Where I’m Donating to Support Ukraine, and a Little Bit of Life Lately

Life continues to be heavy, friends, and I know we’re all feeling it. Around the world it seems like we’re going about our daily lives — sending kids to school, getting dinner on the table, meeting work deadlines (or trying to) — while emotionally, we’re all dying a little bit inside.

The stories and photos out of Ukraine are heartbreaking, and what the kids are going through … it will be with them their entire lives. It feels wrong that this is happening, while I’m over here typing up a blog post, including photos of how we’ve spent our “carefree” time over the past few months since the holiday. It doesn’t just feel wrong, it is wrong.

And yet … here we are. In 2022, we live in a world where one insane leader has enough power (and money) to force an entire country of people into an unwarranted war, while we sit idly by and watch. All the donations in the world can’t stop us from feeling lost, but it’s all we have. Today I donated to World Central Kitchen (and TripAdvisor is matching my donation). This organization is currently working at a 24-hour pedestrian border crossing in southern Poland and has expanded to provide meals to refugees as they flee to the neighboring countries of Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Slovakia. If you can, consider donating here, or at any number of organizations doing amazing work.

I can’t stop reading and thinking about and praying for the people for Ukraine, even as I try to keep a normal face for my kids. We’re so incredibly lucky to live where we live — despite the issues we put up with — and I hope we never, ever forget that.

Bis bald, friends — I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to lately.

Grace and Chris have gone skiing most weekends since we got back from Christmas, and it’s the definition of adorable. He brings them to Eldora, which is the perfect little mountain for kids.
She’s getting so good at it, too!
Meanwhile, Lotte started ski lessons this past weekend as well, and she is, as you can see, too cool for school 😉
I cannot wait for us all to get on the mountain together <3
Besides skiing, the girls have also been in swim classes at the YMCA, which has been so much fun.
Sledding at the girls’ school for the first time was an experience. (Hint: Everyone goes really fast!)
Chris ran a race a few weeks back to raise money for the victims of the Boulder fire. As usual he was very impressive, coming in 8th out of more than 800 people!
Tiny supporter <3
This one keeps us on our toes and smiling!
Meeting up with Lotte’s kindergarten class at Urban Air Adventure was a highlight for both Lotte & Grace.
The coolest!
Drinks with a friend at the new Mexican restaurant Lady Nomada in Olde Town Arvada was quite restoring.
Lotte seems to have a birthday party every other weekend to attend, and I’m not mad that after 2+ years of hibernating, she’s finally able to socialize the way kids should. It’s the most fun to watch her flourish.
We made a REAL thing out of Valentine’s Day this year because we’ve decided that there’s just not enough to celebrate in life anymore, so why not celebrate where we can <3
There were a lot of hearts in our day <3
And smiles <3
Coffee and treats at Kneaders after school and before Lotte had ballet was a highlight.
We’ve had lots of awesome-weather days during these past few months, and when that happens we always try to take advantage.
Majestic View Park is never not one of my favorite spots.
The Denver Zoo is another of our fave nice-weather activities.
Especially when it involves merry-go-round rides!

And that’s about it, my friends. Hug those loved ones tight, be grateful for the good things … and help out where you can. It’s the least we can do.

Keeping National Parks Pristine, One Clean-Up Event at a Time

Happy Thursday, friends, and happy almost holiday weekend! We’ll be heading to the mountains for a couple of days, but before we left I wanted to spread the word about an amazing initiative that was recently brought to my attention. The program — called Adventure Responsibly — is being spearheaded by Travelodge by Wyndham, and they hosted a cleanup event at Rocky Mountain National Park this past Tuesday. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the actual event (you know, kids and all), but I am here to make sure all you lovely readers know about future ones, in case there is one happening near you that you might be able to join.

Continue reading “Keeping National Parks Pristine, One Clean-Up Event at a Time”

About Last Night’s Election …

thumb__dsc6400_1024I woke up in a different America this morning than the one I went to sleep in last night.

A little before midnight Mountain Time on November 8th, I decided to go to bed after Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman told the eager (if somewhat deflated) crowd at the Javits Center in Manhattan that they should all go home, because there were still a handful of states left to be counted in the 2016 election for president, and many votes left to include.

This election, he said, wouldn’t be over until every last voice had been heard.

I went to sleep last night hopeful, and still very optimistic that the America I live in is not one that would elect a man like Donald Trump to the highest office of the land.

This morning, however, I woke up in one that did.

