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Travel Tips

Ziptops ARE the answer!

@Erikaluxtravel & her assortment of travel zip tops!

1st thing to go into my bag when I pack to go anywhere – all sizes of Zip top bags! 

ESSENTIAL, ESSENTIAL, ESSENTIAL!

I first started bringing just a big one that we could store wet bathing suits in it, either on a weekend car ride, an overnight at a hotel with a pool, or from a cruise where you had a dip the night before you left and didn’t want to musty up the rest of your luggage.

Then I got super cautious about my bottles in my toiletries bag, and each one had it’s own bag or a couple to a bag (depending on size) have hearing horror stories about explosions after even a short hopper flight!  No way did I want to have my clothes smeared with sun tan lotion, or to lose out on my favorite shampoo I painstakingly packed.

An example of the variety of sizes and strengths I carry

I have dietary restrictions, so I started to travel more with my own snacks – of course always checked the regulations when I left the country – I use some containers but have transitioned more to Zip tops because I found they come in handy after you empty them to fill up on more snacks along the way that you can grab from buffets and such!

Oh and always have a good thick Zip top handy for your phone – either to keep out water or dust no matter where you are – and you never know if you’re going to get caught unexpectedly in a rain storm & soaked to the bone!  Also, if you have paper itineraries and tickets, be sure to keep them in a big Zip top, that way you can have them stay flat & dry and readable.

Don’t want to spend money on travel cubes?  Get some giant zip tops – fantastic for organizing your clothes, of which you can then push the air out and compress them in order to make more space, as well as small ones to organize your accessories!  The snack size baggies are perfect for travel emergency items such as band-aids and travel medications. Then along the trip, you can turn it into your laundry bag, so they don’t muss up the fresh clothes! ORGANIZATION IS THE KEY TO ALL SUCCESSFUL TRAVEL (So is having a exceptional travel specialist @erikaluxtravel or elange@ttand.com)

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packing organization at its finest

Want to purchase that duty free liquor deal?  You’ll absolutely want to bring a big THICK Zip top bag for that, in case it breaks on the last flight home (This is EXPERIENCE here people… that leaky luggage is not fun when you get home!).

if the wine is going to break, let it not wreck your clothes

 Simply put, they help keep you organized on a trip, and are clear – you can easily see what’s in your organized mess! (BTW, I WISH I was an affiliate marketer for this!)

Cheers, Erika

#erikaluxtravel               ELange@ttand.com

Authentic Experience, Couples, excursions, Travel Tips

When in Iceland eat a hot dog

… and other favorite foods I’ve enjoyed on vacation

Listen here – I took pictures of my food BEFORE Instagram made it popular!

I was a scrapbooker, and because I couldn’t take the taste and smells with me, I took photos 😊

I’ve truly enjoyed getting to experience new things as I get older, including new taste combinations and exquisite culinary adventures!

Though this is a challenge to broaden my travel horizons due to my food allergies – not sensitivities or dislikes (though those do exist too) but try anaphylactic allergies. The main culprits are fish, seafood, shellfish and mushrooms – & in this day in age, chefs love fish or mushrooms or both!  I am pleased to say that cruising has been a super experience where I thought I’d been in deep trouble surrounded by seafood. Though this has not lessened my fear of going to Asia where I don’t’ know the country, and fish /mushrooms are key diet items.

I digress, there has been plenty of food I’ve enjoyed in my journeys – and had the pleasure of learning to cook while in my travels.  First one that comes to mind is New Orleans gumbo, not only did I take a class and buy the spices in bulk to bring back home, but I often make it for friends as it’s a huge crowd pleaser!  That then leads me to think of the most surprisingly delicious pork chop I’ve had in my life at Perry’s in Houston Texas – hands down!!  I’ve tried to perfect this since, and no luck thus far.

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In Iceland, besides the world famous hot dog stand in Reykjavik, (BTW, all the hot dogs in the country are made in a single plant) the bread an butter are to die for!  Since the country does not have many cows, most of the butter is from goats.  Oh and have I mentioned the coffee?!  My husband doesn’t even like coffee and he drank coffee every day there it was so delicious! (recipe!)

In Hawaii, everyone on the tour was excited to have fresh fish every day, so all that was left on the menu most times was Hawaiian pulled pork – so I made a game of it and was sure to have it every single day!  It tasted slightly different at each place – which was unexpected fun, but consistently was moist and juicy!!! (recipe!)

Now don’t get me started on Holland American’s bread pudding with vanilla bean custard sauce – I would simply eat vegetables for lunch so I could thoroughly enjoy a giant bowl of delectable warm dessert in the late afternoon (sorry, had to dry off my keyboard from the drooling) (recipe!)

Close to home, Brazilian Barbeque at Gaucho’s in Canmore Alberta is not only all you can eat meat of so many types I can’t remember, but also a fab churro and always excellent service!

Seattle’s a damn find place to easily find good eats, but most memorable was our dinner in the revolving restaurant when I had a gourmet piece of pot roast that melted in my mouth! Like I can’t even remember dessert the dinner was so good!!

