Coronavirus impacts on everyday life and global travel

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) coverage, it feels as though much more time has passed since first seeing ghost-town-like scenes of normally crowded cities in China. It’s hard to believe how much has happened in only a couple of weeks of global awareness. However, it eventually
reached close to home, impacting Montgomery County, Pa., along with cases even closer. While out and about, taking care of the usual errands, I had only seen on person wearing a mask over the mouth and nose. But in terms of items to buy, one local grocery store I shop at had been short on 12-pack of toilet paper for several trips. They’d have 4-packs or a lot of single rolls. On Wednesday, March 11, the water bottle shelves had much less than the usual amount out on shelves as well. Back at the store yesterday, the shelves were worse, including the bread aisle. But, note, there were 12-packs of water – for $24! Two of my cousins posted their photos of store signs listing limited items, including hand sanitizers and
household disinfectants.

Bread Shelves
Bread Shelves
Water Bottle Shelves, $24 for 12-Packs



It wasn’t until back home from Wednesday’s grocery trip that I found out an excursion into Philadelphia to visit the UPenn Museum had been
cancelled. I signed up with a Meetup group for my first time going to this particular attraction in the city, scheduled as part of free museum day around the country. Then, I was planning to take a train to get to UPenn. However, notices from both the Meetup event organizer and the Smithsonian, where I got my ticket online, informed me of the cancellation due to growing health concerns. Before getting word of that, I was figuring I should wear a mask and gloves.



On Friday, March 13, I decided to go to Ridley Creek State Park and after multiple attempts to get a parking space, I was finally on-foot,
trekking through nature. My goal was to check out a path I hadn’t taken there before and that, in turn, led to coming across a trail going off from a paved road. I’ll share photos from that hike in an
upcoming post. Anyway, with the parking difficulty, I almost gave up and headed home. I’m glad I didn’t, not only for having new hiking
experiences, but also because of what I found out on Facebook. Someone posted in a nature group page about state parks in the Montgomery
County area that were closed or would be closing soon as a result of Coronavirus. Another person commented, including Ridley Creek State Park, although it’s within Delaware County. A third person commented to include a link to DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources) and info on that park’s closing, which began today, March 16. The memo went out on Friday, which was a nice day as well; the
warmest day in the local area for this year and with so many businesses closed, people wanted to get out and enjoy nature. I wasn’t sure if I’d get back to the park over the weekend, so this past Friday was my last time for at least a little while.



Also, among locations of the gym I’m a member of, one in Montgomery County had already closed as this emergency continues. Where I go, along with at others, the kids’ section had been closed for now. That was until this past Saturday evening, when full closures included my gym location, others and local businesses in general. Another fitness challenge is underway and this time, I’m struggling to break through a plateau. While the gym temporarily isn’t an option, I’m carrying on and doing what I can to exercise at home and possibly any outdoor places that remain open. That’s also my part of social distancing for the time being.



Upon hearing that restaurants in several Pennsylvania counties were ordered to close, I’m awaiting word on another Meetup event. This one
is with a group to go to Talula’s Table in Kennett Square. The last I heard from the organizer is that the restaurant remains open. However, that was before the dining closures in effect now. So, I’m not sure where that stands at the moment.

Aside from physically going anywhere, something that got to me had to do with emails I began to receive from various businesses. Restaurants
and department stores were among them; I had never seen this before, coming from all directions. On one hand, these messages helped to know what efforts are being taken; yet on the other, it added to my own Coronavirus concerns. It was coming down to the everyday places;
precautions became necessary without traveling all over the country or abroad. People in distant countries and in the U.S. have died; others
have tested positive. From what I’ve seen in the news, depending on an individual’s overall health, they survive or sadly become fatalities.
Not only has that been scary, but so has the coverage regarding numbers of and access to test kits. I’m hoping this pandemic can be overcome before more people fall ill and even die.

In terms of horrible events that have major impact on travel, I was thinking about my online tourism course. There wasn’t much textbook
information covering the spread of disease. One chapter had a brief mention of SARS. Another had a section focusing on food-related illnesses and preventative measures with proper handling, preparation and storage. The textbook index listed items such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as safety (food service,
general need). However, it didn’t list these: disease, epidemic, health, pandemic, World Health Organization.

