Warm up your Winter

Unlike most Decembers, it is clearly not too late to plan a winter escape. The sandy beaches of the Caribbean await you. Or would you like to warm your spirits with thinking. A quick trip to a major city with museums and music. Winter is a great time to explore a city. There are so many indoor activities to enjoy. New York City or Paris, one could never explore all their museums.


The Caribbean resorts are offering many promotions; fourth night or more free, transfers, or drink packages. The airline seats are always tighter than the accommodations. It might be good to choose an island where you will not need a car, as they are most expensive now.


Call or email me to help you warm up your winter. Most of you know, I can help you make decisions and decide what is best for you and your family. A quick side story. The other night I was telling a friend how the refrigerator company salesperson did not ask me how my kitchen is arranged and how I access the refrig. My friend thought it was my job to tell him. But the questions never occurred to me. He just took my order. And then had to exchange it for the correct style. I am not an order taker. I ask you lots of questions to help us plan your memorable holiday. This is what I do. I help you. That is why we call ourselves ‘travel advisors’. We are not just an agent; we are advisors to help you plan your dream holiday.


Where would you like to warm up your winter?

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Festive Season is around the corner

Festive Season is almost here. Years ago I heard the term Festive Season and adopted it. It is so very inclusive. There is still time to plan a family or friends visit for the holidays. I have done a few tickets lately and there is still good availability, price wise.


We have all heard about the recent airline cancellations. So many flights canceled. As long as the flying public is not consistent there will be staffing issues. And when the weather becomes involved all is multiplied! Yes, more people are flying than in the past year, but not enough to fill all the planes most of the time. Next week I will go to Seattle on an Airbus 318. Currently the plane is half full/empty! This small plane, 130 – 170 passengers, was designed for short hull flights. Delta is using it to cross the county. That is how few people are flying.


So now is the time to plan, especially during popular times! There is plenty of availability at resorts too! If you want to go off times, January is a great time to escape. Most people are back from their festive activities and have spent their money on gifts. So January there are far less people traveling. Therefore, you may feel more comfortable exploring the world. Yes, Mexico or the Caribbean are great places to explore in January. But so are cities. I have been to both Paris and Rome in January. Neither are particularly cold. Museums and other venues are open. Music halls and opera houses are open. There is so much to see and do in cities. And when the weather is cool, it is a great time to just walk and walk. Stop for a beverage and then walk onward. Walking beyond the tourist areas, allows you to experience the city and its people. Sometimes I have walked until I could not take another step and wave down a taxi! More than once!


So whether you want to explore beach or city there is plenty of availability for you. So call me soon and we can make your plans.     

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Ten Commandments

Remember when you are abroad there may be a language barrier. While some hotel employees speak fluent English, many waiters, etc. have a very limited working knowledge of English. A little patience in this department can be very helpful. If a person is gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he/she is a citizen of the world.


The purpose of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.


Our object on traveling should be not to gratify curiosity or seek mere temporary amusement, but to learn and to venerate, to improve the understanding of the heart. Faithful observance of the ‘Traveler’s Ten Commandments’ can also be very rewarding:

  • Thou shalt not expect to find things as thou has left them at home, for thou has left they home to find things different.
  • Thou shalt not take anything too seriously, for a carefree mind is the beginning of a vacation.
  • Thou shalt not let the other tourist get on they nerves, for thou art paying out good money to have a good time.
  • Thou shalt knowest where thy passport is at all time; for a person without a passport is a person without a country.
  • Blessed is the person who can say ‘thank you’ in any language; and it shall be worth more to him/her than tips.
  • Thou shalt not worry, for he/she that worries hast no pleasure; and few things are ever fatal.
  • Thou shalt not judge the people of a country by one person with whom thou hast had trouble.
  • Thou shalt when in Rome do as the Romans do; and if in difficulty, thou shalt use the American common sense, friendly smile and kind disposition; and become a quick thinking fast acting American!
  • Thou shalt remember thou art a guest in every land; and he/she that treateth his/her host with respect shall be treated as an honored guest.

Now, thou needs to begin plans so thou can enjoy the world around us!!

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Looking out the window

Happiness is looking down on your new destination from an airplane window!


Once flying over Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower and I got so excited. Or years ago flying over the Alps on my way to Salzburg, to see better, while landing, I got out of my seat to go to the other side and the flight attendant had a fit! But what a view! One more memory. Flying to Nassau down the Bahama island chain; seeing the tiny island was one thing; but it was the shallow beautiful shades of blue water that I remember most.


Do you have favorite memories? Sure would enjoy hearing the stories.


