Planning Done By Another

As Coach Belichick says “Do your job!” And I do mine. Last week a friend/client asked me to assist in domestic flights with three stops, here, there and home. She was having a frustrating time doing it herself. And the fare was very high. She was looking at multiple carriers, usually not the best fares. Within a few minutes of research I brought the fare down and gave her much better times and connections. The later can be most important; with very full flights these days, missing a connection can mean many hours before another plane has an empty seat available to where you want to go. Last year a client ended up going to another airport, called me and I changed her car and then she drove to her intended destination. Travel is always an adventure. Anyhow, this time my friend said to me, “You know you are pretty good at this. You should do this for a living!”

Another client emailed me the other day. “Well said, Harriet. I may not yet travel a lot, but I’m one of your biggest fans! Even when I’m not traveling, your expertise makes my life easier. It’s just knowing you’re in my corner… “

Too many of you spend much too much time trying to figure out the travel industry. You must have something better to do. I understand your liking the challenge, but in the end “how do you know you got the best?” Sure do some research, know where you are going, what you want to do, and what you want to spend. But in the end, ask a professional for they will clearly have more ideas.

A friend recently needed to cancel her luxury holiday, due to the pneumonia weather we are having. She was very sick. Being sick is no time to deal with the rest of the world. I cancelled everything, ordered her insurance forms and sent her the needed documentation. Simple. And now she feels better!

So let the planning be done by another. Where to???
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Crossing a Border

Last night I asked my children, “What can I do?” And my son responded, ‘do what you are passionate about.’ And I said ‘travel’. Which made me think, when one travels they cross borders. I want you all to cross borders. Do not worry about those crossing into your borders, but let me help you cross a border. From a city line, state, country or continent; cross over and say hello. As you all know I am a talker, and when I travel by myself I talk to strangers for a while, for then they become my friends.

Crossing borders helps make us more aware of others. How they live, what they eat, what they believe and what they do. Sometimes we do not even need to cross a border to experience differences. Within your community there are often a variety of life styles.  I know Cambridge does.

We can all help each other by crossing over. I like going to rural Italy as I can easily imagine life from a variety of centuries. Italians rarely tear anything down. They just build over, around or next too. The ancient world is most visible; along with all the different cultures that have invaded the land. It is a reminder we are a mixture of our past.

Last year I went on a road trip to Delaware. It was interesting as I passed the state borders how different each state was and yet of course… the same. I heard different accents and saw many different faces. I met with those who believe very differently than I do, yet we enjoy a most pleasant dinner together. Crossing borders is good.
Where would you like to cross to? How may I assist?
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Whether the Weather Will Determine If We Travel

Do I write a lot about the weather?  Seems as if I have written similar recently.  Please excuse if I did.   The weather does have a lot to do with our travel plans. Unless of course you are such a hardy soul that neither rain nor snow, sun and heat will keep you from traveling.   Otherwise the questions are simple.

The answers are usually why, where, when and with whom we are going to travel. Why? If travel is for work then we plan to go.  If it is a normally inclement season, allowing a little extra time is a very prudent thing to do.  Planning a once in a life time beach holiday during September or October in the Caribbean or Mexico may not be the best of plans.  Therefore, where and when are most important.  If you are going to a city it often does not matter if it is hot or cold, dry or wet.  We dress accordingly and go.  I remember fondly sitting wearing winter coats in front of the Pantheon in Rome one cool January afternoon with a friend.   On the other hand I also remember being in Barcelona in August when the heat was suffocating, I could hardly walk.  So where and when go very much together.  I have a wonderful weather almanac.  It offers weather trends.  The usual rain fall and temperatures.  Of course now it is probably a bit off in all categories.  And lastly with whom?  Know your travel partners’ needs and wishes.  Have that conversation a head of time.  What if it pours, what will we do?
One last thought.  Do remember thinking of the weather here and there.  If it is inclement here you will need to plan extra time to get there.  Especially when taking a cruise.  Also if it is cold here but warm there, you do not need to take that winter coat.  Plan to not be outside for long.  You can run through the snow in sandals.  The toes will be just fine!

