Do You Want To Learn To Travel The World?

Today’s the day! My travel blog, Philliver’s Travels, launched today with THREE groundbreaking posts you won’t want to miss!

  1. The Drunk That Saved Pittsburgh!– A funny story from my travels
  2. Travel Hacking with The Basic Travel Couple-Learn how to travel without breaking the bank!
  3. An Interview with International Travel Writer Bel Woodhouse– Have you ever wanted to live overseas? Learn what it’s like to live and travel internationally from an expert!

Like I’ve said before, The Phil Factor isn’t going away, but it will have to share my attention with Philliver’s Travels, and as always, I am very grateful for your reading and support. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Top Ten Tuesday! Ten Travel Tips You Must Know!

Happy Tuesday everybody. Well, I guess it’s more of a happy Tuesday if you’re getting ready for a trip this weekend. As a prelude to my new travel website and writing venture, Philliver’s Travels, this post is a preview of some of the content you’ll see there.

As we all know, travel is fun and exciting, but it can be a little less than fun when things go wrong. So, to kick things off for my new site, I collaborated with freelance travel writer and International Living magazine/website contributor, Bel Woodhouse , to give you some things to think about before you leave home.

10. Have a “Go-bag” You know who has go-bags? Criminals & smart travelers. (One of those two are my target audience. Which are you?) What I mean by a Go-Bag, is when you travel, don’t take your home phone charger. Don’t take your entire medicine bottle from the cabinet, and for cripes sake, don’t take your toothbrush from home! Buy an extra phone charger, travel toothbrush, tiny tubes of toothpaste, and a weeks worth of your meds. Put them in your suitcase and leave them there! ALL. THE. TIME. That way, you’ll have less things to remember to pack. If you leave things behind at your hotel when you’re heading home, you won’t be out of luck until you can replace those items. As a man that has bought my fair share and your fair share of phone chargers when I get to a destination, having a Go-bag is a smart move.

9. (From Bel) Always have a good old fashioned paper map. Don’t rely on technology. Batteries go flat, coverage gets spotty, phones are stolen. Paper doesn’t let you down. I’ve had one in 30+ countries and have never been lost, mugged or had anything bad happen. EVER.

8. Count your kids: Traveling as a family? This ain’t your local shopping mall. Don’t take your eyes off your little ones. If there’s anything Home Alone taught us, it’s that you need to count your kids wherever you go. MacCaulay Culkin was left home alone and look how he turned out:

7. (From Bel) Know where you are, where you shouldn’t go and how to get back to your hotel, accommodation or nearest taxi.

6. Do the Math! Growing up, I hated mathematics. When you travel, it comes in handy. Just because it seems like you have plenty of time to get to your gate, don’t be fooled. If you show up at the airport Friday-Monday, four days of the week, you need to factor in extra drop off luggage line time and the security line time. On those four days there’s a higher volume of travelers and lines will be longer and slower. Also, if you have connecting flights, book your flights with at least a one hour and ten minute window between the first flight landing and the second flight taking off.  Trust me on that one.

5. (From Bel) Keep the majority of your money on your person, not in your wallet in case someone lifts it.

4. How to tip the housekeeping staff: If you’re staying in a hotel or resort with daily housekeeping, tipping them is customary, but how and when you tip makes a difference. $5 a day American is pretty standard, but should vary depending on the hotel you’re at. Let’s say you’re staying five days, do you dole out that $5 each day or wait until the end of your stay? Don’t wait until the end of the stay. Leave at least a $10 tip the first morning and spread the rest out over the week. My reason? Sometimes if you tip well early, you get better service, like a few extra coffee pods, extra towels, chocolates on the pillow, or just a generally better room cleaning. These folks work hard. Don’t be stingy!

3. (From Bel) Have situational awareness. Take note of what and who is around you. I was in a market in Nicaragua and made eye contact with a guy, then held my camera close until he moved past me only to push over another young woman and steal her camera. Know who and what is around you and keep an eye on your stuff.

2. Talk to the hotel/resort staff before going out: Not every hotel has a concierge, but the staff at every hotel is knowledgeable about the surrounding area and they always have tips and tricks to make your adventures safer, less costly, and more fun. Ask them if there’s some not so well known restaurants that are secret gems.

