This American Woman’s Guide to Global Travel- Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

The final installment of my travel advice.


  1. Don’t be stupid- This one covers a lot of things, and I would hope it’s obvious but alas, travellers are stupid everyday so it’s on my list.
    1. Airports- different everywhere you go. Don’t be first in line, watch what others do and do it. They take off shoes, you take off shoes. They empty pockets, you empty pockets. Make sense? And don’t SAY anything stupid either, even as a joke. See item below, sarcasm doesn’t translate well.
    2. Immigration/customs- No country in the world wants you taking pictures or talking on your cell phone in this area, airport or port or otherwise. Leave the camera put away. Turn off the phone. Follow the leader here, it’s a good place to act like a lemming. People go to jail for screwing up here, don’t let it be you.
    3. We’d all like to think that if we do something by mistake someplace out and about our government will run right to our rescue. And they probably would. BUT do you really want your stupid decisions to be the lead story from Katie Couric? Know where you are, know the laws.
    4. Wallets-purses- Having been robbed while on a trip I can tell you it is no fun, that sinking feeling when you realize you have to fly home without photo-id? Guys, wallets in the front pocket. Ladies, small purses if you must carry one. Both, leave some cash somewhere else, like back at the hotel or in a different pocket.
    5. Shiny stuff- that awesome perfect diamond on your hand? The Tiffany’s such-and-such? Leave them at home. Sure they are pretty, but they scream “rob me”. Even if you SAY you would happily give it to a mugger, that split second you take to decide because you are wearing some jewelry with an emotional attachment could get you killed. Most global crime is petty stuff like robbery. When you comply, you live. When you don’t, they panic. Can’t be pretty. I am right this minute wearing my $38 Wal-mart issue wedding band with my fancy schmancy ring safe at home in Colorado (writing this from my hotel in Brazil).
    6. There is poverty- Realize that if you are fortunate enough in your life to have the computer access you need to read this, that you do not know poverty. True poverty is beyond your comprehension or mine. Be smart, don’t flaunt your riches, no matter how big or small, it is rude and it’s asking for trouble. Poverty can prompt people that are genuine honest and good people to do stupid things for survival; don’t get yourself in the middle of that.
  2. Medical emergencies- So I’ve broken a rib in Africa, a toe/foot in New Orleans and needed an emergency root canal in Hawaii (all in 2010 actually). Know basic first aid/first responder skills. I broke my rib in the middle of Kruger Park in South Africa, talk about pain. However, it was not my first broken rib; I had no breathing trouble, no bleeding and no desire to go to a hospital in the middle of the African bush. I knew warning signs, and was careful, and I saw my doctor the day after I came home. But I went right to the urgent care for my totally black and blue foot in New Orleans and sought care for my abscessed tooth in Hawaii as soon as I could with a random dentist from the phonebook. Sometimes you have a zone of safety, sometimes you just go. Know when and error on the side of caution. You know your comfort zone best, listen to your common sense.
  3. Arrive ready - You are flying from New York to Munich? You land at 7am? Be prepared to stay up until the end of the day, 8pm at least. You might need some (legal and safe) chemical sleep aid. Use it. Offer it to your kids too, everyone needs to be ready and no one wants to babysit your kid on the airplane when you’re drooling from your sleep meds.
  4. Read before you go- You should find a few good places for meals before you go. Hotel websites, travel websites, are all good sources. Bear in mind that one reviewer’s opinion might not be yours, but if three people had roaches crawl across their food, listen and avoid.
  5. Sarcasm does not translate well- That is all.
  6. Travel with kids- Small kids good, large kids good, medium sized ones, tough. When kids are small and portable, no big deal on long-distance travel. When they are teenagers and bigger and stronger than you, again good. It’s the darn in-between-ers that always got me into trouble. Curious enough to enjoy but curious enough to stray. I’m not suggesting you don’t take them, but I am suggesting you plan a little better. If they are old enough to wander around without being in a stroller, make sure they have in their pocket the name and address of your hotel, in the local language. Teach them it’s ok to go ask a stranger for help, the dangerous ones come to you.
  7. Know the difference between cultural and criminal. For example, in Japan, cover your tattoo, cultural. In Dubai, kiss your hubby in public, criminal. Big difference.
  8. Sometimes you should pay more attention thru your eyes than your lens. When I took our kids to a Dachau no one brought cameras. This was such an intense experience, I wanted to absorb it all, and have them absorb it all, without the sugar-coated view from a camera. Find these experiences too; these are the ones that change your life.
  9. Have fun! I am proud to say that I have personally bought and eaten Oreos on every continent except Antarctica (only because I’ve not been there yet). I have had the chance to share our world with my children and my husband and I love it. I love to see what there is to see and learn about those places. I love to watch people, even knowing they are watching me also. I am amazed by this world we share and I want to keep seeing new places until I’ve seen them all.

