New York Times writer Susan Heller famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
Even when we have great intentions, it’s easy to overload our suitcases. We wind up dragging a lot of stuff around. There’s more to keep track of; it winds up being a lot of physical and mental clutter. And, of course, we wind up paying a ton of extra fees for the additional weight and luggage.
So, rather than viewing efficient packing as a practice in minimalism, I like to think of it as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need, you’re freed up to not have to lug around a bunch of extra weight, and you can put that saved money towards a special souvenir, a nice dinner out, or another cool experience.
So what are the secrets that seasoned travelers use to guarantee expert packing? Here are the top 6:
If you’re ready to pack for an adventure, I’d love to talk to you about it. I know we can find a place that’s just right for you — and I’ll even give you insider tips packing suggestions for your specific destination! You can reach me today!
Sleeping well on a plane has developed into a certain kind of art — and into a healthy business — with savvy travelers constantly scoping out new ways to make long flights more conducive to actual rest. Here are a few that really seem to have some payoff.
Splurge on a better seat. Sure, not everyone can afford a premium seat in first or business class, where you can take advantage of fully- or almost-fully-reclining seats and loads of leg room. But for long-distance flights, it can still be worth it to spend the extra money on an exit-row seat, a bulkhead seat, or a window seat. Flying on off-peak days, like a Tuesday evening, will also increase the likelihood that the flight will be less crowded and quieter.
Do the best you can with flight times and direct flights. While crossing many time zones always poses its own sleep challenges, do your best to pick a flight time and schedule that will sync up most naturally with your sleeping and waking times. Leaving in the evening will work better than trying to get REM at three in the afternoon.
Know your cues. Which side of the bed do you sleep on at home? Book on that side of the plane. Do you usually have a cup of tea before bed? Bring a few packets of your favorite herbal. And grab your own small travel blanket and comfy slippers while you’re at it (the airline pillow or blanket can be used for extra cushioning or lumbar support if you like). Spritz your pillow with a mild lavender essential oil. The more familiar things you can do, the more your brain will recognize the cues that it’s time for rest.
Sweet darkness, sweet silence. On most trans-oceanic flights, you’ll see the blue glow of nearly every seatback screen flickering, no matter the time. We know that the type of light emitted by screens is proven to disrupt sleep. For any rest at all — let alone good rest — keep your screen off. Bring an eye mask or cap to block out as much light as possible. Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to create the quietest environment you can.
Buckle up over the blanket. When the plane hits turbulence, flight attendants are required to make sure people are safely buckled in. If they can’t see that your seat belt is fastened, they have to disturb you to check. Make it easy for them and for you — simply click the buckle over the blanket.
Rather than paying more for less in the airport, do some quick research before you leave to find the best travel pillow for you. There are dozens to choose from, and they range widely in price, portability, and visual quirkiness. Check out reviews like this one from the Travel + Leisure — and note how the reviewer coordinates the best pillows with each type of sleeper. Chances are, there’s a pillow out there that will support your head and neck and give you the rest you need.
What are your best tips for getting good sleep on an airplane? I’d love to hear them. And if you’re ready to plan your next (well-rested) journey, I’m here to help!
People are always talking about taking their “dream vacation” — but largely what people mean when they say this is that every detail of the trip was planned flawlessly, everything went according to plan, and the service and food were stellar.
But what if the key to having the best vacations of your life has as much to do with how you approach traveling as it does with where you go and the number of stars on your hotel?
Here are 5 Traveler’s Resolutions you can make right now to make this the best year of travel yet:
A common thread among these resolutions is the ability to let go of anxiety, relax and enjoy yourself. Hiring a Travel Professional is one of the best ways to avoid the most stressful parts of travel altogether. I can do all the planning, handle all the details, and you get to enjoy. I will also be on call for you while you are on your trip to handle any complications or emergencies that may come up. Let me take all the stress out of organizing and leave all the pleasure to you. Click the link below to contact me today!
Reawaken Your Soul (and Stomach) by Traveling on an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Journey
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love explores simple pleasures and pizza in Italy, devotion in India, and love in Bali, bringing readers with her on a one-year journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Taking the bookshelves by storm in 2006, the book spent more than 200 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, eventually translating into a movie starring Julia Roberts and selling over ten million copies worldwide. As a result, readers have been inspired to begin their own soul searching, and perhaps even more noteworthy, to travel more as part of a journey to self-discovery. After the ten-year anniversary of the book in 2016, Elizabeth Gilbert released Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It, which chronicles the stories of more than fifty people who were inspired to make a big change, from taking a solo road trip to chasing their dreams of teaching abroad.
Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the memoir, it has undoubtedly changed the lives of its readers and prompted transformative trips around the globe. While people may not have a full year, like Gilbert, to immerse themselves in destinations, there are thoughtfully designed itineraries that encompass these cultural and educational experiences in one to three week long itineraries. Most notably, the Eat, Pray, Love travel Learning Journeys Series which offers immersive, women-focused itineraries across the world.
Based on your interests, trips may focus on cooking, dancing, yoga, photography, and more. You can even travel to Malta, India, or Greece with a group of like-minded adventurers by organizing your own private tour with ten of your family members, friends, or members from your book club. The trip is entirely customizable based on your group’s interests. Want to go hiking? Practice knitting techniques? Learn to belly dance? Whatever it is, every traveler will find something that fills their hearts and feeds their soul on their own journey to self-discovery and empowerment. Here are some of my favorite trips for 2019.
For a focus on wellness, gastronomy, and fashion, the Mystical Malta eight-day trip takes place in Gozo, Medina and Valetta, offering a hands-on cooking class and a trip to a local horse farm. Travelers will learn the sustainable art of painting, jewelry making and ceramics from a local artist at her studio and there’s a chance to visit the fashion house of Charles and Ron, renowned international fashion and lifestyle designers who have a distinct Mediterranean flair.
A transformative journey to the birthplace of Western Civilization and the land of muses, gods, and goddesses, the Greek Goddess Journey of Wellness In Crete offers an eight-day itinerary that includes daily yoga and meditation, a lesson in Greek dancing, and cooking classes with a local figure. There’s ample time to experience wine tasting and experience the vibrant culture of the city.
The sacred land of Bhutan, untouched by the modern world, offers sacred temples, ultimate peace and serenity, and a warm local community with the 14-day Sacred Bhutan- The Land Of Happiness trip. The itinerary includes visits to the well-known Tiger’s Nest Monastery and the Kyichu Lhakhang Buddhist temple. Enjoy your meals in the sunshine, explore the museums, and learn traditional Bhutanese weaving.
The 11-day sojourn, Spiritual Northern India, is designed for personal reflection and growth. In addition to visiting key destinations like the Taj Mahal and Red Fort, travelers can shop for sarees at the market with a local fashionista, participate in community service projects including a visit to a girl’s orphanage, take cooking lessons, meet an astrologer, and much more.
Contact Us to help plan your Inspiring Journey. Book a 30 minute Exotic Travel Planning Session
As you get ready to embark on your own summer vacation, here’s a quick list of smartphone apps that can help you get organized, find great deals, and save you money along the way.
There are tons of apps to explore, of course, and this is just a glimpse — but these should add some fun and help you plan and save a few dollars. Once we’ve worked together to plan your awesome summer vacation, give these apps a try and let me know how it goes!
Book A Complimentary Exotic Travel Planning Session Here.
There are, of course, thousands of possible trips out there. There are plenty of great trips to choose from — and then there are trips that are great for you. Being honest about what you want and need and getting to know your own personal travel profile can save you from the but-it-looked-great-on-paper trip disappointment.
Here are a few simple things that can help you better understand your unique and personal travel profile:
When you take a little time to get to know how you travel best, your vacation can be more than just fun; it can actually be fulfilling. And you can come home refreshed, energized, and brimming with great new memories.
Are you ready to start planning an incredible experience for yourself or your whole family? Contact us today and let us help you get there! Book a complimentary Exotic Travel Planning Season. Just click here.
Europe is a vacation that most people dream about, from the Swiss Alps to the ocean waves in Malta or the quaint cafes around each corner, there is a little something for everyone. However, with such a variety of activities it can be hard to know what to do, where to go, or even how to pack for your trip. That’s where I come in. I recently just did my first trip to Europe and I was definitely not as prepared as I could have been. I have taken note of things I would recommend to future newbies so that you all don’t have to struggle your way through like me.
The most important thing that I took away from my trip is to buy a big backpacking backpack and backpack your way through Europe. I decided to glam-pack. I brought my suitcase and purse, which I thought would be fine because that is what I have done on all my other trips. My oh my, did I underestimate the cobblestone. It is EVERYWHERE. You will never not have cobblestone streets in Europe and rolling a fifty-pound suitcase across the cobble stone to catch the train to your next city is not ideal. In fact, it is quite exhausting and that is not what we want to spend our energy on while on vacation.
The cobble stone isn’t the only obstacle with using a wheeled suitcase. Don’t forget about the stairs that often to lead to the metro lines. You will have to drag your bag down to the train platform and back up again. It doesn’t sound that horrible, but often times you’ll have to transfer train lines which means that you’ll have multiple stair cases to haul that bag up and down. Unless you’re craving a good workout, I would suggest ditching the suitcase.
