I am always looking for more ways to be happy. Sometimes it is by eating my favorite foods, listening to my favorite music, or.......... traveling?
We know that travel comes with a host of great benefits: you get to spend time with people you love (or be away from the people you love lol); you get to see new things and try new things; you get to relax away from the pressures of work and everyday life; you get the thrill of realizing dreams you may have had for years and years.
As it turns out, travel is the best way to spend your money. Of all the things you can buy, the experience of traveling gives you, by far, the most bang for your buck. All these great elements of travel have been proven to make people happier.
And even more than that, every part of the travel experience — before, during, and after — is more satisfying, more enjoyable, and has longer-lasting positive effects than buying stuff.
In 2003, Thomas Gilovich published his landmark study called “To Do or To Have? That Is the Question” – a study that, more than a decade on, continues to influence social psychology and the study of what brings us true contentment.
Gilovich looked at how economic choices affect well-being and analyzed the differences between experiential and material purchases on human happiness. His unexpected discovery has changed the way we look at our buying habits: Across the board, doing things makes people way happier than having things.
The reason for this is that we get to live and re-live the joy of experiences. Buying an expensive TV or even a new car gives a momentary spike in good feelings that lasts for a few days. But when you take an amazing trip, you get the memories and the good time together — and every time you think of that trip, or you see something that reminds you of it, or you look at the picture on your desktop, your brain registers those joyful times and releases mood-enhancing chemicals that make you feel like you’re re-living the happiness of the experience itself. It stays with you, and you get to access it whenever you want.
It’s not like we need another reason to start planning that dream trip — but another study out that Gilovich co-authored has found that even the anticipation of experiences outdoes the lead-up to material purchases. People waiting in line to get tickets to an event are happier and more excited than those who are waiting in line to buy something.
So, even something as boring as waiting in line is more fun when it’s connected to your travel experience. But it makes sense when you think of it, doesn’t it? You’re waiting to, say, get your passport photo taken, and associated with that time are thoughts of where you’re going to go, what you’re going to see, and all the adventure that awaits. When you’re planning that trip with your agent, you get to make progress, take steps towards realizing your dream, and each step is actually a part of the adventure itself.
As travelers, we know the many positive benefits of getting out and seeing the world. And now we can feel even better knowing that those benefits continue to improve our lives, long after the trip is over.
Are you convinced? Ready to start taking the steps towards your next travel adventure? To contact me click here now!
With Labor Day approaching and back-to-school shopping complete, the realization that summer is over may be heavily weighing on you. Although autumn is a beautiful time of year marked by crisp temperatures and nature’s beauty, we sometimes cannot help feeling down by the end of summer. Those feelings can be easily erased by booking a vacation for fall.
Autumn is an ideal time to travel, as it is marked by comfortable temperatures, less crowded tourist attractions and more moderate travel costs. Throughout the world, different countries have the most to offer at the most fair price when the calendar turns to September. Our New York travel agents have compiled a list of some of the best travel destinations for fall 2019 to help you decide on your upcoming travel plans.
Bavaria, Germany. Germany, home to the Oktoberfest, is an incredibly popular fall travel destination. In Bavaria, located in southern Germany, a visitor can enjoy Oktoberfest, numerous wine festivals and romantic outings, including hiking in the Alps, horse drawn carriage rides and over two dozen historic castles. In addition, the backdrop of snow dusted, forest lined mountains is an autumn scene from a movie.
Beijing, China. Beijing is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China year round, as it is home to the Great Wall of China. Outside of its vast historical intrigue, this monument is the perfect location for autumn sightseeing. Although the hike may be grueling, the view from the top is breathtaking in fall with the orange, red, green and blue sights of forests and mountains in the distance.
Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is an ideal international travel destination for autumn. With temperatures lingering around 70 degrees, exploring Budapest’s vast history and destinations will be as comfortable as it is exciting. For natives, autumn is marked by annual food and drink festivals and football (soccer) season. It is also the perfect time to explore Budapest’s winding streets and the nearby, renowned wine region. Budapest is also known for its lively music scene, where you can be sure to see both local talent and the world’s most popular musicians.
