Packing… a few good reminders…

So often I hear, “how do I pack for two climates, for six weeks, or for a cruise?” A few good reminders may help.

Factor in fabrics
Fabric selection is important when it comes to assembling your vacation wardrobe. Fabric choice is the difference between looking sloppy or looking polished. There are lots of beautiful wash and wear fabrics with sun protection. In general, for warm weather, go with threads that breathe like cotton and linen; for cooler weather, wools, cashmere and knits.

Don’t pack too many pairs of shoes
Need I say more? There’s no reason you need to bring more than three pairs of shoes: walking, dress and casual.

Check the weather
To get a sense of what kind of weather conditions await you, set a forecast alert on your iPhone and monitor the weather patterns in the days preceding your departure.

Think pieces that do double-duty
Basics are the key to versatile dressing on the road. And throw a couple chic scarves in there for good measure.

Consider the local culture
“Athleisure” or skimpy clothes and flip flops are for the beach or backyard, NOT traveling. To avoid unwittingly causing offense, read up on the dress code of the country you are visiting. An oversized scarf or shawl is a good investment for more culturally conservative countries. Plus it makes a great cover-up anywhere.
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Road Trips

Family or solo, road trips can be wonderful or a disaster. They seem so simple, just get in a car and go. But to be successful, the trip does need planning. You all may know how much I enjoy driving in new places. For me the most important plan is to have a detailed road map. Paper ones are still available as well as on your favorite device. I am not big on GPS but they do come in handy.

Not part of the actual road trip, but I believe knowing where you are going to sleep each night lowers anxiety and conversation. I always have reservations. It also prevents spending too much time in one place and then not have enough in the next.

When packing, it is better to have two small suitcases than one big bag. Some items can be left in the trunk (boot) of the car. Never in the back seat. Also, dirty clothes can be easily separated with two items.

Be prepared for emergencies—especially snack attacks. Of course we have a spare tire, car jack, jugs of potable water, and a first-aid kit in our trunk. AAA membership in a domestic trip may be a good idea. But the thing I’ve found unequivocally useful on the road, time after time, are snacks. The healthier, the better. Favorite driving snacks are dried mango, roasted nuts, and Cliff bars. Sugary soda is best avoided, so fill reusable water bottles before setting out. I have a client who loves road trips, and the first thing he does after getting the car is to go buy an inexpensive Styrofoam cooler for beverages and fruit.

Everything important should be kept in your glove compartment. I’m not just talking about the vehicle registration and owner’s manual. A glove compartment can have wipes, napkins, utensils, Ziploc bags, and garbage bags, toilet paper, USB cords, a 12-volt smartphone adapter, a bottle opener, and 100 SPF sunblock.

Lastly, Love to shop, don’t be afraid to ship stuff home. When I travel abroad I often ship home. It may not be cheap but sure is handy. I have sent home an oriental rug, painted Ostridge egg, olive oil and a Maasai bust. On the other hand, once in Paris I purchased another piece of luggage and carried the ceramic dishware home!

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Can You Imagine the Numbers?

