Monday, November 26, 2012

6 Tips for traveling with children

Encourage Their Inner Explorer. Safety may always come first, but you're not traveling far and wide just to put the kibosh on adventure.'s O'Rourke Hayes recommends, "While invoking proper safety measures, encourage your young travelers to engage his or her natural curiosity, push their own boundaries, and take increasing responsibility. This is the best way for you and your child to maximize learning along the way." And learning is exactly what family travel is all about—for parent and child.

Pack Smart. Be choosy about what comes along, and remember that sometimes the simplest thing is the biggest lifesaver; Dubrow always brings blue painter's tape to use for everything from making a track for toy cars to baby-proofing. Another one of her favorite items is a CARES harness (she owns two), which weighs just 1 pound and lets you buckle a young child into an airplane seat without bringing along a bulky car seat. 

Under-plan. Let "under-plan" be your family's one-word travel mantra. Candyce H. Stapen, a family-travel author and producer of the FamilyiTrips series of mobile apps, says to forget about doing it all: "It's not how much of a destination you see, but how much you and your kids enjoy the sites together. That special museum won't engage your grade-schooler if it's the fourth facility toured that day. Allow time for the serendipitous."
Mom-of-three Debbie Dubrow of adds, "Sometimes it can be difficult to just let things unfold naturally, but the time you spend in local playgrounds or at the market picking up a snack often helps connect you more deeply to the place you are visiting."

Get them involved. From planning to packing, your kids' participation is key, says Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, editor of and family travel columnist with the Dallas Morning News. The mom of three sons recommends encouraging children to help research family-friendly activities, giving them a map so they get a sense of where they're going, and creating a list from which they can pack their own clothes and carry-on. "The more the kids are involved," she says, "the deeper the memory."

Nothing passes time like a nap. There was recently an article on Budget Travel about tricks to help kids fall asleep.

Check in with your child's teacher. One great part about traveling during the school year with young children is that a week of missed preschool or kindergarten isn't going to derail their academic careers. Still, communicate to the child what your plans are, and find out if your child might do a special show-and-tell presentation with a favorite souvenir when she returns.

If you're looking for more tips from experienced parents, check out this Blog.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dear Grandma

This post is about the importance of a proper postcard. Something every traveler needs to know!

I've never been much good with family communication. I've skipped a lot of family events over the years. It's not that I don't love them or that I'm not welcome, there's just always been reasons. It seemed like it was only going to get worse when I told my family I was dropping out of College and moving to Europe... Yeah, that's a big ol' bomb! Especially for my Grandmother. All of her other 8 grand children have college degrees, as do their spouses. Why did I have to be such a wild child? I was breaking her heart, she thought me a quitter and didn't understand my urge to roam at all.
I vowed to make her see that I was still getting an education! She was always a fan of a well written letter, usually LONG ones. I'm not much good for more than a paragraph or two, so I settled for Postcards. Killing two birds with one stone as it were. She would read about my adventures and learnings, while experiencing the same beauty I was witnessing first hand. I sent her one from each city I visited. I think in that 8months they totaled 10 or so. And they contained my whole heart.

So what goes into a great Post Card? It's simple, really.

1. Greet your audience. Make it familiar, something you would actually say. "Yo Bro!" or "Hey Lady" It doesn't need to contain their name since that will be in the address area.
2. Wish them well and that they were here with you! It leads right into the next part.
3. Explain the greatest thing you saw that day and how it made you think of them in some way. Let's face it, as much as they want to hear about what you're doing on your journey, they're still human! They wanna hear about themselves!
4. What's next? Are you catching a train or looking forward to a tour. Let them know there's more going on then could possibly be summed up here. They'll be looking for that next card!
5. Closing. Goodbyes and laters are the traditional ending. I, personally, use "Until next time!" it's just something that's stuck with me.
There you have it! Simple, but effective postcards. They mean more than you know to your friends and family.
Grandma has been gone 3 years now. I don't know if she ever forgave me for quitting college? I did go back, so that soothed her some what. After she passed, we cleared out her house and my aunt found all my postcards in a bundle along with letters from my Grandpa from WWII... I still write one for her on every trip, it's just that now I don't have to pay the postage.