Now go have a grand time, and be flexible.  Have lots of alternate plans and go with the flow.  Travel is an adventure by itself, especially when the weather is influential.

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Never Too Early

It Is Never Too Early


This can be a very frustrating season for me, because you all think it is early and it is already late. When you want to travel during holiday times or a specific week and place we need to plan very early… 9 months to a year.  I write about this almost every year and yet I still get calls for holiday travel in September and October.  I can always do something but the air price is usually prohibitive.
What is doubly frustrating is July and August our desks are very quiet. That is why many travel advisers are out of the office. We would gladly stay if you all called! But you are out of the office too! Come September, we are all ready again. So maybe next year you need to call in the spring for the winter! Many do.

I have already booked several cabins for 2017. Even for July. They knew what they wanted and booked early. Actually one for May could not get the cabin they wanted and that was booking in July! It is never too early. I cannot reiterate this enough.

What I hear most is ‘I do not know what I will be doing in 12 months.’ Well my only comment is many do and as it is said ‘the early bird gets the worm!’ It is easy to just decide, put it in the book, take out insurance for the unknown, and enjoy the next many months anticipating a wonderful experience. A friend of mine decided to take a cruise in Tahiti for early December and she is having more fun planning and deciding what to wear! You can too!
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Hotel In-Room Gym!

Hotel In-Room Gym!


Want to stay in shape on vacation without having to spend half your morning at the hotel gym? With this in-room exercise routine, all you need is 20 minutes to get a full body workout. And best of all, you don’t need any gym equipment, so you can leave your yoga mat at home.

Watch the video here, and then scroll down to find details on number of reps and a breakdown of how to do each exercise.  Even if you cannot or do not do the full exercise routine something is better than nothing and the 5 minute warm-up below will get you on your way anytime, anyplace, even from home!  I have given you the written version below if you would like to print it out and take with you! (you can tell I am old school or put this on your device!)
5-Minute Warm up:
1. Jumping Jacks (60 seconds)
2. High Knees (60 seconds)
3. Leg Swings (30 seconds each)
4. Arm Swings (30 seconds)
5. Shoulder Circles (30 seconds each)
6. Core Twists (30 seconds)
10 Exercises:  Recommended: 2 -3 sets of 12 for each
1. Push Ups: (works biceps, chest, core, shoulders and triceps)
Steps: Place your hands on floor to line up with your shoulders and move into a plank position. Keeping your back flat and core tight, lower down and up. Modified Push Up: Place your knees on the floor, and follow the same steps.
2. Tricep Dips: (works chest, deltoids, triceps and upper back)
Steps: Place your hands at the edge of a chair or bed shoulder-width apart, with your feet out in front of you.  Keeping your back straight, bend your elbows back until they reach a 90-degree angle, and then raise up by fully extending your arms. Modified Tricep Dip: Sit on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Place your arms directly behind you, and bend from the elbow to dip backwards and up.
3. Single Leg Stand (works core, glutes, hamstrings and quads)
Steps: Sit on a chair with both feet on the floor. Elevate one leg, and lean forward using your working leg and core to stand up. Sit back down and repeat. Modified Leg Stand: Using your core strength, stand up with both legs then sit back down and repeat.
4. Squats (works core, glutes, hamstrings and quads)
Steps: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower down until your hips and knees are parallel, then come up and repeat. Modification (45-Degree Wall Sit): Place your back against the wall and slide down to a 45-degree angle, keeping your knees and feet aligned. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
5. Hip Hinge (works core and lower back)
Steps: Stand with your hands on your hips, feet hip-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat and core tight, slowly lower your upper body down and up. Modified Hip Hinge: Sit on a chair or bed with both feet on the floor, and follow the same steps.
6. Leg Lifts, Front, Back & Side (works core, glutes and hip flexors)
Steps: Stand up with your back straight and core tight. Raise one leg straight out in front of you to a 45-to-90-degree angle, then bring it back down. Hold onto an object for balance if needed. After one set repeat exercise to the side, and then to the back. Adjust height of leg lift to modify.
7. Standing Bicycle Crunch (works core and obliques)
Steps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, fingertips behind your head, and elbows pointing outward, in line with your shoulders. Bring your right leg up and twist the left side of your body to the right, bringing your opposing knee and elbow together at the torso. Continue by alternating sides. Modified Bicycle Crunch: Place one hand against the wall for balance and do a set on one side before switching.
8. Plank (works core and lower back)
Steps: Go into a push-up position, or, bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms, keeping your back flat and core tight. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Modified Plank: Follow the same steps, only this time with your knees touching the floor.
9. Side Plank (works core and obliques)
Steps: Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Extend your forearm out, with your elbow lined up slightly below your shoulder. Keeping your hips square and your neck in line with your spine, push yourself up so that your palm is supporting your weight. Hold for 30 seconds and lower, then switch sides. Modified Side Plank: Follow the same steps using your forearm to hold yourself up.
10. Heel Raises (works calves)
Steps:  Raise your heels off the floor while keeping your knees straight. Hold, and then lower your heels to the floor.
This video was filmed at the Nine Zero Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.

