Category: Travel Tips

A travel pouch with a neck pillow, nasal spray, ear plugs, lip balm, an eye mask, eye drops, hand and face cream and lavender face hydration sits in my closet ready for a plane trip. These days I also make sure to bring a water bottle to refill once inside security.

Flying is hard on the skin and body and until now, I have tried to counteract the terrible jet lag, fatigue and muscle soreness by taking precautions, particularly on flights of more than just a few hours. I can often be found in the back of the plane doing yoga or stretching and amusing the passengers and crew.

So, it was not a huge surprise when on a cross-country flight this week, I happened to read a small article in the New York Times Science Section entitled, Really? Flying Can Cause Mountain Sickness. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, Travel, Travel Safety, Travel Tips, Yoga, health

I don’t know about you, but unless you have a streamlined, super business traveler routine for trip preparation and packing, (a la George Clooney in the film Up in the Air) you often wind up at the airport with slight back spasms.

I always travel with my yoga mat and often head to the back of the plane in-flight to stretch out and realign. Now you can actually use all that post check-in extra time at the San Francisco Airport to center yourself and work out the travel kinks. The City by the Bay has opened a yoga room in terminal two. If you don’t carry your own mat, mats are provided in the 150-square-foot room.

So, rather than kicking back with a cocktail why not salute the sun or invert a bit before your long or short haul flight? Let’s hope it’s a trend that catches on.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, California, California, Northern California, San Francisco, Travel, Travel Tips, Yoga

If you’ve ever read the children’s book Eloise or the young adult book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, you probably had fantasies about living alone in NYC as a child. I grew up in the Big Apple and was lucky to have parents who loved art and shared their love of music, theatre and fine art.

I fondly remember visiting the vastness of Metropolitan Museum of Art, marveling at the classics, journeying to Papua New Guinea and Egypt, giggling at the Greek sculptures and noshing at the, then, very fancy café with all the Upper East Side lady lunchers. Most of all I cherished the multicolored little button you get with admission, which I used to save in a jar.

Every time I return to Manhattan I make a pilgrimage to the Met, no matter what is showing. I bring my own kids and rush through, plying them with candy and promises of a ride on the carousel, much as my parents did.

Recently, on one of the hottest days of the year I had a few hours to make my manic tour of the museum.  After a whirlwind visit to the American Woman fashion exhibit—that rocked as much as the original song and the Lenny Kravitz cover—we had about a half hour to kill. I was with a colleague who insisted we head up to the roof garden, a somewhat hidden and unknown asset to the majestic museum. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Culture, Family Travel, Fashion, Manhattan, Museums, Music, New York, Romance, Travel Tips

First timers may get a rude awakening when embarking on a cruise and discovering the high cost of added purchases such as shore excursions. Veteran cruisers don’t need a lot of advice about how to budget their money and time, and it isn’t rocket science to understand that extras cost extra.

But everyone can use the occasional tip, and Cruise Critic has put together a report on the Eight Hidden Costs of Cruising and how to avoid them.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Cruises, Travel, Travel Tips

The summer travel season is almost here and if you’re gearing up for a foreign adventure you must read this hilarious essay by Seth Stevenson on How to be Invisible in the April 19th issue of Newsweek.  He focuses on the stereotypical American tourist ensemble, and highlights the ever-present tube socks and sneakers. Jokes aside, maybe look for comfortable walking shoes if headed to Europe and keep the workout shoes for that…working out.

The message is, to really discover the joy of travel one must blend in, not stand out. Wearing American flags or even favorite team jerseys and caps is a tip off that one is not from the country one is visiting. Although humorous, the advice is simple: Why not pack light and buy a few items as you travel? That way you have great souvenirs as well as shedding the distinct American imprint. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Culture, England, Europe, Fashion, France, Germany, Spain, Travel Tips, United Kingdom

My grandparents golfed, cruised and often traveled in tour groups. They would bring things home for me from their travels, such as a Norwegian sweater, a Scottish blanket (I still use it after all these years) and a turquoise ring from a Native America Reservation they loved to visit in Arizona — wonderfully traditional stuff.

My parents are way more adventurous, but it still would probably stress them out to travel the way I often do: informed, well read, but ready to alter my plans at any moment. I have to hand it to them though, for folks in their 70s, they are pretty inspirational.

