Travel light, but travel right!

Though I was never actually at risk of packing Crocs, a fanny pack or tube top, I do think it’s important to review your packing list for trends, local customs and potentially embarrassing faux pas for every single trip.

For example, you will not be permitted in churches, for service or tourism, if you have bare knees or shoScreen Shot 2016-02-15 at 10.25.07 PMulders in Italy. Similarly modest attire is expected in Dubai, and extends beyond mosques to include public spaces such as shopping malls.

Pinterest is a great resource for visual packing lists. Perfect for pulling together whole outfits and seeing the latest fashions. And travel blogs for notes on the local customs and real-life experiences.

Of course, make sure you have seasonally appropriate clothing in your luggage. You don’t want to get caught without a raincoat if it’s rainy season on the coast.

Regardless of destination, I won’t leave home without a hat, slippers and good walking shoes.

The hat for hair emergencies, weather issues, and a chic look.

The slippers for my tired tourist feet when I get back to the hotel. Even soft little ballet slippers do the trick and take up no luggage space. Oh, and because…hotel carpet.

Walking shoes. I walk and walk and walk on vacation. I feel that it’s one of the most effective ways to explore a destination and really see things. No one likes blisters from silly trendy shoes that look good but are not practical.

What’s the one thing I tend to forget? Believe it or not…. sunglasses! This is my blind spot, my forgotten amenity. I typically leave them in the car when I reach the airport. And as a result, I’ve had to buy replacements on the road a few times.  I have the funny yellow ones from Bermuda, the glitter crusted ones from Vegas and the cheap ones that broke after an hour in California.

And when it comes to volume, pack less than you think you need. Infact, just pack half, if your hotel has a guest laundry room on site. Truly, I’d much rather spend 1 hour doing laundry while on vacation, than drag around twice the wardrobe and pay a checked bag fee.

Do you overpack? What are your tips for travelling light and travelling right?

 

Canadian $$ At Par!

Acting swiftly to address a downturn in Canadian tourists, Myrtle Beach South Carolina has announced a plethora of deals for Canadians.

I can tell you that I was quickly and suitably impressed with their presentation and offers at VisitMyrtleBeach.com. Specifically, their Can Am Days event, and their ease of research. What a great site!

Following the links through to some of the Can Am Hotel deals, I easily searched dates and found prices around $50 a night. (There were no special promo codes or such needed.)  Prices are shown in US funds, but reflect the substantial discount to Canadians.

While it appears that hotels and restaurants aren’t able to receive payment in Canadian funds, their discounts do reflect a savings of 25% or greater, with presentation of Canadian identification, thus levelling the value to ‘par.’

 

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The available promotion dates are now through the end of April, though some hotels are offering booking dates to May 18th, 2016.

Restaurants are in on it too. Here’s a sample coupon from House of Blues. Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.05.32 AM

 

The international airport in Myrtle Beach is coded as MYR. Delta Airlines will fly you there for about $420 from Winnipeg (YWG), however both Westjet and Air Canada also fly into Myrtle Beach. Be advised, there are typically 2 connecting flights. Westjet advertises non-stop flights from Toronto, but frankly I can’t see them on my searches.

I love this initiative by the Myrtle Beach tourist board and I expect that numerous other cities will follow suit in the upcoming months. Props to them for taking this bold move and reaching out to Canadians.

If I was looking to pursue a spring trip, and especially a golf vacation, I would certainly consider Myrtle Beach.

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Web page:  www.visitmyrtlebeach.com

Twitter: @mymyrtlebeach

Instagram: @mymyrtlebeach

 

Disney Cruise Twitter Party

If you’d like to learn more about a Disney Cruise, their home ports and destinations, there’s a Twitter Party taking place February 3rd, 8pm Eastern/7pm Central.

What’s a Twitter Party? It’s an on-line event hosted by a moderator(s) and focuses on one company or activity. It is an audience participation event. You can follow along on Twitter using the designated hashtag and following the moderators’ accounts. Typically there are prizes to win for participation. The event lasts just one hour, so mark the date and time on your calendar.

The hashtag for this party, which is open to Canadians only, is #Disneyfamilytravel.

The host is @listentolena

The Disney Cruise Line official account is @disneycruise

There are $1200 in prizes available to be won!

Did you know that the Disney Wonder sails a Vancouver to Alaska route each summer? They have been since 2011. If you’d like to know more about that specific route, do ask me. I quite enjoyed that cruise and so did my kids.

See you at the #disneyfamilytravel Twitter party this Wednesday!

 

20 second margarita

Doesn’t everyone love a travel hack? This one was inspired by my recent trip to San Diego.  If you’re at home, this one comes together pretty quick, is smooth and tastes great.

Just cut the lime, salt the rim & add ice to the glass. Then pour, stir, enjoy.

I love a good margarita! Or should I call this one, the at home mom-garita?

