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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