I won’t resort to name calling because, as the ever-so-eloquent Michelle Obama says, “when they go low, we go high.” Plus, there has been enough mudslinging over the past few months to last me a lifetime.

I did, however, feel the need to say something, somewhere, and since this is my blog, where I’m allowed my feelings and have been keeping track of my own adventures since 2008, I thought this was a good place. I didn’t take to Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram because, again, I’m not interested in the mudslinging.

Last night the media was talking about how it was possible that everyone — every. single. member. of. the.media. — could have so drastically missed the boat on what was happening. It’s a point well worth taking. “We’ve missed the groundswell of what’s going on in middle America,” one anchor said. “We sit here in our offices in big cities and conduct our polls with the people around us, and we’ve totally ignored what’s being said in rural America.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)

Rural America, it seems, had a lot to say, and they made their point very clear at the polls last night. Trump supporting women (women!) who were interviewed said things like, “Who doesn’t like being groped!” and “I’ve heard women say far more worse things about men,” and “That was so long ago, why should it matter?”

To them, mostly, I am speechless. I understand there are people in this world who still believe all Mexican or Muslim people are evil. (I didn’t say I believed that, I said I understand these people exist.) I can understand (again, not agree with) how Donald Trump’s specific brand of hate breathes new fire into those beliefs.

I can understand there are men in this world who still look at women as objects — playthings with which they can do whatever they want. To me, though, the fact that there are women out there who potentially believe this as well … that’s a real tragedy.

I’m not here to say that this is the worst thing that has ever happened to Americans — I’m not that naive. No one died here, or was sent into battle. This is simply an embarrassment of monumental proportions, a blistering wake-up call about our calamitous divisions as a country, and one that we all, as a country, need to come to terms with. What I am going to say, though, is that Donald Trump is not now, nor will he ever be, my president. He does not represent my ideals or beliefs, and he in fact represents the complete opposite of what I believe America stands for.

For the record, I still love America. I love living here, and I love being American. I do believe that we can find our way back to the ideals that this country was originally founded on. After all, we’re all immigrants here. We’re all “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” … at least our ancestors were, and it’s in our blood.

So what am I going to do about an election with which I so deeply disagree with the results? I don’t know about tomorrow, or the day after or the day after that, but for today, what I’m going to do is hug my daughter a little tighter.

I’m going to repeat over and over to her that despite the fact that we unfortunately now live in a world that apparently rewards bigotry, racism and name-calling, she, however, will never embody those characteristics, and she, however, is just like everyone else in this country, and around the world. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly (at least at first).

And despite the fact that we unfortunately now live in a world that apparently rewards sexism, she will never put up with that type of behavior from any man. She is WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS ANY MAN, and she is special, and unique and smart. No man, despite what he might say about her, or women in general, in the future, can take those things away.

Today I will take a deep breath. I will realize that despite what happened in the early hours of this morning, the sun still came up, and Americans still enjoy oh-so-many more freedoms than do so many other people around the world (in fact, last night might just be a perfect example of that), and for that I am eternally grateful and humbled.

Today I will realize that while the feelings we’re all feeling are justified — whether that’s elation, complete confusion or downright depression — there is still a tomorrow.

And there is also another election in just four short years. Let’s make that one count.

^^ Clearly we’ve still got a lot of work to do … let’s fix this, for our kids.

Check Out These Amazing Flight Deals … But Do It Soon!

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 8.04.12 AM

Hey friends,

So I’m a bit late to the bandwagon, but I figure since you still have a day or so left, it’s worth mentioning. As fate would have it, yesterday the stars aligned so that three big U.S. carriers launched mega-awesome sales on the same day … and some of what they’re offering is pretty great.

Here are your options:

Southwest: Book with this sale by tomorrow for flights starting at $49, $99, $129 and $149 one way. You must fly between August 25 and December 16, 2015, and blackout dates (like Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving, Friday & Sunday flights) apply. Still, some of what they’re offering is great. In fact, Chris and I decided to go ahead and book a sneaky 5-day trip to New Orleans in November for less than $400 roundtrip for the both of us. Like I said — amazing!

Virgin America: Another one that ends on 6/4, the Virgin Sale is offering a smattering of discounts on flights starting at around $39 one way for some. Virgin doesn’t seem to be having quite as many deals as the Southwest offer, but some of their prices are way low you guys. Of course restrictions apply here as well, like the fact that travel must occur between June 23, 2015 and August 4, 2015. These are the other restrictions.

