Make Your Bedroom Feel Like Your Favorite Hotel

Part of the joy of staying in a fancy hotel is the bed: the fluffy pillows, the soft linens, the mattress that seems to conform to your body from the moment you lie down. The first thing most of us do when walking into a hotel room is stretch out on our new throne. Then there are the other amenities that make you feel pampered, from the delicious-smelling toiletries to the thick, cozy robes you find inside the wardrobe, that you wish you could bring back home. And of course, you can for a cost!

When you are not on the road, it can be nice to add some of that luxury into your everyday life. In time of lock down, maybe now is the time to pamper and custom your bedroom like a luxury resort.

First think about the linens. High count Egyptian cotton sheets or bedding with high-quality, but more affordable, bed and bath items are available, including silky Sateen and crisp Percale sheets. Big white fluffy towels are always a treat.

A mattress makes or breaks a bed, so if you find one you like, it’s worth the investment. Is your mattress 20 years old? Yes, time to replace.

When it comes to the number of pillows on your bed, the more, the merrier. A medium-to-firm support pillow made of a mix of feather and down, or if you need a hypoallergenic pillow, some are made with 100 percent recycled fiber fill.

The luxury linen lines also makes robes. Bathrobe, which is thick, heavy, and feels downright luxurious. It’s made with cotton terry and has two deep pockets for you to slide your phone, headphones, and snacks into while relaxing with your morning cup of coffee.

If you’ve been padding around the house barefoot, it’s time to invest in a good pair of slippers. Maybe you even have a pair from that favorite luxury hotel.

Of course, then there are all the beauty products. Go find some you like or arrange a few of the bottles you already acquired from that favorite luxury hotel!!!

Close your eyes and PRETEND FOR NOW. STAY SAFE.
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Hotels during Covid

Experts say if you’re going to pay to stay somewhere, make sure your host is taking the pandemic seriously. The first step is to check websites for what steps hotels and other facilities are taking to protect guests. Different states have different opening procedures. If you are traveling between or among states, do check the guidelines.

The CDC recommendations on how to safely travel include a lengthy list of tips. They include wearing masks in the lobby or other common areas, taking the stairs instead of riding elevators with strangers, and minimizing your time in areas where you might be closer than 6 feet to other people. These include dining rooms, fitness centers, or lounging areas.

Cleanliness needs to be followed. Particularly whether or not they are regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces, whether public spaces and private rooms are being cleaned and disinfected frequently, whether the staff are wearing appropriate protective equipment and following the rules of social distancing, and acknowledge that they’ve put these measures in place and are adhering to them.

Anytime you stay in a hotel, or somewhere where there’s public space and crowds of people, there is an increased risk for getting COVID-19. So for me, the smaller the hotel, the less contact with others.

In hospitality, there typically was a mantra before the pandemic where you don’t need to see the cleaning, but cleaning happens magically.
Now it is turning into, ‘We are going to make it visible so that people know that we are actually doing it.’ So, I’m thinking that we are going to start seeing more and more of these visible cleaning people around, cleaning public spaces. This is reassuring in the time of covid.
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Air Travel with COVID-19

Flying during coronavirus: What to expect and how to stay safe
 

Here’s what airlines are doing to help keep travelers safe.
 

COVID-19 has changed virtually everything — especially air travel.

Flying and spending time in airports is one of the riskiest things you can do during the COVID-19 pandemic. And like virtually every other aspect of life, the pandemic has changed travel as we know it — at least while we wait for a vaccine.

But if you can’t wait until a vaccine arrives to travel by air, you should understand the risks and know that there are measures you can take to stay safe. Flying is risky for several reasons, but the main concern is being in close proximity to other people from all over the country or the world.

Infectious disease expert and MD Dr. Sandra Kesh told CNET that other factors like stagnant air on a plane are also a concern. “When you’re sitting on a plane waiting for it to take off, there is no air movement. If you turn on the fan above your head, that’s the only air moving. It’s a really terrific environment for one person to potentially infect the whole plane,” Dr. Kesh says.

One of the best ways to protect yourself (besides wearing a mask) is social distancing. And when it comes to flying, the reality is that it’s almost impossible to truly socially distance on a plane. Even if the flight you are on is not completely booked, the chances that you will encounter someone — either a fellow passenger or flight attendants — within six feet of you is very high. You will likely also encounter people within six feet while getting through airport security and boarding a plane.

Airlines are increasing sanitation protocol, blocking seats and more to help keep passengers safe.

