Browsing Date

February 2016

Destination Wedding, North America

Destination Wedding: Nantucket

February 10, 2016 • By

There are fantastic movies to adequately describe my plight in life such as 27 Dresses, the Wedding Date, My Best Friends Wedding but somehow those features end with the beautiful bride scooping up the handsome groom and I’ve either ended up with a hangover, or a dress I am totally never going to wear again. That’s why I am featuring a series on Destination Weddings over the coming weeks and I hope my stories will inspire couples to plan their dream wedding with pleasure.

Suffice it to say I participate in my fair share of weddings and I store a baggie full of bobby pins to prove it. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of each celebration and I’ve silently whispered to myself and maybe others around me which couples I deem worthy of staying power and those likely headed for divorce court.

This is why I am single.

The Bride and her sidekicks

The Bride and her sidekicks

Weddings are exciting. They are symbolic of something greater than the love between two people. They represent goodness and hope in the world and it’s an honor to be an attendee and a privilege to serve as an attendant. It’s also a time when friends and families come together for a joyous occasion. A wedding guest list tells the tale and the history of the couple. When I spend time talking with neighbors, old boyfriends, best friends from grade school or college, former work colleagues, new friends old friends, cousins I begin to piece together a narrative of the couple’s life I may not have known.

The stories warm my heart and make me laugh but they also explain the person standing before me today.

The Whaling Museum, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Emily and Joel met in 2012 at a birthday party of a mutual friend in New York City and they married atop the Whaling Museum on Saturday, September 26, 2016 with the sun setting, wind gusting and a rooftop of guests applauding their love. Their decision to marry on the Island of Nantucket was an easy one. Emily considered Nantucket a second home. Her sister married on Nantucket and her parents discovered the allure of the once sleepy island early in their marriage eventually buying a home and spending summers on Nantucket as a family. I most enjoyed an enthusiastic reading by friends providing an overview of the couple’s ancestry.

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Bride and Groom at the Whaling Museum Rooftop

Tips: Spend at least four days visiting Nantucket. It’s easy to stay short term or long term but be careful, you may never want to leave. You can rent a home for a month, find a special bed and breakfast within walking distance of the town or rest your head at one the hotels scattered around the island. It’s a great place for families or for those searching for solitude. I spent my days eating fudge at Aunt Leah’s Fudge, getting my licks in at the Juice Bar (Don’t miss the Green Monster) and tasting lobster roles every opportunity I found. I rented a bike at Young’s and each morning I peddled with purpose but without direction admiring the ocean views, vast areas of natural reserve and beautiful homes with pitches roofs, weathered gray shingles and blue and pink hydrangeas fading for the season.

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The alluring dock at the Wharf

When you arrive, you will be on island time, buy some cashmere sweaters for the ladies or Nantucket “reds” for the men, walk the cobblestone streets in the town, shop for antiques, admire the boats in the harbor and the clouds ushering in changing weather.  Slow your pace, decompress, smell the saltwater, feel the warmth of the sun on your back and the wind on your face.

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Pink hydrangeas fading for the fall

Nantucket is a great place for a destination wedding because it’s a vacation spot. You can fly from Boston, New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Providence or take the ferry from Cape Cod, Harwichport or Martha’s Vineyard.

After the wedding, I crawled to Black-Eyed Susan’s for some eggs and grits. I would say that was a sign of a good time and a fantastic wedding.

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Ice Cream at the Juice Bar tasting the Green Monster

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North America, Travel Tips

Tips and Tricks from the NY Times Travel Show

February 2, 2016 • By

Last month, I attended the New York Times Travel Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.   It was a blustery, rainy weekend and what better way to spend my time but wandering aisle after aisle dreaming of tropical and exotic escapes. I arrived at 11 AM dressed in my sexy black buckled calf boots by Coach, spotted black leggings and a grey cashmere cape by Vince dressed not only for success but to be taken seriously as a travel blogger. To play the part, I have to act the part. I tackled the travel show like a tourist in a foreign land. Armed with my guidebook, in this case the “Official Guide” newspaper published by the New York Times, I mapped out the booths to visit for travel ideas, as well as the seminars I wanted to attend to learn the latest tips and trends from the experts.

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Living the story at the NY Times Travel Show

I started in the exhibitor section marked Asia and visited with companies and people representing Sri Lanka and the Philippines where I sorted through the literature for beaches and 10-14 day itineraries. From a talk on Thailand, I crossed back through China where I enjoyed a tai chi performance. Eavesdropping on someone’s discussion of train travel, I sought to shorten the distances between the continents and I moved faster than an F-117 Nighthawk into European airspace. Romania is high on my must see list and after a brief overview of itineraries I figured I could possibly visit this summer. Who doesn’t appreciate the legendary tales of Transylvania’s howling wolves and medieval castles? Alas, I found two gentlemen lodged between Europe and Asia with a booth dedicated to rails and rivers. I immediately became fixated on a 15-day journey from Tehran, Iran to Istanbul, Turkey. It sounded like a perfect mix of history and culture and maybe a way to make a trip to Iran easy and safe.

