Miami: Road Trip Travel Guide presented by JetBlue


Go to the Game

There are still some tickets available, so if you’re planning a last minute Miami getaway, head over to the Dolphins website. For information on game day policies and procedures, has you covered.  Read


There are lots of Patriots fans in Florida, so be sure to join them for some fun on game day. The SE FL Pats Group will be meeting at Miller’s Ale House (2861 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-565-5747;, while the Village Pump (440 El Mar Drive, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea; 954-776-5092; is hosting a special Patriots party on the night of Friday, Jan. 1. Another option in Fort Lauderdale is Kelly’s Landing (1305 S.E. 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; (954) 760-7009; www., where you can get some New England-style seafood to go with the big game. And if you’re north in the Delray Beach area, stop into Boston’s on the Beach (40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561-278-3364,, which is proudly decorated with New England sports memorabilia and has Sunday football specials. Read


Scarpetta Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention Visitors Bureau. 


Miami’s restaurant scene packs a punch when it comes to star power. “Chopped” judge Scott Conant’s Scarpetta (4441 Collins Ave.; 877-326-7412; serves upscale Italian overlooking the ocean. Or, there’s elegant Peruvian cuisine at Coya (999 Brickell Ave.; 305-415-9990;, whose executive chef Sanjay Dwivedi has an impressive resume, including a stint as the personal chef for the Rolling Stones. Prefer something a bit more casual? 27 Restaurant Bar (2727 Indian Creek Drive; 305-531-2727; is located at the Freehand hotel and hostel and comes recommended by Eater, as does Asian gastropub Pubbelly (1418 20th St., 305-532-7555; You can also enjoy home-style Cuban food at Little Havana Restaurant (12727 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-899-9069;, or try authentic Spanish at La Feria del Mercado de San Miguel (301 Biscayne Blvd.), a pop-up version of Madrid’s famous market. Read


If you’re planning to eat at 27 Restaurant Bar, then why not stay at the Freehand (2727 Indian Creek Drive; 305-531-2727; Just a couple blocks from the beach, it offers both private and shared accommodation options. Or, treat yourself to total luxury at the Thompson Miami Beach (4041 Collins Ave.; 786-605-4041;, one of Florida’s top hotels according to Conde Nast Traveler readers. For something closer to Sun Life Stadium, though, try the Best Western (101 Ansin Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 888-724-6413; or Holiday Inn Express (6650 W. 20th Ave., Hialeah; 305-362-7777;, both a short drive away.  


Biscayne National Park. Photo courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention Visitors Bureau. 


Sunny Florida in December is a dream for New Englanders. If you’re already in Miami and don’t have plans to ring in the new year yet, then head down to Bayfront Park for Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution ( The free event includes food, fireworks and of course plenty of live music to keep you dancing the night away. Then during the day, you can soak up the sun at the beach or get your adrenalin pumping at Amelia Earhart Park (401 E. 65th St., Hialeah; 305-685-8389;, home to the Miami Watersports Complex. You can try cable wakeboarding, paddle boarding, waterskiing and more. Travel an hour south of Miami to explore another outdoor oasis, Biscayne National Park (9700 SW 328th Street, Homestead; 305.230.1144 x 555;, which is the largest marine park in the U.S. national park system. There, you can go on a guided canoe or kayak trip, or get up close and personal with the park’s underwater wonders by snorkeling. Read

If you also want to soak up Miami’s art and culture, be sure to spend some time exploring Little Havana (Visitor Center: 1442 S.W. Eighth St.; 305-539-3000). This vibrant neighborhood is full of galleries, restaurants, shops and more, with Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) at the heart of it all. Another way to get your culture fix is by visiting one of Miami’s many art institutions, such as the popular Vizacaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave.; 305-250-9133; or the less-conventional Wynwood Walls (2516 N.W. Second Ave.; 305-531-4411), where you can see outdoor murals created by some of the world’s most famous street artists. The entire Wynwood district is bustling with museums, galleries and other art collections, so take a wander around and you’re sure to discover quite a few creative spaces. Read

A Holliday in Miami

Photo: Zak the Baker/Facebook


Coach Belichick’s long-time girlfriend Linda Holliday and her daughters Ashley and Katie Hess of the blog The Party of Two travel often to Miami, whether it’s to cheer on the Patriots or just get some RR. So, we checked in with them to find out about their go-to spots in the area.   Read

For shopping, the trio recommends browsing the stores in and around Collins Avenue. Read

When it comes to food, they have tons of favorites: JugoFresh (multiple locations; for clean eating, Zak the Baker (405 N.W. 26th St.; 786-347-7100; for all kinds of delicious goodies and Dirt (232 Fifth St., 305-239-3000; for high-quality “fast-ish” food. Read

Want to try something a bit different on your day out in Miami? They suggest a visit to Plant the Future (2511 N.W. Second Ave., 305-571-7177;, which is “like an art gallery where plants are the works.” Read

More information Read

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Travel 2016: Rio, Indy 500, German beer, Christo in Italy – Tribune

Rio and Cuba. The Pope’s Year of Mercy and artist Christo’s walk on water. Philadelphia, Cleveland and the next U.S. president. Super Bowl in California and the Indy 500 at 100. A centennial for America’s National Park Service, 400 years since Shakespeare died and 500 years of pure German beer.

