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For those who have travel in their soul. Grab your suitcase and let's go... Today is Thursday, May 25, 2017



5 Easy Vacation Destinations


Looking for a quick, budget-friendly trip? Use this guide to plan a memorable vacation based on where you live.

At this point, most of us have planned our summer travel, but there’s no reason our journeys have to end when the air starts to chill.

We’ve rounded up the best upcoming chic destinations for you, depending on your part of the country—because travel expenses aren’t just about where you’re going, they’re also about where you’re coming from. A quick and inexpensive trip for some might require hours in the air and thousands of dollars for others (Hawaii and London come to mind as quick jaunts for the West and East Coast respectively; not so much for the reverse coasts).

We’ve divided our favorite chic and inexpensive getaways by region, so you can spend less time and money in the air, and more where you want to—on the ground.


If You are Traveling from the North East

A hot new destination, it’s close to the Northeastern United States and affordable compared to the rest of Western Europe. Iceland Air has a great stopover option which allows travelers to explore Iceland en route to (or on their way back from) more than 20 destinations served by the airline, for the cost of a single flight. For example: Depart Boston on September 9, hang out in Reykjavik for a few days, and then head on to London on the 12th, all for $439 including taxes and fees. Despite the economic crisis that nearly turned Iceland into a barter economy just a few years ago, hotel prices still haven’t dropped to what we’d call “cheap” levels. But deals are certainly available. At the Hótel Frón, rooms in September start at $139 per night.

Portugal is a great destination for lovers of food, culture, and history. With a ton of castles, museums, music venues, delicious eateries, and kind, English-speaking locals (all just a few hours from the U.S.), it’s the perfect long weekend. One way to score an inexpensive flight is to fly from the East Coast to a major hub like London or Madrid, which tends to be less expensive than flying to Portugal directly. From there, try out a low-cost European airline likeEasyJet for the short intra-European leg. In October, you can get from London to Lisbon for as little as 14 British pounds each way. (To play with the numbers, try out Skyscanner.)

In Lisbon, the Hotel Vip Executive Diplomático is located in a quiet neighborhood near the incredible Castelo Sao Jorge and Parque Eduardo VII. For about $120 per night in October, you get a sizable room with a plentiful breakfast. For just $10 more, upgrade to luxury at the Tiara Park Atlantic Hotel, just a few blocks away. A short drive north from Lisbon along the coast leads to Porto, a beautiful city in the Douro River Valley that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, prices dip even lower than in the capital. October rates at the centrally-located, four-star Mercure Porto Centro start at just $72.


If You are Traveling from the South East


From its friendly locals to its beautiful beaches, fascinating colonial history, glorious seafood, and wide range of lodging options, the tiny archipelago has a ton to offer (beyond those fabulous shorts).

The downside of Bermuda is its high GDP, which means that visiting the island can be a pricey undertaking—but not if you know where to go. Instead of staying at one of the big name resorts (Fairmont or Mandarin Oriental) where the cheapest rooms can run you upwards of $400 per night, check into a smaller guesthouse or B&B. These are tiny enclaves of British colonial hospitality where the proprietors treat guests like long-lost cousins. The cozy Greenbank Guesthouse & Cottages is a short ferry ride from the city of Hamilton. A garden view room with a kitchenette is $175 per night. An apartment with room for four is just $320 per night (that’s $80 per person).

Another option is the Oxford House, just across the water in Hamilton. This stately townhouse feels like a step back in time when people dressed up in morning coats and prim hats for luncheon.  A double here is $246 per night, but like Greenbank, it pays to bring friends—a quad room is $346, or $86 per person. Both properties include breakfast in the room rate.


If You are Traveling from the West Coast

Baja Peninsula (But Not Where You’re Thinking)
That long strip of land stretching from southern California down alongside the Sea of Cortez has come to be defined by the spring break party town that is Cabo San Lucas. But if you’re looking for something more authentic (and less “daiquiri in a foot-long plastic glass”), stay in the quiet artsy town of Todos Santos, 75 miles north of Cabo. The later fall months are shoulder season (the time between high and low tourist season), which means cheaper flights (around $400 roundtrip from Los Angeles and $600 from Seattle) and fewer tourist throngs.

Rancho Pescadero is the hidden gem of Baja. This incredible 27-room hotel combines luxurious amenities and top-notch service with a casual, shoes-optional vibe, and is located right on the Pacific Ocean where sightings of surfers and whales are the norm. There are no TVs or phones (though free WiFi is available for addicts), and activities include yoga, kayaking, stargazing, laying around, and eating homegrown organic food. Rooms are large, with balconies, and start at $185.