This American Woman’s Guide to Global Travel- Part 2

Link to part 1 post

Part two in my mini-series of posts about my world-wide adventures.

Being There

So now you’re here, where ever here may be.

  1. You are a visitor- Remember this above all else. A great saying applies, leave only footprints and take only memories (or photos). This includes the ever important, don’t be an arrogant American (or German, or Aussie). People are kind the world over, you must be kind also. Locals are happy to help you enjoy your view of their land, if you respect them and that land.
  2. Ask a local- Ask for help when you need it. Ask a random stranger to take your picture. Ask a local for a good restaurant for dinner. Ask. Oh, I’ll include, admit to being a tourist and needing help from them, it’s ok.
  3. Be smart, not scared- Those things you read about stupid Americans winding up dead, raped or in jail? That shouldn’t be you. When you exit the elevator and some creepy dude seems to be following you and you’re uncomfortable? Turn around, go back to the lobby as if you forgot something. No big deal. A creep will get the point and most likely back off, and a good guy won’t be offended.
  4. Driving- Staying in big city? Do not rent a car. Really, don’t do it, use public transport and taxi, you will be a safety hazard otherwise. Venturing out past the big city, go ahead rent a car. That whole left side driving/right side driving is not as big a deal as you think. When everyone is doing it, you just do it too. Most of the world uses a set of common traffic/road sides, we Americans don’t. Learn the global ones.
  5. Be loyal- When you are stranded in a snow storm the week before Christmas and you need to fly from Munich to Denver, you want to be the loyal customer that the airline wants to help. Same applies to hotels. There are so many global brands out there, find one, any one, stick to it. Don’t whine about costly hotels, Holiday Inn has a loyalty program and very family friendly hotels worldwide (and I belong).
  6. Taxi- Learn about taxis before you go, but some are less reputable than others and if something is too good to be true, it probably is. One hint, when taking a taxi to/from the airport in Rome, tighten your seatbelt and make peace with your maker, ‘cause they drive fast.
  7. Cash- Keep some, you never know when someplace won’t take your credit card. In Japan most places won’t take credit cards, but theft is such a cultural dishonor, you’re fairly safe. In Brazil, don’t carry more than you need.
  8. Bad parts of town- Know where you are safe. In Amsterdam, don’t linger around the main train station longer than you need. The Red Light districts there are pretty safe, day or night, just don’t take pictures or harass anyone there. Read first, ask the locals, ask your hotel front desk folks.
  9. Blend- The less attention you call to yourself, the less attention you will get. That is the goal. However, I am realistic. I am a tall blond Caucasian woman; there was no blending in Japan. But in Brazil, though I am the tall blond Caucasian woman, I walk with my head up, not down, I know where I am and I do not draw attention to myself.

This American Woman’s Guide to Global Travel- Part 1

I travel a fair bit, more than most, less than many. I love it, I know I am blessed and I try not to take any of it for granted (for the record I totally love going home to Colorado too). I am often asked about my travel adventures and for travel advice. So here it is my advice on global travel. Some caveats… I am an American woman (and a mom), this is my perspective. Many of the things here will apply regardless of gender or nationality, but I am who I am, this is what you get. I am blunt, I’m not fond of too many flowery words, and if you get offended easily then this might not be where you should get your advice. Take what works for you, tell me your fun stories, I love hearing about adventures.

I think there are a just a few primary categories and will try to stick to them. I will cover planning and being there and then a miscellaneous group as well. I’ve never been much of a blog series kind of girl, but when I started writing, it was just too long for a single post.


I think this is as important as being there, but it is possible to over plan.

