You want to go on a cruise, but with so many options, how do you know which one is best for you? Today we compare two of the best on the ocean: Carnival Vista vs. Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas.
First a couple of quick facts. In 2015, 23 million people from around the world sailed on a cruise ship. More than 11 million of those were from the US. The top cruise destination was the Caribbean. According to industry experts, that number is expected to by 4% next year.
Both “floating hotels” were launched into service in 2016. Both ships are considered mass market cruise ships, and both are owned and operated by two of the largest cruise companies in the world, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Size may matter to you so here are the stats.
For more videos and information on these two companies you can check the Travel Company Video Index on my site.
Carnival Vista was introduced into the Carnival fleet in May of 2016. After a series of repositioning cruises, this ship arrived at its home port of Miami, Florida. It currently sails on six and eight-day Caribbean itineraries out of Miami. This ship is the first ship in the Vista Class ship with others already on order.
On board Vista, some of the most notable additions include the “Skyride”, which is essentially a self-propelled pod that you can peddle around an 800-foot track, suspended 150 feet about the deck. Seafood Shack is a new dining option and is only available on this ship. Look for lobster rolls, crab legs and other treasures from the ocean all available for an additional charge. If the weather isn’t cooperating, then you can relax and take in a movie at the only IMAX theatre at sea. Deck 2 is officially the family deck, with family-themed and sized staterooms, family common space and even a family concierge to completely satisfy the ever-changing needs of the modern-day sea-faring family.
MS Ovation of the Seas
April 14, 2016 was the maiden voyage for MS Ovation of the Seas. This ship is the first ship built for Royal Caribbean specifically for the Chinese market. It embarked on mini-itineraries for invited guests and members of the press and then began a 52-night odyssey cruise before making its way to its home port of Tianjin, China. This is the third vessel in the Quantum class...and if you know all about classes of ships on these lines, then you really are a cruise nerd...and I love that about you!
If you are a die-hard Royal Caribbean fan, then being on board Ovation of the Seas isn’t necessarily a must because it is virtually identical to the two other sister ships in the Quantum Class: Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. All three are some of the most technologically stunning vessels at sea. Transformative spaces use using lighting, staging and special effects to dazzle guests. The cruise offers sky diving with iFly, a trapeze school, the North Star, and bumper cars among many other attractions.
Similarities between Carnival Vista vs. Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas
Both ships share some common ground in just about every area of interest. Both ships
Carnival and Royal Caribbean are two companies who understand their passenger’s needs. They have been getting better at it every year since cruising for the masses began being a “thing” back in the 1980’s. These ships are fine examples of cruise innovation and state of the art sailing.
You can book itineraries on both ships directly with the cruise line or with the help of a travel agent. Whichever you choose, I suggest you become a member of their loyalty program. The more you cruise the more perks you get and over time loyalty does have its privileges and rewards.
Will I get Sick on a Cruise?
Before we wrap up, let’s talk illness. Am I going to get sick on a cruise ship? First, I might ask, what type of sick are you asking about? Are you going to get motion sickness? That’s a tough one. That depends on your own tolerance for slight variations in your equilibrium. The rocking motion of ships is caused by the fluctuations on the water in which these ships are sailing. Cruise ships sail in calm waters for the most part. The have state of the art weather forecasting to avoid rough seas. They also are equipped with powerful stabilizers so even in rougher waters, the ship stays level and comfortable.
The other illness you may be asking about is some sort of GI outbreak or Norovirus. The media loves this one. But the short answer is...statistically speaking...no. Health officials including the CDC track these outbreaks, cruise lines are required to report outbreaks and the numbers speak from themselves. 23 million people sailed in 2015 and in 2015 there were 12 outbreaks affecting roughly 2500 people. Total. Drawing your own conclusion is simple.
Why I Love Cruising
I love it to explore new ports of call. I like the notion of letting someone else handle the logistics of travel, and I like knowing where I am going to sleep at the end of each day while I am on vacation. I’ve sailed with both lines numerous times and I have yet to be disappointed. For work, I have stayed in several different cabin types, but for pleasure I always book a suite or at the very least a balcony stateroom. In addition, I always arrive in the embarkation city the night before my sailing (just to be on the safe side) and I usually book a lot of my dining reservations and some shore excursions in advance.
