The Facebook Memory

The Facebook Memory

How old do you have to be before you realise that the trite old sayings you’ve heard all your life are actually true?

If I had a quid for every time, someone has dropped the words “Time is a great healer” into a conversation they’ve been having within my earshot I’d be worth a fortune.

I’d probably have amassed a decent purse full of change if I’d had a pound every time someone had said it to me, particularly in 2013, 2014 & 2015.

But, I didn’t actually understand what it meant until today. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I owe a serious apology to anyone who has said it to me in the past. I have a feeling that while they were talking to me, I was probably either sighing, rolling my eyes or crossing my arms, possibly my legs, and more than likely all three – with impatience and ingratitude for the wisdom they were sending my way.

The words seemed shallow and meaningless to me; I assumed it was a phrase used when faced with someone you had tried to help but nothing else was working, almost an appeasement, an “Oh please shut up cos you’ll get over it eventually” kind of thing.

I’m sorry. I really am. You were right it is, and it does, time is a great healer, and I may even take to saying it myself now I really get the meaning of it. Of course, the people, I say it to will think it’s all so much bullshit, but they’ll get it eventually, all it takes is time……. never underestimate the value of time.

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2016-05-27 (6)(On another note, and maybe another blog post, never let it be said I haven’t been to some fucking amazing places!)


Connections, Directions and Backlinks

Never, ever underestimate the power, of the power of what ever it is that make coincidences and signs come your way. I’ve had so many this last few days it’s not true.

Inviting my nephew to a mediation class created him to invite a couple of his friends, one of whom he’d been saying for a while I should meet. And we did, and as my clever nephew suspected we hit it off – big time. I’m going to call her L, basically because this is what her name starts with but I want to protect her just in case she doesn’t want to be on here.

As we walked to the class she began to tell me about her gift, her skill at Tarot cards, her visions and her guides.  She told me that her guides talked to her all the time and had messages for people around her.  I resisted the temptation to ask what they were saying about me.  When we got to the meditation lesson about 15 minutes late, it turned out that L knew the leader of the class and the woman who was to be our guide, her name also begins with an L; for fu**s sake, this is getting complicated.  If I call her L2 she’s going to sound like a chemical and and no one should be made to feel like they’ve come in second so I’m going to call her P.

This is connection number 1.

I’ve been struggling a lot just lately with everything I’m going through.  The distance between where I am and where I want to be physically, mentally, emotionally and geographically is overwhelming. As we all sat or lay in our meditation class I began to cry, I managed not  to disturb my fellow class mates,  but I did have pools of water in my ears by the time I’d finished.

When we were done with our meditation P asked me if I’d had an opportunity offered to me?  I said no I hadn’t.  She asked me if I had been thinking about undertaking a project?  I said yes, hundreds of them, all the time.  This left her a little bit perplexed, she didn’t seem to be able to see past that answer so we left it there.  However, this did eventually lead to connection number 3.

Pointing me in the Right Direction

As we walked away from the class I strolled alongside L, we discussed the meditation session and what we’d got out of it.  I admitted that I’d cried and she said she knew I had, that she had almost reached out to touch me with comfort but thought better of it.

She began to talk to me about my being upset, but she wasn’t talking to me, her guides were. A lot of what they said was so accurate it was unbelievable, it was scary and it was comforting in equal measure. I don’t come across spirits very often, and I realise I’m not alone with this fact, not many of us do. But I do believe that there is something out there that isn’t us in this human form, so I took everything she had to tell me without any kind of barrier at all.  I listened.

She told me I was already part way on my journey to finding out who I really was. That my tears that come so often at the moment is me letting go of the past.  That I’m not actually rolling back down the hill towards depression, that this is a good thing, a positive thing and I should embrace it, not fight it like I have been doing. She told me that I’m not going mad, I’m growing. She told me to let go of my ego, to stop giving it power and to listen to me, my true me.

Connection number 2

I’ve mentioned on here a couple of times my efforts to make money to get myself back to Australia, there are lots of other factors besides making money that determine the exact date I get to go back but that’s all for another blog post. I have a friend in the Cayman Islands and she and I have been talking a lot recently about working together, there are a couple of ideas that have manifested themselves during these conversations but nothing concrete yet.  She’s been on her own journey of self discovery over the last couple of years and I can tell by the conversations we’ve been having and the way she presents herself that she’s in a much better place than she has been for a long time. She has always had a leaning towards a more esoteric,  spiritual sense than I have, but, and I’m sure she won’t mind me saying, it got lost in amongst the other things she had going on, it seems it’s found its place in her life now and she’s  all the better for it.  I have a feeling she may be part of my growth, a guide and a mentor when I need her, I also think we may end up working together in a very harmonious and mutually profitable way.