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In Charlottetown, PEI, we did a culinary tour (In the pouring rain and it was still amazing!), of which we learned of poffertjes – which are little Dutch pancakes, so tasty & fluffy!  Then we were exposed to something we were surprised we’d never thought of: chocolate covered potato chips – Old Dutch to be precise: the true taste of sweet & salty – forget chocolate covered pretzels!

 

Drinks!

Now I’m not a beer aficionado like my husband is (seriously, he’s pretty much a certified judge!) but I’ve had a delectable Pumpkin beer in Astoria Washington, and a crisp passion fruit at Kona Brewery in Hawaii.   Though whiskey cocktails are currently my choice, nothing beats a Cajun spiced rum & sweet tea on a hot day in New Orleans! Oh, and I am a rare fan of a chicory coffee.

So, what’s your favorite food and or drink you’ve enjoyed while on vacation?!

Cheers, Erika

#erikaluxtravel              http://www.erika.lange@marlintravel.ca

Authentic Experience, Coach Tours, excursions

My Trafalgar Experience

Why should you consider a Trafalgar coach tour?

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I am here to tell you that I have experienced and I am a testament to what they offer as being true to its core! I experienced Trafalgar on a Hawaii coach tour FAM – and I had not been on a coach tour since the 90s!

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You literally just show up!  We each received welcome emails from Andrew our tour director, of whom I had a few questions for – and he was quick to respond and easily accommodating.  Truthfully, HE was the highlight of the trip – even now it brings a smile to my face thinking of my conversations with Andrew, and his genuine smile & kindness – never mind his multitasking project management master skills!

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Having my luggage taken care of from start to finish with all the coach & plane trips in between (we island hoped which was lovely to experience the efficiency!)

There were always water and snacks on the coach readily available.  Speaking of the coach, the drivers were also genuinely glad to greet you and show you their island, and amazing, skilled drivers!  I take transit in the city – so I’m sensitive to the stop/starts of buses & they have mad skills!!!

VALUE, VALUE, VALUE is the main message I want to convey.  There are so many special treats along the way of such variety that I can’t even begin to explain – and I want to keep it a true surprise for you!  This is key to their customer service – you get what you pay for and so much more! That is why their FEEFO score (independent rating service) is so high!

What I will tell you is some of other keys as to why they are so beloved, and why you want to pay to travel with them!

  • You are always 1st in line and in some cases have special access for tours (such as the VIP line at the Vatican)
  • The hotels selected are always centrally located, near the action, so that when you are on your free time (YES it’s not all scheduled time!) you can easily roam.  Our beds were sumptuous and high end.
  • They have a feature on some tours: “stays with Stories” where they are the only travel company able to access some properties – for example, the hotel/museum where the Sound of Music was filmed
  • “Be My Guest” is another feature which is on all their European trips & now in India & Australia – where you go to into genuine family’s homes for a meal
  • There is time for yourself built into every trip – in Hawaii we had so much!  We had an entire afternoon in Honolulu where some went shopping, some went hiking, one took surf lessons, and some of us swam & had beach time.
  • There are also opportunities to have Trip Enhancements – add on “optionals” you can fill your free time with which come with KILLER deals rather than doing it on your own!  Andrew arranged our mantra ray evening swim & my helicopter tour!

There is wifi on the coaches, but I rarely used it as I enjoyed seeing everything out the window and listening to the information or stories that Andrew and the drivers spoke with such passion.  Most folks think that coach tours have you on the bus most of the day but not with Trafalgar – my experience was that you’re only ever on 1.5 hrs.  There are so many stops, photo ops and food opportunities!

Friends were made -a huge bonus!!

Personally, I equate them to how I see cruising – it gives me a taste of a location so I know where I want to come back to visit and spend more time.  Case in point, I did this trip at the end of March in 2018, and 6 months later am taking my husband back to do the 2nd part of my trip all over again with him, because it was so magical, that I want him to experience it.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more, and keep in mind their amazing early booking bonus of 10% off!!!

Cheers, Erika

Erika.lange@marlintravel.ca        #erikaluxtravel

 

Couples, cruise, excursions

Its OK to vacation together separately!

(This is an alternative and in addition to my 2 previous blog post)

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My husband and I had somewhat of a unique relationship for the 1st 10 years of our marriage, where I worked away on average, 6-8 months of the year.

Now you would think, that would make us want to spend every waking moment together when we weren’t apart, alas it was something we got used to.  We got used to telling each other about our day, stories we read or gossip we heard. 

Don’t get me wrong, we love each other – even in the 8+ years since my career change and we live under the same roof like “normal” couples – which I tell ya, was the hardest adjustment!  We truly enjoy spending time together, either at home or when we travel, but we also truly appreciate listening to each other – to the point where I’d rather have him tell me about a tv show than watch it myself – I love to watch his expressions and hear the inflections in his voice and his humorous take on any story.

So here’s how we make it work on vacation:  We look at our itinerary and pre-decide what we are going to share as an experience together and what we would enjoy apart – so there are no sacrifices or secessions, rather have a story to tell to each other later that day. 