If You are Traveling from the Mid West

Toronto, Canada
Foodies and architecture buffs flock to Toronto for its diverse selection of cuisine (from Azerbaijani to Laotian) and eye-popping buildings (Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario, Will Alsop’s Sharp Centre for Design, and Daniel Libeskind’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal wing of the Royal Ontario Museum).

Canada’s new low-cost carrier Porter Airlines has direct daily flights from Chicago for around $400, including complimentary snacks, wine, and beer (you read that right—free booze on a flight!). The Novotel Toronto Centre is a grand property and a great value in downtown, with rates starting at around $150 per night. For something a bit trendier, check into the Drake Hotel in the artist-filled Queen West neighborhood. This 19-room property has performance art installations in the lobby and a crush of partiers waiting to get into its unspeakably cool bar on the weekends. Rooms here start at about $200 per night.

Even if you are one of the hip kids staying at the Drake, you must try a poutine in Toronto. Although it sounds harmless (charming, even), don’t be fooled. Poutine is a street snack made of french fries, gravy, and cheese curd. Heart valves beware!


Source: Real Simple Travel from Original Post on LearnVest.com. Photos: Jupiter Images, Jumper, Connie Coleman, Bruce Herman, Walter Bokow. All Getty Images.



Girlfriend Getaways ...Seeing the World with BFF's


Have you ever wanted to take your best girlfriends, your mom, sister or those amazing women that we all have in our lives and get-a-way to the most amazing destinations...well that is what World Beyond Tours does. I've featured them before because they do the most unique and incredible trips, they are simply the best at what they do. This post is from Mariah Cherniss, founder of World Beyond Tours.

The vast valleys and rolling hillsides of Italy’s far northwest are surrounded by the striking Italian Alps and home to many quaint villages, sprawling vineyards, and feature some of the country's most intriguing medieval history. And while the capital of Piemonte, Torino, is well known for hosting the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, this region is a largely undiscovered gem for travelers wanting to experience authentic Italian culture, food, wine and beauty.

So when we brought a vivacious group of 12 American women to Piemonte and its neighboring region of Liguria on the Italian Riviera for an unforgettable girlfriends’ getaway in September 2010, we found the red carpet rolled out everywhere we traveled. The bus company bought a brand new, bright green bus in anticipation of our arrival, and our handsome Italian bus driver bought a set of CDs to learn English after day one because he was eager to speak with us. We found the people of this region to be incredibly friendly and welcoming – not yet tainted by the throngs of tourists Italy sees in other parts. The Martini and Marro families, Cuneo locals, hosted us for a traditional family dinner followed by a musical performance where they taught us Italian dances. Renowned culinary experts Adriano Ravera and Elma Schena welcomed our group to their 17th century home for an evening of cooking and tasting. Word of our arrival quickly spread and regional correspondents of the national newspaper La Stampa attended the evening of cooking to write a feature article about our group. We stayed at a local Agriturismo (Casinca Veja) with host Massimiliano and his family who cooked carefully prepared, organic meals characteristic of the area’s “slow food” movement. And we indulged in numerous tasting opportunities of the region’s specialties – Barolo and Barbera wines, white and black truffles, hazelnut dark chocolate, and an array of unique cheeses.

On the last evening, we enjoyed a farewell seafood feast on the Italian Riviera at sunset and shared our favorite trip memories. Each woman was in awe of the hospitality and generosity displayed by the locals who welcomed us like close friends and family, and also expressed deep gratitude for sharing in “authentic” Italian experiences and many laughs with a small group of women who so quickly formed lasting friendships.

Sound fun? Then join World Beyond Tours for one of their 2011 Girlfriend Getaways to Paris, Thailand or Hawaii.




The Organized Traveler Sale


There are a couple of sales that are a "must" for me each year and this is one of them. The Container Store's Traveler Sale features every travel essential, from the company that made packing and traveling easier, and they are all on sale. The sale goes through June 26th so make sure to stock up for those summer and fall trips!




My Love Affair with Paris


Okay, so I’m having a love affair, albeit with a city, and not a man! Why was it calling me back time and time again? What was it trying to tell me?

Jane Strauss, world traveler and adopted parisian, is our guest blogger this week. Not only is Jane an expert on all things Paris but she works for the amazing tour company, World Beyond Tours. World Beyond Tours is the ultimate stop for small, intimate group travel - the way travel should be! We will be featuring some of their incredible journeys and destinations in the coming weeks...so check back for more soon...

