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06 Feb

The 5 Things I Always Remember To Pack!

The 5 Things I Always Remember To Pack!

I’ve always lived by the rule, don’t stress about packing ‚¬Â¦. whatever I forget to pack, can be bought!  In fact, I’ll make a confession here: when I was a little girl, there was a time I “forgot” to pack a sweater just so I could get a new one.   This said, there are a few things that I would never travel without.

5. Comfortable walking shoes. 

The comfort of my feet has everything to do with how much I’m going to enjoy my surroundings. I can be walking along the most beautiful path, but if my feet hurt, it’s impossible to completely relax and enjoy the moment.   An important tip is: never pack a brand new pair of shoes!  Test them out ‚¬Â¦ walk at least a mile, and wear them around town at least an hour or two. And do this a few weeks prior to your trip.  After all, if you find they’re not going to fit the bill, you’re going to need time to repeat the process.   My favorite pair of travel shoes?  My solid black Keens ‚¬Â¦ sturdy soles for cobblestone streets and they look great with pretty much everything I wear.

4. My pillow. 

What’s the sense of comfortable feet if my day is going to be spent battling a sore neck and a migraine?  I sleep on a pillow that’s filled with a combination of millet and buckwheat.  There’s no hotel or cruise ship pillow that can replicate my usual sleeping comfort, and I have to admit, I like knowing where the pillow I lay my head on has been.  It’s that little piece of home that makes my sleep time optimal.

3. Personal identification.

Whether traveling domestic or internationally, it’s crucial to carry proper documentation. Sometimes all you need is a driver’s license, often you’ll need a passport and occasionally a Visa is required.   Make sure you are fully aware of what’s required for each trip you take, and don’t wait till the last minute to find out.   A professional travel consultant (that’s me!) will make sure you have all required documents in place, and will even monitor your passport expiration date over time, and let you know when it’s time to renew.

2 & 1. Flexibility and a good attitude.  

These two undoubtedly go hand in hand.  Planning is part of the fun of travel.  Personally speaking, the more the planning falls into place, the more my anticipation grows. But the results will never be exactly as planned.  Perhaps your flight will be delayed (by minutes, hours or even days), perhaps your transfer driver will be waiting at the wrong door, perhaps your room won’t be ready when you arrive because the prior guests were late to leave, perhaps that restaurant you had heard so much about was a farther walk than you anticipated, perhaps your day tour unexpectedly was cancelled ‚¬Â¦ the list could go on and on.   The best travelers go with the flow, and do it with a smile.  Each vacation happens but once, and life has a nice way of surprising you, if you let it.  Perhaps you replace that restaurant with a closer option, and it just so happened to have the most amazing, romantic atmosphere, or the best tasting soup ever!  Perhaps you replaced that cancelled day tour with time to wander and you discovered the most beautiful park in the center of the city!  Perhaps it took you 10 minutes to find your driver, and on the way to your hotel you drive by an accident that had just happened ‚¬Â¦ wouldn’t you be glad you were a bit delayed and it wasn’t you?!    Okay, you get the idea. Take life as it comes and enjoy the moments.  There are parts of your vacation that should definitely be pre-planned, but remember ‚¬Â¦ as Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road ‚¬Â¦ TAKE IT”.

What’s on your list of things you always remember to pack?


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08 Oct

Should You Consider A River Cruise?

My husband calls me a serial cruiser.  With eleven ocean cruises under my belt, three more planned within the next year, and at least 30 more on my bucket list ‚¬Â¦ I love to cruise!   Now that I’ve returned from my first river cruise, I have some clear thoughts on which of my ocean cruising clients would enjoy a river cruise, and which of my non-cruise clients would find a river cruise a wonderful vacation choice.   

Here are some things to consider:

Age:  Are you in an older demographic; or appreciate this well-traveled, experienced segment of the population?   If you answered yes to either, consider a river cruise!   With no youth activities onboard, and no staterooms that would accommodate a family, the average age of river cruisers is between 55 and 65 years old.  In my experience, my fellow travelers were friendly individuals who enjoyed participating in the onboard social activities, and were quick to share stories of their past trips.  All in all, an interesting group to spend days with.

Tour style: Do you enjoy touring with a group of passengers and a knowledgeable guide?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!    Organized tours are a part of the package.   There is also free time built into the schedule.   Our tour guides were very knowledgeable, which added much value to the overall experience.   When visiting churches, monuments, historical sights or event for a quick city overview, there is truly no comparison between having a guide and going it alone.

Getting from here to there: Do you enjoy traveling to new cities without packing/unpacking and changing hotels?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!  Not only does traveling along the rivers save you the time and hassle of moving to a new location, there is always something to see along the way as you pass small towns, other river-going vessels and beautiful scenic landscapes.  

Motion: Do you avoid ocean cruising because you are concerned about the motion of the water?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!   With no waves, no large swells, and land close by on both sides, there is no need to be concerned about the water’s motion.   I speak as someone whose motion sickness is easily set in motion (pun intended).

Organization/Logistics: Do you like your travel days to be very organized?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!    The river cruise staff has everything figured out to a T.  Both embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze, and daily schedules are set in place to the wire (when we arrived onboard literally two minutes past due, we found they had already made an announcement to locate us – and I believe a search party was just about to set out).  Even the passengers onboard took their responsibility seriously ‚¬Â¦. everyone was punctual, tours set off on time, and no stragglers.

Yes, river cruising is one of the hottest new trends in travel; and yes, river cruising is a fabulous experience for many; however it is not right for everyone!  

Perhaps Not:  Do you prefer dining with only your own travel companions?  Do you prefer complete travel independence?   Do you enjoy only private tours?  Do you value a daily schedule that allows the greatest amount of personal freedom?  Do you enjoy a city-center hotel experience throughout your vacation?   Do you dislike riding on a large motor coach, if even only for a short while?  If you answered yes to most of these questions, or if any one is a deal-breaker, than a river cruise should not be a consideration for you.   

Personally, I enjoyed the mix of having pre/post-cruise independent stays along with our river cruise experience.  Will I cruise by river again?  Definitely!   With so many great rivers and regions to sail, choosing which river to cruise next will be a fun decision!  


Check out my website for a detailed account of my recent Danube River Cruise at www.luxetraveldesign.com/blog


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