Some quick notes from Stockholm

As you all may or may not know, I’m over in Stockholm for only five days (my shortest trip here ever) for a conference. I thought I might enlighten you all with some of the things that are bouncing around my head here.

– I think the more you travel, the less of a problem jet lag seems to be. I haven’t noticed any problems this trip, even though I didn’t sleep at all on the plane over here. Does anyone have any good theories about why this is? Is it just that you know what to expect?

– As another sign of how connected the world is now, I was walking through central Stockholm, hopping on buses and trains, all the while talking to Theresa in DC on our cell phones. Total cost for this convenience? ~15 cents a minute. Impressive.

– I am strongly anti-pay toilet. Especially when you don’t even have change so it’s not even an option (though even when I do refuse on principle). That McDonald’s always has free toilets is the only thing that makes them worthwhile. (By the way, pay toilets were apparently common in the US until the Committee to End Pay Toilets In America (CEPTIA) was successful in the 1970’s. Hooray Wikipedia. Now that’s a cause I can get behind.)

– Fondue is awesome. I had dinner tonight with some family friends Hasse and Lena, and we had beef broth fondue. Delicious! And fun!

Travel That Benefits Others

Traveling is a wondrous experience. It opens our eyes to new ways of thinking and living. We meet amazing people and see breathtaking sites. But we also come across things that are difficult. We encounter poverty, and not just beggar-on-the-street poverty. We encounter poverty that is desperate, that is so entrenched that it seems impossible to overcome. When this happens, we realize just how fortunate we are. At the same time, we often feel so powerless. What can we do to make a difference?

Recently, I came across an organization, Charity Begins, helping travelers to do something productive–deliver needed goods to non-profits in developing countries throughout the world. Here’s how it works: A few months before you take a trip to a developing nation, you contact Charity Begins. They then get in touch with a non-profit at your destination, gather supplies needed by this group, and deliver the supplies to your door. Then you take the supplies with you to the airport, check them with your luggage, pick them up when you arrive, and deliver them to the charity. Kind of cool, right? You literally become a link between worlds.

So consider it next time you’re traveling to the developing world. Or if you’re not traveling, help out by donating needed goods. After all, charity begins at home.