Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought a trinket from a trip that you almost immediately forgot about. It’s a common experience!
It’s easy to breeze through the duty-free area on your way home and pick up a few (dozen) chocolate bars — and sometimes that is just the right thing to do. I’ve certainly done it myself, so no judgment there.
But if you love to dig around for souvenirs and gifts that have personal meaning and that reflect what was most meaningful to you about your trip, here are some fresh ideas to bring with on your next vacation.
Keep an eye out for things that don’t cost a thing. If the idea of the souvenir is that is connected to and will spark a pleasant memory, those objects often come just in our everyday interactions on a trip. Complimentary items on planes and in hotels, for example, might remind you of great service or the incredible view from your balcony. Ticket stubs, programs, interesting city maps — all these things can remind you of adventures, art, and beautiful days in a favorite city.
Look to nature. Of course bearing in mind specific laws regarding transporting plant material across borders — there are natural objects that can mean much more than anything purchased in a store. A flower petal or leaf pressed in a book, a beautiful unique pebble, a jar of sand or sea salt — these are simple things that can be incorporated into your décor at home that will make you smile every time you see them.
Boost your learning. If you’re buying for yourself or for someone else, consider something that will offer an inside view of the culture, language, history, music, or food of where you’ve visited.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Laura Palmer Peach of Kaufman Mercantile reminds readers that it’s okay to inquire at restaurants or bars or coffee shops if you can add the price of a dish to your bill. So if you’ve had a particularly wonderful experience somewhere, share that enthusiasm with the waiter and ask if they’d be okay with you buying something to take home. Imagine sipping your morning tea or coffee from the very same cup you sipped from in Paris. What could be better?
Something old, something new. One of the best adventures in a different place can be to scour antique shops for quirky treasures. If you have a reader in your life, a gorgeous old book might bring immense joy. Vintage postcards or photos can be a collector’s dream. Jewelry, scarves, cuff links, bags — these all give a glimpse into style and history and make a statement, and they don’t need to be fancy or expensive. Plus, you’ll have a great story to tell with every compliment you receive.
If you’re going for something new, consider a practical item — something you can use in your everyday life that will bring happy memories. Ms. Palmer suggests that an umbrella or a nice bag can be a great option. If you love to cook or bake, perhaps a cooking tool or recipe book would be just the thing. Even a small musical instrument can be a great gift for kids — a flute or shakers, for example.
Tell your own story. One cool thing about smart phones is that you have instant access to a world of creative sharing. Even if you don’t use your phone while you’re away, it can make a wonderful, portable, decent-quality camera — and when you return, those photos can be easily turned into souvenir books for yourself, family members, or friends. ChatBooks (link name to this ==> https://chatbooks.com/) is a free app that allows you to effortlessly create and customize photo books from Instagram, Facebook, or your regular photo library for as little as $8.
Whatever your tastes, there are tons of ways to approach the idea of a souvenir that ensure you’ll bring something back that will have personal meaning for you and that will spark many wonderful memories months and years after you’ve come home. And don’t forget the chocolate bars on your way out!
If you’re ready to start your own hunt for the perfect souvenir in the perfect getaway, give me a call today and let’s get started! You can reach me by clicking here.
Most people who love to travel get a kick out of new and novel experiences — it’s part of travel’s endless appeal, after all. Around any corner can be some unexpected, fun, informative surprise. Seasoned travelers are often trying to think of new places to check out, trying to find “the next” best beach, mountain, urban, or rural destination.
One thing that travelers sometimes overlook are the options for novel, quirky accommodations on their trips. They might spend months planning transportation, sightseeing, or food — but the default lodging is often a typical hotel. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course — but if you’re up for a new level of adventure, check out these outside-the-box accommodation ideas from around the world.
Live out a childhood fantasy. Remember watching Swiss Family Robinson as a kid and thinking that looked like the most amazing adventure ever? Treehouses are not just for kids! From the jungles of the Amazon to towering tamarind trees facing the South China Sea, there are plenty of treehouse lodgings that look like something pulled straight from a childhood reverie.
An ice hotel. The cold and snow are not for everyone, and if you’re strictly a warm-weather kind of traveler, this might not sound appealing. But if you are at all fascinated by Northern cultures, aurora borealis, and the mysteries of a winter wonderland, this might be just the thing to pass a freezing weekend while waiting for Spring to arrive. Many of these hotels are extremely well-appointed, with luxurious design, high-end restaurants and bars, spas, private igloo-suites, and even wedding chapels located right in the structures themselves.
