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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 18, 2019

Bank of America in Charlotte North Carolina Announced Return of (FREE) Museums on Us for 2019!

UPDATE

What a great Holiday Gift!  Bank of America is giving a big present to its cardholders with a special holiday edition of its popular “Museums on Us” program.  From December 26 - 31, Bank of America is offering cardholders free general admission to more than 220 museums around the country.  Check our full post below to see the details and find if any museums are near your holiday destination...


Museums on Us by Bank of America is back for 2019 and includes MANY museums nationwide!


The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA


Museums matter as LTD discussed in our 5-part series on traveling with Children!  Education is key!

The first full weekend starts January 5-6 2019 and includes many locations across the USA!  Here are some examples which we would choose:


  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • The Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art


BUT there are so many locations to choose from, so search your home location or where you are traveling to!

Click here to see the list of museums included!


Phones are Important for Travel and Everyone carries them in museums, but How Can They be Clean??!  PhoneSoap is the answer!


This is a customer favorite! AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK AND DISCOVERY CHANNEL. PhoneSoap's revolutionary bacteria-zapping technology was featured on ABC's Shark Tank and tested and proven on the Discovery Channel.  Think of the germs we are exposed to during travel at the kiosks! So many museums have interactive kiosks. Stay healthy and charge a phone all at the same time.  Click on the photo below to learn more at Amazon and support our blog! 



Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Lessons Learned Scheduling Shore Excursions: Your Guide to Scheduling Tours Online

What is the difference between a good tour company and a great tour company? Service and confirming the proper arrival location!  Check out our guide 


Experiences help us learn from our mistakes! Don’t get mad but understand what happened so you don’t let it happen again!  Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes too!









Courtesy of HBO

Recently we took a repositioning cruise on the Sky Princess to Sevilla. Knowing that there were some important locations for filming Game of Thrones in Spain we looked for tours to see the Alcazar (Dorne) and Dragon Pit. Since we are BIG Game of Thrones fans and had great experiences with other GOT tours, we scheduled a shore excursion with Sevilla4Real.com for us and 5 other passengers. Our itinerary said Seville (Cadiz), Spain and we told the company Seville.










Booking:

Princess Cruises Names New Cruise Ship Celebrating Women of NASA and LTD Took an Inaugural Voyage On Board Sky Princess

Princess has finally debuted a new ship with a tribute to the pioneering women of the U.S. Space Program, that will be used in North America for the Winter: The Sky Princess. LTD was on board for its inaugural transatlantic cruise. At first glance, the Sky Princess appears to be nearly identical to recent vessels launched by the line. It has the same central Piazza lined with cafes, bars, shops and restaurants, and the Crown Grill, Lotus Spa and Princess Theater are all right there where you expect to find them.


You will find several new elements on the new Sky Princess that are innovative, as well as quite a few adjustments to the basic Princess ship design that make it much better. For many Princess regulars this might be the best Princess ship to date. Here are some highlights to expect if you book a cruise on Sky Princess.






Cabins


Perhaps the most noticeable additions to Sky Princess are the two grand Sky Suites that are overlooking the main pool area on the top of the ship.  Measuring more than 1,800 square feet each, these are the biggest suites ever on a Princess ship, which has never offered big suites. Additionally, they are the first cabins in Princess that can accommodate more than four people -- with two bedrooms, a living room and a pullout sofa, they can fit about five passengers. However, more than half the square footage of the Sky Suites is occupied by giant wraparound balconies, leaving just under 1,000 square feet for the interior.







Courtesy Princess Cruises


Is this what passengers are looking for? During our cruise it was rare to see anyone on the Sky Suite balcony - only once did we see a single passenger there to watch Sunday afternoon football with a bucket of beer.  But, what the sky suites DO offer is an awesome home-theater experience. From lounge chairs on their elevated balconies, passengers have a direct view across the pool deck to the  massive Movies Under the Stars LED screen, which plays films most of the day and night. Not only is this the best seat in the house, but (for an extra charge, yet to be set) you can pick the movie that will play on the giant screen. In other words, if you’re staying in one of these suites, you can subject the entire vessel to your movie preferences!



The Sky Suites also come with the highest price tag ever for a Princess cabin, with fares for seven-night sailings starting around $7,000 per person!

Some will notice that Sky Princess is bulkier at the front of the ship than earlier Royal Class vessels. The line has added a partial deck to make room for not just the giant Sky Suites, but also 52 more cabins.