Travel restrictions, shelter-in-place orders and general health concerns have significantly impacted air travel. Getting on a plane today won’t look the same as it did at the beginning of 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic hit the US.

Fewer flights

Most airlines are operating on a limited number of flights throughout the rest of the summer — but some are gradually increasing service as more of the country opens up. American Airlines is operating at 50% of its normal schedule for domestic flights in July, and most other airlines are operating flights at 50% or less compared to a normal summer schedule.

Limited cabin capacity

Since one of the best ways to stay safe on a plane is to remain 6 feet apart from those around you, it makes sense that airlines would limit the amount of people allowed on board. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to stay 6 feet apart from all people for most airlines, so you will need to check capacity when you book and try to fly at off-peak times to make sure you can have space around you.

Delta Airlines is limiting capacity to 60% in the main cabin and 50% in first class. They are also blocking off select window and aisle seats, and all middle seats to allow for better social distancing. The airline says it plans to keep these safety measures in place until September 30.

Other major airlines that are limiting capacity by blocking off seats are Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest.

Health agreements and health checks
 

Airline industry trade organization Airlines for America (major airlines like JetBlue, Delta, Southwest, and United are all members) announced support for TSA beginning temperature checks for passengers. Although this measure is not in place yet, it’s likely that the TSA could add temperature checks as the United States continues to face a huge surge in COVID-19 cases. Airlines for America also released a statement saying member airlines would allow refunds for passengers’ tickets if they are denied entry onto a plane if they have an elevated body temperature at a checkpoint.

Some airlines, like United Airlines, are requiring passengers to answer questions about their health history and screen for any symptoms before they can check into a flight.

Increased sanitation
 

Airlines have increased sanitation and cleaning protocols with deeper and more frequent cleanings. Major airlines affiliated with Airlines for America said they are meeting or exceeding CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitation. Many planes are utilizing High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to ensure the air flow is filtered and circulated as much as possible. Still, you should remain vigilant about hand hygiene on board, and bring your own disinfectant wipes so you can wipe down your seat and tray when you board.

Many major airlines are requiring that all passengers, staff and crew wear face masks while on board.

Mask policies on planes
 

One of the best ways to keep yourself and others protected while flying is by wearing a face mask at all times — from the time you set foot into the airport until you make it back inside your home or wherever your final destination is. US Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow recently issued a statement urging travelers to wear masks to ensure everyone can have a healthy travel experience.

“A wealth of information from medical experts’ points to the value of mask wearing as a key tool in preventing the spread of infection. Health and safety are paramount to restarting travel and putting Americans back to work, and our industry’s recovery is contingent on businesses and travelers alike doing their part to ensure a healthy and safe travel experience for all along the journey,” Dow said in the statement.

Many airlines are now mandating that all crew and staff on board wear masks, as well as all passengers on board. Airlines also recently tightened this policy, saying passengers who refuse to wear masks on a plane can be banned from future air travel with airlines.

Mercey Livingston, Health and Wellness
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Have your journeys made you more empathetic?

Travel is a quest for diversity, the very diversity-cultural, spiritual, geographical-that defines the destinations we set out to discover. The destination can be within our country. But why does it sometimes feel easier to embrace diversity the farther we get from home?

Openness has a lot to do with it. So do intention, vulnerability, and the kindness of strangers. I’m always impressed when I perceive in travelers a willingness to be gentle, empathetic, and curious abroad…a willingness that might not be quite so pronounced back home. And I wonder: What would it take to apply a traveler’s curiosity to our everyday lives?

Do you remember experiences where you connected with a person or space? I remember being in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, sitting in the square. I was sure my ancestry lived here. Or the man at a Vaporetto stop that came up to me and asked ‘where I am going’. Then he directed me to the correct stop! Or the times I have shared a meal with a stranger. I still have a place mat we drew where our families live. Because my French does not exist, and her English was limited we drew. Or Michael from San Francisco who needed a friend for dinner in Florence so many years ago. Stories are the best…..

Feeling at home in the world is one of the rewards of travel. The next step is to bring that same warmth and openness back home. What lessons have your learned on your journeys that have enriched your life every day? I would love to know-share your wisdom here. Meanwhile be kind to each other.

Edited from George Stone, National Geographic

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I work with busy, successful, curious people who

“I work with busy, successful, curious people who….

Each day I get many emails suggesting going here and there. Right now, I am not suggesting you go anywhere soon. For now, we can dream and reschedule.

Who are busy, successful, curious people? Do you have dreams and wishes to plan a holiday, but life responsibilities take up most of your time? Do you have the means for a holiday but do not know where to begin in the planning? Do you want to learn and explore the world but do not know what part? Then you are probably a busy, successful, curious person and you need me!