The ultimate in recycling. Taking the idea of overnight accommodations well beyond just the remodeling of historic buildings, people all over the world have found unexpected objects, forms of transportation, and natural spaces and have transformed them into comfy, beautiful places to spend the night. Train cars, airplane hangars, caves, lighthouses, windmills, boats — basically, the only limit is the imagination.
Camping for people who don’t like camping. Want the best of camping — fresh air, breathtaking views, cozy fires, wildlife watching — without the crick in your neck or the twigs in your morning coffee? You could try “glamorous camping,” otherwise known as glamping. Spend the night in wall-tents, yurts, teepees, or island huts that feature nothing but the most luxurious amenities.
If you’re ready to take on a vacation and rest your head in a space that’s definitely outside the typical hotel room, check out Quirky AC. From huts, castles, and boutique hotels to a re-creation of a Hobbit’s Shire in rural Montana, this site allows you to search for lodging ideas from all over the world that will really send you on a trip. And once you get some inspiration for the type of place you want to stay, I can help you find it in your dream location and book it at a great rate!
Ready to plan your next adventure? You can get in touch with me today by clicking here!
Traveling can be exhausting. Whether it’s an early train ride to the next city or the third full day of touring the Louvre, sometimes even non-coffee drinkers need a pick-me up in the form of that caffeinated nectar of the gods.
Ordering coffee outside of the US can sometimes be a bit tricky for travelers – but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself enjoying some of the best stuff on earth, and it can be a rewarding way to make connections with locals. So here’s a brief overview of how to order coffee at a few stops around the world.
The coffee in France is pretty similar to coffee options in the US. The most common drinks are:
Cappuccino – Espresso with steamed milk and lots of frothy foam on top
Latte – Espresso with steamed milk and a small amount of foam on top
French Press Coffee – This is your standard black coffee, but instead of using a drip coffee method, cafes in France commonly use a French Press.
If you’re dairy free, most cafes in France will have soymilk available and are happy to use it for any drink. However, other dairy alternatives such as almond, coconut, and cashew milk are not as popular as they are in the US.
The specialty in Greece is a Greek Coffee. They grind the beans into a very fine powder and brew it in a narrow copper pot creating a thicker liquid with a bit of coffee froth at the top. This drink is very strong! It’s meant to be sipped over a nice long coffee break or morning breakfast.
The Greeks are also big on cold coffee. Pretty much any drink will have the option of being made as a cold beverage. One cold drink that is especially popular is the frappe. Much different than an American frappe, Greek frappes are cold whipped coffee. They are prepared in a special blender and come in a tall glass with a think layer of coffee froth on the top. They are delicious!
If you’re not a fan of dairy, most cafes in Greece offer coconut milk as a dairy alternative. This works really well in frappes (it even tastes better than regular milk!), but not as well in hot drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos. Even if you’re a big fan of dairy, we suggest giving a coconut milk frappe a try — you just might love it!
Australia does not have regular drip coffee that we are used to in North America. If you try to simply order “a coffee”, the barista will look at you like you have three heads — trust us on this! But the good news is, if you know what to order you’ll probably get the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
Here are the basics:
Flat White – Similar to a latte but with less foam. This is a staple drink in Australia.
Short Black – Straight espresso. Hello, caffeine!
Long Black – This is akin to an Americano. Simply espresso and hot water.
Mac (short for macchiato) – Espresso and a little bit of cold milk.
They also have the standard cappuccino, mocha, and latte.
For ordering coffee in India, our best advice to you is: good luck! Coffee in India is not all that common, although it is getting more and more common in the tourist areas and big cities such as Bombay and New Delhi. When you order coffee, more times than not you’ll get a stale tasting cup of drip coffee.
In lieu of coffee, Indians prefer a special black tea with milk and sugar called chai. The tea has caffeine in it and is quite delicious.
If you are in a big city or you stumble on one of the newer coffee shops that have popped up in recent years, then you may be able to get a nice cup of coffee. But when in India, we suggest giving Indian chai a try instead.
If you’re curious about how to order coffee – or anything else – on your dream vacation, there’s no better person to ask than your travel agent. When you hire a travel agent who knows and understands the place you want to visit, they can fill you in on specific travel tips like these because they’ve been there and have the inside scoop on where to stay, where to play, and what to eat! Use the tool below to find a travel agent for your next vacation. And don’t forget to ask about the local coffee.
Most people want to take at least a few photos on their vacation, but not everyone wants the fuss of packing and keeping track of an extra piece of electronic equipment.
Have you considered leaving your digital camera at home and simply using the built-in camera on your smart phone?
Here are a few reasons why using your phone might be the best thing that ever happened to your vacation photos.
