here. Next is something I've always wanted to do, and thats the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta! It bases out of Albuquerque at the Hyatt Regency and not only witnesses the Mass Ascension, but I also take you on day trips to intriguing places throughout New Mexico. On my way home, I'll be meeting with vendors and exploring the route myself.
I hope your BUTT feels lighter, and more apt to start the exciting path towards planning. Next up is the Louisiana Purchase, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. In the meantime, stay safe and thank you for taking time to read the newsletter!
Where can Americans Travel and should they?
It's a question a lot of people want to know, and the answer can change daily. There's no doubt a lot of pent up desire to travel, but the decision process can be complicated without some guidance. Fortunately, you've made it here and I hope to bring some clarity to the question.
The first and most obvious answer is anywhere in the US, and I have to say from recent travel experience, it's much appreciated. All states are open, but ordinances can and do vary. Generally speaking, the western part of the country has seen a big uptick in domestic travel, with most arrivals by RV or air. Taking a back seat are the large 50 passenger busses that once roamed the parks like the buffalo of years past. They still operate, just not in large numbers.
Likely, your one of the many people looking to visit wide open spaces and avoid a lot of crowds, but the question is where and how? For starters try in your own backyard. Likely there are many places you haven't explored, or it's been a long time. Take a second look at what is in a 100 mile radius of your own home. If you're looking a little further, nothing beats the State and National Parks. For a list of National Parks by state visit the National Park Service website by clicking here.
My advice on National Parks Is two fold. 1.) Find out where you can get the best bang for your buck. (Utah has five that are famous) and 2.) Look for parks that are less visited, like the Badlands of South Dakota or Acadia National Park in Maine. I've fallen in love with the Southwest, so Arizona and New Mexico would be great places to visit during the winter, and are packed with parks for all kinds of sightseeing and activities. Last on the State and National Parks.... give hiking consideration and plan for it. Most of us haven't been out in nature and staying inside the car most of the time can sterilize the experience.
Now on to International trips. At the moment this is the trickiest of options, but it's not stopping some from exploring. For a list of countries that are currently open, click here. My advice is if you're desire is to travel internationally, or begin to plan for future international trips, consult with a travel professional. It won't cost you a penny more. The advice you get can be invaluable. At the moment there are so many requirements, whether it be a negative COVID test within the past 3 days, or a self quarantine upon arrival you'll need to know what each requirement entails.
What would I do If I were you? Well, travel is going to open, and I believe it's actually going to be a better experience moving ahead. Companies, like mine, have had to innovate, implement protocols and rethink travel in a brand new way. This has required, and at times forced creativity and for the well being of the traveler. What I'm seeing most is what I call "bubble groups", which are friends or family that travel together on a private trip. These trips tend to be more costly to operate, and therefore more expensive to the consumer, but they provide not only a better experience but also give peace of mind. Who really wants to do the 50 passenger bus tour now anyway? Not me.
If you'd like to see the tours we offer that can be customized and private check out our USA and Day Trips on our web page: www.myxoadventures.com . What you'll find here might surprise you. You'll see private trips with quite a few inclusions at about half the price of the big boys. Remember, the outdoors provides places and experiences that feed the soul, and heal the mind. It's ok to travel right now, just be responsible and use common sense!
The Top Outdoor Adventure in Unrivaled Utah!
It's time to start living, so let's make plans together. If you've been dreaming about traveling safely, and having a great time doing it, let me tell you how to do it and not break the bank. First, now is a great time to travel and deals can be had with the airlines. Not only that, but never in their existence have the operated in such a clean and pristine way. Are you a germaphobe? I can be too, and I've literally researched and watched the ways they clean the planes and it's impressive.
