PLANNING MY WAY TO GREAT TRIPS

Over the last 12 days, I visited Lisbon, Seville, Deia and Barcelona.  This was a trip six months in the planning.  Here are a few of my recommendations to you for planning your next dream escape.

 
Why Spain and Portugal?  Primarily because I hadn’t been before and they are safe.  As a solo female traveler (who has done the whole violent country thing) my mom likes to buy off on safe adventures.  Spain and Portugal are also a little cheaper than the rest of Europe and reportedly great for retirees… not that I’m anywhere near there, but who doesn’t like to pretend shop for future neighborhoods?

  1. Kayak.com:  Kayak is my favorite website for two things, comparing flights and housing an entire itinerary.  You don’t need to book everything via Kayak, you can just send confirmation emails to trips@kayak.com and add tours, hotels, flights, cars, or anything else to one trip itinerary.  I love having all of my confirmation numbers, check in times all in one place, and then writing little notes to myself about whether breakfast is included or I requested an early check in,etc. 
  2. Viator.com:  Before leaving on this trip I had two tours booked (one in Lisbon and one in Barcelona). In actuality I went on four tours.  Viator is a great option for viewing all of the tour options in a city and comparing inclusions, pickup times and prices all in one place.  I have also booked Viator tours in Rome, Capri, San Francisco and Nassau.
  3. Pinterest.com: I am a big fan of creating a board on Pinterest for each destination I am planning.  It is a wonderful place to keep articles, photos, restaurant reviews, basic language translations, and customs for referencing later. 
  4. My newest trip planning App is Tripomatic.  I upgraded for the map availability when I was offline and not connected to WiFi and found this to be great.  I started using it to roughly plan my daily itineraries and it was fantastic to have the routes mapped to each of the sites I wanted to see, in order to walk in a logical path.  Also, I found the restaurants that were featured in the App to be very good.  I went to at least three of them during this trip.

In addition to these online resources, I enjoy reading the New York Times 36 Hours articles, watching Rick Steves and Anthony Bourdain, and in general learning what other people loved and disliked about a place so that I can weigh how I want to spend my valuable vacation time and dollars best!  

I hope you will enjoy reading about my Iberian Peninsula likes and dislikes soon!  Please share your tips for a great trip, I would love to learn from you. 

FIVE FAVORITE THINGS: DECEMBER

Here’s a list of what I’m enjoying this month…

    1. Neil GaimanWinning: Possibly the first time I’ve ever won a prize (other than at ancient skating competitions) was at a corporate holiday party this month. Not only did I win the grand prize, but I had no idea what I won till later – a Surface Pro 3. Very exciting. Let’s hope it’s just the beginning of my new-found lucky streak.
    2. Wild: Loved the book more (of course), but enjoyed seeing the film version with the lovely Reese Witherspoon. Almost inspired to venture on a solo hiking and camping adventure next year… almost.
    3. Becoming Inspired: during a Strong and Bendy yoga workshop where I learned new variations of poses, and things to work toward. Coming soon… forearm stand!
    4. Learning: as much about Spain and Portugal through books and the Travel Channel in preparation for my next adventure.
    5. Writing New Year’s Resolutions: to strive toward every amazing day of 2015.

Let me know what you’re enjoying this month, and thanks so much for stopping by!

FIVE FAVORITE THINGS: NOVEMBER

Here’s a list of what I’m enjoying this month…

  1. Hot Yoga: After eight months of yoga and winter coming soon, I’ve begun hot yoga with new arm balances and without dehydration and headaches.  I am loving it!
  2. Volunteering with Honor Flight: Being able to meet World War II veterans dressed in their helmets with bullet holes and white Navy hats and feeling lucky to be able to assist them in celebrating their visit to the war memorials on the Washington Mall. These heroes made my Veteran’s Day incredibly memorable.
  3. Hosting and Cooking: Thanksgiving Day Dinner for most of my family and am thankful for those near and far.
  4. Booked Flights: for my next international adventure.  I love having a trip to plan and look forward to once the weather is warm again!
  5. Seeing A Christmas Carol: at Ford’s Theater in DC with my mom

Let me know what you’re enjoying this month, and thanks so much for stopping by!

FIVE FAVORITE THINGS: OCTOBER

Here’s a list of what I’m enjoying this month…

  1. Catching a Few Flicks: Heading out to see Hector and the Search for Happiness and Gone Girl this month.  Hector is one of my favorite books.
  2. rockefellerSkating at Rockefeller Center’s Ice Rinkduring a beautiful day on opening weekend in NYC.
  3. Visiting a Hard to Find Speakeasy in Grand Central Station
  4. A Visit to One of Travel + Leisure’s Coolest Rooftop Bars in America: The Skylark.  The review – the views were breathtaking, the service and drinks were not so great.
  5. Taking a trip to the top of the Washington Monument: finally reopened this year after earthquake damage which closed the monument for two and a half years.

Let me know what you’re enjoying this month, and thanks so much for stopping by!

FIVE FAVORITE THINGS: SEPTEMBER

Here’s a list of what I’m enjoying this month…leaves_3

  1. Riding National Geographic’s #4 most scenic American train: Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia during what should be peak fall foliage.
  2. Stand Up Paddleboarding: on the Potomac before the sun sets on Summer.
  3. Dolcezza: because you need something sweet and cool after paddleboarding and this is gelato is almost as good as traveling to Italy for an afternoon.  I had the Watermelon Vodka, Lemon Opal Basil and the Pineapple Mint flavors.
  4. Cool Fall Breezes
  5. Trip Planning (and calling for all suggestions): for New York City!

Let me know what you’re enjoying this month, and thanks so much for stopping by!