This blog post is designed to help equip you with knowledge...because knowledge is power. This blog post also contains some editorial opinion by yours truly. Facts contained here may change without notice. We try to keep up with the changes, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research perhaps consult with a real live travel agent before making travel purchases.
Standout examples of classic Miami Art Deco include the postcard-worthy neon-lit Breakwater Hotel and the McAlpin. Though a small building, the latter is arguably the purest form of Art Deco because of its perfectly symmetrical façade and candy-colored hues. The Breakwater Hotel, meanwhile, is one of the jewels of Ocean Drive. Built in 1936, this boutique hotel features clean, symmetrical lines that become a neon blue beacon come nighttime. The Raleigh Hotel, which is considered the grand dame of Art Deco buildings, is also worth a visit. Its pool with curved-edges was once voted as the most beautiful swimming pool in America.Miami has the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world, housing over 800 of these structures. Most of them are found in Miami Beach, a city famous for its luxury beach resorts, restaurants, bars, and cruise lines. That being said, a tour of the most notable Art Deco buildings is another worthy addition to your itinerary.
The 20th century architectural trend was created as an avant-garde expression of wealth and sophistication. It’s characterized by symmetrical, streamlined designs. Although it was born in Paris via the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, it was the United States that took the lead in developing Art Deco. Miami Beach invented its own variant through incorporating pastel colors, white stucco, neon lights, and decoration features like herons, sea shells, and palm trees.
At some point in the past, the Art Deco scene deteriorated and was eventually neglected by its residents. But thanks to the efforts of the non-profit organization Miami Design Preservation League, many of the Art Deco structures were restored to their original appearance. Many of these iconic structures are situated in South Beach, where the Art Deco Historic District is located. Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, in particular, make for a fascinating spectacle of pastel three-storey hotels.
In line with the League’s preservation efforts, newer buildings were also constructed in the neoclassical style of Art Deco. The Betsy Hotel’s new wing on Collins Avenue is the perfect example. Reopened in 2009 after a multimillion-dollar restoration, the hotel marries Art Deco with modern interiors. The Tides South Beach is another building that has a vintage outer appearance and modern interiors.
Not all Art Deco structures are hotels though. You can also admire the classic beauty of Colony Theater, which lies on Lincoln Road. The theater was built in 1935 and last renovated in 2006. Today, it hosts events like music festivals, theater performances, and stand-up comedy specials, among others. There is also the Bass Museum on Collins Avenue, which houses the Miami Beach Public Library and Arts Center. Its aesthetic is a bit different from the rest of the Art Deco buildings in Miami due to its use of fossilized Paleolithic coral during construction. The distinctive façade features intricate carvings of a montage of scenes, including the Spanish conquest, a pelican eating a fish, cruise ships, and planes.
In celebration of the style and its cosmopolitan era, the League also holds an annual three-day community cultural festival. During this time, the neighborhood transforms into its former glory, giving attendees a blast from the past. Vintage cars line up the streets on Ocean Drive, jazz parties and retro fashion shows light up the night, and walking tours of the Art Deco Historic District take place. It’s an experience that could leave you mesmerized.
Yet another example of why I suggest you make your way to Miami for an ungforgettable vacation.
Am I the only person who sees some folks rely on electronic communication a wee bit more than ACTUAL human contact? Let’s discuss. As I continue my travels all over this world, I’m alarmed at how much “device staring” I see. I notice that friends and family members sitting RIGHT NEXT to each other can stare at their beloved screens for hours.
Don’t misunderstand: I am a big believer in modern communication technology. I love that we have the world at our fingertips and all we need is a cellular or WiFi connection. Yet when we’re out to dinner and the conversation dips into a lull, that is not the appropriate time to check Facebook or Instagram. I’m talking to you, my Millennial and Generation Z friends.
So, what to do? Sometimes a little forced human interaction is a good thing. Often, I write about where to go and what to do when you get there. Yet, I see people looking down at their phones when they’re standing on a beautiful beach. Seriously? Look up! Whatever it is (unless you’re taking an obligatory selfie or video), it can wait.