Although my textbook didn’t cover this type of situation in-depth, the ripple of Coronavirus on the travel industry and many others appears
impossible to measure. I know that world leaders will have to and are working on plans to save people and the economy. Not only political
figures, but also medical and business experts in this case. However, just being an average citizen, I can’t help but wonder how we come back from this type of problem and on a global level. When something bad happens in this day of social media, the amount of coverage adds to such thoughts. There’s the issue of accurate and inaccurate info among posts on various platforms, especially looking for the best
steps to take toward bouncing back. We have to bounce back and be able to return to normal, or as close to that as possible. I write “as close to that as possible,” only because this is a life-changing
problem all over the world; from everyday habits to health-related safety procedures by industries. It makes me think of how people say pre- and post-9/11 regarding security measures; now, pre- and post-Coronavirus in terms of efforts to keep surroundings healthy.

Stay healthy and safe everyone.

Posted in 9/11, Business, Careers, College, Coronavirus, COVID19, DCNR, Dining, Edge Challenge, Education, Exercise, Food, Health, Meetup, Museum Day, Museums, Nature, News, Pandemic, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Ridley Creek State Park, Safety, SARS, Smithsonian, Social Distancing, Social Media, The Edge Fitness, Tourism, Travel, Travel News, UPenn Museum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on studying travel and tourism from a marketing angle

Currently on a job search, I added my completed online tourism course to my resume and career sites such as LinkedIn. I included a great deal of information that I learned about the industry built on a spirit of exploration. Now, I want to go back to posting about that class, as a way to show potential employers my understanding of tourism, for which I scored an ‘A’ as a final grade. One of the first topics covered was studying tourism from a marketing point of view. Two other aspects of business were to follow, such as management and finance; however, my interests lean toward marketing. I learned that research on the public, their travel habits and preferences come into play. Anyone with desires to see the world, as I do, can relate as far as why a particular place attracts us and why we like certain activities on our journeys. This makes me think of how I would market a favorite destination and any stand-out things to do while visiting. It inspires ideas for putting together a package of content for other consumers to review as they plan an adventure. In that sense, marketing also offers ways to be creative in the process of getting word out about a destination. I could make use of social media as the powerful tool it is, in my daily tasks. So, promoting, one of the four elements of that field is what I’d love to do regarding travel. Eye-catching visuals and great wording about a place can draw me to
visit. The interesting research and creativity are also reasons why I could imagine myself in marketing, among careers in a corporate setting.

It’s my personal answer to the question of why study tourism with marketing in mind. However, the response I have about that, relating to the course content is this:

Many factors show why we should study tourism from a marketing perspective and the stand-out reason is consumers. Due to various types of travelers, it is necessary to know what they want as well as how to gear offers toward them. The right types of activities can be marketed toward the most interested segmented group of people.
Packages between multiple services (airline and hotel, nearby tours, highlighted sites) can be created based on a type of traveler. Also, as more customers are reached through those services, interest can grow in a destination’s particular experiences. Because there is a constant desire to explore, marketing in tourism always has a need to promote the industry and the connected services which travelers require during their stay. As we study tourism’s marketing aspect, we
can find out what draws people to travel and how to accommodate them in their journeys. New mediums have grown in popularity as ways to
assist travelers, such as social media and blogs. This includes what they see on these platforms, giving an idea of their time at a destination. All of these reasons in turn provide a wealth of opportunity for tourism marketing jobs, in order to help serve travelers.

Posted in Business, Careers, College, Education, Marketing, Social Media, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adventures in a loaner car

The new year brought about a surprise involving my car while on the way to fill up the tank and then onto the gym. Only two blocks or so from home, I got pulled over. It wasn’t for any reckless driving; my left tail light was out. No ticket issued, just 10 days to get the light repaired. A little while later, I was parked by the gym and called one dealership for a service appointment. The person I reached originally thought the whole tail light needed to be replaced and that would’ve made it close taking care of it within the given timeframe.
My car is a 2000 model and its tail lights had been discontinued. Luckily, it was only the bulb that was out. Because the first dealership was also booked, I went to another one nearby and through that, bad news of more work was needed. All four tires had to be replaced, my steering column had to be fixed and it would come to around $1400.

I had some plans that I didn’t want to put off any further, which led to driving around in a loaner for several days. So used to my car, I was a little nervous about what I’d end up with; if they’d set me up with a much bigger vehicle or too compact. In terms of size, however, the navy blue Chevy Trax wasn’t a problem. Its advanced tech features
gave me a few humorous moments, though. I’ll get to more of that.



So, when first hopping in, I thought the front-end seemed too out-of-sight, compared to the longer design of my Camaro. It made me feel as though I’d misjudge space in front of me on the road. The idea of having to be familiar with this vehicle so quickly for a 30-40 mile drive to King of Prussia was nerve-wracking. I felt unsure of its handling and the controls, etc. Buttons for angling the side-view mirrors were slightly stiff when pressing on them. I took this photo at home, before heading back to the dealership to get my car.



