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No words … heartfelt prayers

#Pray for Nice

Boundaries divide – Travel unites

When I meet someone, whether from another city or another country, I have the opportunity to be a citizen ambassador. Interacting with another human being, looking into each other’s eyes has a lasting effect and perhaps it will counter anything negative that they might have heard about me, about my country. Traveling is a privilege to share who I am and to gain more insight into others. I believe with all my heart this helps foster peace.

We pray for Nice and for the world. Spread love. Help others. Live in peace.

St. Patrick’s Day – A World of Parades

By Alison Luengo

branded dublin parade

Aitormmfoto / Shutterstock.com

St. Patrick’s Day – We’re All Irish

It is officially time to break out that green apparel, sip that Guinness, and line the streets for those monstrous parades. Not Irish? Not a problem for, well…anyone come March 17 every year. St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where anyone can be Irish if they like, and all that is required is a jolly attitude and maybe a green shirt declaring yourself Irish for the day. (Did you know it’s only an American tradition to pinch someone if they fail to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?) While the holiday is celebrated around the world, many celebrations are larger outside of Dublin than in. So, sit back, relax and read on as we explore some of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.

Dublin, Ireland

We will start in Dublin, which just seems fitting. The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin was officially recognized by the government in 1995, as a way for the Irish to celebrate their heritage. Their celebration runs for four days and includes many cultural activities along with fun and games. They start with “Greening The City” (which is a fancy way to say lighting all their buildings in green). Of course they have a large parade, and walking tours highlighting different aspects of the city. There is an Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Village, and a lunchtime talk series featuring notable Irishmen or important topics related to Irish culture. While St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday here, it is not the largest celebration in the world.

branded new york parade

gary718 / Shutterstock.com

New York City

Without a doubt, the largest celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is the New York City Parade. First started all the way back in 1762 by some very lonely Irish soldiers, it is now the largest and oldest parade in the world. With nearly 2 million spectators, and another 150,000 participants yearly, it’s easy to see why this is a huge tradition in New York City come March 17.
branded Montserrat St Pat

Montserrat Island

Another country with a huge celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is Montserrat, West Indies. Celebrating for a full week, this party highlights the African & Irish heritage that most share while also commemorating a failed slave uprising on the same day in 1768. Montserrat has it all for St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional parade, a freedom run, a formal ball, traditional games, and African & Irish music festivals.

branded st patrick day auckland ron ganly

Auckland, New Zealand

Let’s not forget our friends Down Under during this massive celebration.  You can also celebrate  St. Patrick’s Day like a pro in Auckland, New Zealand. “The Greening” is when they light up their Sky Tower bright green for the holiday, and it’s accompanied by a parade and dance/music festivals.
Needless to say, you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just about anywhere. From the West Indies to New Zealand to New York City, there are parades abound and traditions galore. What are St. Patrick’s Day traditions in your city or country? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

The Truth about Zika Virus

Zika virus Shutterstock

We answer a lot of questions.  From favorite restaurants to best surfing spots to best places to spot Africa’s Big Five, it seems as though the list is endless.  Questions that has been awfully prevalent as of late are those about the Zika virus.

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus has been all over the news and it is a serious worry for travelers.  In case you don’t know what this rapidly spreading virus is, it is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and, allegedly, it may cause birth defects.  [ As of the writing of this blog post, the CDC is in Brazil to ascertain if there is a link between Zika virus and birth defects.] Although we are just starting to hear about this virus in the Americas, it isn’t new by any means.

Found first in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands dating to the 1950s, the virus has never been as widespread as it is reported to be now. It wasn’t until May 2015 that the first case was reported in Brazil, where the virus has hit hardest by all accounts.  Although health officials are calling this a widespread epidemic, in reality only 1 in 5 infected will actually show mild, physical symptoms.

Zika Warning for Pregnant Women

Those who should really try hardest to avoid the virus are pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant.  If you do contract the virus and show symptoms, you’re likely to have mild flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Since the Zika virus can spread from a woman to her baby, it is recommended by the CDC that women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to anywhere the Zika virus has spread.