Second, you're wondering what you can do that's amazing. I can help with that. I've visited, and now created a new getaway that's called "Unrivaled Utah". In it we visit Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Kodachrome State Park, Kanab, Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyons with included UTV tour (that's me doing it above), Vermillion Cliffs and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We move only once, from an airport hotel in Vegas to Mount Carmel Junction which serves as our base. We see the million dollar highway in Utah, by far the most amazing road trip I've done in all of North America. Not only that, but we have guides, audio narrations as we travel, the choice to stop anywhere outdoors for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Not only that, but Its all done In myXOadventures.com 15 passenger van. On this journey I bring an Ozone machine, which Is left running in the van each evening for 30 minutes to any living thing. In addition, it gets sprayed with a non-toxic 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution on every surface. THEN, there is a Hepa Filter running in the van at all times. Trust me, it's safe, but if you want to be in a blow up bubble too I can arrange that for an additional charge. You just have to sign a waiver for me to be able to take photographs and post the pictures anywhere I want! :)
Seriously, lets go. Give yourself a mental break, get out there safely and enjoy yourself doing it. I'll make it a great experience, and you might make a friend or two. Lastly, if you want this to be a private event, all you have to do it let me know, and the van is yours to travel with whom you choose. Just contact me with your request at: [email protected]
Don't just survive, LIVE!
Black Hills Adventures Continue through September!
As I find out more and more about the Black Hills of South Dakota, I find that there's always more to know! Truly, it's a beautiful place to be, and has a rich history of Native American culture, settlers, the Wild West, stunning natural wonders and memorials. I've done a fair amount of reading out here, with The Journey of Crazy horse being my favorite. Next up is the The Sioux and it looks like its going to turn out to be a great read as well.
I have to say I've enjoyed the wide open spaces out here, and the blossoming relationship with Black Hills Adventure Tours who invited me to stay and do some contract work as a guide through the end of September. If you're a little stir crazy and would like to come out and experience this area for yourself, I can help make that happen. I recommend no less than 5 days, and would be your guide for as little or as much as you'd like!
As I write this I'm thinking of everyone back In Florida and throughout the US that are going through a variety of situations, and I want you to know I offer my encouragement. When Theodore Roosevelt lost both his wife and mother on Thursday, February 14th 1884 he wrote "The light has gone out of my life". He left his political career and headed West. Upon meeting with John Muir, the two spent quite a bit of time out in the wilderness where "Teddy" healed his mental wounds and worked through grief by spending time in Nature.
In one of Jonathan Muir's Books he says, "Keep close to Nature's heart.... and break clear away, once in a while. Climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." I can attest it's true, I did it without knowing, as if something within was guiding my to the National Parks, Forests and beautiful gems of our country. It was healing, and one of the best things I've done in my life. You can experience that here, at whatever level you're able, and I can help guide the way. If you'd like to break free, reach out and let me know.
Until next time.......
Flights are cheap, and life is short, Live it!
It's true, even in challenging times, if you're able to let go and open yourself up to the opportunities to present themselves, its guaranteed they will. GUARANTEED! I've been broken, bent, put over the coals, frustrated and more, but I always kept my eye on what felt right, and what I've always wanted. I had to change, and I could do it kicking and screaming, or I could do it with gratitude. I don't mean to say it was easy, or even complete, but it was one hell of a ride that by in large part I relished in.
I can say that myXOadventures.com has gone through the first set of growing pains, and is ready for the next chapter, which starts in one of the most beautiful parts of OUR country, the Black Hills and Badlands. Pictured above, Carrie (I say an accidental friend) and I stand at an overlook on Sheep Mountain Table Overlook. We've become great friends, and I'll be out in the area through the end of September this year guiding for her company. It's a great opportunity to learn, grow, broaden my perspective and do what I love. All of this happened because of faith, and flying in the face of fear, worry and anxiety of taking a leap that seemed insane at the time. Friendships are invaluable.
On the business side of things, I've begun to update the website. Here's what you can expect. I've loaded individual tours that I'm able to personally guide you on, and will be loading different packages based on experience level and price. You'll see that shortly. I highly encourage you to get out, see what you can in a safe environment and live. Live life like there is no tomorrow. I'll be ready for you. I am ready for you today!
Lastly, we're going to do this safely. This is on everyones mind so lets talk about it. Each tour will be handled in the following way:
1.) You will receive a complimentary mask.
