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Cheap Vegas Fix

Need your next Vegas fix?

If you like Allegiant Airlines, they have a deal for you! Flights as low as $56 one way, from Minot, ND. (Airport code MOT)

Here’s a sample departing Sunday, April 9th and returning April 13th. Flights for 2 people, without baggage, $254 (US funds).

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With hotel at the MGM, and flights included $736 (US funds).

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Or with the 5 star Venetian, just under $1000 (US funds).

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People over places

I work pretty ridiculous hours 9 months a year, and then I have some free time for 3 months. My first assignment each time I get to my break is to re-connect with my youngest child.

We have made a habit of taking off together, just the two of us, for a “him-cation.” It’s all about him. He can choose the destination (within reason), choose the activities and even choose where we eat. He says “please” and I say, “yes sir!”IMG_0637

When he was little, he chose a Disney cruise. That was great fun! Though the ship had dozens of activities and excursions, all he really wanted to do was play soccer on the upper deck. If I wasn’t out there playing with him, I was sitting on a lounge chair watching, and reading a book.

As I became a fixture on the deck, watching my son, Cast Members generously brought me new books. Even other passengers offered magazines. It was sweet. Everyone aboard was very thoughtful. I enjoyed their enquiries and visits.

In the evenings we’d sit on the pool deck and watch the movies and eat pizza. Every night he went to bed happy and feeling loved. While we didn’t maximize our Disney activities, we sure had fun. Neither of us will ever forget it.

Fast forward to this year’s “him-cation” and he chose Carli. What’s Carli? Actually, it’s a who. She, is a fabulous person that I used to work with and son remembers oh so fondly from his childhood.

Carli moved halfway across the county to attend university. He missed seeing her around town. We all did. So when he asked if this year’s trip could be to see Carli, I gave her a call and then bought the plane tickets.

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Exploring the shores and looking for wildlife

She showed us the university, where she worked, and where she liked to hike. We had a blast! She remembered him as a little boy and catered to little boy things… like finding blue crabs to “race” on the beach, logs to walk on and waterfalls to admire.

My take away message here is that it’s not always about the destination, it’s about the people you share your time with and the memories you make. The best vacation ever… can happen absolutely anywhere.

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Choose your own path to adventure! It’s YOUR vacation.

 

 

 

 

When travel and play collides

When travel and play collide, it’s a really cool thing.

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Official Lego play set

With the new Ghostbuster’s movie on the horizon, Lego has released an official Ghostbuster’s Firehouse Headquarters play set. And when I saw it, had to exclaim “that’s the firehall. I was there!” And I have the picture to prove it!

So, this in my opinion is a really cool travel story. I was in Los Angeles, California last year and I had a neat little tourist map in my hand. It showcased movie set and nostalgic locations, and that kind of thing. The one location that really caught my eye was the Ghostbuster’s firehall (from the original 80s movie). It took a bit to track down, and in fact it was in a pretty scary part of the neighbourhood (at least for this small town prairie girl) but I did it, I found it! I snapped a couple photos and hightailed it for a more familiar and comfortable area of downtown LA.

But at least I got to see it, and recognize it and that was so cool!

It was once recognized as one of the most beautiful and highly coveted fire halls in America and given National historic status. However, in 2015 when I tracked it down, it was in an apparent state of disrepair.

The oddly graffitied cat portrait on the curved door really stood out for me. In fact, I took my photo and printed it on a t-shirt for myself. I often wear my custom-made freaky cat door t-shirt to bed. I have a theory that it keeps ghosts (and nightmares) away. LOL

If Ghostbusters, or this unique lego set intrigues you, they’re available on-line at the official Lego store for $400. If you’d rather have a 2015 freaky cat door t-shirt, that can be arranged for less than 10% of the Lego set.

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My 2015 Ghostbusters adventure

Italy: Yes, Please!

Italy… I don’t know where to even start!

It was an amazing experience. Unlike anything or anywhere I’d ever been. Would I go again? In a heartbeat.

And I would definitely go in February, March, October or November. As a Canadian, I like my space. I don’t like crowds and I’m simply not accustomed to waiting more than 15 minutes in any line.

Even the locals in Florence told me, that they flee the cities in July and August. The cities are too hot and far too crowded. The place to be is by the sea. And I got the impression that tourists are not completely welcome at their seaside hideaways, some of the last undeveloped tourist areas.

September is a lovely month, for weather. But, it’s also harvest. Their agricultural economy depends on the grape harvest, which is then followed by the olive harvest late September, early October. Their culture and livelihood are so intertwined with this annual ritual that I wouldn’t want to get in the way as a tourist wanting to tour wineries.

In late February, we had lovely weather, about 15C most days. I was comfortable in a light jacket, and with a scarf in the mornings.

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As far as tourist sites, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the wait was less than 15 minutes and you could just walk up and purchase a ticket at the desk. In tourist season (April-Sept) you would need to buy tickets on-line, in advance and attend at your scheduled date and time to avoid waiting 2-3 hours in the walk up line. You have likely read this several places if you are already researching a trip to Italy or Europe

Flight deals can be had, especially in the low season. If you choose to go to Italy in October through February, you can watch for airfares as low as $650 on sale. High season, you would budget for $900 or more per ticket. (Taxes in, return trip from YWG)

Should I take a camera?

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Should I take a real camera on my vacation? Is it worth the hassle, the effort and the expense of having a second device when my iPhone is always in my hand?

In my opinion, yes. For three reasons:

1) if it’s a once in a lifetime vacation, photos of your kids or your parents, you need quality prints of these treasures.

2) iPhone cameras, even the latest generation, do not take a photo that can print greater than 4×6.

3) Have you ever known anyone who lost their phone? And it wasn’t backed up. Yeah, that.

 

 

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?