These are among the places and events driving travel in 2016:

Rio and the Olympics: Rio de Janeiro hosts the Summer Olympics, Aug. 5-21.

Super Bowl 50: America’s most important football game takes place Feb. 7 at the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium in Santa Clara, California. San Francisco hosts a free public fan village, Super Bowl City, and other pre-game events beginning Jan. 30.

Philadelphia and Cleveland: Democrats choose their presidential candidate at a convention in Philadelphia on July 25-28. Republicans choose their candidate in Cleveland on July 18-21.

Cuba Mania: Cuban tourism will likely keep booming after a year in which visits by Americans rose more than 50 percent and travel from elsewhere surged, too.

Rome’s Year of Mercy and Christo’s Walk on Water: Up to 10 million pilgrims may visit Rome during Pope Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy, which began Dec. 8 and runs through November 2016. Events include the September canonization of Mother Teresa. And in northern Italy, fans of Christo will walk on water, thanks to his “Floating Piersâ€� project on Lake Iseo in Lombardy, June 18-July 3, weather-permitting. Thec 2-mile walkway will consist of floating cubes covered in shimmering yellow fabric. Lakeside mountains will offer a bird’s-eye view.

National Parks: The National Park Service turns 100 on Aug. 25. A campaign called “Find Your Park� is designed to inspire a new generation to visit. Individual parks marking centennials include Acadia in Maine, established as a national monument July 8, 1916; Lassen Volcanic National Park in California; and in Hawaii, Volcanoes and Haleakala parks, originally part of Hawaii National Park.

Shakespeare: Seems like only yesterday that William Shakespeare died, but it was 400 years ago, on April 23, 1616. His birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, and many other places around England plan tours, performances, festivals and exhibitions.

Germany and Beer: Happy Oktoberfest! Germany celebrates 500 years since the Reinheitsgebot was signed into law on April 23, 1516, guaranteeing beer purity by specifying its ingredients.

New museums: The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens fall 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian Institution. Objects range from slave shackles to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet to a segregation-era railcar.

The Met Breuer, a modern and contemporary art space for the Metropolitan Museum, opens March 18 in New York City. The landmark building designed by Marcel Breuer on Madison Avenue and 75th Street formerly housed the Whitney Museum, which moved Downtown.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is supposed to open in late 2016, but the project has been repeatedly delayed and plagued by controversies over the treatment of workers.

INDY 500 AT 100: The Indy 500, one of the most famous car races in the world, celebrates its centennial May 29 in Indianapolis. A citywide celebration with parties, concerts and more is planned. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also undergoing a $100 million renovation.

Glaciers and Northern Lights: Northern lights and other magical winter experiences are drawing more tourists in the coldest, darkest months of the year to places like Alaska, Iceland and Norway. Norway has also seen more tourists from fans of the movie “Frozen.�

Glaciers around the world have become must-sees, too, as some tourists worry that glaciers may disappear, due to climate change. Glacier National Park in Montana has been experiencing record tourism, including over 2.5 million visitors in 2015.

Safaris: The new year may also be a big one for trips to see Africa’s wildlife. Botswana marks its 50th anniversary of independence, and South Africa and East Africa — especially Tanzania and Zimbabwe, which are offering new safari options — are on several travel-industry lists for top destinations in 2016.

Theme parks: Shanghai Disney Resort opens in China in spring 2016 with the tallest, grandest castle of any Disney park. Other Disney news: a new “Frozenâ€� boat ride at Epcot; a new “Frozenâ€� stage show at Disney California Adventure; new “Star Warsâ€� experiences at Disney parks on both coasts; and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, night tours and a “Rivers of Lightâ€� nighttime-illumination show.

Universal Hollywood in Los Angeles opens its own Wizarding World of Harry Potter on April 7. Universal Orlando Resort in Florida expects a summer opening for Skull Island: Reign of Kong, themed on King Kong.

And don’t forget:

• A massive Noah’s Ark attraction opens in northern Kentucky in July.

• Las Vegas gets two major debuts in April: The Park, an outdoor area with restaurants, entertainment and more, and the Arena, a concert venue with performances scheduled by George Strait, Janet Jackson and Garth Brooks.

• Australia is turning up on many travel industry lists of top places to go in 2016. The island of Tasmania in particular — known for wildlife and scenery — is seeing record numbers of visitors.

• The strong U.S. dollar is expected to drive more travel abroad by Americans.

Beth J. Harpaz is the AP Travel editor.

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Fans turn love of Disney into income as travel agents

Kristy Ouellette remembers the words that changed the course of her career.

“I was a complete Disney World addict, and at one point my husband looked at me and said, we’re not going any more unless you get Mickey to pay you,”‘ said Ouellette, 39, of Merrimack, N.H. “He just said it off the cuff, but I looked at it as a challenge.”

So Ouellette became a travel agent specializing in Disney World trips. She ended up leaving her job with the state of New Hampshire to run her own agency, Mickey Guru Travel Co., which has 26 agents around the country.