We viewed several cabins including rear balcony, mini suites, deluxe balconies etc. Princess devotees won't see many differences in the details. With the idea of healthy travel we were pleased to interview the occupants of a handicapped balcony room. If you plan to book a handicap accessible room we recommend booking at least 6 months in advance. Don't anticipate that you can get an accessible room at the last minute. These get reserved early and if the trip is cancelled by a passenger the accessible rooms go back into the pool for the general population. One does not need to provide any proof of handicap status - just sign an declaration that one passenger is handicapped. We hope this not an abused amenity! The handicapped balcony cabin was spacious enough for prosthetics, wheelchairs or other assistive devices and even had a ramp to access the balcony. We wouldn't say the balcony was any larger - such as to easily maneuver a wheelchair but large enough for access. The bathroom definitely provided enough room for handicapped passengers and the medallion access pad was placed low enough to recognize a passenger in a wheelchair.

Obviously Princess sees revenue in suites.  On the Sky Princess there are 38 new balcony cabins around the ship and six ocean-view cabins around the adults-only Retreat area on Deck 17.



With all of the new cabins and suites...the Sky Princess sounds crowded doesn't it? 


At a typical double occupancy of two passengers per cabin, there are potentially an additional 108 passengers on a vessel designed for 3,660 people. That’s a 3% jump compared to previous Royal class liners. We didn’t feel the extra passengers, even on our many at sea days because of the layout. Princess ships have many private areas. We continually remarked that the ship didn’t seem crowded. Of course there are those persons that just love a smaller ship and find anything over 800 passengers as crowded. We prefer a larger ship because there are more things to do and so many more quiet spaces!

We chose our usual inside cabin C731 which had very few changes. It was quiet and comfortable with enough storage and space for us!




Your sleep will be amazing in a quiet inside cabin because there is only as much light as you want, any time of day. Plus they are usually quieter than balconies where everyone is in and out of their balcony doors constantly throughout the day. The last thing that we like about inside cabins is the price. Would you rather take three cruises per year and see more locations or spend the same amount of money on one cruise and have a balcony or suite? That is your decision financially.

RxTip: Bring Clips and Hooks!





Make the most of storage in your cabin by incorporating hooks to hold important paperwork like itineraries, tickets or even accessories like hats, scarves, jackets etc.  There are many options and here are our favorites!  Support our blog buy clicking below to learn more at Amazon! Thank you so much!!!!



Food


Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Day with Madeira Taxi Tours by Diogo is the Perfect Way to Get to Know a Spectacular Island


Luxury Travel Docs gives 5 stars to Madeira taxi tours by Diogo who offers a guided tour by a local host in Madeira, Portugal with food and wine tastings and Breathtaking views. 

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




1. Booking


We recommend going directly to Diogo to see what experiences are offered. Other alternatives are to book on TripAdvisor.  Plans change and Diogo 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 Diogo's Facebook page at the end of this post!


2. Communication 


Within an hour after we booked our excursion on TripAdvisor, Diogo communicated with us letting us know he would meet us at the port of Funchal where our cruise ship would be docking.  We confirmed with him 24 hours before as he has a 24 hour cancellation time.  He was pleasant and gave us clear instructions of where to meeting him.

RxTIP:  Use T-Mobile for international travel because it provides unlimited data and text in many countries.  We were concerned that coverage would not be great on an island like Madeira, but coverage was awesome!

3. Meeting

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

To see reviews of the Chateau, check rates and make reservations at TripAdvisor CLICK HERE!

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 Costco.com, 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 Costcotravel.com 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.  To see reviews of the Chateau, check rates and make reservations at TripAdvisor CLICK HERE!


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.




Monday, October 14, 2019

You Can Fight Insomnia, Hot Flashes and Jet Lag like a Pro with OOLER from Chili Technology! We are both Customers and Advocates!

Many of us assume that if we spend eight hours in bed, we are meeting our daily needs for rest and rejuvenation. What we fail to take into account, is that the number of times we wake up throughout the night, or the minutes we spend tossing and turning under the covers, can seriously cut down on both the quantity and quality of our sleep. 


You Can Fight Insomnia, Hot Flashes and Jet Lag like a Pro with OOLER from Chili Technology!  We are both Customers and Advocates!

SAVE BIG!  Look for important coupon codes below!!!!


Are you already suffering from interrupted sleep???


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.

Remember, if you have questions related to your health, always consult your doctor or medical professional. The information presented here is informative only and is not medical advice.


Experiencing interrupted sleep can have negative consequences on our overall health. During the night, your body progresses through different stages of sleep. If one stage is interrupted, your body has to reset and start going through the stages again, meaning you may never get to the deep, restorative sleep that occurs during later stages.