Edited from SmarterTravel, by Olivia Briggs.

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Still Relevant After All These Years

Recently, several people made comments to me about ‘travel agents.’  And what they knew (or not.)  It is interesting that so many think they can do my job.  Also recently, the Boston Globe had an article on how there are more and more people learning we are still relevant: 

You may find it interesting if you did not read the article.

The article gives five reasons to use a travel agent, now called travel advisor.  My favorite reason to use a travel advisor is ‘they may help get you out of trouble.’  Recently, I had two of my clients forget what to do when travel life goes awry: CALL me straight away.  In both situations I could have helped. If I am not at my desk someone is.  At the bottom of your itineraries are lots of telephone numbers: the Main Office: 617-621-0100, After Hours 888-567-9406 and sometimes international numbers.  Call!  Do not stand in line or sit on hold hoping someone will help you.  Remember, we have direct access to airline schedules, hotel availability, and all the telephone numbers of your special reservations.
The world and I are not perfect, especially in travel, things happen.  Most often I can fix it!  But if I do not know until afterwards there is little I can do to help you with your travel plans.  There are many reasons to use a travel advisor, but the best reason is that I am here for you when unplanned situations arrive.  So even if you do all the research, book the reservations with a travel advisor.  And you can relax knowing someone is there for you.
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How Can I Help You Create the Perfect Itinerary?     

Ever noticed how some folks make the toughest trips seem like a leisurely walk in the park? I’ll guess that nine out of 10 times, those travelers created a near-perfect itinerary before they even started packing.