Nara, Japan. Nara is home to a vast deer population; according to legend, a god arrived in Nara on a white deer. Spotted deer, regarded as a heavenly animal, have roamed the town since. Against the backdrop of colorful fall foliage, watching the deer frolic is especially enjoyable; you can even feed them with food purchased from street vendors. Nara is also home to popular tourist spots including Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, museums and gardens.
Patagonia. September in Patagonia marks the beginning of their spring and hiking season. In October, you will see flowers blooming and birds chirping, a happy change to New York’s impending winter, with average temperatures around sixty degrees. These comfortably cool temperatures yield the perfect weather for Patagonia’s countless outdoor adventures, from hiking to sailing.
Piedmont, Italy. Other than its historic landmarks, Italy is most often travelled to for its food and wine, which reaches its peak season in October. Autumn is fall harvest time for Italy’s vast vineyards and is also the time of year in which food festivals celebrating favorites such as chocolate and truffles take place. In Piedmont, a traveler can enjoy unlimited delicious meals and bottles of renowned wine while taking in the autumn sights of the Alps along hundreds of trails.
Puigcerda, Spain. A small village full of unique shops and restaurants, Puigcerda is the capital of the Cerdana region of Spain. One can take in the sights and smells of autumn by walking through the quaint village and the surrounding hiking trails. Puigcerda Lake and Schierbeck Park are two of the best places to capture fall.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. September is the perfect month to visit Rio de Janeiro; autumn temperatures range from mid-70s to mid-80s, so if prolonging summer is on the wish list, this could be the perfect travel destination. The crowds are smaller this time of year, providing ample space to relax on Rio’s pristine beaches. Because Carnival is not during the fall months, travel costs are a fraction of the price.
Every year, summer must come to an end. But that does not mean that the fun associated with summer must end as well. By booking a fall vacation - whether to a warm destination where summer can be prolonged or a destination that fully embraces all that autumn has to offer - you can continue to have fun and explore new worldwide destinations.
Million Miles Travel Agency’s premier travel agents in New York are just a call away, eager to get you on board a plane to your new destination; contact us today to book your fall 2019 vacation.
People travel all over the world for a variety of reasons: some are looking for the adventure of a lifetime, while some are looking for a little rest and relaxation; some desire heat, while some desire the slopes; some want to discover their roots, while others want to learn a new culture.
However, a common denominator in most individuals when planning a vacation is booking a location with delicious food. After all, nearly all of us have an inner foodie somewhere within us. It is no secret that I like to experience what a culture has to offer by eating and drinking. Usually when someone asks me about a trip I took I usually start by talking about the food I eat and what I drank.
Culinary vacations are becoming more popular than ever; traditionally, this is no surprise. It has always been said that the heart of a home is the kitchen. Those ideals do not vanish when we travel, as food is an essential part of any community. Instead, often the most memorable moments of a vacation revolve around food and the people with whom you share the food.
The beauty of a culinary vacation is that you can be exposed to foods, food combinations and spices that you never knew existed. However, when you return home, a faint smell will transport you back to that experience. Below is a list of some of the best travel destinations in the world for our inner foodie.
Just north of the border lies Montreal, the largest city in Canada’s Quebec province. Montreal is a cultural melting pot, which is obvious in the food. Montreal’s culinary scene reflects influences from French, Carribean and American culture, making for a fun and delicious foodie adventure. While in Montreal, try classics such as poutine, fries with cheese and gravy; pea soup; smoked meats; and of course, a dessert made with delicious maple syrup.
Meanwhile south of the border to Mexico City is where you want to go if authentic tacos, burritos and guacamole would win over your heart. Mexico City offers a unique combination of great restaurants (that also serve great tequila), street food and fun, informative cooking courses.
