Although I am usually very tired after traveling, I always try to find the little things about my trip that brought me joy.
Maybe it was finding the perfect Christmas ornament for my tree or getting that perfect shot of the sunset with my phone. I always come back with one memorable experience.
This article focuses on finding and boosting the joy of travel.
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, 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 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 — you can reach me by clicking here.
Travel agents are used to making a home anywhere. We often hop from resort to resort or different towns all in the quest to give you our personal opinions on why different destinations, hotels, or resorts may (or may not) be perfect for you.
Speaking for myself , I don’t only want to know about how many restaurants around but I like to get to know the destination. I want to know the language, I want to know the hidden spots to get the best local cuisine, I want to walk the landscapes, eat the food, learn the transportation systems. I really want to know the location.
I want to give you a little insight about the little known, under the radar Caribbean destinations just waiting to be explored. Check them out.
The sister island of more known St. Kitts, Nevis is a small island located southeast of Puerto Rico. Nevis is a great spot for travelers looking for an authentic island experience. There are no fast food restaurants and it is not an overly tourist area.
Nevis is a great spot for history buffs because it is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton and also known for having one of the few Jewish settlements in the Caribbean.
Although Nevis is a small island, it still has all the amenities you need for accommodations from five star hotels to more modest hotels.
Are you looking for an adventure? Dominica is a mountainous island in the Caribbean waiting for you to dive, hike, and be one with nature. Nicknamed the Natural Isle of the Caribbean, Dominica more than lives up to its name with many adventures for those wishing to explore an unspoiled habitat.
When visiting Dominica we recommend going for a hike at the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will have access to the Emerald Pool and Waterfalls, the Middleham Falls, the jungle, and a lake. After a day of physical activity relax with a mud bath.
I have spoken about Guadeloupe before as one of my top five romantic island getaways. The Guadeloupe Islands has a French Caribbean atmosphere. It is a French territory conveniently located in the Caribbean, you will be diving into a island comfortably fused with classic French sensibilities with Caribbean attitude located less than 5 hours during peak season from JFK.
Besides being a great romantic getaway this is also a great choice for adventure seekers with lots of unspoiled jungle to explore, for foodies just imagine a creole of French, African, and Caribbean cuisine (so yummy), and for those that just want to get away from it all there are islands just waiting to be your sole domain for the day.
Are you looking for a perfect vacation that has all the thrill of a popular tourist destination, but that feels like a secret hideaway just for you? If that’s what you’re craving, I can help you get there! Together we can discover a place that you’ll want to return to again and again. Just click here to get in touch with me today.
When it comes to taking a cruise on the river or ocean, it’s pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities, and the opportunity to explore interesting ports. Living in New York City, we have two ports that will conveniently take you on a number of ocean cruising experiences. However ocean cruises are worldwide so it is an opportunity to explore the world from a large boat.
The majority of river cruises are located in Europe although you will find specialty river cruising in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Each one comes with its own unique perks, and depending on your specific needs for your next trip, you might find that one is a slightly better fit than the other. So what are the major differences?
One big difference can be summed up in one word: intimacy. River cruises tend to be much smaller (190 max vs. up to 6,200 on the largest ocean cruises), and as a result, you’re much more likely to be interacting with other passengers and crew members.
That smaller scale translates to all areas of the river cruise. You dine on a regular schedule at tables with other passengers (wine is included in the price of the cruise). Instead of 50 different things to do on board, amenities tend to be more modest with river cruises — think libraries, a workout room, cultural programs, and free Wifi vs. ten kids’ playrooms, glitzy Broadway shows, and a skydiving simulator. There tend to be fewer kids on river cruises, making them popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together.
You stop almost every day at a new port with river cruises, often for walking tours through quaint towns with little tourist traffic, and you’re always in view of land.
With ocean cruises, you can go days without seeing land, and ports of call and excursions tend to be more exotic and high-adventure.
Because of their larger size, ocean cruises offer plenty of options for many ages, from young kids to octogenarians, and they are often more able to accommodate a wide variety of special health needs. For this reason, they tend to make the best option for multi-generational family gatherings that include young children. For the traveler who is into high-octane adventure, ocean cruises provide a wide variety of activities on board, as well as exotic and more daring day excursions.
River cruises do tend to be more expensive per person — but that price also includes more things. Ocean cruises have a lower sticker price per person, but you are often charged extra for alcohol and other amenities.
When you’re getting ready to plan your next on-the-water trip, here are a few questions to consider:
1) How many people are traveling? What are their ages?
2) What time of the year do you want to travel?