1. (From Bel) The biggest thing -Always be polite, manners get you everywhere in every country. Show respect. You are a guest and you’re not entitled to everything you want. I have seen many tourists be invited by locals on free tours and into their homes for a meal just by being polite. It opens doors and means the world to people no matter what country you’re in. It is the difference between a traveler and a tourist.

Thank you Bel for visiting #ThePhilFactor and thank you for being part of my Philliver’s Travels blog launch this coming Saturday.

Bel: “I love helping any way I can when someone has the courage to reach for the stars and try to achieve a new dream, project or just have a creative outlet. If you have the courage to try, you can enrich your life in so many ways. I used to be in the Navy, now I’m living my dream life in the Caribbean. Anything is possible when you have the courage to try.”

I couldn’t have been luckier to find Bel on IG (@thetravelbag.guru) and she couldn’t be any nicer. Come back on Saturday for the Philliver’s Travels blog launch and my interview with Bel. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

 

My New Adventure: Philliver’s Travels

Good morning and happy Sunday. As many of you have seen on social media, I’m launching a new website on Saturday, May 1, Philliver’s Travels.  The focus will be on travel. Over the last 15 years, because of my job and my desire to get away from the dreary northeast of the United States, I’ve travelled more than most, but not as much as some.

A beach in The Bahamas from my trip three years ago.

Unlike The Phil Factor, which has been all about finding humor in everyday situations, Philliver’s Travels will have travel reviews of locations, attractions and hotels and restaurants, educational information on how to travel hack to take a vacation without having to empty your life’s savings, and of course funny stories about my travel experiences. For all the smart stuff about travelling internationally and travel hacking, I’ll bring in experts for interviews.

Fort Myer’s Beach, Florida, on the Gulf coast

The Phil Factor isn’t going away, but it will remain more of an occasional blog as it has been for the past two years. If you have enjoyed my humor here, I hope that you’ll visit Philliver’s Travels regularly for that same humor applied to travel and the people and places I go. You’ll be able to find me on social media through a new Instagram, @phillivers_travels.

This Tuesday I’ll be giving a preview of some of the content you’ll see on Philliver’s Travels with a brand new Tuesday Top Ten list of travel tips from myself and International Living‘s (IG’s thetravelbag.guru) Bel Woodhouse! Have a great Sunday! ~Phil (or should I say Philliver?)  Btw, how many of you get the Philliver’s Travels reference? I’m thinking that about 50% of you get it and the other half just think it’s weird. Let me know in the comments!

Should I Write a Travel Blog? A Phil Factor Poll?!!?

A beach in The Bahamas

After 16 years of trying to be funny, I’m thinking of branching out. Over the last 15 years I’ve traveled more than most, but not as much as some. I love traveling and I love dreaming of new places that I want to see up close. I’m considering starting a travel blog incorporating reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants, interviews with real travel experts, and humorous stories about things that have occurred in my travels. Would this be a blog/website you’d want to read? Or are there too many travel writers out there? I’d love your feedback, comments and suggestions. If you were to have only one travel blog/website to read, what would you want to hear about? Please vote on my poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

Ok, I think they’ve removed the poll option from the admin options. I’ve installed a plug-in for polls and I don’t like it already. If you think I should add a travel blog to The Phil Factor portfolio, please hit like and if you’re feeling generous, I’d love comments with suggestions about what you like when you’re reading travel reviews or articles.

Thanks! Have a great day! ~Phil

 

Throwback Thursday! That’s Right, I’m a Baller!

Do you know where the grass is always greener? I do, and I’m going to tell you.

Today could have been a day like any other, but it wasn’t. I woke up, fell out of bed and dragged a comb across my head. Then I slathered some SPF 100 on my face and I looked in the mirror and said to myself, this is it. This is the day. The day that I mow my new lawn for the first time. This is the fifth house that I’ve lived in since I began The Phil Factor fifteen years ago and I anticipate that this will be the last one. Then again, I thought the same thing a year ago, so we’ll see. I like to stay one step ahead of the law.

