the stork has arrived!

I know, it’s been a bit quiet on the fly girl front – brewing a baby really took it out of me. Not to mention that he stayed in to cook for an extra two weeks! But he’s finally here, so I’d love to introduce you.

little Stirling Alan

little Stirling Alan

All the clichés are true. How can you not wake up every morning wanting to do more, be better, and feeling absolutely inspired (even on a couple of hours’ sleep!) when you wake up with this little face beside you?

the fail that was 2014’s resolutions

Happy New Year!

So I’m a sucker for a good resolution to break, and what better time to reflect on one’s broken promises than on the anniversary of when they were made?

Maybe that sounds a bit cynical; maybe I did better than I think? Last year I decided to make broader goals that focused on improving myself rather than overly-specific small things that were doomed to fail quickly. Before I make a set of new ones, here’s a little report on last year’s (which were made, drunk, on a beach in Madagascar having just become a ‘Mrs’ – in case you need some context).

Did I make a plan for my life and stick to it?

Yes and no. We achieved some big things, like buying our first home, quicker than we thought but then we also changed our minds and decided to start a family quicker too! So, while my ultimate “forever plan” to get married and start a family has been achieved, I haven’t sorted out any of the other details. In fact, I’ve made it harder because my career will now probably have to take a back-seat for a few years.

Did I learn to adapt to life changes?

Yes – see above for a prime example! Life is changing and is about to change again very quickly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did I have more GRIT?

Hmmm… yeah I don’t even know where to start with that one. FAIL!

Did I stop burying my head in the sand?

Let’s just say I improved, but didn’t stop completely. I do think I became more assertive when addressing issues and I procrastinated less, but this still requires work.

Did I exercise my brain?

FAIL. No I did not. Well, not in the way I meant to. I read a fair bit but there were definitely no French classes!

Did I exercise my body?

Another big fat FAIL. Actually, I did a bit by continuing volleyball but then I fell pregnant and that was the end of it. Does growing another human inside you count?

thailand’s proposed tourist ID bracelets

Just over two weeks ago, two British tourists were murdered on Koh Tao, a picturesque island in the Gulf of Thailand. The (grisly) circumstances still remain something of a mystery which isn’t helped by accusations of local police bungling the investigation.

Coupled with ongoing protests throughout the country (but mainly centred in the capital, Bangkok), tourism numbers appear to be down. I’m waiting for cold, hard statistics to come through on this before I leap out of my chair and blame a particular issue for the decline but the Thai Government is obviously worried because they’ve come up with an idea:

ID bracelets for tourists.

That’s right: Thailand’s Minister for Tourism has proposed the use of ID bracelets with a traveller’s accommodation details and, eventually, some sort of electronic tracking device.

Granted, this isn’t his only idea – curfews and local “buddies” were also suggested – but I want to hear people’s thoughts on heading to an island like Koh Tao or Koh Phangan and being issued with an electronic ID bracelet to avoid getting into trouble. An extension of the type of paper bracelet one wears for admission to music festivals or a nod to Big Brother?

Share your opinions below!

very special people

On any given day at work, I would talk to at least 20 clients but usually more. Some are my own clients, some aren’t. Most of them are from interstate which means that I may work with them closely for up to a year, planning their holidays, solving their problems, and learning about them as people, yet I may never actually have the chance to see them face to face.

Some are friendly, some are gruff. Some outgoing and some are shy. Some are demanding and some are relaxed. And some… well, some I just wish I could crawl through the phone line to wherever they are and give them a big hug.

The retired Minister who signs his emails to me with a “God bless”. The “two merry widows” who travel the world and include me when they send exciting travel stories home. The lady who came into the office to tell me about her holiday and gave me a reassuring cuddle when a relative had just passed away. Every client who requested wedding photos when I came back to work after the honeymoon.

