This past week while walking around the back of my van, I tripped and fell. Normally I would catch myself, however this time I did not. And I ended up “kissing” the pavement. To be truthful I would rather kiss Mark, it’s a lot better, but I did fall on my face. My knees, and my face had road rash. But the worst part was chipping and fracturing my front tooth. Thank goodness Mark was there to help me back up. I was foggy, and had a headache for days. Plus I’ve been in and out of the dentist’s chair. Now why am I bringing this up in a travel article? Well because one of the things Mark said was “At least we aren’t on vacation.” He does have a point what would we do if we were on vacation? It started me thinking about why I get travel protection.
Yes, if I were on one of my vacations out of the country, and my health insurance doesn’t cover me abroad, or if it does, would it be at a lower limit? What if the injury was bad enough, would I have enough money to cover myself for an emergency evacuation?
If it happened before my vacation and my fall would have been bad enough that I couldn’t travel, or what about a sickness, severe weather, or even a terrorist attacks?
There are other ways that it would help me, what if my baggage and passport are stolen? My credit card has some travel benefits built in, but doesn’t have many of the benefits of a third party plan. A third party plan can even help you with a lost prescription, assistance with finding lost baggage, and if your passport is lost while traveling abroad help you find the nearest U.S. Embassy to replace that lost passport. And if I needed medical attention they would be able to help me find the closest medical facility up to U.S. standards.
Travel Protection isn’t the most glamorous part of planning a vacation, however it is something that you do have to think about.
And until next time…
Love is the Journey.
One of my favorite commercials ever was from Disney Cruise Lines. There was a little boy with his mom, and baby brother inside an elevator, and the little boy talks all about the fun he had on his cruise and then at the end he says his parents call his baby brother their “souvenir”.
Let me tell you a little secret, you don’t have to be alone just the two of you to have a romantic vacation. Although I am a HUGE supporter of having vacation time alone to reignite the spark of romance, being a mom of three, I realize that you don’t always get that time alone to make the spark happen. Especially when it comes to vacation time! That’s why when picking a vacation destination for the whole family it’s like a matchmaking service. I’ll explain….
When someone wants to go to a resort or on a cruise, you want to find something for everyone and something that will keep the kiddos happy and maybe even some time to make new friends in a supervised kids club or activity so that mom and dad get that all precious alone time. For someone like me with super active boys it would be totally different than someone who has younger kids. A good example, I’m not as concerned about a resort having a tot lot, however I do care if they have supervised teen activities. Not that my kids will be there all day, however my boys are at an age where they do want some freedom, and I DO NOT want them running around a resort without anything to do. My one son LOVES sports, any kind of sports, the oldest likes golf, and my other son dabbles in archery and will try golf here and there. For us, I like Club Med, with all of their sports clinics and activities there is something to keep those guys busy and we get a little time away for us. Then at the end of the day we all get to be together as a family. However for someone who doesn’t have kids who likes sports, and has kids who would prefer chilling and the whole family are into the food experience I would suggest a Karisma property instead.
Even if you are taking a trip that isn’t at a resort, or on a cruise you can still sneak in a dinner or afternoon lunch for the two of you. When working with your travel professional and creating that perfect vacation let them know that you want a little romance in your family vacation. They will find a resort that offers babysitting service so that you can get some alone time for a couple of hours, and let’s face it you deserve it!
Here at Shores and More Travel, I realize that reconnecting is one of the most important reasons that we travel. The journey is not just on the map, it’s the memories and connections that we create while we travel.
And until next time,
It’s no secret that I love the Caribbean. The beautiful water, the warm weather, what’s not to love?? Jamaica is a beautiful island with so much to offer. One of my favorite cities in Jamaica is Ocho Rios.
Ocho Rios would seem to be Spanish for “eight rivers”, but it is most likely a corruption of the Spanish word chorreras, which means “waterfalls”. Jamaicans refer to it fondly as Ochi. And with such a beautiful name comes beautiful scenery with ahh-mazing nature adventures for everyone.
The first is the Famous Dunn’s River Falls. It’s about a 15 minute drive west of Ochi, and it’s probably the most iconic and most popular attractions of Jamaica. With your guide, you get to make a “human chain” and climb up the cascading waterfalls and go in and out of some small caves. However, to be safe you must pack water shoes (swim socks), or tennis shoes with a gripping bottom to be safe on the rocks. If you don’t prefer to walk up the falls there is a viewing platform to see the falls. Where the river empties into the Caribbean there’s a nice beach for sunning and swimming. And at the top of the falls there is a craft village and t-shirt shops for you to shop at.