pARTing keepsakes

Like most travelers, when you visit a new and exciting place you want to take a piece of it home with you. Jade statues from China, a pair of wooden shoes from the Netherlands, mini Eiffel towers sold in Paris... NICKNACKS! Or as my mom calls them: Clutter. Over time and many new apartments and cities, I have come to hate my junk. It looses it's meaning and just becomes one more thing to dust. I mean, I seriously own a hammock from Brazil when I spent my entire 3.5week trip sleeping in one... I haven't had a YARD in 4 years, why did I buy a hammock?!?!?! Oh the mistakes I've made.
Finally, I have discovered a new approach. After establishing that I want something different, even one of a kind that really speaks from the heart of a destination, I was offered this advice: buy the something that grows with you. Buy Art. Over time, you'll learn more about your style and taste.
In 2008 I went to Prague and on the Charles Bridge the street vendors fill the sides of the path with their paintings, drawings, and photography. The choices were overwhelming and every piece was beautiful. Finally, I found two that spoke to me. 5"X7" Water colors of the bridge. They were perfect and easy to carry around for the remainder of the trip. Upon returning home, I had them frame and they have decorated my various apartments ever since!

Art! The perfect keepsake. It varies from affordable to priceless. It's easy to transport... for the most part. Oil paintings are the exception, the canvas can't easily be rolled and they are sensitive to temperature. The best part, is that every place you travel becomes a part of your home as much as its be become a part of you!

Happy Travels!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

5 Black Friday Deals that a Vagabond can't pass up!

As the turkey settles and the football lulls the men of my family to sleep, it is then that the ladies of my family seem to magically produce mountains of ads for the all-day shop-a-thon that will be taking place tomorrow. Now I'm not much of a shopper and I hate crowds almost as much as the Eiffel Tower... man, I hate that tower! Who decided that the stupid thing was to become the symbol of travel and culture?! Not me!...
Ok, hatred aside, there are still a few great deals that send me out into the madness. Deals that a true traveler just can't pass up! Have a look

1. Polaroid 8-in Tablet, Kohl's- Price: $119, $89.99 after mail-in rebate.
         This beautiful piece on machinery is all you'll need on a long, 2 month backpacking trip. Forget that big laptop with it's huge charger. Runs off the same charger as most androids and blackberries. I, personal, don't use MAC products so this is a good as any iPad.

2. Bushnell Bear Grylls Edition Back Track D-Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device, Amazon- Price: $116.37, $91.37 after rebate.
          This device is the coolest hiking tool I've ever seen! It can:
  • Stores and locates up to 10 locations and logs up to 48 hours of trip data
  • Tracks Time, Temperature (Fahrenheit or Celsius), Altitude, Distance, Latitude and Longitude coordinates
  • Breadcrumbs Feature - records your exact route and creates a map based on the path you took
  • Upload to social media, email, or save to your computer, runs on Windows (XP SP1 or later) and MAC (10.4.9 or later)
3.  Buy 2, Get 2 Free- All Paperback Books, Hastings.
           Get 4 new travel guides for some unbeatable deals!!!
4. 3 Piece Spinner Luggage Sets, Assorted colors, Gordmans- Price: $39.99, save $180!
           I have always bought my luggage from here. They have an amazing selection and it wears nicely. Plus the size and wheel style are perfect for a traveler. When my best friend celebrated his 27th birthday I got him a piece. They make great gifts for your thrill seeking friends too. Maybe your wanting to surprise your significant other with the trip of their dreams? What better way then a travel guide in the front pouch of one of these?!
           *Ladies, also note that Gordmans has a great deal on flats. They carry RocketDog brand shoes and it is one of the most comfortable travel shoes you will come across!

5. Beats By Dr. Dre Solo HD On-Ear Headphones w/ControlTalk (Assorted Colors), Walmart- Price: $180.
           The perfect set the headphones are very important to today's traveler. Some times it feels as though I'm the only person in the world who doesn't own a set of these yet. They're very internationally known.


Happy Thanksgiving to my Internet Community!

Per usual on a National Holiday, I am far away from home, experiencing new people and places. So it is with my family in mind that I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for all the places I have seen, for the people I have met, and for the memories we share.
To more great times, I cheers to you! May we be ever grateful.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

8 Epic types of Travel Photos

So that you may have some fun of your own on your next vacation (or even when you are sitting on the couch, because why must travel be the only excuse for photos?) I am sharing some of my tips with you. Be warned: I am not a photographer. I don’t know what I am doing. But I am blissfully, consistently amused by my own life and the photographic record of it. That, and only that, is what gives me an air of legitimacy.

1. Group album cover.

2. Using Props.

3. Squeeze into tiny alcoves or niches.
4. Make out. (Note: this only works if you are on a trip with your significant other. Otherwise, it can make a family trip really awkward.)
5. Challenge the photographer to a duel.