Ouellette is one of many Disney fans-turned-travel agents. They set up everything from FastPass times to hotel reservations. In return they earn commissions from Disney, and some enjoy perks such as annual free tickets and discounted hotel rooms.

There are a number of agencies across the nation with names such as Off to Neverland Travel, Key to the World Travel and Kingdom Magic Vacations that focus on Disney vacations.

“The Disney travel agent business, I would think it would be a pretty good business,” said Duncan Dickson, a former Disney executive who now teaches at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “You’re spending a lot of money and you want to get the most for your buck while you’re here. Why not hire someone who knows what they’re doing?”

A look at future lands, rides and attractions at Walt Disney World Resort. 

Many people want to get in on the action. Ouellette says social media and the lure of the perks has fueled interest in the business.

“I probably get three to four emails a week from people who want to become an agent,” she said. “I have a really heavy screening process to figure out why they want to become agents. They don’t realize that there’s so much work that goes into it.”

Ouellette, for instance, is on call for her clients if they have questions once they get to the resort. One even texted Ouellette to ask where the nearest restroom was near the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Agents often do not charge clients for their services because they earn commissions from Disney.

Agents said the commissions they earn are generally between 10 to 15 percent. That is split between the company and the agents. Agents whose employers register them with either the Cruise Lines International Association or the International Air Transport Association can also get free tickets – one park-hopper each year to Disney World or Disneyland – and hotel discounts.

Disney originally didn’t pay commissions, but that changed as the resort began building more hotels, Dickson said. Disney decided the cost would be worth it, Dickson said, because travel agents could steer business toward its own lodging.

Some of the benefits have decreased over time. Some agents cried foul earlier this year when Disney Cruise Lines reduced its commissions for future cruises booked by customers already on board one of its ships.

Agent Joe DeFazio of Houston said some items such as the Memory Maker photo package can no longer be included in what’s eligible for a commission. “Sometimes you wonder where that’s going to go in the future,” said DeFazio, who has considered charging clients for planning services.

Some agencies are “earmarked,” meaning Disney considers them authorized vacation planners.

Many agents also go through an online College of Disney Knowledge program to learn as much as possible about helping people get the most out of their vacations.

To work at Key to the World Travel, Stephen Juliano of Mechanicsburg, Pa. said he had to take a test showing he knew everything from which moderate resorts would be best for a family of five to when advanced dining reservations open online.

Like Ouellette, Juliano was a big Disney fan before he decided to try making some money off his knowledge of the resort.

Juliano, 27, has been a travel agent for about eight months and still has a full-time gig working in marketing for a credit union. He made a few thousand dollars this year, but “I’m really trying to find more and more clients. I would love to earn enough to turn this into my full-time job.”

DeFazio, a 46-year-old stay-at-home dad, also hopes to ramp up his work as a “Magic Maker” for Off to Neverland Travel.

He decided to get into the business because friends and family kept asking him for advice on planning their trips, knowing that he and his wife “were kind of Disney crazy. Eventually I started to say, there’s got to be a way to make some money.” or 407-420-5240

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Meet the Newlyweds on a Mission to Travel to All 50 States in an RV – and …

It all started with a bucket list and a desire to escape the scorching Texas summertime heat. Little did Heath and Alyssa Padgett of Austin know that their cross-country RV adventure – in their 1994 vehicle named “Franklin” – would lead to crossing so many things off of their wish lists.

The two met at Concordia University Texas in Austin and decided to get married after graduation in 2014. But instead of the usual honeymoon beach destination, they surprised their families by quitting their corporate jobs and taking to the road with the idea of visiting various states on a honeymoon road trip.

Then they decided to take the plan a step further when Alyssa reminded Heath of his college bucket list and his goal to visit all 50 states.

“My grandparent’s RV’d, his grandparents RV’d, pretty much only grandparents RV and here we were these 23-year-old kids doing it,” said Alyssa. “We fell into it because we thought it would be the cheapest and most efficient way for us to travel. And we bought Franklin off of Craig’s List four weeks before the wedding, renovated it, and we left four days after our wedding day.”

Heath wasn’t content with simply visiting different states, so he decided he wanted to structure the trip to maximize the learning experience and grow as a person, too.

He came up with the idea to work a different job in every state, something Alyssa wasn’t on board with at first – seeing as it their honeymoon after all.

Heath and Alyssa Padgett

Courtesy Heath Alyssa Padgett

“To me, the idea of working a job in every state, I thought of the great stories we’d be able to get working with all these different people and working different jobs,” Heath tells PEOPLE.

With the help of , a site for hourly paid jobs, Heath was able to set up jobs across the country as well as find a sponsor to offset some of the costs of the trip.

In exchange, Heath and Alyssa would blog and film their adventures along the way, realizing yet another one of Heath’s bucket list items, which was to make a documentary one day about something he was passionate about.

Heath’s jobs ranged from being a dojo at a martial arts studio in Albuquerque to a stand-up paddle boarding tour guide in the company of whales in Maui, to shadowing a park ranger at Denali National Park in Alaska and spending the night on a glacier. But unanimously, they agreed that their favorite job, which even Alyssa took part in, was playing zombies at Six Flags Fright Fest in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “It was epic,” she says.

