“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta.
Traveling for me, really puts life into perspective. It allows me to realize there's far bigger things going on, than my own small problems. So what if my wifi is slow or if my favorite restaurant is closed. Traveling allows you to see that the world is not always about you. It allows me to see how other people live and what they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Traveling has humbled me in so many ways and has truly broadened my perspective. Traveling to places like Eastern Germany (before the wall came down) and other impoverished areas has given me a sense of gratefulness for the modern day comforts that I'm able to enjoy, like a daily shower, for instance. When I was there, they were only able to bathe once a week.
When I was a child, I used to read books all the time. I would read page after page, then obsess and dream over faraway lands that I would visit one day. Only when I started traveling did I realize what the travel quote “it’s better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times” took on a much deeper meaning to me. I try my hardest to describe places and destinations in my personal journal and here on my travel blog. However, there are just some things, locations and experiences that are too beautiful to put down in words. They must be experienced first hand.
To me, one of the most beautiful things about travel is the fact that every day can be very different. There are no routines, no set rules and no expectations. You can do what you want, whenever you want, with no set schedule.
So….why do you travel? Go ahead and comment below, I'd love to hear your reasons!
“Go, fly, roam, travel, voyage, explore, journey, discover, adventure.”
Cinque Terre's Alluring Charm-
Cinque Terre is a gorgeous tiny village. The colorful collection of houses appear to be barely hanging on to rocky slopes rising from the sea against a backdrop of emerald-green lush hillsides. You will feel as if you have stumbled upon a quiet, secret coastal hideaway. It appears to be located far from the bustle of the modern world, where life along the Ligurian Sea ambles along much as it did a century ago. It’s as if time stood still in this beautiful village.
This incredible stretch of the Italian Riviera is among the most rugged, rocky shores in the world. Nevertheless, the quaint terraced hamlets emerged along the coast, which is only accessible by boat, train or foot. Very much isolated from the larger world all around it, their culture, architecture, and serene, peaceful atmosphere is unmatched anywhere else.
The unforgiving terrain has prevented any construction of roads. So we can thank geography for preserving this breathtaking place.
The result is a travel experience that's like none other. Imagine the lure of the steep, narrow building threading their way past beautiful, multi-colored fishermen’s houses, the tranquil boat-filled marinas, the astounding seascape, and an old-world charm that you simply cannot put into words. Imagine the clean fresh air and hushed, car-free lanes that will allow you to appreciate Cinque Terre in a soothing, unrushed fashion.
We trust you’ll find the entire experience simply amazing during our Italy Tour that will be an unforgettable small group adventure. Join us!
The Cure for Jet Lag-
Here’s an easy, surefire tip to cure jet lag. Say goodbye to those wasted 3 days of feeling like crap when arriving in a new time zone. All you need to do is book your flight for one that arrives late at night whenever possible (so like 9:00pm or later).
No matter what time you happened to book your flight, when you get off a long flight, you're going to feel absolutely drained, even if you’ve had a decent nap on the flight. If you arrive early in the morning, you'll have to force yourself to stay awake all day.
Arriving late means that you can collect your bags, get to your hotel and get to bed right away. Any time we've arrived late, we've had ZERO jet lag. Give it a try and then let us know how you feel!
Feel free to Comment Below:
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO TRAVEL?
By Jen Campbell of Escape Destinations Travel
So what inspires you to travel? Is it the thrill of going someplace new and exciting? Is it the unknown that makes you want to check out a new place? For me, it’s the idea of seeing new cultures, vising new lands, being exposed to new surroundings, great and varied people, and simply being out of my comfort zone. I love being able to “unplug” leave the social media and gadgets behind, and be lost in a new country. See how the other side lives, open up my mind to new ideas and new adventures!
Whatever it is for you, I encourage you to get out there and make new memories in a foreign land, you won’t be disappointed you did!
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” – Mark Twain
30 Items People Forget on Their Cruise-
1. Highlighter & Pen-
We always like to plan ahead what we want to do on the ship the next day. This is a quick and easy way to ensure that you have your tentative schedule for the next day ready and that it’s easy to see on the schedule since you’ve highlighted it.
