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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Your 2019 Healthy and Meaningful Holiday Gift Guide for the Adventurer, Globetrotter, Traveler and Beyond

Share is an important word for traveling and we see it more and more every year! Our favorite gifts will help capture those memories, inspire future adventures, and make life on the road healthier and more meaningful.

The purpose of our blog is to share with you everything we have learned to make Meaningful and Healthy Travel happen! We only recommend products that we use or would buy for friends! Please CLICK THE PHOTOS BELOW TO LEARN MORE, BUY or SHARE this post to support our blog and keep it going! THANK YOU!

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

1.  OOLER by Chili Technologies - This is our number one recommended product because it has been a "sleep changer" for us!

Give the gift of sleep!!!! Our number one recommended product of 2019.  We first encountered Chili Technologies at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in 2019!  In a matter of no time we became customers ourselves and can't say enough how much the OOLER has contributed to our well-being and healthy travel!  Interrupted sleep is when our sleep is studded with prolonged periods of waking up throughout the night, usually at least four times over the course of eight hours. This condition can be caused by a sudden shift in routine (for example, a new baby in the house), travel, unexpected noises (such as a party at your neighbor’s house or a partner’s snoring), bathroom trips, menopause or other health issues or racing thoughts.  Temperature affects your baseline sleep quality and regulating temperature can help you phase shift your sleep for travel and help prevent jet lag.  See our full review of OOLER by clicking here! Use our coupon codes to take 25% off!

2.  ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life

The traveling nomad struggles with opportunities to exercise and eat right. Help them out with understanding the right practices! Because most nutrition products and training plans are designed for men, it’s no wonder that so many female athletes struggle to reach their full potential. ROAR is a comprehensive, physiology-based nutrition and training guide specifically designed for active women. Because women’s physiology changes over time, entire chapters are devoted to staying strong and active through pregnancy and menopause.

3.  Our Favorite Smart Watch for the Active Traveler just got better with a New Display!

The Garmin Venu has an enormous number of features, a long-lasting battery and an attractive build. It's expensive, but for serious outdoor travel enthusiasts it's hard to beat.  The GPS features of this watch are unrivaled and work all over the world.  This is a high-performance timepiece that meets big challenges and fits smaller wrists. This new Venu model comes in four finishes and holds about 500 songs.  The new AMOLED vibrant display is perfect for aging eyes and rivals the Apple Watch display! Anyone would love to receive this special gift!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Paolo Scheffer of Lisbon Explorer Private Tours Provides One of the Best Tours We Have Ever Experienced

Lisbon Explorer Private Tours provides experiences for the Culturally Curious! Perfect for travelers, foodies and art lovers who want more than a mass tourism experience.  We are proud to award Paolo Scheffer the 2019 HEAT Award!  The HEAT award is given to those individuals or companies that demonstrate excellence in Healthy Excursions And Travel!

Using vibrant and knowledgeable scholars to share insider places for food, history and culture in Portugal Lisbon Explorer Private Tours gave one of the best tours we have ever experienced.

1. Booking

We were part of a small group tour arranged by a friend of ours.  Booking was done through the Lisbon Explorer website via email.  Our group specifically requested Paolo, who they had used before and fortunately he was available!  Communication was prompt and thorough.  About a 15% deposit was required prior to the tour with the balance and entry fees required in cash on the day of the tour.  This is a fair deposit amount and overall - though we won't repeat the charge here because fees can vary based on number of persons and type of tour - the fee was very reasonable.  Find a link at the end of this post to see our tour and start an inquiry to book!

The deposit could be made via PayPal which is one of our preferences.

RxTIP:  We prefer to use a credit card with PayPal payments and not link a bank account to our PayPal for added purchase protection and security.

2. Communication

Communication was prompt, easy to understand in English and thorough.  Descriptions of our meeting place and options for transfer to the location with a map from the cruise terminal were sent to us before the tour.  Lisbon Explorer even included a photo of the meeting place with an arrow indicating where our guide would meet us!

3. Meeting

Lisbon Explorer gave the option of a van transport for all of us to the meeting place for 45 euros total each way from and to the cruise terminal.  It was easy to walk back to the ship after the tour but this would be a good option for getting to the meeting place which was all uphill.  If you are fit, walking is an option - just allow about an hour.  We opted for taxis which was not as easy at the cruise terminal as it may seem.  There was no taxi stand, only taxis wishing to sell tours. So we had to flag down taxis and the drive there was slow in traffic.  The meeting place was Quiosque Principe Real and we were about 20 minutes late, but not to worry, our guide waited!

4. Guide

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Have a Monumental Luxury Experience at the Monument Hotel in the Heart of Barcelona, Spain

The incredibly renovated 1896 building maintains the impressive character and pre-modernist style of its original incarnation, Enric Batlló House. Beautiful brickwork, ceramic accents and wrought iron decorate the facade, catching the eyes of passersby.

Set in a 19th-century mansion just off the Passeig de Gràcia, the Monument Hotel is a chic hotel in a fashionable location.