The couple at Six Flags

Courtesy Heath Alyssa Padgett

The adventurous couple certainly met their challenges along the way – from breaking down a few miles from the Grand Canyon when the fuel pump went out, to losing Alyssa’s car four hours into their first day, refrigerator explosions and propane leaks.

Not to mention, the challenges of newlyweds cohabitating in such a small space together. “Sometimes it’s really tough and we fight and we are in a small space so we have to work it out,” says Heath.

Heath Padgett

Courtesy Heath Alyssa Padgett

Adds Alyssa, “It’s hard to slam a door in an RV when you get mad because the door bounces back.”

But both say that ultimately the experience was rewarding in the places that they visited, the people they met and in how they learned to pare down and stick to their basic needs.

“It’s the biggest blessing; you can’t bring everything with you. You only get each other,” said Alyssa. “There is no luxury that we live without, except consistent hot water or Wi-Fi. We do get the luxury of saying we’ve lived beachfront, and oceanfront, and riverfront, and in the mountains and on a glacier, we have gotten to experience so much of life.

Inside the couple’s RV

Courtesy Heath Alyssa Padgett

Alyssa adds, “Go get an RV, try it out, do something you’ve never done before. It’s fun.”

Their story has turned into an array of different opportunities for them. They have started a free course called, “How to See America on 2K/Month,” written a book called, The Ultimate Adventure, and paid off more than $15,000 in student loan debt from living in the RV.

Most important, they have connected with millions of Americans as they share their stories on their blogs each week. Next up is a campaign to raise money to edit and complete the documentary, Hourly America, and then more plans to get back on the road and do a speaking tour at universities across the country.

They still have a few things left on their bucket list though, like “shaking the hand of a president,” even though they did manage to cross off white water rafting and flying in a 10-seater plane during the last 18 months of their travels. Alyssa says she tried to get Heath to sky dive in Montana, but that he chickened out. Heath disagrees, “I did not chicken out, I just wasn’t given enough notice.”

And Heath has plenty of time to catch up on his to-do list, as they couple says they “plan to live on the road for 2-3 more years.”

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Frank’s Faves: Tiime-travel movies – Champaign/Urbana News

This week: It has been a whole year now. And not just since New Year’s Day 2015.

I mean that it’s been a whole year that I’ve been counting off my favorites a handful or two at a time. (Thank you for your applause.) This is the 52nd “Frank’s Faves”; the first having appeared on Jan. 1, 2015, in the more limited confines of the color-screened box in the lefthand column of e3, page 2.

Remember? OK, you’re forgiven if you missed that less-than-ballyhooed debut, but I remember it like it was only … um, well, a year ago. I gave you my five favorite movies set around New Year’s:

“The Poseidon Adventure” (1972)

“End of Days” (1999)

“When Harry Met Sally” (1989)

“Ghostbusters II” (1989)

“Ocean’s 11″ (1960)

Not bad pickin’s, eh? But now that a year’s rolled around, and it’s New Year’s again, what do I do for an encore? My sixth- through 10th-favorite movies set around New Year’s? My five LEAST favorite New Year’s movies? My five favorite movies that have no connection to New Year’s whatsoever?

Hmm. Maybe later. No, I’m of a different mind right now, a somewhat pensive state, as I often am this time of year, mulling over what’s passed before while contemplating what yet might be — inspired to strain my eyes in both directions by the otherwise insignificant event of the changing of calendar years in one fleeting tick of the clock.

Which, oddly enough, has me thinking about time travel. Seriously. Just think of it: If you could encounter yourself on New Year’s 10 years ago — or 10 years from now — what would you tell yourself?

I’m not sure what pearls of wisdom I’d have for past or future me, but I do know what favorite films we’d have in common:


“Back to the Future” (1985). Michael J. Fox and director Robert Zemeckis made era-hopping hip, going back in time in Christopher Lloyd’s tricked-out DeLorean where Fox must make sure his teenage parents (Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover) get together and ensure his existence … not to mention a couple decent sequels.

“Looper” (2012). Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the same time-traveling assassin most of a lifetime apart, who meet, then decide the future isn’t big enough for the both of them.

“12 Monkeys” (1995). Directed by former Monty Pythonite Terry Gilliam, Bruce Willis again gives himself and his fans a massive migraine jumping back and forth in time in an effort to prevent a colossal catastrophe — which somehow involves a marvelously maniacal Brad Pitt.

“Time Bandits” (1981). Director Terry Gilliam’s much lighter film about time travel stars Sean Connery, Ralph Richardson, several of Gilliam’s former Python mates and the funniest cast of dwarfs since “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Time After Time” (1979). Malcolm McDowell stars as H.G. Wells, whose voyage to a utopian future is hijacked by Jack the Ripper (David Warner).

“The Time Machine” (1960). Rod Taylor headlines in what remains the best film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic.

“Source Code” (2011). Jake Gyllenhaal plays a pilot tasked with reliving the final minutes of a man killed in a commuter-train explosion — over and over till he figures out how to stop it from happening.

