Monthly Archives: June 2013

Breathtaking Virtual Tours!


This week’s recommended virtual travel tool is AirPano!

Meet the Team!

AirPano project is comprised of a team of eight, Russian men, who travel to the most significant landmarks around the world. At each sight they capture high resolution, aerial images and videos which are then uploaded online.

AirPano 360 Degrees

This online tool provides incredible views and access to some of the worlds most breath-taking sites both natural and man-made around the world. Click below to begin your trip!

  • The Top 20 (Link)
  • Seven Wonders of the World (Link)
  • 3D Panoramas (Link)
  • 3D Videos (Link)
  • Photo Gallery (Link)

Special Features at Your Fingertips

  • High Resolution Images/Videos
  • Multiple Views Points
  • Variations in the Time of Day Filmed/Photographed
  • Navigation Bar
    • Change of View (toggle)
    • Zoom Capabilities
    • Additional Site Information/Articles
    • Adjustable Music (Volume & Song)
    • Link to Google Maps

Note: These are large images/files. Be prepared that they make take time to load.

I promise, they are worth the wait!

Traveling with Children: Emergency Preparation


It is common for nature-based or adventure tourists to pack emergency kits. However, I would encourage all travelers to create a kit, regardless of the type of trip planned.  Youngsters tends to be high energy, courageous and perhaps a little more accident prone compared to older, more seasoned travelers. The reality is, as a parent/guardian you are assuming a greater level of responsibility when you decide to travel with minors. So, keep in mind the type of activities you have planned and remember to grab some essentials for your day pack.

Fist aid kit! Image by Graphic Fuel. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Fist aid kit! Image by Graphic Fuel. Retrieved from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licensing.

The Basics (travel sized):

  • Band Aides
  • Antiseptic
  • Gauze
  • Bandage/Wrap
  • Small Ice Pack (some can serve as a heating packet as well)
  • Copy of Medical Cards (front & back)
  • Compass-you are traveling after all 😉
  • Emergency/Contact Information**

As a special note, it’s always good to consider dressing in layers (weather changes), bringing high protein snacks, water, sunscreen and bug repellent.

** The story that prompted this post:

When my son was two years old, I spent a summer visiting my brother overseas. Sadly, it only dawned on me during the return trip home how naive and irresponsible I had been.  What if something would have happened to me in route? Although this is the risk any parent/guardian takes when traveling with minors-there are some things that can be done in case of an emergency to help you/your family. First, I would suggest simply listing additional information (i.e. names, language(s) spoken, emergency contact, special medical instructions [i.e. diabetic, allergies, etc.], along with start and end destinations) in an accessible (but still private) location such as in your child’s backpack, diaper bag, and/or suitcase. The parent/guardian should also keep a copy with them at all times as well.

I was fortunate that we had a successful and safe trip, but I promised myself I would do what I can to safeguard loved ones on future trips-regardless of the distance traveled (regionally, nationally, or internationally). I would encourage you to do so as well!

Wishing you safe travels-now & always!

Depending on the intensity of your trip, space and accessibility to other resources-here are some additional items  to consider packing and deserve an honorable mention:

  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape (101 uses)
  • Throw away cell phone
  • Poncho
  • Pocket Knife
  • Whistle
  • Gloves
  • Flares
  • Seal-able Plastic Bags
  • Matches (dry case)
  • Heating pouches
  • Small Radio
  • Maps
  • Language/Travel guide
  • Appropriate Apps

Travel Planning With/For Pint Sized Adventurers


Here is a list of things to consider when planning your first or next family trip. Although I was thinking about this from the perspective of young children, many of the ideas are applicable to travelling with teens as well. Just be sure you know your participants!