Next is Green Grotto Caves. These caves are said to have provided shelter for Jamaica’s first inhabitants, the Tainos, a haven for “runaway slaves” in the “18th Century”. In 1655 Jamaica was taken over the by English and the caves were sought after as a hideout by the Spanish during that time. Now they are an incredible 37 meter or 121 plus feet underground expedition of majestic stalactites and stalagmites, and just wait till you see the grotto with water as translucent as nothing you have ever seen before! Don’t forget to stop at their “Wishing Well”, and throw in a coin in for love…..
Last but not least….. Island Gully Falls. It is also known as The Blue Hole. It is truly a hidden treasure. You can walk on trails and see nature’s untouched beauty. Then climb waterfalls and search in hidden caves. It’s totally ahh-mazing feeling the natural rushing waters on your back giving you a natural back massage! The best part is feeling like a child again when you are playing “Tarzan” and swinging on a rope and jumping into a pool of serine blue water.
Ochi has a lot of nature to offer, and there are tours that are for everyone.
And until next time…..
The world is a big place, and I know that I have a bucket list that is a mile and half long. I LOVE to see as much as possible. As I put it before I love to cruise because I would I love to get a quick glimpse of a country and then get back on the ship and move on to the next place. Kind of a “try it before you buy it” special. However, there is something to be said about going back somewhere to explore the location ever deeper and find out what else there is to see.
One of the best examples of this is Disney World. I’ve been there more times than I can count on one hand. I’ve been there as a child, as a young adult with my friends, again with my children and with my adult family members. Each time, everything changes and I come back to explore it more and find things at a deeper level each time. There are rides that I remember as a child that I went on as a young adult with my friends. However, once I had children I saw the same rides through totally different eyes. I have also enjoyed character experiences as a child, with my children, and with my friends. When I traveled with my children I wanted to make sure that I saw everything for them. When I went this past year with my sister-in-law, we went at a slower pace and there was no pressure to see everything, and in some ways we saw more by not rushing to see it all. We went to different restaurants and shopped at different shops. We didn’t have to rush to make sure that we went on different rides and make every character greeting.
This is the same as the ports on a cruise. The first time I stop at a Port of Call, I want to see everything. What I’ve noticed is that I take a “sampling” of the area and then before we even leave I’m telling Mark, “Next time when we come back I want to do this and this and this.” A good example is Cozumel Mexico. The first time I went there we took a tour of the island. And I was hooked. We have been back a handful of times. We have done everything from taking the ferry over to Tulum to see the Mayan Ruins to spending the day at Chankanaab National Park to have a dolphin experience, tequila tasting, and exploring the park. We found a private beach club to explore and have a wonderful day at. And of course lots of shopping and Margaritaville. Although the first time at a port of call or any vacation spot is exciting to see something new, the second time around can be just as exciting or even more as you know what to expect and you can dive even deeper into that location’s riches.
And until next time….
One of my favorite ways to travel is cruising. I’ve stated it before, I love the fact that I can “try it before you buy it” on different islands in the Caribbean, and that I can get back on my “floating city” put my feet up and have someone take me away to my next adventure. Ahh, a little piece of heaven. Plus being a wife and mother, I LOVE the fact that I have someone else to make the bed everyday and pick up the room. Besides, who doesn’t LOVE the little towel animals?
When I bring up how much I love cruising everyone asks me, the same questions. Which cruise line is the best? What’s the best deal? When’s the best times to get the best deal? So, I thought that I would break it down a bit.
Which cruise line is the best? Well that’s a loaded question. It’s like asking which car company is the best. Everyone will give you a different answer. Some people prefer General Motors and some Honda. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Just like car companies that have their loyal customers, cruise lines have their loyal customers as well. For us, it’s Norwegian Cruise lines. And why? Very simple it fits our lifestyle the best. Mark is very honest when on vacation, no suits at dinner, and we really enjoy the restaurants. However, we also love Royal Caribbean and we want to take a sailing on the Carnival Vista. Oh and perhaps a Disney Cruise with the grandparents. I guess I’m not a loyalist after all.
What’s the best deal is another question that I get asked. Well it matters what you are looking for. I always look for the best value on a cruise. I personally think that cruises are very value driven, let me explain. I’m the kind of traveler that likes to see a lot when I’m on vacation. I also like to add in a day or two (sometimes three) of rest in a week’s vacation. However, I like to do new things and experience new places. I get to the port, board my cruise ship, unpack once and start enjoying my vacation right away. Usually I pick a cruise that has the first day at sea so that I can have a day of rest and relaxation. Next, I’m at a port of call that I wanted to see, I do that and back to the ship I go. Today’s cruise ships no longer have just the typical buffets, they offer excellent meals, top notch chef’s have their restaurants on the ships. So for me it’s an excellent value. With that said, when I look for the best “deal” I’m looking for the best value or “Bang” for my buck. I look for the restaurants and experiences that I want on my vacation and shop from there.
