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Vacation Mavens is a family travel podcast offering destination inspiration and travel tips for traveling with kids. Co-hosted by Family Travel bloggers, friends, and moms Kimberly Tate from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara Gruber from We3Travel. Each week we chat about our recent travels and interview f…

Kimberly Tate and Tamara Gruber


    • Nov 30, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 47m AVG DURATION
    • 203 EPISODES

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    202 Tempe Arizona

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 46:49

    Tamara and Kim recently traded the northern cold and rain for Arizona's sunny skies on a "momcation" or girlfriend getaway to Tempe, Arizona. Find out what makes this college city a great option for either a family vacation or a girls' trip. With plenty of outdoor activities and great food, there is a lot about Tempe that may surprise you! Note: This episode was created in partnership with Tempe Tourism. All opinions are our own and we thank them for supporting our work! Planning a Trip to Tempe, AZ Tempe is adjacent to Phoenix, Arizona, but really more of its own city than just a suburb. Tempe is home to Arizona State University (ASU) so it has a college town feel, but there are also many large businesses with offices in Tempe and it is a growing city. It is easy to get to Tempe. Phoenix Sky Harbor airport has many affordable, direct flights and it is only a 10-15 minute Uber ride from PHX to downtown Tempe. You can also take the light rail directly from the airport station for only $2.00. If you plan on staying in downtown Tempe, you don't need a car as it is easy to walk, bike, Uber, or take public transportation. However, if you want to explore more of the area or enjoy some of the attractions and restaurants outside of downtown Tempe, you will probably want to rent a car for your trip. There are many things to do outdoors in Tempe including water-based activities on Tempe Town Lake, biking, relaxing at the pool, shopping, walking around downtown Tempe or the ASU campus, and enjoying outdoor dining. Tempe hosts many large events including the Iron Man race, baseball spring training, and in 2023 the Super Bowl will be held nearby. Tempe has recently expanded its hotel inventory to include the Westin Tempe, Canopy by Hilton, and soon the Omni Hotel and Vīb by Best Western. We stayed at the Tempe Mission Palms hotel in downtown Tempe, which was a great location for exploring. The Junior Suites are very spacious and quiet. The hotel has a nice pool and hot tub with a view of "A" mountain. Some fun things to do in Tempe include: Hiking "A" Mountain / Hayden Butte at sunrise or sunset Kayaking or paddle boarding on Tempe Town Lake with Boat Rentals of America Renting bikes or e-bikes from North Shore Water Sports to bike through town or along the lake bike paths Tempe has 218 miles of bike paths and bike lanes in Tempe, making it a great city for bikers and car-free living You can also rent scooters to explore Tempe Shopping and dining at the Tempe Marketplace, which has a great entertainment district with tons of great dining options Take photos in front of some of Tempe's murals Relaxing at the hotel pools. Some hotels like the Tempe Westin and Canopy by Hilton have great rooftop pools and lounges. These are also a great spot to see the sunset See a baseball game during Spring Training season or watching the Sun Devils college sports at ASU You can also rent a car and visit nearby Mesa or Scottsdale. Mesa is home to the Fresh Foodie Trail, which incorporates a number of farms, restaurants, and other unique stops. Some things to do in Mesa include: Enjoy BBQ or chips with homemade salsa at Jalapeno Bucks, which is set in a citrus grove. This is a popular spot with locals and visitors so expect long lines and outdoor picnic table dining Queen Creek Olive Mill offers olive grove tours, outdoor dining, and shopping for olive oil and olive-oil based products If you wanted to spend the night in Mesa, check out the Cozy Peach Glamping at Schnepf Farms, which has custom renovated Airstream trailers. Schnepf Farms also hosts many seasonal events Downtown Mesa offers shopping, cideries, breweries, restaurants, coffee shops, and game/arcade spots Cider Corps is a veteran-owned cidery that offers a wide-range of ciders and also incorporates other businesses to offer pizza and coffee There are also some great murals in downtown Mesa Tempe has many great food options, including: Top of the Rock at the Buttes Marriott offers amazing views and great fine dining for special occasions. If the weather is cooler, try to book a table on the terrace for great nighttime views For breakfast: Snooze, an AM Eatery -- near the college, they have a great retro design and unique offerings Morning Squeeze -- also has a fun retro diner vibe but with more traditional breakfast offerings Daily Jam -- near the Tempe Mission Palms in downtown offers famous waffles in various flavors, including red velvet waffles For lunch: Postino Annex -- located near campus, they offer great outdoor dining and it is great for groups with many small plates and bruschetta boards, plus they offer $5 glasses of wine before 5pm Barrio Queen -- located in Tempe Marketplace, they offered great Mexican / Southwest cuisine with amazing decor, outside dining, tableside guacamole, and delicious tacos For dinner: Culinary Drop Out -- great space for families or groups with ping pong tables, corn hole, and plenty of small plates to share. It is a large and lively space Ghost Ranch -- located about 10 minutes from Downtown Tempe, Ghost Ranch is delicious southwest cuisine with great drinks House of Tricks -- located near campus, this restaurant has a beautiful garden setting, making it a great spot for a romantic dinner or a special dinner with friends or parents taking out their college student Tempe is a good spot for a girl's trip or family vacation and a more affordable alternative to the high-end resorts in Scottsdale.  