“Deja Vu” (2006). Denzel Washington also uses time travel to try to prevent a terrorist attack. Never as easy as it seems.

“The Terminator” (1984). Arnold Schwarzenegger as a robot filled the role of time-warping assassin — at least in the first entry of what became history’s No. 1 sci-fi franchise based on time travel.

“Bill Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989). George Carlin gives the title airheads unfair help passing a history final.


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50 Countries And Counting: A Naturalista’s Travel Adventures–First Stop Aruba!

When I graduated from Jamaica High School (which is now closed and I’m sad about that, which is another story for another time), in Queens, New York, it was an exciting time in my life. I had been accepted to college and would leave home in the fall. My graduation gift from my parents was a suitcase and a trip to Aruba with my best friend at the time, Valerie Wilson. We were so excited. It would be only my second trip out of the country as the first was to Canada, Montreal specifically, on a bus. That trip was also fun. It was just a bunch of folks from the neighborhood on an organized bus excursion, with tours and such but as I look back, it was not my ideal travel experience. However, I did have a wonderful time with my neighborhood friends on that trip. I’ll give you the skinny on that story in a future post when I cover Canada, as I traveled there several times later in my life.

As I began this venture of writing about my travels, I decided to find pictures that my friend Valerie and I took in Aruba. It was so long ago, so I began an intense search, which took hours. After high school, Valerie and I stayed in touch. She organized, along with my mother, my bridal and baby showers and was in my wedding. Over the years, we moved and lost touch and I often wondered how she was doing. As I was rummaging through my house to find some of our pictures from Aruba, I also went online to see if I could find her, as I prepared to write this piece, and sadly I found her obituary along with her husband’s on-line. They died three years apart, she in 2014 and he in 2011. I was devastated. I met him a few times, when they first met, and Valerie was very excited about him. They were a cool couple together and she later became Valerie Distant when they married. Valerie is so important to my travels because it was with her that I took my first international trip by air and when I realized that travel would become a key aspect of my life.

My next trip, after Aruba, was to the Bahamas for my honeymoon with my husband. This trip (the subject of the next installment of this series) was also recommended by Valerie so stay tuned because you will not believe where we were planning to go before she intervened and advised us otherwise and what happened before my husband and I left for this trip. In any event, at the time that I traveled to Aruba, it was still part of the Netherlands Antilles. What I remember most are the trade winds and the Divi-divi trees, in which the wind was so strong that the trees seemed to be in a permanent sway. This tree is Aruba’s trademark. Although I am a steadfast naturalista now, at that time, I had a perm and short hair, and it seemed that every time I came outside in Aruba, the wind would blow so hard that having any kind of do was not an option. I didn’t care. The water was blue, the weather was warm, we were on the beach, having an international experience and I was thrilled. We took a boat ride where I went on jet skis for the first and last time in my life. That was a fun thing to do, but I was terrified after falling repeatedly, which Valerie found hilarious while I was a wreck.

Nevertheless, Aruba was amazing and the travel bug bit me. My skin was already cocoa brown but when I returned home from Aruba, I was darker and I loved it. I was only there for a week but the sun had bathed my skin creating a darker shade that everyone, back at home, noticed immediately when I returned. There were so many questions about where I had been and excitement when I said Aruba, that I knew I had done something worthy of repeating, over and over again, namely travel.

I have since returned to Aruba, for a conference, and it’s a bit different from when I went there the first time. It wasn’t quite as touristy then as it was when I went for my return trip, although the hotels on the beach were lovely both times. Valerie and her family had vacationed there many times so she knew the exact hotel to pick and I trusted her judgment. We had a buffet breakfast every morning with an array of fresh fruit and choices of all kind of deliciousness. We joked about the pace of service as we felt it was a bit slow but then realized we were enjoying Caribbean time, which was more relaxed than the hustle and bustle that we had become accustomed to in New York. I was fascinated by the fact that the people spoke Papiamento. This language is comprised of Spanish Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, Arawakan and African languages, which was absolutely intriguing to me. I also loved that the cheese and milk were from goats rather than cows, which was a little nuance that, along with the language, was different from anything that I had ever experienced. Everything about the experience was enjoyable to my senses.

So my recommendation from my first international travel experience, by air, is to begin your travels as early in your life as possible. I wish I had started as a little girl rather than as a teenager because I felt I had so much catching up to do. Realizing this, when my husband and I had our two children, we started traveling the world with them when they were around ages 5 and 7, with their little knapsacks on their back and their small personal suitcases. They were worthy travel companions, which I will discuss as this series continues. As a young woman of 18 years old, I was fascinated by my trip to Aruba and it began my journey into culture and diversity and my insatiable love for travel. So, RIP Valerie Distant. I thank her for starting me on this journey and I hope that her journey beyond this world continues to be filled with adventure and excitement. I also thank my parents, who have also passed beyond this world (may they RIP) for giving me the gift of travel, which started beautiful travel experiences for my family, and me which continue.

Below are some tips on how you can begin your travel journey, if you have not already, which I hope you will find useful. Tips will follow throughout this travel series, with more detail each time.