Zika virus test

Zika and the General Public

If you’re not pregnant, there are some very easy ways to prevent the virus and continue your travel as planned.  Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.  Stay in locations with air conditioning or screens on doors and windows.  Always use an EPA-registered insect repellant.  Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin, and make sure to sleep under a mosquito bed net.  If you do think you contracted the Zika virus, make sure to consult a doctor immediately.  You can treat symptoms easily though with some rest, fluids, and acetaminophen.

Zika Brazil Olympics

Summer Olympics in Brazil – to attend or not?

One travel event that you could be very interested in is the Summer Olympics located in Brazil- smack dab in one of the hardest hit areas by the Zika virus.   The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that Brazil is doing a good job making Brazil safe, and Brazil’s government is doing all it can to make visitors and athletes as safe as possible.  However, that doesn’t ease the minds of everyone.  Star soccer player Hope Solo, who could possibly be playing in the games, said that as of now she wouldn’t go to the games over concerns of Zika virus.  What about you?  Would you head down to Brazil for the summer games even when the Zika virus is so prevalent?  Sound off in the comments below.

Learn more here:

We are not experts in zika virus nor do we recommend a particular insect repellent. Some repellents are better for mosquitos and others may be better for ticks. Please talk to a physician, pharmacist, or knowledgeable expert for their suggestions.

 

Don’t Wait To Plan Your Holiday Travel

By Damien Martin

Well, the holidays are over, and we are smack dab in 2016. There are pros and cons to this, of course. As fun as it is to put up decorations, it’s just as sad taking them down. We can’t count on sugary treats to help us power through the afternoons. But on the bright side, we aren’t still shame-eating whole plates of cookies and getting jealous of bears because they can shed pounds while sleeping all winter. What, I’m the only one who does that? Never mind then.

While the short winter days have many of us dreaming of the beach — yes, you should start planning spring break now — it’s also a good idea to start planning this year’s holiday travel. Even though we have an extra day this year, Feb. 29 is a Monday, so I don’t think it counts.

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Did you know studies have shown that looking forward to a trip is one of the things people enjoy most about travel? So on these cold winter days, picture your future self, sitting by the fire at a ski chalet, or close to the fire-breathers at a luau. That will put you right back in the holiday spirit.
Keeping with the theme of a new year, here are some friendly reminders.

Apply For or Renew Your Passport ASAP

If your passport is set to expire, don’t wait until the last minute to renew it. As of Jan. 1, people who are out of empty passport pages can no longer request more. Instead, they have to renew their passports as well, which will delay processing. Plus, there are many people who got passports in 2007 — when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative made them necessary for travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean — and therefore have passports expiring in 2017. So if yours is up for renewal soon, make sure to get your application in before wait times increase.

You’d also better make sure the IRS isn’t after you. The State Department can now revoke, deny or limit passports for people who owe $50,000 or more in back taxes.

Changes In The Air

OK, so you’ve taken all the necessary steps to make sure they let you on the plane. Things will also be different onboard.

Are you looking to book your holiday travel? Here are some great tips and reminders for you!

On Delta, passengers who want the little extras on their summer getaways need to say so in advance. For flights within the U.S. and Canada departing on or after May 16, Delta Comfort+ has to be booked as its own class of service. Up until now, fliers could purchase upgraded seats with more legroom, better snacks and free drinks for those flights after booking regular economy tickets.

What’s that, you value my advice so much that you already booked your flights and bought upgraded seats? Not to worry, Delta will honor all Comfort+ purchases made before Nov. 14, 2015. Not to be outdone, United is now offering Economy Plus packages for a smoother flying experience. The Economy Plus Essentials package gets you a better seat and an extra checked bag at 20 percent less cost than booking those two perks separately. The Enhanced package includes the seat and extra bag, plus Premier Access — priority check-in, security lanes, boarding and baggage handling — at 25 percent less.

Travel Tip

Not sure if it’s the right time to buy? Check out the Hopper app, which lists average fares for specific itineraries, tells you which travel dates have higher or lower prices, and estimates when fares will go up or down.

Mobile Passport

At last, you’re back in the U.S. after a wonderful vacation made all the better by planning ahead and having a comfortable seat. If you happen to be flying into Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Chicago O’Hare, Seattle or San Francisco, even getting through the customs line can be a breeze.

