The Scariest Thing About Traveling……

Traveling is the one thing found on everyone’s bucket list, yet there are so many people who don’t travel because of a fear they have. Today I thought we’d pick apart a few of these fears and tackle them head on.

Fear #1 – Afraid to travel alone.

adventure-boat-exotic-1371360.jpg

Solo travel, especially solo travel among women, is on the rise, but there are still so many people worried about trekking out on their own.  Women have a special subset of issues to work through on this set – fear of unwanted attention from men being the #1 feedback that I get from my female clientele.  So what’s a girl to do? Fortunately she has a couple of options.

  1. Join a group tour.  There are several amazing small group tours out there that are doing amazing things.  Many, like G Adventures, cap tours at around 10-15 people so you don’t feel like you are being shuttle herded with the masses.  There are a growing number of options for women only groups as well.  Check out our private facebook page The Serendipitous Travel Squad or sign up for our newsletter to keep in touch on Serendipitous Traveler’s upcoming group trips.
  2. Work with a travel advisor to map out your itinerary. Most importantly –  do your research.  The fact remains that some places are more friendly for solo travelers than not. A travel advisor can help you work through the best ideas, safe places to stay, and help set you up with a solid itinerary so you are never out in the wind.  As long as you use a travel advisor, you always have someone that knows where you are and you have someone to check in with as you go.  

Fear #2 – Afraid of something bad happening

I get this fear from solo travelers, groups, couples….basically everyone.  And I get it. Especially if you re traveling somewhere foreign and you don’t speak the language. And there’s always a litany of things that can go wrong. And was anyone else scarred by the movie Taken? Well even if your dad isn’t Liam Neeson, there are plenty of things you can do to mitigate disasters while traveling. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Be cognizant of your surroundings.  Pickpockets are there and they like to take advantage of crowded tourist spots. Because tourists are always carrying money and are distracted by the sights around them. So many people get pickpocketed and don’t even realize it until it’s too late. But if you are on guard and cognizant of where you are, you can easily avoid being a target. That means, guys, put your wallets in your front pocket. Girls, travel with a purse that zips up and is in front of you.  If you need a backpack, know that you are walking with a bit of a target on your back and keep it close by. Invest in a brand that is slash proof (we like these from ebags), and again, be aware of your surroundings.  If someone is begging from the front, make sure their partner isn’t digging through your pack from the back.
  • Invest in RFID blocking sleeve, wallet or ID holder.  I was shocked last year when I attended a trade show and a supplier showed me how easy it was to swipe credit card information using an app on her phone. Anyone sitting in a public place can gain access to hundreds of credit card numbers and have something purchased and charged up before you even get back to check the balance in your hotel room.  RFID blocking sleeves, wallets, etc are a cheap investment that can save you a lot of time and headache while traveling.
  • Be wary of public wifi.  In a world where we are always connected, it’s tempting to take advantage of a cafe pit stop and check up on your social channels. When you are traveling, you are probably spending more, so it’s natural that you’d want to check in on your finances or your credit card statement.  Unfortunately, public places are traps for mining your data.  It’s too easy to set up a hot spot and call it “Whatever Establishment You Are Sitting At Free Wifi” and dupe unsuspecting folks.  If you much check your wifi, be sure to ask someone if there is free wifi before linking up. Better yet, wait until you are back in your hotel or spring the few bucks and pay for the data. It will save you more money in the long run.

Fear #3 – Afraid of the unknown

 

You just don’t know what you don’t know.

  • How to get from point A to point B.
  • How to use the subway system.
  • Where to go for dinner.
  • What museum should you visit. Do you need to purchase tickets in advance.
  • What do you pack.
  • How to read your train tickets.

And this is where a good travel advisor comes in. They arm you with information so that not only are you adequately prepared to travel, you are armed with enough information to really enjoy and be wowed by your travel.  After all, if you understand what you are looking at you are getting twice the value. At the very least be sure to arm yourself with a good guide book to get you started.

