Tag Archives: #money

Finding Places to Love at the LA Travel and Adventure Show

What’s your favorite type of getaway?  Relaxing on a secluded tropical island?  Exploring a historic European city?  Seeing the sun dip into the ocean from your private cruise ship balcony? 

Discover new places to love at the LA Travel and Adventure show.  This past weekend, we delved into the Travel and Adventure show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. 

I felt such a sense of community this year, with the Winter Olympics going on in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  We talked to people from far- off lands, including Japan, Africa, and the Cook Islands.  We even met the mascots from the Olympic Games. 

Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Mascots

For the same reason that I love Epcot’s World Showcase at Disney World, I truly enjoyed the Travel and Adventure Show.   Like the Olympics, they gather cultures together to show off their best.  

It’s more than just another convention. It’s a chance to experience things you may have wondered about, but haven’t had a chance to try.   Continue reading Finding Places to Love at the LA Travel and Adventure Show

5 Reasons You Need to Bring the Family to the Next Travel and Adventure Show

Yearning for the perfect getaway, but not sure where to go? Whether you seek exotic destinations, extreme adventure, or indulgent beach retreats, you’ll find your answers at the Travel and Adventure Show.

The Travel and Adventure Show is the nation’s largest travel show, and promises fun for the entire family.

Growing over the last 12 years, the Travel and Adventure Show has helped over 1.1 million travelers connect with over 2,800 top travel brands to find their dream vacation.  And they can help you too.

Showcasing over 500 exhibitors, the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show returned to Long Beach Convention Center February 27-28, 2016.

Travel Show Overview
Travel Show Overview

Still need some convincing? Here are the Top 5 Reasons why you should plan to go to next year’s Travel and Adventure Show.

1.  Learn first-hand from Expert Travel Speakers

Get meaningful advice.  Get your questions answered.  I’ve traveled the world extensively, but I always learn from these experts.

This year, the Show featured A-list speakers such as:

  • Samantha Brown (Travel Channel host and ‘Girl with the Best Job in the World’)
  • Rick Steves (PBS travel host of “Rick Steves Europe,” guidebook author, leading authority on European travel)
  • Peter Greenberg (Emmy Award-winning CBS News travel editor)
  • Pauline Frommer (editorial director of Frommer Guide books, and publisher of Frommers.com)
Samantha Brown talks about Lessons Learned from a Life Lived on the Road
Samantha Brown shares Lessons Learned from a Life Lived on the Road

Samantha Brown always brings fresh travel tips and new stories.

“Don’t spend all your time in the past,” she says. When exploring a historic destination (such as Rome or Athens), don’t see only the museums and monuments.  See how the people live now. Continue reading 5 Reasons You Need to Bring the Family to the Next Travel and Adventure Show

Hotel Review: The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian

 

Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel balances classic beauty and elegance with exceptional service in the heart of Disney World.  Being a top-priced Disney hotel, there is always high demand for this property. We have found the service to be exceptional here, even by Disney standards.

Grand Floridian Lobby Flowers
Grand Floridian Hotel Lobby Flowers

We stayed in a studio Lake view Villa (DVC, Disney Vacation Club) at the Grand Floridian, and were again very satisfied with the location and overall service.

It is worth the premium to reserve a Lake view Villa here.  You’re already paying for the Grand Floridian… it’s just a few more points for an exceptional view.

Grand Floridian Studio Villa Pano
Grand Floridian Studio Villa

 

Continue reading Hotel Review: The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian

Surprising Ups and Downs We Encountered During our River Cruise — an Avalon Impression Review

 

The Avalon Impression (2014) is a beautiful new ship in the Avalon fleet.  I am reviewing this as a ‘hotel’ because it is your floating hotel along the rivers of Europe.  Our cruise sailed from Budapest, Hungary to Amsterdam (14 days) in August 2015, and was filled with many surprising ups and downs.

Avalon Impression
Avalon Impression
The Small Ship Difference

This was our first river cruise.  We had been on many ocean cruises, ranging from 3600 passengers to ‘small ships’ of about 650 passengers.  This was much smaller.

The Avalon Impression holds about 166 passengers — there were 150 passengers on our sailing.  The Impression has 67 Suites, and 16 outside staterooms with windows (lower, Indigo deck)

The front desk reception (also your Security team), knows each passenger by name and stateroom number.  There is a lost and found, where things that are lost might actually get found!

You get to know your fellow passengers with only 150 people on board.  River cruise passengers tend to be friendly, social people who want to get to know you.  If you don’t enjoy meeting new people, then river cruising will be more challenging for you than ocean cruising.

Avalon Impression Panorama Suite
Avalon Impression Panorama Suite, photo from the Avalon Waterways Website
Suites and Bathrooms

The Panorama Suite cabins are large with beds that face French balconies that open up almost wall-to-wall.  This French balcony design maximizes your personal cabin space, Continue reading Surprising Ups and Downs We Encountered During our River Cruise — an Avalon Impression Review

Hotel Review: Westin Europa & Regina, Venice Italy

 

We have all had some fantastic hotel experiences — whether it was the service, the location, or commemorating a special event …. and then perhaps some not so great hotel experiences.
In this series, I want to share with you some of the hotels that I have experienced.
It is a pleasure to share with you my review of The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, Italy.  This hotel is a gem in the heart of San Marco, and is conveniently located near museums and transportation options.
Westin Regina lobby flowers
Westin Regina lobby flowers
Westin Europa & Regina, Venezia
Last stay: May 2015
Rating Scale, for reference:
1=poor
3=average
5=great
6=exceptional (rare ranking)
NE = no experience
Price — 4.  Venice is expensive, and this is the best-value Starwood hotel in central Venezia.
Westin Europa & Regina view from the Grand Canal
Westin Europa & Regina view from the Grand Canal

Hotel Location — 6.  Closer to Piazza San Marco than any other Starwood property, there are only 2 bridges to traverse from the Alilaguna stop to hotel.