When’s the best time to get the best deal? Actually January through March is usually the best times to get the best deals. It’s the time of the year that the cruise lines are having their “sales”. From giving you extra freebies, to lower prices or lower deposits, it the time to start thinking about adding a cruise onto your docket.
When budgeting for your next vacation, whether it’s your honeymoon, a family vacation, or a weekend getaway we all have a spending plan that we need to follow. We all start with the big number and then have to break it down. However there are the things that we sometimes don’t think of that we need think about adding in.
If flying to our destination, how will we get to the airport? And will we need to park the car there while we are gone? Will you need a park, stay, fly package because your flight leaves really early in the morning? Can you Uber to and from your home airport? When you arrive at your destination will you need transfers to your resort or cruise port? Or are you staying where you can take either a taxi or rideshare like Uber or LYFT?
A lot of us like to go to all inclusive resorts. However, not all of them include tips in the price of the package. You will need to bring cash to tip the staff at the resorts. And don’t forget when on a cruise, you can either pre-pay your tips or you can bring cash along to tip them.
On a cruise when you are in port you will need to pay for excursions. These are an extra fee. You can easily spend $50 to $150 per person extra per port per activity.
All inclusive stays can add on additional costs for things like green fees if you are a golfer, motorized sports, and spa treatments. You can also take excursions on and off of the resort for additional fees similar to the cruise port excursion fees. A good example of this is swimming with the dolphins. Even though you are not on a cruise, you may want to leave the resort and have this once in a lifetime experience. Your resort may offer this as a day’s excursion with an additional fee for the experience.
Travel Protection. The one thing that isn’t the sexiest thing to talk about, however it is something to think about. What is travel protection? Travel Protection is a way to help protect your travel investments, belongings, health and safety and other losses related to travel. You can get plans that cover anything from trip cancellation and interruption, emergency illness or injury, baggage loss delay or theft, bankruptcy of the travel supplier, unexpected travel delay and more. Prices and coverage of the plans vary from state to state. Your travel agent can you get a quote and you can speak with the travel insurance company if you have questions on the plan and exactly what it covers.
As you can see there are more things to add into the spending plan than just the package itself. However these other items are just as important. They may not be the sexiest part of travel, however it’s all something to think about and discuss when putting together the spending plan.
And until next time….. Happy travels!
When taking a cruise, the highlight of the cruise are the ports. It’s exciting to stop and see the sights, or to have that once in a lifetime experience, like swimming with the dolphins or with the stingrays. But what do you bring? Here’s a few items that are a must have when going into port.
First of all NEVER forget your cruise card when getting off of the ship. Every ship has a way of identifying you, either by a cruise card, or a band, or a medallion. When you initially board the ship you will get this and the cruise line will give you your card. Most likely this will be how you get into your room, make charges on the ship, and how they will know who you are when you get on and off the ship.
I always bring my smartphone. I know that it goes without saying in today’s world, however, there are quite a few reasons I bring my smart phone. First of all, before I leave the US I setup my phone to make sure that I have the proper phone plan and data plan is setup for the countries that I am visiting. I also use it as a camera when on land, and I use it as a watch to keep time.
Speaking of a watch, don’t forget that you MUST always go by ship time not by the time of the port. In other words, if your ship time is Eastern Standard Time, and the port is on Central Standard Time, when the Captain says to be back at 4 PM, the ship is leaving at 4:30PM it is leaving at 4:30PM Eastern Standard Time.
I bring some cash for shopping for souvenirs and trinkets. I always want to make sure that if I’m taking a tour that I have enough cash for tips. I also bring a credit card. Before I leave home I call the bank to let them know that I will be on vacation and visiting these particular ports. This way they know that my credit card will be used in the following countries.
If I’m doing a water activity like snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins, or just hanging out at the beach I always bring my waterproof camera since my smartphone can’t get wet.
And to protect myself from the sun, I bring suntan lotion, and a hat. I also bring a bottle of water from the ship. I never want to get dehydrated while off of the ship.
I also bring mosquito repellent with me when in port. With the Zika Virus a lot of cruise ships offer it however I always like to have my own with me.
My last few articles have been about what to pack. I’m a total fan of the ocean cruise, and if you’ve been reading them you know that I’m an avid packer I like to bring all the comforts of home. One of the biggest ones, a nightlight. However there are things that need to stay behind. What are they? Here’s the top items….
Alcohol. Yes, you can purchase alcohol either by the drink on the cruise or by a package so it’s basically like an all inclusive. There’s even a cruise line that offers an all inclusive cruise with the alcohol included. However, you can’t bring your own to drink.