2.) The vehicle will be treated with an Ozone machine 12 hours prior to the tour. All tours are private, none will be with the public or anyone you don't know. After safely ozonating the vehicle, it will be treated with CleanzoZone, a non-toxic solution containing hydrogen peroxide. These methods are proven to kill viruses, mold spores and bacteria. You will literally be on the cleanest tour you've ever been on!
3.) Activities will be based on your comfort zone and avoiding crowds as much as possible.
4.) Outdoors, fun and education will be the focus.
5.) All activity levels will be offered. If you want to push your limits, I've got you covered. If you want to relax more, I have what you need.
Flights are cheap and life Is short. Reach out to me with when you are able to come, and we'll make this happen!
Visit www.myxoadventures.com to see the tours we've listed so far!
Tunnel Visions and Idahoans
What do you think of when you think of Idaho? Potatoes right? Maybe for some of you the answer is no, but that was my silly preconceived notion before arriving in this state. Yes, quite a bit of Southern Idaho is comprised of potato agriculture and I did stop at the potato museum to learn, but also to enjoy some huckleberry potato ice cream. It was fabulous. This was all on my way to Twin Falls before heading north to Boise, the Lewis and Clark AVA and eventually Wallace Idaho, where I met the only Prime Minister of the United States.
I spent quite a bit of time in Idaho, because I found it quite special. It surprised me at every turn. Twin Falls was outstanding and utterly beautiful, the Lewis and Clark Valley Vineyards were bursting with color and of people enjoying themselves over a fine wine. Awards have been given out to wine makers in this area and they absolutely deserve it, having worked hard and employing the passion within themselves to get to this point. After leaving Lewis and Clark, I headed north through Cor 'd Lane, which I would have spent more time in, however it was packed due to entering a new phase statewide. This is a popular (and rightly so) area for Idahoans as it is picture perfect, neatly landscaped, quaint, surrounded by lakes and rivers as well as all the necessities one might need.
My final stop in Idaho was perhaps my biggest surprise. Wallace. An old mining town known for its silver industry, miners and bordellos. These residents have been through fires, the federal government, and all kinds of resistance to keep the town alive, and I, for one am happy they did. It is the quintessential small town, clean streets, original building signage and authentic feel. Everyone waves at each other and are kind in nature. They like to live and let live, and the town is situated near resorts, the best hiking and biking in the area including the Hiawatha Trail, which is world class and goes through multiple tunnels of the old Milwaukee Railroad that has now been preserved for future generations. Amazing, and I will be back. There is a trip in the works to this part of the country for 2021 for bikers and hikers, and I'm going to be right there, God willing.
If you haven't been following please do at www.facebook.com/myxoadventures to see where I'm going to next and support me along the journey by liking the page. I hope to make new relationships, freely promote businesses that need it and learn quite a bit in the process. Stay safe and be well! Next is the West Coast and there will be lots to show along the way.
Until Next Time to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone!
How do you describe something so awesome, out of this world, and mind-blowing? When experiencing Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons those are just some of the questions that came to mind. For me, it was an adventure that was centering, spiritual and fortunate. While both Yellowstone and Grand Teton had limited services, a big bummer for families - I didn't care. The reason I came isn't for services, it's for the reverything that makes these places National Parks. The mountains, waterfalls, streams, steam pots, mud pots, wildlife and more.
I bought the "America the Beautiful" Pass through a third party that had some left over after the actual government site stopped selling them. I remember when it came in the mail I held it up high, and felt like Ralphie when he got his BB gun in "A Christmas Story." The cost is $80 and it gets you and another person in to every National Park Across America, in my case saving me hundreds of dollars.
