Friday, May 31, 2013

Travel Tip

When traveling, keep only necessary documents, identification pieces and cards in your wallet or purse. I you really need your San Francisco Museum card when you're traveling to Florence, Italy?

Anything that has your identification on it and is not needed for your trip, leave it at home.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Traveling Tip

First tip:

What's one of the most important things you can do when traveling?  Keep your home safe...

Make sure someone is watching or taking care of your house. Nothing says there is no one home like newspapers lying in the driveway or a stuffed mailbox or a lawn that really needs mowing. (unless of course you always live like this!)

Be careful what you post on Facebook or Twitter. Telling everyone that you are leaving for three weeks in Europe may be an invitation for someone you don't want checking out your home. You can always post those photos once you get home.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Is Iceland on your travel list?

Did you know that when flying IcelandAir from the US to Europe, you have the option of adding a stop over in Iceland at no additional cost to your original plane ticket? If time allows, what a great way to experience a country you might never have otherwise seen. Check out the Blue Lagoon or the Northern Lights.

Of course, this forest floor is not in Iceland. Know where it is?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Travel Documents

These suggestions may help you when traveling.

Scan your passport and any other travel documents you use and give them to family members or friends. Make sure you can easily get in touch with them. Also, email a copy of your itinerary to them. This works in case you lose something or in case of a disaster, when they need to know where you are.

If you are traveling to a new country, check out where the embassy is located. It's much easier to have the address in your phone or in your folder of documents than it is to try and find it in an emergency.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Taxis, Business Cards, and Fees

When you check in to a hotel, grab a business card and put it in your purse or pocket. It usually has the address and almost always has the phone number on it. That way you won't wonder if it is located on Jefferson Street, Jefferson Court, or Jefferson Avenue.

Plus, you can show it to the taxi driver for your return trip to the hotel from the restaurant or wherever you have been.

It's also a good idea to ask the hotel concierge the approximate cost of a taxi to your destination. It never hurts to know what your fare will be.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dirty Clothes

You know you will have dirty clothes when traveling. But, why make your whole suitcase smell like dirty socks? Pack a lightweight laundry bag and throw a couple of dryer sheets in it.

If you don't do any laundry while traveling, at least your dirty laundry smell won't permeate your suitcase until you arrive back home.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Great Lake

This is NOT Lake Superior. Anyone know where it is?

Lake Superior is the largest of North America's Great Lakes at 31,699 square miles. Did you know it contains more water than all of the Great Lakes...combined?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lunch at The Terraces Winery

Amazing lunch at The Terraces Winery yesterday.

Even the stick figures had fun...

Timm outdid himself on all the courses.

Wines before, during, and after complimented all the wonderfully prepared food.

Polenta and honey cake with fresh berries...what a way to end the meal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rental Car Questions

If I am renting a car in another country, can I use my US driver's license? Usually, in English speaking countries...yes. Many other countries require an International Driving Permit. Be sure to check with the rental car company before you leave the US as the IDP must be issued in your home country.

Will my GPS work in Europe? Most GPS devices will work, if you purchase a European chip. Install it and the maps will appear just like you are used to in the US.

Do I need any special insurance? Check with your auto insurance company to see what is covered by your own policy and if they recommend purchasing extra insurance at the time of the rental.

Will I know the road signs? Check with your guide book or on the Internet to see if there are any special rules for driving. You can also ask your insurance company for any tips. Road signs are fairly self explanatory and well marked. Round abouts or traffic circles may be confusing the first time you encounter one, but they make so much sense once you get used to them. You just need to understand who has the right of way in one.

Happy driving.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Renting a Car

If you are considering renting a car on your next trip to Europe, here are some things you may want to consider.

Book in advance. We always decide how many days we will need the car, where we will be picking it up, and where we will be returning it. This gives us time to ask about any discounts (motor club, senior citizen, airline affiliations, etc. ) they may have and to comparison shop for the vehicle we want or need on our trip.

We have noticed that in many countries the vehicle will have a manual transmission. Sometimes automatics are available but for a much higher price. Think about your comfort level with a manual transmission and the roads you will be driving. And...if you are going to England or Australia, be sure to think about driving on the  left side of the road.