It’s not that I love mowing the lawn. It’s just a chore like any other, but I do like my lawn to look good. What made today important was that it was to be the first mowing of the year for my new lawn. It’s spring in the northeastern United States and lawns don’t get mowed much earlier than this because of the weather. It literally snowed here yesterday, but today the sun was shining. Because of the coronavirus I may not be able to get a trim on the hair on my head, (what do you think? Should I go man-bun?) but I’ll be damned if my lawn is going to look shaggy.

At 8:30 I pulled on a pair of badass plaid cargo shorts and my favorite baseball cap. “Phil, isn’t 8:30 a little early to cut your lawn. Won’t it disturb the neighbors who might be sleeping in? you may be thinking to yourself. Yes, 8:30 is a little early to start mowing your lawn, but that’s the point. It is, as my kids would say, “a baller move.”  I want everyone in the neighborhood to look out their front windows thinking, who the feck is out cutting their lawn today? And at fecking 8:30?  Apparently when I’m a baller I imagine that my neighbors are Irish and they like to swear

As I stood in my garage poised to push my lawn mower and my baller-ness out into this strange new frontier of suburbia, I paused, took a deep breath and imagined the first few guitar riffs of the Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane, then I reached out and hit the garage door opener as the vocals start,

It’s early morning, the sun comes out
Last night was shaking and pretty loud
My cat is purring, it scratches my skin
So what is wrong with another sin?

Then in my mind I skip the next verse and go straight to…

Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane

And with that chorus ringing in my mind I pushed my lawnmower out in to the sun and fired it up. Because I’m a baller.

Me cutting my lawn today was the equivalent to a fighter throwing the first punch. All the other suburbanites had been waiting. Of course nobody wants to cut their lawn, and if everyone else’s lawn looks a little overgrown, it’s OK if yours does too. So being new to the neighborhood, I threw down the gauntlet, because I’m a baller.  I imagined that all over the neighborhood wives were suddenly saying to their husbands, “Honey, the new guy is cutting his lawn. Ours is kind of long. Why don’t you go out and cut ours today?”  I don’t care that I pissed off every other guy in the neighborhood and ruined their Saturday. You know why? Because I’m a baller. I’m now the mother fecking alpha dog of this cul-de-sac. That’s right mo fo’s, because, say it with me, I’m a baller.

 

Two things: first, thank you to the Scorpions for my use of their song, which is also my ringtone, and secondly, when some lawn mower company steals my ‘leaving the garage with the mower scene set to Rock You Like a Hurricane‘ idea, prepare to be sued for copyright infringement. You know why? Because I’m a baller, and the grass is always greener in my yard. You know what would be a total baller move by you right now? Clicking the Facebook or Twitter share button below. That would be baller A F.

Have a great Easter and a great Passover or just have a great day, because you’re a baller! 

#Phil2024

Happy Sweet 16 Blogiversary To Me!

Yes, on this very day, at this exact time, on April 3rd in 2005, I put my writing legs up in the stirrups, leaned back and gave birth to The Phil Factor. Yes, the image was meant to make you cringe a little.  If my blog was a person it would be starting to curse at it’s parents and experimenting with alcohol while failing geometry.

My Blogger sidebar before I moved it over to WordPress. I love that at the bottom it shows 2005.

Yes, I know that over the past year I haven’t blogged as often as I used to. I’ve had a lot of real life going on in my life and I’ve discovered that for me writing is something I do a lot of when I’m happy and not as much when I’m stressed. I’m starting to feel a bit more settled as all the changes in my life have become the norm for me. So, as I traditionally do, I will copy and paste my very first blog post so that if you missed it, you can enjoy it as if you’re watching a re-run from an old show.

What Up Dawg? Is it just me or is everyone sick of Randy Jackson’s act on American Idol? How many times can we hear, “What up dawg?” Or his other favorite, “It was a little pitchy in spots,” or “It was just ahh ight for me.” The dude is like one of those action figures where you squeeze him and he has three pre-programmed phrases he rotates through. Nearly as bad is Paula Abdul. Has anyone else noticed that this season she seems drunk every week? She loves everyone this season and seems to find an excuse to physically grab Simon Cowell every week. Considering her recent charge of leaving the scene of an accident after she clipped another car on the freeway, how ironic is it that her big 1988 hit song, Straight Up, included the line “caught in a hit and run”?