Buy the backpack. It seems like a hassle, but you’ll thank me for it later.
As you’re searching for your backpack to bring on your adventure, search for comfortable shoes. I decided to be all cute because all over Instagram you see girls and guys dressing like they are hitting the New York Fashion Week runway. I learned really quickly that being cute was not the best idea. I had packed a new pair of flats because they were so precious and would make so many outfits look just adorable. What isn’t adorable is the scars that I will have on my ankles from the blisters I got walking around Paris all day in shoes that were not broken in.
Tip number two, wear comfortable shoes or at least break in all of your shoes before trying to get the best Insta pics.
While grabbing those comfy shoes make sure you pick out versatile outfits. Things that you will be able to wear again and mix and match with other clothing items. Solid colored tops that you can layer with sweaters, jackets, and scarfs make for the perfect items to pack. They can be worn again with different layers and look like a completely different outfit. No one will know that you wore that shirt three days ago in a different country.
Lastly, go in with an open mind and be flexible. With so many things to do and see it will be hard to see everything you want to on your first trip. Keep an open mind. It isn’t the end of the world if you miss one sight. Hopefully you’ll be back in your lifetime. Being flexible is key to a successful trip. If something is closed that day, come up with a backup plan and don’t think twice. You don’t have a lot of time, so why waste it being upset or wishing you were doing something else?
The island that most couples dream of walking hand in hand down the stairs next to the white houses, or in my case walking down with five of my closest friends and that was pretty great too.
There are taxis to take if you need transportation, but the more fun way of getting around the island is to rent ATVs. You can rent an ATV for 20 euro + 10 euro for gas for the entire day. Which isn’t a bad deal for 24 hours of use. You’ll get helmets and learn how to drive the ATVs. Once you’re on the road you are a normal vehicle. You will be required to drive the speed limit and cruise along like the other cars. At first, you might be a little overwhelmed, but after about ten minutes you’ll be on such an adrenaline rush that you won’t even realize that a big tour bus is zooming past you. You’ll begin to see it as the normal.
Take your ATVs to the red sand beach. The beach will take a roughly a 10 minute hike to get to from the parking lot. The hike is not strenuous or difficult, so don’t worry, you can show up in your beach attire and be just fine! If you go in October, the water will be a bit chilly, but if you love playing in the waves, then nothing can stop you right? After your day at the beach, if you’re in need of a little snack or drink there is a stand in the parking lot to fulfill your food and drink needs. No need to pack an entire cooler if you don’t want to.
After relaxing by the beach and soaking in some Vitamin D, get dressed and ready for some wine tasting. Make a reservation ahead of time, so that they know you are coming and can be prepared for you. Check out Gaia Wines in Kamari, Santorini. A small, local winery right on the ocean. The price is cheap, but the wine isn’t. If you’re a little hungry, they have appetizer plates ready to order.
After wine tasting, hop back on those ATVs (only if you are not feeling intoxicated from the wine) and drive carefully to a nice dinner. There are many places to go that will have wonderful food. Wherever you go, order tzatziki bread and stuffed peppers at least once. You will not be disappointed. A restaurant that serves delicious food quickly is Ladokolla, located in Fira Town. If you wander around the little outdoor shops first, you may even get yourself a coupon for a free drink, and who doesn’t love free things?
On day two register for a tour of the volcanic thermal pools and the volcano hike. The tour will be by boat and will leave out of the old town port. There are multiple tour companies, so find one that you would like best. Often times, your hotel or hostel will have connections with the tour companies.
The first stop is the volcanic thermal pools. You will jump out of the boat (or step into the water via the ladder, whichever you’re more comfortable with) and swim to the thermal pools. The water is quite chilly on the swim over, but once in the pools you will warm up just enough that you are even colder on the swim back. But, don’t let the water temperature stop you from jumping in and exploring the views. Life is all about adventure and going outside of comfort zones, right?
Once everyone is all dried off and, in the boat, you will head over to the Thera volcano. You will have roughly an hour and thirty minutes to walk to the top of caldera and look around. There is a lot to explore on the top and many fabulous photo opportunities for your Instagram. You will have wonderful views of the bay where the boat you rode on is stationed. The water is a beautiful mix of teal and sea foam green. It is one of the most beautiful sights of the day.