6. Pretend your travel buddies are famous.
7. Take advantage of reflective surfaces.

8. Take a series of similar pictures, and compile them into a gif.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back in October this article was published : 9 Travel Apps Every Traveler Should Use

1. Travel App Box: It is made up of a collection of 15 tools which includes a tip calculator, country calling codes, offline maps, flight status and more.
2. Tripit: The app organizes all of your travel details in one place. I love it! Use it all the time now.
3. Around Me: Lists your options while telling you how far it is along with directions to get there.
4. Weather Channel App: Self explanitory
5. Camera+: MAC only- This app enhances the zoom, timer and stabilizer of your photos among other functions on your iPhone or iPad.
6. Evernote: Take pictures of receipts and other paperwork as well as taking notes on the go.
7. Wikitude Location Guide: It draws in helpful information about your surroundings and displays annotations of nearby points of interest.
8. FlightAware: You can check on flight status, gate information and changes, delays and cancellations.
9. Google Translate: Save yourself the time of learning the language and spare yourself some embarrassment!

~ Greet

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Walking Tours

Something I always suggest to my fellow travelers is taking a walking tour around your destination. Either with a company or just following one outline by your travel guide. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with not only the city, but the direction of things. It's easy to know North, East, South, West; but it's another to know "Oh the subway always exits on this side of an intersection!"
Also, walking tours can help you weed out some of the less necessary attractions, especially if it's guided by a local! They can tell you what's over priced and what is a great hidden treasure. If you're lucky, they may even make suggestions for dining.
I'm a huge fan of Sandman's and they seem to be adding new cities every year. If there is one at your vacation destination, take it! You won't regret it.
If you think you're going to wing it on your own with your travel guide book, then I suggest looking to see if your city has a Spy Map, they are just as good as a local guide with finding hip cafes or good restaurants. I'll be using on in Budapest, but I've used them before in Barcelona, Prague, and Dublin.
In the end, no matter where you go, walking your destination can be very rewarding. So next time you see one of those red double decker buses, just think how much they miss out from up there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What kind of Traveler are you?

I'm thick into my plans for my Euro-trip next summer. The plan lies as Tuscany, Italy for around a week and then hop over to another destination for a week or so. At first I was thinking about Morocco, but I feel like a week is no where near enough time to begin my explorations of Africa. Then I was leaning towards Greece, but it seems a bit too romantic to rock alone. So then I was at a loss, where do I go if I go alone or with "Just Friends".
Thankfully I own just the book to help me with this! A few Christmases ago, I was gifted a fantastic book from a fellow traveler. Fly Solo by Teresa Rodriguez Williamson is an amazing book that outlines the 50 best places on earth for a girl to travel alone. The introduction provides readers with a quiz to help define the type of Traveler you are. Below I am going to post the quiz, but you'll have to buy the book to discover where your adventures should lie!
Long story not so short, I'm now considering Budapest as my 2nd destination!

