Making the most of the 2019 holiday weekends – MLK, Presidents Day & beyond….

Winter is in full force and there is nothing like travel to brighten the longest, darkest days of the year. It may be time to take advantage of the upcoming vacation days around Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

According to flights tracking apps like Hopper, most Americans tend to take two to three trips each year, often around holiday weekends – but holiday weekends can also be the most expensive times to book flights. However, if you’re thinking about a winter getaway around the upcoming MLK Day weekend, you’re in luck – flight prices are low this month, with domestic roundtrip prices averaging $220 throughout January, according to the app. So where should we look?

  1. Sunny Destinations – Right now, you can still score average roundtrip airfares (originating within the U.S.) during MLK and Presidents Day Weekend weekend to sunny destinations such as Los Angeles, Dallas or Fort Lauderdale, for under $300, according to Hopper. Consider LA – with something to do for everyone, from hiking to biking to surfing and site-seeing. Even there where the sun shines nearly 300 days per year, summer is technically high season which means travelers visiting January – April get both sunshine AND lower hotel prices!
  • International Spots – Some international flights to London, Paris or even Vienna are also seeing good deals, with round-trip airfares running as low as $500. Austria makes a great affordable winter vacation spot to hit the slopes, especially with Euro tour operators like Contiki (running weeklong ski trip starting at $685 – including accommodations, day trips, and most meals.) Explore Christmas Markets, ice skating rinks and more in their genuine setting.
  • Winter Destinations – There are places where winter is still in full force, but that offer the best of it. Nevada (flying into Las Vegas can still be found for holiday weekends for under $300) is an affordable winter vacation spot that sees mild weather and offers a variety of activities, from casino-going to outdoor activities like hiking and skiing. And according to Kayak, traveling and staying in destinations like Denver in 2019 may also be up to 55 percent less expensive than the average trip cost in 2018.

But prices like this won’t stick around since jet fuel prices are expected to rise. 7 percent in February (to $235) on average and will continue to gradually rise through May. So get booking!

Record Breaking Holiday Travel – tips to survive!

I probably say it every year, but this year holiday travel is actually set to break some records!

Numbers released last week by AAA show that 112.5 million people are expected to be traveling in the air and on the roads; that’ s a  4.4 percent increase over last year’s number. Broken down by transport, 102.1 million people are expected to travel by car, 6.7 million people will travel by air and 3.7 million will travel by trains, buses and cruise ships.

So what’s the best way to beat the madness?

Timing is everything; the earlier you leave the better. That goes for every kind of transport. If your flying be sure to get to the airport at least two hours ahead of time. Drivers should note that data released by AAA shows that Thursday, Dec. 20 from 9:30 – 10:30 p.m. will be the worst time for travel in New York City. 

Get some handy apps stocked up on your phone, like WAZE, that use real time traffic data and also show alternate routes for you to consider based on traffic and time. 

3  Consider traveling on the actual holiday itself when there is usually the least amount of traffic and (for the risk takers who haven’t booked already) flights, trains and such can have price drops. Re flights in particular, be sure to download tracking apps like Hopper which will let you know when those deals strike.

4 Drivers, never hit the road with less than a full tank of gas, especially if you’re driving an extended distance. Its also smart to pack a driving kit with blankets and gloves, drinking water and flashlight with extra batteries, and healthy snacks for the journey. 

5  Keep update on weather reports, as this time of year weather can cause mayhem to travel plans. If you are driving, make sure you check weather conditions, have a working radio and your vehicle is prepared for any circumstances that may arise. If flying, be sure to keep an eye out for ‘winter storm warnings’ or severe delays,. This is particularly important if you have a connection somewhere that may be subject to temperamental weather you would not otherwise be. 

6  Stay calm, as he holidays can be stressful enough. Try and make the best of  journey ahead, no matter what it may bring (and know that a little extra preparation goes a long way.)

Saving money with holiday travel is possible!

Saving money with holiday travel is possible!

It’s not too late to save some money when it comes to traveling over the coming holidays. Here are some great money saving tips to help you save both on booking and on getting from A to B….