    201: Cruising is Back!

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 38:31

    Cruising is making a comeback and this week we talk to couples travel and cruising experts Dan and Mikkel Woodruff to learn about their recent cruise experience. About Dan and Mikkel Woodruff Dan and Mikkel are a husband and wife team who write about couples travel and cruising (with a focus on small format cruises) around the world. Their adventures take them as far away as Southeast Asia, to the Arctic Circle in Norway, around the United States and close to home in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can find their travel stories at SometimesSailing.com or SometimesHome.com. What to Expect When Cruising in 2021 and Beyond Norwegian Cruise Lines has announced that it plans to keep its 100 percent vaccination requirement indefinitely The Center for Disease Control has announced that in January it will be lifting cruise requirements and after that the guidelines will be dependent on each cruise line's individual rules During COVID, cruisers should expect to wear masks inside and for capacity to not be at 100 percent, giving a little more elbow room around the ship. Cruises may allow booking at 100 percent capacity, but they aren't yet fully booked. Some countries in Europe may require N95 masks to be worn (and these may be provided by the cruise line.) You will see even more hand sanitizing stations throughout the ship or more hand washing stations, especially on large ships Most cruise lines currently require all adults to be vaccinated and children to be rapid tested prior to boarding. Now that younger children can be vaccinated, this may change. Vaccination is especially required for small ship cruising. Once off the ship, you need to follow local rules. In many European countries you need to show your vaccination card to eat indoors or to enter shops/attractions. Some require both a photo ID and your vaccination card. Make sure you carry your actual vaccination card, because in some places a photo of the card is not acceptable. Cruising feels very safe right now when you know everyone on board is vaccinated and many ships have large scale testing capabilities or even do rapid testing in ports Most cruise lines have plans in place on where you would be housed and quarantined portside if you tested positive while onboard Travel insurance is always a good idea but make sure you understand what is offered through the cruise line and see if you need additional insurance to cover the flights or pre or post-cruise stays The cruise lines have a health and safety tab that outlines exactly what to expect during the cruise If you are departing from a foreign country, make sure you understand the entrance requirements for that country, which may include a negative test and a passenger locator form in addition to a vaccination card. You can also find this information on the embassy website Before booking, make sure you understand the cancelation policies or what would happen if the cruise line had to reschedule your sailing. Many cruise lines are offering Future Travel Credits (FTCs) and some will offer 125% credit if they have to reschedule. When it comes to new ships and itineraries, Kontiki Expeditions is offering a new small ship cruise that will cruise along the coast of Ecuador (not the Galapagos), and will focus strongly on the people and the culture. This is a great cruise to take in the winter because of the location along the equator American Queen Voyages will be cruising the Great Lakes and some of the American rivers like the Snake River and the Mississippi. They are also coming out with expedition ships in Alaska and will be doing the Inside Passage and incorporating First Nations culture The Emerald Azzurra and Sakara super yacht will be sailing in the Red Sea and off the coast of Africa and the Seychelles The Disney Wish megaship is also launching in 2022 The Celebrity Beyond is a new large ship launching in 2022 Virgin Voyages is an adult-only cruise line launching soon Many cruise lines, including small ship cruises are looking to attract multigenerational travelers. A-Rosa is a UK-based small ship cruise line that offers European river cruises and a new ship coming in March 2022 is very focused on families. For more information on small ship cruising, give episode 154 a listen.