Outside of Napa Valley or Tuscany, Mendoza, Argentina is commonly thought of as one of the best wine-producing cities in the world. However, Mendoza also offers a delectable food scene and a world of adventure. “Bodegas,” or wineries, often offer the best of all three: world-renowned wine, delicious food and unique events. Its rich culinary tradition includes Argentinian delicacies such as Choripan, a chorizo sandwich; Empanadas, meat and vegetable pastries; and Locro, a stew made with meat and vegetables.
Outside of Peru, the rest of the world is finally realizing the delicate art involved in Peruvian cooking. For a trip to the source, visit Cusco, Peru, also a common destination for adventure-seekers. Peruvian food is a delicious combination of Spanish and Incan influence, with popular dishes including Solterito, a salad of corn, fava beans and chili pepper; Anticuchos, beef skewers marinated in a chili sauce known as “aji”; and of course, Ceviche.
Known for its “tapas,” or small plates, Spanish cuisine has often been sought after by global travelers. San Sebastián, Spain is arguably the best foodie travel destination in the world. Similar to New York City, San Sebastián has a mix to Michelin Star restaurants (in fact, the most per capita of any city) and bars that serve exquisite food worth the plane ride alone. As an added bonus, San Sebastián is a short driving distance from some of the countries most visited vineyards.
In a continent full of popular food destinations, Copenhagen, Denmark often misses the list of possible foodie destinations. Yet, Copenhagen is home to several restaurants that people travel specifically to dine at. Both Noma, an upscale and modern restaurant, and Relae, a relaxed and organic dining experience, have gained recognition as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World. On top of that, Copenhagen has a vast, internationally-focused food truck scene that is alone worth the travel.
Bangkok, Thailand is the birth-place of a now world-renowned and loved cuisine. And while Thai food is both prevalent and delicious in the United States, the ability to eat authentic Thai dishes from a vendor in a night market is one of the most authentic food experiences in the world. Bangkok offers food tours, cooking classes and Michelin Star restaurants so that a traveler may experience the best Thai food in various settings.
Possibly the largest street food mecca of the world is Manila, Philippines, with an abundance of options that are sure to please every diner. The “king” of Manila street food is Barut, a fertilized duck egg. Barut, while appealing to only the most adventurous foodie, is the iconic delicacy in the country. For less adventurous eaters, however, there is a host of delicious cuisine, including Ihaw-ihaw, or barbequed meat; Turon, banana fried with a lumpia wrapper; and Chicharon, crispy pork rinds.
A popular travel destination for decades, South Africa is home to delicious food and a beautiful wine country. Approximately one hour from the commonly traveled Cape Town, lies the Stellenbosch Wine Region of South Africa. In Stellenbosch, the chefs build delicious dining experiences around the abundance of wine so that the food not only lives up to the wine, but compliments it.
In Melbourne, Australia you can find an abundance of delicious international cuisine throughout the city, but most notably along Flinders Lane. Also home to an over two-week long Food & Wine Festival, global chefs travel to Melbourne every March to show off their talents, unique perspective on food and unforgettable dishes.
A foodie vacation that will create memories that will last a lifetime should be on your list of vacations in the near future.
If you need assistance with the decision on where to travel, or how to book, contact the top travel agency in New York - Million Miles Travel Agency.
You’re getting ready for your next trip. The suitcase is open on the bed, and you’re going down the list of everything you’ll need to take with you.
Sandals? Check. Wind breaker? Check. Sunscreen? Check.
Duct tape? Wait….what?
1) You read that correctly. A small roll of duct tape takes up a tiny bit of space, but can save you in tons of different ways. Patch a tear in your shoes, jacket, or trusty bag. Baby proof a hotel room in ten seconds by covering outlets and taping drawers shut. Hem your pants. Use as a bandage in an emergency. The list goes on and on.