Have a Monumental Luxury Experience at the Monument Hotel in the Heart of Barcelona, Spain

1. Location

Located in the heart of Barcelona, on the fashionable Paseo de Gracia, within 5 minutes’ walk from both Gaudi’s masterpieces Casa Battló and La Pedrera.  Monument Hotel is a 10-minute walk from Plaza Catalunya and Las Ramblas; regular trains to Barcelona El Prat Airport leave from Paseo de Gracia Train Station, located 1,000 feet away.  Amazing attractions are close by and an easy walk for active travelers like us, including Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Palau de la Música and Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

Have a Monumental Luxury Experience at the Monument Hotel in the Heart of Barcelona, Spain

Sea Saffron Provides an Incredible Tour Experience Ending with an Unforgettable View, Wine and Tapas in Valencia Spain

Luxury Travel Docs gives 5 stars to Sea Saffron who offers guided tours by local hosts in Valencia, Spain with Food and wine tastings and Breathtaking views. 

LTD took a shore excursion sightseeing tour paired with first-class treatment, tapas, wine tasting and incredible views. It was an experience we won’t forget. 

1. Booking

We recommend going directly to the Sea Saffron website to see what experiences are offered. Other alternatives are to book on TripAdvisor or Viator. Plans change and Sea Saffron offers the same cancellation policy as TripAdvisor at their website but since there are multiple options of how to book, do what is most comfortable for you.  Find a direct link to Sea Saffron at the end of this post!

2. Communication 

Our cruise ship changed times of docking before we embarked and Nick, our guide from Sea Saffron notified us of the new time to meet via text even before we were aware of the change! The fact that they were very informed of our circumstances was extremely reassuring to us! We preferred to change our communication to WhatsApp and Nick was prompt and thorough when answering our questions and providing instructions for meeting.

RxTIP:  Use T-Mobile for international travel because it provides unlimited data and text in many countries.

3. Meeting

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Château des Grotteaux is a Perfect Base to Explore the Main Parts and Attractions of the Loire Valley

Have the experience of a lifetime when visiting the Loire Valley by staying at an exceptional bed and breakfast, Chateau des Grotteaux, the smallest but most gracious of the great chateaux located in Huisseau-sur-Cosson, France.  

The Grotteaux is located in the middle of Loire valley with most famous tourist attractions within a one hour drive. By itself, it is a beautiful chateau in its own huge park, with rich history and renovated to the highest possible standards. In the main building there are five private rooms, each with its own character, gorgeous living areas, and at the entrance to the grounds is the La Commanderie, a separate apartment if you desire more privacy. 

The Château de Grotteaux is a Perfect Base to Explore the Main Parts and Attractions of the Loire Valley

1. Location

Abutting the large forest of Chambord, stay only 5 miles from the chateau favored by the Kings of France since Francois Premier (Francois I) in 1500. Many chateau are within 1 hour drives, enabling you to see different types of chateau on your vacation to the Loire valley. Let's face it, castle after castle can get pretty boring and as Rick Steves suggests, make each chateau visit a unique one.

Not only is the Grotteaux in wonderful proximity to such an itinerary but is also in a very safe and peaceful area for you to enjoy the French countryside and all it has to offer. Check out our itinerary by clicking here.

It was a one hour drive from where we picked up our rental car in Tours.  This was an easy high speed train ride from Paris CDG.  To get to the quaint town of Amboise, which was our farthest chateau and town to visit to 45 minutes by our rental car.  Renting a car was easy on, even for renting in France and the price was very reasonable.  We recommend renting small vehicle because the country roads are very narrow and parking spaces even narrower.  Parking at the Grotteaux was easy and free on the grounds inside the entry gates.

The Grotteaux has house bicycles which would be easy to use to get to nearby towns, groceries or even activities at Chambord park or chateau.

Because we felt so safe in the area, with wonderful hospitality from locals, we ventured to a local chocolate festival one afternoon. We were the only foreigners at the event but felt such a warm welcome that we felt like locals!

2. Check-in

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Two Old Friends Visit France and This is our Itinerary for 6 days in Loire Valley

When you visit the Loire Valley, it's not hard to see why, once upon a time, French royalty decided to live here instead of in Paris.  The rolling countryside and fertile farmland — ideal for making cheeses, and growing grapes for Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé — provides a perfect backdrop for castles, quaint villages and friendly locals. 

Two Old Friends Visit France and This is our Itinerary for 6 days in Loire Valley

Along the Loire River Valley, the beautiful French countryside is studded with châteaux. Home-basing near Chambord at an amazing Airbnb, we visited five unique castles: elegant Chenonceau, massive Chambord, stately Cheverny, historic Chaumont and the beautiful Château Royal d'Amboise. Along the way, we toured Leonardo’s home, fed hunting dogs, enjoyed the local cuisine, and watched the red deer stags before heading back toward Paris to visit Versailles and stay at a luxury hotel. This was an easy itinerary for two high-school girlfriends to tackle in 7 days with plenty of rest time worked in.  

Note: This itinerary requires a car rental which we rented via at Alamo.  

Day 1 Travel Day -- Paris CDG to Tours, France and onto Huisseau-sur-Cosson

Two Old Friends Visit France and This is our Itinerary for 6 days in Loire Valley

This we left as a travel day and get settled at our Airbnb and thankfully we planned it that way because the day consisted of many delays.

To get from Paris to the Loire Valley can take a few hours. See our review of Flagship Business class JFK to CDG and what we learned about ourselves in a Paris Train Station for specific tips.  We picked up our car in Tours, France at the St-Pierre-des-Corps train station at Alamo.  We opted for a manual transmission and we recommend as small a car as will hold your luggage and passengers, because roads in the French countryside are narrow and parking spaces are small!

We checked into our Airbnb at the Chateaux des Grotteaux, our base of operations for the next 5 days and went to the grocery store for necessities and to learn the immediate surrounding area.