Anything that would produce heat or an open flame. That includes…...
Coffee makers. Nope, again this is a no no. These are not allowed on a cruise ship. You can order room service to get that morning cup of coffee. Or better yet, go to one of the many restaurant offerings to get a Cup of Joe.
Hot plates. This one always amazes me. Especially with today’s ships there are so many food options that I wouldn’t want to cook anything. Plus I’m on vacation and I don’t want to cook and most importantly I don’t want to CLEAN at all!! Yes I LOVE LOVE LOVE my room steward!
Irons and clothes steamers. These are No No’s as well. What works best in it’s place… my beloved Downy Wrinkle Releaser! Yes!! It has saved me many a time. Just spray and tug. If you have something that won’t work with either Downy Wrinkle Releaser or being left hanging in the bathroom while showering, there is always a laundry service that you can call to have them press it for you.
Candles and incense. Again these produce open flames, and let's face it we all don’t want want a fire at sea.
Drones and game flying discs. Not only for the safety of the vessel, for the safety of the other passengers.
Each cruise line has it’s own listing of items of prohibited items. For example Disney Cruise Line doesn’t allow over the door hangers of any kind because it can scratch or disfigure the the stateroom doors and\or trim. And Norwegian Cruise Lines doesn’t allow the Galaxy Note 7 on their ships. The Federal Aviation Administration has banned the Samsung Galaxy Note7 from all air travel, and until further notice, this device will be restricted from all Norwegian Cruise Line ships, due to fire concerns.
So how do you figure out what to bring and not bring on your next cruise? You can ask your travel agent to give you a link to the information from the cruise line that they booked you with. It’s best to always check BEFORE you pack and leave. Not only because you will get the contraband taken away, but because most likely you will be air travel to get there and those precious luggage pounds are literally worth their weight in gold. Happy Travels!
So what are the most important things that I take with me when I travel? My patience and a sense of humor. When traveling with the kids I have to keep not only myself, but my kids organized and ready to go through the airport and dealing with airport security. When traveling alone I always seem to attract the people who are anxious in the TSA line. It’s become somewhat of the storytelling when I get home from a trip, the kids always ask, “Who did you meet today in security mom?” I don’t know if it’s because I actually enjoy traveling and I’m usually pretty relaxed that others who are not end up next to me in line, or it’s just the luck of the draw. My last time flying home from Las Vegas and being stuck in a long security line I had a nice conversation with someone who I learned was afraid to fly. We both made it through security and he went on his way. I gave him a few of my tips for a calm trip and he was very grateful. As he put it, “I wish I could get to fly with you on all my vacations.”
When I go to the airport there are some things that I’ve learned to keep me sane while going through security, especially with kids. The first thing, there is a reason that they want me at the airport an hour and a half ahead of my flight when flying within the US, or two hours if I’m flying internationally. If I have to drive to an airport that is further away I add that into my time. I always give myself plenty of time before the trip. Why? Well, this last time my van had a battery that died, and that put me behind. Good thing that I had extra time built in and Mark was able to drive me to the airport.
If there is an app that I can load on my phone and pre checkin to my flight I do so. If not, I like to use the Kiosk. Not everyone is a Kiosk kind of person and that is why there are people at the airport to check you in. At some airports if there is an outdoor desk you can check in there as well. Next is my favorite thing, the TSA checkpoint.
TSA checkpoint. Most people grudge and cringe at this. In today’s day and age I’m personally thankful for the added security. We all have to go through it so matters to make the best of it. When I fly I always wear the most comfortable clothing known to woman, leggings and a comfortable top. Most importantly unless it’s winter I have my beloved flip flops on. In winter I have slip on shoes or boots. I do not like anything that is not easy and quick to slip on or off at security. Plus I know that I’m going to be on an airplane for longer than hour I want to be comfortable.
Now I have to get my stuff in those little bins. I have to admit I’m this is where I become a bin hog. Yes, I’m THAT person. I take three bins, one for the electronics, laptop, cellphone. One for the shoes, purse, my sleep pillow, and jacket. The final one is for my toiletries. Most importantly don’t forget the 3-1-1 rule, “These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process.” I can’t tell you how many items I see tossed out at the security checkpoint.
Making sure that I’m there early gives me relief going through TSA. If there’s a line I normally have extra time so I’m not upset. And if something doesn’t go just right, I’ve found that it’s best to just relax and make the best of it. Not only while trying to get through security, but whenever you are traveling. Once I’ve gone through security and I’m on my way to my gate relaxed, it’s time to stop for a water, or for a Cola. Until next time, Happy Travels!
Tina Moczynski is a member of the GTN network. And loves to travel with both her husband and her three boys.