Sign Up For Flight Alerts and use your miles

Use flight tracking apps like Hopper and sign up for flight alerts which will email or ping you notifications as prices drop or when deals become available and ultimately let you know the best time to book. Also It’s never too late to become a frequent flyer. Take advantage of your unused points to get flights or hotel stays for the holidays. Some credit cards will even get you special rates on rooms and upgrades, and a points-purchased business class flight could even be a gift to yourself for the holidays.Posted On:By: misstravelguru

Don’t Fly Straight To Your Final Destination 

While a straight shot to your destination may seem like your best bet, you may be surprised to find out that it might be cheaper to create your own layovers using one-way flights. Consider building your own itinerary which can be cheaper than basic roundtrip fares and also consider surrounding airports. (Added bonus – if you cancel or change one leg of the trip you’re only dealing with the one way ticket!)

Be Mindful When You Rent A Car

Use rental sites to compare prices and book the cheapest car available, then try to negotiate for a free upgrade when checking in at the car rental counter. And you can skip the rental car insurance to save even more money. Many credit cards cover the cost of car rental insurance. Depending on your destination, this could save you hundreds of dollars.

Consider your travel days and return home

A big way to cut costs when traveling over the holidays is to fly on the holiday itself. Also don’t be in a rush to get back especially if you are looking to come back over a weekend (when flights typically run higher.) Consider as well taking your holiday days AFTER the holiday rather than before which will not only will it save you some money, but you could opt for slower travel options, like taking the train or going on a road trip.

Pack light

An easy way to save money on holiday travel is by not checking bags. You’ve likely seen swarms of people with stacks of suitcases and bags waiting to check into their flights. Instead, ask yourself a critical question before you start to pack – do I really need to bring all this stuff? Get smart with your luggage too (in every sense) and look at brands like Dagne Dover which create bags that are both stylish and perfectly practical for travel – like their Landon Carryall made of durable and light weight 365 neoprene.

The Best Flight Tips

The Best Flight Tips

This summer, many of you will be doing your fare share of flying. While flying doesn’t come however without its fare share of stresses and strifes, there are great ways to make the most of your transport time, and hey, even enjoy it! So here are some tips to help you get from A to B at your best.

DRINK BEFORE YOU GO

The humidity on planes is only around 10% and this dry air can cause headaches and groggyness, so down at least 10 ounces of H20 preflight. In flight consider some seltzer water with a splash of ginger ale to keep you hydrated and and travel sickness at bay.Posted OnBy: misstrave

CREATE A CATNIP KIT

Stow in your carry on a neck pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, and eye mask and a (lightweight) microfibre blanket. You will use them all at one stage, trust me.

EXERSIZE

Flying can cause feet to swell and the body to ache, so every hour walk the length of the cabin to rev circulation. Once at your destination, see what your hotel/accommodation has to offer fitness wise, rent a city bike to explore or utilize a national gym chain if applicable. Keeping healthy and fit when traveling keeps your immune system going and your mood positive.

SNACK SMART

Cut out the carbs which can make you bloated during pressure changes, and instead opt for nuts, dried fruits or cheese. If you do get a sandwich, pull out the meat and veggies for energizing protein without the drowsy causing refined carbs. Equally when drinking steer clear of the sugary drinks that will leave you tired on arrival.

MEDITATE

It can be tempting to watch your favorite series re-runs but flying can provide you time to do what you might normally put off or don’t have time for at home. Jot in your journal, go over your monthly calendar, or take some time to meditate (download tranquil music and from toes to head imagine each part of your body relaxing one by one.)

STAY COOL

Yes flying can be stressful but have perspective. Cancellations and delays can happen, but the most important thing is that you are SAFELY. Focus on extending love to other travelers even in the midst of small agitations or annoyances and offer assistance; it will leave both you and them with a smile and good sense of well being.

Taking the anxiety out of Thanksgiving travel!

Taking the anxiety out of Thanksgiving travel!

More than 54 million people will hit the roads and skies this Thanksgiving, the largest number since 2005 (according to AAA.) In fact the TSA says it’s expecting more that 25 million travelers between Friday, Nov. 16 and Monday, Nov. 26 – which is nearly a 7 percent increase from last year.