Travel can be an intimidating experience, but fortunately with the right preparation, anyone and everyone can have an enjoyable travel experience.

Face your fears and get out there!

Until next time, happy wanderlusting!

XO Krystal

 

ian-dooley-3NCA3tbaE5I-unsplash.jpg

Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend items that I personally use and gift to my own clients and just want to share the love with you!

Global Entry…is it worth it?

Applying for Global Entry is an easy process, and once you do you can bypass a lot of hassle by using expedited lanes at the U.S. airports, and when crossing international borders.  You can also combine it with TSA pre-check, making your travel experiences easier.

A lot of clients ask me, “Is it worth it to get Global Entry or TSA pre-check?” And my answer is always this: If your time is worth anything to you, yes!

It’s a relatively easy process, makes going through security at airports a breeze.  Children 12 and under can accompany you through the expedited lanes, making family travel easier.  And (BONUS) most major credit companies* will give you credit reimbursement for Global Entry making it a win/win!

It’s easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account. Regardless of your age, you must have your own TTP account.
  2. Log in to your TTP account and complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application.
  3. After accepting your completed application and fee, CBP will review your application. If your application is conditionally approved, then your TTP account will instruct you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Each applicant must schedule a separate interview.
  4. You will need to bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine readable permanent resident card.
FAQ’s
How long does it take to process global entry?
Processing times vary by applicant, but anticipate up to 11 weeks to process your application.
How long after my application is approved do I have to schedule my interview with a Global Entry Enrollment Center?
You have 365 days from the date of online approval notice to schedule your interview. If you do not complete your interview within 365 days your application will be voided and no refunds will be given. Should you wish to resume application, you will have to start the application process over.
What do I need to bring with me to my interview?
A valid passport, and one other form of identification (Drivers License or ID card)
How long is Global Entry Valid?
Global Entry is Valid for 5 years. You pass can be revoked for criminal offense charges, or if you are charge with a customs and immigration violation.
How do I schedule my interview with a Global Entry Enrollment Center/find a center near me?
Log in to your Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account and from the dashboard select “schedule an interview” button. From there you can select a date and time from a list of available slots.  You will also be shown alternative centers that may have availability sooner. Please be advised that appointments are REQUIRED for all locations.
As always, if you have any questions regarding the process, please do not hesitate to reach out.
*Obligatory disclaimer that you must check with your individual credit card company to see if they offer reimbursement for Global Entry and/or TSA Precheck, and what steps must be taken in order to file for reimbursement.

10 Sweet Treats to Eat While Visiting Paris

Paris is sweet on the eye, sweet on the romance and sweet on the palette. It is a sugar lovers dream and the only problem you’ll have when it comes the delectible French deserts is which one to choose. To help you navigate that yummy last course we’ve broken down the top 10 must try deserts for your visit to France. And if you have to eat more than one a day just to get through them? Well, c’est la vie! 

10 Sweet Treats to Eat While Visiting Paris 

The Tartes Aux Fruits 

Tartes

The tartes aux fruits are prepared with fresh fruit inside a buttery pastry.  The fruit sit atop a heavenly Chantilly cream.  You can enjoy these tartes in both miniature and pie sizes. 

The Éclair

The Éclair

The éclair is a popular dessert in Paris.  The long French choux pastry can be filled with either a rich custard or pastry cream, and topped with a sweet fondant.  By definition, the term éclair means lightning in French.  Go figure! 

The Paris Brest 

This pastry was created to celebrate the Paris to Brest bicycle ride in 1891.  Naturally, its circular and contains praline flavored crème and choux pastry. 

Macaron 

 

heather-barnes-WbZesfqwR-A-unsplash.jpg

Macarons are undeniably delectable – not to mention my personal favorite!  There are so many flavors to choose from.  The base ingredients include an airy meringue and almonds.  Be sure to not confuse with coconut macaroons, in which the English added the -oon to the word in the 16th century.  