She and I were talking today.  I was explaining the happenings of yesterday to her and as I did I started to cry – again!  She supported what L had told me and encouraged me to get the tears out of me.  As I was recovering from my sobs she asked me about my writing, I told her my heart wasn’t in it, that I was too busy working on other things to think about writing for myself. She told me it was my craft, my art and that I should find pleasure in it. She told me it would be cathartic and help me understand what I was going through – all the reasons why I started it in the first place!  My brain refused to listen and my anxiety took over. She promised not to nag and we left it at that.

And Then This Happened

I had an email from the woman who is my manager and editor at Copypress, the company in America I sometimes work for.   She told me that my DA (domain authority) was no longer high enough for Hipmunk, the organisation I’ve been subletting my blog to, so they couldn’t give me any more work until I raised it somewhat. Doing that is a bit complicated and technical, but possibly possible with the right kind of work on it.

I can’t afford to lose the £150 to £200 I get each month from them. Losing so much money each month scares me and for a little while I actually thought about going to get a proper job. I panicked for an hour or so and then I sat and worked out how much more eBay listing I would have to do to make up the difference, and the answer was a lot.  The syndication work was earning me about £50 an hour, it will take me about 4 hours of Ebay listing to earn that much.  This is a major blow for me financially and to my time.

I was despondent to say the least; and then I had a thought. What if I do what my friend in Cayman suggested and write my blog again?  What if I do it for pleasure, for personal release, to better understand myself, AND to get it’s ranking back up?  Is this connection number 3? Is this the opportunity P told me I was going to get?  It might seem like a strange one at first, a kind of anti opportunity but as L said yesterday there are connections everywhere. I thanked my guides for this chance, for showing me the way to turn a negative into a positive and I started to write.

Here goes, lets see what happens.

A Small Experiment Continued….

Anyway, to carry on from my last post, I’m back in the UK now. I need to be here in order to work hard,  save up and get myself back to Oz and the guy I accidentally fell in love with while I was there. I’ve given myself 6 to 8 months to earn enough cash to pay for my flight and be able to live over there for a few months while we apply for a visa so I can stay as his partner.

There are several problems with this plan, and they are as follows:-

1. I can’t work in Australia until we at least start the visa application

2. The visa situation is very expensive, takes a long time & even after the loooooooong wait is not guaranteed.

3. I’m not known for my patience and I miss him dreadfully.

So my solution is, to build up my business, maintain my blogging/copywriting clients and the eBay listing work I do for a very dear friend of mine, while I look for some new customers to grow my business further so I can take it with me where ever I am in the world – as long as I have internet I’ll be able to work.  That’s my theory anyway. This plan is taking a while to achieve and I’m beginning to panic that I’m kidding myself about my ability to pull it off and I’m not going to be able to manage it. However, there is another part of me that believes in myself and my idea so much that I am stubbornly sticking with it for now.

I’m currently earning between 200 and 300 quid a week, which isn’t bad but I need more, and I mean a lot more! Bearing in mind that I have to eat, live and pay rent while I’m saving to get back to Australia,  I’m not a hermit, and for my own sanity, I need to be able to go and see my mates every now and again and I desperately need a haircut, wanting to earn more than this is understandable and acceptable. I have no intention of being greedy, just frugal, busy and hopefully, smart.

The dinosaur owning, entertainment agent who is so incredibly encouraging and supportive of what I’m doing sent me a link from an article she’d read in Saturdays Daily Mail written by a woman called Emma. Her blog, is dedicated to making money on line in unusual and ingenious ways without having to lay out any initial cash.  As far as I could see it was a no brainer for me to try so  I read what she had to say, inwardly digested it and then took a very rare few hours out of writing or eBay listing to investigate her recommendations. At her suggestion I joined several Survey sites, I studied matched betting and placed my first bet – this did cost me an initial outlay but I been promised by the very clever person who wrote Make Money from Matched Betting, that if I follow his directions to the letter I will get it back in no time. I made a huge leap of faith with this one and I sincerely hope I don’t fuck it up!