1. When you think museum, you think...
  • The best way to aviod those long lines is to buy your tickets ahead of time. (5)
  • Great! If there's a huge storm and you can't do any of the things you wanted to do. (2)
  • You should. You really should. After the latte and before hitting the shops. (3)
  • Which way to the Cubists? (4)
  • Blah. Melatonin is cheaper if you're having trouble sleeping. (1)
2. Your idea of a night of entertainment is...
  • An opera followed by a symphony followed by a ballet. Oh, if only time would allow it! (5)
  • A play, which is good foreplay to dinner and dancing. (4)
  • Brad Pitt in... anything! (2)
  • A pub crawl. (3)
  • A curtain call. As in the ones in your hotel room. As in good night. (1)
3. In your guidebook, the history section is...
  • Dog-eared and worn to the bone with highlighting. (4)
  • In mint condition. (1)
  • A place you've perused. (3)
  • Committed to memory. (5)
  • Next on your list. (2)
4. At the crack of dawn you...
  • Have already been jogging. (5)
  • Are asleep and will be until 10:50a.m., giving you 10minutes before the hotel kitchen stops serving breakfast. (2)
  • Are groggy and puling on yoga pants. (4)
  • Were told to catch the area's famous sunrises, so here you are. Just this once. (3)
  • Are stumbling home. (1)
5. There's a health club in your hotel. You...
  • Love the sauna. (2)
  • Had no idea. (1)
  • Work it into your daily schedule, so you can squeeze into that new outfit you bought. (4)
  • Glare at the man on the stair climber. He's hogging it on your only gym day! (3)
  • Spend more time here than in your "other" room. (5)
6. You are packing your luggage for your big trip.You make sure to include...
  • A travel guide and your journal. (2)
  • A few pairs of sweats, your Nikes, and your heart rate monitor. (5)
  • Your camera, sunscreen, and a bathing suit. (3)
  • Your running shorts and a water bottle. (4)
  • Your Gucci heels, cutest cocktail dress, and a French translation book. (1)
7. London fog is legendary. You...
  • Barely have time for the British Museum after all that shopping and eel pie. (1)
  • Might agree to meet a friend there, but only if Barcelona were part of the bargain. (4)
  • Head to St. Tropez. (5)
  • Deal with it. After all, most of what's fun in London is indoors, including tweed-wearing Englishmen. (3)
  • Enjoy the vividness of what feels like a Sherlock Holmes mystery around every corner. (2)
8. Pina coladas and getting caught in the rain are...
  • What they are. After all, rain is great for your hair. (1)
  • Romantic. The soft fingers of rain caressing your window make poetry of the night. (2)
  • Irrelevant! A mere umbrella is all that stands between you and the world. (3)
  • Devastating. Before you unpack, you plan to file suit again the Weather Channel. (5)
  • Threatening. You brought mostly suede. (4)
9. It's high noon and it's hot! The sand sparkles, the water beckons, and...
  • You wished someone had engineered a way to air-condition the tropics. (5)
  • High school physics helps you angle two umbrellas against the sun over your deck chair. (4)
  • You SPF is 50 so you can romp in the waves without losing ten years off your face. (3)
  • So does Antoine, the lifeguard on duty with the chiseled pectorals and abs that don't quit! (1)
  • Your body glistens with baby oil. Against dark paneling, you's be totally camouflaged! (2)
10. Happy hour? What would make you devilishly happy is...
  • The Australian national rugby team, a magnum of champagne, and kissing and telling. (5)
  • To have a glass of wine in your hotel's bar with the locals you met while shopping. (4)
  • A sidewalk seat in a cafe overlooking the bustling square where you might connect with someone. (2)
  • If the oversized reading chair in the lobby by the fireplace were finally vacant. (1)
  • An evening epicurean tour where you'll share a meal with new friends. (3)
11. Want to share your table?
  • That's the whole idea: dinner (and hopefully breakfast!) for two... (4)
  • As if you have a choice with that mad bunch of Brazilians you just befriended! (5)
  • Yes, if you count the room service guy and the eight o'clock movie. (2)
  • No, thank you, you say confidently. I'll take the prix fixe menu and a carafe of your house red. (1)
  • Perhaps. If you meet some jet-settling cuties. (3)
12. If your best friend had to describe you, she would say...
  • Our friendship is one-on-one, she likes her space. (1)
  • Great friend, but she can get shy around strangers. (2)
  • We have so much fun going out and meeting up with our friends. (3)
  • I can't keep track of her, she's always socializing with others. (5)
  • If there were a contest for having the most friends, she would win. (4)

Alright now 1,2,3 are for Culture, 4,5,6 are your activity level, 7,8,9 total your reaction to weather, and the last 3 score your Socialization levels.
Now you have to buy the book!!!!

Thanks for the tip O' Mighty Travel Gods!

Being such a travel activist, I subscribe to several different periodicals. As a result I sometimes receive some fairly interesting inserts in my mailbox. The most recent was a bookmark sized flyer with the "Top 5 Secrets To Savvy Travel" on it. Most of the tips I already follow, but I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Time It Right. Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Traveling on off-peak days- and at off-peak times- means lower fares, a less crowded cabin, and a greater change of snagging those elusive mileage-award seats.  Taking two days off for a long weekend? Instead of traveling Thursday and Sunday or Friday and Monday, save money by flying Saturday and Tuesday.

2. Buy Airline Tickets Midday on Tuesdays. When I purchase a domestic ticket, I usually do it on a Tuesday between noon and 3p.m. Airlines tend to announce fare sales on Monday nights, and other airlines match those sales on Tuesday mornings, which means that by 3p.m. on the East Coast and by noon Pacific time, the greatest number of tickets has hit the system.

3. Stay Over Sunday. Many hotels get Friday and Saturday night bookings from leisure travelers and Monday through Friday traffic from Business Travelers, so there's a void on Sunday night- which increases your changes of an upgrade. See tip 1 for more savings ;)

4. Carry Credit Cards That Earn You Elite Status. Play your travel-rewards credit cards right and you'll receive special rates and perks. Carry one airline-branded card and one hotel-branded card that help you attain and maintain elite status- and make sure that at least one of those cards charges no foreign-purchase fee.

5. Book Through "Top Producers." The travel agent who sends the most travelers to a leading hotel or cruise line will be able to get you the most perks. These usually come in the form of resort credits, complimentary meals, and/or free upgrades. Ask an agent whether he is on any travel companies' advisory boards.