Even just one night of interrupted sleep can negatively affect your mood and cause you to experience a decline in attention span. Interrupted sleep can slow your reaction speed and make it harder to learn or remember things. It can also lead to a buildup of amyloid proteins in the body, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

You may wonder what does all of this have to do with travel?


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Indulge Yourself in Desert Luxury at the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage Hotel and Spa near Coachella and Palm Springs California

With Service second to none this the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage is the ultimate in luxury and relaxation and you may discover that you don't want to leave!


Located on a 650 foot bluff overlooking legendary Palm Springs and the picturesque Coachella Valley, the hotel is built with elements of of wood, fire and stone to reflect the natural elements of surrounding mountains and valleys all the while paying homage to the celebrities from old Hollywood.



1. Location


This location is outstanding to visit as your destination because the palm springs airport is serviced by multiple major airlines. If you are traveling to las Angeles, San Diego or elsewhere in Southern California, it is a short drive over some beautiful landscapes. For example from San Diego we crossed the San Bernardino mountains which were spectacular. Other destinations nearby include Coachella families for its festival, and Joshua tree national park, a destination for campers, hikers, photographers, star gazers and climbers. There are plenty of other activities nearby with frequent concerts, live stage productions, festivals, opera, symphony and museums. Nearby is Southern California’s ultimate tennis center, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home to the BNP Paribas Open, one of the premier  professional tournaments in the world, which takes place annually in March.


2. Check-in


We were greeted with superb service at the valet. Immediately the level of service is clear as staff stumble over themselves to assist. We were greeted as gold Bonvoy members and as having booked with American Express fine hotels & resorts. Champagne was offered immediately and we received a very thorough orientation to the resort including our included benefits, upgrades and amenities. This is one of the most thorough welcomes we have ever received.


Friday, October 11, 2019

PLEASE SHARE to Remember The Day that Made America Stronger with 9/11 Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik

We all remember where we were on September 11, 2001, the Pearl Harbor of the Modern Generation.  


Driving and walking around the 9/11 memorial with former NYPD Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, we knew we would hear a genuine perspective by someone who would not retreat into clichés. Nearly 20 years later, Kerik's emotions are very much on the surface, as they remain for many Americans.


Remembering The Day that Made America Stronger with 9/11 Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik


On the clear, sunny morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, and in a coordinated attack that transformed the planes into weapons, intentionally flew two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Learning of the other hijackings through telephone calls, passengers and crew on the fourth plane, now headed toward the nation’s capital, tried to breach the cockpit to thwart another horrific attack. In response, the hijacker pilot crashed the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed that day, the single largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest, single loss of rescue personnel in American history. Over 400 first responders perished while performing their sworn duty: firefighters, members of the NYPD and PAPD, and other rescue workers.

Bernard Kerik, now retired from the New York City Police Department, is one of the most decorated police commissioners in NYPD history and was the commissioner during the September 11, 2001 attack.

In this video, Commissioner Kerik remembers that day.




Saturday, October 5, 2019

Review of Carte Hotel: San Diego’s Newest Boutique Hotel

San Diego’s vibrant Little Italy neighborhood is a constantly evolving place that in recent years has seen an endless stream of exciting new restaurant openings, neighborhood improvement projects and the launch of trendy retail and residential spaces.


The latest new name in the thriving neighborhood is Carte Hotel. The 246-room property, a Curio Collection by Hilton, development, is located in a stylish, airy and sunlight-filled 16-story building on the corner of W. Ash and State streets. What does the name mean? Passport and we agree that this is a passport to explore a vibrant and exciting city!

Review of Carte Hotel:  San Diego’s Newest Boutique Hotel



1. Location


The location is outstanding to explore all that downtown San Diego has to offer. A short walk away is the trendy area of Little Italy with farmers markets, restaurants, breweries, wine bars and more. In addition the Embarcadero waterfront is just a few blocks away and many rooms offer views of the waterfront. The Embarcadero is full of opportunities to enjoy the water or take in a museum like the USS Midway, take off on a whale watching tour or just stroll. The amazing Balboa Park with museums and the famous San Diego Zoo is a 2 mile walk or a quick Uber and a great way to spend an afternoon. The gas lamp district famous for its nightlife is about a 1 mile walk or easy Uber ride. Options to getting there are flying to nearby San Diego airport, driving (parking is ?$50 per day and only valet is available) or train because the Santa Fe train station is only a couple of blocks away. A feature of curio hotels is destination Tesla charging and Carte has four Tesla chargers.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Visit our new recommended shopping site TRAVELGADGETDEPOT.COM

Welcome to Travel Gadget Depot! It’s no secret we are travel addicts, AND we literally buy almost everything online. People ask us all the time where we bought our travel accessories! SO we thought we’d put together a website of our favorite travel gadgets!