Emma also suggested other ways to get some cash coming in, things such as mystery shopping – which I haven’t had time to take a look at yet, doing jobs for a fiver on, the word fiver puts me off here I must admit, but I’ll take a look at it once I’ve investigated the things that really intrigue me.  One of her suggestions that made me sit up and think was something that’s slightly left of centre; selling old, worn and smelly shoes on eBay.  I have  box full of shoes that I probably won’t wear again, especially considering that, if and when, I get back to Cairns I rarely wear shoes at all and when I do it’s flip flops. So I thought, why not try selling a couple of pairs? Quite frankly I don’t care who buys them or what they do with them once they own them. There was also a warning from the ‘earn easy cash guru’ that anyone doing the shoe thing may be approached by enthusiasts of all things  to do with feet, for the shavings of skin that are left over after any pedicure I may have.  Once again, I thought about this and came to the conclusion that if I’m approached and offered enough money for my dead foot skin, I’ll sell it!

That brings me nicely as to why, after all this time, I’m back to using my website again.  I was so inspired and motivated by the story of Emma and her husband working their own hours and earning a decent living I decided that I would embrace it fully.  Everyone makes a living out of selling something and I understand from her business model, and that’s exactly what it is make no bones about it, that the major part of her income comes from affiliations through her blog.  I already have a blog, but when it was first set up I was either too heart sore or angry to think about using it for anything other than to try and repair my soul.  it  too lazy or too unimaginative  – it’s second incarnation, to really consider it as a revenue generator. Admittedly I have been earning some money from it with the travel syndication posts – it’s third incarnation and now its time for another change.

I am undertaking to do at least one blog post per week about how much money I’ve earned over and above my £250 average from my usual clients. At the same time I’ll explain exactly how I’ve done it and where it’s come from – HMRC are going to love me and my transparency! I am going to use all the knowledge and information I have learned about promoting others websites and apply it to my own, and I’m going to see how far I can get.  I currently have a mission to earn £1,200 per month, I haven’t hit that target yet. For April I’m going to up that to 1.5k and see how I get on!

Watch this space!


Hipmunk Hotels: Thrill and Adventure in Flagstaff, Saint George, Billings, and More!

he post below was originally published on


The beauty of the U.S. mountain states lies in their diversity. Imagine climbing some of the highest mountains in the country or driving through a wide expanse of desert lands — or hiking through beautiful canyons and jumping into a blue lagoon. You’ll fall in love with the beauty. Here are some destinations in both the northwest and southwest regions of the mountain states.

Photo by Annette Kirk via

Flagstaff, Arizona: Base of Your Adventures

Flagstaff is a city graced with diverse landscapes: picturesque deserts, serene  mountains, and pine forests. It is the entry point for your Humphrey’s Peak adventure and the Grand Canyon. Alternative destinations are the Wupatki National Monument and the Walnut Canyon National Museum, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history of the area.  Finding great hotels in Flagstaff should be the least of your concern. At DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff, your comfortable bed ensures a sound sleep. Plus, you’ll get a complimentary cookie upon check-in.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Home of Canyonlands

For a city, there is none more geographically gifted than Salt Lake City, which lies between the Wasatch mountain ranges and Great Salt Lake. You can explore the nearby Canyonlands National Park to explore. Take in the buttes designed by the Colorado River. If you prefer knowing the city more, check the architecture of Temple Square, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and in Utah State Capitol, to name just three. If you’re on a budget, you can find cheap Salt Lake City hotels. For its strategic location, Residence Inn by Marriott Salt Lake City – Downtown makes everything within reach and is affordable.

Saint George, Utah: Love by the Border

Situated in southwestern Utah, Saint George is near the border between Utah and Arizona, making it an ideal location for travelers who have long road trips in mind. Trek through Snow Canyon Park, and wait for the gorgeous sunset. Visit Sand Hollow State Park, the Mojave Desert, or the Pine Valley Mountains. You can easily find affordable hotels in Saint George. For example, The INN at Saint George offers great comfort for a very reasonable price.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado: A Dip in the Hot Spring

Hearing the name Glenwood Springs may make you think of the huge Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Imagine dipping your tired body in welcoming warm water. It’s an instant cure for your sore muscles after a day of hiking around the Hanging Lake Trail or enjoying Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. If you’re looking for upscale Glenwood Springs hotels, try The Hotel Denver, situated near the train station. This hotel provides great breakfast choices, and its rooms are elegant and comfortable.

Billings, Montana: The Thrill of the Magic City

Billings, the largest Montana city, is not nicknamed the Magic City for nothing. The name came from the city’s rapid growth, and Billings continues to grow. For leisure and business travelers alike, there are many things to do here. Pictograph Cave State Park and the Rimrocks appeal to the adventurous, while the Western Heritage Center and the Yellowstone Country Museum interest the history lovers. If you’re looking for Billings hotels that fuse the historical and the exciting, the Northern Hotel may be the perfect place for you.

Mountain state destinations are among the most exciting in the U.S. So go ahead and pack so you can find your own adventure.

How to Visit Cuba on a Budget

 The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 12, 2016.Now that Cuba’s tourism industry is up and running, we’re doing everything we can to educate our readers about how to make the most of their Cuban vacations. From knowing which cities to visit to learning how the country has changed and prepping for your trip, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re ready to visit but worried about finances, we’ve still got your back. Simply implement the following strategies in order to enjoy a budget-friendly trip to Cuba.


It helps to know Spanish.

Overwhelmingly, travelers to Cuba report that you’ll be more accepted if you speak Spanish—and that means you’re more likely to be offered lower prices and to haggle successfully. Even if you don’t have time to become fluent before your visit, learning a few key Spanish phrases will surely make the trip a little easier.

Don’t withdraw or exchange cash in Cuba.

Cuba currently uses two types of currency: the CUC, which is designated primarily for tourists, and the CUP (the peso national), which is civilians’ primary currency. (The government has announced plans to eliminate the dual currency system, but has yet to do so.) For the most part, tourists will be dealing in CUCs, but budget-friendly travelers may want to keep a few CUPs on hand (more on that later). In either case, it’s smart to exchange your money before arriving in Cuba—otherwise you’ll incur a10% penalty to exchange dollars to CUCs. Similarly, avoid using credit cardswhenever possible, as fees are quite steep.

Search Havana Hotels


Plan for exit and entry.

You’ll be charged $25 CUC to enter Cuba, and another $25 CUC when you fly out of the airport. Go ahead and set aside $50 CUC before your trip so you aren’t caught by surprise on the way in or out of the country. While you’re at it, set aside another $20-$25 CUC for the taxi ride from the airport.

Take advantage of cheap eats.

Want to save money on food? Then seek out local establishments that operate on pesos (namely, street food vendors and peso restaurants). This can be a serious money saver—think the difference between paying $0.80 or $8.00 for a sandwich. If you’re staying in a casa particular (aka a private homestay), this is also a good place to eat cheaply—meals tend to be huge (meaning you can split one dish between two people) and less expensive than meals at touristy restaurants. Or hit up hotel buffets for a meal that will fill you up for around $8 CUC.

Pack your own snacks and toiletries.

Basic toiletries and medical supplies—think sunscreen, Aspirin, and contact lens solution—are either very expensive or totally unavailable in Cuba, so don’t assume that you can pick up supplies once you’ve arrived. Instead, bring along any toiletries that you can’t go without. Same goes for your favorite snack foods.

Get mobile like a local.

Cuba has designated tourist buses, and (not surprisingly) they can  be a bit of a money trap. You’ll save on transportation by taking public buses, camiones (i.e open-backed trucks), or shared taxis. As an added bonus, local transportation tends to operate on a more flexible timetable than the tourist buses.


Entertain thyself.

Cuba has a vibrant nightlife scene, and you can drink for change if you stick to local establishments. (A good rule of thumb: Avoid any club that charges an entrance fee.) If you’re not sure where to go, ask your casa hosts or local street vendors for suggestions. If the club scene isn’t your thing, you can still find cheap entertainment in the form of museums, which typically charge only $1-2 CUC for entry. Just be aware that many museums charge an additional fee for anyone who wants to take photos.

While Cuba may not be the cheapest destination around, there are plenty of deals to be had for the frugal traveler. Just remember: When in doubt, act like a local.



A Small Experiment

I started this blog 2 years ago, for the first year or so I used it as an on-line diary to record my feelings about the end of my marriage,  and as a friend of mine pointed out on Sunday, I spilled my guts. I’m glad I did. It was cathartic and creative and opened up a whole new world to me.

It made me realise I had a talent for the written word and I started to explore it a bit.  I started writing a book, (no where near finished), I read my blog posts in front of an audience at open mics and reduced people to tears – I loved that bit of validation, and I somehow managed to pick up some work writing biogs for the escorts for an on-line escort agency. It didn’t last long because I was a bit naive, the woman I worked for was far too demanding in terms of deadlines etc. and I pissed her off because I emailed her to ask her if she had anything she wanted doing, one day when I was really skint.  So that was that over and done with.  A good friend worked in the advertising department for a bi monthly magazine called Northern Life, in a very supportive way she showed my blog to her editor who loved what I was doing and in turn offered me the chance to write an article about my newly found single status and my up and coming adventures.  She said she couldn’t pay me but I didn’t really care, she offered me 1,200 words for each publication and the first time I saw my name and photographs in print in a glossy magazine I cried – in a good way.

I did some work for another good friend of mine on her website, a blog post every now and again for the site she uses for her extremely successful entertainments agency business Big Foot Events, and helped her with the copy for  her website when she imported a dinosaur suit from China.

After a conversation in a pub with an acquaintance who runs a mobile chiropody business  and was struggling with her website and it’s place in the growth and development of  her business, I offered my services as a blogger and we started working together to see what we could achieve.

Then I went travelling for a year. I mostly lost interest in sharing my thoughts, I was either too busy having a great time or so lonely and a bit confused about what I was up to that I didn’t want to share or I couldn’t be bothered.  So I ignored all my creativity.  I’d already decided hat I wasn’t going to work very much in the year I was away, so I didn’t look too hard for an income but accepted what fell in my lap.  I’d been dabbling in some travel writing for a company in America and they offered me money to syndicate some of their posts on my site, it was an offer that was too good to miss, so I agreed and in my mind I whored my site out to others.  This caused me to completely lose sight of it’s original intention and fall out of love with it entirely. The money, however, is gratefully received.

While I was away but semi settled in Australia, another friend – there’s a theme here can you tell? – alerted me to a company in Devon she’d had a conversation with through her work, who were looking for a blogger.  She gave me an email address and I wasted no time in contacting them.  I work for them now too, they have a great product, are full of amazing ideas and are always willing to listen to my suggestions.  I, in turn,  don’t complain or charge them when we have a 90 minute conference call on a Friday evening.

As with all my clients, I work hard for them, I dedicate myself to learning as much as I can  to make their posts read and perform well for their SEO needs.  I talk a good talk and without lying, I’ve managed to convince them, and me, that I know what I’m on about. And now I’ve realised I actually do!  I’m never going to be a guru or Bill Gates, there are still times when I look at what I’ve got to do and almost say I can’t because it scares me so much but I get my head down and crack on with the job I’ve been given, whatever it is. I’ve become a thorough researcher, which for a woman who’s personality test once said my eye for detail was shit, is nothing short of a bloody miracle.

I can honestly say that I have made a difference to the businesses I work with, the chiropody site comes up on the first page of Google now in all the geographical and keyword areas she needed it to, my clients in Devon can cut down their pay per click expenditure and that bloody dinosaur never has a minute to himself!



This Airport Robot Helps Travelers Catch Their Flights

If you’ve ever felt the jolt of panic that comes with realizing that your plane is boarding in a few minutes and you’re still utterly lost in the airport, you’re not alone. But that panic may soon be alleviated at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, where lost travelers may be greeted by a helpful robot who can accompany them to their gates.

The robot in the “Spencer” project completed his trial run at Schiphol during the week of November 30, reports A lot of people are banking on his success: Theimpetus for the project came from Dutch airline KLM, which found that it was losing money because its passengers were routinely getting lost in Schiphol and missing their flights as a result. The project is funded by the European Commission and has included input from researchers and business leaders across five countries.

Much of the team’s time has been devoted to programming the robot so that it’s able to navigate the busy airport environment without bumping into people, luggage carts, walls, suitcases, and the like. Researchers at Örebro University in Sweden believe they’ve met this challenge by programming the robot to map its surroundings and make real-time adjustments to its own trajectory.

With the trial run complete, the team will continue to make adjustments over the next several months in anticipation of the robot’s official premier in March 2016.