It’s always with you. Always. When you travel, your smart phone is likely already serving several purposes beyond just being a calling device. It’s a watch. A GPS. A weather-checker. An email and social media connector. A music library. It’s unlikely you go many places without it, and it’s second nature to just have it on hand. (If you’re like many people, the challenge of owning one of these devices is actually limiting how much time you spend on it.) How many times have you gone somewhere and accidentally left the camera in the hotel room or in the car? Using your phone can help ensure that you’ll have a great camera handy when those moments-to-remember come up.
It takes surprisingly high-quality photos. Lots of people are shocked by this. Most phones now have an 8 megapixel (or higher) camera. That’s high-resolution enough to get a clear 20” x 24” print!
No messing around with memory cards or uploads to your computer. You always have the option, of course, to upload your photos at any time to your computer. But with your smart phone, you can also instantly upload images to Facebook, send them in an instant message, email them to yourself or others, or back them up on the Cloud. No cords or plugins required.
Interesting apps galore can make your images look pro in no time. Free apps like Instagram and cheap apps like Hipstamatic ($1.99) are used by millions of hobby and professional photographers every day. You can crop, add frames, apply filters, and share your photos right from the app itself, plus edited photos are automatically added to your phone’s photo library. There are hundreds of photo editing applications available. You never know: you might be inspired to get more into photography through your mobile device than through an actual camera!
A cool photo finish. In addition to being able to send any photo in your phone’s photo library to any camera shop or retailer (like Target or Walgreens) to be developed in regular 4x6 prints, Instagram’s unique square format makes for beautiful, artistic prints, too. Check out MixTiles — a free app that allows you to select and order three professionally-printed images from your Instagram library that are mounted on lightweight 8” x 8” backer board for easy hanging — all for just $49. Each additional tile after that is just $9.
A 21st-Century take on the “wish you were here” postcard. You can send personalized postcards to friends and family in less than 30 seconds – without stamps or trying to find a post office. Postagram is a free app that lets you upload vacation images from Instagram, Facebook, or your phone’s photo library and then add a short personal note. You enter the recipient’s address, and voila! — Postagram prints your photo and message on high-quality glossy paper and mails it directly for you. It is a fast, convenient, and personal way to keep in touch with those you love while you’re away.
Gone are the days of grainy, tiny images on small screens. Today, even those who consider themselves photo enthusiasts love the convenience and creative challenge of using their phones to capture their most treasured photographic moments. With all that your smart phone can do, maybe this is the year to take your vacation photography to new heights!
If you have your phone ready, I’m ready to help you find the perfect place to start taking pictures! You can contact me today to help you start planning your summer getaway – just click here!
Dreaming about your next holiday has taken on a new meaning since the outbreak of Covid-19. Many of us are missing holidays and facing uncertainty as to when we might travel again. Thankfully there are ways we can travel, albeit vicariously, via technology, from the comfort of our armchairs. And the best bit? There’s no queueing!
Here are some ideas to get you started;
Virtual tours have never been so popular. No need to put on shoes, figure out which ticket option is best, or even change out of your pajamas because, with just a few clicks, you can be roving around a myriad of famous attractions.
Virtual tours are one thing, but how about live-action? There are a surprising number of webcams around the globe.
Have you ever seen the Trevi Fountain this quiet? SkylineWebcams have cameras pointed at some of the most famous attractions and city views around the world. You can search by country and city location or browse top viewed beaches and cityscapes.
WebcamTaxi is another network of global webcams that you can search by country, city, and browse by location on a map. Want to watch the giraffes at Melbourne Zoo or see who’s out and about in Times Square? Big brother is there for you.
Once you’ve assured yourself that everyone is staying at home, you can go on a virtual safari. There’s far more action at Tembe Elephant Park and Tiger Lake. Explore.org has live cams pointed at everything from kitten and puppy rescue to nursing spoonbills, manatees, bobcats, and penguins.
Fact and Fiction
How many times have you watched a film or TV series and wondered about the locations? There’s some great action, drama, and fantasy with locations that have inspired thousands of vacations. In the interests of research, watch;
Make The Most Of It
Some travelers have made up for missing their holiday by trying to recreate their vacation in their front room or backyard. Why not?
You can camp out in your backyard, or get dressed up, dim the lights and go to Broadway or The National Theatre in London.
Recreate your favorite cuisine; learn to cook Thai, Mexican, French, Italian.
Learn or brush up on your language skills. Duolingo offers free language classes that are surprisingly easy to get into. The major languages are all there plus some unexpected ones like High Valyrian and Klingon.