  • Don’t Overshoot: Keep in mind that if you are intending to take an annual trip-it might be hard to keep the enthusiasm going each year. Other factors such as time and money may also play a role in future.
  • Keep It Simple: Don’t be afraid to plan for down-time during your trip. This will help you and your kids absorb the experience. And, hopefully when you return you won’t be as exhausted, especially if you have to return to work the next day.
  • Stay Relevant: Recognize that as  children grow, so can the type and length of experiences you want them to have.
  • Be Appropriate: The trip should reflect his/her interests and age level. Including a tour of the local winery (although compelling) would be best on a weekend outing with my friends.
  • Going the Distance: Consider regional or state travel sites to test the waters as you discover what kind of travelers he/she is-understanding that this can change over time.
  • Alternative Transportation: Think about incorporating a variety of modes of travel to and from the destination as part of the experience-bus, train, automobile or airplane. Don’t forget other types when you have arrived at your destination which can be an attraction/experience unto themselves such as boats, trolley, horse, bicycle, balloon, walking, helicopter, etc. (former transportation planner in me peeking out 😉
  • Task Master v. Adventurer: Consider what type of trip you want. Do you want the trip to be scheduled down to the minute/hour (Task Master)? Would you prefer to have no plans-throw a map in the car, close your eyes-pick a location and move (Adventurer)?  Or, something in between-plan where you would like to end up, identify some interesting spots to check out and decide the rest as it comes? Remember since this isn’t a solo trip, you might want to figure out what your co-pilot(s) might like!
  • Engage: Involve your kids in the planning process: Identify (2-3) things you would like to do and let them pick. This will help them take ownership in the trip.
  • Surprises: Keep one or two sites, you hope they will like, a surprise to sprinkle a little something unexpected in the mix of activities.
  • Electronic Divide:  Technology can be a great tool to help distract your children and pass the time. But set some guidelines for use and limit their time. Also, remember that setting rules doesn’t have to be a battle-but it can be a competition! Use the iPad to find fun facts the quickest fact checker gets to select the restaurant or the first/next attraction? See who can wait the longest to respond to a phone text-looser buys travel snacks, etc.
  • Get Creative: If you are a working parent(s) this trip might be the most time you have spent with your child in one sitting for a while. Think of ways to interact with your child and get creative.
  • Connect:  Take time to ask (appropriate) questions, guide and most importantly listen. This can be a litmus test to how your child is really doing-with friends, in school, personally, etc.
  • Teachable Moments:  Covert or overt educational opportunities are everywhere-guides, museums, park programs, etc. Also, don’t forget how much knowledge you have to share as well.
  • Art of Imperfection: It’s the unexpected moments that can be the most memorable (all-be-it not always in the moment). It’s okay if the dinosaur exhibit was lame, the winding river was more like a creek, or the trip was way-laid by a flat tire inconveniently sandwich between two small towns. Your best travel accessory is hands-down a sense of humor.  Talk about an amazingly powerful teachable moment!

Hidden Treasures


It is rare to find an item that is capable of bridging several concepts to create a strata of meaning. I stumbled across something of great significance (even if only to me) and would like to share it here at RCompass.  I should preface this post by noting that I struggled with writing it. I found it difficult to properly convey the depth of meaning from the collision of concepts that occurred. So if you will bear with me- here is my account of how one small purchase made a lasting impact in my life!

My Purchase

Over the last few years, I toyed with the idea of purchasing a ring for myself. I knew I wanted something of value that resembled me-reflecting my life at least in some small way.  About 3 months ago, I stumbled upon a vintage ring online and then again, about a month later. Although I didn’t find the overall style striking, the compass setting definitely caught my eye.  However, it was ultimately the allure of the story, connected to this piece, that I found compelling. The seller, InVogue Jewelry, placed a small footnote at the bottom of the picture indicating that she inherited a collection of jewelry from her aunt who was an avid journal-er that spent a significant portion of her life traveling around the world. She would store her found treasures with a description/message about each piece.  This particular ring was in a little box with a note that said, “France, Museum Reprod., Real”.  

Ellen’s Story

After buying the ring, I contacted the seller and told her a little about my passion for travel and asked if she would be able share any additional information about my purchase.  It turns out that Ellen had a remarkable life that spanned ninety years. It was marked by an abrupt separation from biological family and later the loss of her only son; enhanced by a deep love she shared with her husband; steadied with perseverance to move beyond the circumstances unfolding in her life; and enriched through travel.  After returning home from a trip to Africa, at the age of 90, she passed quietly in her sleep.

By Design

The ring is an early Renaissance inspired, museum replica. It is set in a compass design with four, bezel set, garnet stones and four cultured pearls. At the center, is a small, square cut lapis stone. I associate this ring to paintings created in this time period which were often infused with hidden stories, captured subtly in the design. I can’t help but think of how much thought may have gone into the design of this piece? I can only speculate why Ellen may have been drawn to this particular ring. But, if I take aspects of Ellen’s story-it made me wonder if she also connected to (or believed in) the meaning and properties of the stones used?

  • Garnet signifies discovery and protection
  • Pearls represent transformation and innocence
  • Lapis is said to promote clarity and truth

A special note: In her home, Ellen installed a compass, thoughtfully in-laid in the tile of her foyer visible as she passed through the front door, returning “home” from her travels.

Our Connections

When I began developing this blog, I wrote the content for the page titled, RStory stating that,

“This blog is a nod to the compass (or rose compass) in its truest and simplest form.  Steeped in tradition, it is a tool that has been in existence for centuries, an aid, to find position and direction. This can be seen both in the physical world, and for me, a compass also is a symbol, an essence of how people may look for direction and purpose in life.

