Emergency preparedness for travel, Planning to Travel, Travel, Travel tips for Paris, Wisdom

12 Ways to Prepare for Emergencies when Traveling

Although I’ve been blessed to be able to travel to France for a month I have been lacking in adequate preparation. How serendipitous, for me, that the Traveling Latina placed this on her blog the other day. 

In my travels, and through trial and error, I became well acquainted with seven of these 10 items. 

I’m debating on “Emergency Cab Fare.” It’s not about having cab fare but I don’t know about putting 20 Euros in my sock. I rarely wear socks. How about my bra instead?

“Make use of Hotel Safe.” Well, that one’s debatable. I’ve read yes, then no, and back and forth. I use the safe and never had a problem. 

One of the most handy, which I hope I will not need, is designating an “Emergency Meeting Spot.” 

That would have been very helpful at the Louvre a few years ago. My mom slipped by my sister and went her own way. We spent 5 hours there, when we had allotted 3 hours to see the highlights. 

Because she’s over 79, with limited eyesight, and diabetes, we were worried. We had to send security staff to find her 10 minutes to closing. 

When she strolled out she insisted she was not lost, she was enjoying. She has the right attitude, but the rest of us missed getting to the Musee d’ Orsay before it closed.

I’d venture to say that the “Emergency Meeting Spot” should not be a crowded area-leaves out Eiffel and Champs Elysees. How about just meeting back at the apartment or hotel. 

“Information About Your Accounts & Will.” Oh, dang, now I have to tell the kids where the living trust is and my account access numbers. 

I’m sure they’ll read my Will and see what’s in store for them, before I pass on to the last great travel site. 

And, I do not plan to “Purchase Evacuation Insurance” for a remote location because as third World as I have traveled is tent camping. But I do think this is excellent advice. 

My friend and traveling sister is Amada, my writing group leader, award winning childrens book author, and traveler extraordinaire. She has a tip too:

#11: Write down emergency phone numbers, passport/visa number, medications, health insurance providers, and any serious allergies on an index card. Trade with your travel partner.

This info can go on the back of this free card. 

#12: And lastly, from a site I cannot remember, but it’s not my idea to claim, is carry a business card from the hotel where you are staying. If you get turned around, dazed, confused, or just plain tired of walking you can hand the card to a taxi cab driver. He/she can zip you back to your temporary home. 

And don’t forget that you have the equivalent of $20 in your shoe or bra for the trip back. 

Let me know if you have any emergency tips for traveling. The more the better. 

Parenting, Parenting our Parents, Planning to Travel, Quesadilla Generation, The Sandwich Generation, Travel

What’s the Quesadilla Generation?

Sandwich Generation

If you’re over 50, I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “The Sandwich Generation.” The term, TSG, refers to a generation that is simultaneously caring for parents and children. 

And what about the “Club Sandwich Generation?” Carol Abaya, who writes and lectures on the subject of the sandwich generation refers to people, usually in their 50s or 60s, who assist in the care of aging parents, adult children and grandchildren. I’ll pass on the Club Sandwich, thank you.

There is an estimated 8 million Latino baby boomers taking care of both elderly parents and children. Switching between two cultures and two sets of expectations is why I call TSG the quesadilla generation. Like melted cheese, one feels stretched and stuck to both sides of the tortilla. 

But recently I almost burned the quesadilla. I wasn’t watching the comal close enough.
toasty quesadillas

My focus was on my upcoming month long trip. Among the important issues like passport, tickets, transportation, and lodging, I also had to arrange for my live in kids to take care of the house while I’m gone.

Three young adults, ages19-26, (hey, no judgement-bad economy and all that) have to remember to buy groceries, feed three pets, clean up after them and themselves, water the lawn/ plants, go the mailbox, keep the house standing, not maim each other, and get to work and school without any reminders from me. They do know how to cook and do their laundry though.

Back to the quesadilla analogy: I forgot about preparing for my mother’s needs while I’m gone. There, I confessed it. How did I not remember to prepare her for my departure? Maybe because she used to be so independent, buen chingona mi madre, or because I have never left her for a month.

Mom’s diabetes has taken its toll these last five years. She is legally blind and hard of hearing-good reasons for her not to drive anymore. Mom hates not being able to drive. “Getting old is a bitch,” she says. (Yes, she really used that word). “Losing my independence has been the worst thing.”

vintage postcard of Bette Davis
Yes, getting older is no place for wimps. 

I usually fill her pillboxes with over 10 daily medications, take her to the doctor’s, groceries, pay her bills online, and make several telephone calls for her because the telephone voice robot can’t understand her, she can’t hear it or she can’t punch the large keypad on the phone menu fast enough. 

The upside is that after 5 p.m., she’s pretty well taken care of since everyone is out of work or school by then, but prior to that time, it’s a challenge. Mom refuses to have “…some stranger come into my house to take care of me, what if they steal from me. Did I tell you about…”

Although my sister helps with transportation quite a bit, she lives in another city and isn’t always available for my mom’s numerous appointments. With my departure, and school beginning, there will not be anyone to get her to where she needs and wants to go. Staying home for 4 days in a row is 2 days too much for Mom. She’s a pretty lively woman who likes to visit, shop, see movies, and dine out. She asked me to send her postcards, because “…you guys take thousands of pictures and then put them on that thing (digital frame) and I never see them good.”

Mom’s also pretty smart. Yesterday she called me, “I need to prepare for when you leave. Call that you know, that senior place where senior people, who need rides to wherever in those little buses, come pick up seniors.” I ‘googled’ that phrase, lol, no I did not, but I did find such an agency in my county. 