Since I wrote last, I've seen 3 National Parks in Wyoming and one in Idaho. I've met more local vendors, and will be rollding out the series "Adventures Across America" 2021 starting mid July. The places and things we'll do will stay true to the myXOadventures.com brand. We'll have excellent vendors, experience based trips, cultural inclusions with indigenous peoples, culinary delights and a light hearted feel. This is our goal, which is a high bar. In the end we hope you not only enjoy whichever part of the series you purchase, but make friends along the way. If you haven't been folllowing along, please do at www.facebook.com/myxoadventures. I'm on a scouting mission, so please keep in mind some of the crazy things I do along the way we won't be doing as a group necessarily. Our group sizes willl be from 8-15 and we will use a combination of Vannah White (Our Tour Van) and some of the vendor vehicles to accomplish our mission.
There will be time for shopping and doing some of the very hokey touristic things, but these items won't be our focus. They'll be more like the cranberry sauce to your turkey. For now, I ask that you keep following along, and if you would like to be put on the waiting list, email me at [email protected] to be considered first in line to review and decide to participate. I sincerely hope you all are well and safe, and ask for you to reach out and say hi or give a virtuual wave as I travel across the country.
Lastly, Romania Fairytales and Castles is on. It is the last international trip I've designed and will be for some time. It's September of 2021 and very limited. We're offering downpayments of $100 per person on this trip with a maximum of 16 people going. It's a place I love and want to share with you. Again, visit the website to reserve or email me to get on the list! [email protected]
Recap at the Continental Divide!
myXOadventures.com has left the room and hit the road! My name is Daniel Mills and I’m the owner of the company. After coming back from Cuba on March 17th it was a different world. My business, (the tourism sector) came to a complete stop. Immediately before anything else, my colleagues and I went from boom to bust. Now many of us are in the same basket. I did my share of isolation and housekeeping with the business and as I read article after useless article and time-wasting ZOOM meetings offering virtual encouragement followed by expensive marketing plans that promised to get us all out of this mess I had enough. I literally said to myself, this is all BS. I’m not saying the intentions of these efforts were bad, what I’m saying is they were as stale as a brick and mortar Travel Agency stocked full of dusty plastic plants, brochures, and reeks of coffee with a side of regret. The stories that hit my heart were the ones of hard-working people and small businesses The stories of fear, worry, and desperation.
Families to feed, possibly businesses folding, unemployment systems unable to help the unemployed, disaster loans, and more.
I thought, something is wrong with all of this. Really wrong. Not the virus, not the masks, but real action on the part of those able to help. I had to ask myself, “Daniel, what are you going to do?” I can help others, learn in the process, promote my hometown, and keep my business relevant. There are some things you can do that if planned right, contain multiple facets and click right into place like a swiss watch.
I was going to do this. I reached out to multiple organizations early on but got a lot of maybe’s and no’s when it came to helping to promote Sarasota. I’d ask another way, offer to pay, do the work for free but just dead ends. This is from an area that would be crushed without tourism long term. I thought, here I am offering to get on the road and do the work for free as a resident of Sarasota. Wait, there’s my permission. I’m a resident of Sarasota for 28 years, I don’t need the endorsement, help of, a degree from or the blessing of anyone to do this. I am smart, I am important and gosh darn it people like me. All it took was the first step. I took all the seats out of my van and packed it with camping gear, a kayak, food, and self-made curtains friends would make fun of for years.
I headed out the backroads (the roads less traveled) and it’s much, much more interesting. Longer but a great experience. I’m meeting mom and pop businesses and promoting them as I go along. Relationships are blooming and some pretty amazing things are coming from it. Next year is going to be awesome, but today is amazing.
Strength comes from within. It doesn’t come from a TV monitor, a radio flap jaw, or a party leader. You’ve got everything you need to succeed and to overcome today’s challenges. You can do anything you want, and you can do it well. Don’t believe me? You’re free to choose. My hope is that we get to travel together on an adventure. Keep following along will I confidently stumble through this exercise. www.facebook.com/myxoadventures and like the page.
Rapid City & Living in the Wild Wild West
Adventures Across America Has Begun!
So far, Adventures across America has been quite interesting. Leaving Sarasota in the rearview mirror, on my own headed to who knows where in the middle of a crisis felt ridiculous and made perfect sense at the same time.