Travel Tips:

1. Get your passport.
Information on how to do so is available here:

2. Determine if you need a visa to enter the country of your choice.
Requirements change from time to time so here is the latest information regarding Aruba (as an example):

3. Research the country first.
If you are planning a trip to Aruba, as an example, go on-line and read everything you can about it. Learn about the culture, the history of the people, places to see and things to do, the food and the weather temperatures, so you can dress accordingly.

4. Plan your budget.
You must consider your airfare first as affordability is the key. I recommend shopping around extensively, to compare prices via different airlines. When you are ready to buy your ticket, if doing so on-line, be ready with your credit/debit card to pay in the event that you find a good price that you want to grab quickly. If you are planning to travel on a tight budget, check out this link, which has some worthy tips:

5. Save towards your goal.
Traveling, in terms of affordability, is just like anything else. If you are serious about it, put aside all extra money (no matter how small) that you can in a travel fund, not to be touched, except for your journeys. Give yourself time to save and accumulate the funds that you need for airfare, a place to stay, meals and sightseeing (depending on what you want to do in the nation where you will travel). On those occasions where you may receive gifts such as birthdays, holidays, weddings, ask for a donation to your travel fund. Travel must be your priority if you want to take it on with enthusiasm.

Do know, that there is a lot going on in the world today, but don’t be afraid to travel. There is nothing like seeing the world! Stay tuned for my next travel series blog post where I will share another journey with you with an intriguing “before the trip” experience that is unbelievable! I will also provide more travel tips and ideas on how to visualize your travel dreams into reality! I am a firm believer that if you believe it, you will achieve it, for real! Stay tuned to find out how.

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Taking the Kids — 10 wishes for happy travel in 2016

We’re watching the mango man sculpt mangos into fruit flowers to sell on the beach, as we sit under a thatched talapas eating just-caught fish that had been grilled and served up on freshly made corn tortillas.

People come to San Blas in the Riviera Nayarit area of Mexico’s Pacific Coast to see the amazing birds, surf and play on the beach alongside Mexican families. It may only be a couple of hours from the all-inclusive resort scene in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit, but it feels like it’s light years away.

Many families aren’t comfortable visiting Mexico at all, much less leaving their all-inclusive resort. But that day proved one of the most memorable of the year for me for exactly that reason. It was so different. It was a chance to meet Mexican families having fun in the sun. And besides, the food was fantastic!

What kind of traveler are you? Maybe you are most comfortable returning to familiar climes where your gang has had fun in the past, each visit solidifying your memories. You count every penny or, once you’re on vacation, you don’t want to think about what anything costs.

Maybe you like nothing more than exploring new places and sharing new adventures with the kids and grandkids, well aware that things may not go as planned, though that can happen wherever you go, of course. Wherever you venture in 2016, give yourselves permission to get off the tourist track, at least for a little while. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are my other nine hopes for your travel this year:

1. ALLOW THE KIDS to lead the way. Sure it can be scary — where are they going to take you! But you are guaranteed to see places and have experiences you wouldn’t have had otherwise, whether your college student leads you on their favorite hike and you struggle to keep up, your teen takes you to a flea market in a questionable neighborhood or your grade-schooler chooses to explore a bizarre museum exhibit. (How about the torture exhibit at the Tower of London?) Yes, that was me.

2. GIVE YOURSELVES PERMISSION TO RELAX — even in Orlando. No matter how much you try, you won’t be able to see and do everything, so don’t make yourself miserable trying. Quit when you’ve all had enough. There will always be another visit and there’s a lot to be said for kicking back at the wonderful hotel pools. In fact, at the new Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World, I met families whose kids begged for more pool time and less park attractions, to the adults’ delight.

3. HAVE A SOUVENIR STRATEGY, and stick to it! Make sure the kids know how much they can spend and that no amount of whining will change that. Encourage the kids to start a collection (postcards, pins or key chains are always good) or to buy something unique to where you are visiting — a cable car in San Francisco, for example, or a Statue of Liberty in New York.

4. MEET THE LOCALS. You can sign up in cities around the world for free tours offered by volunteers through the Global Greeter Network aimed at your family’s interest. Jamaica has a terrific Meet the People Program where locals may take you to a local school, on a hike or give you a cooking lesson. Share a meal with people at their homes through websites like or meet locals at a playground or park.

5. TRY SOMETHING NEW WITH THE KIDS. Have you always wanted to learn to scuba dive? The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has courses where you can complete a course before you leave home and get certified on your next trip and Family Dive Adventures has special. Kids Sea Camp trips designed to help families learn to dive. Kids as young as 10 can enroll in the PADI Open Water Diver Course. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take an RV trip. The company Tracks and Trails can arrange it all, from the RV rental to campground reservations and activities. Trade houses with another family in another part of the country or the world through a company like Home Exchange.

6. GIVE BACK ON VACATION. Sure you can sign on for a week-long cruise on Carnival’s new Fathom, dedicated to help families experience “social impact travel” volunteering in the Dominican Republic and share immersive experiences in Cuba. But just packing five pounds of needed supplies in your luggage can make a big difference too, according to Pack For a Purpose.