I have come to recognize that sometimes it takes time to uncover a serendipitous meaning and to see beyond the obvious facade. To my surprise, I had come to realize that the stones also had significance to me. After experiencing a series of life altering events, I began my Master’s in Tourism and Geography which I attribute to a major shift in my life’s direction (school colors red garnet).  My driving force is my family-specifically my son (his birthstone is the pearl). The lapis is linked to my zodiac sign (Sagittarius) which reaffirms the core (center) of my identity and, of course the compass which I refer to as my personal amulet and/or talisman.  I also studied French for several years. And have a deep seeded interest in museums exhibiting historical art.

Yes, it is enough to just admire something “pretty” and want to possess or own it. And, yet if we can derive something more, I believe those are the treasures ultimately worth collecting. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  This story reminds me that even inanimate objects can have a life all their own that resides in the experiences of the people who collect and display them. Perhaps this story was relevant only when filtered through my eyes and personal journey? I keep a copy of Ellen’s story with the ring. And I will proudly wear it for many years. When the time comes, I know that it will find another world traveler to keep it safe….and  it’s story will continue.

I would like to thank Dawn, InVogue Jewelry, for sharing Ellen’s incredible story which allowed me the unique opportunity to connect at a deeper, more meaningful level.  Here is a link if you would like to visit her shop on Etsy.

RingAncient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras note the use of garnets in the jewelry. It was said that courageous discoverers and travelers wore Garnets for protection, as they were considered popular talismans and protective stones. It was believed in those days that Garnets illuminate the night and kept the wearer safe (

Lapis Lazuli is a powerful stone for those who seek spiritual development. It brings mental clarity & emotional healing, and enhances judgment and wisdom. This stone is also considered strengthening to mind and body. Lapis lazuli allows us to tap our own inner power while purifying the soul and the thoughts. Helps us contact our spirit guardians. Augments strength, vitality, virility, mental clarity, illumination. Enhances psychic abilities and communication with higher self and spirit guide (

Pearls symbolize Purity, Spiritual Transformation, Charity, Honesty, Wisdom and Integrity, all the best within us.  Pearls provide a clear vehicle for the advancing states of wisdom, as well as a clean channel for receipt of spiritual guidance. Pearls can stimulate femininity and help with self-acceptance. They remind us to walk with dignity, providing a mirror in which to see ourselves and give us insight into how we appear to others. The ragged, rough grain of sand, transformed over time slowly growing into an object of great value and beauty. With it’s humble beginnings, Pearls symbolize innocence and a pure heart, and help us get in touch with the simple honest things of life (

Electronic Media: Urban v. Nature-Based Tourists

Pretty view from the bus! Image by TheGirlsNY. Retrieved from FlickR. Used under Creative Commons Licensing.

Pretty view from the bus! Image by TheGirlsNY. Retrieved from FlickR. Used under Creative Commons Licensing.

I wanted to pass along research recently released by the University of Minnesota-Tourism Center. It compares the use of electronic media among urban and nature‐based tourists. The research found that almost half of the nature-based travelers used the advice of friends/family to plan a trip oppose to on-line sites and travel reviews. However, during the trip they tended to accessed websites and Facebook to share their experiences.  Non-nature (urban) based tourists showed a slightly higher reaction to social media that ultimately responded in a change in travel plans.

Click here for an additional snapshot of the research finding from Compare uses of electronic media, among urban nature‐based tourists by Andrew Oftedal, M.S., Arielle Courtney,Graduate Research Assistant,&Ingrid Schneider, Ph.D

So what does this mean? It could be used to evaluate social media in the tourism industry based on the data collected and intended audience. In addition, this information can be tracked over a given period of time (longitudinal study) to identify shifts in technology trends such as  types of media/devices used.


Travel Gift Idea?

Image by Urban Outfitters

Image by Urban Outfitters

Outside of  travel books, I generally don’t support any one particular company or their associated products in my blog posts. However, with summer at our doorstep and the peek travel season commencing; I thought this would be appropriate to share with my readers.

I ran across an inspiring gift idea-ideal for any world traveler!

It is not uncommon for people to journal or mark routes and specific locations on a map. However, Urban Outfitters has a slightly different take on this old idea. Instead of adding notes to a map, they sell a product that allows a traveler to take it off .  It is a 32″W by 23″ H world map coated with a scratch-able material. This allows the owner to expose the places he/she has traveled to. Click here for a link to their travel gift idea page.

Tip: At a price point just under $40, this could make an excellent gift for a recent college or high school grad beginning their journey.

Check back for additional posts about documenting our travels.