July 9, 2015


Dear Friends,

I’m proud to be associated with American Association of Individual Investors. There is no other organization like this devoted to educating investors. Over the last 30 years I have spoken to the majority of AAII chapters in the U.S. and on May 16, I presented to the Portland AAII. They’ve made available my 3 hour DVD and 22-page outline for $20 and all proceeds go to the Portland AAII chapter. But let me warn you, this is a one-camera unedited video of me talking for 3 hours, and responding to investor questions, including where the bathroom was located. And while I know the information and handout materials will be valuable to you, I don’t want to mislead about the production quality. All proceeds go to the Portland AAII chapter.

If you’d like to order a copy of the DVD and handout, mail a check for $20 to:
AAII Portland Chapter
PO Box 66034
Vancouver, WA 98666

Be sure to note that it is for Paul Merriman’s presentation. 

If you have questions, you can send an email to: aaiichapter_portland@yahoo.com

As it is summer and many of you will be taking vacations, I thought it appropriate to ask Aysha Griffin, my communications director and a full-time traveler, to write a short piece of advice based on her extensive experience. Our next newsletter will contain more Q&As. Stay tuned and enjoy each day!

To your success,

The Risks and Rewards of Travel
Guest post by Aysha Griffin 

 Aysha and her traveling companion IggyMo (who has his own Facebook page!) pose in front of a winery in Provence.

Aysha and her traveling companion IggyMo (who has his own Facebook page!) pose in front of a winery in Provence.

There are as many ways, means and reasons to travel as there are travelers, and finding what works best for you offers the most likely chance of having a the sort of experiences you seek.

Tours are the safest and most predictable way to travel as all the details are arranged and, with limited vacation time, this is often the best and most cost-effective way to visit new places. The challenge is finding the right tour among thousands of offerings online, (or better, get a recommendation from friends), but it’s worth the time to research, ask questions and, if available, read testimonials. While it may or may not meet or exceed your expectations – and there can be unexpected hassles and joys – you will have a new experience. If you are enamored of a place, you can return on your own another time with basic knowledge to help plan your next adventure.

The opposite extreme is what I’m doing – independent travel. This requires a tremendous amount of time in researching and designing your own itinerary, booking accommodations and transportation, and at every turn facing the unknown. You are on your own, taking risks, but although I’ve occasionally been frustrated, I’ve never felt unsafe. Common sense dictates wearing a money belt, keeping track of your belongings and not inviting crimes of convenience, like leaving valuables in plain sight unattended. If you enjoy this challenge and can “go with the flow,” chances are you’ll discover places and meet people that enrich your life beyond imagination.


But whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or choose a complete tour (or a combination), the bigger question is “Why?” Why do you want to go here or there? What do you hope to experience and/or learn? The clearer your motivations, the more focused your plan and, I believe, the most ultimately rewarding.

I’ve spent a total of 8 months of the past 12 exploring parts of Spain, France, England and Portugal, with an eye for where I might want to make my next home. Despite having covered thousands of miles driving through and stopping to visit many places in the majestic Alps and Pyrenees, along the varied and stunning beaches of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, major cities like London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon and smaller cities, towns and rural areas, I feel I’m still scratching the surface. But here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • Don’t try to see too much. Focus on places of interest to you and stay a while.
  • Make connections. Before you go, try to line up contacts via friends, relations or through professional organizations so you have local people to meet, even if just for coffee or a drink. Organizations such as Servas andInterNations offer excellent opportunities.

Servas, started after WWII as a network of hosts and travelers based on Gandhi’s philosophy that “peace is build one friendship at a time.” It offers verified travelers the opportunity to contact verified hosts directly to stay at their home for 2 nights (and more by invitation) and thereby share their culture and interests. Some hosts who cannot offer accommodation participate by meeting with you and sharing an experience, as I did in spending a delightful afternoon at the Guggenheim Bilbao with a local Servas woman.

InterNations is a newer organization offering professional expats a way to engage in activities created by other members. In Madrid, for example, I made a few new friends by attending an InterNations dinner and also a dog-walking group in Retiro Park. As my last beloved dog died a few years ago, this was a fun way to meet fellow dog lovers and their pets.

  • Try to live like a local. Rent via Airbnb or stay in B&Bs and hostels where you’re likely to have conversations and get local tips. The same is true of restaurants and cafes – seek out where locals congregate and initiate conversations. I’ve always found people are interested in travelers and talking about their hometown if you ask… so ask.
  • Hire a local tour guide when you first arrive to get oriented and deepen your knowledge of the place. Vayable offers a worldwide list of local guides.
  • If you have a rental car, prepare to be aggravated when driving and parking in cities of all sizes. GPS is invaluable, not just for navigating to places but for avoiding speed traps. Unlike the U.S., there do not seem to be highway patrol cops in Europe. If you violate a posted speed, a camera will record your license plate and a ticket will be sent to the address with which you rented the car. You can pay online.
  • Pack light. This is timeless wisdom. Unless you’re going on a trek to remote corners of the earth or an event requiring specific clothing, you’ll find you can buy anything you need along the way. Make it easier on yourself to move about and keep track of your belongings.
  • Travel doesn’t have to break the bank. Factor all your known expenses, add on a contingency fund, allot the money, and then enjoy your trip. Do not put off the adventures you say you want.
  • Try to appreciate everything – It’s a journey. You chose to embark on it. There will be challenges, and how you handle them will teach you a lot about your self… and will likely lead to grand adventures you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

For many more travel tips, please visit my blog for aseries of articles on money savings on accommodations, transportation and food, packing, meeting locals, and getting the most from your travels.

So whether you choose the less-risky planned tour or the increased hassles of independent travel, I say don’t wait. There is a never a perfect time. And there’s no substitute for travel. If you want to go, then go! The rewards far outweigh the risks.

Aysha Griffin is marketing/communications director for The Merriman Financial Education Foundation, a certified business and relationship coach, writer, editor and workshop presenter. She is currently offering “A Writers Journey to Cuba“. For more information, click here. She can be reached via email.

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