Meanwhile now it is time to plan those new happy moments. Some place other than visiting friends and family within the USA. Yes, this may be best for now. As this year is passing, it is time to plan for next year. Summer and fall of 2022 or winter 2023 will be upon us before w

e know it. Will you be ready? What new destination do you want to see out your airplane window?
As my desk is still very quiet, now is the time to begin planning. Believe it or not 2022 and 2023 are getting very busy. Many tour operators and resorts are offering very flexible change and cancellation policies. Therefore, you can plan knowing you have little to no risk in securing your dream destination.


If you would like suggestions, you might go to my webpage www.alwaysharriet.com Go to ‘may I suggest’ or ‘photo album’ and explore the world. Most of the pictures were taken by me, but many from clients. Send me your travel pictures and I can post!


Let us talk soon…

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Why we travel

We’ve locked down, canceled trips, and spent countless milestones—birthdays, graduations, honeymoons—cooped up at home. But with an end in sight, it’s time for a do-over. Time to dream again. To book that cruise, map out an epic road trip, or plan a family reunion. To remind ourselves why we travel in the first place—to celebrate ourselves, one another, and the world.


Many of you are still most uncomfortable traveling, I get that, while others are out and about, seemingly most healthy. Whatever your comfort zone is, that is what is best for you. Domestic travel is clearly up while international is not. Partly due to all the complicated rules and requirements. Most confusing, even for me much of the time.


Meanwhile, planning is a good thing. There are places away from the crowds. Think small. Small island, small cruise ship, or small town. Anywhere where there are fewer congregations of people you do not know, may increase your comfort zone. Doing proper hygiene protocol, I do believe the airport ports and airplanes are safe to travel. I, who hibernates a great deal, have taken three flights and will do another soon. Mask, shield, wipes are the way to go! What milestone would you like to celebrate in the months to come? I have a major birthday number soon and family will join me in the celebration. Did you miss a graduation party? Or a family wedding celebration? Celebrations can happen any time!


Or maybe you just need a place to refresh and renew. I do miss my trips wandering in a foreign country or just sitting on a white sandy beach. As you may be aware, I have not encouraged anyone to travel far and wide during 2021. But I do believe summer 2022 will be open. So now is the time to re-plan those cancelled trips. Air and lodging is no different than the rest of the world with limited supplies. Nothing is fully open or will it be during 2022. It is going to be a very slow process. Basic supply and demand, they come together. So planning, now is your best option.


If you need ideas here are two websites with lots of suggestions. Please excuse the advertisements.


https://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best


https://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2015-11-23/20-places-that-are-straight-out-of-fairy-tales


Call or email me soon.

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Navigating travel in 2021 into 2022

Hello travel partners


This square in front of the Milan Cathedral is usually filled with people. The shopping arcade to the left the same. Today may not be the time to be there, but soon it will. So it is time to plan for 2022. If you’re ready to safely explore, a Virtuoso travel advisor, me, can help you get the most out of your trips right now with their up-to-the-minute expertise. Below, we’ve gathered some of their best advice for navigating travel right now.


If Possible, Extend Your Trip


In general, travelers are booking longer stays in a single destination. For people who can work from wherever there is Wi-Fi, they can do 30 days in Italy now. Travelers best stick with destinations that are already open to visitors, rather than waiting to see if somewhere new will open. Staying for longer periods of time is a great idea, to get the most out of a trip and avoid the hassle of testing and quarantining that comes with jetting off to multiple countries at once.


Know the Requirements


While it’s a personal choice, those who are interested in international travel need to be aware that many destinations are requiring travelers to be vaccinated. Even museums and restaurants are starting to require proof of vaccination so that visitors can enjoy their indoor experiences. I can assist with the information, but in the end you are responsible.


Pack Your Flexibility


More than anything else, bring a healthy dose of patience with you when you walk out your front door. And while last-minute hiccups may not be your idea of a relaxing vacation, they can lead to new adventures. Be flexible and enjoy the moment. The unexpected may create opportunities. Things are changing on almost a daily basis as travel restarts, so having an advisor, me, in your corner who can keep you informed is so important.


Be Prepared to Wait


Travel advisors have been seeing the effects of travel’s rapid return. The increased number of travelers means that you may come across long wait times. Many businesses are operating with skeletal crew and they’re trying their best to take care of everyone. At the airport, allot enough time to park, check in, and get to your gate. A lot of things are out of your control, so accept the current situation and choose a positive attitude. Store your energy for your trip and bring snacks – stores have limited hours and the lines are long.


Look to the Great Outdoors


When it comes to planning spring and summer trips, think outside the box. You’ve been cooped up indoors for most of the year. For now, bypass the indoor museums and churches. Let your travels for the end of 2021 and into 2022 be about outdoor exploration in big open spaces.


Ready to plan a trip? Connect with your Virtuoso travel advisor, Harriet


Edited from Virtuoso Newsletter 

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Preparing for traveling event in the COVID-Era

We have all realized that the days of traveling with just a driving license and nothing printed out are long gone. There’s a whole list of things that you need to prepare ahead in the COVID-era. Here are top tips:


Print everything out.