JetBlue: You must book these deals by the end of today! There are probably over 100 discounts happening over here, running the gamut from $44 one to to about $250. You must fly between July 7 and September 30, 2015, and the trip has to take place on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Other restrictions may apply.

So what do ya say, friends? You up for some last-minute, spontaneous travel … !

Sun Valley Joins the Mountain Collective for 2015-16 Season


Hi friends!

So I know you’re all: “Hey man, it’s May. And you’re over here talking about snow and ski passes and stuff. What’s up with that?”

Or some form of the above.

As any die-hard skier/snowboarder will know, season passes for places go on sale wicked early (as in I’ve been getting emails regarding my Epic Local Pass for over a month now, and I’ve already missed the deadline to sign up and receive 6 buddy passes along with it. Oops.) Anyway, the point is, the early bird catches the worm when it comes to ski passes, and this season there’s a whole lot more to love with the Mountain Collective 2015/16 pass, now that Sun Valley, Idaho and Thredbo, Australia have joined the fray.

If you live in the Mountain West — or even just plan to be in any of their six awesome locations for more than 3 or 4 days — this pass is absolutely worth it. Included with the $379 purchase are access to nine leading ski destinations, including Sun Valley, Idaho, Thredbo, Australia, Banff, Alberta, Whistler, BC, Aspen, Colorado, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, AltaSnowbird, Utah, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, California and Mammoth Mountain in California.

That’s a whole lotta great places to ski or snowboard, my friends.

Included in this deal are two days of skiing or riding at each of the nine destinations, plus a 50 percent discount on all additional days with no blackout dates. Pricing for the kids’ pass (ages 12 and under) is just $99 for the 2015-16 season.

Get your passes here before it’s too late! Hope to see you on the mountains ….

Bis bald, friends!

The Liebster Awards

liebster-award1Hi friends,

So the lovely Grainne over at An Irish Girl in Korea was kind enough to nominate little ole’ Weary Wanderer for a Liebster Award — which is an award given and received by bloggers to help grow awareness of all the awesome and amazing people out there who are blogging about awesome and amazing things.

The rules are:

1. Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you (thanks again Grainne!)
2. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers who you think deserve this award and link their blogs.
3. Answer 11 questions posted by the blogger who nominated you and also ask 11 new questions for your nominees to answer.
4. Notify your nominees.

So, without further ado, here are my answers to the questions Grainne asked me:

1. If you could choose one country to visit where would you choose and why? Well, I’m lucky enough to be able to say that my husband and I visited my No. 1 bucket list place — the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador — late last year. Since that’s now ticked off, I’d have to say the place I have my sights set on next is New Zealand. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it over there during a trip to see Chris’s family in Australia some time.

2. What is the first thing that you do in the morning? It’s sad but true — I think I’d have to say check my phone for emails! Then gym, meditate, breakfast (for both myself and our pets), coffee and to my desk!

3. Why did you start blogging? I wanted to have an easy way to look back on all the amazing places we were visiting, and then it evolved into something so much more. I started chronicling our lives in New York City, as well, which is something I’ll always cherish now that we no longer live there, and it’s been a great way to keep Chris’s family in Australia up-to-date on what’s going on with us over on the other side of the world, too.

4. How has blogging affected your life in a positive way? It allows me a creative outlet to write whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m a writer by profession, but so much of that is writing to a specific audience or for what an editor wants you to say. This is all mine, forever and always, and I love every second of it!

5. If you could be any animal what would it be? Probably a koala, but more specifically Shawn the Koala, the heroine in the children’s book series I’m trying to get off the ground 😉

6. How would you describe yourself in three words? Passionate. Stubborn. Loyal.

7. Where do you see yourself in ten years time? I’m not sure where we’ll be living, because I hope my life continues to be an amazing adventure. Having said that, I hope we’re still traveling a ton (potentially with a couple kids in tow!), and that Weary Wanderer continues to grow so that I can do less of my day job and focus primarily on this (and Shawn the Koala, of course!).

8. The mountains or the sea, which would you choose? Ooooooph. Toughie. We just left the east coast for the mountains of Colorado, and to be honest, I’d have to say that so far I’d have to pick the sea. The mountains are great — and I love snowboarding — but I don’t know. There’s just something about water …

9. Do you like or dislike meeting new people? Why? Both. I admit that it’s hard for me to approach new people because I can be a bit guarded, but I think once a person opens up to me, I’m more than willing to go that extra mile to stay in touch and/or get closer.

