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"Look at that peeping Tom," my nature guide exclaimed as we walked by one of the luxurious chalets positioned on the river front. My head swiveled quickly to catch the monkey jumping up and down on the chalet wall peering through the windows. As I laughed, we watched on, realizing that the monkey was enthralled with his own reflection on the windows.
After a few weeks exploring Borneo I'd become accustomed to events like these which would normally have seemed out of place in my concrete jungle (or...suburban jungle). I had already dined in the rainforest on tropical beaches, scuba dived in one of the best dive sites in the world, and spent sunrises and sunsets cruising the Kinabatangan River looking for wildlife...all in Malaysian Borneo. And now I was experiencing something truly fascinating and unlike anything I'd ever seen nestled deep into the rainforest at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The journey to get there was an adventure in and of itself... (Continue reading on our blog.)
Machu Picchu has quickly grown in popularity among travelers after being voted one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World" in 2007. In visiting the 15th century Incan city, the first thing that comes to mind is a strenuous hike traversing the Inca Trail for 4-5 days to reach the ruins located at an altitude of about 8,000 ft. Which, to many minds, doesn't necessarily sound like a "vacation." Rarely do I consider something a vacation if there isn't a toilet.
As such, when we launched our "Taste of Peru and Machu Picchu Tour" some of our travelers hesitated on joining because of the common misconception that the only way to reach the ruins was by means of hiking and camping. Although there are many multi-day treks which accomplish that goal (and work up a serious appetite), we're here to set the record straight that there are other ways to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site without the need to train like an athlete beforehand. (Continue reading on our blog.)
International travel can wreak havoc on your cell phone bill. When I worked in the telecom world we frequently had clients who ran up bills over $2,000 a month from roaming on their vacations, and having no clue that data was still running on their phones.
Nowadays the major US cell phone carriers have international roaming plans which vary in their offerings and cost. However, if you’re leaning towards “going dark” and foregoing an additional plan while traveling then here are some tips to make sure you’re not racking up bills that will cost you more than your trip!
- Understand what you’re being charged for – most cell phone bills are broken into three parts where you’re charged for (1) voice, (2) text, and (3) data. Data seems to be the most complicated for my clients when they talk about international usage. If you are connected to a wi-fi network accessing the internet or apps, then you are not using data. If you are not connected to wi-fi and you’re accessing the internet or apps that require internet then you’re using your data. As soon as you arrive to your hotel, connect to the wi-fi network to limit the data you use.
- Turn off your "roaming data" - (Continue reading on our blog.)
Picture yourself descending into the valley on a short hike along part of the Inca Trail, "baking" your lunch in the ground using traditional Andean methods, and peering over the ruins at Machu Picchu as the sun rises. Tucked away in your own casita at some of the country's finest resorts, you'll have the perfect amount of activity mixed with comfort as we explore Peruvian culture. More highlights include:
- Paddleboarding on a quiet, peaceful lake high in the Andes Mountains
- Picnic lunch sitting near Incan ruins
- Cooking classes and market tours where you'll learn how to use Peruvian ingredients at home
- Bird watching with a certified nature guide (optional)
- Sampling local liquors and beverages such as chicha and pisco
- Indulging in multiple courses at Lima's world-renowned restaurants
Our 9-day culinary tour gives you a local perspective of different regions from seaside life in the Amalfi Coast to city living in Florence, and finally ending in the picturesque wine country of Emilia-Romagna. Take a peek at some of the highlights in our photo album.
"Go to Bologna," Casey encouraged as we strolled up to the 15th green under the surprisingly warm Seattle summer sun. I received news during our round of golf that "Italy" won in our poll for which country people wanted to visit on our next food tour. Being that (a) Casey is a well-traveled food lover with trustworthy recommendations, and (b) I was playing poorly, I spent the balance of the game badgering her for advice about the must-see, off-the-beaten-path places in Italy.
The name of this Italian city sounded oddly familiar even though I didn't know it. After pecking a few letters into Google it dawned on me I knew this city because...my baloney has a first name it's...from BOLOGNA. Yes, Bologna is the home of Mortadella sausage which is the root of what we know as baloney in America...
We stopped once again, closed our eyes, and slowly inhaled and exhaled five times as I counted on my fingers with each breath. After a mutual check of, "good?", "good?", "good", Katie and I continued on, pointing toward the next small step or corner of shade where we could stop for a "breathing break." Despite having conquered the "Condor's Pass" summit just the day before at 14,000 feet, our bodies were taxed and pushing ourselves up Machu Picchu Mountain, at a lower altitude, still wasn't coming easily...
When evaluating travel protection you should take the following steps:
- Identify your costs
- Determine what coverage you already have
- Compare plans & read the fine print!!!
TSA Precheck, they say. Skip the lines, they say. $85, they say. WAIT - $85?!
In a confusing exchange between programs through the US Customs & Border Patrol and Canadian Customs & Border Patrol, it turns out the best option is to apply for NEXUS which is less expensive and automatically enrolls you in Global Entry...
Over the years I've tried lots of travel-friendly products which help me build custom packing lists for clients. Here are a few of my favorites that I would never leave home without!
"Thank you for helping us put together a great 3 week itinerary in Italy. You took away the uncertainties of planning a visit to a country we have not been to before and replaced it with a well crafted itinerary that was most enjoyable and memorable." -Alan L. & Janet J.
The last few days before I leave for an international trip are always a blue...there are so many things to do and so little time! To help my guests prepare well in advance I've created a quick checklist to help smooth out all the pre-trip "to-do's" from getting your official documents ready to downloading books for the plane! Download List.
I'll never forget my first glimpse of the rolling Tuscan hills bathing in the afternoon sun, or my first taste of mozzarella cheese being made hot and fresh right before my eyes. And I definitely won't forget our hidden escape to Borgo Conde wine estate in Emilia-Romagna where I plucked grapes off the vines and enjoyed my spoils while...
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