So with all this hustle and bustle how can you make your Thanksgiving travel relatively painless?

When to travel

According to a good deal of travel sites, prices are lower, lines are shorter and crowds are lighter if you travel ON the holiday itself. The second most affordable day would be the Monday before.

When it comes to driving, the most clear on Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday, AAA reports. Roads are expected to be busiest on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when most drivers are returning home from the holiday. It also seems that the busiest destinations to fly to happen to be the warmest (except NYC) from Florida to California, Mexico and Hawaii.

Pack smart

Keep security in mind if you are flying, including your liquids are compliant with TSA standards. Be prepared to remove your electronics from your bag, and consider leaving bulky jewelry, scarves and jackets in your checked baggage so you have fewer things to carry through security.

Leave EARLY

Whether you’re flying or driving, make sure to allow extra time to go through security or sit in traffic. Keep an eye on the weather, which will impact you whether you’re on the roads or in the skies, so plan accordingly and check the forecast for both your current location and your destination. If driving, use an app like Gas Buddy or Waze to find the cheapest gas on your route.

Keep YOU and the kids busy

Bring a book, magazines, games, music, the iPad…anything that will keep you and your family entertained. Consider downloading a podcast too – there are some great ones out and it will keep you and them busy (especially if you are the designated driver!)

So you waited to book your holiday travel….now what?

So you waited to book your holiday travel….now what?
  • If you’re flying all is not lost – you can still track your flights using flight tracking apps like Hopper for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year to find the best deals and (AND if you have flexibility on where you would like to go – you can also explore the most affordable destinations for you.)
  • If you don’t make Thanksgiving travel bookings in time (usually the biggest travel day of the year) it’s still not too late to book Christmas or New Year’s travel. Use sites like Skyscanneror com to find some of the best prices on the web. Fares are currently averaging $307 round trip, down 19 percent from a year earlier, but beginning in mid-November, the cost is due to up about $3 a day and then spike in the final two weeks before Christmas according to tracking apps.
  • Consider booking your holiday travel after or even on major holidays, where you will often find the best deals. This year the cheapest day to travel is Tuesday, Dec. 18 and returning on Christmas Eve. However, if you don’t want to interrupt the actual Christmas holiday, the next least expensive day to return is Friday, Dec. 28. Also consider timing; flying at undesirable times like 4 a.m., instead of 10 a.m. will help you beat the holiday crowds and peak prices.
  • Consider compromising – maybe try traveling this year via car or train and choose ONE not all three holidays to travel for. No questions it’s hard telling your family or friends that you can’t make it for every part of the holiday season, or your family that the ski trip and trip to grandmas on Christmas day are just too much, but hey, getting out of town for even one of these holidays is a win!

Labor Day – How to find some last minute travel deals!

Labor Day – How to find some last minute travel deals!

Check for last-minute deals –  If you want to travel but you haven’t made plans yet, find last-minute sales on HotelTonight.com or the mobile apps Booking Now or Last Minute Travel Deals, and keep in mind that Hotels.com matches prices. If you don’t have a specific hotel chain in mind, try Hotwire.com or Kayak.com to save as much as 60% off regular hotel prices.

Track flights – Too late to fly away? Nope. Track flights using a flight tracking app like hopper which will notify you of when your ideal flights go up and down in price, and when the best time to book them is. It’s also a great tool for being able to explore different destination and seeing where if affordable for you to go this Labor Day weekend.

BUT be aware of the best dates to travel – When trying to pick which days to travel, generally your best bet is to leave on Sunday, September 3rd and return on Tuesday, September 5th. The most expensive day to travel? Leaving on Thursday, August 31st could cost you over $150 moreon airfare.

Compare car rental prices – Use CarRentals.com to compare prices on car rentals, and then review deals available through warehouse store’s travel sites. “Warehouse stores aren’t just a great place to buy oversized bottles of ketchup and a month’s supply of tissue paper—you can also use that membership to save on travel bookings.