Let’s get back to forced human interaction...I recommend a deck of cards. That’s right, bring a deck of cards on your next vacation. Suggest to your travel mates that rather than staring at their phones, you all join in a spirited game of Poker, Black Jack, Crazy 8’s, etc. Forgot how to play? THAT, my friend is where technology should play a role in social interaction.
So go travel, and remember to always bring a deck of playing cards.
Another fun-filled hour of radio transpired this past Saturday as “Erik The Travel Guy Radio” took to the airwaves! Each week, we post the audio here and include links to the topics we discussed during the show. My thanks to my guests that appeared and thank you for listening. Each episode is also available on iTunes as a podcast.
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Deals of the Week (powered by Skyauction.com)
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Memphis Official Tourism Site
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Uvaggio Wine Bar - Coral Gables (Miami), Florida
No Name Chinese Restaurant - Miami
Eat Dinner Naked in Paris
You can listen to the entire show (with the commercials removed) by clicking the player below or subscribe to our Podcast on iTunes!
If you are debating cruises vs. all-inclusive resorts with your travel companions, then congratulations! You are one step closer to experiencing a potentially life-changing vacation!
The good news about both travel options is both are great options. The cruise industry and the all-inclusive properties worldwide have all evolved based on guest preferences, technology, and industry-wide improvements and oversight.
Which vacation option is better?
Cruisers love to cruise, and they might shrug at other vacation options, even an all-inclusive resort. Others tend to hate cruising but love the one-stop shopping of an all-inclusive. The reality is that both vacation options have pros and cons, many which are similar. If you don’t know which category best suits you...let’s dig into the details.
An all-inclusive resort is generally as it sounds. You pay one price in advance for your room, all meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and non-motorized watersports. Extras may include golf, spa treatments, excursions or day trips, WIFI and premium or upcharge restaurants. When evaluating which all-inclusive is perfect for you, a little self-reflection is in order before you plunk down your hard-earned dollars.
The Pros of an All-Inclusive Resort
Known costs – The pros begin with you know what you are paying for upfront with little room for surprises. My suggestion is to check with a qualified travel specialist on which all-inclusive is right for you based on your preferences. Be honest and don’t be afraid to say exactly what you are looking for, chances are that property exists and good travel professional knows which ones to recommend and which ones to avoid.
Central Location - One of the other pros of an all-inclusive is you can make it the hub for all your exploration. By booking an all-inclusive (just like an ala carte resort), you always return to the same room each night. But remember, you get what you pay for.
Upgrades - If the resort has a club level or private check in or concierge, I suggest you splurge and pay for added service, amenities or a larger room. You don’t want to get there and realize for just a few extra dollars a day you can avoid some of the crowds by “upgrading”. Making real-time changes to your accommodations can sometimes be problematic.
Immersion Experience – One of the biggest benefits of an all-inclusive you are in the space place for your entire vacation, which means you can immerse yourself in the local culture. You can get out and explore every nook and cranny of the region.
Cons of All-Inclusive Resorts
Limited programming – One of the biggest drawbacks that some consumers complain about at an all-inclusive is boredom. The programming options are at your own pace which means, if you don’t participate, you may find yourself a little bored. Also, selecting the correct resort for YOU is essential. Otherwise, you could end up at a property that doesn’t meet your needs. Simple questions like kids or no kids, romance and reflection or party hardy, what’s your budget, what time of year do you wish to travel...will all affect price and property selection.
Destination Costs – Keep in mind, the all-inclusive may be in a destination that you have to fly to. If budget is a concern of yours, then remember that airline ticket pricing will vary based on the season and supply and demand.
I would suggest if you are traveling outside the US for an all-inclusive, that you also secure a vacation insurance policy in case of a medical emergency or the unlikely evacuation.
Cruising is ideal if you like the idea of exploring different ports of call for a short period of time. Think of it as a chance to get a quick glimpse of these destinations to decide whether you wish to return on future visits.
The very first rule I live by when selecting a cruise is... who else will be on that ship? That’s a big one for me. I take lots of vacations for two basic reasons, work and pleasure. Work is one thing but for my own personal vacations...it matters to me who I am sailing with. But more on that in a moment.