If you’re traveling with kids who may be used to sleeping with a nightlight, or an adult that likes to be able to see where they’re going when they get up in an interior cabin to hit the restroom in the middle of the night, this small nightlight can be a very crucial item you definitely don’t want to forget.
3. Power strip-
Every seasoned cruiser knows that there is usually a huge lack of available outlets in the stateroom. Last cruise we counted exactly 2 outlets in the entire room. So, consider bringing a small power strip for extras. They even have some with a USB plug on it.
4. Towel clips-
Who wants their towel flying away? Not me! We love the BOCA Clips and use them each cruise to hold our towels firm on the lounge chairs. We don’t want a large gust of wind to whisk our towels out to sea.
5. Bug spray-
This is especially important for any tropical ports you may be visiting, because there’s bound to be a lot of little insects begging for a piece of you. With all the latest insects causing problems, it’s always best to be safe.
Whether you claim you “never burn!” or you’re trying desperately to come back home from vacation with a sunny glow, bring the sunscreen. In the tropics, the sun tends to be much hotter and stronger, even those who easily tan can burn quickly. You don’t want to burn in the beginning of your vacation and be miserable your entire trip because you forgot to slather on!
7. Small fan-
Many, many people need a fan blowing to sleep soundly and help out with the white noise. If you’re one of these people, or you tend to get hot during the night, bring a small compact one on board.
8. Seasickness patch, pills or bracelet-
There are many forms of seasickness relief available. We swear by the patches you place behind your ear, and are prescribed by your Dr. Some people use ginger, others purchase Dramamine, and then there’s the SeaBand bracelet that others use. It’s always good to have some form of seasickness help that works best for you, in case the rocking of the ship ends up getting to you and making you nauseas.
9. $1/$5 Dollar bills for tipping-
Often the porters at the port would like a tip for taking your bags at the curb for you. The shuttle driver to the port is also hoping for a tip for loading/unloading your luggage. Make sure you’re prepared.
10. Water shoes for various excursions/a rocky beach-
Depending on the ports you visit and excursions you plan, you may want to bring some water shoes. No one wants to walk on rough, rocky beaches and be uncomfortable the rest of your day.
11. Wrinkle release spray-
For the clothes you packed carefully but somehow didn’t survive the journey onto the ship without wrinkling, purchase and bring along some wrinkle release spray. It’s a quick, easy way to have your clothes looking decent. Remember: Irons aren’t allowed on the ship and even though they have ironing stations on each floor of the cruise ships, you may have to wait in line to use it.
12. A jacket/sweatshirt-
Even on a Caribbean cruise it can get a bit chilly in the evenings! Always a good idea to have it on hand, even if you never use it.
13. Reusable water bottle-
Instead of buying water bottles each day you head into port or for your stateroom, bring a reusable one from home. This way, you’ll always have a container for some thirst-quenching goodness if you happen to pass by a drinking fountain, and can even refill it in your stateroom.
For the occasional cut, scratch, blister or small injury. You can ask the crew for one, but it’s always easier to have these on hand yourself.
If you have your cell phone turned off during your cruise, a watch can be very beneficial. Don’t forget to always have it set on the ship’s time. You don’t want to miss the ship because you didn’t keep track of the ship’s time.
A hat will help protect your neck and face from the sun, you’ll also lighten the load on your eyes if you forget your sunglasses on the ship. Plus, hats can just add so much style to a vacation outfit, especially while at the sea and you end up with tangled beach hair!
17. Conditioner and shaving cream-
Most cruise lines only offer shampoo, bar soap, and body wash in your stateroom bathroom. Be sure to bring your other essentials, like conditioner, shaving cream, any needed makeup remover, and various lotions.
18. Nail Clippers-
You may break a nail and desperately need these. Don’t forget to pack them in your cosmetic bag.
19. Laundry bag-
Instead of throwing all of the dirty clothes in the corner, bring a laundry bag to put them in.
So helpful, especially in the Sunny Caribbean. Be sure to bring some along with UVB protection.
21. Comfy walking shoes-
For long walking tours, shopping along cobblestone streets in Europe, you’ll want comfy shoes made for walking (definitely NOT Flip Flops).