10. What do you value most in life? Love. (aka my friends and family and pets)

11If you were a character from a movie or a different world (e.g. from Space), who or what would you be, and what would your story be? Well not to give too much away, but again, I would be Shawn the Koala from my (soon to be best selling) children’s book. I can’t tell you the story, though … you’ll just have to read that when it comes out 😉

Okay, so now my nominees are:

1. skyward eyes
2. Deciding Denver
3. Incurable Wanderlust
4. That Dang Farang
5. Julie Journeys
6. Stretching It to Travel
7. 365 Day Explorer
8. More Days Off
9. Amarylio & Eloise
10. Family Boating & Camping
11. To the Capital Region and Beyond!

And here are the questions I’d love to see you guys answer:

1. What is the most frustrating thing to you about blogging?
2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3. What’s the one place you’ve traveled to that you would never go back?
4. Where’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
5. What’s the most important thing you bring with you when you pack for a trip?
6. Do you like to fly?
7. Which one: Road trip or plane ride?
8. What’s the longest you’ve traveled for?
9. What do you miss most when you travel?
10. What’s your favorite travel memory?
11. What’s your favorite travel photo?

Looking forward to reading all the responses — bis bald, everyone!

In Syndication …

Hey friends,

Just a quick note here to say that Weary Wanderer is now in syndication — awahoo! From time to time the travel site We Blog the World will be picking up posts and photos from good ole’ WW and running them on their site. (Check out my author page here.)

We’re thrilled to be a part of the We Blog the World team, and hope the relationship lasts for years and years to come!

[Also check out the blogger button to the right of my page, which links directly to WW posts on We Blog the World.]

Bis bald, friends!

In the News: A Deadly Metro North Accident

^^Views from the Metro North train from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie^^Views from the Metro North train from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie

I’ve taken the Metro North Hudson Line train from Grand Central to Beacon and back more times than I could ever hope to count. This train takes me from my home in New York City to birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases and much more at my mom’s house in upstate NY. I was on it last Tuesday, actually, as I traveled home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yesterday, the 5:54 a.m. train from Poughkeepsie flew off its tracks in the Bronx, killing four people and injuring dozens more. It’s the first time in the history of Metro-North that a passenger was killed in a crash.

Today, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is saying that it appeared that the train was traveling too fast as it hit a curve in the tracks, which likely caused it to tip over.

When things like this happen, it only makes sense to look for something — anything — to blame. A faulty break. An err in conductor judgement. An electrical issue. As someone who travels via mass transit practically daily — whether it’s on a train, subway, bus or plane — I try hard to never think about what could go wrong. Of course buses have crashed. Trains have derailed. Planes have gone down. As a mass transit traveler, you’re putting your life in the hands of someone else every single time you step on that train, bus, subway, etc.

And sometimes, accidents happen.

My heart and prayers go out to all the victims and their families. In life, we don’t get to pick  when our time is up. I can only hope that for those who lost their lives, they were able to spend a truly fantastic holiday with everyone they loved the most over Thanksgiving.

In the News: Feeling Stunned

Sad news from The New York Times today about a shooting at one of my absolute favorite spots in the city — the Bryant Park ice skating rink.

If you’ll recall, actually, I was just there this past Thursday



^^ I love the atmosphere here this time of year. And the music! Love the old-timey music.

The reason for the shooting? A jacket. A jacket that some idiot teenager wanted. And wasn’t given. And therefore felt the need to shoot and potentially kill for.

What do you do when one of your favorite places to go suddenly becomes a place you fear. A place where something horrible and sad and scary happened. Ice skating rinks. High school parties. Airports. Schools. Movie theaters.

Where can we go in America without worrying? The list is getting smaller and smaller …

My dad and I actually got into a discussion about this over the weekend (before I even knew anything had happened at Bryant Park). I argued that with the way America has become recently, I’m more than happy to have some of my personal freedoms stripped away if it’s going to help keep me (and my family and friends) safe. My dad (the retired Army Lieutenant Colonel) argued that these policies (stop and frisk, for example, and airport pat downs) are un-American, un-democratic and go against everything America stands for.

I understand that argument — I really do. But what do you do, I wonder, when you start to worry that at any moment, any place where you are, someone could pull out a gun and just start shooting? Because they’re angry. Because they’re mentally ill. Because someone offended them.

Because they want your jacket.

All I know is I want my ice skating rink back. And now, a small part of it will never be the same.


