Five easy ways to boost the joy and pleasure of every trip you take

Ever feel yourself stuck in a vacationing rut?

Maybe you try out different places, but they all kind of seem the same. 

Maybe you find the planning exhausting.

Maybe you stress out over small things so that your energy gets sapped.

Maybe you cram too many things into too little time, and you come back more tired than when you left.

Maybe you bring work with you, even when you say you’re not going to, so that you wind up giving away precious vacationing hours to your job.

I’m going to be bold and say: This is not what a vacation should feel like.

Here are 5 secrets to becoming a Zen master of vacationing. Trust me — you’ll never regret taking these on.

  1. Move a little bit every day you’re on holiday, especially if your job is the kind that has you sitting at a desk all day long.  This isn’t about working out; it’s just about doing what your body and brain want you to do, which is move around a little. Lounging is great — there should definitely be time for lounging — but only lounging for days on end has an ironic de-energizing effect on the body. (It’s part of why desk work can be insanely exhausting, even though you technically didn’t do anything physical all day long.) Whatever your level of mobility or fitness, pick something to do every day that gives you a burst of activity: walking, swimming in the ocean, a bike ride, playing with your kids, morning yoga or stretching. If you have some physical limitations, plan ahead and find walker- or wheelchair-friendly spaces to explore, even if it’s just for 20 minutes each day. Your body and your brain will thank you. Activity actually helps boost your body’s ability to fully relax and soak up the restorative purpose of vacationing.

  2. Get present to real, peaceful, natural beauty. You might not be the camping type. Or the sporty type. Or the outdoorsy type. That’s 100% okay! You don’t have to hike the Grand Canyon to sit in total awe of it. Even the biggest, loudest city has peaceful places to just be in the presence of natural beauty. If the weather’s nice and you have the option, sit outside for your meal or pack a picnic. Just soak in your surroundings and the view; pay attention to light, sounds, sensations, and smells.

    Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser and business author, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review about a CEO friend of his who swore by intentional time in nature to up his business game: “Before retiring from the CEO role, John would try to take these breaks just before his global partners’ meetings because he found that his ideas, initiatives, and even speeches would become much more focused, rich, clear and powerful as a result—even though he didn’t spend any time actively working on them!” We can’t underestimate the power that being in nature has for bringing out the best in our thinking and seeing.

  3. Cultivate your appetite for “different.” This one can be challenging — but it pays huge dividends when it comes to creating vacations that are full, satisfying, and memorable. This is less about booking some extreme trip and more about being willing to approach every trip as a learning experience, to being open to the possibility that every vacation can actually make you a better person. Seek out conversations with interesting strangers. Learn some phrases in a new language and practice them and see what happens. Try new foods. Take in a performance that features local music or dance. Take the risk of not knowing and being willing to ask. As Fernández-Aráoz observes, “The world’s most productive people are deeply curious and collaborative and constantly seek out new acquaintances and allies — even when they’re on vacation.”

  4. Put your money into experiences, not things. Again, this one can be challenging. We’re taught in our culture that having more stuff will make us happier, even though research has proven (link name to this ==> https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-02-28/why-you-should-buy-experiences-not-things) this over and over again to not be true. Vacations in and of themselves are experiences — so that’s one step in the best direction — and getting a few small things to remember your trip is certainly not a bad thing. But keep an eye out for ways to maximize your experience of each moment within your holiday. When the moment comes to decide if you want to blow a ton of cash at the duty free shop or a souvenir shop — ask yourself what kinds of experiences you could buy that will be with you forever and that will continue to bring you happiness long after they’re over.

  5. Treat your vacation like a vocation. Notice there’s only one letter that separates the time you spend relaxing, re-energizing, and reconnecting and the thing you were born to do. The word “vacation” comes from the Latin vacare, which means “freedom from obligation and duty, release, to be free and at leisure.” The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare, which means “to call” — as in, your personal calling, your purpose, the things that bring you deep joy and bring out the best in you and everyone around you. Think of the joyful energy you would put into your calling — the intention, the planning, the attention to detail, the gratitude. Consider the other word we frequently use for vacation — “holiday” — and note that it means “holy day.” It’s okay to approach your upcoming trip as something that can hold a bit of magic, because it just might. As Fernández-Aráoz writes, your vacation can be the thing that actually brings you back better than you were before — better for yourself, your family and friends, your work, your life.