  1. Language- you don’t have to be fluent in every language of every country you visit. I think being fluent (or close to it) in any additional language than your birth language will serve you well. For me I am fluent in American English and fairly well versed in Flemish and that gives me great understanding of Dutch and German and a good feel for reading any other Latin-based/influenced language. I can read and order from a menu and not unknowingly eat monkey-brains, can find my way around a subway map and not understand entirely when the locals around me at a coffee shop are talking about that crazy or arrogant or wonderful American at the next table. You need a few key phrases (mine are in order, thank you, help and please). If you have some major life-altering allergy know how to say and write it in the language of your journey (maybe carry a laminated copy in your wallet?). Have written, in the native language, your hotel, and your flight info. Many taxi drivers speak broken English around the world, but you need to know how to find your way to your home base. I had a tougher time in Japan, but I kept out of jail and best I can tell I ate no monkey brains.
  2. The over planning thing- Let’s say you’re going to Rome and you’ve wanted to go your WHOLE LIFE. You know you cannot live a complete life until you see the Sistine Chapel and feel what Michelangelo felt when he painted its ceiling. If all you focus on is the details of that single experience you could miss such wonders as The Pantheon (this church was built before Christ walked the earth and still holds mass weekly, it’s one of my favorite places in Rome). If you try to see 7 countries in 7 days, you will get the stressed out trip you deserve and not remember or enjoy much of anything. Slow the heck down, Rome ain’t going nowhere, k?
  3. Packing- Only pack what you can carry, not everywhere you go will have nice pretty princess-y escalators, elevators or people to carry your stuff. Bags are heavy on stairs, wheels break off when you are far from home and that last train of the night will not wait for you.
  4. Packing, part two- Pack smart. Pack more underthings than you need, wear your jeans more than once, and layer your clothes. Comfortable shoes are better than cute shoes (yes, I really did just say that, get over it). Never underestimate the power of clean socks and a toothbrush to make you feel new again. You don’t have those? Wouldn’t want to be you after the 19 hour flight from JFK-JNB.
  5. Tell someone- Leave your itinerary and a copy of your passport with someone at home. Take a printed copy along for yourself too. Stranded in Timbuktu with no passport is bad enough, but with no one in the world knowing a thing about your passport, worse.
  6. Visit the State Department website- It’s full of info! , they have info on every country you could travel to, from visa details to safety info. Also visit the World Health Organization, , for info on health concerns like vaccines, and then FOLLOW THE ADVICE. You may be smart at what YOU do, these people are smart at what THEY do.
  7. Medicine- Look at the state department website for links to consulates and embassies for the places you will visit. Find out if the meds you take (prescription or not) are ok in that country. Plan at minimum to take just what you need (with a couple days buffer) and a copy of your script from your doctor. Ignoring this could send you to jail, no passing go or $200, so take this one seriously. Pack the meds in your carryon, all of them.
  8. Electronics- most of your common newish ones that you would travel with will be dual/multi voltage, read the label. My cell phone, Kindle, laptop and flat iron are all 100-240volts and just need an adapter for the plug to fit in the wall. Get a good universal one, but read up before you go to make sure your universal adapter will fit, there’s some wonky electricity out there (the same plug for Australia is needed for Argentina and in Brazil they have both 110 and 220 on the same wall right next to each other). Get a travel power strip too, you’ll need fewer adapters and I’ve only had an issue a couple times with putting too many things on the power strip for charging.
  9. House- So this is piece of mind stuff, but make sure your house/pets/kids are taken care of in your absence. You don’t want the call from a neighbor telling you some punk broke into your house ‘cause it was empty. Hire a college kid or someone else to house sit. It will cost about as much as your insurance deductible.

Let’s plan your move to Dynamics CRM 2011, it’s time

We’ll start by saying that yes, it’s probably time. With that said, I will concede that it might not be the perfect solution for everyone (quite frankly it’s more likely you just don’t know that it’s perfect for you yet). With a software solution as all-encompassing as your CRM moving to a new product or environment is not something to do without planning it out. I’m in the process of moving my own internal company CRM to CRM 2011 and this is the general set of guidelines and decisions going through my head as I do this. I know there is probably a longer list of considerations, I welcome your additions. We will start with the basic assumption that you WILL be moving forward to CRM 2011. For my company move we are working from our On-Premise to the cloud with CRM Online.