We are independent beings as well as have many common interests.

He also makes fun now of it saying that its my way of getting to share MORE experiences than most because I get him to do research for me and take photos – even though I wasn’t there 😊

The actual way this started happening for us was due to cruising!  I couldn’t afford time and moola to do it all, so split up! Sometimes we did the old rock-paper-scissors – and then shared the stories & photos over dinner that evening.  Then it just became our thing – and relive it – it’s so exciting to share this aspect with other!

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A great example was on the cruise we took from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale in the Autumn of 2011 – of 13 days, we had 10 shore stops.  It was so beautiful with all the fall foliage, and it was our anniversary, so we wanted to share many experiences and have fabulous photos together!  But it was our 1st time to Halifax, and there was so much to do!!!!  So, he went on a ship sail around the harbor – looked like an old pirate ship where he got to hear about the maritime history of the area.  Where I took a coach but out to Peggy’s Cove (simply breathtaking) and then a tour in the Titanic disaster cemetery – so much history there too!  Later that evening, neither of us could get a word in edgewise over each other we were so excited!!  

 Another example was when we were in St. Thomas – he doesn’t like to get his ears wet, but come on!! We’re in the Caribbean dude!!  So we found him a tour that he could wear a dive helmet while being under water and enjoying the tropical fish.  I on the other hand jumped at the opportunity to go snorkeling with sea turtles!

In Alaska, he wanted to learn more about gold mining – and truthfully, I’ve prospected in my past life – so I did town exploring aka “shopping”!  There was no pressure on me to make sure he wasn’t too bored following me, and he came back from his tour as giddy as a school girl!

Vacationing like this also gave me the freedom (& lack of guilt) when my husband gets sick when we travel (it’s like his body says “ok, you now have time to power down, so we’re gonna knock you out a little to make you appreciate relaxation!”.   In Vegas I left him in bed for the day and I went out to play with our friends, enjoy some sights and some pool time.  At the lake, I got him a cozy new blankie from a little shop, and left to explore, have a coffee visit friends, enjoy wandering without an agenda.

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Maybe it’s because of our unique marriage, our personalities or that we’ve been married so long that we need things to talk about!!  But we truly enjoy this way of vacationing and I think you should give it a try!!

Erika

All-inclusive, Couples, Families

Product Showcase – Palace Resorts

Indulge without Limits!

outside moon palacePalace Resorts set the highest standards for all-inclusive vacations where they offer more than you would expect!  They have 8 properties in the Mexican, the Caribbean and Jamaica, here’ are a few I’d like to highlight:

  • Mexico: Cancun – Sun Palace – a couples only oasis
  • Mexico: Cancun – Le Blanc Spa Resort – breezy elegance & boundless pampering (adult only)
  • Mexico: Cancun – Moon Palace – dynamic resort with something for everyone, including a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
  • ** Mexico: Cancun – The Grand at Moon Palace – new luxe accommodations, world class dining 
  • ** Jamaica: Ocho Rios – Moon Palace – for families & couples & has the largest spa on the island!
  • ** Mexico: Los Cabos – Le Blanc Spa Resort – the jewel of paradise with breathtaking coral reefs & magnificent whale watching.

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ALL INCLUSIVE & SO MUCH MORE

  • Luxurious accommodations with 24-hour room service
  • Complimentary Wifi and unlimited local & long distance calls
  • Up to $1500 Resort Credit
  • Top shelf liquors
  • Wide variety of a la carte dining which is unrestricted
  • CHI* branded bath, hair products & flat irons (therefor more room in your luggage ladies!)
  • world-class entertainment
  • taxes and gratuities included

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And if you upgrade, you’ll ALSO get: 

CONCIERGE LEVEL AMENITIES

  • Private check-in & out
  • Early check in & late check out
  • Two 25-minute massages on the beach or spa treatment rooms
  • Private candle light dinner at select locations
  • Lavazza espresso machine
  • In-room liquor dispenser with top shelf brands
  • Pillow AND aromatherapy menues
  • Luxury bath amenities by L’Occitane

Its also a foodies paradise with exquisite dining experiences. They have wines from all over the world, are a certified angus beef partnership, and the most delectable pastries!

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FAMILY DELUXE SUITES

  • Guaranteed connecting rooms
  • 1 king room & 1 room with 2 doubles
  • bathrobes & slippers including mini sizes for children
  • family friend amenities such as a candy basket upon arrival and chocolate milk in the fridge!

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So what do Resort Credits mean?

Instant Vacation cash!!!  Stay longer, get more ca$h!!

The credits are good towards rounds of golf, scuba diving, water sports, some sap experiences.  If you dont’ use all of them they are credited to you at the end of your stay as a card that you can use towards your next trip the next year or you can pass them along to your friends & family (or favorite travel professional!)

Enjoy this video to see what there is to experience!

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Let me help you start planning your winter escape!! Erika.lange@marlintravel.ca 

Cheers, Erika