If you’re looking for ways to maximize your traveling experiences, but you’re not quite sure how to get there, I’d love to help! If planning stresses you out, I can be your best ally. I love this work and can help connect you with the places and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Let’s talk today http://www.BeaconTravelLLC.com

Planning for your dream vacation can be so exciting — where you’re going to stay, what you’ll see, the shows you’ll take in, all the amazing food you’ll eat. 

But what about all your travel documents? Are they all in order?

Here’s a list of everything you need, plus practical tips on how to keep everything organized, safe, and accessible.

When you’ve assembled all the essential documents/copies, the first thing you should do is check to make sure your name appears the same on all documents. This may seem like a small thing, but it can be a big hassle during travel if your names don’t match.

Next, scan the papers and send them in an email to yourself and to your emergency contact(s).

In addition, you can carry a USB card with encrypted copies of all these images — so even if it gets stolen, no one could access the documents without the master password. You can keep this USB card in a tiny, discreet pocket, along with some extra cash — an absolute last resort in the extremely rare event that you lose everything.

Choose a family member or close friend who will be your representative while you’re away and who can have access to major accounts if needed. This way, you have a trustworthy contact available any time, and there is someone who always knows where you are.

Store copies of your major travel documents (passports, tickets, reservations, etc.) in a waterproof plastic zip bag and in a separate piece of luggage from the originals. It’s stressful enough to have your passport stolen — but having it stolen from the same bag where all the copies are is even worse. When you’re out sightseeing, always carry the essential documents on your person, ideally in a waterproof carrier that can be worn under your clothing.

Once you get all this info in order, you can travel with confidence, knowing you’re covered in the event of the unexpected. And — bonus! — you’ll have laid the groundwork for future trips.

To start planning your trip today, contact me by clicking here. I look forward to hearing from you!

The idea of traveling to a country that’s in economic crisis can be unsettling. You see images of protests, people yelling, long lines at ATMs. You read headlines that predict dire endings, total collapse. It can be hard to sort out click-bait subject lines from reality.

Here’s the good news: you can absolutely travel to countries that might be having economic trouble, and you can have a fantastic trip. Several of 2016’s most troubled economies according to Bloomberg were countries that are popular with tourists – places like Brazil, Greece, and Russia.

First, I can help you separate hype from fact. For example, while the thought of protests can sometimes be uncomfortable to U.S. citizens, it’s important to note that protests are a fairly common occurrence in places like Europe. Protests and strikes are much more a part of the social fabric for average citizens than they are for people in the United States, and often under the drama of signs and shouting, conditions in a particular country might still be very normal and relatively calm. And as long as things are stable and it’s safe to be in that country, there’s no reason to avoid it.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you decide to an economically-distressed country. If you prepare properly, you can protect your investment and maximize the enjoyment of your vacation.

Get travel insurance and make sure you clearly understand all the details. Insurance can help protect your purchases in the event that a tour company or resort goes out of business. Just make sure you understand what’s covered and what isn’t. For example, if a protest or strike is predicted before you get on your plane, your travel insurance company may refuse to cover your expenses. Talk to me or contact your insurance provider directly to make sure you understand the terms clearly.

Book with credible airlines and tour operators. For U.S. citizens, this means booking with providers approved by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Package deals also tend to protect the consumer more than buying each service separately.

Bring a variety of ways to pay for your holiday, including extra cash in the currency of the country you’re visiting. Most hotels, restaurants, and tour operators will still take credit cards, and often the cash limit at ATMs that’s in place for citizens will not apply to foreign visitors. Federal credit regulations allow travelers to file credit disputes if a service wasn’t provided because of bankruptcy. Still, it’s a good idea to bring more cash than you would normally, just in case there’s an interruption in credit card or ATM services.