22. Lint roller-
Bring a small, travel-sized lint roller for any lint you need to remove.
23. Over the door storage hanger-
Traveling with more than two people, this is really a must-have. All the little essentials, accessories, travel sized items can go in these pockets and help keep you organized and know where items are in a jiffy. Consider purchasing the see-through one.
You may want to consider bringing an umbrella. Some are small and very compact, and these would be the best for cruise travel.
On nearly every cruise line, your key to your room (and to buy stuff) is a card the crew gives you before you board, or such as with Carnival Cruise Lines, it’s outside your stateroom door when you get on board. Don’t lose it, simply purchase a lanyard. You can even ask the crew members on board to punch a hole in your card if needed.
26. Ziplock bags-
For soiled clothes (think pools or hot tubs the night before debarkation) extra outfits for excursions at port, keeping your cell phone dry –these handy ziplock bags have unlimited uses. Stash a few in your bag just to be prepared.
27. Pain medications-
Whether it’s a killer headache, stomach ache, intense cramps, or sore legs, you may need some pain relief medication. Bring your medicine of choice (and if it’s a prescription make sure you pack it inside the original bottle).
28. Sticky notes-
Sticky notes and magnets kind of go hand-in-hand. Sticky notes are great to have to leave little notes for your cabin-mates or kids mentioning where you’ll be, what time to meet for dinner, etc. Magnets are good for hanging the daily activities newsletter on your wall, as well as anything else you may find important. The cabin walls are predominantly metal, so your stuff can go on the walls easily.
This probably isn’t necessary to mention, but just in case anyone is likely to forget: bring a couple of razors! If your ship sells them, they will be pricy in the gift shop.
30. Disinfecting wipes-
For everything from your TV remote, to your bathroom counter, door handles, tables and more, sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. Yes stewards do clean the cabins, but it’s hard to know what surfaces they pay extra attention to. If a norovirus recently broke out on board, or you’re over concerned with this, spend a few minutes wiping down surfaces.
What would you suggest packing for a cruise vacation? Share with us in the comments below!
YOUR ALL INCLUSIVE PLANNING TIMELINE-
Planning an All Inclusive Trip is so Very Exciting and sometimes as exciting planning as the trip itself!! Here’s your Schedule of what you need to do to plan your dream vacation, and when you should do it all. Don’t worry, Escape Destinations Travel is here to assist you every step of the way! Don’t hesitate to call or email us with any questions, that’s what we’re here for.
9-12+ Months Out-
At the end of the day, if you made it to the resort without a major hiccup, then your vacation is off to a really great start!
My best personal advice: don't stress, relax, and enjoy the memories your making and truly enjoy every moment because it all goes by so fast, it's all worth it in the end!
HAVE AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING VACATION!
HOW DO I PAY FOR THE ON BOARD PURCHASES ON MY CRUISE?
Nearly all cruises operate on a "cashless" system, meaning your boarding card, (also known as your SeaPass Card), will be used as a charge card to make all of your onboard purchases. Normally to activate this SeaPass Card account, most guests will provide a credit card, (American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover and Diner's Club), to have all these purchases charged to at the end of their cruise. Typically an initial “hold” is placed on your credit card the morning you set sail for a set amount (determined by each cruise line).
Additionally, the SeaPass Card system may be activated with debit cards (beware of the hold placed onto your account) with a Visa or MasterCard, or cash.
A running tab of all your purchases will be kept under separate folio numbers for each guest and an itemized statement will be left in your stateroom the night before disembarkation. If you provided a credit card (and there are no discrepancies with your bill) the amount will be charged to your account on the morning of disembarkation (the day you leave the ship). If you have used cash to activate the account, you will need to settle the account at the Guest Relations desk (to either receive a reimbursement of the unused amount you originally left or to pay the balance of what you have charged over the amount of what you originally left). We recommend you do so as early as possible. On the last evening on the ship and even on the morning of debarkation, the Guest Relations Desk (customer service) tends to get very busy.
