Considering… Laos

Laos is one of those places that is stunningly beautiful and not as populated as most other Asian countries. This allows more breathing room when traveling to some of the top destinations and a nice break from the overrun tourist areas of nearby Thailand. Its culture is more accessible and isn’t as blurred by the tourism machine.

Laos has many excellent ways to volunteer for those who like helping out in communities while abroad. We plan to do just that. As we travel we do want to find ways to give back and this is the perfect opportunity. With programs like Big Brother Mouse Project, volunteers help children learn how to read and improve their English skills. There is also Cope, which provides assistance and rehabilitation to those who were injured during the Vietnam war (details on both below).

8063414758_764228e15b_k (1)

Continue reading “Considering… Laos”


How to Use a Japanese Toilet

Ok, this post is mostly for the ladies, but men might learn something, too.

For those used to western-style, sit-down toilets, something that resembles an elongated sink in the floor might be met with trepidation and confusion.  These are squat toilets, and they’re quite common in Japan.  Sometimes, they’re your only option, so it’s good to know how to use them.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading “How to Use a Japanese Toilet”

World Trip Planning – Building Country Selection Profiles

To help narrow down the list of countries for our round-the-world trip, I have created a basic planning tool. It will give us perspective on the best time to visit a country, the key things to know before going, and all of the logistics of covering your basic human needs while abroad.  As we do more of these country profiles, there will be more things to consider, but this template should provide you with a good start to your trip planning.  Our next step will be to create a ranking system, which we will present in a later post.


Continue reading “World Trip Planning – Building Country Selection Profiles”

How do Japanese Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Family are gathered, pies are baked, wine will soon flow (at least in my house), football is queued, and the bird is already releasing heavenly, succulent smells that will quickly infiltrate every corner of the house.  By the end of the day, tummies will be full, the room will be full of laughter and games, and eventually, we’ll all pass out in a food coma before our first holiday movie of the year.

So how is Thanksgiving celebrated in Japan?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015 Continue reading “How do Japanese Celebrate Thanksgiving?”

Money in Japan

In America, most walk around with a few credit or debit cards, and that’s all they need. Few carry cash. We use cards for everything from gas to shirts to dinner. We’ll even bust out the card for few-dollar transactions like parking meters and coffee. Even our sole-proprietor food carts take credit cards, and restaurants have to explicitly state if they don’t meet this widespread expectation.

Japan is very different. Continue reading “Money in Japan”

What I Miss About Japan… And What I Don’t

This week marks a year since our amazing trip to Japan (Aaron’s first overseas).  These 12 days are probably also largely responsible for the travel bugs that now fully infest our lives.

To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share some of the things I miss.. and some I don’t. Continue reading “What I Miss About Japan… And What I Don’t”

Maid Cafes

Of the many kitschy things to do in Japan, visiting a maid cafe usually makes many lists.  We aren’t typically ones for overly touristy things, and we often go out of our way to avoid them (tourist attraction undoubtedly leads to throngs of visitors).  But while we were recovering from having been inundated with the overwhelming noise and stimulation of the tiny Akihabara shops, we decided to duck into one of these cheesy maid cafes. Continue reading “Maid Cafes”

5 Fun Things to See and Do in Odaiba

Odaiba was an enjoyable stop on our last day in Tokyo.  It has so much to offer that we couldn’t fit it all in.  We’ll have many new things to check out next time!   Below are 5 fun things to see or do if you find yourself in this Tokyo district. Continue reading “5 Fun Things to See and Do in Odaiba”