More tips to follow...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kids on a Plane

Traveling with kids on an airplane can be challenging or it can be fun. How do some parents make it a fun time? I visited with one seasoned traveling parent and here are some of her suggestions.

As adults we know how to make our ears adjust to taking off or descending. Kids often do not...especially young ones. Have the kids suck on suckers. The constant swallowing helps equalize the air pressure in their ears. If they are too young, a pacifier works or anything that gets them to swallow.

Take things for kids to play with...but not to throw around. Coloring books are good and so are hand held puzzles (with no pieces) or games. Anything to keep them occupied...

Talk to them before you leave for the airport, she also told me. Tell them there are things they can and cannot do. For instance, no kicking the seat in front of you. No screaming...use our inside voice...whisper...pretend we are hiding. As a passenger, I appreciated what she was telling me.

She also said...they use the restrooms immediately before boarding!

Seems like good advice to me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Last Minute Deals

Looking for last minute travel sites that may offer just the ticket you're looking for? Recently, I read about some sites I have not yet used.

Some of them listed include: and

Others include: and

Has anyone used any of these sites? If so, what were your experiences?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Caspian Sea

This is the Pacific Ocean...and it's not landlocked.

Did you know the Caspian Sea is the world's largest landlocked body of water with about 143,000 square miles of water? The Caspian Sea is so large, it has characteristics common to both lakes and the sea. Many places list it as the world's largest lake even though it is not a freshwater lake.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Travel Websites

Recently I read an article listing several travel sites that may be helpful when booking your next trip. I have used some of these but not all of them.

The list included:
GetGoing...which allows you to pick two locations
FlyinAway...which requires you to bid
Hipmunk...which allows you to track an airfare by email
Momondo...which may suggest different airlines for each way
Bing Travel...which gives you a tip on whether to buy now or wait a day
Google Flights...which works best on domestic flights, with international ones coming

Have you used any of these? Were you pleased or were they more trouble than they were worth? I know what I like and I know what it takes for me to use or recommend a site.

My recommendations will come later...stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cafe Gourmand

While in Paris, we discovered a little secret on our menus. It’s called café gourmand and it’s an inexpensive way to treat yourself to dessert.

Café Gourmand may have started out as a small macaroon or bite of chocolate with your after lunch espresso, but it has grown in size and in popularity. We noticed café gourmand on almost every bistro, bar, and sidewalk café menu throughout Paris.  

Sometimes, we were served a plate with a mini crème brulee, a tiny chocolate éclair, and a shot glass of raspberry mousse along with our espresso or coffee. Other times, a mini chocolate cookie, a profiterole, and a mini raspberry tart accompanied our espresso.

All the portions are small so you don’t fill up on desserts or calories. They all blend perfectly with the coffee. And you get to sample a variety of desserts. 

This tiny luxury is a perfect way to end your lunch or dinner.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013


Maps are important...even though you have a smart phone with everything you've ever wanted on it. When flying into a new airport, or needing to pick up a rental car, or wondering how far the international terminal is from the taxi stand, it's good to have a map of the airport.

Download one before you leave home. You can get some direction of which way to go once you get off the plane.You won't even have to wait for your phone to find itself and point the way.

Most airports have great signage. Some do not. Maps come in handy.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Traveling With Credit Cards

Traveling with a credit card is an easy way to go. By now, you probably already know the basics of traveling with your credit cards...notifying your card company of your upcoming travel and making sure you have their numbers handy in case something goes wrong or it gets lost.

But, here are a few things you might not know. Some offer travel benefits that others do not. You could get faster check in or a larger room. It would be a good idea to know what your card can do for you and use that one on vacation.

Some card companies offer a discounted rate on medical insurance. Again, a good idea to ask.

Many issuers or card banks will charge a fee for foreign transactions. Do some research to find out if and what that is.

Take more than one card. Not all cards are accepted all over the world. Sometimes perfectly good cards can be declined. And if the credit card company is calling sure they have your cell phone. It really won't do much good for them to call home if you're in Germany.