You can also use the time to get the most out of your camera. Both Udemy and SkillShare have some great resources aimed at improving your travel photography skills. Your subject selection will be limited to what you can find within the limits of your restrictions. However, you might find that the results will give you a new perspective and appreciation of what’s around you.
Combine using your camera with some walking or follow a plan to improve your fitness, ready to get the most out of an active vacation.
Whatever you choose, use the time to plan, and stay safe by following health advice.
Ready to start Planning, Book a Complimentary Exotic Travel Planning Session Here
Journalists are used to making a home anywhere. They often stay for days, weeks, or months in a place to report on a specific event. They stay in hotels and homes. They get to know language and locals. They walk the landscapes, eat the food, learn the transportation systems.
But what are the places that have so utterly captured them that they return, again and again, even when there’s no story going to print? Here are a few, highlighted in a recent Guardian article.
If you’re the adventurous trekking type, consider the lesser-known but breathtaking mountains of the Jalori Pass in India. You can book a fully-accompanied mountain treks — complete with air mattresses and ponies that carry all your gear — and costs include equipment, food, lodges, and expert guides. Take in the mountain vistas, forests, high meadow lakes, and centuries-old temples where pilgrims pray. It is a place, as journalist Emma Graham-Harrison says, that is “surprising, always beautiful, and entirely special.” In the vast landscape, taking it all in, passing few people along the way, she said she and her fellow travelers “were happy to be out of contact and suspended in time.”
The Seychelles are probably the most widely known African islands for romantic beach vacation. But like a sweet little secret in the Atlantic, the tiny twin-island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. sits peacefully tucked in the Gulf of Guinea. Known for its cocoa production, this place also attracts outdoor enthusiasts who come to enjoy the pristine bays and beaches, the heart-stopping beauty, the amazing cuisine, and the unique populations of rare birds and butterflies.
Very sparsely populated, the islands still boast a number of luxury hotels. With the interesting mix of African and Portuguese histories (the islands were formerly a Portuguese colony, and they are dotted with many now-defunct cocoa plantations), there’s an ease to the pace of life, and a fantastic, rich culture to enjoy. As a honeymoon destination, it rivals many of the more well-known islands — and it has the added advantage of not being overcrowded. As one traveler put it: “Between lunches of grilled red snapper on the jetty, I passed my days snorkeling amid shoals of tigery-looking fish, kayaking to distant beaches and falling asleep to the ebb of the tide on my own private beach. I was in danger of setting up shop here...”
Now that Cuba is on more people’s travel radars, it’s a great time to explore this lush, extraordinary place. Playa Bacunayagua, Cuba is an absolutely charming location which sits quietly along the northern coast of Cuba. From any larger hotel in Havana, it’s easy to hire a guided car to take you to Bacunayagua. Along the way, you can stop by any number of roadside piña colada stands and enjoy a leisurely cocktail made from palm-fresh coconuts, cream, and pineapple.
On the way to the playa, you’ll cross the tallest bridge in Cuba — the Puente de Bacunayagua — which at over 1,000 feet long and over 300 feet above sea level, is rightly considered a marvel of civil engineering. The coastline, once a well-known pick-up point for boats smuggling Cubans to Florida, now holds plenty of undisturbed beaches that look out onto pristine, azure waters. It’s a perfect day trip and a wonderful way to see all that Cuba has to offer.
Are you looking for a perfect vacation that has all the thrill of a popular tourist destination, but that feels like a secret hideaway just for you? If that’s what you’re craving, I can help you get there! Together we can discover a place that you’ll want to return to again and again. Just click here to get in touch with me today.
For any person who loves to travel, who loves the freedom of being able to go almost anywhere, who sees the world as a beautiful place to be explored — this is likely a time of some discomfort and uncertainty.
It is, of course, good to be wise. It’s smart to listen to experts and make necessary preparations.
Many of us are having to adjust our businesses, our budgets, our schedules --
and for many of us, that might include huge changes to vacations, destination weddings, honeymoons, reunions, and other getaways we’ve been looking forward to for months.
I want to say: I’m sincerely sorry for the upheavals. I’m feeling them, too.
And I also want to say: there is hope, and there is so much great stuff to look forward to.
There will be a time when this uncertainty will be resolved and the fear will lift.
While we’re doing our part to keep ourselves and our communities healthy — practicing social distancing, being conscientious about washing our hands, staying home, not touching our faces — we can also experience the excitement and joy of making future plans.
Four quick things to know about travel in the coming months:
Right now, it is a season of stillness, of staying close, of appreciating all that we have right in our own homes. It’s in our best interests to accept this temporary shift. We have a unique opportunity to be of service to one another in ways we maybe haven't imagined before.
