Sunday Stories for January 4th, 2015

It’s my first round up of the year, and – no surprise – there’s a mix of retrospection, introspection, and a little motivation. Here’s to a great 2015.

Barcelona Airport

Confessions of a former TSA officer

You know all this, right? It’s just hurts to read it in print.

Airport security is a farce. And yes, we laughed at your nude body scans. Yes, they are judging you.

Top 5 Tasty Treats at the German Christmas Markets

Visiting the Christmas markets is on my travel bucket list. There’s something about that old fashioned Christmas feeling that’s been calling to me for awhile. I’m willing to brave the cold for a taste of some of these yummy foods.

We ate a lot of food while visiting several Christmas markets, and I mean a lot! Gaining weight is part of the experience during the holiday season.

The Happiness Jar – Transform the Next Year One Moment at a Time

I love this idea. Whether to read at the end of the year, or just when you’re having a really bad day, or maybe have hit a tough patch of road. Count your blessings!

Basically, here’s the idea: Every day you add a note to your jar that describes a moment that made you happy, preferably with pretty scrap paper. The more you fill it up with happy and thankful moments, the more beautiful it becomes. Isn’t that just the perfect picture of what life is like?

The 7 Fruits You Should Eat More of This Month

I love the fruits of summer. I can eat berries and cherries by the handfuls. And more handfuls. And still more handfuls. But wintertime is tough for us fruit lovers. That’s why I liked this reminder to give a little more appreciation to the fruits of winter.

In the dead of winter, when your market bags are laden with dark leafy greens and root vegetables, don’t forget about fruit. Just tell yourself you’re preventing scurvy and load up on one of these 7 sweet winter fruits.

Interior of Vantage River Cruise

How much will your cruise REALLY cost?

Gone are the days of the truly all-inclusive vacations. From airfare to resorts to cruises, the tourism industry is looking to upsell its guests. I loved the post from my friend Zippy who provides a cautionary tale about what that great cruise deal may cost you. It’s still a great vacation option, you just need to know this stuff up front.

On board a ship there’s no pulling out your wallet, and no paying cash, it ALL goes on your cruise card. Here are both the charges you’ll know about in advance, as well as those you never really thought about.

12 habits of highly productive writers

My goal for this year is to Focus on Growth. And that mean taking stock of where I am, where I want to go, and making tough choices in clearing the way so that I can get there. One of the things I’m looking at is how I can be more productive.

No one else’s achievements take anything away from yours, or mine. The fact that another writer is working hard and well should be nothing more than inspiration, or at least a gentle prod.

Read original article here: 12 habits of highly productive writers

5 Email Tools That Will Make Life as a Freelancer Much Easier

Generally speaking, I don’t have a real problem with email. I get hundreds of emails a day and really work hard to only handle them once. I usually respond with 24-48 hours (depending on the complexity of the answer) and rarely fall deeply behind. While I’m not an inbox zero gal, I keep it at a manageable level. Even so, I found some good tips here. Maybe you will, too.

However, there are programs out there designed to simplify our email responsibilities. Here’s a look at five free tools that can help you manage your unruly inbox.


Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

2 Responses to “Sunday Stories for January 4th, 2015”

  1. January 4, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Wow! Haven’t been on a cruise for a few years – more of a land lover / mountain girl at heart. The numbers really add up fast if you’received not careful.

    Like the writer’s best practices article too-shared it on FB.

    Happy New Year MJ!

    • January 4, 2015 at 9:40 am #

      There are still some great cruise values to be had, I think Zippy did a great job of explaining how you need to be carefuly or that great bargain will become far more expensive.

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