Guests to place a deposit if they are paying for their SeaPass Card account with cash. There is typically a $500 daily limit on cash accounts for 7+ night sailings and $300 for 2/3/4 & 5 night sailings (each cruise line is different, check with the cruise line your sailing on prior to setting sail). Once the daily cash limit is reached, Guest Relations (customer service on the ship) will call the guest and inform them that the limit on their onboard account has been reached.
Our Top 3 Reasons Why our Guests Love to Cruise:
1. Value - Your accommodations, meals, entertainment, the incredible opportunity to travel to several countries, all included in your one price.
2. Opportunity - Easily explore multiple destinations in one trip, experience fun, unique activities in ports and a variety of activities organized onboard that are high quality entertainment.
3. Variety - Theme parties and nightlife, Broadway shows, cooking classes, painting classes, educational seminars, Spa services or just relaxing in a lounge chair taking in the sea breeze, and so much more!
There is truly something for everyone!
Give us a call to book your next cruise. Escape Destinations Travel: 910-379-4033
CARNIVAL VISTA- SHIP REVIEW:
This past December, my son Austin and I had the opportunity to check out Carnival's Top Ship- VISTA.
Well, it was absolutely incredible. There was so much to do. The time flew by. There were a few places I loved, as well as my son, so we'll share these experiences with you below:
Last year Austin (my son) and I took a cruise with my sister and her son to Bermuda. It was an amazing time. The only downside to this trip was me wanting a little bit more "adult time." My son was by my side 24/7. And while I thoroughly enjoyed quality time with my teenage son, I also wanted some time to enjoy solo, to take in a show, etc.
So this cruise in December on VISTA, I mentioned to him that I'd like some time for "me" and could he check out the kids club (Club O2) for a few minutes to see if he'd enjoy himself with some kids his age. So, he took my advice and was off...the rest of the cruise I rarely saw him (which made this Mom sad). So, for our next cruise, we'll need to establish a few more ground rules, with a better balance of our time together.
THE SERENITY AREA- For adults only- this area was ultra relaxing, quiet, peaceful and full of wonderful lounging couches with room for two to stretch out. They had soothing music, a separate bar for the Serenity Area and even a salad station (which rocked) and while it had very limited hours, it was worth knowing the hours so you could make your own salad. I loved the fresh, chilled shrimp and delicious dressings offered. Needless to say I packed my large bowl super high with yummy offerings. On a side note, The Serenity Area offered killer views of the ocean, each port and some amazing sunsets. It's not crowded at night and is a nice, quiet place to relax.
SO MANY POOLS- There were four pools to choose from (if my memory serves me correctly) and while the main pool (on the lido deck) was the most crowded and noisiest (with all the action occurring there in the center) I much preferred the quieter pools. The one in the rear of the ship had nice music, ample lounge chairs (where you didn't have to fight for a seat) a nice area to sit in the water to not be fully immersed, and a spot inside the pool where you could get completely soaked, with a nice, tropical drink in your hand. Bar staff was always on hand to replenish your drinks, when necessary. Since we went near Christmas Time (the second week in December) the Christmas music became a bit overwhelming to me personally...so I just brought my headphones and chilled to my playlist of special vacation music.
HOT TUBS- I only got into one of the various hot tubs offered on board. While it was nice, it seemed the hot tubs were always crowded, morning, noon and night. I didn't stay longer than 20 minutes, a group of 20 something's jumped in...and it became full at that point, so I decided to move on.
RED FROG PUB & BREWERY- I loved that the ship had it's very own brewery. I enjoy a beer on occasion, and these specialties were on tap at the bar only. BONUS- The cost per beer was cheaper than the fruity drinks, and even bottled beer. The bar snacks were delicious: frog balls! The staff was friendly and the music was tropical and soothing. In fact, this was where I frequented each day, so much so that they knew my name when I sat down!! I had a lot of fun here, but must admit it was humbling to walk in here solo (since my son was off with his new friends). One day they had karaoke music here and the place was absolutely packed. I met many nice people at the Red Frog Bar.
THE BUFFET AREAS- Honestly, I don't like all the lines, so I avoided the buffet as much as possible. I enjoyed the Burritos on the Ship (at the Blue Iguana Cantina), Fresh Salad Bar, The Dining Room and whatever else I could find.
