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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!

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.

Review of American Airlines 777-200 07/16 revision Flagship Business Class New York JFK to CDG Paris

Not all American Airlines premium cabins experiences are created equally.  If you’re looking for a top-notch seat, you’ll want to stick to business and first class on American Airlines Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft.  

Here we review the 777-200 Flagship Business Seat from JFK to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), also known as Roissy Airport.  Always remember that American Airlines is known for their expensive Europe business class product.  However, booking a separate ticket out of JFK is frequently your best option for a reasonable price.  To accomplish booking an international trip with separate tickets smoothly, we recommend taking a carry on only. Your Flagship Business experience starts at the airport...

1. Flagship Lounge

The 6 hour layover (because of limited number of flights from hub in Charlotte? Really?) went by quickly. Look at our review of the Flagship lounge here. You are only eligible to enter the Flagship lounge if you are flying international business or first class. The only restricted part of the flagship lounge is the dining area where only first class passengers on a three class service plane.

2. Boarding

Efficient and plane was actually fully boarded long before doors closing. Flight attendant greeted me immediately by name and offered sparkling wine or other refreshment. I asked for an additional pillow which I was assured several times was being looked for but never provided.

Things We Learned about Ourselves in A Paris Train Station

Sometimes the convenience of what some perceive as luxury is the pleasure that makes a journey healthy and meaningful.

Recently we were inspired by our love of history, wine architecture and the countryside to plan an adventure to the Loire Valley. We belong to many online collaborative travel groups, some of which reinforce several things that may influence your preferred travel modes: carbon footprint, convenience, luxury, time, or cost just to name a few.

There are limited ways to get to and through the Loire Valley. Renting a car is an easy method to get around but the thought of renting a car at CDG gives one palpitations. However renting a car in the Loire valley isn't very difficult. We chose to rent in Tours. As suggested by our Airbnb host, there is a high speed train from CDG to Tours (and back). FYI the train station at CDG is easy and of course the regional train stations such as St Pierre des Corps are simple to use.

Important points about the TGV train

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review of the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace at Versailles Near Paris France

With history, comfort, luxury, service and fine dining, the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace is "better than Paris" and provides a peaceful oasis to get away from the crowds of Versailles.

1. Location

For visiting the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, there can't be a better location. Of course getting to Versailles is not simple (especially from the Loire Valley) bit for comfort, ease, security and peace of mind, we recommend car service or taxi. The main ticket entrance is located about a 10 minute walk over cobble stoned street or you can enter via the Trianon entrance to the Versailles gardens literally right outside the entrance to the hotel. Either way, to enter the palace itself, a 10 minute walk is required. If you plan to visit just the gardens, the hotel is perfect. You should be able to walk around some gardens without an entry ticket but we didn't look at the limits of how much area you would be able to explore.