7. VISIT A NATIONAL PARK. The National Park Service turns 100 in 2016 and the centennial will be celebrated with special events and a new Every Kid in a Park initiative that invites all fourth-graders and their families to visit free. Plan a multigenerational trip: Seniors 62 and older who are citizens or permanent residents can get a lifetime pass for $10 at any federal recreation site. Your senior pass gets you and all those traveling with you in the car in free.

8. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY. The kids won’t give up their devices (many teens think, an expert told me, that no experience is real until they’ve shared it on social media) so use them to find suitable apps, whether you want to identify birds or flowers, tour a new museum exhibit, navigate an unfamiliar city or find a restaurant everyone can agree on.

9. TAKE YOUR EARNED VACATION TIME! According to Project: Time Off, Americans are leaving 429 million vacation days on the table, taking the least amount of vacation in nearly 40 years. That’s not good for anyone’s health or productivity!

Happy travels in 2016.

(Visit or follow @takingthekids on Instagram, twitter or facebook. Check out Eileen’s Kid’s Guides to major American cities.)


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Your most Googled travel questions of 2015 answered

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  • Courtesy Paws Up

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We’re all human, we all Google (or Bing, or Yahoo…but mostly Google). But when the mega-search site released its Year in Search, and with it the top travel questions of 2015, Traveler editors put their heads together to make sure we answered them all, from A to Z—or, rather, Albuquerque to Yellowstone.

  • 1.nbspWhere is Yellowstone National Park?


    Yellowstone is mostly in Wyoming, with a hint of Montana and Idaho. What you really care about is Old Faithful: It’s in Wyoming. But we like to think of Yellowstone as the American Serengeti, full of wolves, pronghorns, and bears (oh my).

  • 2.nbspWhat to do in Albuquerque?


    First, congrats on spelling Albuquerque correctly! It’s not easy. Second, our favorite things to do in this New Mexico hub have everything to do with chiles, hot air balloons, and Breaking Bad. Make sure to explore the city’s Old Town and pick up a few pieces of silver and turquoise Native American–crafted jewelry along the way.

  • 3.nbspWhat to do in Louisiana?


    EAT. Please. But focus your food crawl on New Orleans, where beignets are a food group and po’boys come on every corner. Walk off dinner down Frenchman Street, listening to live jazz, and experience more than just the Mardi Gras revelry.

  • 4.nbspWhat to do in Missoula, MT?

    Courtesy Paws Up

    Interesting questions. Missoula is best known as the home of the University of Montana, but it’s also the place where American West daydreams come to life: ranching, horseback riding, fly fishing. Check into The Resort at Paws Up, where you can “camp” in 30 luxe safari-style tents.

  • 5.nbspWhat to do in St. Louis?


    Again, be fully prepared to eat, eat, and eat in St. Louis. Plan your trip around a meal at Death in the Afternoon, a brunch and lunch spot that overlooks a park and sculpture garden. Make time to admire the mosaics at the Cathedral Basilica or take an afternoon stroll along a stretch of the 110-mile Great Rivers Greenway.

    Get more of your 2015 travel queries answered.

    More from Conde Nast Traveler 

    The Complete List of Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2015

    The Best U.S. Airlines: Readers’ Choice Awards

    The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the World

    The 100 Best Hotels Resorts in the World

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11 New Airline Routes That’ll Change The Way We Travel Next Year

Passengers, you are now free to move about the planet. 

In the last few months, major airlines added exciting new routes from the U.S. to destination cities all over the world. Even more are slated to debut in 2016, making this a BIG year for travelers everywhere. As such, The Points Guy experts have rounded up some of their favorite new routes that will surely shake up your travel plans. Take a look!

1. Los Angeles to Sydney on American Airlines

The daily flight launched this month, whisking Californians away to that bigger, more rugged slice of coast located waaay down under.  

2. San Francisco to Fiji on Fiji Airways

Start packing NOW for nonstop service to the best island hopping of your life, starting in June 2016.  

3. NYC to Paris on Air France

Sure, there are already many flights available to the city of light from the city that never sleeps. But this new route to Paris’ Orly Airport will provide yet another option for travelers seeking to eat the bites and see the sights, starting in June 2016. 

4. Dallas to Tokyo on Japan Airlines

This route, which launched in November, gives Texan travelers (or those willing to make a connecting flight there) direct access to one of the most action-packed cities on Earth

5. Los Angeles to Costa Rica on Southwest Airlines

Arguably the best budget airline in America, flying to what’s arguably one of the best budget destinations in the world? Yes, please! Service starts in April 2016.

6. TONS of flights to the Caribbean on Norwegian Air

This month, the airline added reasonably-priced flights to the Guadeloupe Islands and Martinique from a host of east coast departure points, making for some very merry island hopping in the new year. 

…If these new routes don’t fully suit your fancy, never fear: A treasure trove of pro tips will help you find the best cheap flights, no matter where you want to go. Bon voyage!

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How a Year of Travel Changed My Life—Permanently

Children playing on Koggala Beach, Sri Lanka.