Just like a concerned parent, I fretted when my father traveled to Myanmar on his own and when my mom and her best friend took a whirlwind trip to Greece and Turkey. They are young at heart and never wanted to follow a travel formula, which is in part why I love to travel so much. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Cruises, Feature, Sports, Travel Tips

Bastille Day is next week. This is a special day for me, not because I passionately studied French History or married a Frog, in a previous life, or even because I count being at the Bi-Centennial Celebration in Paris in 1989 as a peak life moment, but because my eldest son was ironically born on July 14th, 1999. I have so much baggage and history with France and French Culture. The love/ hate relationship still teeters more towards love but I can’t deny I get a bit gleeful when there is bad press, the French are exposed as hypocritical or in some way there is de-mythologization of some aspect of the coveted culture. I get a lot of mileage out of my stories of living in France; much like the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnick, I always found humor in the little things. The hilarious scene at Disneyland Paris buffet where diners swarmed a waiter delivering a bowl of bread to the buffet before he could even reach it. The fact that my friend was served mussels and spicy merguez sausage as the first post-operative meal in the hospital or the fact that before my marriage I had to get a ‘Carte de Concubinage’; a card stating that I was his concubine… I could go on.  So today I open up to the Yahoo Page with the lead story: “French Tourists Seen as World’s Worst: Survey”. So apparently, according to this survey, done by Expedia, the French, despite their rumored savoir faire, were declared the most arrogant, cheap and worst at foreign languages of all global travelers. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Culture, England, Europe, Feature, Food, France, Overweight travelers, Paris, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Tips, shopping

I’m sure I am not alone in “not getting” why gas prices are so high when oil is selling so much lower than last year. The San Francisco Bay Area is particularly bad; this photo is from last summer. I remember visiting Hawaii and realizing we paid more for gas in San Francisco than an island in the South Pacific, but go figure…

I also don’t get why it’s more to pick your own fruit at an orchard than to buy it at Farmer’s Market. Anyway, I do get that as summer is around the corner we are going to get hit with even higher prices to fill up. I thought this Rand McNally list was very helpful. I particularly like the bit about open sunroofs causing a significant decrease in gas mileage. So buckle up, gas up, close your sunroof and get ready for a lot of summer driving OR DON’T. Let’s hope we don’t see these prices again. Even though I think it’s a good thing to decrease driving, I can’t stomach these prices.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Driving Trips, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Farmer's Markets, Hawaii, Northern California, San Francisco, Travel, Travel Tips

R2I

Posted by Darya Mead

I was driving to work yesterday and heard a compelling report on NPR about the R2I phenomenon. R2I is short for “Return to India,” the story of so many who have perhaps studied and lived in the U.S. for many years and have now decided to return home. For many, it is the pull of the aging parents or maybe the desire to bring their knowledge and expertise to their homeland. There is no better time as the U.S. economy declines and the Indian economy continues to be robust.

With recent elections and the distractions arch-enemy Pakistan is facing, many Indian ex-pats are packing up their Silicon Valley, New Jersey or Dallas digs and heading home. According to Sandip Roy’s NPR report, web sites offer advice on everything from who’s hiring in Bangalore to how much gold you can bring home. Dubbed “a brain drain in reverse,” many of these folks jumping on the R2I train are in their mid–thirties, with families and higher degrees.  When they return, despite their heritage, many experience a culture shock. Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Culture, Family Travel, Feature, Food, India, Returning Home, Travel Tips, United States

Couchsurfing.com is closing in on one million couches surfed; no small feat since this free, internet based hospitality service launched in 2004. With more than 230 countries represented and almost 55-thousand cities with couches to crash on, one can travel the globe on a budget, meet cool people and even get some insider travel tips. The mission of the innovative site is: Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch at a Time. For a small fee, that includes a personal vouching system, (much like E-Bay) members can coordinate their free accommodations with like-minded folks from Brazil to Belgium, Israel to Indonesia.  I haven’t officially joined but I do recall staying in a lady’s home in Prague soon after the Velvet Revolution. The sheets were the whitest and crispest I’d ever seen and the generosity immense. Tea bags were still precious and used numerous times. Breakfast was a homemade, simple type of pound cake… I’ll never forget that experience. In broken sign language and French, we learned that our hostess was a ‘peepee lady’ at an Opera House. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Culture, Feature, Hostels, Student Travel, Travel, Travel Tips