And just imagine how incredible it will feel, when the time is right, to stretch our wings, set off across oceans and mountains and miles, and make the whole wide world our home again.
I am sending all my best wishes for health, healing, happiness, and hope for you and your loved ones in the coming weeks and months! If you have any questions about your travel plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
For some people, a dream destination pops easily into mind: they know exactly where they would go in a heartbeat if there were no obstacles.
For others, it’s a bit more ambiguous. You might have an idea about what you’d like, but you might not be entirely certain where you’d have your passport stamped if the opportunity came up tomorrow.
We all know that the best way to make something happen is to start intentionally giving it shape — something to look at, imagine, talk about, and (most importantly!) plan for. With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself so you can get started working out the details of that trip you fantasize about during those hectic workweeks.
When you’ve had time to assemble your thoughts — and if you’re working on this with your partner or friends or family members — look for overlaps, recurring themes, those quiet nudges you can’t seem to shake. Listen to your gut. And start to dream big.
You can set a goal, start saving if you need to, and start giving shape to your plan. Put your images and any accompanying words or phrases up on a cork board, or glue them to a big piece of tag board, or make a digital collage that can be your screensaver on your computer at work — anyplace where you’ll see it multiple times a day — and let those images inspire you as you get closer and closer to making your bucket list trip a reality.
The best part? I can help you design this trip down to the last customized detail. Give me a call and let’s get started! To contact me click here now!
Image via Unsplash
Do you have an international vacation coming up? Don't let your worries about your budget eclipse the fun you plan to have during your getaway. Take these simple steps ahead of time to save money and prevent unexpected expenses.
Convert Your Money Ahead of TimeDepending on where you're traveling, USD might not be the primary currency. In fact, it might not even be accepted if you're going off the beaten track. No matter what your plans are, it's a good idea to have the country's currency in your wallet for purchases and emergencies. Converting your cash while you're in the United States can help you avoid surprise fees; you can shop around for the most convenient or the most cost-effective options.
Book Your Accommodations EarlyJust like in the United States, leaving your hotel choices to the last minute in any country can leave you short on options. Major tourist attractions might be completely booked up, leaving you with hotel options that are out of your price range, with low-rated reviews, or far away from your actual destination. Reserve your hotel or hostel rooms in advance, and avoid making common mistakes when booking your stay. Not only can it be less stressful when you know where you're going to sleep for the next week, but it can help you catch discounts, long-stay deals, and accommodations that are right by popular attractions.
Look for Entertainment Deals Before You LeaveCities that see lots of tourists have many deals and advertisements to catch your attention as you walk down the street. But these spur-of-the-moment tickets, offers, and entertainment deals are often pricier than they are if you go search for them on your own. Before you finalize your travel plans, look for tour offers and tickets to must-see attractions. Searching on your own means you can research your options. You can find more ideas and search for coupons or off-peak prices. Ultimately, planning your itinerary ahead of time saves you money.
Talk to Your Credit and Debit Card CompaniesWhile it's important to carry local cash for the countries you plan to visit, you don't want to carry a bunch of cash with you everywhere you go. That's where your credit and debit cards come in. With a little bit of prep work, you can save a lot of money and hassle. Take these steps:
Vacations are fun, but they can also be expensive. Organizing your accommodations, entertainment, and finances ahead of time will help you stay in your budget.
There are some great deals for late 2020 and beyond. It is not too early to start planning ahead. Book your 30 minute Exotic Travel Planning Session done by phone Now.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve undoubtedly had the near-universal experience of enduring a TSA security line or an immigration line upon re-entry to your home country.
What if you could bypass these lines for good?
You may have heard of Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. You fill out a (fairly lengthy) application, pay $100, and if your application passes the initial phase, you’re invited to an in-person interview/screening at a participating airport. If you pass that phase of the application, you are granted a Global Entry ID. In a nutshell, this is how it works:
At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit. (www.globalentry.gov)
In addition, people who are approved via the Global Entry program can also participate in TSA Pre-Check, which allows people to skip regular TSA security lines at participating airports and go through an expedited line — without having to remove shoes or other clothing items, open laptops, or do any of the other things that take up time in line.
Global Entry (and the accompanying TSA Pre-Check) is a good fit for your flying needs if:
In addition to inside info on things like GE and Pre-Check, as your travel advisor, I’ve got tons of helpful hints and connections to make your next trip an amazing one. I would be thrilled to meet with you and plan out your next great adventure! You can reach me by clicking here.
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