The cruise industry is a big industry and cruise companies have lots of ships and itineraries to choose from. On the plus side, you’ve got options. The Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe. Ocean cruising vs. river cruising. Much like an all-inclusive, you pay upfront for certain things such as port charges, taxes, your stateroom, gratuities, amenities, entertainment, food and nonalcoholic beverages. Of course, there are lots of ways to part with your money as well after your initial purchase. Premium restaurants, WIFI, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and shore excursions are a few that come to mind. It’s safe to say some cruise companies/itineraries include all the extras so no additional cash is needed on board.
Factors affecting price include:
Pros of Cruises
Ease of travel - You only need to get to your embarkation city and then get on the ship. Which may mean, the airlines will play perhaps a smaller role in your trip planning.
Multiple activities - Yu can be as active as you choose. The cruise director and his or her staff have activities, lectures and entertainment going on around the clock both on your at sea days and some of the port days.
The Food – The larger the ship the more options you have every day. Gone are the days of a just a steam table buffet and a cattle call. Also, cruise lines understand the needs of passengers when it comes to dining. Most lines have flexible dining times and like the rest of the travel industry the dress codes have been relaxed...for the most part depending on the cruise line.
Cons of Cruises
The ship could leave you – The ship will not wait for you should you be delayed and miss embarkation. Getting to the next port of call is at your expense.
Appears crowded – Another potential con to cruising is you will be near potentially thousands of people while you are on board and presumably when you are in port. However, it is important to note just how big these ships are. They can easily accommodate this large number of passengers and crew, so you are comfortable and happy.
The cruise industry builds itineraries with two basic types of days...at sea days and port days.
Static itineraries – You pretty much must stick with the itinerary the ship is. If weather affects your trip, you may miss a port or change a port of call due to extenuating circumstances.
Cabin space – It is not the largest place to call home for a week, but it does serve its purpose. An upside here is getting adjoining staterooms or a multi bedroom suite so you can feel free to spread out just a little more.
In addition, unless you are an experienced cruiser, I would always book at least a balcony cabin. Cabins are divided into inside cabins with either 1) no windows or a virtual balcony (a giant television that acts as a window with real time view), 2) an ocean view cabin which is a cabin with a window, 3) a balcony cabin or 4) a suite. I suggest you seriously consider booking a suite. It will cost more but the extra amenities in my opinion are worth it. Concierge service, private areas of the ship reserved for suite guests, priority dining and shore excursion bookings, and expedited embarkation and disembarkation are just a few of the perks that ease the annoyances of travel. Plus, in most cases you’ll earn more loyalty points towards achieving “frequent cruiser” status which provide even more amenities and services.
Cruise lines like some all-inclusive resorts have loyalty programs; I suggest you sign up immediately once you book.
How to book a Cruise
Planning and booking a cruise can be done online directly with the cruise line. However, I strongly suggest you use the advice and booking services of a trusted travel professional. They are an invaluable resource when it comes to selecting the perfect cruise for YOU. They also have access to deals and specials that are either not available or hard to find online.
We announced last week that while the staff here at Erik The Travel Guy takes lots of trips, to help bring you the latest and greatest info, we want you to be a part of the selection process.
You can vote at erikthetravelguy.com/vote or leave a comment on this video in the comments below.
Keep in mind, this video is for educational purposes only. This video also contains some editorial opinion by yours truly. Facts contained here may change without notice. We try to keep up with the changes, but I strongly encourage you to do your own research before making travel purchases.
As I said last week, leave a comment, ask a question and suggest future episodes in the comments section.
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Are we there yet?
Those four words make any parents’ shoulders rise and their molars grind. Whether they're still in the car seat phase or not quite a teenager, taking your youngsters on trips can be tricky. I have two girls, five and eight, and I've been traveling with them since before they could walk. Over the years, I've found that the key is to keep them entertained. Follow these steps, and with a little luck, the vacation will go smoothly…for EVERYONE.
Let Everyone Have a Say
At all cost, get in the planning process early. Not only is it important to pick a destination the drivers will enjoy, allow the little ones to have a say too. Narrow the search down to three options, preferably the favorites and then make the final decision. This way everyone is happy.
Birds of a Feather
The next step is to stress the importance of sticking together. Now, I'm not suggesting having family shirts made. You know, the ones that are color-coded and have the last name at the top like a football jersey (unless your family is major sports fans). Instead, I like to take the ‘wolf pack' approach, clarifying that mom and dad are the leaders, but no cub goes unnoticed.