Go camping or take a road trip – Forgo hotels and enjoy the outdoors while the weather’s still good, and/or make the journey part of the experience! You can often pitch a tent at a well-equipped campground for $20 to $30 a night. CampgroundViews.com is a great resource. Roadtrippers.com is also super helpful when it comes to planning your ideal road trip.

Super-Flyer Tips….the go to tick list

The Best Flight Tips

This summer, many of you will be doing your fare share of flying. While flying doesn’t come however without its fare share of stresses and strifes, there are great ways to make the most of your transport time, and hey, even enjoy it! So here are some tips to help you get from A to B at your best.

DRINK BEFORE YOU GO

The humidity on planes is only around 10% and this dry air can cause headaches and groggyness, so down at least 10 ounces of H20 preflight. In flight consider some seltzer water with a splash of ginger ale to keep you hydrated and and travel sickness at bay.

CREATE A CATNIP KIT

Stow in your carry on a neck pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, and eye mask and a (lightweight) microfibre blanket. You will use them all at one stage, trust me.

EXERSIZE

Flying can cause feet to swell and the body to ache, so every hour walk the length of the cabin to rev circulation. Once at your destination, see what your hotel/accommodation has to offer fitness wise, rent a city bike to explore or utilize a national gym chain if applicable. Keeping healthy and fit when traveling keeps your immune system going and your mood positive.

SNACK SMART

Cut out the carbs which can make you bloated during pressure changes, and instead opt for nuts, dried fruits or cheese. If you do get a sandwich, pull out the meat and veggies for energizing protein without the drowsy causing refined carbs. Equally when drinking steer clear of the sugary drinks that will leave you tired on arrival.

MEDITATE

It can be tempting to watch your favorite series re-runs but flying can provide you time to do what you might normally put off or don’t have time for at home. Jot in your journal, go over your monthly calendar, or take some time to meditate (download tranquil music and from toes to head imagine each part of your body relaxing one by one.)

STAY COOL

Yes flying can be stressful but have perspective. Cancellations and delays can happen, but the most important thing is that you are SAFELY. Focus on extending love to other travelers even in the midst of small agitations or annoyances and offer assistance; it will leave both you and them with a smile and good sense of well being.

London

London

It’s been longer than I care to admit since I had visited London, and to be honest, I was both nervous and excited for this walk down memory lane. However, some of my newer discoveries in this city, left me with memories of a trip I shall not forget. In a city where the new and modern meets the old and historic, I found these gems worth every penny and every moment.

To Get English TeaThe Montague on the Gardens : It’s impossible to come to the UK and not be offered tea during your stay, but if your’e going to do ‘tea’ you might as well go the whole way, and get a full afternoon tea at a traditional English spot. The Montague on the Gardens in Bloomsbury, is a truly charming hotel, with a tea room and patio garden where once can order a selection of high-teas, with all the works, from champagne to cucumber sandwiches and scrumptious little pastries. They even have a tea of children, with alternative options such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and home made cookies. At this hotel, the atmosphere,  the service and the price are just right.

To Stay: The Devonshire Club: This private members club combines the allure of a West End private members’ club with the chic-cool of East End style. Nestled in a quiet pedestrian square away from the hustle and bustle of the city and just two minutes walk from Liverpool Street, the main building has its own boutique hotel with 68 bedrooms and suites. Spread over 5 floors at the heart of the club is a stunning 120 seat brasserie with a huge marbled seafood counter.

A Champagne bar leads into a wonderful Garden Room and the club has its own secret garden. On the first floor is the Library, the elegant Causerie, drawing room and Cocktail Bar, rich in atmosphere. Service is first class, but nothing feels stuffy. Rooms are airy, spacious and filled with light, yet the club feels comfortable and luxurious, with wood, marble and rich deep color to bring it the kind of warmth that makes staying here, taking a meeting or just having a cocktail – easy, enjoyable, and well worth the visit.

To Dine: The Ivy Soho Brasserie : A spin off from The Ivy of London, this newly opened brasserie was a hit from day one, serving high quality food at a more casual location with a moderate price. In the heart of the quickly developing Soho area, it serves as a buzzing spot to grab lunch, a drink or simply catch up with friends. Dishes such as their Roast Salmon Fillet (served with asparagus spears, baby watercress and soft herb sauce on the side) pair well with salads such as the Roasted Butternut Squash (served with grains Buckwheat, chickpea, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate with crumbled feta, harissa yoghurt and coriander dressing.) Accompanied by a chilled glass of wine and some great company, it’s a spot worth stopping by whilst in town.