After downloading a 4 page application, I filled it out for her, forged her name (she told me too) and mailed it in. In 2 weeks a person from the Council of Aging will come and interview her, give her a photo ID and get her set up with a bus card that provides door to door service. She wonders if it’ll take her to the casino.

My niece, the Pharm Tech who just graduated, will fill her pill boxes. My sister will take her places when she can. My kids will visit her on their days off and call in between those times. I’m making calls to my cousins to ask them to drop by. With everyone’s help I’m sure Mom won’t miss my assistance, but I know I’ll sure miss her a lot. 

How To Europe, John Bermont, Planning to Travel, Travel, Travel tips for Paris, Trip to Paris

30 days to 30 days in France


If it wasn’t for the last minute a lot of things wouldn’t get done-Anon. 

This is the first time that I haven’t been obsessive-compulsive about planning for an overseas trip. But today I got a slight case of the jitters when I realized it is 30 days to my 30 day vacation in France. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve been there once before, or because I’m going with a friend who is fluent in French and it’s her fourth trip. We have our airline tickets, first week of lodging and that’s it. 

Maybe I’m not over-stressing because I don’t have to plan an itinerary to see Paris in 7 days. It’s kind of liberating. I can actually stroll, lounge, sip, watch, leisurely shop, peruse the vegetable markets, enjoy a film, or a picnic in the park.

These were my thoughts for a hot minute. Maybe I’m not over-stressing because I’m in DENIAL…OM…I am going to be gone for one month and trusting my home to my kids. They are young adults, two of which finally have full-time jobs and one who is in his second year of college. I can feel some slight fluttering in my chest. It wasn’t that long ago that I overheard that the middle one(over 21) was a beer pong champion. 

Deep breaths…find and read the Serenity Prayer…prepare a written document of rules and consequences-okay, back to the next 30 days.

Although I’m a fan of TripAdvisor and Rick Steves I  had a heck of a time looking for good advice-in one location- on how to plan for 30 days in another city. 

I’m a pretty light packer but the longest I’ve been gone out of the country is 12 days. I needed some no nonsense, practical advice on how to live, budget and be in another country.  

Along the Google way, I found an article by John Bermont who assembled a Packing List and Last Call form. It’s from his book titled “How To Europe: What to bring to Europe and what to do before you go.”

His website has a list of recommended “traveler’s supplies,” which includes travel books, clothes, electrical adapters, and the how to of rail travel all in one place. John Bermont is a pretty funny guy. He kept me reading with his sage advice:

Luggage Don’t be a burro. Let it roll.  

Credit card companies and banks: let them know that you will be using their rip-off services while you are gallivanting around Europe. 

          Vinegar, Vodka, and Latex gloves. Yes, those are on the packing list. Read and see why.


Each section of advice has a corresponding chapter in his free online 30 Chapter “How to Europe” travel book. If I read a chapter a day I’ll be set-I had better make that three. 

If you have any tips for a month in France, I’d love to hear them.

Normandy, Paris, Planning to Travel, Travel

52 Days to France

52 days and a wake-up (that’s prison slang for 53 days) until my France adventure.

Have you ever wanted to do something for most of your life and now that something is within reach and you kind of don’t believe it? That’s how I feel about going to France for a month.

Why France? Awe inspiring museums, bookstores, buildings, bridges, food-to name a few. I’ve been there once, for the vacationer’s  8 day fling with my sisters, mom, and daughter five years ago. We visited 7 of the top 10 sites to see in Paris, but didn’t get a chance to ‘feel’ Paris. Time constraints and people one travels with can do that to a vacation. 

After that trip, which was enjoyable, except for a very rude, bi*chy Frenchwoman at the train station (must admit we cursed each other in our own languages (French, me: Spanglish and English), I determined that I must go back to France for a longer period of time. One surly woman don’t stop no show. 

My preparation so far is to buy my airfare and find my passport. 

Musee d’orsay 
The only list I’ve made is the one in my head. It’s the sites I want to see. I missed D’Orsay last time because my mom “got lost” in the Louvre and we were there for 2 hours more than scheduled (but she enjoyed it). Besides D’Orsay:

Rodin Museum , Sorbonne, Petite Palais, Shakespeare’s & Co. Bookshop, the inside of the Paris Opera house, and probably 20  other sites. (I really should make a list).    

This is totally not me. I’m the planner with 2 or 3 guidebooks in hand, maps, itinerary, and reservations 90 days in advance, etc. I think I’m so nonchalant because I’m not organizing the trip for my family. It’s just me and my friend Amada (who lucky for me is fluent in French and has visited France 5 times). Or perhaps I’m not preparing as usual because I don’t believe I’m really going for a month. 
I’ve talked to my kids about my plan for a year. They are all young adults, 19-26, who live with me. They will cover the mortgage for the month of September, buy their own groceries, and water the plants. We’ll see how that goes. 

First place we’re going is to the Normandy region. Again, lucky for me, my friend has an international timeshare and there was an opening. We’ll rent an apartment for the 3 weeks in Paris.

I want to do that now, Amada says lets book a hotel for 4 days and then find an apartment once we’re there. That’s living on the dangerous side of the block so we compromised and will look for a place 30 days before we leave.

I hope we don’t end up in a hostel because there’s no room at the inn. 
via Tripadvisor

Now, where are those French CD’s Amada lent me a month ago?