That’s how I introduced myself to the blogging world and I was rewarded with ZERO comments or likes. Also, I’d like to give a shout out to my longtime blogging friend Jennifer of Not Quite Perfect  ,and other blogs, who has been blogging longer than me and is still at it. Visit her site and give her a like or comment.

Lastly and most importantly I’d like to say thank you to all of my blogging friends who have made this the wonderful, welcoming blogging community that it is. I have appreciated every read, like or comment over the past sixteen years. Without you, I probably wouldn’t have lasted a year.

Cheers to all of you and I hope we can share a glass of champagne some day. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

होली होली टू यूज or Happy Holi To You

I’d like to wish a sincere Happy Holi to my Hindu and Hindi friends out there! Thank you for all your views of my blog over the past several years!

Last evening the Hindu holiday of Holi began. It is the annual Spring festival of colors. So, why am I wishing a Happy Holi or होली होली to readers of my blog? Because I have many Hindi speaking readers. Just to be clear though, not all Hindi speaking people are Hindu and not all Hindus speak Hindi, but the majority of each is also the other, got it? Hindi is a language and Hindu is a religion.

So what exactly is Holi? It’s a Hindu Spring festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil and light over the darkness. It is a time of  forgiveness and repairing relationships. Holi is not only a celebration of Spring, it is also a known as The Festival of Love, celebrating the eternal love of Radha-Krishna, the masculine and feminine realities of God. And it involves drinking a lot of Feni, a lot of fireworks, and everyone getting covered in colorful powder.

So why do so many Hindi speaking people read my blog? Because of three posts about हिंदी सेक्स over the last three years my blog has become a hotspot for the Hindi speaking crowd. I imagine that in India there are entire internet message boards dedicated to discussing फिल फैक्टर (Phil Factor). What posts are those? I’m glad you asked:

Real Sexting Conversations to Read In Hindi? 

Hindi Sexting is Back!

How Ron Burgundy Will Save Hindi Sex

The rest of this post will be in Hindi in deference to my many Hindi speaking readers and friends. होली मुबारक! फिल फैक्टर दुनिया का सबसे अच्छा ब्लॉग है! मेरी किताबें खरीदें और आप अपने सपनों के साथ मिलेंगे!

Have a great Monday! ~फिल

#PHIL2024

Daylight Stupid Time

This is my bi-annual reminder that tonight in the United States we move our clocks forward by an hour and my reminder to you that it’s stupid. I’ve been posting this every Fall and Spring since 2006 and will continue to do so until we do away with Daylight Savings Time.

Daylight-Savings-Time

When I’m elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, I’m going to pass a law getting rid of Daylight Savings Time. I don’t know if all other countries do this. I do know that not all the U.S. states abide by it. Daylight Savings Time was created about 120 years ago to give farmers more daylight in which to do their work in the fields. Call me crazy, but why the hell didn’t someone just suggest that the lazy ass farmers drag themselves out of a bed a little earlier each day? Because those cud chewing, overall wearing, udder jerking lay-abouts can’t be bothered to set their alarm clocks we’re all stuck changing time?

I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but about fifteen years ago the U.S. Congress, in another colossal waste of their time and our tax dollars, extended daylight savings time by a few weeks on either end.

First off, why isn’t it called daylight spending time since we are using more daylight in the summer months? Secondly, at this point the farmers (except the creepy Amish ones) all have electricity and alarm clocks, which may not have been the case 120 years ago. I can get away with saying that about the Amish because my demographic data shows that for some reason I have very low readership among the Amish. I guess they just don’t get me.

Reportedly the reason Congress did this is to save energy. How will changing our clocks twice a year save energy? Don’t we set our thermostats and use heat based on the outdoor temperature, not how light out it is? I’d like to save the energy I expend changing my clocks! I’d like Congress to tell me when I get that back. Congress has again proven to be the biggest collection of morons outside of…well…I guess I can’t think of a bigger collection. Why doesn’t Congress set their alarm clocks an hour earlier so they can get up early and get more of this important work done?

dst-baby

B.T. dubs, if we set our clocks ahead an hour now but we turn them back in the Fall, over the course of a year what difference does it make? If we learned anythying from Marty McFly it was that we shouldn’t muck about with time. Also, according to statistics,  the day after we change our clocks there are more workplace injuries, car accidents, and for the day, a 10% rise in heart attacks.