Once on the road home from the dealership and stuck in some traffic, I noticed my rear-view mirror needed adjusting. In taking care of that,
I accidentally bumped one of the buttons and next thing, OnStar was responding. Oops. So, I just let the rep know I hit the call button by
mistake.



Maybe not critical, but just for enjoying the drive, I couldn’t find the volume for the radio. I kept thinking it had to be on the digital screen. But no, it wasn’t there. I figured out by accident that if I
wanted to turn down the sound or crank it, the controls were on the steering wheel. But I liked having an updated system for the time being; my car only has a radio / cassette player combo. I’m always wondering why a CD player wasn’t standard for a year 2000 model, since buying music on that format was popular even during my high school years, 1991-94. I would love to get my car’s system updated so that I can plug my phone in and let iTunes play.



Going back to the side-view mirror issue, I thought I had positioned them to best seeing what was coming up next to me. However, at the mall, I made a left but realizing I had to get into the right lane for a right turn, I almost banged into another vehicle. If the driver hadn’t blared the horn, I wouldn’t have seen them in time. With the angle I had in the passenger side, I only saw the next car back from the one I almost hit. It reminds me of an ongoing issue with my own car; my driver-side mirror needs to be replaced and parts for my
Camaro year are hard to find. Until then, I take routes that allow me to avoid merging left.



After driving to and from King of Prussia, the front windshield had become so dirty and I tried using the wipers. This was another humorous moment, as the control setup kept causing me to turn the rear windshield wipers on first. However, once I finally got the front ones working, there was no washer fluid and the grime simply smeared.

I wasn’t sure if it was my driving and breaking habit, but it seemed bouncier compared to my car when coming to stops. But I think that was
on me. The Chevy Trax picks up with less effort than mine does and I was probably breaking slightly harder to make up for it. My car,
although sporty, has standard horsepower and at this point, a 20-year-old engine. I’m not sure what all has changed in engine power over the years and between two different types of cars. However, that may include newer cars in general having a little more power. Unless we throw in a muscle car, all souped up.

Also, I realized I had to take it extra careful on certain turns because the Trax is up off the ground but not wide-set. I used to drive a Chevy Trailblazer, which sat wider. As far as SUVs go, I liked the Trailblazer. I also love the new Blazer and its design; I wish I could get that for winter driving. Anyway, although I never got behind
the wheel of a Geo Tracker, I felt it had a similar feel to the Trax. I did like that not being a wide vehicle, parking was easier. When I’m out somewhere, I get particular in where I park my car due to its width and long doors. The Trax made me less picky about that for the short time I had it. And if I had to back in, it has a camera for
safely going in reverse.

To sum up my opinion of the Chevy Trax, I thought I’d make these quick lists. Dislikes first, just so that I close on a positive note. In both cases, it’s partly due to what I’m used to driving and the features my car has and doesn’t have.

What I didn’t like:

– Up off the ground, but not wide-set
– Passenger side-view mirror
– Radio volume control on the steering wheel

***

What I liked:

– Smooth drive
– Gas mileage
– Camera view for safely backing up
– Locking / unlocking all doors from the key
– Comfortable
– Roomy; had to use it for a grocery run
– Updated stereo system




Although I have more likes, I don’t see myself trading in my Camaro for a Trax; it didn’t inspire that feeling in me of ‘this is my type of ride.’ I couldn’t wait to get back behind the wheel of my Camaro, which I love to drive.

Posted in Cars, Chevy Blazer, Chevy Camaro, Chevy Trailblazer, Chevy Trax | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Online tourism course completed, gained knowledge and new blog post inspiration

I just finished the last bit of classwork for an online tourism course offered through my local community college. As it was a condensed
winter class, the workload consisted of chapter readings, applying information to discussion questions for five-point assignments and
taking 15-question quizzes. Two longer assignments, but not all-out term paper level in nature, were worth 50 points; I scored 50/50 on
both. Other than my last four assignments, which I don’t yet know the grades, I got a 5/5 score. Most of my quizzes were 14/15 and
15/15; my lowest score was 12/15 on one quiz. So, I’m expecting a pretty good final grade. Hopefully, in the near future, I can follow
up with other related classes to study this field. After all, this was an intro to tourism, a field in which I’d like to apply my communication degree and skills gained through that. I’m particularly interested in the marketing aspect of being involved in travel and tourism.