If you haven’t been following along, please like the page here. You’ll see Vannah (Our Tour Van) and me travel across America to see as many Parks, Monuments, and Curiosities along the way. You’ll also have surveys to choose from that will actually determine the direction and place I’ll visit along the way. You in part will take the wheel for me.
I have a few objectives in this project. One is to provide you with a real-life interactive way to travel and keep interested in myXOadventures.com. The second is to promote Sarasota as well as the businesses I’m visiting along the way. I think we have an obligation to do what we can to help one another, and this is the way I believe I can do it. I hope you follow along, participate, and provide words of encouragement as I make my way across the country!
In the meantime and for the rest of this year, I’ll continue to promote Sarasota and Florida vacation packages. It’s myxoadventures.com’s belief that recovery starts at home and spreads from there.
Next, I’d like to talk about the changes we’ll be making over the next couple of months. We will begin to set specific limits on the size of groups we work with on each departure and never deviate from it. Cleaning protocols are being discussed and implemented for any tour utilizing the van. Our vehicle will be cleaned after every use, with a CDC recommended disinfectant. Hand Sanitizer will be made available and utilized before entry, and upon exit of the vehicle. The doors, as always will be opened and closed for you. That doesn’t change, it’s just good customer service!
Lastly, we will be looking at COVID-19 Free Zones to Visit and focus on those destinations over the next few years. What we mean and where these are located will be explained over the next few months so stay tuned as we work with international organizations on a cohesive response to the New Next of Travel.
In the meantime, please support your local small businesses. There is a reason the airlines are bailed out and the Bus Company isn’t. Why large businesses are put to the front of the line and small business is left to survive on their own. I can tell you this small business can and will survive with or without government help. We’ll do it through innovation and determination, and also with your support. We thank you, wish you good health, and give our best to you and yours during this time.
Travel, my friends, opens minds, opens eyes, and opens hearts. We become better people when we travel. - Taleb Rifai
This week myXOadventures.com became part of PROJECT HOPE TRAVEL, and I became a Board Member as well. The membership is comprised of Ministers of Tourism, Representatives to the United Nations, Business Development Firms and people like me.
The idea is how to re-start the tourism business in a responsible way, because it won't be the same. It will be the "New Next". Although the local Tourism authorities as well as businesses have been reluctant or handicapped to unify the travel business, that is exactly what is called for and something we intend and will be a part of. We're in this together almost makes our eyes roll now but it's true. We are. What's next? It's not virtual travel, I'm sure of that, but what will I need to do to make sure my guests are happy, safe and satisfied in the new world. It starts at home with me. In personal ways, in ways of business, in thoughtfulness of travel.
Tomorrow afternoon I step into Vannah White (Our Tour Van) and I head in a northerly direction. Once I reach North Carolina I'll be met with a big question mark. I'll have to think about my next move. It could be north, south or west, but I honestly don't know. I may just stay put for a while until I decide. I won't stay put for long though. There'll be a whisper in the wind and I'll be listening for it.
Enough on the trip, its going to unfold the way it does, and when I come back I plan on starting with local and regional tourism. The rest will come later. If you want to follow the Adventure please like our facebook page. www.facebook.com/myxoadventures and make sure to sign up for notifications of when we go live. I'll also continue to broadcast the Travel Club Meetings through ZOOM so no matter where you are, you can join each Thursday at 7PM. There are multiple groups, but if you'd like to join my Sarasota Meetup and directly participate you can. Here is the link: https://www.meetup.com/myXOadventures-Sarasota/
Finally,, I'll be doing this in the most responsible way possible. I have masks, disinfectant, will be using dispersed camping methods along the way and so on. I do already hear those that may have objections, and for you I ask in advance simply for your support despite your feelings. As a matter of fact, thats all I ask from anyone. Be a supporter, a follower, a cheerleader and any messages of encouragement will go a long, long way. Here's to the journey....
A BIG THANK YOU, GOING SOLO & A NEW ADVENTURE!
Preparing for a Bright, and Somewhat Different Adventure.
Isolation, the Future of Travel & Your Opinions
Life is what happens when you're planning something else, and we had BIG plans for 2020! You know all the cliches though:
* When life gives you lemons make lemonade.