Patron reposado tequila, Brisk lemonade, ice, lime, salt.
Patron reposado tequila, Brisk lemonade, ice, lime, salt.

Do your photos reflect your memories?

The thing about travel photos is that they don’t tell the whole story. The true story gets muddled even further when those photos are prepped for Instagram. This isn’t a slam on Instagram, far from it. I think that global photos bring us a brighter more accurate picture of what the world has to offer. And it’s absolutely your choice to pick what you share with the world, and in what form

My point is this, are you tainting your own memories when you enhance or only share the perfect photos? I want to make my case by showing you a series of photos that I took at La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California.

I’m in love with this first photo. I think it’s spectacular. My money shot. But it doesn’t accurately reflect my experience.

 

This sweet baby was huddle in the centre of the pod.
This sweet baby was huddled in the centre of the pod. His eyes were open for mere seconds. Taken with my Canon 510s. This photo is completely unedited. I haven’t even cropped it, though I did consider cropping out the scar of the other seal in the right corner, however, I think it shows his age and life marks and they are an appropriate contrast to the seal pup.

 

Taking a step back, you see the whole pod of seals as they lay on the beach.

The photo was taken around 11am that day.
The photo was taken around 11am that day. Don’t they look peaceful and relaxed?

 

Let’s take one step further back. But still make sure the shot is tight and deliberately angled.

Here I am posing for a quick photo with my new friends. I love this picture. First time I've ever had the chance to pose with seals.
Here I am posing for a quick photo with my new friends. I love this picture. First time I’ve ever had the chance to pose with seals. (Unedited)

 

Same pod of seals, same beach, less than two minutes later than the above photos. Completely different picture of the experience, isn’t it?

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This one is taken from 4 paces back and a different angle, purposefully to show the crowd of visitors assembled. The seals are notable unhappy after a few folks got too close. Hipstamatic lens used to show the mood.

 

This last photo is shown from the viewing platform at street level, about 5 minutes after the first photo (of the baby) was taken.

Quite the group isn't it? On a Monday in January.
Quite the group isn’t it? On a Monday in January. Can you still see the seals in the centre?

 

My memory of this moment during the vacation, is of the big picture, the crowds and the whole perspective. However, I do still get lost in the moment of the baby seal and his soft eye when I look at it. An entirely different feeling about that day. And while I have already shared a couple of the seal photos on my Instagram feed, I have withheld the photos of the baby feeling that it was intimate and a real treasure, personal to my experience and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to share it with the world.

So, which picture is the “right” one to share?  What view of the scene do you relate to? Which of these pictures is the true reflection?

I’d love to hear your comments! Please share.

San Diego: A couple’s trip

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 1.02.48 AMSan Diego has such a great scene. I think it would be a fabulous place for a couple’s trip.

If you’re the comic-loving type then maybe you’d enjoy a fan-fest weekend at Comic-Con. It’s hosted in San Diego every year in July. Of course, this will take some serious planning as the event always sells out.

 

What about a movie themed getaway for you and your sweetie? Visit Coronado Island and the famed Hotel del Coronado where Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis filmed ‘Some Like it Hot‘ in the late 1950s.

For a more recent, but no less iconic movie connection, drop by the Kansas City Barbeque restaurant downtown San Diego where the unforgettable bar scenes of ‘Top Gun‘ were filmed. The piano where character, Goose, pounded out a roaring rendition of ‘Great Balls of Fire‘ still sits in the corner.

If after enjoying a pint, and you you utter the words of Goose’s wife (played by Meg Ryan)  “take me to bed or lose me forever’  you’ll want to be staying across the street at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Not only is it a fabulous hotel, it overlooks the harbour and Seaport Village. 

You would have to rent a car and drive north up the coast to see “Charlie’s house” where Maverick races to on his motorcycle after that beach volleyball scene. Yes, you remember that volleyball scene! Anyways, the house or beach cottage as it was, is located at 102 Pacific Street, Oceanside California which is right by Camp Pendleton the military base. Should you rather skip the rental car, you can walk over from the Hyatt to the USS Midway Museum. Here you can explore an aircraft carrier. (Incidentally, it was named the #1 thing to do in San Diego, by Trip Advisor.) At a cost of about $20 ($10 with ID for Veterans) it’s the closest you’ll get to a working aircraft carrier, like in Top Gun.

If movies like ‘Anchorman‘ are more your style, you might be disappointed to know that even though the movie story was set in San Diego, it was nearly completely filmed in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California. Even the San Diego Zoo (celebrating its centennial this year), was staged at the Los Angeles Zoo. Regardless, there are no reasons why you can’t drive around in a turtleneck and velvet blazer saying “keep it classy San Diego.” After all, it’s YOUR vacation.

 

The statue of sailor kissing a girl, on the harbour. The statue is a rendition of the famous Time Life cover from July 1945.
The statue of sailor kissing a girl, on the harbour. The statue is a rendition of the famous Time Life cover from July 1945.