And we mean everything. For cruising, passenger locator form, negative COVID test result, cruise ticket, itinerary, proof of COVID insurance and anything else we could that we felt we needed to. Even though most cruise lines and tour operators are moving towards a paperless world, certainly for the COVID era many are demanding paper copies of everything.


Book everything early.


Historically, we have tended to do things last minute, but no longer. Book hotels, car parking, guides, admission tickets, PCR tests etc. well ahead of your traveling.


Get COVID travel insurance.


This is essential and is now being demanded by some cruise lines. You may be turned away or forced to buy it at the terminal. And if you already have travel insurance, ensure you understand it as not every policy covers illness due to COVID19, as some providers will not cover coronavirus or travel aboard cruise ships. If you’re going overseas, make sure your coverage also includes your hotel and related costs in case you run into a quarantine situation. Understand your window for documents and testing. This is slightly different from booking everything early. Many countries require a certain window when your test can be taken to be valid, which is usually within 72 hours. Make sure you count backward accurately, and also make sure you are taking the right kind of test, as there are different requirements.


Plan with a pro


With all of the airline issues this summer, we’ve had delays, cancellations and missed connections that would have caused you to miss out. Book all pieces through a travel agent. That way, you’ll have an advocate working for you (rather than waiting for hours on the phone for the airlines to maybe answer your call). Booking through an agent who can go to bat for you is your absolute best bet for removing stress if things change — which, this summer, was often the case. (This past week I fixed a schedule change that was three flights across the country, when two or one is the usual.)


Check and re-check policies for airlines, countries and cruise lines regularly, as they can change overnight. One day it wasn’t there, the next it was. Same thing with mixed vaccinations — they went from being not allowed to maybe allowed to not allowed again. AstraZeneca was also banned, then quietly unbanned, as long as the doses weren’t mixed. Things like that have been happening all the time, so keep an eye on the news — or speak to your travel agent.


Bring plenty of masks — disposable and cloth.


Tip: Check mask requirements — certain mask types are mandated in different countries and on different airline. Lufthansa, for example, requires a 95 or KN95 mask. Don’t be caught out having to buy masks at airports.


Think about quarantine – and take a COVID-19 test before you go. If you’re traveling overseas, read up on the quarantine policies for where you’re going. Hopefully, you won’t test positive on your trip, but it’s at least good to know what could happen if you do. You might want to bring extra medication, reading material and — if you’re still working — your laptop, in the unfortunate case you test positive. We also recommend getting a COVID-19 test before your trip, even if the country or cruise line doesn’t require it, just to make sure. If you are sick, it’s better to go through it at home, rather than in a cramped hotel room in a foreign country.


Updated August 20 2021 Edited from CruiseCritic

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Detoxing off the grid while on holiday!

The best way to connect with a place and its people: Stash the phone and leave the tablet at home. When I travel in Europe I take little to no electronics. I plan ahead and take maps. Disconnecting is a wonderful experience.


A few years ago, I took a one-week rafting trip on the Snake River with my son. The white water was smashing good fun, and the soaring geology more startling than I’d imagined. But what was most indelible was something I hadn’t considered: In the beautiful canyon, there’s no cell service and no Wi-Fi. For me this was no big deal, but others in the group were very conscious of their un-connectedness. They were having a ball!


Connectivity is all but ubiquitous in most places. According to UN data, as of 2019, two-thirds of people worldwide had mobile devices, and, given that many people have multiple devices, there were more than a billion more mobile connections than human beings. More than 50 percent of the global population has Internet access, and that number is surging. Meanwhile, 41 percent of travelers say they feel obligated to work while on vacation, even as the National Institutes of Health now links cell phone and Internet addictions to sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression – and it’s hard to find places where you can’t be found these days. Technology has brought us many great advances, but the expectations for instant communication and the increasing pace of change in the world can have negative impacts on our well-being.


That’s why the white water rafting was so eye-opening. Everyone was completely disconnected, something most had never done for years. Even though I slept on the ground and gave up showers, the lack of external commitments felt more indulgent than a stay at any five-star resort. And it’s not just me: Research links digital detoxing to enhanced attention spans, less stress, and more-fulfilling relationships. In the name of unplugged travel, here are a few favorite adventures and retreats to truly break away.


Travelers won’t find Wi-Fi on UnCruise Adventures’ Alaskan expedition ships, a feature designed to encourage better engagement with wildlife and landscapes. Daily activities on the 15-day sailing from Ketchikan to Sitka aboard the 76-passenger Wilderness Discoverer range from Zodiac outings to spot whales and paddling past sea lions in kayaks to hiking to the Mendenhall Glacier.