Timeframe- The first big (BIG) choice to make is when to upgrade. It’s easy to think you should jump right in and go for it, and that is entirely possibly the best choice for you. But you owe it to yourself and your users, clients and data to do it right, so think it through a little first. Things to consider…. Do you have server resources ready? A staging environment? Are your users ready and trained? Are you trained in what you are trying to do? Do you have someone to call on if you get stuck?

Data- Do you really need it all? Like me, you probably throw everything plus the kitchen sink into CRM just in case. Now is a good time to think if you really need it moving forward? If it’s ugly unneeded in v4.0 rolling it to CRM 2011 won’t suddenly make it valuable. Find and ditch the orphan records.

To the Cloud- I’ve said it before with v4.0 that most CRM implementations can happily and efficiently run in CRM Online. That statement is now even truer than before with CRM 2011. You’ve got the cool bells and whistles in your online environment now so why not let Microsoft data centers manage your uptime? Toggle your performance load so you don’t see those hits with the intensive processes you might use? It is a safe, affordable and reliable option for you, you owe it to yourself to investigate it.

Should it roll forward - Looking through our CRM I am seeing things now that could be done so much better in CRM 2011 than we did it in v4.0. For example we made a little module for project management, specifically to use Scrum to manage our software development projects. It works just fine, not a thing wrong with it. It’s done using supported customizations. Sounds on the surface like we should convert it to CRM 2011, right? My gut is telling me no, let’s rebuild it and do it better. Let’s use the built in goals for example, web resources, sub-grids, etc. So this project management module will be moved to CRM 2011, but not on our first round, we will build an independent solution to add on when we do it in a month or two.

Convert vs re-write- We use our internal CRM to process book orders for our book websites. We’ve got most of the work happening in three custom entities that talk with the system ones. I’m just going to make those custom entities by hand in my new environment. We’ve got clients with gazillions of customizations, their story is different. Mine is fairly simple, no need to over-complicate it. If you’re not sure and not technical, I have some advice for how you might gage this need. Do an export of your customizations and open the xml, it looks like code, but don’t let it scare you. Do a Control-F (Crtl key plus F key at the same time). This will open a search function in your browser, in the search box type your custom prefix (ours is CTC, so all our customizations start like ctc_customnamehere). If you never set your prefix, it will be the default prefix, new. So search for new and look for new_customnamehere. Tab through this and see how many customizations have been done. You will soon get a feel that each result is not an independent customization, so glance through them. You can then get an idea of how many customizations you have and then decide if the time commitment to re-do ad hoc is what you want or you want to roll the whole she-bang.

Supported or not- This seems to be one of the most controversial topics in CRM customizations, are your changes supported? What does this mean? When Microsoft publishes a product and any subsequent updates, they have a testing and implementation process, like anyone else. This allows for some control over the quality of what is out to the public. As part of this, some of the customizations that we might be CAPABLE of doing, might not be a good idea. Each customizer must decide the pros/cons of the change when it’s unsupported. The two biggest downfalls of doing an unsupported change, a push change from Microsoft might cancel out your change or your change just might not work. So if you decide to do some unsupported changes the best advice I have is to document document document. Then when the changes roll out, go check your list and establish a process for how to review and confirm these unsupported changes and their behavior moving forward. Moving your org from v4.0 to CRM 2011 does not change this process. Go review your list, read the documentation, blogs, forums, and see what you could expect with those unsupported changes in CRM 2011. Remember, just because you CAN might not mean you SHOULD, and if you still do, write it down somewhere (heck, make a custom entity to manage this in CRM itself).

The extras- If you are doing your upgrade in pieces, like I suspect many will, don’t forget some important things that are not really customizations and not really data, but could be just as important to your use of CRM; workflows and custom reports. This is another area where I think you should get rid of the stuff you’re not using and take a look to see if you can make it any better with new functionality. Sometimes you should just move it right forward, sometimes you might want to re-write it.

Where to get help- The SDK is full of useful cool things and hands-on labs to walk you through many scenarios that will make sure you’re ready for CRM 2011 in general. When you need specific help look around the Resource Center module in CRM itself. Also go to the product support forums, the team blogs, user groups and CRM MVPs like myself.