The Tarte Au Citron 

Tarte Au Citron also known as the lemon tart are also very popular.  Donning a pastry crust and delicious lemon filling.  The filling, however, is not made with fruit.  The cream is a mixture containing lemon juice, lemon zest and of course, eggs and sugar.  

The Mille Feuille 

This fluffy treat comes in a vanilla or custard slice and is comprised of several layers of puff pastry.  Between the puff pastry lies an additional two layers of pastry crème.  Another name for the Mille Feuill is the Napoleon.  

The Tarte Tatin 

Named after the hotel that serves the dessert (Hotel Tatin), the tarte Tatin is a unique upside-down pastry.  Its ingredients include caramelized fruit prepared with sugar and butter.  It pairs famously with a bit of tart crème fraiche.   

The Choux à La Crème 

These cream puffs are created using puff pastry as well.  They swell while cooking and are actually hollow.  The oozing center can be either whipped cream or custard.   Interestingly enough, once you add chocolate as your topping, it then becomes a profiterole.  There are various different toppings you can add to this pastry, from ice cream to fruit and even spun caramel. 

Croissant 

Basket of Crossants

This buttery flaky wonder is a signature French pastry.  There are so many ways to top it; you can use fruit, chocolate, fondant or a compote of your choosing.  You will not be disappointed. 

The Petits Four 

Translated, petit four means small oven, and are also known as mignardises.  The fours are miniature bite-sized confections that can also be savory if you choose.  The sweet route includes a sugary glaze atop a crispy biscuit.  These pastries are perfect for tea parties.   

The next time you plan your visit to Paris, don’t forget to work some of these delectable desserts into your itinerary! Better yet, have your travel agent set you up with a fabulous food tour, so that you are sure to be introduced to some of the best that Paris has to offer.  For the real food aficionado’s, there are plenty of wonderful pastry classes to take advantage of. Either way, Paris has more than enough to please your palette.  

Why use a vacation planner?

In the age of Google, and Kayak and Expedia, why would anyone hire a vacation planner? If you can do it yourself then why would you ever hire someone else?

Because, just like you shouldn’t consult Dr. Google when you get a headache, you shouldn’t rely solely on google when you are planning a vacation, otherwise no matter what you do, you end up with cancer.

OK! Maybe that’s a little extreme! But in all seriousness here’s why you should talk to a Travel Advisor before you plan on your next vacation:

  • Your vacation dollars are an investment! Don’t you want that investment to go far? There is nothing worse than spending $80 for a crummy experience only to find out that had you spend $90 you would have had an incredible experience, OR, even worse, to find out you could have had a better experience for $75.  A travel advisor can help you navigate those waters and protect those precious vacation dollars. They can give you a realistic budget for your expectations of travel and can help curate the experience you are looking for.
  • Planning a vacation takes a lot of time! It takes time to plan an itinerary, research hotels and airfare and travel deals and packages. And these days time is a commodity and your time is worth something. Most of us barely have time to take our vacation days, much less plan them out. And planning them out so that they are enjoyed to the maximum potential takes an even extra step! Hire a Travel Advisor and save yourself the time and hassle of going down the internet rabbit hole.
  • Travel advisors have access to perks that aren’t published on other sites! Thanks to their relationships with travel suppliers, they can often get amenities, upgrades and other special VIP touches that my clients don’t have access to. So even though many do-it-yourself-vacationers may pat themselves on the back for saving the $100, I often get my clients special amenities worth way more than that.
  • Don’t miss a thing! How many times have you gone somewhere and thought “Had I already known x I would have done y” It’s your travel advisors job to make sure you know x and get to experience y.
  • A travel advisor’s job doesn’t stop when you book your travel. I go the extra mile to find great restaurants I know they will love and book the reservations, book extra special activities, golf tee times, shore excursions, and I love adding my own surprise touches. I also prepare my clients for travel, so there are no surprises. I check if their passports are current, help them with packing advice, and even tipping guidelines. Finally, I’m 1 phone call away. If my clients experience unexpected surprises during their travel like a missed connection, they know they have just 1 phone cal l to make and I will take care of it for them.

adult book business cactus
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So how does it work?