I work with people just like you.

want to master the joy in their life journey through the art of unique travel experiences.”

Mastering the joy of your life journey is what life is all about. I help you find joy through unique travel experiences. It is the unique travel experiences that I do best! Knowing and having access to detailed information allows me to plan that dream holiday for you. Not just air and hotels but tours, guides, tickets, reservations and more. The little out of the way places in the back country or city corners. Experiences that make your holiday personal and unique.

After 32 years in the travel industry, I have learned how to listen. As I work primarily through the telephone, listening is most important. Many years ago, a woman said she wanted a small car, and I gave her a compact. Then she said, Oh, but big enough for four adults! Or the clients that wanted to visit Southern Spain with a list a mile long and only 7 days to travel!

What you are really saying is most important. How to put it all together is what I do.

“I work with busy, successful, curious people who want to master the joy in their life journey through the art of unique travel experiences.”

We can begin the journey together now for travel in the not to distant future. Do send your friends and family my way. They will thank you!
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Itching to go someplace

If you are really itching to go some place, there are lots of relatively safe domestic options. First that comes to mind is Alaska. If you look at their Covid numbers, they are extremely low. Alaska tour operators expect only one-fourth visitors this summer. While cruise options are not available to visit Alaska, there are wonderful land tours. Flying into Anchorage or Fairbanks and taking trains, small boats, and ground transportation to explore can be arranged. With so few people the animals are out in force. They have not been spooked by humans. If you ever want to see a bear, moose, elk, or other large animals, now is the time to go. The earlier in the season the better, for by mid-August the bears have eaten as much salmon as possible and begin to move inland. There are always eagles, glaciers and sea life to view.

If you would rather wait until the fall to go someplace, there are several tour operators doing the national parks and historic trails. There are tours with very few people (8 – 20) or itineraries you can drive on your own. Gather your family and friends and plan a group outing. If you are all clean, you will be safe. Have you done the Hudson River Valley? The Genesse River Valley wine country in upstate New York? The Erie Canal? Thousand Island or Catskills. And these are just in the northeast. There are many interesting local places to visit.

There is wonderful land touring throughout the United States just 2 or 4 hours’ drive from your home. They can be safe and easy for us to plan. If you are a stop the world and I want to get off kind of person looking for a wonderful domestic resort and spa with sports facilities, there are many in all regions of the country. So, if you are itching to go someplace, you can. Let me help arrange a new and exciting holiday.

For over 20 years, Harriet Ahouse has been my travel agent. It has been a pleasure working together on my many trips, especially the international ones. Harriet has gotten things done to perfection. Before our present travel restrictions, I knew – that without asking – Harriet would sign me up for my preferred seat, preferred connection time, preferred car rental, etc. She also knows me well enough to suggest unusual hotels and sight-seeing events so that I get the most of my travels. But here is the real juice on Harriet. Nothing is worse that arriving at a connecting city and missing one’s flight because of weather or some other impediment. That missed flight means the litany of changing car rentals, hotel, next flight reservations. But I know I have a safe guard. A facilitator. Call Harriet. She’ll do it for me. And sure enough, she gets everything lined up. I arrive at the next airport and my car is waiting, my late arrival at the hotel is foreseen. Life goes on. I’ve taught my family to, “Call Harriet.” I suggest the same thing for you. “Call Harriet.” Grace Billings
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Travel Unites, Boundaries Divide

“Travel Unites… Boundaries divide…” is not my originality. A colleague, Jane, wrote it many years ago. She was a great inspiration.

There are so many ways to write about the title. In times when we cannot explore the world and country boundaries, I would rather think of our local communities for how we can unite. Most towns have neighborhoods boundaries we often do not cross or the neighboring town. Can you think what are your town boundaries?

If we were to travel beyond to these neighborhoods, what interesting might we find? Local ethnic restaurants and grocery stores, religious houses and maybe a smile. We might find how the country has changed because so many people have crossed the USA boundaries. We all know the foods that are readily available to us because of travels. Salsa, now more sold than ketchup. Humus, Tubule, Sushi, Tzatziki and more. Right here in our own grocery stores we travel to unite.

Oh yes, the best travel that unites is when we have a meal in a very local restaurant in a foreign country. Or a conversation with someone giving directions! But right now, we cannot do that. We can explore our country. Beyond our towns is a remarkably diverse country with lots to learn from one another.