Modern itinerary-making tools, from websites to mobile apps, allow travelers to build colorful trip timelines. But the ability to engineer an effective, seamless itinerary requires more than just bells and whistles — and well-laid travel plans are an integral component of any successful trip. This is where I come into play.
So what’s the secret to creating a great itinerary?  Be realistic first and for-most!  And plan!
Sure, you’d like to milk your trip for all it’s worth by booking a red-eye flight and then scheduling a full day’s worth of activities on day one, despite an eight-hour time difference. But by the end of the trip, you’re likely to look and feel as if you’ve spent the week in correctional boot camp.
Designing all you want to get done into a seamless schedule, especially if you’re visiting multiple cities or countries, can be a massive challenge. Make it easier by creating a list of everything you want to see or do. Then put the list in priority order. I can help estimate how long an activity will take, or how long it will take to get there.  This is an essential part of planning and often underestimated.
Do check the calendar for holidays and festivals in foreign countries. There may be a nifty festival that you want to slot into your schedule, or, at the opposite extreme, you may want to avoid a certain part of town if it’s going to be crowded or blocked off. I had a client once who almost got stuck in Paris on the 14th of July, Bastille Day.  The city was mobbed with parades as a result he was late getting to the airport.  Thank goodness he had already checked in online.                                .
There’s more to consider than just time and location. How do you want to see the attractions plays a big part in the plans and finances.  A private or small group guide may make the difference in learning and enjoyment to total frustration and wasted time.  Do you really want to learn about a place or just see it? What is of interest to one person is not for another.
Your itinerary is not a legally binding contract. It’s more like a rough draft written in sand. Things will go wrong. Restaurants will be closed. Buses will be late. But I always recommend pre-booked lodging.  There is nothing worse than getting some place with no available beds.  I went with a friend one time and her job was to book a few nights.  She decided we would wing it!  In Ponce, Porto Rico we stayed in the owner’s private room.
Now I always have reservations prior to departure. Consider scheduling a free day or two into your itinerary. Time to just explore on your own.  Or some down time to remember how fortunate we are to travel!
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Corrections and Additions

Last week I wrote about how to make the long haul flight more comfortable.  There were several responses. When mentioning how to keep your valuables safe I did not mean to alarm anyone.  Just beware of your surroundings when and where ever you travel.

I neglected to suggest creams!  Face and hand creams are almost essential for any flight, especially the long haul.  Dry skin is so irritating.

And lastly I usually do not promote a destination let alone a product.  But last week I did suggest a drink to help with dehydration and I miss spelled the product.  Check out

Happy Spring.. now is the time to plan your fall and holiday travels.   So call soon!

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Survive the Long Haul

Not all long-haul flights have to be miserable; a good book can result in “No, no, just a little more time!” when the pilot says time to started our descent. Here are 10 tips for preventing boredom, dehydration, sleep deprivation and more so you can confidently say “I got this” the next time you are imprisoned in a metal tube for an entire waking day or night of your life.

1. Upgrade.
When traveling long-haul, (for me 5 hours or more) you have no better friend on the planet than your frequent flier miles. Also this is the best bang for your buck.  Business class seats are very expensive compared to coach class. Buy the coach class and upgrade with miles.  Or even an extra leg room seat is better than straight economy/coach.
If you stop reading at this point you almost need to know nothing more than this — by hook or crook, try to get an upgrade.
2. Escape.
You will want to have a rock-solid plan for frittering away several hours of your flight, and I don’t mind working; staring at spreadsheets and writing proposals may burn up hours, but it does not make them vanish. You want these hours to disappear almost without a trace. Think headphones and Hollywood blockbusters. Getting a lot of work done is fine — rarely do you have 15 consecutive hours without a phone so I encourage bringing some work — but work will fail you when you get to the brutal middle hours of this ordeal. Headphones and Hollywood; don’t stray from this.

