Couples, cruise, river cruise, Solo Travel, Travel Tips

Friday the 13th – My 13 items I Never Travel Without!

I’ve enjoyed celebrating Friday the 13th since I was a kid! I did have a very superstitious grandmother who also enjoyed Halloween and she had an enormous impact on me. She always said she was a modern witch (due to her nose), and modern witches ride vacuum cleaners not brooms! So when I moved away from home for university, she gave me her old Electrolux as a fine reminder of being modern and staying true to myself.

So in my early teens, I became uniquely aware of marketing and businesses. I learned about it in school one day – seriously, like once – and its been stuck in my mind ever since. A local shop in our small town (a gift store) would always host a one day sale anytime a Friday the 13th rolled around. I thought that was brilliant!!! Because it was unique and attractive – it drew you attention! Years later, I owned a store front business on the other side of the country, and I adopted the same marketing idea. It was fun!

We need more things to celebrate in life, so I find this is an easy one to remember. And it doesn’t matter if you are superstitions or not, you can still celebrate. Here are some ideas:

  • Celebrate that old relative who has concrete superstitions (My mother-in-law has them PLUS her birthday is on Halloween!)
  • Celebrate 13 things You’re grateful for!
  • Celebrate how far you’ve come this month rather than far you have left to go.

Next Friday the 13th in 2020 after this one in March is not until November!

ITS A GREAT TIME TO PLAN AHEAD! Contact me to discuss your ideas for where we can send you to celebrate this next special day! The time to book is now, in the wake of the global issues, specials are to be had from your travel advisers such as myself!

13 Items I Never Travel Without in my Carry-On Tote

  1. Gum! Perfect for ear issues on flights, bad breath, when you have a cough or are hungry
  2. Earbuds/Headphones: I have a Bose set for noise cancelling, but also my buds for sharing
  3. iPad/Tablet: I can work on it, read on it, and always have pre-downloaded podcasts & movies ready to go for when there is no wifi & I’m in need of mindless entertainment
  4. An extra Phone Charger Cord & a Battery Back up! Fortunately most airplanes have chargers but if not, that battery back up sure helps after a long fight
  5. Water Bottle & a Travel Mug: I always fill it up on the other side of security at the filling stations so I don’t have to wait for it on the plane, but also to have in destination – we never have enough water intake! I simply feel better not wasting cups in destination too
  6. Ziptop Baggies: to keep things dry, to gather snacks, to keep wet away from dry….
  7. Binder Clips! : I use them to keep curtains closed, to help hold my papers together, to hold up my phone in a baggie on the plane for viewing if need be, seriously – 1000 ideas!
  8. Pen & Highlighter: I learned this long ago when I started cruising, you just never know! Plus I’m a germ-a-phob, so I always use my own pen.
  9. Air Pillow & Air Foot Rest: air because they are easy packing, the foot rest is because my legs are short and I find it more comfortable, especially on long flights
  10. My Drug Box: I’m THAT go-to person! I have anything & everything you might ever need
  11. Snacks!: I have pre packaged ones & protein powder everywhere I go… I have allergies, so it’s nice to know I have back up too if we’re in a situation where the menu is off limits
  12. Hand Sanitizer AND Wipes: nothing’s worse than having someone spray the seat next to you – USE THE WIPES!
  13. Finally: Back up Docs! I bring print copies of my: itinerary, tickets, passport, ID, prescriptions, contacts, and Insurance I also have an e-copy emailed to myself, my contact back home & house-sitter.
My essentials
ErikaLuxTravel Specially Curated List

Lets send you off with that bag! Contact me to discuss options!

Cheers, Erika

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

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.

moon palace

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

moon palace room

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!

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

Cheers, Erika

 

 

 

Authentic Experience, Couples, R&R

Separate Vacations without resentment

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You don’t have to sacrifice to see the world.  It’s not enough time, not enough money, or commitments at home.  More often I hear that they can’t get a pet sitter or kenneling is either too expense or too cumbersome.  But it does take planning and communication!  With so many options out there and less stigmas and pre-determined notions – there’s no excuse as to why you can’t see the world!
Other reasons may be different interests or hobbies that could take you traveling (craft beer tours for example), or perhaps one doesn’t like the heat – so a nice southern vacation in the winter is out of the question for the 2 of you to be happy together!  Increasingly popular are mini get-aways, due to time and money but also ease of comradery – a golf 4-day weekend for the guys or a spa & hike get-away for the gal pals.  A safe and experience packed trip is to take a couch tour where you can make new friends along the way!

Besides circumstance, there are also other reasons to take separate vacations:

  1. To experience something new that doesn’t interest your partner
  2. To have a reunion with old friends or family
  3. To learn something new (a cooking tour!)
  4. Your bucket list item but not theirs
  5. Or simply to have some alone time

Again though, communication is key – not just words but body language – be honest, specific about the plans, and discuss the financial costs.  Do you think the costs should be equal of you each take a separate vacation?  Also keep in mind that separate vacations should not take the place of shared vacations with each other – ensure you have money and time for both – keep that love alive!!!

Experts say there is significant hesitation among some couples to even bring up this subject.  But in a study in 2006 says that separate vacations can be growth experiences:

“​Marriage often leads to a larger understanding of the world, more people in our lives, and a more mature and realistic take on how relationships work. If we married our clone, there would be little room for growth. … When the relationship is intact, occasional separate vacations can add a terrific dimension to your marriage. But if trouble is already brewing between partners, a separate vacation may do more harm than good. Consider your true motivation for the vacation, the stability of your finances and relationship, ages of your children, and willingness to compromise. If this all checks out—enjoy and make some memories.”

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So for you, does distance make the heart grow fonder?  Or would you terribly miss the other person and not enjoy your vacation?

Ideas for married couple vacations

  • one hikes Machu Picchu & the other swims in the Galapagos and you both come together for a cruise along the Amazon
  • one golfs the greens in Ireland while the other does a royal tour in England – you fly over & back together
  • One goes on a river cruise with their friends from college in the spring and the other takes a coach tour to learn about a new country in the Autumn
  • One goes to see a concert with a group of friends over the weekend one month and the other goes to see a sporting event with another group of mid-week

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With so many options, let’s get to know each other to see what YOUR possibilities are!!

Erika