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Hiring a Housesitter


Jet Lag Cures — An Update


Forgotten, And Now Found, Travel Tips


What's your "Tour Tolerance"?


A "Package for Two" can be terrific for one!


Solo Dining Spa-Style!






Home, sweet home! Be it ever so humble (or palatial, as the case may be), the "stuff" — pets, plants, furnishings, etc. — that make it "home"are precious.

How do you checkout a person you "hope" will care for it all in your absence?

Here are a few tips:

* Ask for names and telephone numbers of employers (current/former), plus personal references and call them. If the resulting conversations "don't feel right," look for someone else.

Go further, especially if you plan to be away for an extended period. Have a background check done — have the person screened for credit, security and criminal records.

* Leave contact information for people to be called in case of any emergency, like a veterinarian, plumber, a responsible friend, etc.

* Memorialize your expectations in writing — include the dates you'll be away, when to give the dog medication, take out the trash, etc. Signed and dated by both of you, it can be contractually binding; but probably more important, it will help reduce misunderstandings.

* If you've got lot of money wrapped up in "home," you may want to consider laying out a bit more and getting your housesitter bonded through your insurance company.

P.S. You may find the following newsletter of interest:
The Caretaker Gazetter is a unique newsletter (published since 1983) containing property caretaking and housesitting opportunities, advice, and information for property caretakers, housesitters, and landowners.

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Forgotten, And Now Found, Travel Tips — by Helga Hayse

Helga Hayse is an award winning journalist, writer, public speaker and video producer. She kindly shares with SoloDining.com visitors excerpts from her forthcoming book about her journey, navigating through the difficult emotional, physical, social and financial journey from wife to widow to solo.

When I travel, I usually carry a small diary in my purse. But sometimes, I forget it and have to write on whatever is at hand. While cleaning my office recently, I chanced upon a basket containing napkins, place mats, envelopes, menus, theater programs, hotel stationery and match books which had served as diaries of the moment.

Finding the basket and reading through the travel notes took me back to the real time experience of writing them. As I sifted through the items, remembering the circumstances and feelings connected to each note, I realized I'd learned a lot.


A restaurant place mat from Sevilla:

"A table for four at the edge of the sidewalk? Alone in a world of twosomes. I think I'm projecting again. At least from here I can hear the fountain and see the moon."

Moral: If you're hung up about being seen alone, forget it — most people don't notice you at all.


A napkin from a restaurant in Lake Como, Italy:

"Tipping the maitre d' works wonders. Men do it all the time — least expensive item on this trip. Remember to make a reservation next time!"

Moral: Get the table you want rather than the one they want you to have.


An envelope from a hotel in San Gimignano, Italy:

"Instant bond with Maria at the desk. Invited for dinner. She said just tell the taxi driver my name. Everyone here knows our family."

Moral: When traveling, trust your response to unusual invitations.

To read more of Hayse' writings — click here.

E-mail Hayse at: primelife@earthlink.net



Trip plans? What's your "Tour Tolerance"?

Package tours are tailor-made for many people — especially those who don’t care to fuss with planning a trip. They can also be economical. The folks who put travel packages together have forged connections and their planning is based on savings inherent in multiples.

That said, tour packages are wrapped differently — they include escorted group tours, small group packages for the more adventuresome and independent tour packages for do-it-yourselfers.

So how can you decide what kind of travel best suits you? The U.S. Tour Association, an industry group, commissioned psychologists to devise a self-test to help consumers decide exactly that.

Here’s a sampling of 30 statements appearing on their website:

* I would enjoy socializing in a large group, or, I like being with a small group.

* I like to plan fun things to do, or, I would rather let others plan my activities.

* I prefer people who share my interests, or, I can relate to many kinds of people.

* I try to be resourceful when faced with problems, or, there is little I can do to deal with life's difficulties.

* I like to have things my way, or I’m willing to compromise with people.

Participants tally their responses to determine which kind of tour is best for them.

Take the entire test yourself. Click: Package Tour




A "Package for Two" can be terrific for one!


(First published in the Winter 2003 issue of
SoloDining.com, the newsletter for both SoloDining.com and SoloTravelPortal.com visitors.) To read the current issue, click: newsletter.


Susan Spano entitled her 12/21/03 "Her World" column for the Travel Section of The Los Angeles Times — "Finding Comfort And Joy at San Diego's Hotel Del." Her column brought your editor comfort and joy — and fond memories.

Storied, elegant, traditional, the Del opened on Coronado Island (actually a 5.3-square-mile peninsula west of downtown San Diego) in 1888 and is one of handful of grand dames in the West such as the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, Canada, and the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

Spano chose to spend a night at the Hotel Del during the holiday season because: " . . . an overnight away from home of which we have only so many in our lives, every one a chance for bliss in some amazing hotel."

Almost 20 years ago, I chose the Hotel Del for its sense of safety and the comfort it afforded a woman beginning a solo existence after 20 years of marriage.

Tip to remember:

A "Package for Two" can be terrific for one!

When Spano checked in, she was offered a AAA "American Treasure" package for the night at $235 (Rates start at $200.), including buffet breakfast for two, an illustrated history book about the Del and a $7 parking credit. She accepted it, reporting in her story, "I kept puzzling over how to eat two buffet breakfasts . . ."


Spano mentioned having a drink at the resident bar, Babcock & Story, named for the hotel's founders: ". . . I overheard a young man in high spirits say to a solitary elderly patron, 'You're my kind of woman, drinking cognac.' That made me unaccountably happy."

I remember treating myself to dinner in the Crown-Coronet Room (chosen as the first state dinner held outside the White House and as a setting for many Hollywood films). I was seated at a table for four under crown-shaped chandeliers. (To see a photo of the resort complex — the Crown-Coronet Room is the grand turreted, window-bespangled structure to the right — click: Hotel Del) After 20 years, the details of that meal have faded; however, the overall memory is still one of solitary bliss.

Hotel Del Coronado — (800) 468-3533; 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, California





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