What is a Gadget?????

Always make meaningful and healthy travel happen!!!



Monday, September 23, 2019

Visit a Hidden North Carolina Mountain Destination: The Apple Hill Alpaca Farm in Banner Elk

The name may be misleading, because the Apple Hill Farm has not been an apple farm in many years.  This hidden gem in Banner Elk, North Carolina is a great day to spend with your family learning about many animals and taking in some great views!


Every animal has a specific job, and many have a story as well! In addition to farm animals, Apple Hill Farm is also home to the largest selection of alpaca products in the High Country of North Carolina.



Apple Hill Farm, originally an apple orchard, was created by Lee Rankin after she was inspired by a personal connection with an alpaca at a Kentucky fair.  According to Lee, "That connection awakened my inner questioning of my life as I had known it. All I could express at the time was that whatever was next would involve alpacas."  Now she shares her vision and hopes to inspire others by making the farm open to the public since 2006.


The Emancipation Proclamation Comes Alive at Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy, Virginia

From slave cabin to the "Wizard of Tuskegee," learn about the incredible life of Booker T. Washington at the place of his birth in Hardy, Virginia.


Booker T. Washington famously said: "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."




LTD recently posted information about our visit to Poplar Forest, the private retreat of Thomas Jefferson.  Poplar Forest was a large tobacco farm near Lynchburg, Virginia.  However, less than 40 miles away and 37 years after Jefferson died, a small slave boy will be freed from another tobacco farm.  That small boy, Booker T. Washington, would go on to become perhaps the most influential black man in America during the late 1800s. He is often remembered today as being subservient, a sellout even, but most agree that he pursued racial equality with discretion.  However, there is more to his legacy, such as his role as a Presidential advisor, or as the first leader of one of the country's best historically black colleges.  To understand the significance of his achievements, it is important that you see the challenges he overcame and that begins at the place of his birth on a small tobacco plantation in modern-day Hardy, Virginia.  

Enjoy our live visit to the Booker T. Washington National Monument and to support our blog PLEASE subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking HERE!  Thank you so much!!



Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia

Poplar Forest is a unique place to visit in Virginia for fans of Thomas Jefferson, American Architecture or Historic Preservation. The site is a retreat that Thomas Jefferson designed for himself near present-day Lynchburg, Virginia, in the early 1800s as a get-away from his busy life at Monticello. Get an intimate view of the home, its construction, the enslaved community and the man himself which is unlike any visit to Monticello.


Explore the Most Private Retreat of Thomas Jefferson: Poplar Forest in Bedford, Virginia


Ever since George Washington began using Mount Vernon as his escape from official duties, American presidents have enjoyed private retreats.  For Thomas Jefferson, that place was Poplar Forest.


Enjoy our Live Visit to Poplar Forest and PLEASE support our YouTube Channel by Subscribing HERE



Poplar Forest is one of only two homes Jefferson designed for his personal use. Jefferson inherited the Bedford County plantation in 1773 and work began on the home about 1806. When his presidency ended in 1809, he visited the retreat three or four times a year, often staying for several months at a time during planting seasons.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A New United Airlines Deal Can Save You 10% on Flights — if You're the Right Age

Do you have a college student that will need to fly home over the holidays?  Check out United Airlines discount for the Gen-Z who are members of MileagePlus and use the app!


The airline will extend a 10% savings on tickets purchased on the United mobile app now through December 31.




To qualify:


  • You must be between the ages of 18 and 22
  • You must be enrolled in the loyalty MileagePlus program (free to join) and indicate your full birthdate
  • The discount applies only to yourself (no companions)
  • It must be for economy class on domestic flights within the U.S., and on routes to Canada and Mexico

And to appeal to the Gen-Z crowd, United has pledged to offset carbon emissions with its Eco-Skies program for the first 25,000 flights purchased through the new promotion. United is the sole carrier to commit to reducing our individual greenhouse gas emissions with a goal of a 50% reduction by 2050.

If you know any veterans, they are eligible for 5% discount on United Airlines, by joining the United Veterans Advantage program.

To avoid extra charges for baggage - United charges $30 for the first checked bag, we recommend a carryon only.  Our favorite is the Osprey Porter 46L which can be carried as a backpack or shoulder bag.  The compression straps allow for ease of packing more than you would expect you can!  Click the photo below to learn more at Amazon and support our blog!