The Montague in Bloomsbury Tea

The Montague in Bloomsbury Tea

The Devonshire Club

The Devonshire Club

The Ivy Brasserie Soho

The Ivy Brasserie Soho

The Devonshire Club

The Devonshire Club

AmaWaterways – Paris & Normandy

AmaWaterways – Paris & Normandy

This summer I tried something I had never tried before, a river cruise. Not just any river cruise, but one aboard AmaWaterways, along the River Seine from Paris to Normandy and back. Europe in itself over summer months is a magical experience, but seeing it from the waterways is something altogether different.

Embarking on this kind of trip is always different for everyone, but that I think is what makes it so unique. I truly didn’t know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised but so many aspects of this voyage.

Walking onboard the ship from day one, I was immediately taken aback by the warmth of the ship aesthetically and in terms of hospitality. Every need was catered for one what was essentially a 5* hotel on the water, from a champagne arrival to luggage that awaited me in my cabin.

The cabins themselves were quaint, like the ship; comfortable with floor to ceiling windows on one wall that gave me my own breathtaking view of the river and all the sites we would pass on the upcoming week. It was hard to believe that so many of these rooms could fit on a boutique hotel sized vessel. Incredibly, despite traveling with the same people for one week, not once did I feel my privacy was compromised; far form that I felt a sense of calm and relaxation in the luxury of my cabin.

The cabins

The cabins

Gorgeous Cliffs

Gorgeous Cliffs

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Chefs Table

The Chefs Table

Sun Deck

Sun Deck

Honfleur

Honfleur

Onboard the ship we embarked form Paris, one of the most romantic cities in the world, as guests savored an exceptional meal at one of the two restaurants on board, serving locally inspired dishes that changes each day, paired with incredible wines each night. After dinner, there was the gorgeous bar and front terrace to take a cocktail out and wade away the night gazing at the glittering Eiffel Tower.

Over the coming days, tours allowed guests to discover the picturesque landscape of Normandy, each day awaking at a new breathtaking destination. Tours embarked from the boat, guiding guests to historic spots and towns where we could browse local markets, try the wine or bike along the River Seine.

A gourmet breakfast buffet, and light lunch was always served with the option in the evening between the main restaurant and the infamous Chef’s Table, where course after course the chef would suprise you with cuisine from freshly prepared meats and fish to a range of cheeses, wines and pastries. In the evenings entertainment from classical violinists to Edith Piaf performers would take to the stage on ship, and bring you an unforgettable end to the night.

Destinations over the week included Giverny and the enchanting home and gardens of Impressionist master Claude Monet, as well as the Impressionist Museum. There was also a stop at the old fishing village of Caudebec, where you could visit Honfleur (famous for being the subject of Courbet’s, Boudin’s and Monet’s paintings) as well as the Normandy Beaches, where guests were able to visit the landing spots of WW2 soldiers. Rouen was a particular personal favorite – a gorgeous medieval town rich in history to bike around, before we headed to the picturesque Les Andelys, with it’s dramatic cliffs to hike up and the former stronghold of Richard the Lionheart crowning the peak.

On my last day back in Paris, with the options including a visit to Château Malmaison, “Artists’ Walk” tour or just to explore all the magic Paris has to offer, I found myself saddened at the prospect of leaving this unforgettable experience and all the people I had met behind.

It didn’t matter, who you were or what you decided to do, being aboard the Amalyra through Normandy, had it’s own impression on everyone. The world class service and hospitality I had received from the team onboard, the friends I had made, and the places I had seen, all created memories to last a lifetime. I may have just have become a river cruiser. So where to next?

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is a haven for all those who who want to drop off the map and wake up in another world. A long line of land that drifts and drags in parts from the tip of the state of Florida, The Florida Keys is for many the ultimate vacation destination between food, fishing, fun and fabulous weather.