Find a travel advisor you know and trust. Someone who is willing to put aside their own expectations of travel and give you the experience you are looking for.  Then schedule a consultation! Most agents will give a free initial consult and then will ask for a small fee to plan and design your itinerary.  Then they will present you with proposals and allow you to pick the one that you like best.  A great travel advisor works closely with you to make sure you are happy with each step of the design and will give you a little or a lot of structure depending on your style.

Plan your next vacation with a travel advisor, because though he may make funny commercials, William Shatner is not going to help you with all the details of your next trip. And even if he could, would you really want him to?

Happy Wanderlusting!

xo, K

If I can help you plan your next vacation, please fill out our form and let’s get started!

 

 

 

A vacation for Mom!

Summer is coming to an end. Back to school is in full swing. And mom’s everywhere are sharing a collective exhale.

Summer vacation has always felt like a bit of an oxymoron to me as an adult. Like really, who’s on vacation? Then, getting back into the routine of school is a whole other ball game.

Growing up I always thought I’d end up like Belle. Turns out, more often than not, I end up like this lady:

IMG_2268.PNG

And it’s for this reason that I’m a huge fan of Girls Weekends! Because there must be more than this provincial life.

This mom has her own vacation planned! In one week I leave for a girls weekend in Colorado. It’s a quick turnaround. There will be food. There will be a little hiking. AND there will be Bruno! We are meeting up to go to the Bruno Mars Concert.

Why do I encourage women everywhere to take a little break?

Moms – you need a break from your kids.  I know – you love your family. Your kids are wonderful. You love your spouse. But when mom’s go on vacation, they aren’t really on vacation.  They are herding everyone to where they need to be. They are making plans. They are organizing everything. They are cleaning the room. They are making sure everyone is accounted for and little Johnny isn’t left on the train platform.  And by the end you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation.

Weekends with your girlfriends are the safe space every woman needs.  Need to bitch about how not every moment of marriage and motherhood is sprinkled with rainbows and unicorns? That’s what your girlfriends are for.  It’s space to be vulnerable. It’s safe. It’s judgement free. And it’s the opportunity to realize that yes, we feel you and we feel that way, too. And that’s because…..

No one gets you like your girlfriends do.  They knew you when you were sweating it out on the dance floor before you had spit up on your shirt. They were there when you told them that you found the one. They don’t care if you are in Belle mode, or the crazy egg lady.  They get you. And you get them.

The ability to travel solo is sometimes a gift unto itself. Why, yes, I WILL wear white on the plane today. (Not really. I don’t need to have kids to spill coffee all over myself, but you get my point.) You have time to actually stop and get that coffee.  You have time to, gasp,  Read. A. Book.

Recharging your batteries makes you a better wife/mom/person. Especially when surround yourself with quality people.  Remember that safe place I mentioned? A quality friend lets you vent about the fact that life isn’t all rainbows, while simultaneously reminding you that 1) you aren’t always a picnic to live with either (in a warm, fuzzy loving way of course!), and 2) your life is full of way more sunshine and good than not.  They lift you up, and elevate you to be the best you can be. They bring out the good in you. They encourage the best. And they make you feel good about it all at the same time. And when you take the time to laugh, sleep in, and let someone else cater to you for a change (even if it is a waiter that you tip generously for a little extra champagne in your mimosa for brunch), you let the coils relax just a little. You come home ready to take on challenges at work and at home just a little more clearly.

So, what are you waiting for? Have you called your girlfriends lately? I think it’s time to start planning a little getaway……..And if I can help bring all the pieces together you know I’d love to!