Once you are back on dry land, head back to your hotel to get changed into a cute, chic outfit for the sunset at Oía. This is what everyone thinks of when they think of Santorini. White buildings piled on top of the water’s edge, light blue roof tops, bright pink flowers, orange sunsets, little shops located throughout to purchase little trinkets of Greece. The beauty of Oía is truly breathtaking. The modern, yet cozy feel of the buildings is one like no other. It is a must see on your trip to Santorini.
The island that most couples dream of walking hand in hand down the stairs next to the white houses, or in my case walking down with five of my closest friends and that was pretty great too.
If you take a trip to Italy, then you should take the quick flight to Malta. Malta is an independent island not far from southern Italy. It is quite small, but also has two other islands that can be reached by roughly 3o minute ferry rides. If you only have one full day in Malta I suggest jumping on a ferry and heading over to Gozo. The ferry ticket is 5 euro for a round trip ticket—so cheap. You’d almost be foolish to not go.
Top three things to do in Gozo for the day:
1. Blue Hole
Hop in a taxi and head to the Blue Hole. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you may have already heard of this area. This is where the beloved Azure Window resided. Unfortunately, the window collapsed in 2017, but you can still see where the rock formation would have been. Next to the Azure Window is the Blue Hole. And it sounds exactly like what it is. A giant deep hole in the water that has the deepest shades of blue and the brightest turquoise you’ve ever seen. You will see people scuba diving in there because that is how deep it is. While standing on top, staring down, you will have the urge to jump. I definitely did, but all my friends were too worried for me. Looking at the hole, there does not appear to be too many rocks, so jump out far if you and you’ll be in the clear. Make sure there are no scuba divers before you jump because we don’t need any tragedies.
2. Inland Sea
After you have enjoyed your time staring out into the Blue Hole, take a walk to the Inland Sea. On your way there, you will pass by salt pans. They are massive and pretty to look at. There are only a handful of them, so keep your eye out so that you don’t miss them.
Once at the inland sea, be brave and head into the cold water. It will take your breath away in the beginning, but once you’re in you’ll warm up (hopefully). Start swimming towards the cave. You can swim all the way through the cave if you would like. However, you must be careful if you do. There are boat tours for 4 euro that go through the entire cave. Therefore, the waves in the cave are big and the walls are narrow. Which means if you’re swimming and a boat comes through, then you might not have a place to go and the waves might toss you against the sharp rock. Swim with caution in this area.
I know it sounds scary, but definitely swim to the middle of the cave. There is a big, semi-flat rock to stand on and you can admire the walls and the beauty of the cave. Parts of the walls have crystalized into a purple tint due to the minerals in the water. And how often do you get to say that you swam in a cave? Take the adventure and dive in!
3. Ramla Bay
After finishing your swim, hop into another taxi and head to Ramla Bay. This a nice beachy area where you can soak up some sun on the soft sand or take dip in the ocean waves. Once you have warmed up from laying in the sand, look to the right side of the beach and you will see a rock formation with a hole on top.
Start the trek upwards. The walk up to the hole will take roughly 3o minutes and is easy for an experienced hiker and only medium difficulty for a newbie. Either way, walk with caution as some of the rocks will slip and slide under your feet. At the top, you will find a massive hole in the rocks, with a bench to sit on. The views are spectacular. You get a view of the entire beach and ocean. While standing up there, you will be amazed at what this earth can produce. It truly is amazing.
At this time, it might be getting close to sunset and dinner time. So, hop on your ferry back to Malta and head to dinner. There are many restaurants on the coastal line with outdoor seating to watch the sunset while you eat dinner. After dinner, head on over to a gelato store and get a scoop or two. The blueberry flavor is refreshing and will be the perfect dessert for your post dinner snack.
Again, you’re on a time budget so you only get one day in each major city. Things to do, food to eat, adventures to be had:
You need to take a day to Venice because as a city on water, it may not be around for long. Once in Venice, start with a ferry ride over to Burano. Burano is a small fishing village off the coast of Venice made up of 7,000 people. The boat ride is roughly 40 minutes, but it is definitely worth the ride. First off, the views while on the boat are gorgeous. Seeing Venice from the water is magical. Harbors around every curve, buildings glistening in the sun, couples walking hand in hand with gelato in their other. Once you’re off the boat in Burano your eyes are hit with vibrant buildings. Every single one is colored. Not a classic tan or gray house in sight. Instead, you’re blessed with pink—hot and light, blue—baby and royal, purple, yellow, green, red. Every color of the rainbow is seen on the houses and buildings. You cannot walk around the village and be upset because the colors are so bright and cheery with sidewalk seated restaurants.