These beautiful people remind me why I do the job I do, but most importantly they remind me how special we all are. When you go to a restaurant, or you have your car serviced, or your phone fixed or whatever you happen to be doing, the person who helps you is a person with a life, a purpose, a story to tell… These beautiful clients of mine know this and in turn, I am lucky enough to be able to get to know them as people too.

my dumbest obsession

Someone with an interest in pop-psychology, or hey, maybe someone actually qualified, needs to tell me RIGHT NOW why I have such an obsession with Air Crash Investigation.

Firstly, what is the appeal of hearing any kind of story where people die?

Secondly, why would I choose to watch a show about plane crashes when my job (read: livelihood!) kind of requires me to want to get on planes?

Maybe it’s so I can sound smart in the lunch room at work when I use words such as “aileron”.

"don’t drink the water!"

The first time I ever went overseas (to Vietnam) everyone was so eager to give me advice. It frustrated me that everyone thought they were a bloody expert when the only slice of wisdom they ever gave me was “don’t drink the water!” It wore thin pretty fast.
…Until now.
I can now say that, however inadvertently, I drank the water and MY GOD I have never been that sick in my life.
Off we went on our glorious honeymoon. It was meant to be three weeks of romantic newlywed bliss, just the two of us. Just us – no intestinal parasites invited, thank you very much.
Six days in, a lovely Giardia infection changed all that. In case you’re not familiar with it, Giardia is a protozoan parasite that infects the small intestine and, without getting too gory, can make you really ill. For me personally, it was the secondary symptoms that were the worst – the violent shaking, the sensation of chinese burns all over my skin and the stomach twisting cramps made the other obvious symptoms look like a cakewalk.
I fell ill on 21st December and it’s now the 18thJanuary; after some heavy duty meds, I can finally say I’m feeling much better, although I still have to take the medication for a while longer. I had to go back to work this week and let’s face it, I really could have used a stiff drink each day when I got home but alas, my liver is shot and I’m not allowed to drink.
The moral of my story is this: when travelling frequently, it’s easy to become complacent. It’s easy to dismiss advice because we are now the experts. Even though I was careful, this has been a big wake-up call for me – I might be reasonably well travelled but when it comes to world domination, the bugs win hands down.
Be careful folks. When people tell you not to drink the damn water, they really just have your best interests at heart.

resolution shmesholution

Ugh, it’s resolutions time. I have some I would like to make, but I also have some bigger ideas that I thought were worth sharing too. Maybe rather than make specific resolutions I probably won’t keep, I should make broader observations about how I can improve my life and focus on them instead. For example, last year I told myself I was a hard person to be friends with and that I should make attempts to be more social and it worked! As opposed to the one where I was meant to cook one new meal per week… yeah, that definitely didn’t happen. Nor did I stop biting my nails or cease online shopping.

  1. Make a plan for my life… and stick to it.

 

It doesn’t have to be concrete but it does have to be a vague idea of what I want, where I’m heading and how I’m going to get there. I’m good at the detailed “five-year plan” but I’m not good at sticking to it as I have a short attention span.

 

  1. Understand that life doesn’t go according to plan, and learn to adapt accordingly.

 

As above, I need to be more driven and not throw in the towel at the first sign of difficulty. Which leads to…

 

  1. Have more GRIT.

 

I was watching a TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth about students’ learning styles and how measures of IQ, backgrounds etc don’t have that much bearing on a kids success, but rather their stamina and attitude determines whether or not they graduate. I realised this is true, and can be applied to everyone, not just youngsters. I am guilty of wasting intelligence and talent because I don’t see things through and I don’t seem to have the stamina to follow something to completion when the goal is too long-term.

 

  1. Stop burying my head in the sand.

 

This is a gradual one; I see improvement has been made but I’d like to step it up a notch. I’m notorious for ignoring bad things, hoping they’ll go away… Newsflash: they don’t. They get worse.