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China Await…Tai Chi for exercise and entertainment

With my feet starting to cry for a lighter load, I made my way downstairs to the conference rooms where the seminars were being held. On Saturday, I attended the discussion lead by Reid Bramblett of Reidsguides.com and Jason Cochran, editor-in-chief of Frommers.com called Own the Internet: Tips, Tricks and Hacks for Online Booking. I am a wee bit embarrassed to admit prior to listening to their talk,  I was dependent on KAYAK and Orbitz for my comparison shopping.  Now that I am fully in the know, I wanted to share their tricks for finding the best deals online.  To read more information, please check out Reidsguides.com

1.) Don’t start with a Booking Engine but Compare Travel Websites using an aggregator like momondo, Skyscanner.net, Vayama.com, Cheapflights.com (I recently tested Momondo.com and found a flight on United Airlines for $500 vs. $1,000-$1,300 for a last minute trip to Florida). You may save 12-15 percent

2.) Be weary of inexpert reviews like paid raves and pans you might find on TripAdvisor.  According to Reid, half to a third of reviews are fake. There are only about 300 content specialists, which make it impossible to check all the reviews. You should take into consideration a minimum of 20 but closer to 60 reviews before making a decision. Ignore the best and the worst and definitely trust snapshots because they are harder to fake

3.) Book your travel about four months in advance and watch fares on different travel sites. In some situations with limited supply or special occasions like the Olympics or Super Bowl, you may book a year in advance

4.) Keep in mind that many sites are now owned by the same parent company not likely giving you better deals or options. For example, TripAdvisor Media Group owns TripAdvisor, Airfarewatchdog, Cruise Critic, Gateguru, Viator, etc. Expedia with its latest purchase of Orbitz oversees Hotels.com, hotwire, trivago and travelocity.  Lastly, Booking.com, agoda, KAYAK, Rentalcars.com, OpenTable.com and Priceline comprise the Priceline Group

5.) Search directly on low cost carrier websites like easyJet, Ryanair and Southwest

6.) Check out consolidators who buy in bulk like OneTravel, Fly International, Cheap Air

7.) For cruise shopping, search cruisedirect, Cruise Compete, Cruise Critic

8.) For smarter hotel deals, agoda, Booking.com, HotelsCombined.com

9.) For packages including air and hotel, tripmasters, go-today or Gate 1 Travel

10.) Be Smart. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a bad deal

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Customize your travel with Rare Travel Experiences and dream the ultimate dream

On day two of the travel show, I spent more time exploring “local” entertainment tasting the Bubble Tea from Taiwan, admiring the Irish dancers on the European stage, applauding the talent of the Puerto Rican salsa dancers and hoping the ladies manning Vermont’s Cabot Cheese booth didn’t notice my eat and repeat visit(s).

My passport doesn’t say I need to leave home by plane or train to travel.  I can find it all in my backyard.

 

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Puerto Rico does the Salsa

Having conquered the travel research part of my mission the day prior, I joined two back to back seminars:

  • How travel can have a social impact
  • How to improve travel writing and picture taking skills (more in my self-interest)

From Tourist to Change Agent: How to Make Every Trip Count featured five panelists (Gilad Goren, Travel + SocialGood, Leslie Engle Young, Director of Impact, Pencils of Promise, Taylor Conroy, Social Entrepreneur, Change Heroes , Kirk Reynolds, CEO, Discover Outdoors  and Lucie Josma, Travel Photographer ) who discussed the movement within the travel industry to do good. Travelers especially Millenials are looking for experiences to explore the unbeaten path and to make an impact on local communities whether it’s in the United States or abroad. There is a focus on educational trips and partnerships with local restaurants, stores and guides. People travel because they are curious about culture, religion or a country’s history and volunteering or immersing oneself in a local project can only provide more insight into the place you are visiting but also the people who live there. In my experience in Colombia, I learned my local guide was being paid $5 a day but I was paying $125 a day to an outside organization. As a consumer, it is my responsibility to ensure guides and those who serve the travel industry are paid fairly and treated respectfully.

Approximately 1.3 billion people traveled the globe in 2015. Travelers are having an impact on the places we visit but we must work to ensure the impact and experience is positive for the visitor and the destinations we visit.