On my recent trip there, I made a few stops!

KEY LARGO

  1. To stay – Amoray Dive Resort – This is considered one of the best scuba dive destinations in the world, with an extra touch in style, comfort and service located in Key Largo, Florida. Amoray Dive Resort offers a favorable location with spectacular views of the sunset over bay waters. Step out from one their rooms directly onto our 45 ft catamaran dive and snorkel boat, located conveniently at the resort.
  2. To eat – Sundowners – Here you can experience sunset at it’s best whilst sipping on a Key Lime Martini and munching on appetizers like their crispy fresh Tuna Pizza with olives and jalapenos or Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Pommery mustard. Main wise, their Caribbean Glazed Mahi Mahi with spinach and kale, accompanied by some Oregano and Sea Salt Cauliflower is a stand out dish.
  3. To experience – The African Queen – The iconic vessel the African Queen is located in Key Largo Florida. Made famous in the 1951 movie of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn she still remains a timeless classic. This famous steamboat is available for daily canal cruises and dinner cruises in the Port Largo Canal area and also for private events, and is well worth the nostalgic experience.Amoray Dive ResortAmoray Dive ResortSundowners FishThe African Queen

MARATHON

  1. To eat – Tarpon Creek – The restaurant’s water-side Tiki Bar is known as a spot where folks meet and mingle from early in the day to the cool of the night. However more than tropical drinks and good cheer are is served here. Food wise, it’s worth stopping in for lunch or dinner to try everything from their wood fired pizzas (prepared fresh on site in their wood fire stove) to fresh fish dishes and unique salads such as their Signature Watermelon Salad, with arugula, fresh watermelon, feta, olives and balsamic glaze (add the grilled shrimp for a sensational touch!) Clean this off with a slice of their Key Lime Pie, and you are set.
  2. To experience – The Sea Turtle Hospital – Which provides a unique look at the lives of one of the area’s most beloved creatures through on site tours of the turtles that reside their. The Turtle Hospital (Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, Inc.) is a charitable corporation and fully functioning veterinary hospital for sick and injured sea turtles. Here they rescue, rehab, and release sea turtles in the Florida Keys, whilst providing an eye opening and educational experience for all ages.Sea Turtle HospitalTarpon CreekTarpon Creek SaladTarpon Creek

KEY WEST

  1. To Stay – The Perry – Inspired by the industrial nature from which Stock Island has developed, The Perry Hotel Key West at Stock Island Marina blends smooth wood finishes with rustic metal details, paying homage to the area’s iconic maritime heritage. Perched at the edge of a brand new state-of-the-art 220-slip marina (the largest deep water marina in the Florida Keys) the 100-room boutique hotel’s pool deck overlooks the working waterfront. Guest rooms with spacious, private balconies and waterfront views welcome visitors from all walks of life, while two ‘boat-to-table’ seafood-driven restaurants, Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen and Bar and The Salty Oyster Bar and Grill offer classic Key West comfort food with an innovative twist.
  2. To eat –The Stoned Crab – Experience Paul’s culinary magic in action during this three-course fresh seafood extravaganza at The Stoned Crab restaurant, located on Ibis Bay’s marina. The seafood caught earlier that day by Ibis Bay’s commercial fishermen is prepared for you that same night. Grab a drink from their eco bar, featuring cocktails made only with fresh local fruit and sustainable liquors and head to dinner. Guests should be sure to tuck into the restaurant’s We Smoked It Fish Dip, Conch Fritters or Key Lime Ceviche Salad before moving onto any of the pasta or Steamer Dishes, all decorated with the freshest fish around.
  3. To experience – Ibis Bay Nightboarding – There’s no better way to enjoy the twilight hours of Key West than on LED-lite stand-up paddle boards or kayaks in the Ibis Bay. Led by an expert tour guide, you can explore the underwater world of Ibis Bay after dark, when the lobster, fish, and coral are most active and vibrant.
The Perry Hotel

The Perry Hotel

Dining at The Perry

Dining at The Perry

Ibis Bay Nightboarding

Ibis Bay Nightboarding

The Stoned Crab

The Stoned Crab