Here are four more things that should become part of your regular packing list:
2) External USB battery charger. Nothing is more exasperating or panic-inducing than finding yourself lost and needing to pull up that email with directions, or that map to your hotel, or make a phone call — and having your smartphone conk out on you. Save outlet space in airports, hotels, train stations, and other oft-traveled places. Always have a way to charge up your phone, tablet, or other USB powered electronic device, even if there are no outlets available.
3) The humble safety pin can be an amazing asset. Aside from the usual functions — holding your pants or shirt together, for example, when you lose a button — they also can serve to bundle small items like jewelry or keys, to keep everything organized and in one place. Discretely place a pin on the inside hem of a slip or satin jacket lining to eliminate static cling. Use them to attach easily-lost things like mittens to the zipper or hood of your kids’ jackets.
4) A few strips of chamois (or other absorbent fabric) in different sizes. You can keep them all in a zip-lock bag (along with a couple of other bags for temporarily storing used cloths until you can wash them) — but having different sizes helps for different situations, and it’s best to choose fabrics that are also quick-drying. Small squares for cleaning glasses. A washcloth for bigger spills or for freshening up at a rest stop. Use a bandana-sized piece to tie back your hair or, when dampened, tie around your head on a hot day to keep cool. A long, narrower strip can serve as an emergency belt, hair tie, ace bandage, or even a way to tie a bag closed if a zipper breaks. They even make fantastic travel towels, because they roll up into a compact size, suck up the liquid, and dry completely in no time at all.
5) My contact information. As your travel agent, my job doesn’t end when your trip starts! It’s not common, but sometimes complications arise while you are traveling, and I am always available to you to assist with sticky situations you might find yourself in. (This is, of course, just one of the many perks of working with a travel agent!) Before your trip, you can make a “favorites” list in your phone of all trip-related contact info — my number and email address, hotel, car rental, reservations, etc. — for easy access. That way, I’m always just a call away.
To find out more about the benefits of working with me and to plan your next trip, contact me today to schedule an appointment. Click here now.
One of my bucket list goals is to attend all four of the Tennis Grand Slam events (Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open, and the US Open). As I write this article, I have only attended one. Not for lack of trying, the Grand Slam events are at a set time of year and I always find myself committed to something else or just plain unable to go.
I am sure that each one of you reading this article has a bucket list country or event that you want to attend but just thinking about the price tag for such a trip can lead you to sadness because usually the price can be prohibitive.
What if I told you that you can have your bucket list trip if you implemented one or more of the travel strategies:
1) Plan (Way) In Advance:
Time is your friend when booking travel. Contrary to popular belief, the best deals come not with last minute deal but with early booking bonuses. Cruise schedules come out two years in advance. Hotel rooms usually become available 1-1.5 years in advance. If planning for a large group you should think to book as soon as the schedule became available. Planning in advance allows you to have the lowest prices and allows for your pick of rooms. For example, I have booked a 7 day/6 night Southern Caribbean cruise for $600 per person when initially booked 1.5 years ago when the schedule initially came out. The same cruise cabin is currently selling for $950-$1000 per person. The price almost doubled!
2) Embrace The Shoulder (Season):
What is the shoulder season you say? To explain what the shoulder season is we first need to define two other terms, the high season and low season. The high season is the most popular time to travel to a destination. The high season is usually when you will have the best weather or when a particular attraction is available. The downside of the high season is that prices are typically high and the crowds are usually huge. The low season is usually the least popular time to travel to a destination. The low season is usually when the weather is not the best or when popular attractions are not available. The shoulder season is the sweet spot between the high and low season. The great thing about the shoulder season is that the weather is still great but the crowds and the prices go down. My favorite time to travel to Europe is during late September/early October. The weather is not as oppressive and I was able to attend all the sights without the hordes of crowds.