*When you're afraid of butter, use cream - my favorite ~ Julia Child
Well, for many of us it's a lot like this 11 second clip from the 2011 film "Your Highness", but even when it seems this way there's always an answer. Personally aside from coming to a virtual standstill in travel, I find the emotional aspect of this the most difficult to deal with. When you have options, you have a choice, but when those options are taken away, its another story all together. I've gathered a few bits of information for this unforeseen fuckening we are experiencing right now. One of my favorites is from Astronaut Mike Kelly, who has great ideas for us right now but went through an extraordinary time in space. Click here to read an experts advice on isolation, rules that I have been violating every day.
I'll say what you know already.... After this is over the world will have changed, in every way. Travel is no exception and from the moment we returned from Cuba, I began to think about how to save my own hide so I went about doing that, initially forgetting that letting go, and acts of service are a big part of doing just that. If anything I've learned over the last year is that I am not in control of it all, nor do I want to be.
While I've readjusted my thinking and began to find ways to give back, the cloud began to lift. Moments of giving turned into emotional highs, and gratefulness for the life I do have. These acts of selflessness kept me in the moment of now, and had real benefits to my emotional and physical well being. I'll just say it... I was getting something out of giving! Now how you do it is up to you, but it is the right thing to do and it's achievable right from home. One is Team Rubicon , and I'm waiting to hear back on, but provides emergency disaster relief in the field and from home. You don't have to be Rambo to join. Another is the United Nations online Volunteering Program, Organizations and volunteers working together for peace and development.
Lastly, stay In contact with your neighbors somehow and find out if they need anything. Remember, you can help others way quicker than any government response. Of course, everything comes with a risk, and the whole objective is striking that balance between emotional and physical well-being, as well as ways to help. In all of this your health is first priority, so please if nothing else follow the CDC guidelines and listen to scientific proof, not political rhetoric.
Just to Make You Laugh.... SNL Skit on Laguardia "Airport Sushi".
In the meantime, if you're willing to help us out so we can better understand how you would like to travel once the all-clear is given, we'd really appreciate it. The SURVEY is about 99 seconds in length!
Adventure Insights #1
Now that we're back in the proverbial saddle we'd like to reconnect with all of you. Havana Heartbeat was a wonderful experience with an awesome group of guests, and even though we were a couple of hundred miles away it seems like we came from absolute paradise to utter chaos. Thank goodness nobody broke into our homes to steal our toilet paper!
Now that it seems everyone on the trip is settled and healthy, I've had a chance to tend to business, reflect on what to do and how to manage the storm both professionally and personally. Locally in Sarasota business in the tourism sector has come to a complete halt. During that time I've focused on next year and even the following. My heart goes out to those businesses and individuals that are suffering through this but at some point, it will come to an end.
In the meantime, we're doing our best to keep our chins up and our sense of humor intact. Look out for our Weekly Adventure Insights for potentially useful information, some humor, tips, and travel deals. We'd also love to hear back from you on any stories or activities you've been doing to stay healthy and upbeat. Please give us a shout out so we can share with the rest of our subscribers.
FREE READING MATERIAL
Enjoy these free books while traveling the world, or being quarantined indoors.
Keep yourself Informed and Protected when purchasing Travel!
If you tuned in to Tru-T on Sunday December 15, 2020 there was a segment featuring Daniel Milks from My XO Adventures. The topic was some of the recent fallout from Travelers booked with a local Sarasota Agency, as well as large Tour Operators like Thomas Cook when both companies took a tumble, leaving passengers holding their bags, quite literally. The situation was unfortunate all the way around, for the employees as well as the passengers, some of which were stranded an no way to get home.
We'd like to give you a few tips before booking your vacation with any Tour Operator, and we're included! The first thing that we feel is a major mistake is purchasing any travel using check or cash. Some operators will offer a discount to get customers to pay this way. It can save you a few dollars, but it's NOT worth it. There is no recourse if the company goes into default. Always use your credit card, and preferably one that has extra travel benefits associated with it. You'll find many cards offer certain protections just for using it to purchase the vacation.