3. Don’t carry on too much stuff.
While checked baggage fees are inspiring travelers to carry on more and more stuff, on a long-haul flight this could hurt you; anything that is under the seat in front of you just means less legroom and a more cramped living space. Don’t bring so much on that you compete for your own sleeping space.
4. Bring your go-to gear.
When it comes to surviving flights, I am not a gear person, but I always take my noise cancelling head set, if only I wish not to talk to my neighbor. I can’t be bothered to lug around neck pillows, eye masks, earplugs, etc. As I note above, your total carry-on haul should be limited, but you may want to consider some of these relatively small survival tools. Your body and brain will thank you for every small comfort you can provide, and the inconvenience of packing and carrying these around is dwarfed by the misery in flight with crying children, pilot announcements, engine noise and a major crick in your neck. Gear up.
5. Board relatively rested.
Don’t count on a long-haul flight as a good place to catch up on sleep — it’s not. As attractive and intuitive as it seems to get on a long-haul flight extremely tired, hoping to sleep the whole way, you are in for a world of hurt if you can’t sleep for some reason. You will be on the plane long enough to catch a few winks even if you are somewhat rested, and my advice is to take it when it comes; if your eyes start to droop, get out the eye covers and earplugs, and go with it.
6. Secure your stuff.
A long-haul flight gives unscrupulous travelers all the more time to size up the location of your wallet, wait until you fall asleep and make a move on your luggage. Secure your valuables deep inside your bags where it would take a TSA X-ray machine to find them. Consider keeping items like your passport, credit cards and cash in a money belt under your clothes.
7. Consider a sleep aid.
If you are planning to use sleep aids (including “natural” methods such as melatonin, or drugs such as Ambien), try them before you fly with them. These drugs can vary greatly in how they affect individuals, so you will want to try them at home.  Ask your doctor for recommendation.
8. Use SeatGuru.
The seating chart advises particular seat situations.  I use it often for my clients, especially in business class. Before you choose, also think hard about your usual preference of window vs. aisle seat; it may be different on a long-haul flight than on a shorter flight. If you usually choose an aisle seat, consider whether you want your long, Ambien-enhanced sleep to be interrupted by a window passenger; similarly, if you usually choose a window, you could get trapped in there by a snoring person in a prescription drug-induced stupor.
9. Ask about seats at the gate.
Failing the ability to choose great seats before your flight, try again at the gate. If the flight is not full, the gate agent may be able to see an empty row, or put you and a traveling partner in a “window and aisle” configuration that reduces the likelihood of having someone sit in the middle seat, thereby getting you a seat and a half, at least.  Sometimes I assign these seats in advance or ‘aisle across’ is another favorite I assign.
10. Take care of your health.
Hydration: If you think hydration is a concern on a cross-country flight, try tripling or quadrupling your time in the air. Airplane air is extremely dry. Many years ago, i brought flowers on board and they dried without wilting! How much water should you bring?  Take an empty refillable bottle through security.  Add the water on the other side.  Then ask for more while flying.
Daily, I drink an “electrolyte solutions” know as Intima, like Gatorade but no calories. Maintaining electrolyte balance is important, and that you don’t want to become completely diluted with water, particularly for older folks or people with other medical problems.
In brief…
– Hydrate well the night before the flight, preferably with electrolyte drinks.
– Don’t drink alcohol the night before the flight or on the flight.
– Avoid diuretics such as coffee, soft drinks and even chocolate (all of which contain caffeine).
– If you have no issue with ulcers, take a baby aspirin the night before and day of your flight.
– Get an aisle seat or exit row so you can get up and walk around whenever possible.
Let’s face it: electrolytes, compression socks, movie after movie, and aspirin don’t change the fact that you are stuck inside a metal can for a whole day or overnight. Just keep reminding yourself that this too shall pass — although I recommend saving your “I got this” until the wheels touch the ground.
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Why Do I Travel?

“Have you asked yourself this question? Why do you travel or why do you want to travel? Is it to tick things off your bucket list? Do you want to get your passport full of stamps? Or is it simply to relax? I feel the “why” of travel is much more than crossing items off a bucket list.

The “Why” you want to travel the world is a very personal story. And yours will be different than mine and every other person.
Travel changed my life and help defined who I am today. Through travel, I have fulfilled many dreams, left my comfort zone many times, became more tolerant, met incredible people, learned lots, had fun and it adds excitement to my life. Travel has made me a better person.
I love the phrase: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.” I travel for such moments.
So, why do I travel???….because I simply can’t stop.”   Written by colleague Carol Jaxheimer.
I might add, when I travel by myself I find the experience very empowering! Look what I did all by myself! And I did not get lost! Also when I travel I add to my knowledge as a travel advisor. This last trip to California had a huge learning curve. And of course international travel always does. So go learn or relax, check off the list or experience it again and travel.
P.S. New picture by Gail Huyge, my daughter in Patagonia, Chili.
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