In terms of pursuing work in travel and tourism, I decided to add various assignments from this class into my overall career portfolio.
While a potential employer may not necessarily read through all of them, I want to have them both as industry knowledge and as writing
samples. Prior to enrolling in online tourism, it had been a few years since taking any classes. So, I want to show continued strength in
written work even after a pro-longed break from academic skills.

Not only did I learn a great deal of information about the travel industry, I also came across various textbook sections that inspired ideas for upcoming blog posts. For lack of time, it was better to wait until the course ended. So, I’m gathering my thoughts about the particular content I read which had the travel blogger in me buzzing. Just for a preview, a few ideas include:

  • the type of traveler I would consider myself
  • special interest trips (which ones I would go on and why)
  • the career of a travel agent and working with one
  • various types of hotel accommodations (which ones I would stay at and why)
  • my own experiences in finding out about various tours
  • am I a responsible traveler
  • travel publications and ecotourism coverage
  • a post related to farm-to-fork dining
  • myself as a tourist and / or traveler
  • types of adventure travel activity of interest to me and why

The last one also reminds me of a question someone recently posted on a Facebook group focused on abandoned places. It was about whether or not other members of the group would visit a particular site, which I’ll leave until I get to my blog post idea about adventure travel activities. My photo for this post is from a recent short hike I went on at a local state park and brings to mind other adventures I’d like to take up – waterfall trail hikes and waterfall repelling. That would be at a different state park; not at the one where I captured the
photo, as the latter activity is prohibited. I listed the textbook content in order of chapters. However, I may or may not combine the
second and last categories together. Anyway, check back for these posts inspired by my journey into studying tourism. I hope this
educational experience leads to related career opportunities and more traveling as well; adventure awaits!

Posted in Blogging, Careers, College, Education, Marketing, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A few travel bucket list destinations, their highlights and studying tourism

An online tourism class I mentioned in a previous post has since started and some content in the first chapter inspired this write-up. Following a textbook paragraph about top destinations around the world and what makes them stand out, there was a list of 50 such places to visit.

Even though Ireland and its sites didn’t make the list, a cruise aboard the Connemara Lady is an example of one activity that I didn’t
know about until near the end of my short visit. I took the scenic boat tour on my last full day in the country and loved it!

But what are among the highlights I think of for a combo list of Ireland and although I didn’t get up there, Northern Ireland? My choices include sites and activities even prior to my study abroad experience. They include the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, Trinity College (where I stayed), Guinness, Book of Kells, Grafton Street in Dublin, Temple Bar, Kylemore Abbey, Newgrange, Titanic Belfast, The Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, literary tours and pub crawls.

I’ve only been to one of the destinations so far that did make the textbook list – New York. However, I don’t know if it referred to the
state overall or New York City. If the former, a number of sites state-wide are among my must-sees there; I still have a great deal to check out in the latter as well. Noting what I thought put certain places in the top 50, museum deals and theater trips were among such New York City attractions. Other destinations made certain highlighted sites and / or activities come to mind, as I imagined finally visiting them.

Destinations – sites / activities I thought of for their tourism highlights:

San Francisco, CA – trolley tour, boat ride to Alcatraz

Grand Canyon, AZ – Red Jeep Tours

Vermont – staying at cozy inns

Hawaii – volcano tours by helicopter

Lake District in England – seeing country estates, any literary sites

London – Changing of the Guard, Tower of London, literary tours, London Eye

Paris – Eiffel Tower

Loire Valley – castles and chateaus

Tuscany – culinary and vineyard tours

Venice – gondola rides, experiencing Acqua Alta high tide

Acropolis – ancient Greek history

Pyramids of Giza – ancient Egyptian history, tours on camelback

Australia – Outback, Uluru / Ayer’s Rock, 12 Apostles, Sydney Bridge Climb

Antarctica – Glaciers

Amazon Forest – seeing an endangered ecosystem

Machu Picchu – the adventure of arriving at this remote site

The first assignment for my class focused on the marketing aspect of tourism and it interests me because of my educational background. I
had journalism classes as an undergraduate and while some universities refer to such programs as a “j-degree,” at mine, it was a B.A. in communication. Before attending the college where I completed that level of study, my related career interests began at a local community college. Intro journalism classes included assignments geared toward writing broadcast and ad copy, as well as creating press kits for a sense of marketing tasks. I put together a press kit for opening a hypothetical Ireland tourism company in my local area. Later, an assignment for my global business study abroad trip to Ireland was to create a marketing plan. Again, it could be for hypothetical business ventures; mine was for photo tours of the country. So, while one of my
career pursuits related to college studies is to be in journalism, I’d also love to be in the marketing side of the tourism industry. I’ve
been drawn to travel for as long as I can remember. I’m just still lacking when it comes to checking off my own bucket list of destinations around the world. Maybe further studies in tourism will help accomplish that. I definitely want to visit the places I listed
above; they cover so many elements – nature, literature, history, architecture, dining. Speaking of dining, as I finished up my
marketing-themed first assignment of this tourism class, I came across an ad on Facebook for a page called Food Marketing. It was perfect
timing to see that, considering my textbook reading, as well as the growth in popularity of foodie destinations and culinary tours. Dining is not only a necessary service provided to travelers, but also an activity for immersing in a culture, similar to other interests such as the arts.

Anyway, I look forward to diving further into my current tourism studies!

Posted in Architecture, Business, Careers, College, Culinary, Culture, Dining, Education, Food, Foodie, Historic, History, International, Ireland, Journalism, Literary, Marketing, Nature, New York, New York City, Photography, Study Abroad, Tourism, Tours, Travel, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I’m Thankful for on Thanksgiving 2019

I felt the need to share some thoughts on what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving and as the holidays continue. The first two don’t need explanation.

Family.

True friends.

Hope about something personal – I just want to keep the specifics to myself until seeing how it goes, with the help of many common interests to build on everything. One person in my life has been rooting for me and that goes back to the idea of true friends.

The Edge Fitness and everyone there – Staff and other members are all so supportive. Also, there is such a great variety of workouts.

A recent first chance to hike Ridley Creek State Park – This was with others from the gym; it also gave me goals to take on the trails there again and do more hiking in 2020.

My college education – Skills I gained and kept up are important to me; college was a goal since before high school because I wanted a strong career. Also, I’m thankful for getting a spot in an online tourism class; travel industry skills coming up!

A good record of being appropriate online – I believe in representing myself in a professional manner for career pursuits and venturing into business. That’s a particular area I hope to add to what I give thanks for next year; a successful business for extra income.

Check out the links to two of my side gigs below:

Paparazzi Accessories – $5 stylish jewelry; lead / nickel free, animalfriendly, gender-neutral pieces

CafePress – my photography on a variety of items

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Business, CafePress, Careers, College, Education, Family, Friends, Hiking, Holidays, Paparazzi Accessories, Photography, Ridley Creek State Park, Social Media, State Parks, The Edge Fitness, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking on the Edge Challenge to its End, Charging Forward

The fall season challenge has come to a close and although weigh-in time had me a bit nervous, it went well. Stepping onto the gym scale gave me the results I estimated it would be, after trying the one I have at home. Numbers there were reading a mix of weights fluctuation within a five-pound range. At the gym, I was right in the middle and it was new low out of all my challenge scale moments.

As the closing party moved on, each trainer and his or her team was called up front and teammates shared their successes. It wasn’t always in terms of losing pounds, but sometimes what someone accomplished had
to do with becoming stronger and feeling more confident, fitting into new clothes, etc. In my case, clothes have been a part of it. I wore
my black stiletto ankle boots to the party because they were a style of footwear that I couldn’t always strut in. The area around my left ankle would swell sometimes in recent years. However, since exercising at The Edge Fitness, that swelling has gone down and I can finally rock some cute boots and shoes after so long! I forgot to take a head-to-toe selfie that night, so I’ll add one to this post later on.

Prizes were awarded in several categories and my trainer’s team had a winner for the grand prize. Congrats to my teammate and also to our
trainer because he has been a great help to us!

Tables were set up along the back of the studio to sign up for several activities. One involved being a team support member for gym members participating in the next challenge. Another was to enroll in that challenge, which begins in February 2020, for a discount price. So, guess what I did?

Yep, I’m already looking forward to a challenge that will get myself and others through to springtime!

Also, some of us are taking part in a separate challenge that started November 17 and runs until the end of December. It’ll be a great way
to help get through the holiday season of celebrating with food everywhere. I took this photo below during a family gathering several
years back and found it in one of my Facebook albums. Someone’s been caught!

Less than a week since the fall challenge came to an end, I took a body combat class yesterday for the first time. I enjoyed it right away, so I’ll be signing up for more going forward, as a great compliment to the kickboxing classes I’ve been taking.

Posted in Diet, Edge Challenge, Edge Strong, Exercise, Health, The Edge Fitness, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment