My Journey to Pakistan

Call it negative publicity or just a case of bad luck but Pakistan is a classic case of a land whose tourism has been badly affected by the internal strife that has plagued the nation. But I decided to ignore the negativity surrounding the place and asked my travel agent to book cheap flights to Pakistan for me and my family. Being a responsible guy, my travel agent advised me that the expense of my holiday in Pakistan will be inversely proportional to the amount of planning and patience I display for this trip. The more the planning, the lower will be the cost of the trip as a great majority of airlines and hotels offer heavy discounts to all those who book in advance. More over the type of airline you chose and the class of travel selected also has a bearing on the total expenditure incurred on the trip. While booking our flights to Pakistan, our travel agent also advised us to try a home stay option where in we will live in a house owned by a local and get to see first-hand the customs and traditions being followed by local Pakistani people.

We reached Pakistan by a PIA flight that took us from London to Karachi in nine hours flat. When we first stepped into Karachi, we could see that it was a relatively modern city, which has over the years emerged as the nerve centre of business and commerce in Pakistan. As we found on our trip, Karachi was also the cultural hub of Pakistan and one could find upscale hotels, fine-dining restaurants and the city had a more or less cosmopolitan look.

My travel agent had carved out an extensive itinerary to Pakistan that included a trip to cities like Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Muzaffarbad, Islamabad, Balochistan and Lahore. One thing that I found common in almost all the important cities of Pakistan is that the most of them were blessed with scenic natural beauty and had an abundance of historical sites that reflected Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage. Our sightseeing tour of Pakistan included a trip to places like Lahore Fort & Badshahi Mosque, Shalimar Garden, Lahore Zoo, Lahore Museum, Mazar-e-Quaid,National Museum of Pakistan, Cathedral of Holy Trinity, Mausoleum of Hazrat Baha-ud-Din Zakaria- Multan, Mausoleum of Shah Rukn-i-Alam- Multan, Khyber Pass.

Bon Voyage: Organized Travel Planning

Well, summer is finally here, and for many people, that means vacation time! Whether you plan to drive, fly, or travel by other means (a cruise, perhaps?), planning ahead will help your travel experience go off without a hitch.

I not only love to travel, I love to plan to travel. I can spend hours researching locales and lodging choices, preparing itineraries, packing, etc. Therefore, it seems only fitting to share some of my well-honed travel planning tips so that you can benefit from my travel planning addiction, and enjoy an organized travel experience. The 11 tips that follow may be common sense, but are not always commonly applied.

– Create a Personalized Packing List – Create a packing list on your computer so that you can revise it constantly as you travel and realize what you forgot and would have liked with you, and what you could have left behind. My packing list is organized into the following major categories: Essentials, For Business, For the Beach, For Overseas Travel, For Active Vacations. It is then further broken down into subcategories that are specific enough to easily grab and check off each item without too much forethought (and certainly without that nagging feeling of forgetting something). My list has been customized over years of traveling. Make your list work for you and your family by personalizing it to match your needs.

– Freshen Up Your Suitcases – Air out your bags before you pack. There is nothing worse than putting clean clothes in a stale smelling bag. (Hint: A scented dryer sheet or lavender sachet can work wonders.)

– Check Luggage Guidelines – Go online and check your airline’s luggage guidelines to ensure that your carry on will fit, and that you will not be charged extra if you exceed the weight restriction.

– Pre-Pack and Weigh – Print out your packing list in advance, and start laying out items so that you can get a visual snapshot of what you are bringing. It is wise to pre-pack in advance, especially with today’s strict airline luggage guidelines. I even recommend putting the items in the suitcase and weighing it. Better to know if you will make the cut at home when you can still remove things than to suffer an unexpected luggage fee at the airport.

– Pack Extra Storage Bags – Pack a few storage bags for small items, like shoes, etc. Make sure that one is waterproof in case you need to pack wet bathing suits on the trip back home.

– Get Your Gadgets in Order – Empty memory cards, and charge your phone and camera before you leave home. Consolidate power cords, chargers and extra batteries in your carry-on.

– Refill Prescriptions – Refill prescription medications in advance, and pack in your carry-on in their original packaging in order to pass muster with the TSA. This also provides you with an easy way to remember the exact specifications in the rare event that the medication gets destroyed (melts in the sun, gets wet, etc.) or you are delayed longer than expected, and need to arrange a refill while still away from home.

– Copy Important Documents – Carry duplicates of your passport and visa (if traveling outside of the country), travel itinerary, and any other vital documents that you need for safe travel, and keep them in a different location than the originals while traveling. Consider also emailing electronic copies to yourself or storing at a secure online site.

– Give Your Wallet a Diet – Pare down the contents of your wallet to only what you need during travel. Only bring essential documents, such as driver’s license, medical insurance card (check to see if you have coverage if going outside of the country), passport, and credit cards.

– Alert Credit Card Companies – Contact your bank and credit cards companies before you depart and inform them that you will be traveling, so that they will not be alarmed by out-of-town charges and put a security hold on your account.

– Inventory the Contents of Your Suitcase – Take photos of your clothes, shoes, and jewelry, which will serve as documentation if your luggage gets lost or stolen. Download the shots onto your home computer or upload them to an online site just in case. It may seem like overkill (don’t all insurance and risk management measures seem so unless you need them?), but it will save you a lot of stress and money if your luggage gets lost or stolen, as well as peace of mind while traveling.

Now, you are prepared to travel. You can relax knowing that the essentials are in order. Enjoy, explore, and make great summer vacation memories. Bon voyage!

Relationship Travel Tips: 5 simple ways to avoid upsets!

This article was inspired by many of my own personal traveling discoveries and by the many complaints my clients have shared with me after their traveling journeys. I coach couples to be sure they get to know each other as a traveling couple and discuss all the details with each other before they leave for their destination. I teach them how to communicate with each other each day, so each listens with an open ear and open heart, avoiding upsetting or hurting each other. Many couples I see do not know how to communicate their wants and needs, nor listen in an effective way. I help them AND I can help you to master these essential skills and to become a successful traveling couple as well. Here are just a few suggestions to begin that process:

1. Get to know each other’s basic needs. You first have to do your own personal inventory to find out what you need to act pleasant and be happy while traveling. Then you can share this with your partner so she/he can understand you better and to avoid later upset. I know from years of traveling by myself that I need a half hour to an hour nap each afternoon if I am going to last all night. I also know I need to eat every 2 to 3 hours (I experience low blood sugar if I don’t eat regularly). My sweetheart knows this about me because I have told him (and he has experienced me when I haven’t taken care of myself, and that’s not too pretty!). It is also my responsibility to take care of my own needs, so I bring water and snacks with me wherever I go, and communicate lovingly when I am getting close to crashing and need some personal time to take care of myself. I have found when I don’t take care of myself I get irritable and less patient (this can be the beginning of a disaster and much upset!).

2. Sit down together each day to plan and discuss the next day, at least the night before- to assure each person knows the activities, itinerary, departure times etc. This is a good opportunity to honestly discuss what you may like to do and not like to do, a time to decide on an earlier or later time depending on how you are both feeling. Planning and discussing the details helps you avoid misunderstandings or disappointments later. Also make sure each person makes commitments to time schedules so that there are no upsets later. Synchronize your watches. Also, communicate about flexibility and time to have personal space away from each other. Many of us need time away from our partner to gain our own personal energy, miss them and regenerate our love. I found on my latest trip that my sweetheart and I really benefited by exercising separately from each other and then meeting up later for breakfast. We also took naps at different times and did some separate activities. Since we communicated each day about what we needed and wanted to do, we flowed well together and then were excited to share our experiences when we were back together.

3. Continually check-in with each other throughout the day. Be aware of each other’s body language. If you see your partner avoiding eye contact or not wanting to talk or connect with you, you may want to ask her/him what she/he may be feeling or thinking. Catching upsets early and discussing them, helps avoid big upsets later. I teach my clients specific communication techniques to make this process more successful.

4. Communicate openly and honestly. Be careful to tell each other all the details. On a past trip to Vegas, my sweetheart and I got into a bit of an upset. He underestimated how far it was to walk to The Bellagio hotel from NY NY hotel. It wouldn’t have been a problem if it was daytime and I was in shorts and tennis shoes, but I was in long white pants and 4 inch heals (he said it was a block). It turned out in my estimation to be about 10-15 LONG blocks! First I was upset because my feet hurt, secondly I was upset because he mistakenly did not tell me the whole truth, thirdly I was upset because he reacted to me like it was not Ok that I was complaining, fourth because he did not immediately apologize for misrepresenting the truth and have sympathy for my feet hurting (he did apologize to my satisfaction later after much discussion of my upset and needs).

5. Learn from your mistakes while traveling and each take responsibility for your part so you can mature and grow. Use each mis-take, upset and or discussion as an opportunity to know yourself and your partner better. I coach people each day to become more aware of their own behavior and reactions so they can learn and grow.

Traveling brings out the best and sometimes the worst in us due to situations we sometimes cannot control or prepare for. Every time I travel with my partner I learn something new about him and a lot more about myself. Use this opportunity to explore your intimacy and commitment from a different perspective and depth.

During your travels you can follow these simple tips outlined above for instant results. When you need additional more advanced support and help please contact me for some coaching sessions (310) 202-1610. I would be happy to assist you.