Meanwhile, do remember all the stories you already have. Rethinking the stories helps us continue to remember how we crossed the boundary.

How may I help you to Travel to Unite?

Years ago, I worked for someone whose travel plans changed – a lot! Having Harriet on the other end of the phone meant that I could re-arrange flights and change destinations without much angst on my part. Most of the time my Boss didn’t even notice there was a problem. Now, I have the peace of mind that any of my own travel booked with Harriet will be taken care of, no matter what happens.” Sr. Laurie Niblick

 

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Other and Odd

Now how is that for a title? We are all a bit other and odd. What is fun about my days is I get to meet the other and odd all the time. Some like to travel this way and others that. You all have incredibly unique ideas of what you what to experience while traveling. Some people like museums and formal institutions while others want the outdoors and nature. My knowledge and resources allow me to arrange all types of experiences.

Below you may notice there is a new attachment Wanderlist. You may find it informative to explore for new ideas. It is not attached to me, per se, but all the resorts and proprieties I can arrange. Play around with it and see what you come up with. One idea might stimulate another for you. The world is slowly opening, and we all want to be ready.

Here are two more… what they say about Harriet

Harriet is wonderful, and so very helpful, whether getting you to Egypt or to Ireland. One of the best things about Harriet is that you can call her from wherever you are on earth and she will help you out of whatever travel fix you are in. She won’t schedule you too little time between flights. (in case you are not as fleet as Roger Bannister inside airports or between terminals)“. Barbara Whitesides

Harriet is a very knowledgeable travel agent who has helped us with trips in Spain, Italy, England, France, Costa Rica and elsewhere. She has a broad network of colleagues who provide advice on places to stay and things to do in locations where Harriet’s experience is more limited. In addition to planning some excellent trips for us and getting to know our preferences, Harriet has also helped us in those rare circumstances where something has gone wrong with a flight, a hotel or even a pandemic. I’ve also recommended Harriet to some friends who are very grateful for the recommendation.” Beth Mitchell
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What is next?

This is one of the most difficult newsletters I have written. I have seen much in my many years of life. But our country today is clearly in a horrific place. How can I write about travel, beauty, nature when we are in such pain? Daily I get emails of this place or that. Wanting me to sell their property or tour. One we cannot go now; two we have so little money; and three our hearts are broken. Pandemic, economics and now murder, what is next?

Meanwhile we need to do our best to keep a positive mental attitude. Yes, walk, read, and listen. Keep safe and well.

Several clients/friends have sent me referral comments I am sending onward.

I am so glad we booked our travel (cruise) with you last March especially since, due to a medical emergency. we had to fly home early from Grand Cayman. We called you fairly late at night and you were able to rebook all of our flights, got us excellent seats on each leg, and arranged for a wheel chair to meet us in Charlotte,, NC and when we arrived in DC. We did not have to do anything, my friend. You did it all and we are grateful.”  Nancy Weinstein

Harriet has helped me with the complex and the simple! Booking reasonable great hotels in Venice when my friend wanted an air BnB with no AC! To getting me home from Philly when I was interminably delayed- she is like a special friend or secret weapon! I have used her repeatedly for work international travel as well as personal and domestic travel- She is a gem!” Patricia Fallon

Planes, trains, & automobiles (and yes, even cruises) Harriet has always been available to help us with our plans. For more than 25 years she has been our go-to person for domestic or foreign travel needs. Travel today is not what is was yesterday, but at least we still have Harriet.” Bill and Kathy Applegate

Thank you for all the thoughtful comments. We will travel again. Keep safe and keep well.

Thank you, Harriet
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Spend a little, save a little, give a little

Spend a little, save a little and give a little.

(a friend said this was her father’s life motto)

Spend a little. As we begin to turn the corner, yet not knowing what will be, we need to be careful but not frozen in place. We need to look around the corner. What we see may change. What will be when we get there is still unknown but let us still look.

A few clients are beginning to think about travel to family and some a nearby resort holiday. As a result, I have been honing up on my domestic destinations. I know more about France and Italy than I do about the USA. The National Parks are going to be extremely popular this coming year. I do know the beautiful Northwest well and have traveled extensively. The Northeast is a given since I live here. The major cities will be popular too once the museums open. Wherever you live, there are great local resorts in driving distance. Most will be open for the 4th of July holiday.

Save a little and give a little are most important too.

Save for when tomorrow will allow us to take those wonderful holidays and give a little to those in need. And there are many are these days. Tip well and be grateful for all we have. Do let me know what you are seeing around the corner as I am here for you. Thank you, Harriet

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