Ideally located on the Grand Canal directly across from the iconic Santa Maria de la Salute church… It doesn’t get better than this.

Continue reading Hotel Review: Westin Europa & Regina, Venice Italy

In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 2) — Surviving the Long Haul Journey

Flying used to be an exciting adventure – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights.

The reality of the airline industry is centered on functionality, as they cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce service in the main cabin.

This has led to a test of endurance – a test that I want to help you pass with “flying” colors.

With some advance planning, your long haul international flight does not have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.

In a previous post, Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight, I shared how your flight selection can have a large impact on your flight experience.

In this post, I share Part 2 of my tried and true In-Flight Survival Tips  (see Part 1).
Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the named entities discussed in this article.

In Flight Comforts

In-Flight Comfort Pack

International flights are long and challenging.  Having a few comfort items can really make things much more bearable.  Of course, you must carefully weigh the benefit of each item you bring on-board, as they will take up room in your small area of personal space. Continue reading In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 2) — Surviving the Long Haul Journey

Surviving the Long Haul Journey: In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 1)

Flying used to be an exciting adventure – rather than just mere survival – especially for long haul flights.    The reality of the airline industry is centered on functionality, as they cut personal space to add more seats, and reduce service in the main cabin.

This has led to a test of endurance – a test that I want to help you pass with “flying” colors.  With some advance planning, your long haul international flight doesn’t have to be a 10+ hour nightmare in a horribly cramped prison-like seat.

In my last post, Surviving the Long Haul Journey: Choosing Your Flight, I shared how your flight selection can have a large impact on your flight experience.  In this post, I share my tried and true In-Flight Survival Tips.

Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the named entities discussed in this article.

Dressing for Success

Wear comfortable clothes, and dress in layers.  Airplanes can be very cold while in-flight, but very warm on the ground before the engines are running.  To be comfortable in both scenarios, dress in layers.

Be prepared for the air conditioning system to not operate as expected.  Your ideal temperature may not be everyone else’s ideal temperature.  We were once on an international flight on a very warm plane.  I had worn a long sleeve shirt as my base layer, and I could not get comfortable the whole flight. Lesson learned.

Your travel outfit should double as pajamas, but still look presentable.  Please do not be that person wearing inappropriate sleepwear on board!  You could change into your pajamas onboard, but that increases your carry-on luggage bulk.

Seat Selections

If you have two people traveling Continue reading Surviving the Long Haul Journey: In-Flight Survival Tips (Part 1)

8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Smartphones have made our daily lives immeasurably more convenient.  Using GPS to map a route to the closest Starbucks, using Google to research Risso’s dolphins, uploading your pictures to Instagram – sometimes we may take the ease of obtaining information for granted.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have discussed in a previous blog (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘airplane’ mode while out of the country.

It is therefore very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here is a list of communication apps I have found particularly useful.

Google Apps

1.  Google Translate:  (FREE) Much improved, Google Translate can translate between 90 languages, and read aloud phrases in the chosen language.  In addition, Google Translate now uses your smartphone camera to read written signs, and can instantly translate them on your smartphone screen.

This feature works instantly between English and: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  This app translates 36 total languages when you take a picture of the signs.

I used Google Translate Continue reading 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Related Images:

10 Money-Smart Cash Tips To Know Before You Travel

 

Financial disclosure:  I have no connections with any of the financial entities discussed in this article.

I love shopping while I’m traveling, and understanding how to get the best exchange rate for euros, Pounds, and Kroners allows me to get the most for my money.  Today, I will be sharing money-saving Cash tips that can be especially helpful for international (and domestic) travel.

Related Savvy International Traveler Posts in this series:

 Nothing speaks louder than Cash

Negotiating foreign currencies used to be much more of a challenge than it is today.  With so many countries in the Eurozone, there is one currency for much of Western Europe.  In this modern age, it is much less necessary to ‘change money’ into foreign currency.  However, there are still times when having cash is very useful.

Here are some savvy traveler’s tips to avoid fees and get the most value out of your vacation dollar.

1.  Bring some cash – even US Dollars are fine. Some cash is better than no cash, whatever currency it may be.  In some countries, they will accept US Dollars even if they do not take credit cards.  They may not give you the best exchange rate, though, so be aware and check your math!

Continue reading 10 Money-Smart Cash Tips To Know Before You Travel

10 Money-Smart Credit Card Tips To Know Before You Travel

 

I love shopping, and understanding how to get the best exchange rate for euros, Pounds, and Kroners allows me to get the most for my money.  Today, I will be sharing money-saving credit card tips that can be especially helpful for international (and domestic) travel.

Related Posts:  In Part 1 of this series, I covered  7 Tips to Save Your  Cell Phone During International Travel.

Disclaimer: I have no financial connections with any banks mentioned in this post.

(Plastic) Money Makes the World Go Round

Negotiating foreign currencies used to be much more of a challenge than it is today.  With so many countries in the Eurozone, there is one currency for much of Western Europe.  Hotels, restaurants, and larger stores in most countries accept credit cards.  In this modern age, it is much less necessary to ‘change money’ into foreign currency.

Here are some savvy traveler’s tips to avoid fees and get the most value out of your vacation dollar.

  1. Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

Many credit cards charge 2%-3% in foreign transaction fees on every purchase.  Why pay these bank fees when there are an increasing number of credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees?  Call your bank to see if a card you already have is foreign transaction fee-free. Continue reading 10 Money-Smart Credit Card Tips To Know Before You Travel