After you’ve explored Burano (it really only takes an hour or two, unless you decide to have a sit-down meal) head back to Venice and walk toward the Grand Canal for sunset. Climb up on the bridge and take in the views of the sun kissing the river while the sky heats up in hues of red and orange.
You definitely need a day to visit the ever fantasized about city of Rome. The history, the beauty, the wonder of the city calls anyone and everyone there to explore. First things first, head over Vatican City—the smallest country in the world because it is independent of the country of Italy. So, grab your marker and add to the number of countries you’re visiting on this trip!
It is best to buy tickets for the Vatican beforehand. You buy them online and can either pay for the three-hour guided tour or you can pay to simply skip the line to get in. If you don’t pay for either of these, you will stand in line for hours waiting your entrance into the Vatican. And you don’t want to waste your precious time standing in line. Once you are in the Vatican City, tickets in hand, you’ll head to your meeting point. You’ll either meet your guide for the tour or you’ll meet your guide that will bring you to the front of the line.
If you are a history buff and want to learn many details about the Vatican, then I suggest doing the guided tour. However, if you just want to wander around where you please and admire the work without someone talking your ear off, then I suggest the skip the line ticket. With the skip the line ticket you still have access to the Sistine Chapel.
Upon walking into the Sistine Chapel, I was overcome with awe at the beauty and detail of the paintings by Michelangelo. If you look up, you will see the painting that is considered the most famous in the Chapel. The Creation of Adam depicts two gentlemen reaching out and touching fingers. In this painting, God is giving life to the first man—Adam.
After you have exited the Chapel, begin your journey to the Colosseum. You have the option to pay to enter the Colosseum and see the stadium in its glory or you can simply walk around it and imagine the gladiators fighting on the inside. I chose to walk around 1 of 7 wonders of the world. The size, durability, and grace that the building holds made me stand still for several moments. Staring at the building thinking about the brutal and deathly events that went on inside, but you would never know from staring at the peaceful building from the outside. It really is a wonder of this world because it has lasted all these years and is still just as mesmerizing as it was in the beginning.
After admiring the Colosseum, walk towards the Trevi Fountain. There will be crowds, but wait your turn to get up there and toss your coin in. Notice: the fountain is farther away than it looks. You might miss your first time – I did, but that’s okay but I got it on my second time. Wishes still come true if the coin doesn’t hit water, right?
After a busy day of walking and admiring all the sights, walk the Spanish steps to sit down and reflect on your day. You’ll be among other tourists who are doing the same thing and it’ll feel like a nice little community of relaxation and appreciation.
Last but most importantly, it’s dinner time! Just a five-minute walk away from the Spanish steps is Ristorante 13. Head on over there and order the pumpkin gnocchi or the fine herb risotto. The flavors will explode as the food melts in your mouth and you can wash it down with a glass or two of wine. And for dessert, the beloved gelato at the many shops placed around Italy. You will not be disappointed in the smoothness and abundant flavor choices.
Another city to hit in Italy if you’re on a bit of a budget is Naples. You will have the coast line and cute little city streets like in Amalfi or Positano, but of course at a much cheaper price. I had one full day in Naples so I decided to hike. A couple friends and I took a taxi to Bomerano. In Bomerano, you will find the trailhead for a hike called Path of the Gods. This hike will take you from Bomerano to Positano. You will walk through rocks, see the coast line, make your way through some trees, and see some horses walking the trail as well. The views get better with each turn. As far as difficulty goes, the hike itself is not bad. A tiny bit of rock climbing and some small inclines here and there. The most difficult part of the hike is to 2,000-2,500 man-made steps down to the road of Positano. If you do not regularly work out, your calf muscles may begin to shake. But once you’re down to flat ground and can shake them out, they will go back to normal.
Upon reaching the main road, you have a couple of options. First, you can buy a bus ticket and head to Amalfi coast. Secondly, you can walk the 3 miles on the road to get to the heart of Positano and the beach. Or you can take a bus to the center of Positano. Thirdly, walk about a mile down the road towards Positano and find numerous cozy restaurants on the sidewalk that have stunning views of the colorful houses nestled up against the water. If you start the hike during the morning, you will have enough time to hike it back out. However, I started at 2 pm and after dinner at Bruno (a lovely restaurant overlooking the coast) it was dark outside. Therefore, we hopped a bus back to Naples to avoid the 2,500 stairs back up and hiking in the dark isn’t very safe. So, if you stay late, I suggest buying a bus ticket.
Italy is a country that you could spend an entire month in and not see all of the sites. There is so many beautiful things to do, so do your research and plan your time carefully because there are many things to see and do. But I am sure that you’ll be back one day to finish what you started on your first trip.
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