Secondly, please wherever you travel always buy travel insurance. This not only can protect you from default, but is just plain wise to do should anything go wrong with your vacation. If you travel, you know the chances are eventually something will happen and you want that reassurance that it's all going to be ok.
Third might be obvious, but its important. Check out the ratings through companies like Trip Advisor, Facebook Ratings, and Google the Company to see comments and ratings there. Balance this however, as someone who has had a bad experience is 10x more likely to go out of their way to post it than someone who had a perfectly good experience on the same vacation. So don't stop at the first review. Asses multiple reviews and make your own determination.
Lastly, and I'll just say this. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Check out and verify the credentials of the Agent/Agency and it's always best to go with someone you know. Ask a friend or acquaintance who is in the business that runs a small operation. (We) They take less risk, but offer some of the most exciting and detailed oriented trips you'll ever go on. Remember it's about the experience of travel and the boutiques and niche travel operators are likely going to offer more interesting vacations, and at reasonable rate. We believe in supporting small business and many of us offer group sizes of 8-12 people in size. Should some unfortunate circumstance arise, a smaller group is much easier to remedy than thousands of passengers all demanding their money back.
Travel Agents are experiencing a come back In recent years, and for good reason. A good, educated agent can help create the experience of a lifetime, and if you like to book it on your own just know that you will be booking with a massive company that in the travel world is called an OTA, or online travel agent. So really what's happening here is they are utilizing you as the travel agent, unqualified and not paying you a penny. Cruise A booked with an agent costs $100 dollars. Cruise B booked with the client Costs $100. Congrats to the cruise line, they don't pay anyone in that transaction.
In most cases the Travel Agent if certified and familiar with the area of the world you will be adventuring, already knows way better than the online booking systems how to get you a better deal. In the end, you save a lot of time with an agent in the form of a professional that you pay absolutely nothing to have as an advocate for you, doing their best job in the hopes you will return.
That's all I have today for travel tips, but please email me at [email protected] for any questions as it relates to travel or our company information.
Is it Legal for Americans to Travel to Cuba?
We get this question all the time, and the answer is a resounding YES!! It is legal for Americans to travel to Cuba. We've done it many times, with many happy guests. It's the best place in the Caribbean by far, and unlike the islands the cruise ships take you to, Cuba couldn't be more different. It's vibrant, exciting, non-touristic by in large, and offers a wide variety of interests for those who travel to the island. It's one of our personal favorites and we'd like to take you there.
We believe one of the reasons many believe that you cannot travel to Cuba is because of the recent changes from the Administration that restricts the WAY you can travel to Cuba. One way no longer available is by cruise, and to tell you the truth this wasn't the best way to get there anyhow. You would overnight on a cruise ship, see a limited part of Havana and off you went. You had your stamp and were proud of it. There is much more to Cuba than that, and more time is needed to explore the hidden treasures Havana and Cuba has to offer.
The reason It Is legal Is very simple. There are 11 OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) categories that allow you to travel to Cuba. One of them, and the most common is the "Support of the Cuban People". This category, simply put means that you must support private enterprise while in Cuba. Here are some examples:
That's the long and the short of it. There are plenty of places to fly directly into Havana and due to all the misconceptions, prices are good right now, especially ours. Take one of our private small group fully escorted tours to Havana and the surrounding countryside, with our next being on March 12, 2020. For more answers to questions, we've provided a link below with answers.
Cheers to the Unexpected Itineraries
My mind keeps going back to the first time I left the U.S. to travel abroad. I was so excited, anxious and full of anticipation of what may happen, and then it was nothing like I expected. Over time I've learned that's the best part. In the business of travel you do your level best to make sure things go just as outlined on the brochure or in the itinerary but these are really best intentions and hopes as to the outcome of an adventure you've put together.