I for one am not going to go for this stupid daylight savings time thing anymore. I don’t work at a farm or for Congress, so I told my boss that for 6 months I’ll be to work an hour early or late, however it works out. When I’m elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, this is going to change.

Alas my fifteen year blog plea has finally been heard by legislators on both sides of the Atlantic! In the U.S., a move to break the much-despised clock-changing habit has been advanced by me and a bipartisan group of senators, whose “Sunshine Protection Act of 2021” would make year-round DST the law of the land. State-level measures along those lines have passed in CaliforniaFlorida and many other states. The European Union voted to abolish Daylight Savings Time, but of course they screwed that up, because they’re Europe and no one knows who’s in charge.

If you’d like to support my bid for President or Sexiest Man Alive, please hit the Facebook, Twitter share button below, but hurry because you have an hour less to do it in this weekend. Or is it an hour more? Have a great weekend! ~Phil

#PHIL2024

Love Exciting and New… BRING BACK THE LOVE BOAT!

Come on, 70’s and 80’s kids! You know the words. Sing along with me! 🎶 Love, exciting and new! Climb aboard, we’re expecting you! 🎶 As a young, naive kid I never realized what a sexual innuendo that was. But now I do and I want more!

With Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, love is in the air and damn it, I wish it was in the sea as well. As someone whose childhood occurred in the 70’s and 80’s I have fond memories of watching the long running hit tv series The Love Boat. If you’re not overly familiar, it was obviously about a cruise ship with it’s regular crew, but the rest of the cast was different b-list celebrities each week that would play the roles of horny vacationers on a cruise trying to hook up. It was 250 episodes of 80’s corny cheesiness,  and it was good. 

Despite the fact that even before Covid, cruises were  already floating petri dishes of disease, people still love cruises and the cruise culture unlike anything else. Cruises weren’t the big thing when The Love Boat was on TV, but they are now. And that is why I’m creating this literary call to action. 

Remember all my claims of psychic abilities? Today, just out of the blue, The Love Boat popped into my head and I decided to watch an episode of it on CBS All Access during my lunch hour. After that stroll down memory lane,  I decided to write this post. Just now as I’m writing this on Thursday night, looking for pictures to use, I came across a news article about The Love Boat cast reuniting TONIGHT , live, to benefit a charitable cause. I swear on my own life that I did not see or hear anything previously, but there it is, the ghosts of Love Boat past were speaking to me. Also, in doing my research I discovered that Florence Henderson/Carol Brady was the most frequent Love Boat guest with 9 appearances. Coincidentally, if we’re playing six degrees of separation, I can be connected to Florence Henderson with only one person between us. Coincidence or fate? I think you know the answer to that. 

Artist Andy Warhol

At first it was just a whisper like a soft summer breeze through the willow trees and it said, Phil, we need you. Then I heard a ships fog horn in the distance. Then once  again Phil, we need you… When the universe speaks to me, sometimes I listen, so I replied: “Seriously, what the f*ck Rich!”  (Rich is my neighbor who sometimes talks to me through the hedge like Tim Allen’s neighbor Wilson on Home Improvement.)

1980 Tom Hanks

The voices replied, “If you build it they will come…”

And I was all like, “I don’t have a cornfield to mow down. Who is this?”

The voice said, “It’s me, Gavin McLeod, Captain Stubing. We need you Phil…”

“You need me? First of all, how are you talking to me? You can’t be a ghost if you’re not dead. Oh my God Captain Stubing! Are you dead? Did you die? Are you speaking to me from the other side?!!?”

Not Gavin Mcleod’s ghost replied, “No I’m not dead you idiot. This is 5G and my signal is fantastic. But we need you to bring back The Love Boat. 

“But I can’t bring back The Love Boat. I’m not some network big wig.”