I was a Social Worker for thirty years and started traveling to Europe at the age of twenty-nine. I made it a point to travel overseas, at least, once a year ever since. What better way to escape the stress of my job than to have to figure out which coins I needed to buy a cup of coffee and a croissant? That is when my love affair with Paris began. It was the one city in all of my travels that became a regular stop on my European itineraries. As soon as I retired, I high tailed it right back to Paris which was, as usual, calling me to return. I rented an apartment for the first time and I really thought I was “all that and a bag of chips”! I mean how many of my friends had ever even been to Paris and rented an apartment to boot? NONE!

I made my list of things to do, and of course, places to eat, and spent my days wandering and eating. I took the Fattire Night bike tour and found myself circling the Louvre Pyramid all lit up with the Eiffel Tower twinkling as the backdrop. I felt like I owned Paris that night as we whizzed down the Champs Elysees towards the Arc de Triumph and I found myself hooked, again. After a ten-year hiatus from Paris, I remembered what I loved so much about it…its stunning beauty, its ambiance of romantic mystery, and the vibrancy it stirs inside me. My love affair continued. I wanted to go back!

I decided to visit again the following summer. Oh, summer in Paris! I had never gone that time of year before. I thought it would be hot and miserable. Wrong!! It was fabulous and so alive. There were people everywhere, strolling, picnicking, bicycling, sitting in parks all day and late into the evening. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of people living their lives and going about their daily business. I fell in love again…fell in love with just BEING there. I think a lot of people would agree that their favorite activity in Paris is sitting outside at a café, drinking coffee or a glass of wine and just watching the world go by. It is peaceful and exciting at the same time. I wanted to go back!

I returned in March. It was cold and gray, but still lively and stimulating. This time, I brought my niece with me for her first trip to Europe. I wanted to expose her to traveling abroad and where better to get someone to fall in love with traveling? We did it all. I showed her all of my favorite sights in six, action-packed days. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. It lights up every hour on the hour for five glorious minutes after dark and we were on the tower when the clock struck eight. This time I fell in love all over again when I saw the twinkling lights reflected in my niece’s eyes as a first timer in Paris. She loved it and, of course, I loved it too. I wanted to go back!

I booked a bike trip that summer in the Loire Valley and couldn’t go to France without spending time in Paris. I stayed on the Left Bank, which is where I stayed so many times as a younger, more budget traveler. I did my usual wandering and went to the markets to be with the locals. The colors and smells were intoxicating. Who would think that radishes and eggplants would make as good a picture in Paris as the stained glass in Notre Dam? I loved watching the Parisians buy their fresh vegetables, fruits, breads, cheeses and meats. I tried my hand at it and ended up with perfectly browned rotisserie chicken, olive tapenade from Provence, stinky, gooey cheese and a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, baguette. I took it to the most beautiful park in Paris, the Place des Vosges, and indulged in the aromas, textures and flavors of my French picnic until I couldn’t eat any more! I’ve never enjoyed food so much. Now I HAD to go back!

Okay, so I’m having a love affair, albeit with a city, and not a man! I keep going back to Paris, exploring all parts of the city, revisiting my favorite museums, shops and restaurants. Why was it calling me back time and time again? What was it trying to tell me?

Then, my niece called. She said she was working with a woman who was starting a travel and tour company and wanted to introduce us. She thought I could be helpful in giving her coworker feedback on itineraries. So we met via email (that’s the way they do it these days!) and started chatting regularly. I even joined her for her first tour to Italy, which was fabulous.

As we were brainstorming ideas for her new company, World Beyond Tours, she soon found out that I not only had a passion for travel, but I was having a love affair with Paris! I shared with her my favorite Parisian past times and itineraries and we decided to partner to organize a trip to Paris! Was I dreaming? Would I really get to share my love of Paris with others and see my beautiful city through their “newbie” eyes again and again?

I have spent hours pouring my passion, heart and soul into crafting the perfect Paris itinerary for a girlfriends’ getaway this summer. I’m calling it “Eat, Pray, Shop” and my goal is to spark the participants’ own love affair with this enchanting city. I can’t wait to go back!

Jane Strauss is a retired social worker, avid traveler and now Paris Tour Leader for World Beyond Tours. For more information about Jane and her upcoming trip to Paris, check out World Beyond Tours. Photos: Jane Strauss.











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