The last event I attended before calling it a wrap on the Travel Show satisfied my desire to create a new life for myself writing and traveling. Max Hartshoren and Paul Shoul of GoNOMAD provided tips for creating the perfect travel piece, which likely applies to the best story fit to print and the masterpiece snapped and likely not painted.

For aspiring writers:

1.) Find a hook – Don’t ramble (my biggest issue in life)

2.) Get right to the point

3.) Create an arc in your story

4) What do you smell and hear?

5.) Use dialogue

6.) Stick to one tense

7.) Use simple language

8.) Narrow your focus

9.) You are a reporter. Use details

10.) Offer a fresh perspective

For budding photographers:

1.) Imagine your picture is telling a story

2.) Wait for life to unfold

3.) Look at the people who occupy the space you are shooting

4.) Examine shape and contents

5.) Take a look around

6.) You decide whether the image should be in color or black and white. It’s personal

 

Now you are ready to plan your trip. Let’s Go!

 

1.) CREATE a budget.

2.) SELECT your destination based on your needs: Are you looking for a warm or cold weather spot?  Do you enjoy the mad rush of the city or the quiet of the country?  Do you want to relax or be super active?  A mix of both? Are you traveling solo or with adults or a family and kids?  What is your preference?  A destination close to home or far away.  What is the desired length of your trip?

3.) BUY a guidebook or read travel blogs about the places you want to visit.

4.) RESEARCH the transportation options based on the time and length of your travel. Should you drive, or go by plane or train? PURCHASE your transportation.

5.) RESEARCH your accommodation options: Hotel, Airbnb, relatives, friends, award points. BOOK your accommodations and note the cancellation policy.

6.) Are you more the DO IT YOURSELF personality or do you need to HIRE a guide? IDENTIFY the activities, monuments, museums or restaurants you cannot miss and plan to do those early in the trip.

7.) TAKE pictures and write down the names of places you visited everyday.

8.) WRITE how the trip makes you feel, or the history of a statue or let your hand move with whatever words come to mind.

9.) MAINTAIN records like receipts and itineraries, names of sites. Important to match up with your credit card or challenge if there is a dispute at a store or restaurant.

10.) BUILD lasting memories


My favorite booths from the New York Times Travel Show

Flight 001

Don’t start packing without a visit to Flight 001.  They have everything you need to ensure your gear and you are ready to go

All over the Map…

RareFindsTravel.com

609.923.0304

Melanie@rarefindstravel.com

Customize your once in a lifetime trip

ToursByLocals

1.866.844.6783

support@toursbylocals.com

Unique Journeys on Rails and Rivers

+49 30 786 000 33

Trans-Siberian Railway (Mongolia – Moscow)

Silk Road (Almaty, Turkestan, Tashkent, Samarqand, Shakhrisabz, Khiva, Bukhara, Merv, Ashgabat)

Persia’s Rolling Carpet (Iran-Turkey)

African Explorer

Mekong Cruises (Laos, Thailand)

Let’s go to Europe…

Romania

Perfect Tour Romania

USA 818.907.9800

Intl +4 037 238 8888

incoming@perfect-tour.ro

office@perfect-tour.com (USA)

Ireland

Wild West Irish Tours with Michael Waugh & Trish Jenkins

info@wildwestirishtours.com

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I love Prosciutto – Yum! Italian Food and Wine

How about eating and drinking your way through Italy?

Italian Days Food Experience

+39 338 421 66 59

Food and Wine Tours in Italy

Bologna, Venezia, Firenze and more

South America for the winter…

Condor Tours and Travel Inc.

USA 800.783.8847

info@condortoursandtravel.com

Best of Panama and Peru

Rainforest and Beach, Canal, Historical sites

I have my sights set on Sri Lanka in December…

Ceylon Express international

Varini De Silva

800.423.9566 (714.964.6896)

tours@ceylonexpress.com

Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, Cambodia, India, Myanmar

And maybe the beaches of the Philippines…

SITA World Tours

800.421.5643

sitatours@sitatours.com

6-day tours Manila to Boracay or Cebu and Bohol

Rajah Travel

632.894.0886

funtasticph@rajahtravel.com

Travel in Europe, Asia and Australia and New Zealand

Alaska Bound…

Alaska Railroad

800.544.0552

Anchorage to Seward or longer Fairbanks to Seward

Rust’s Flying Service

907.243.1595

Flight Tours

Bear viewing, McKinley, Fly-in Fishing, Glaciers

Alaska Heritage Tours

877.258.6877

Wildlife, Denali Kenai Fjords National Park

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Watching a beautiful performance of Irish dancers