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Encounters of the Robotic Kind

Spencer will travel throughout the airport on his own, so that travelers who spot him can approach him directly for help. The robot has been given a human-like shape, complete with “eyes” and a “face,” in order to make it more approachable. In order to accommodate international travelers, it’s capable of communicating in several languages.

The robot also boasts an information screen on its “chest,” and travelers may pose their questions and get directions through the screen. But Spencer’s willingness to help doesn’t stop there. He’ll also accompany hopelessly lost travelers through the airport to their gate. The robot has even been given the ability to look around and confirm that the passengers it’s leading are keeping up.

In the future, the robot’s creators anticipate that it will be able to check in with passengers who have missed their flights in order to provide them with up-to-date information regarding when they’ll finally be able to get off the ground. It’s also quite likely that, should this project prove successful, it may inspire the utilization of robots at airports throughout the world.

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A Robot Revolution?

Spencer isn’t the first robot to break onto the travel scene.

Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas cruise line includes robot bartenders who mix and serve cocktails ordered via tablet (with the occasional dance routine thrown in).

Aloft Hotels (a Starwood brand) has employed robot butlers that interact with hotel guests via touchscreen and are capable of connecting with the concierge, calling elevators, and delivering room service and toiletries. See them for yourself at theAloft Cupertino in Cupertino, CA.

Robot butlers are also being utilized at the Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley. Dubbed “Dash,” each robot is equipped to deliver amenities to guests’ rooms without any human supervision. The goal is to free up human employees’ time so they can spend more energy on face-to-face interactions with guests. Similar robots are expected to arrive in other hotels over the course of the next few years.

In what is perhaps the most robot-happy move to date, the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan is staffed almost exclusively by robots. The robots take the form of everything from dinosaurs, to fantastical creatures, to geometric shapes, to human mannequins. They help guests check in, lead them to their rooms, and should theoretically be equipped to take care of your every need (unless you need to speak to a real person).

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on January 22 2016.

How to Avoid Getting Sick on Your Next Flight

Forget snakes on a plane. Worry about the germs. Research shows that air travelers are at a higher risk for infection than people going about their daily lives.

Just how are illnesses spread on a plane? It comes down to two main factors: Airborne germs that are easily inhaled by people sitting in close quarters, or contact with germ-riddled surfaces on the plane. These factors are exacerbated by the dry conditions typical of airplanes, because viruses prefer low-humidity environments.

The good news is that, for the most part, airplanes’ air filtration systems function well enough that you’re unlikely to contract more serious illnesses. Instead, your greatest risk is contracting the common cold or a classic case of the flu.

While that’s all well and good, it may be little comfort to people who don’t particularly want to have a cold or the flu while trying to enjoy their vacation. Luckily, it is possible to decrease your risk of infection from germs on a plane. Here’s how to maximize the chances of disembarking the plane as healthy as you boarded it.

Don’t travel if you’re already sick.

If you know that you’re suffering from a contagious illness, do your immune system (and your fellow passengers) a favor and don’t expose yourself to any more germs by boarding a plane. In particular, the CDC advises that people avoid plane travel if you’re more than 36 weeks pregnant, have recently had surgery, have had a recent (serious) injury, or have a fever. In each of these cases, you’ll be traveling with a compromised immune system, which increases your risk of catching a contagious infection. Some airlines may be lenient with rescheduling fees if you can prove that you’re sick; contact the airline to discuss your options.

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Ask to switch seats.

If you find yourself beside someone who’s hacking or sniffling, it’s okay (really!) to ask a flight attendant if it’s possible to switch seats. Even moving just a few rows away can help protect you from a sick person’s germs. If there are no other seats on the plane, donning a face mask might help.

Wipe down germy surfaces.

Tray tables, armrests, and seat-back pockets are consistently found to be some of thegermiest parts of a plane. Minimize contact with these germs by using wet wipes to disinfect tray tables, armrests, and seat-back pockets and/or using hand sanitizer after touching any of these surfaces.

Wash your hands (a lot).

For the most part, your hands are your body’s primary point of contact with germy surfaces. Those germs (including cold and flu viruses) can survive on your skin for hours. The simple fix? Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or (in a pinch) with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Keep air vents open.

Circulating air is key to preventing the spread of illness on a plane, so keep the air vent above you open. And don’t worry—the air pumping through the vent is filtered and safe to breathe.

Bring your own blanket and pillow.