The recently-instituted value-added-tax (VAT) increase in Europe may slightly affect prices on some goods and services. For tourists, this mainly affects things like hotel prices and restaurant food — though there are plenty of ways to still get great deals on these services.

Consider exploring areas of the country that you know will be quieter. Downtown in major cities like and university campuses tend to be common rally areas. Often, the countryside or smaller cities offer gorgeous views, plenty of amenities, delicious meals at affordable prices, and friendly citizens who appreciate the boost of tourist dollars. Take advantage of an opportunity to experience an amazing place — and help boost a discouraged economy.

Make the extra effort to connect with citizens. Strike up conversations in coffee shops. Ask questions at your hotel front desk. Take an extra moment to learn about what’s going on from an inside perspective. What you see in the news does not reflect the nuance of human experience. Your trip can only be enriched by connecting with the people who live in the country you’re visiting. 

Do you have a place in mind but have questions in an uncertain global economy? Contact me today and let’s see how we can make your vacation a reality. You’ll be so glad you did!   www.BeaconTravelLLC.com to schedule your Unique Planning Session.

Thinking of having a destination wedding?  We are here to help.  Want to learn a great dance? Adventures in Dance can get you ready for your big day!

 

What you need to know about the lifted travel embargo to Cuba 

It seems like about 15 minutes after the travel embargo to Cuba was lifted in January of 2015, I started hearing about people jetting off to this beautiful island. Soon I was seeing photos pop up everywhere in my social media feeds — those iconic streets with old cars, the gorgeous lamp-lit city squares, views of the water, images of colorful and exotic foods, the beautiful arts, dance, and music scenes, the unique architecture ranging from Baroque to Art Deco. It is truly a captivating place!

Acknowledging the existing uneasiness that some still have with this new development, I want to make sure my readers know the facts surrounding the rules themselves. If you think you might want to visit Cuba —what does it mean for you?

Restrictions are lifted for U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents only, though you can be a non-U.S. citizen and still purchase a ticket if you are physically in the U.S. at the time of purchase.

In August 2016, airlines ( https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/31/travel/how-to-go-to-cuba-now-jetblue.html) were authorized to fly into some smaller provincial towns, and then shortly thereafter into Havana for the first time in five decades, and Cuba hopes to host over 5 million tourists in 2018 ( https://www.usatoday.com/story/sponsor-story/norwegian-cruise-line/2018/02/01/visit-havana-cubas-4-most-picturesque-spots/1074341001/).  "The liberalization of travel…will make it easier for people to visit Cuba, but tourist travel is still prohibited by law," said American University professor William LeoGrande, an expert on U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America.

So, you can book a flight — provided you fit into one of the 12 designated travel categories set by the Federal Government. These are:

  1. Family visits
  2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3. Journalistic activity
  4. Professional research and professional meetings
  5. Educational activities
  6. Religious activities
  7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
  8. Support for the Cuban people
  9. Humanitarian projects
  10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
  12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines. 

These designations are quite wide-ranging, and certainly there would be rich opportunities to see many of the wonderful things Cuba has to offer visitors under any one of these categories.

 

In the end, if Cuba is on your bucket list, now is a great time to explore the possibility of visiting. When you work with me, I can help you navigate any paperwork needed to self-certify that your trip falls under one of these 12 categories. I can work with airlines and cruise lines. Rest assured that we as experts in the travel industry are paying close attention to new trends and developments, and we are working closely with travel representatives in Cuba to ensure the best possible travel experiences.

If you’d like more info, have questions, or are interested in planning a trip to Cuba, I’d love to hear from you!    www.BeaconTravelLLC.com  to schedule a call back or email  Linda@BeaconTravelLLC.com

 

 

 

To those that want to keep their healthy lifestyle or diets under control while on vacation, being prepared will be the best way to do this.