Food, no matter what age your kids are, is essential for any trip. Smart meal options can lead to saved time and money. Stopping at a grocery store when you first arrive at a destination is a good rule of thumb. Purchase what I like to call "cry snacks," (don't we all get upset when we're hungry?) like granola, gold fish, cereal or even yogurt.
Book a Hotel with Breakfast Included
The Grand Floridian is a great example of a family-friendly hotel, which worked well for my family on our last Walt Disney World vacation. However, if it's a smaller trip, I'd suggest looking for a Holiday Inn option, where breakfast is included. Essentially, it was killing two birds with one stone since I was able to earn more IHG points, while also having the expense of breakfast covered before even departing for the day.
Tips to Keep Kids Engaged
Keeping kids engaged while sightseeing has a lot to do with getting them involved early in the planning. Highlight a few points of interest either before departure. This way, you can make a checklist of items that you know they will see on the trip. If your children are anything like mine, they usually love seeing new things that I get excited about, therefore include spots that appeal to you too.
One thing that helps keep my kids more occupied are the small notebooks I bring along. Decoration is encouraged and so is a list of attractions they liked to see at each place. This way, they can actively cross out the things we've seen. The notebooks can also be used to write down things they would like to buy. Instead of just "buying the souvenirs to keep them quiet," I say that there will be many items they'll want to buy, but set some limits. I give them a daily budget. For the things outside of their price range, I suggest they just write them down. This way it's easy to keep the items in mind for the next holiday or birthday (which I promise is right around the corner).
Traveling with Teenagers
The only thing different about traveling with teenagers is the additional ‘slack’ parents are willing to give. Even though my girls aren't at that stage yet, my friends who do have teens say they want more free time to explore on their own. Society considers them young adults, so parents should keep the "embarrassing" moments to a minimum. If you can gain approval points from the older ones, you can bank on more precious Kodak moments in the years to come.
Bottom line: plan, plan, plan! I can't say it enough and with the holidays fast approaching, a "Clark Griswald" persona is always appreciated, just make sure to not go overboard.
Provocative? Yes! True? Also, yes! And if you were in need of an extremely unique and somewhat controversial reason to take a vacation, this is trip for you. Recently, a new restaurant in Paris opened it’s doors where diners are required to eat in the nude. You heard it here first. Upon further research, this is NOT the first restaurant offering this unique (and maybe a little chilly?) dining option. However, it’s Paris, so it just makes sense. Therefore, I have detailed a lovely itinerary (listed below) where you and your special someone can take a trip with at least one activity you WON’T want to have any pictures from. Read more about the new restaurant here.
First, you’ll be spending two nights in New York City, my hometown and one of the greatest cities in the world. The two nights include overnight accommodations at one of my favorite hotels: The Barclay Intercontinental Hotel. You’ll be seeing the wildly successful off Broadway production of “Naked Boys Singing” and dining at a personal favorite restaurant of mine...The Palm.
Next, you’re on your way to Paris! Five nights in arguably the most romantic city on the planet. Yes, you’ll be taking a short sightseeing tour to see the highlights and visiting that famous lady at The Louvre Museum.
Sound too good to be true? Nope. I’ve estimated the costs for a two person trip (departing from New York) on a seven night vacation in May 2018.
Pricing is for two people
New York (2 Nights) - Paris (5 Nights)
May 1-10, 2018
Estimated rates researched in December 2017
Total: $5,750 (all listed)
Two Nights at the Barclay Intercontinental Hotel on E. 48th Street in New York City - $400.00
Two Tickets to “Naked Boys Singing!” (Off Broadway) - $200.00
Dinner for Two at The Palm NYC - $150.00
Round-Trip Airfare for Two from NYC to Paris on Air France (business class) - $3,000.00
Five Nights at The Opera Cadet Hotel Paris - $1,400.00
Two Tickets to The Louvre - $50.00
Paris One Day Sightseeing Tour: $400.00
Dinner in the Buff for Two (reservations required) at O’naturel Paris - $150.00
Of course I’m having a little fun here, but as you can see, a Paris trip (with our without the naked dinner) may just be exactly what you and your special someone need in 2018.