IN SUMMARY- The overall music on the ship was good (aside from the Christmas Music that seemed a bit much), I loved the live reggae music, the piano bar singer, the cruisin' beach vibes, and overall feel of the VISTA ship. It was a very large, modern, fun ship and the only time it felt crowded to me was those dang buffet lines, which I mentioned that I avoided. I thoroughly enjoyed the My Time dining experience (you go anytime you feel like eating dinner) even if I was solo many of the evenings! My son and I enjoyed the pool tables, although many of the balls were missing and the sticks needed some major upgrades (tips were broken off of them). Matt Mitcham, the Cruise Director is TOP NOTCH! The shows were fun (especially the Love and Marriage Show & the Lip Sync Battles) and the comedy (at the PunchLiner Comedy Club- My buddy "Red" ROCKS as the host) was something I didn't miss. There were so many activities on the ship that I simply never got around to trying. My son enjoyed the SkyRide all over the top of the ship, he probably spent 90% of his time at the SkyCourt (shooting hoops with his new friends), the interactive 4-D Thrill Theater and the IMAX movie theater.
If you've not yet checked out Carnival's New VISTA ship, you really need to! It's truly top notch!!
It's been a few years since I posted my Bucket List picks, so here they are below:
My “Bucket List” picks are the following:
1. Go skydiving
2. See the Great Wall of China
3. Backpack all over Europe
4. Live (once again) in Europe
5. Retire on a tropical island
6. Go Parasailing
7. Take a summer off to travel
8. Cruise around the world
9. Live on the beach (in retirement)
10. Seeing/visiting every single state in the US
11. Travel to every continent
12. Selling and/or renting our home & living out of a backpack for awhile
13. Seeing the US and Europe on rail
14. Write a book- DONE
15. Serve/minister in a 3rd world country
16. Take both children on a mission trip
17. Celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary
18. Celebrate an Anniversary in Italy
19. Celebrate an Anniversary in Germany
20. Create a family foundation
21. Leave a good inheritance for our children
22. Celebrate our family reunion on a cruise ship- DONE
23. Teach a college course
24. Build or purchase a vacation home at the beach
25. Go paragliding
26. Go cliff jumping/diving
27. Learn how to snowboard
28. Learn how to surf
29. Take a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon
30. Take a 3 month sabbatical
31. Do a silent retreat at a monastery
32. Go on an overnight canoe/kayak camping trip
33. Drive a race car
34. Take a romantic hot air balloon ride
35. Go horseback riding
36. Spend a night in a tree house hotel
37. Spend the night in an underwater hotel
38. Run with the bulls in Pamplona
39. Wear a Scottish kilt in Scotland
40. Take a mission trip to a different continent
41. Run a triathlon before I turn 60
42. Run a half-marathon
43. Be debt free by age 50
44. Live off 30% and give 70% away by the time we retire
45. Take an RV vacation
46. Ride all the top roller coasters in the world
47. Go on an African Safari
48. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
49. Ride the world’s tallest water slide at Atlantis (with the sharks)
50. Kiss my honey on top of the Eiffel Tower in France
51. Visit Provence, Italy
52. Visit London, England
53. Give extravagantly to someone in need
54. Go kayaking in Alaska
55. Stay in a German Castle Hotel
56. Visit the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany
57. Take a boat cruise down the Rhine River for several days
58. Learn to sail a yacht
59. Live on a deserted island for at least a week
60. Ride a gondola in Venice
61. Hike volcanic trails in Hawaii
62. Straddle the equator
63. Visit the Parthenon in Athens, Greece
64. Visit the Holy Land
65. Re-trace Jesus footsteps
66. Ride a segway in a new destination
67. Take a carriage ride through Central Park in New York City
68. Ride on a motor scooter through a Caribbean island
69. Take a train ride through the mountains in the fall
70. Go parasailing
71. Sleep in an Ice Hotel
72. Visit EVERY major Caribbean island
73. Learn to scuba dive and scuba with sharks
Why not share a few of your own ideas below!
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