1. Pack Smart

Just like when meal prepping for a regular week, thinking about your meals and before your trip and packing what you can will make all the difference.

2. Know Where You're Going

Checking out the surrounding area can help you to determine various restaurants or grocery stores that can help you stay on track.

3. Get Veggies with Green Superfoods

You can get in your veggies quickly with green superfood powder.

4. Pack Smart

Just like when meal prepping for a regular week, thinking about your meals and before your trip and packing what you can will make all the difference.

5. Eat Small Portions Frequently

Eat small, healthy snacks throughout the day to help avoid getting super hungry and binging on something greasy later on.

6. Drink Lots of Water

Being thirsty can feel a lot like hunger, so staying hydrated can help combat those hunger pains.

Especially if you’re on a long business trip, or even if you just get homesick easily, you can make your hotel room feel a bit more comfy with just a few easy moves:
  1. Unpack
    Try to avoid living out of your suitcase. Unpacking your bags will help you feel like your hotel room is more than just a place to crash.
  2. Light a Candle
    There’s nothing like scents to transport you to your more comfortable place. Get out that just-cleaned hotel smell with your favorite candle (after checking with the front desk).
  3. Bring Your Own Coffee
    The most important “meal” of the day: your morning coffee. Bring your own and you’ll instantly feel a little bit better.
  4. Bring Your Own Pillow & Blanket
    Nothing will help you feel more comfortable quite like your own blanket and pillows.
  5. Pack Some Family Photos
    A trick for those who travel a lot for business, bring your family with you.
  6. Stream Your Own Shows
    So long as the hotel’s tv has an HDMI cable you can stream whatever show you were binging.

While you probably know the basic necessities for having an enjoyable flight (ear buds, a blanket, chewing gym, etc.), there are still some items that might make your time inflight even better.

  1. Queasy Pops
    Helps those who get nauseous in an airplane.
  2. Colgate Wisps
    Disposable toothbrushes that require zero water.
  3. Power case
    Many planes now have outlets on them, but for the ones that still don’t, having a phone case that moonlights as a battery pack will help keep you juiced up.
  4. Dry Shampoo
    Nothing freshens up your hair after a long flight quite like some dry shampoo.
  5. Zip & Flip Headrest
    For those that don’t want to walk around with headrests, these kind look like an unsuspecting stuffed animal.

I am a travel agent so I am undeniably biased when it comes to discussing the benefits of booking through a travel agent. Below are my top five reasons to trust a travel agent when planning your next vacation whether it be domestic or abroad:

1. Cut Through the Noise
When researching your next vacation, the internet can be both wonderful and overwhelming. An experienced travel agent will weed out the mediocrity and focus your attention on top personal recommendations.

2. Completely Customized
Travel agents have all the tools to seamlessly piece together the exact trip you are looking for, which can be challenging and time consuming to do on your own. They have an ever-expanding list of trusted contacts and suppliers, from private drivers to luxury VIP experiences.

3. More Money For Souvenirs
Travel agents not only save you time, but they can also save you money. Agencies who belong to larger networks, such as InteleTravel, can land you deals like special pricing on hotels and airfare that you can’t access on your own. They are also sometimes able to offer special bonuses like complimentary room upgrades, spa discounts and more.

4. Service from Start to Finish
Travel agents see your trip through from your first consultation until the time you land back home. Agencies will typically offer a 24-hour emergency line in case you run into any unexpected delays or issues while traveling. They can even quickly assist you in the case of widespread delays such as airline strikes or major storms. Long hold times with airlines can mean all the good alternative flights are taken by the time you speak to an agent. One quick call to your travel agent, on the other hand, can provide piece of mind while they take care of getting you on the best possible flight.

5. Feel Like a Celebrity
Some travel professionals have connections with top tourist destinations due to their high volume of sales. On occasion, travel agents can organize VIP experiences such as private after-hours tours of normally crowded exhibits, exclusive access to areas closed to the public, or highly-sought after event tickets that sell out quickly.

 

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