The outcome of air travel has a lot to do with the attitudes of the parents. Visiting an airport and flying can be fun…if you make it so. Flight delays can happen but if the parents remain in a good mood, chances are the kids will too. Keep it positive and follow these tips to reduce the stress of flying with kids!
Don’t Over Schedule
Getting from point A to point B can be long, so I try not to schedule any important events during a travel day.
Book transportation as early as possible
This includes the flight and car service (both ways). Making reservations in advance, not only allows you to budget the expenses beforehand but also eliminates walking time. Seeing a driver dressed in suit and tie, holding a sign with your name on it would make anyone feel special, including your kids. Maybe the driver will even let one of them wear his shiny black hat. If this happens, parents are awarded bonus points.
Plan for Security
If you haven't done TSA pre-check before, traveling with children is the time to do it. Lines are shorter through airport security, eliminating the hassle of standing for long periods of time, which is helpful when the kids are getting too big for that handy-dandy stroller. Slip-on shoes for everyone are also a good idea, especially if you're asked to remove them.
I allow my kids to pack a small carry on (yes, mine have the Frozen backpacks), for a change of clothes, their swimsuits, coloring books, iPad, a deck of cards…etc. If it fits, pack it. If I'm on my game, I sometimes prepare a route map for them and even an itinerary, so they can follow the course. Don't forget anti-bacterial wipes for the tray tables and chewing gum to help with the altitude changes (ear popping) often experienced during take-off.
Seat Kids Near the Windows
Not only do little ones like to look out the window, but you also keep them away from the food and beverage cart, where hot coffee and water could easily spill.
Budget or Bring Snacks
A budget for snacks or light meal on the plane is my usual protocol. Kids love to order from the menu, especially if it's out of their routine, so give them some freedom to the items you know they'll like and most importantly eat. Other parents I know pack easy, low-sugar finger food such as string cheese, Cheerios, pretzels, carrot sticks, and granola. You don’t want to bring anything too messy, but boys are these options helpful when your kids are hungry.
Do you have other tips for air travel with kids? Let me know in the comments below!
Our inaugural “Erik The Travel Guy Radio” show kicked off this past Saturday (12/2/2017) and went off without a hitch. Each week, we will post the audio here and include links to the topics we discussed during the show. My thanks to my guests that appeared and thank you for listening. Each episode is also available on iTunes as a podcast.
More information about Erik The Travel Guy
Deals of the Week (powered by Skyauction.com)
More About Skyauction
The Chicago Official Tourism Bureau
Purchasing a season pass to Dollywood
I can’t tell you how excited I am to start a new year! While I’m not the most reflective person, I do enjoy taking a moment in December to glance back at the previous year and think about the highlights.
Sure, like most of us, your year might have had some adversity. While you might have had to overcome some tough times, didn't you also have moments of fun? Did you spend time with your family? Save a little more for retirement? Laugh out loud with your friends? Did you travel? Get a promotion at your job?
No matter where you are in life, a new year is upon us and I say, it’s time to start living! If you haven’t made New Year's resolutions in the past, this is your year!
How do you break old habits and resolve new ones? Start here: Picture yourself having this moment of reflection in 12 months from now.
Think of your life as a paint-by-numbers picture. Now is the time to draw the lines of the picture you can be proud of; you have 12 months to paint in the colors. It's okay to acknowledge that you might not be happy with some aspect of the analysis. That's normal. This is the year to resolve to act and make improvements in that area!
I suggest including travel in your 2018 plans. Get out there and explore a new corner of the world. Drive, take a cruise, or hop on a flight to your next great adventure! But remember, you will need to be proactive. Look ahead six months, nine months, and a year to make room in your schedule. Personally, I like to have some sort of travel adventure (even a simple weekend getaway) to look forward to every three months. Next, begin a budget and start setting aside money each month for this adventure. But get the planning started today. Because once you do, then you’re more likely to take the trip you planned.
Oh, and as a last note, you never know which vacation will change your life, forever. It’s true! I receive emails and calls all the time from people regaling me with the stories of vacations that forever changed their lives.
The 2018 train is leaving the station... are you on it?
Happy New Year and happy travels in 2018.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!