 

  1. Exercise my brain… Not just at work.

 

Work exhausts me because I’m constantly problem-solving and having to practice my ‘lateral thinking’. It’s a great challenge, but sometimes we need other challenges to ward off the otherwise inevitable insanity that comes with such jobs. So, I’m considering taking up French again, or maybe some other class once or twice a week. Which brings me to…

 

  1. Exercise in general.

 

I know, boring. But this year I’m not going to get all funny about my weight and fitness. This year, I’d like to embrace some activities that are fun bit that just happen to get me moving. Sticking with volleyball will be good but also perhaps adding ballet or another form of dance… Just a new outlet that will keep me occupied and be a nice stress release.

confessions of a travel agent

No, I’m not going to get too controversial here (I value my employment)… But here are some things that run through my mind during a typical work day, and some nasty habits I have developed.

1. WHERE THE HELL DO I START???
Every morning I walk in and can’t figure out where to start. I’m usually completely overwhelmed. I constantly work to improve my time management and be more efficient, but things just keep getting added to the pile…
2. I TALK TO MYSELF IN THE MIRROR!
Ummm… What? Yep, I do. In the morning, I repeat little mantras like “Amelia, you are good at your job” and “no-one’s dead or in a Polish prison” (both of these things have happened before) and during the day sometimes I take five to sit in the bathroom and say “Amelia, you’re half way through the day, good work” or “you know, you could try looking at the problem this way…”
3. I DREAM ABOUT MY CLIENTS
Yes hello, did I just book your holiday? Well, I probably had dreams about doing so. Not the fun kind, more like the kind where you wake up at 3am freaking out about some minor detail.
4. I HATE BOOKING FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
I just can’t handle the pressure. What if I screw it up? (Very unlikely, might I add) 
5. I SEE MOST OF MY CLIENTS AS MATES
I hate it when clients don’t want to tell me about their holiday when they get back. It makes me sad. I care about all of my clients and I want to know they had the best time, or failing that, I want feedback. I love having a laugh with my clients and I want them to know I have their back. I know I shouldn’t, but I take each individual file pretty personally.
6. I’M PRONE TO THE OCCASIONAL STRESS VOM.
A complete overshare, sorry. Sometimes though a really stressful situation must resolve itself…
7. I’M INSANELY JEALOUS OF ALL MY CLIENTS.
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be if you had my job. You would be about as frustrated as I am. The worst one? I have clients about to do the same trip I’m doing for my honeymoon. I literally booked my honeymoon for them. Ummm yeah, I’m jealous of them because they are about to leave and I have to wait months. 
8. SOMETIMES I SAY I DON’T LIKE MY JOB, UNTIL SOMEONE POINTS OUT I HAVEN’T QUIT YET AND I REALISE I LOVE IT.
Speaks for itself really.

there’s more to life than travel

I’ve been doing some thinking.

About this age (oooh, the big quarter-century!) we start growing up, really getting to know ourselves, forging careers, pairing off, making big commitments and setting ourselves up for the rest of our lives. People follow their own paths and make different decisions, and of course have different priorities. Mostly, though, lives tend to follow some sort of pattern: school/work/partner/marriage/house/kids. Me, I’m all for the pattern. I’m not one for pushing envelopes. But times change and “the done thing” evolves.

A generation ago, you left school or uni and got a job and bought a house and settled down. You had kids and worked hard. These things were measures not only of success but of the calibre of person you were, and social status was gained by achieving these milestones. These days I feel like ticking off a list of countries is where the social status comes from. Getting married, buying a house, having kids are all postponed because of the idea we have to “live our lives” before settling down (with the implication that once you settle down, your life is over).

What’s frustrating me at the moment is the idea that traditional pursuits are not worthy these days; that we’re not living our lives to the fullest if we’re not spending half of them on planes. I’m sick of being told by my peers that I’m “too young to be settling down” when the world is out there waiting for me. It’s bullshit.

Why are travelling and having a family mutually exclusive? Why can’t we enjoy our youth while still setting ourselves up for the future? And can somebody PLEASE tell me why having kids means putting my life on hold? Last time I checked, children added a wonderful new dimension to life, and the best parents were the ones excited about having children.

Life is life. It takes everyone in different directions. But lets stop the judgement and start supporting each other because hey, next time life hands you a lemon you might need your friends to help you make lemonade.