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Mobile Passport is a free app accepted at those six airports (San Jose and Dallas-Fort Worth will be added soon) that allows users to go to a shorter line, much like global entry users. It’s open to holders of U.S. and Canadian passports. It’s also simple and easy — at least in theory: Before you go, download the app, enter your passport information and snap a selfie. Then when you land at a participating airport, log in and start a new trip. Just tell the app who’s travelling, where you landed and on which airline, then answer four quick customs questions.

The app will send your information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and send you a receipt granting you access to the Mobile Passport line. I tested Mobile Passport out when my wife and I flew into Atlanta from Europe in December. The app let us fill out a family customs form, but I never did get a receipt. The customs agents still let us go into the special line, though, so it sort of worked.

So now we have so much planning to do there’s no time to hibernate. Which is good, because we have to wait until March for the Hypnos Hoodie — billed as “the world’s best sleep hoodie” — with an inflatable hood that doubles as a pillow. If you want to pre-order, it’s on Kickstarter until Jan. 11. My resolution for 2016? Using all my vacation days. To make sure I do that, I’m mapping my year of travel out as early as I can. The lesson, as always, is plan ahead. Your future self will thank you for it.

If you’re ready to map out your travel and you need help creating the best experience, contact us at 913-338-2244.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful, But The Fire Is So Delightful

Triple Creek Ranch Photo

 

Winter Weather Wonderlands

Grab that gorgeous, fluffy throw, cuddle up on that overstuffed couch, and swig that deliciously rich hot chocolate. Maybe you’ve spent the day seeing and being seen on the slopes, or you have been delightfully lazy with your new favorite author, but either way it is that time of year where snuggling up next to the fireplace is not only a luxury but a necessity. So, to take the guess work out of the best places to snuggle up by the fire this winter, we’ve rounded up the most fabulous hotels and resorts whose fireplaces are so nice you’ll think twice before trekking outside.

Winter Weather Option #1: Triple Creek Ranch

Voted the #1 Hotel in the World by Travel + Leisure readers in 2014, our first pick for hotels perfect for staying by the fire is Triple Creek Ranch located in Montana. In your private log cabin (with your own hot tub) you can pick a plethora of outdoor or indoor activities to fill your day including all your snow sports, skiing, or simply staying in your plush bathrobe for a lazy day. Maybe the most alluring feature of this hideaway, which is situated it the Bitterroot Mountains, is that it boasts an adult-only crowd. Who cares about the weather when you’re enjoying Triple Creek Ranch?

Winter Weather Option #2: Twin Farms

Being one of only 23 lodgings in the USA and Canada that can toot their own horn about having a Twin Farms PhotoForbes 5 star rating since 1996 is our next cozy winter retreat, Twin Farms, which is located on 300 acres in Vermont just north of Woodstock. Enjoy six private ski trails, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and tobogganing in winter, or relax and unwind in their Woods Spa. Our guarantee is that your waist line will not be ignored (unfortunately or fortunately) while staying at this resort, as Twin Farms’ seasonal meals incorporate the property’s own herbs and is customized for each guest to be complimented by vintages from the 26,000-bottle wine cellar.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler Photo

Winter weather option #3: Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Situated on the base of the Blackcomb Mountain, as one of the world’s premier ski resorts, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is a ski-in/ski-out resort that is one hot place to be seen during those cold winter nights. The largest all-inclusive resort constructed in Canada since the turn of the century, has 494 guest rooms with 56 suites. With plenty of fireplaces to keep you warm and cozy, you’ll debate traveling the few feet outside to Whistler Village, but we promise it is worth it.

Winter weather option #4: Montage Deer Valley

The votes are in and ranked as one of the Great Getaways Travel Advisors’ favorite winter retreats is Montage PhotoMontage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. This brand new hotel, opening in December of 2010, is described as one of North America’s finest mountain resort destinations. Another ski-in/ski-out resort with a self-described 35,000 square foot “alpine oasis” in the form of the Spa Montage, this 220 room winter paradise definitely packs a punch with Utah’s famous powder snow at your fingertips. However, if you’re not interested in that famous snow, hunker down in Daly’s Pub & Rec which features an open kitchen, bowling, billiards, and nostalgic arcade games.
Really, no matter what you wish for your next winter escape these four resorts have it all. From winter sports to cuddling up by the fire, we guarantee that your days will be filled with relaxation and pampering if you choose one of these fabulous resorts as your destination of choice.