New Study Proves Just How Much Millennials Love to Travel

I promise to get to the third and final installment of our Australia trip soon, but very quickly I wanted to throw up a post about a new study just released that found out a whole ton of information pertaining to Millennials and their travel habits.

Some bullet points:

  • 37% of Millennials said they would spend more of their company’s money on room service, compared with 21% of those between the ages of 46 and 65.
  • 42% of Millennials said they would spring for a fancy meal on their company’s dime while traveling, compared to 26% of their older peers.
  • More Millennials than older respondents said they were likely to spend company money on a flight upgrade to business or first class and on alcohol.
  • More Millennials travel for business and pleasure than travelers from 31 to 45.
  • 26% of younger travelers said they had posted a negative travel review in the last year, compared with 14% of their older peers, while eight in 10 Millennials find travel reviews to be “very important” or “somewhat important” when they book their travel.

Intrigue. While I’m definitely not disputing the claim that Millennials tend to travel more frequently than older generations, I do have to wonder how honest the older respondents were in answering the questions pertaining to spending on their company’s dimes. In my own personal experience, if anything there’s way less company money to be spent on travel now than there ever was before. I happen to have one friend in particular who travels multiple times internationally every year for her job — and never once has she been offered (or taken it upon herself to get) an upgrade to business or first class.

One thing I absolutely agree with, though, is the part about reviews being very important when it comes to booking my own travel. I honestly can’t remember the last time we booked a hotel or tour without first checking out the reviews.

Actually I can — the Toilet of the Sea Cruise.

You only need to make that mistake once before you start living by TripAdvisor!

What do you guys think — do Millennials take advantage of company money when it comes to travel?

Sorry for the Silence …

Hey guys,

Sorry it’s taken me a while to post about St. Augustine. I had about half of the post written, and when I went to go post more photos I was informed that I need to upgrade my account in order to be able to include any more pictures.


So that’s definitely on my to-do list. I might just go ahead and post the trip in two days, since it seems like I have enough room left to do just that.

Anyway, just wanted to give you that short update! Hope to upgrade soon and be back on here, especially since we have Australia coming up next week!

In the News: New Travel Site, GetGoing.com, Launches Today

Can this new site make leisure travel cheaper?

Hey friends,

So I know I owe you a D.C. post (don’t say I didn’t warn you that we do a lot of hangin’ around when we’re together), but I wanted to jump on a press release that I received in my email this morning about a new travel site that, I think, has a lot of potential.

So the site, called GetGoing, works on what they’re calling a ‘pick two, get one’ process. What that essentially means is that users design two different trips (including dates, flight times, number of stops they want, etc.), and GetGoing works to get you the best discounts so you can actually purchase whichever trip turns out to be cheaper.

The system works because airlines often offer up to 40% off airfare for leisure travelers in order to fill up their empty seats. “Nearly one in five seats on all flights worldwide are empty, and we view that as a huge opportunity for more people to get out and see the world,” Alek Vernitsky, co-founder and CEO of GetGoing said in their press release. “So we decided to help flexible leisure travelers get great deals on those open seats by proving that they are actually traveling for leisure.” (Hence the reason users are prompted to pick two destinations.)

GetGoing is currently flying to hundreds of major airports in over 50 countries.

Check out the full video explanation of how the site works here:

What do you guys think? Would you try out GetGoing?

A Quick Newburgh Catch-Up

How could a town so beautiful be so crime-ridden?

Hi friends,

So I don’t have a ton of time, but I just wanted to give ever-the-quickest of updates as to the weekends’ activities.

If I’m being totally honest here, I would have to say that the town where I spent most of my young adult life growing up is, as they say, a bit rough around the edges. Newburgh, New York, has seen its fair share of crime (I mean, New York magazine had an in-depth profile on it almost exactly one year ago entitled ‘Welcome to Newburgh, Murder Capital of New York.’)

What I can say in all honesty, from having grown up in Newburgh and having spent four years attending high school there, is that this town is what you make of it. My friends, for the most part, were awesome, amazing people who, on occasion, managed to find trouble, sure–but what high schooler doesn’t?

Then, of course, there was the other side of Newburgh–the gangs and high school drop outs and high poverty rates. These were part of the side of Newburgh that I tried not to get to know too intimately.

Now, having not fully lived in Newburgh for more than 11 years, what I can say is that every time I go back, I’m impressed by all the improvements that it seems like the city is really trying to make–especially when those improvements are in and around the city of Newburgh, where the crime is at its worst.