A Wall Street Journal investigation found that airlines tend to wash their blankets and pillows only every 5 to 30 days. (Yes, you read that right.) This means that when you borrow a blanket from the airline, you’re sharing a whole lot of germs. Avoid the issue entirely by bringing along your own travel blanket and pillow.

Close the toilet seat before you flush.

The spray that accompanies flushing spreads germs throughout the airplane bathroom; closing the lid before you flush will help you avoid contact with these nasty microorganisms. The flusher itself is also a hotbed of germs, so put a paper towel in between your hand and the flusher whenever you flush. And of course, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after using the loo.

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Stay hydrated.

The high elevations and low humidity typical of airplane travel have a dehydrating effect, which can provoke headaches, stomach problems, cramps, and fatigue, and diminish your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. The simple solution? Stay hydrated by regularly sipping water before, during, and after your flight. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration.

There are a few caveats to this point, however. It’s best to avoid drinking the tap wateravailable on airplanes, because airplane tap water has consistently been found to contain levels of bacteria well above U.S. government limits. Opt for bottled water instead. For a similar reason, be sure to ask for drinks sans ice—since many planes refill their ice tanks at foreign airports, the water standards may not be up to par with what you’re used to.

Moisturize your nasal membranes.

Cabin air tends to dry out our nasal membranes, which are the immune system’s main line of defense against incoming germs. Keep your immune system functioning at optimal capacity by using a nasal mist or saline nasal spray during the flight.

While all the immune-boosting strategies in the world can’t guarantee your health with absolute certainty, practicing these behaviors on every flight will give you the best chance of making it through a plane ride with your immune system unscathed.

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on January 22 2016.


This post originally appeared on The Girl and The Globe’s: Traveling In Norway For Cheap on 26 February 2016.

Norway is one of the most expensive destinations to visit in the world, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the country entirely. Despite high prices, there are a number of tactics that will help make a trip more affordable while still providing memorable experiences.


Gardemoen, where’s that? Less than thirty miles from Oslo, you’ll find this unknown suburb that’s home to the city airport. While that sounds like a far distance to commute in and out of the city for daily touring, Gardemoen hotels are a fraction of the price compared to inner city Oslo hotels, and a 23-minute high-speed train will take you to the Drammen district. At the very least, consider this area for your arrival and departure nights when airport convenience is key.


stavanger fjord

Photo by Maria Vittoria Fronda via

Stavanger’s natural landscape is the biggest draw for travelers, and exploring the outdoor playground is a budget-friendly activity. Look for Turistforetning hiking trails which are clearly marked with information or maps that are widely accessible throughout town. Many hikers and climbers choose to stay at hyttes, or cabins, within the mountains, but hotels in Stavanger are more comfortable if roughing it isn’t your style.


Norway is a summer destination just as much as a winter one, and Kristiansand in the south is a great option in good weather. Pack your bathing suit to swim at the town beach or at Hamresanden, a three-kilometer stretch of sand. Skip the saltwater by swimming in the many lakes, or simply enjoy the waterfront by walking the boardwalk, taking a sightseeing boat, or fishing. Waterfront hotels in Kristiansand are easy to find!


northern lights tromso

Photo by Backpack ME via

Tromso’s scenery is spectacular, but the views of the skies are best of all. Each winter, visitors enjoy displays of the northern lights. Spotting the Aurora Borealis is as simple as going outside after dark, but you can also choose to cross-country ski or snowshoe to more isolated spots. Joining a guided excursion is possible too, at a higher cost. Regardless, there’s an option for every budget. To save on Tromso hotels, look for Airbnb’s since owners like to escape the Arctic cold in winter and rent their apartments out.


Trondheim is home to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and with 25,000 students in town, there are plenty of restaurants to meet a low budget. One of the best options is the 18th-century Tavern which offers specials on klubb, a Norwegian potato dumpling often cooked with bacon. Here you’ll get as many as you can eat on Tuesdays for less than 100 krone. Don’t forget to try the other student favorite: a pølse hot dog served in alompe tortilla. All Trondheim hotels can point you to their favorite!

If you’ve wanted to head to Scandinavia, take advantage of these tips and a strong U.S. dollar (the krone is at ten-year low) while you can.

This post originally appeared on The Girl and The Globe’s: Traveling In Norway For Cheap on 26 February 2016.