Sometimes you hit the mark around 95% and sometimes less, but I've found it's what you do with those moments that count. I've been reading quite a few other great travel blogs lately and one in particular of an accident prone blogger that has some of the most interesting experiences. As I write I think some of the best moments in travel adventures are when plans change, and the trip takes a turn that ends up being wonderful. Of course there are a couple of ingredients that need to be in play to make this happen. One is a flexible and resourceful guide, and the other are guests that look at the world in a glass half full situation. (I find the Aussies the best yet for this type of thing)
A situation in Romania with a friend (also above) driving almost lead to our death, literally. It involved a Skoda on the Transfăgărășan Highway around a narrow bend (pictured above). It resulted in a stop along the side of the road next to a shack that curiously had steam puffing out of a tin vent in the roof. To our surprise it was still producing a fruit alcohol called Palinka. Before you knew it we were being given generous shots and sharing pork belly fat with onion spread on fresh baked bread. How did that happen? We almost lost our lives, but we had an experience of a lifetime that we laugh at to this day.
Once I can remember missing a train in Basel that lead me to a fantastic moment in Strasbourg, or another in Olympia where it rained so hard we all stood in ankle deep water eating baklava and hot coffee, laughing and taking pictures the entire time. Another in Cuba of taking the wrong street in the right direction that resulted in an open door and a welcoming family with the most excellent Cuban coffee and company without speaking a lick of Spanish. Yet another was a surprise ending of a River cruise in Vienna to the Palace of Lichtenstein in a grand hall with 200 of the cruise guests. A front row seat, a conductor, band and a ballerina playing and dancing to the Blue Danube Waltz. The ballerina walks straight towards me and extends her arms and in a millisecond I must either refuse or get up and dance. I chose to dance (badly). I stepped on her toes and was told my face was as red as a tomato in the Florida sunshine. I could feel it and I'm sure it was. The experience was frightening, exhilarating and out of this world. Looking back had I refused I would never have forgiven myself.
Having traveled quite a bit from that point I find myself now looking for those moments. I may never be there again, so why not make the most of every second, and chose to be present. Travel is like life, it's not what the books tell you, its so much more. Expect the unexpected. Look for those moments and consider them a gift in their own right.
Not to worry, these are the exploratory trips and we review the death defying experiences so as our guests don't have to for themselves. Needless to say, we savor the travel experience and look for the moments where we are all able to get up and dance. We hope to see you on our next Adventure, and in the meantime keep an eye out for what's next. It's guaranteed to be good.
Is it Safe to Travel to Cuba?
While there are many places in the world to travel, Cuba can be one of the safest. Surprised? We thought so. Over the last half-century there's been quite a bit of misinformation in the U.S. as it relates to Cuba Travel, and this is certainly one. At myXOAdventures.com, we've taken the time to explore Cuba. From Santiago to Havana, and Cienfuegos to Viñales we've made our way all around the island.
The first places visitors generally explore are the main squares of Havana, where you'll find shops, restaurants, statues and gardens with a rich history. These are considered very safe and the most common type of nefarious activity of course, is pick pockets. Although we've never had a guests experience, or witnessed this type of thing its always good to know where you have your wallet and valuables. Once you venture outside the squares, looks can be a little deceiving.
Some of the alleys and roads off of the center squares can look a bit sketchy, but in our experience there was no reason for alarm. Some of the most interesting places can be found on the side streets. Many of Cuba's historic buildings and streets are in various stages of age and decay. Sometimes this is strangely beautiful and sometimes not so much. One thing that we found is that regardless, you were perfectly safe. Violent crimes and gun crimes per capita are 19 times higher here in the U.S. than they are in Cuba. Although it was a different feel and place, we eventually felt perfectly at ease anywhere we went in the Capital City.
The people of Havana and Cuba in general are very friendly, and willing to help where they can. After spending several days throughout the island, you'll notice things from your past that we see little if any of today. Things like children playing ball in the streets, or marbles on the sidewalk. A couple of friends playing a game of chess or dominoes while enjoying some rum. From what I've seen, happiness comes not from possessions, but relationships.
Take it from someone who knows, Cuban society is actually much safer than many of our own backyards.