And that, my friends, is really the point of this post. Yesterday was my younger sister’s birthday, and so Chris and I hopped the train to Beacon yesterday afternoon (after having stopped off for a late lunch at Junior’s because, let me tell you friends, I still maintain that they have the absolute best veggie sandwich in the world, and I love, love, love the free bowl of pickles, beets and cole slaw that you get) to hang out with Steph and her boyfriend.

Since both of them have been around Newburgh a lot longer than I have, and more recently, they tend to know the new, best places to hang. And so, the first place we went to celebrate Steph’s 24th year of life was to the Newburgh Brewing Company.

The Brewing Company can be found on the outskirts of the city of Newburgh, in what I’m pretty sure must have been an old factory building. It’s got those great tall, beamed ceilings, and ample open space for a live band (which we were privy to when we arrived) and some game tables.

A note from the founders on the site reads:

“Honor. You’ll find a good deal of it in everything we do here at the Newburgh Brewing Company. We honor the natural goodness of our ingredients, by working hard to make them shine through in every sip. We honor the rich history of Newburgh, a tough-minded town that’s still as hardscrabble as it was when General George Washington stationed his army here more than 200 years ago. That earnest, pull yourself up by your bootstraps energy still abounds in Newburgh and it’s reflected in the simple, honest flavors you’ll find in our beer. People have been brewing beer in Newburgh since before America was America – it’s a tradition we’re proud to be a part of. Most important, we honor you. We love making beer. We pour our passion into this brewery every day and we are deeply honored each time you choose to enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

Should you find yourself in Newburgh sometime in the near future, might I suggest a trip to the Newburgh Brewing Company, where I would highly suggest the Saison beer, especially if light, wheat ale beers are your schtick.

After the Brewing Company, we had dinner at Il Cenacolo, an adorable little Tuscan restaurant on South Plank Road. There we shared two bottles of red wine, stuffed mushrooms and tomato and mozzarella appetizers. Then I had the Farfelle alla pumate for dinner, which was pretty awesome, too.

Our last stop of the night was to Billy Joe’s Ribworks, on the water. To be fair, the Newburgh Waterfront has always been a point of interest for our little town, and within the past few years the restoration effort really picked up pace, and you can see a vast difference down there from what I remember growing up in Newburgh. It’s now home to tons of bars, restaurants, spas and salons.

Billy Joe’s itself is right on the water, with an open floor plan inside and a humongous deck outside, perfect for another live band to perform. (Nuts in a Blender. I’m not being gross. That was honestly the name of the band that performed last night. Surprisingly, they weren’t that bad.)

Anyway, all of this is to say–I’m proud of all the energy that has been put into building up Newburgh. In only a few short years, they’ve managed to really make a difference in many of the abandoned buildings and old storefronts.

Newburgh really has a lot of potential–and I think people are finally starting to put in the valiant effort needed to reach it.

Image courtesy of Umbra Newburgh

Tips for International Travel

While Chris and I get ready to head out to Palm Springs tomorrow (ummm…yay!), I have my head quasi in our trip this upcoming Fall to Berlin, Munich, Rome and Cinque Terre (which is a new destination for us, taking the place of what was formerly going to be Venice. Thanks for the heads up Libby and Allison!).

Don’t worry–once we’re in Palm Springs tomorrow I will officially have my head in the game!

Anyway, back to our Euro-trip. We have our hotels booked in Berlin, Munich and Rome, and our flights booked from NYC to Berlin, and back from Rome to NYC. Then, yesterday, we booked our flights from Berlin to Munich (turns out, that’s probably cheaper than training it…)

I came across this little diddy in the New York Times today about money tips for globe-trotters, and I’m finding it very useful. Some helpful advice includes:

  • Get a credit card with a chip
  • Tell your bank where you’re traveling
  • Learn the exchange rate before you land

Etc., etc. Anyway, just thought I’d share.

Okay, wish us luck! Tomorrow is moving day at my office, and then I’m off to catch the plane to California!

Too. Much. Fun.

New DOT Rules Change the Deals That Make It Into Our Inboxes


I thought I would just share the interesting news I just got in an email from Travelzoo. According to the email, today new government regulations went into effect requiring all airlines and travel companies to include taxes and fees in published airfare, making the pricing more transparent for consumers.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE THIS. The tone of Travelzoo’s email was worried at best. For example, in the second graph they write:

“When we tell you about fare deals from airlines or online travel agents, now we are also including these taxes, so prices will initially appear to be higher. But we’re still finding great prices, including some of the best fares we’ve seen in months.”