Many African safari operators have “modernized” with Internet connectivity, but Ker & Downey’s off-grid camps in Botswana are excellent for getting away from it all. Highlights of one of the company’s 12-day trips include walking safaris in the Okavango Delta, a wetland profuse with hippos and elephants in the country’s north, followed by overland and canoe explorations of the Selinda Spillway, an exclusive concession known for intimate big-game sightings. Even after leaving the bush, the Victoria Falls finale should drown out any thoughts of plugging in.


Nestled in a thick rain-forest canopy just outside Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano National Park, 35-villa, adults-only Nayara Springs has always focused on tranquility and seclusion, but now detox packages make it official. Upon check-in, guests hand over cell phones and laptops to be placed in resort safes, and plug into nature with bird-watching walks, open-air yoga classes, and soaks in each villa’s private, mineral-hot-springs plunge pool. Thermal-water facials and hot-stone massages add to the relaxation. Detox programs include three nights’ accommodations and breakfast daily.


The antidote for #southbeach overload: the 326-room Mandarin Oriental, Miami’s digital detox, where guests store cell phones in mini sleeping bags and check into a suite stocked with a basket of puzzles and games in place of TV. A spa consultation provides Mayo Clinic tips on how to manage technology in life, while yoga, a singing bowl session, a massage designed to remove the strain of device overuse, and a healthy bento-box lunch at the pool ensure relaxation. Digital detox includes two nights’ accommodations, breakfast daily, and a $100 spa credit.


I remember so clearly 30 some years ago, when I suggested to a Harvard professor to go to a Club Med which at the time had no telephones or TV’s in the room, let alone room keys, he just about freaked out. Being in the moment, just stopping can be the best holiday ever. Let me help you plan your escape.   

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Create It

The best way to predict the future is to create it.”—Abraham Lincoln

It is clearly time to create your future! Slowly but surely I am getting requests for travel in 2022. I do see the light at this very, very long tunnel. Yes, the Covid numbers are not where they need to be worldwide, but they are getting better. Have you had your vaccine? It is the only way to end this horrible story.


Meanwhile, let us look ahead. Domestic travel has picked up significantly for a while now. I will take my third air flight soon. It is the international travel that remains low for 2021. But 2022 is clearly picking up. I would not say there are ‘deals’ in air fares, because the airlines need to make up for lost revenue, but I would say the flights, especially the premium seats are getting very busy.


The airlines are slowing reinstating flights, while some still need to cancel. I regularly get notices for schedule changes. This way I can keep you posted without your needing to check.


So, now is clearly the time to begin planning that holiday you were not able to take. A family villa in Tuscany, a couple’s river boat cruise, an anniversary luxury resort, or that solo trip to Africa. What got canceled or postponed for you? It is now time for you to create your future. Though summer may be a time for rest and relaxation, it is also a time to dream. ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’, they say. In order to do it, you need to create it! All I need are your ideas, names, and dates. Then we can begin to create your future!


Need ideas and inspiration? Go to https://www.virtuoso.com/travel/inspiration and we can create together!

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A summer treat.

Lobster made simple


You do not need to travel far for a delicious summer treat. If you do not live in New England, where lobsters are readily available, I am sure you can use a frozen option. Every year I go to a favorite place in East Boston, Belle Isle, for the best ever lobster roll. It is not just me who says it is the best!


Lobster is the perfect main course for a special occasion, but many people think it can be difficult to prepare. Boiled whole lobster is the most common, but broiling is worth exploring. Broiled lobster tails contain minimal ingredients and can be expertly prepared by any home cook. Chefs in New England and around the Caribbean are able to get fresh Lobster tails, which are butterflied and then coated in garlic butter and broiled to perfection. This simple preparation really lets the fresh flavors shine through and it’s almost a fool proof way to enjoy this fabulous seafood! Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS

6 lobster tails, butterflied
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Lemon wedges


DIRECTIONS


1. Preheat the broiler. Add cooking spray to a sheet pan; arrange lobster tails on the pan.
2. Add butter, garlic, parsley, paprika and salt to a bowl; microwave until butter is melted; stir.
3. Drizzle ½ of the butter mixture over the lobster tails.
4. Broil for 10 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque—do not overcook.
5. Warm up the remaining ½ of the butter mixture; brush over the cooked lobster.
6. Garnish with additional parsley and lemon wedges on the side.


TIPS


Serve a salad or soup to start, and a starch and veggies for sides. String beans and broccoli covered in butter and fresh grated Parmesan cheese is delicious, as well as herbed mashed potatoes.


A nice Chardonnay or Chablis wine pairs well with this recipe.


If you would rather have a Spiny Caribbean lobster, I can arrange for you to go most anywhere in the Caribbean. One of the best I ever had was on a beach!


Edited from Star Clippers

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