3) Think Off Peak:
As most urban and suburban residents know, rush hour is probably one of the worst time to travel. It seems like the entire city is heading to one location and you feel like a sardine trapped in a tin can. However if you are one of the lucky commuters doing a reverse commute, you probably have a stress-free commute with nothing but clear roadways (or empty train cars) to contend with. Think about your travel plans in the same way. If you are an adventurous traveler (and you purchase travel insurance) how about a Caribbean vacation during the summer or Europe during the winter. There are tips to avoid the worst of the weather but think about traveling to a destination during low season you will not only find great deals but less people.
4) Six Is An Important Number When It Comes To Flights:
You don’t want to wait too long to book your flights but conversely you don’t want to book too early. If you are planning a vacation to a destination serviced by low cost airlines like Jetblue or Southwest it is best to wait until you are within six months of your travel time. Low cost airlines usually put out their airline schedules six months in advance so while you can purchase a vacation package earlier if you want to save a bit of money on your flights, hold off on booking the flights until the schedules for the low cost carriers are out.
Are you ready to start planning an incredible experience for yourself or your whole family? Contact me today and let me help you get there! Just click here.
If you have ever planned a group vacation that has fallen through you know the frustration of many travelers that want to go to one of those wonderful places that make up our great world but can never find even one person to go with.
Prior to starting my travel agency, I worked as an attorney for a company that had a very generous paid vacation policy (5 weeks specifically). The problem was that I always wanted to travel but no one was ever available. So I figured out a way to travel "solo" without actually being alone.
1) Take a tour with a supplier that works with solo travelers. I love G Adventures (I'm a total fan girl). I love them because I was able to travel solo but with the comforts of having things organized and done for me. You won't be stuck on a bus and will have the opportunity to do some activities with a group while also being able to branch out and do your own thing its the best of both worlds. There is no single supplement so you don't have to pay extra for traveling alone unless you want a room to yourself. If you are looking for a great tour check out our weekly travel deal.
2) Cruises are notorious for being difficult for solo travelers. To travel on most cruise lines as a single person you can sometimes have to pay up to 200% of the cabin price (basically double the amount) if you are a cruiser there are some solo friendly options: some cruise lines such as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have cabins on specific ships designed specifically for solo travelers without the single penalty, other cruise lines such as Riviera River Cruises have specific sailing dates for solo travelers, and there are entire companies that deal solely in catering to a single cruiser.
3) Find a travel group that caters to solo travelers (shameless plug coming up). Million Miles Travel Agency is in the process of designing travel that will cater to solo and group travelers alike. These groups are set to travel starting next year. There will be mix and mingle receptions, roommate matching, and free time so you can do your own thing while having scheduled activities if you want to sightsee with the group.
If you are looking to plan your first solo adventure or looking to find a travel group that fits you, schedule a consultation with me and we can find a tour or put together a custom itinerary perfect for you.
Dread airport lines? Try these tricks to get ahead of the pack.
We all know how it is. Any mention of the state of airport travel today — especially the lines and the TSA — will inevitably elicit groans of frustration, eye rolls, and a raft of stories of security nightmares.
It’s true in many ways that traveling by plane in 2019 lacks much of the glamour and carefree effortless elegance of, say, 50 years ago. We live in a different world with much more complex problems that need to be addressed.
But since you have to go through the lines and security no matter what — how about making it as painless as possible? Here are some easy tips to help you breeze through your next security screening and stay at the head of the line.
1) Don't Check A Bag: Want to avoid the crazy lines, don't check a bag. Ask for some packing tips to avoid the hold up of waiting for bags especially if you have to make connections.
2) Get on the list: The TSA has a trusted traveler program called TSA Pre® and the US Customs and Border Protection has Global Entry. Both programs are worth their weight in gold. They are available in most airports across the country and both can cut your time through security screenings by 90%. It has perks like not requiring shoe or laptop removal for a speedy trip through security so yeah for that also.
3) Download the app: Are you like me that got TSA Precheck instead of Global Entry? Do you not want to go through the minor hassle of getting TSA PreCheck or Global Entry even though I am a frequent international traveler?