Fear not, Travelzoo—at least on my part, I will continue to eagerly read your travel updates in search of cheap flights. I do, however, look forward to this new transparency. Gone are the days of booking a flight advertised at $79 each way, only to find I am meant to pay $139 in taxes.

Because that seriously used to blow.

Long Time, No Write!

Hi friends,

I’m amazed at how many people have continued to read this blog while I’ve been MIA—hello out there! Thank you for staying interested!

I do apologize for my long vacation (it has not been an actual vacation of the kind I would write about on here, trust me!). I recently started at a new job and I’ve been settling in, so things have been a bit hectic around here!

I’m feeling more settled now, though, so I do hope to start posting again more frequently. It was one of my many New Years resolutions to write on here at least three days a week.

I have failed miserably at that. Oops.

Okay, well moving on, here are some upcoming trips and/or events that I’m totally excited to blog about:

  1. This weekend, my dad and I will be running the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon. I feel nowhere near as prepared for this race as I was for the one I ran last year, but I’m counting that as inspiration to try even harder 🙂
  2. Chris will be heading to Vegas this weekend for a bachelor party. If it’s not too debaucherous, I may trick him into doing a blog post about it.
  3. I will be heading to Chicago from October 6-12 with a BFF to watch Chris run the Chicago 1/2 marathon (lots of my trips revolve around running, apparently).
  4. We’ll be going to West Point on Oct. 1 to watch some Army football (a favorite pastime of my family!)
  5. We’ll be off to Jamaica from Nov. 9-13 for a cousin’s wedding—woot woot!

Some exciting stuff, my friends. Can’t wait to provide updates to all of you.

Bis bald!

Unlimited Vacation: A Do?

Are your vacation days sitting around, unused?

There are some pretty sobering statistics in this WSJ article about the gaining popularity of companies offering open-ended vacation days. According to the piece, only 38% of U.S. employees use all their allotted vacation time; the average worker took only 14 of 19 days permitted.

Last year was my first year at my company where I was given three weeks vacation, along with my two personal days. And let me tell you, my friends, I used every last bit of those days (as you may recall from this. And this. And this).

This year, though, I’ve found myself with a plethora of vacation days leftover. This trip only required 3 vacations. This was a press trip, so it required no vacation days. My upcoming Chicago trip will only require two days, and Jamaica three. I’ve put in to take the Monday off after the Philly 1/2 Marathon, as well—but that still leaves me with 15 days to plan for. 15 days! Imagine all that traveling I can do with 15 days!

To me, having a solid number (albeit a relatively large number, compared to some other people I know) of vacation days to plan makes the actual process of planning more fun. Of course last year, when I went vacation hog-wild, who knows? Maybe it would have been nice to have a few extra vacation days thrown in there.

What do you guys think? Do you use all your vacation days? Would you like to have an unlimited number of vacation days, or do you think, like the article mentions, that that would actually make it harder to take time off?

The Quickest Of Updates…

Here we are! Run, run, running to our next local!

Hi friends! It’s been a while since our last chat, and I’ll tell you why—Cath Connor is here visiting, and that woman can go, go, go! I joked to her the other night that I can’t keep up with her (although it was only a half-joke, half-true…) Anyway, we’ve been having a lot ‘of fun. Last weekend was the Jersey Shore, a Spirit Cruise around the NYC/Jersey harbor, barbecues, wineries, and tons of family time. We took the train back from my mom’s into the city so Cath could get a good view of the Hudson, and then we watched the fireworks over the Hudson on the 4th from the rooftop of the Saatchi & Saatchi building (where Chris has recently started a new job).

In the city, we’ve hit up Cafe Wha?, The Hummus Place, watched Chris at running practice last night, and a few other odd bits here and there.

And today, at 6 p.m., we’ll be boarding our flight for Prince Edward Island!

So yes, it’s been busy, but absolutely, fabulously fun. Stay tuned for a photo update of last weekend and a fuller post about the wonder of PEI.

Bis bald! Hope you’re all having as much fun this summer as we are 🙂

In The News: Airlines Cashed In On Baggage Fees Last Year

You'll never guess how much airlines made off these bad boys last year

Well, we knew this day was coming. The day when we get the final total for how much the airlines made off of us—the suspecting passengers—on baggage fees.

It’s worse than you thought.

U.S. airlines collected $5.7 BILLION in fees alone last year, with baggage fees being the top source of fee-based revenue.