With his signal fading Captain Stubing whispered, “You’re Phil. You can do this. And besides, I gotta go. I’ve got a booty call with Betty White. And trust me, there’s nothing like a little Betty booty….” and then he was gone

Fear not intrepid reader, I’m not going to nostalgically ramble on about a TV show from my childhood. I’m going to propose action. I want action from you and I want action from Netflix. I believe in you and I believe in me. I also believe in Netflix. Netflix brought us The Tiger King and now I want, nay demand, that Netflix bring us the king of the sea, The Love Boat. Let’s get the ball rolling by you clicking THIS LINK to go sign my petition at Change.org

Together we can do this! Use one of the buttons below to share to your social media until we get enough signatures to persuade Netflix to produce the new Love Boat! Come on! You know you want to! Share… your friends will think it’s a hoot. 

Have a great Valentine’s Day and may your love be exciting and new, just like all those Love Boat episodes! ~Phil

The Official Blog of The Super Bowl!

Because the National Football League has yet to issue a cease and desist order to me and because it’s funny I’m re-posting this classic that I wrote a few years ago.  Enjoy and Happy Sunday!

See? The Phil Factor really is the Official Blog of The Super Bowl

(01/31/15) I’m not saying that The Phil Factor is The Official Blog of The #SuperBowl, and I’m not saying it’s not. What I am saying is that I want to get a cease and desist letter from the National Football League’s lawyers.

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For those of you not from the States, or from the U.S. but you just don’t care, this weekend is the championship game of the National Football League, otherwise known as the #SuperBowl. I’m hashtagging those words, linking to their site, and making a point of using the phrase ‘Super Bowl’ because the NFL (No Phil League) literally tries to sue anyone who uses the phrase “Super Bowl” without paying them millions of dollars to do so. (I’m putting the words Super Bowl in bold print on the off chance that they’ll be more noticeable when someone from the NFL is looking at the internet.) Some networks even prohibit their announcers from saying Super Bowl out of fear of being sued by the NFL. Comedian Steven Colbert has taken to calling it the Superb Owl.

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I call bullshit. I don’t care who you are or what entity you’ve created, no one gets to own words. When I’m elected President, or #SuperBowl MVP (Most Valuable Phil), whichever comes first, I’m going to pass a law stating “No people or corporations can own words.” It’s a stupid idea that someone can own the right to the words #SuperBowl. I’m pretty sure that the words super and bowl were around long before American football. In fact, on Downton Abbey last week Mr. Carson was bringing soup to the Earl and Countess in this big, ornate dish and the Earl said, “Why Mr. Carson! That is the most super bowl I have ever laid my eyes upon!” Downton Abbey happened a hundred years ago, so there’s your proof that someone else used the phrase first.

DA2_05683_OP

What if I really do own a super bowl? You know, one of those cool ones with a picture at the bottom that you can’t see until you’ve eaten every drop. That is truly a super bowl. Or what about the people who invented the Perfect Bacon Bowl? That has got to be the superest of bowls. If there were a vote I’m pretty sure that the Bacon Bowl beats out football as the best kind of bowl. I’m also pretty sure that the Bacon Bowl people aren’t going to sue me for mentioning their product. In fact, they might even send me a free Bacon Bowl maker for mentioning it (hint, hint). Click on the video below. The song is a hilariously awesome and may sound more than a little like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

I’m also sure that the folks in the legal marijuana states of Washington and Colorado  think their bowls are pretty Super too. Is the NFL going to sue anyone there who says to their smoking buddy “Man, this is one super bowl“?

I’m not afraid to say any word I want. And by the way National Football League, what in the hell makes you so arrogant to think that you have to police the world to make sure no one uses your phrase? I would like to hereby announce that I am legally forbidding anyone from referring to themselves as the official anything of #ThePhilFactor unless I declare it. There you go National Football League. I dare you to declare your #SuperBowl is The Official Super Bowl of The Phil Factor. You know what though? I’m not going to sue you if you do. They’re only words. If you think my blog is so awesome that you want to affiliate yourself with it, great, but it’s going to cost you. In fact, nevermind. The title is already taken. I’m officially declaring that the Perfect Bacon Bowl is The Official Super Bowl of The Phil Factor. And if the Perfect Bacon Bowl people wanted to buy advertising space in my sidebar I’m not opposed to that.

As always, if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor, which is the #SuperBowl of blogs, please share by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, or re-blog button below. Have a great #SuperBowl weekend! ~Phil