Yesterday, in the morning before my sojourn north, I was reading a magazine called Departures. It is a travel magazine from American Express. It is clearly high end/luxury travel information. Always fun to dream!
There was an article on London hotels, restaurants, and the airports including an extended write up on London Heathrow Airport. So this morning, being a holiday, the desk is quiet so I began to ask the question. How many flights are there to Heathrow from the USA? Can you imagine?? Really stop for a moment and think. How many flights each way, do you think there are between London Heathrow Airport and the USA? I was not even close with 28 years of experience in this industry.
Counting first is the obvious airport JFK, then I began to go about the country, as asked my Sabre reservation program how many flights. I probably skipped a few, but there are 15 other cities with nonstop flights to London, mostly to Heathrow. Only a few flight to the alternate airport Gatwick.
Before I give you the number of flights I found, how many people do you think are on these flights? Most of the planes are Boeing 747 or 777, but there are also lots of Airbus’s. The 700’s can carry up to 525 people and the double decker 300’s can carry 853! Though most are smaller with 250-300 passengers! I did not go to each plane and count the passenger but one could do so through SeatGuru.
So back to the number of flights. NYC has 24 nonstop flights to London Heathrow and 2 to Gatwick. Of those flights 10 are British Airways. 15 flights from JFK, 9 from Newark. Now to the rest of the country, all the other airports are small in comparison, with Chicago O’Hare 9 and LAX 8. Totally all the cities I came up with 89 nonstop flights from the USA to London. Now many of the passengers are not going to London but beyond, but none the less, over 23,000 people cross the Atlantic Ocean to London daily! This does not count the nonstop flights to the other major cities in Europe: Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Munich, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome and Zurich just to name a few. Nor does this count the nonstop flights from Heathrow across the Pacific with nonstop flights to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore to begin.
Even after all these years these long haul numbers and distances still mind boggle me! 473,231 the number of flights in and out of Heathrow annually and 1,300 daily!
Here is the final trivia on London Heathrow:
Passenger numbers 2016
Annual passengers: 75.7 million
Daily average total number: 206,800 (51% arrivals / 49% departures)
Busiest day ever recorded (passenger numbers): 31 July 2016 with 257,922
Busiest year ever recorded (passenger numbers): 2016 with 75.7 million
Percentage of international passengers: 94% (71 million)
Percentage of domestic passengers: 6% (4.6 million)
Percentage of business travelers: 34% (25.7 million)
Percentage of leisure travelers: 66% (50 million)
Percentage of transfer passengers: 30% (22.7 million)
Now when are you going to London Heathrow?
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Advice from Everyone

I constantly hear, ‘well my friend suggested this or that.’  You may like your friend a great deal, but you are not them.  We each are unique.  I certainly have very strong feelings about some parts of travel, like visit only one country or region.  But once I have told you my thoughts the trip is yours.   It should be the same with your friends or family.
There are some of us who eat, breathe and sleep travel.   It’s what we live for.  Despite what we may think, though, we are in the minority.  A good majority of people don’t travel much at all, and many of these people have a horrible misconception about everything travel related. Or better yet they were there, where ever that may be, 25 years ago.
Most people who give advice don’t intend to be condescending or bossy even though they may come across that way.  A great deal of the time it’s just our loved ones who are worried about our safety.  You can’t really blame them for that.
Here are a few bad advice comments….
– People tell me not to travel by myself because I’m a woman and I’ll get kidnapped, assaulted, trafficked, etc… (Hard to believe people still think that way in this day and age.)
– That those people in that [insert country] you’re going to visit are really rude and mean and you shouldn’t even bother going there because you’re going to have an awful time of it.
– There’s no way I’m flying out of the country with all of these terrorist threats. I’m staying right here in the US of A.
– Never ever talk to locals. They will cheat you of your money.
– Why go to a foreign country when you can visit the Disney replica instead? It’s safer.
– Don’t eat the street food – you’ll get terrible afflictions.
– Don’t go there, what will you eat?
– Only eat at western restaurants; you’ll die of food poisoning if you don’t.
– You don’t need to book a hostel in advance for a weekend in Amsterdam.  (That resulted in 1 night in sketchiest hostel ever and 1 in the train station!)
– Book a hotel when you get there. (I hate doing that!  It’s a waste of time, energy and it’s stressful.)
– Don’t worry about booking ahead.  Hostels are never busy at this time of year.
So if you want and need an unsolicited, independent, informed comment call me or your friendly travel adviser.
(Idea from Bootsnail)
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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:

 

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2016/07/07/when-and-why-you-need-travel-agent/dnZAIO5Lh3szeLUScMn2HM/story.html?p1=Article_Recommended_ReadMore_Pos8 

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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