Another big income-maker for the airlines? Change-of-ticket and cancellation fees. That brought in $2.29 billion.

Holy cow. It’s time to ditch those extra bags and just carry on, people (yes, Chris, I said it. And I may even take my own advice now that I see how much extra money these airlines are making off of us).

Want tips on how to avoid baggage fees? Who doesn’t, right? Check out this USA Today piece for ideas.

In The News: South Padre Island “Best Affordable U.S. Vacation”


South Padre Island

U.S. News & World Report  has named South Padre Island the “Best Affordable U.S. Vacation” and “Best Family Beach Vacation” in their first-ever Best Vacations rankings, found here. According to a press release, the rankings compare the most popular travel spots against one another for the benefit of prospective travelers. They use a combination of how strongly a collection of published travel writers recommend the destination and how strongly U.S. News Travel website users recommend the destination to determine the winners.

In The News: Mexico Tourism Drops With Ongoing Drug Violence

Miss all this because of a drug war? Not me!

As a person who has visited Mexico twice in the past three months (first to Cancun, then Cabo), I’m saddened by all the recent headlines about the huge drop-off in tourism there. It’s not that I can’t understand why people wouldn’t necessarily chose this particular time to visit —just last October a Canadian tourist in Acapulco was found dead in his rental car, and another was shot in the leg during a firefight in Mazatlan.

And as much as a tourism company or media outlet can say over and over again that the violence isn’t, for the most part, directed at tourists, for some that reassurance simply isn’t enough.

I, for one, wasn’t the slightest bit worried when I went to Cancun and Cabo. Firstly, my own high school was a breeding ground for drug and turf “wars”—I don’t need to travel to Mexico to see that. Secondly, I live in New York City, and let’s be honest, this isn’t necessarily the safest of places in the world, either.

But  more importantly, I knew that the places I was traveling to were as safe as they possibly could have been—large tourist destinations during months where (in previous years) and lot of other tourists would be traveling as well. What exploring we did during those trips was not too far from the hotel, and always at the advice of hotel staff or other tour guides. To be honest, I felt more unsafe around the hoards of drunken American Spring Breakers than I did out and about in the town in Mexico.

Seriously, drunk kids can do stupid things sometimes.

Having said all that, I would never, ever, in a million years recommend to someone that they should travel to Mexico if they felt even the slightest bit uncomfortable or unsafe. Mexico is beautiful. And it’s fascinating and fun and exciting. You can’t experience all of that when you’re constantly looking behind you and worried about whether or not you’re going to get shot by a drug lord.

Sadly, it seems that until these senseless, disgusting acts of violence in Mexico are over, the entire place will suffer…..

P.S. Check out this sobering graph, courtesy of the WSJ, to see just how badly Mexico really is suffering:

Courtesy of WSJ

Back In The Borough: A Very Hamptons Update

The Hamptons=classic New York summer getaway

If you are one of the lucky few who make it a habit of exiting the sweltering summer city heat for the gorgeous Hampton Shores, you might want to check out this article from The Huffington Post with some info on new places in the area.

I’ve always wanted to visit The Hamptons. I just texted my sister and said we should throw it on the list of possibilities for this summer. Probably not realistic, but one can dream, right?

In other news—tonight Chris will be booking our trip to Prince Edward Island for when his mom comes to visit from Australia. According to the site, PEI is Canada’s smallest and greenest province. Oh, and it was also where Anne of Green Gables was shot.

Bis bald, friends!

In The News: Ferris Wheel Fall Kills Young Girl

I have fond memories of Wildwood in New Jersey, but this story is just so devastating. In what is being called a “freak accident,” an 11-year-old girl died after falling from about half-way up a ride on the Giant Wheel Ferris wheel on Friday.

Authorities are unsure yet of what actually happened, but Ferris wheels have always been a bit scary to me. Not sure how this will affect Wildwood visitors for the rest of the summer season, but for now the park is closed.

Stay safe when traveling this summer.

In the News: In the Market for a Timeshare? Now’s the Time to Buy

Check out this video from MSN Money about why now is the best time to snatch up some prime timeshare properties (One man was even forced to give his away. As in for free. I’ll take a free timeshare in Hilton Head, thank you very much!)

The one point that the video makes is that while yes, there are fabulous deals to be had right now, don’t forget the added monthly costs that come along with owning a timeshare. They can really add up—and that’s why some of these people are being forced to sell their properties for rock bottom prices.

Bis bald friends! Hope you had a fabulous Memorial Day!