Introducing Mobile Passport . This app allows you to complete the customs questionnaire upon re-entry to the US. You snap a photo of yourself and you go through the special line for mobile passport users right next to the Global Entry line and you won't have to wait in the long lines for re-entering the US and it's FREE (sorta). They know have two programs the Basic Plan and the Plus Plan. If you are not a frequent traveler, the basic plan will work just fine. If you are a frequent traveler or just like the additional bells and whistles the Plus Plan is $14.99 per year with a 7 day free trial period.
4) Splurge on a meet and greet: Going to the Caribbean during the high season? Want to avoid the lines that can take up to an hour to get through? Splurge on a meet and greet with fast track through customs. This is a very popular perk. I frequently use this service when traveling to Jamaica. Having the ability to walk past the long lines awaiting entry into Jamaica is worth every penny. Plus after zipping through security there are cocktails and food waiting in the lounge while you wait for your resort pickup (that's a triple win!).
A key part of how I work is getting to know the travelers I work with. My philosophy is it's your vacation so it should be about finding a destination, accommodations, and activities that suit you.
I am my own worst client because I want to go everywhere however the the tricks I discuss below helped me clarify where I want to go and I hope that it will help you too.
There are, of course, thousands of possible trips out there. There are plenty of great trips to choose from — and then there are trips that are great for you. Being honest about what you want and need and getting to know your own personal travel profile can save you from the but-it-looked-great-on-paper trip disappointment.
Here are a few simple things that can help you better understand your unique and personal travel profile:
Make a quick list of the twenty most fun memories you have of trips you’ve taken in your lifetime. Notice if there are any themes. While you don’t necessarily need (or even want) each vacation to be a carbon copy of things you’ve already done, you can use those larger themes to guide your planning of future trips. That way, if you decide to step out a little from your comfort zone, you’ll at least have a solid idea of what makes the most meaningful moments for you. Is it time with friends or family? A certain type of weather or geography? Certain activities? Quiet time? When you can build some of these elements into your travel, you’re more likely to come home energized and restored.
What do you like to do to relax, unwind, have fun, or re-energize when you’re not on vacation? Do you like to be still or active? Quiet or surrounded by crowds? Scheduled or free-form and spontaneous? Simplicity or luxury? Inside or outside? These might seem like silly questions — but you’d be surprised how often people book vacations that are filled with activities or set at a pace that they otherwise don’t really enjoy. It’s possible that you’ll love a week of biking in Tuscany even though you’d never go cycling at home — but more likely you’ll be tired, saddle-sore, and wishing for a car. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try new activities every now and then; there’s plenty of room for new adventures on trips. Just make sure that you incorporate new activities in small bites — say, an afternoon bike tour with plenty of stops — to see if it’s something you’d genuinely like more of.
What is the purpose of your trip? What do you want to take away? Part of what makes travel so amazing is its capacity to broaden and deepen our cultural, relational, and emotional horizons. Are you looking to create tons of new memories with your kids? Are you hunting for the perfect gift(s)? Maybe you’d like to immerse yourself in a new culture and language, or do a service-oriented trip that allows you to give to others while you’re getting an invaluable adventure. Plan your trip around the kind of experience and emotional takeaway you’re looking for.
Do you prefer to be in control, or are you happier when someone else is at the helm? This can be a huge factor in overall enjoyment of a trip. Sometimes people think they’d love to be in charge of everything — but when faced with the reality of hundreds of details that need taking care of before, during, and even after a trip, the fun gets sapped right out of the vacation. When you work with me, you can create the best balance of autonomy and assistance in order to maximize the fun, adventure, and relaxation on your trip.
When you take a little time to get to know how you travel best, your vacation can be more than just fun; it can actually be fulfilling. And you can come home refreshed, energized, and brimming with great new memories.
Are you ready to start planning an incredible experience for yourself or your whole family? Contact me today and let me help you get there! Just click here.
Lover of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Always looking for the best places to eat wherever I go.