3) Do you need the amenities of a mega ship — spas, gyms, a dozen restaurants, and many activities? Or are you looking for something calmer, more intimate and easy-paced?
4) Are you seeking authentic inter-cultural experiences? Or do you prefer more familiar settings?
As always, we are here and would love to discuss your next cruise. We can look at all the moving parts of your upcoming trip — what you need, what you want, what your dream is — and together we can come up with a cruise you and your loved ones will remember fondly for the rest of your life. Contact us today.
I had such a great time while in Cartagena, I wanted to give you a sample itinerary for what to do, where to go, and most importantly what to eat while in Cartagena.
Cartagena can be explored over a long weekend but for the full breadth of experience I recommend one week. Here is a sample itinerary for staying in Cartagena, Colombia.
Cartagena is located in Colombia's Caribbean coast and is truly one of Colombia’s most beautiful cities. Colombian tradition is full of bright colors, vibrant music and delectable foods that are rich in culture. There is no surprise that tourists are being rapidly drawn to this lively port city for vacation, as it contains an enticing combination of old-world charm and new-world experiences.
Where to stay. Traditionally, Cartagena was one of the more affordable Caribbean destinations. However, in 2019, it’s tourism industry is booming and prices have definitely increased to reflect the growth in travel into Cartagena. For budget-friendly and less-crowded travel, the best months to travel to Cartagena are November, December, March, July and August.
Where to stay depends on the type of Colombian experience you desire:
For history buffs, stay in or near Cartagena’s Walled City. Casa Pizarro Hotel Boutique is a modern boutique hotel with all of the desired amenities, including a pool, buffet and accommodating staff. It is located in a fun neighborhood and is walking distance from the Walled City.
For a luxurious getaway, stay at Hotel Casa Agustín, a chic 4-star hotel on the beach. Containing only 31 guest rooms and suites, as well as a private beach, spa and onsite restaurant, this 17th century building encompasses both history and luxury.
For a non-stop beach party atmosphere, stay in Bocagrande at Penthouses Palmetto. This high rise building is located directly on the beach, and within walking distance to numerous restaurants and quick driving distances to Cartagena’s most popular sites.
What to do. Cartagena is a large city, both in population and geography, and therefore lends itself to varying lengths of stay, depending on your focus. Whether you plan to stay for a weekend or an entire week (we highly recommend the latter), Cartagena has a host of sights and experiences for everyone.
Wander through the Old Walled City. Downtown Cartagena is contained within 7 miles of stone walls and is highlighted by colorful, historic buildings. Take a stroll through the city, watch the sunset from the walls and stop and experience the nightlife filled with vibrant cocktails and salsa dance.
Shop at Bazurto Market. Bazurto Market has numerous vendors of varying kinds, including local delicious and fresh produce, through narrow alleys and under makeshift roofs.
Relax on the Playa Blanca. Known for its beautiful white sand, Playa Blanca is located on Baru island and is accessible by boat or van. During the busiest season, you will find larger crowds and beach vendors, while the more quiet season serves as a peaceful reprieve from city life.
Be artsy in Getsemani. Getsemani is a growing neighborhood highlighted with talented street art, hipster coffee shops and a ton of history. It is located only 10 minutes outside of the walled city and is marked by the Plaza - where people gather to watch performances and have a drink.
Learn Cartagena history at the Inquisition Museum. The former home to the Spanish Inquisition, this museum highlights the importance of Cartagena’s ports.
Hike Tayrona National Park. Located along the coast, Tayrona is comprised of pristine beaches and adventurous hikes.
Visit Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, Cartagena Cathedral and the Clock Tower.
Where to eat. Cartagena is Colombia’s culinary capital, combining top chefs, local flavor and a vibrant atmosphere to create can’t-miss restaurants.
La Cevicheria became famous thanks to the travels of a renowned chef and global traveler, the late Anthony Bourdain. The quality of food at this restaurant is impeccable, with fresh local seafood and regional wines highlighting the menu, and the quantity more than generous. There will be a wait as reservations are not accepted, but it is well worth it.
Maria is a restaurant that highlights traditional Colombian ingredients in a cushion of global cuisine. It is swanky and modern and spans the world in its take on flavor and spice, with its cocktail program as innovative and delicious as its food.
Di Silvio Trattoria is a traditional Italian restaurant with historic charm and live music. Located in the heart of Cartagena’s party town - Getsemani - this beautiful and historic restaurant serves the best pasta and pizzas in the city.
If you are considering a trip to Cartagena and would like the assistance of a premier New York travel agent, contact Million Miles Travel Agency today.
Lover of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Always looking for the best places to eat wherever I go.