Sometime last summer, a friend of mine asked the hivemind that is Facebook the following question: “What is one place in the world you have absolutely no desire to visit?” The answers poured in fast and furious. Some were predictable (Auschwitz, the Gaza Strip, Somalia), while others a bit more puzzling: China, France, the Caribbean, and even Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

At the time the post went up, my boyfriend and I were seven months into a year-long trip that would ultimately take us through China, Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia. Not every stop was a cakewalk, but we always found some—and usually many—things to love. To imagine that some of these countries were at the top of a Most Undesirable list was more than surprising to me—on top of that, it just really bummed me out. The way I saw it, even the most backward destinations had something great to offer, if you were only willing to look. And that’s the incredible thing about travel. The more you do it, the better you get—both at it, and because of it.

Travel teaches confidence. If you had told me two years ago that I’d be hanging out naked in a public bathhouse in Naoshima, Japan, I’d say you were crazy—after all, I was someone who had mastered the art of changing into gym clothes without exposing an inch of flesh. Jiggle my jelly rolls around a bunch of strangers in their birthday suits? Fat chance! And yet there I was, my pasty foreign body on view for all the locals to see, giving it the old college try. YOLO, as the kids say.

8 New Year’s Travel Resolutions (And How to Stick to Them)

Travel teaches perspective. I’m not proud to admit it, but there were times before this trip that I’d scroll through my Instagram feed and hate-like all of the beautifully filtered photos from what seemed like hundreds of people traveling to more—or more exciting—places than I was. How easy it was to get swept up in that warped cycle of thinking. And how shameful, in retrospect, to recall all the wonderful people I met in the last year who have never even visited their nearest big city, let alone another country. Others spoke wistfully of a desire to visit the United States, if only they could save up the cash or secure the elusive visa. To travel is a privilege, not a birthright, and something we forget when we’re sucked into the dangerously provincial vortex of keeping up with the Joneses.

Travel teaches gratitude. How often in America do we take for granted that our streets aren’t teeming with garbage? That every child has access to public education? That buildings get rebuilt after earthquakes? That the water in our toilet bowls is often cleaner than the drinking water available to entire villages? That you can insult the government, cops, religion, etc., with abandon and that speech is generally protected? That it is, in fact, illegal to rape a woman here, including your wife? America is not perfect, not by a long shot. But extensive travel teaches you that, for the most part, we are damn lucky to live where—and how—we do.

Travel also teaches you ways in which your home country could do better. At Unawatuna beach in Galle, Sri Lanka, I hadn’t been in the sea five minutes when I felt a searing hot pain wrap itself around my leg. I hobbled out of the water and onto the sand and watched in horror as welts puffed up in red slashes across my knee and thigh. Jellyfish. Our tuk-tuk driver acted fast, and an hour later, I was in and out of a clean, efficiently run emergency room, having seen a doctor and filled a couple of prescriptions for pain and inflammation. The entire experience cost $7.50—hardly enough to even bother filing a claim with my travel insurance. I shudder at the thought of what the bill would have been in the U.S.

The Top 16 Places to Go in 2016

Travel teaches patience and composure. When you meet good people with real struggles, living graciously despite desperate circumstances or under unfathomable oppression, you’re less inclined to throw temper tantrums over frivolous First World Problems. After all, what’s a delayed flight, busted zipper or an inattentive waitress compared to volatile governance or catastrophic natural disaster? Nothing to get bent out of shape over, that’s for sure. Sangfroid is a quality that serves experienced travelers well beyond the customs line.

Travel can also teach intrepidness. Shortly after my return to the States, I met a car mechanic in Pennsylvania who said his son had just cancelled a three-day vacation to New York because he was afraid of a terrorist attack. To that, I had one four-letter response: Nope. I understand the compulsion, certainly; some days you read the headlines and just want to batten down the hatches and never go anywhere. But isolation is not the answer. Experience is. The farther afield you go, the more people you’ll meet, and the easier it is to dismantle the walls of fear, anxiety, and xenophobia.

Travel teaches you to see everywhere—even China, France, the Caribbean, and Philadelphia—with fresh eyes. Around the ten-month mark, I got verklempt walking around a vintage store in Osaka brimming with deadstock Wranglers, cowboy boots, and other Americana. Hey, that’s my country! These are our cultural exports! A few weeks later, we had drinks at a bar in Sydney called Shady Pines Saloon. It was like something out of a Spaghetti Western with its stuffed mooseheads, upright piano, and twangy soundtrack. Hollywoodized as it was, it made me pine for my homeland; a word I had never considering using until that moment.

Why Are Americans So Afraid of Vacation?

Alas, it wasn’t until we got back to the U.S. and started to unpack our bags that it really sunk in. I was simultaneously grateful to be home but also growing antsy about where to go next. I kept thinking about that Facebook post from over the summer, and that’s when it hit me. Here we had tooled all over Asia, and yet I had never been to the Grand Canyon. Or Las Vegas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Missouri, or most of Texas. I hadn’t even been to Chicago! This made me sad. Then it gave me an idea.

Road trip.

So that’s the plan. After we’re done visiting family and sorting out boring stuff like health insurance and car inspections, we’re hitting the road again—this time on an eight-month sojourn around the good ol’ U.S. of A. We hope to bring the same level of fascination and wide-eyed discovery to our own country as we took abroad.

Travel changed our lives once, and it will change them again. I can’t wait.

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