    200 Porto Douro Valley Portugal

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 44:28

    Our 200th episode kicks off a series of podcast episodes covering Kim and Tamara's recent EPIC trip to Portugal. This week we are joined by Kirsten Maxwell, from Kids Are a Trip and Multigenerational Vacations to talk about visiting Porto and the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal. Stay tuned for future episodes on the Alentejo, Algarve and Azores regions of Portugal! Disclosure: Our trip was hosted by EPIC Travel, a boutique travel agency specializing in arranging custom itineraries in Portugal and Morocco. EPIC's in-country travel planners have close relationships with hotels, guides, drivers and tour operators and can design the perfect trip for your travel style and interests. EPIC focuses on adventure and cultural experiences to allow you to have a deeper and more epic journey. Visiting Porto & the Douro Valley Porto is similar to Lisbon but much smaller and more compact, easier to explore in just a couple of days. Start off your visiting with a walking tour (we used Explore Sideways) to get a feel of the city. Be sure to walk across one of the bridges, or take a water taxi, to Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river World of Wine is an entertainment complex with multiple museums, restaurants, and bars in Vila Nova de Gaia -- offering so much to do for families, friends, and couples. WOW offers a Chocolate Museum and experience where you can take workshops such as a chocolate and port pairing class. There is also a museum about Porto and Portuguese history and even a Rosé museum! You can learn a lot about Port wine with a tour and tasting at Taylor's, one of the major port producers, which is located right next to WOW. We stayed at Vila Foz, a luxury boutique property in the Foz district of Porto, about 10 minutes from downtown. It is located right across from the coast, along a coastal pathway great for walking, running, or biking. Vila Foz offers both a historic manor house and more modern rooms. The service and food are excellent and the hotel has a very nice spa, making it ideal for couples or a girlfriend getaway. To visit the Douro Valley, you can either rent a car and self-drive, or take a day trip tour from Porto. Even if you are staying in the Valley, we would recommend that you hire a driver or take a wine tour (we worked with Lab Tours Portugal) when you want to go wine tasting. Also keep in mind that driving in the cities is quite harrowing, as are the narrow streets you will find in many of the small towns in the countryside. So if you are not comfortable with that, be sure to hire a driver instead. The Douro River Valley is a UNESCO Heritage site for its terraced vineyards. It is a popular river cruise destination but if you are visiting by land, you can get a good sense of it in just one to two days. If you want time to relax and enjoy activities at your hotel, then plan on staying longer. The Douro River Valley is ideal for couples or friends because the main activity is wine tasting. However, if you are visiting with kids you can find other activities like hiking and kayaking. You can also take a Douro River boat cruise from the town of Pinhaõ on one of the historic boats used to transport barrels of port wine down the river to Porto. If traveling with young kids, be sure to stay at a hotel that offers on-site activities and/or babysitting. Douro 41 is located between Porto and the Douro Valley, but on the Douro River, and it is a great choice for families with young kids or teens. They offer many activities on site including picnics, boat cruises, kayaking, and paddleboards. The hotel also has a movie corner and game room with a snooker table and board games. When going wine tasting, you will want to make reservations ahead of time and be sure to plan out your day as the quintas are all very spread out and there aren't a lot of restaurants and things around. It is best to work with a wine tour company like Lab Tours Portugal. For a high-end, luxury stay, book a room at the Six Senses Douro Valley. The Six Senses offers a convenient location, great rooms, wonderful food, and tons of activities on site for adults as well as children from pickling classes to making your own bath products. Some are complimentary and some are additional. The Vintage House in Pinhao is a more traditional British style hotel located right on the river in a convenient location for exploring the small town. There is a wonderful on-site restaurant, outdoor terrace, and lovely pool. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.190] - Kim Tate Discover why you should visit the second biggest city in Portugal.   [00:00:15.950] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We 3Travel.   [00:00:30.410] - Kim Tate So, Tamara, we are back from our massive epic trip to Portugal, and we are going to dive in on some coverage and talk about our trip over the next few episodes.   [00:00:41.990] - Tamara Gruber Actually, I know we have to apologize for having, like, an extra week break in there, but we were just too tired last week. Guys, we couldn't do it, I think.   [00:00:51.050] - Kim Tate My eight hour time zone change. I'm still not recovered one weekend. There was no way we were making it happen. So hopefully you guys forgiven us for our extra delay.   [00:01:03.530] - Tamara Gruber We had a very busy trip. And so when we were on the trip, we decided that the best way to do to cover it for our listeners would be to break it up into the different regions that we visited. Because as much as you may like us, you probably don't want to have us going on and on for about 4 hours trying to cover everything that we did in our trip, and then we probably still couldn't get to it.   [00:01:25.310] - Kim Tate Yeah. I think 17 days in one podcast episode is too much to ask of anyone. So I think we made the right choice. And I think that we learned about the variety of Portugal and how much more there is than just Lisbon. And that's what we're hoping to help share with you guys with these episodes. And having multiple episodes is that we can help you see that there is variety. It's not just pretty tiles and Rivers. So we're going to help share some of that.   [00:01:53.810] - Tamara Gruber So let's break down where we went and we're just going to probably cover things maybe not exactly chronologically the way that we did them, but breaking up into regions. But our trip started out in Porto, which is a Northern city of Portugal. And from there we explored the Douro River Valley, and those two areas are what we're going to talk about today, because a lot of that would be captured in one trip. But I think as we work our way through the different episodes, you'll kind of get a better sense of if you want to do this region in that region, like what things kind of go together.   [00:02:29.390] - Tamara Gruber But after Porto and Douro, what do we cover next?   [00:02:33.350] - Kim Tate I think we're going to move to the Alentejo region, which is the biggest region of Portugal. And it's kind of that whole middle section in between kind of the Northern section, which is Porto Douro, and then the Southern section, which is the Algarve. It was a real delight for me to discover. It's definitely a wine region, has some epic night skies and sunsets, and we're going to kind of get more information about that region.   [00:03:02.090] - Tamara Gruber I kind of think of it as if you like Southern Spain or if you like Tuscany, like you would probably really like Alentejo. It has a lot of that kind of rolling Hills. There's some small hillside, historic towns, big wine farms, I should say, big vineyards as well as wine, hotels and estates that are on those properties. So a lot to offer families, couples, really any type of travelers, especially those that like to get a little bit more off the beaten path. But then from Alentejo, we're going to go.   [00:03:37.070] - Tamara Gruber I don't know if we'll cover it this way, but on our trip, we went down to the Algarve, which is going from off the beaten path to probably very much the beaten path with many tourists. But it was some place I've never been to, and I've always wanted to go because I don't care how busy something is. Those gorgeous coastlines and the caves and the cliffs is just something that I needed to see for myself.   [00:03:59.090] - Kim Tate Agreed. It's quite beautiful. And again, another amazing place to find sunsets. And yeah, it was neat to see that. And then I think then we'll wrap up. We came back into Lisbon after the Algarve and flew over to the Azores, which is kind of I think that's probably the trendiest place that people seem to be most excited about hearing about based on social shares that I've seen all of us, the comments we've been getting.   [00:04:24.710] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I think not as many people have gone. It's on a lot of bucket lists. There's a lot of curiosity in terms of where do you go? How do you do it? There's a lot more information out there about Lisbon and Porto, so definitely look forward to sharing that. Of course, we only had a chance to visit one of the Islands, but we try to see as much of that island as we could, so definitely stay tuned, lots of content. But this week we're going to start off with Porto and Douro.   [00:04:52.490] - Tamara Gruber And since you probably don't want to hear just from us, we're going to try to bring in some other people on these episodes, too. That joined us on the trip or that helped us plan the trip.   [00:05:02.330] - Kim Tate So we're starting off today with Kirsten, who is with us for the first seven days. And so with her, we are going to talk all about Porto and Douro Valley.   [00:05:18.810] - Tamara Gruber So this week we're here with Kirsten Maxwell, who is founder of Kids Are A Trip. And you may remember her from previous episodes where we talked about what do we talk about? We've talked about kids with allergies I know. You've been on many times. Kirsten right.   [00:05:31.350] - Kirsten Maxwell That's right. I also did all inclusive Mexico resorts with you guys yes.   [00:05:36.270] - Tamara Gruber Such a good resource. So this time, we're having on to talk about Porto and the Douro Valley in Portugal because we were all just there together.   [00:05:44.190] - Kirsten Maxwell We're so fun. Yeah.   [00:05:46.230] - Tamara Gruber So before we get into talking about that particular region, I just wanted to kind of go through a Disclaimer and talk a little bit about how we did our trip. So for this trip, we worked with Epic Travel. Epic is a boutique travel agency that focuses exclusively on Portugal and Morocco, and they create custom itineraries for families and couples and others that are looking to explore a little deeper and add some adventure and culture into their journey through Portugal. And so we worked with them to try to get a sense of what type of experiences and things that they can arrange.   [00:06:23.430] - Tamara Gruber And so just as a Disclaimer, our trip was hosted by both Epic, and their travel partners, different hotels and activity providers. And our flights were provided by TAP Airlines. So big thank you to them. But in the meantime, if anyone is interested in planning a trip after you're inspired by our little discussion here today, then you can reach out it's Epic Travel and check out what they have to offer. But let's talk about it. So, Kirsten, you've been to Portugal before, but I think this was your first time in Porto or the Douro Valley.   [00:06:57.450] - Tamara Gruber What did you expect when we went? What were your overall thoughts about that part of the trip?   [00:07:03.630] - Kirsten Maxwell This was my first time to visit both those areas. And I think what I expected was a smaller version of Lisbon, which I kind of feel like Porto is and with the Douro Valley, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I knew it was a wine region famous for its river cruises, but no idea what we would find there.   [00:07:24.750] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I've heard about it being very pretty and a UNESCO heritage site with the terraced river valleys. Also, I knew it was the birthplace of Port, but I was not thinking of it exclusively as Port. And then when we were in Porto, we learned so much about Port that I got worried. I know it's going to be only Port. I was relieved to find out that they actually do a lot of other wine there as well.   [00:07:49.650] - Kirsten Maxwell I think I probably have the same misconception as well.   [00:07:52.470] - Kim Tate Well, I was kind of excited to see how each of the Quintas as we soon learned what they call their farms and kind of wineries out there. They do wine differently than I think in the States that we're used to where it's like, oh, these are the Cab grapes, and this is our cab. Sov and this is our Merlot or whatever it is. And there they just kind of say, oh, we're just going to grab all the grapes, mix them together and see what we get.   [00:08:18.990] - Kirsten Maxwell That's true.   [00:08:20.790] - Tamara Gruber Mix and match different way of planting. Yes.   [00:08:25.110] - Kim Tate So we only had two days in Porto, but why don't you kind of highlight some of the things that stood out to you? And how long do you think people should maybe plan on spending in Porto?   [00:08:37.710] - Kirsten Maxwell We did pack in a lot in two days. I think I had mentioned maybe to Tamara while we were walking around through the city. I mean, that was my favorite part, just walking through the little back alleyways and seeing the historic buildings and seeing all the people outside enjoying dining and the restaurant terraces. I really thought that was part of the fun was just kind of going through the back alleyways and finding those hidden gems I still love.We went to this place called the World of Wine or WOW World of Wine and it is massive. I can call it like an entertainment complex with I think there's seven different museums, twelve restaurants. It has everything you could want to spend, like a fun day out with family, kids, husband, girlfriends, whatever. For as many days, I would say at least two days minimum in Porto. And you probably could go up to maybe four with, like, a day trip to the Door Valley.   [00:09:39.030] - Tamara Gruber Probably. Especially if you wanted to build in some of the workshops or experiences that they had. It. Well, like we did the chocolate and Port tasting, but even for kids and families, they have, like the chocolate pop cake, pop making and the whole chocolate Museum. I think my kid could spend a good amount of time in there, especially when they got to the tasting section.   [00:09:59.730] - Kirsten Maxwell Agree that and the Rose place. I can't remember what it was called, but I think a teenager that was of drinking age would really enjoy doing all the selfies that they had to offer. Yeah.   [00:10:11.430] - Kim Tate You can tell that that whole Museum district was definitely designed with kind of Instagram and very modern tourism take on stuff.   [00:10:20.910] - Kirsten Maxwell That's cool.   [00:10:23.610] - Kim Tate I think you made a good point, though. That one of the highlights for me was that they arranged that walking tour for us because I think Porto is definitely one of those cities, and I think this is like it. I mean, Tamara does food tours a lot, but just when you're new to an international city, getting a tour early on can really, I think help you know what you want to do on the other days as well and kind of give you more of a feel for the city and help you identify things that maybe you wouldn't have noticed before.   [00:10:55.110] - Kim Tate And so I love those local walking tours when you kind of get a feel for the city and being able to find where to eat and where to get stuff. I mean, that was huge. Yeah.   [00:11:05.850] - Tamara Gruber And I found it really interesting, too, to learn about some of the history of Porto as you're walking around, you see all these names that sound very English, like Taylors and Sandman. So you're like, what is that connection with Port and the English? And you learned about this, like, 500 year old history and this alliance and how they developed Port because the regular wine didn't make the journey up to England, and so they fortified it. And just so many interesting little facts that help you feel like you understand the place a bit more.   [00:11:34.530] - Tamara Gruber I mean, look, we learned all about these kind of winemaking families in the Douro Valley and competition or competitiveness, I guess, between some of them.   [00:11:44.190] - Kirsten Maxwell Yeah. And I would agree it was such a nice introduction to the city in the area to do a walking tour. And for us, that's one of the best places to start. Like you said, you do different classes and stuff when you travel for us. It's a tour because it gives you the instant layout of the city. And usually the tour guides are a great resource for where to eat or what not to miss or a special gem. So definitely recommend taking a tour.   [00:12:10.590] - Tamara Gruber So what did you think of Porto in general compared to Lisbon? I have a feeling I know what Kim is going to answer, but I want to hear what yours is first.   [00:12:18.090] - Kirsten Maxwell So it's such a hard thing to say because they're totally the same but different if you understand what I mean. Porto is smaller, but it's got the Atlantic Coast, it has surfing, it has rocky shorelines, it's much more compact. And I think that Lisbon is just humongous. I mean, it's just hard to explore in a day or two. You really have to set yourself there and make time to see everything. But now I want to know what Kim has to say.   [00:12:52.290] - Kim Tate It's so funny because I fell in love with Lisbon, but I really liked Porto, and I think it's for a little bit of the same reasons. They have much of the similar feel. I liked that Porto was kind of a little more compact. And then I really liked how they had, like, the two feels of the town, like Porto and then going across, I can't remember what it was called Gaia. And then it's called something like Novella Gaia or whatever. But I like that kind of how they had little sectors that they considered.   [00:13:24.030] - Kim Tate And I really liked Porto. I just thought it was a cool thing. I loved staying at where we stayed. I love being able to see the rocky shoreline and kind of walk around. And then all the bridges were just so amazing. And I remember we were on one of the bridges and looking out and seeing all these modernist type buildings and boats and everything. And then there's like this Castle wall right there as well. And I love that about Portugal, that it's just such a really unique blend of history and old with kind of modern life still and I just love that.   [00:13:54.810] - Kim Tate I think I liked Porto slightly more than Lisbon, but I love them both, so I'm not sure.   [00:14:00.330] - Tamara Gruber Visit them both, I guess.   [00:14:03.270] - Kim Tate I think it is really we can talk about this later. But I do think for people who are planning to go over there, I think it makes a lot of sense to fly into Porto and back out of Lisbon and do some stuff in between. I think that makes a lot of sense.   [00:14:17.250] - Tamara Gruber Well, Kim, you mentioned where we stayed, which was a little bit outside of the downtown historic center of Porto in this neighborhood called Foz with Foz. And we really all loved our stay at Villa Foz. I think it was one of our favorites of the trip. And so Kirsten, I guess maybe you could tell our listeners a little bit about this hotel. Like, why did we like it so much? And would you recommend that people stay there, or do you think it's better to be in town?   [00:14:45.330] - Kirsten Maxwell Yeah, sure. So like you mentioned, it's kind of on the outskirts of Porto, and it's a former Manor home and a newer building hotel building kind of attached to it, but attached to an underground. And the decor is phenomenal. I mean, it's just stunning when you walk in and you're just greeted by these high ceilings and wood and beautiful, deep, rich colors. And I will say the hospitality, I think we can all agree with second to none. You felt like wherever you turn, there was somebody there who could help you with anything you needed.   [00:15:20.910] - Kirsten Maxwell And I think that as far as who should stay there definitely families. Maybe if you're looking for a little bit somewhere close to the beaches, it has good beach access, but more maybe for couples because they had a great spa and the restaurant top notch, one of the best meals we had there.   [00:15:43.170] - Kim Tate Yeah, I agree with what you said. What do you think, Tamara? What did you think of Vila Foz?   [00:15:48.150] - Tamara Gruber I mean, I loved it. Definitely. Like you said the service, the breakfast was great. I mean, not many places have oysters and champagne for their breakfast buffet. Not that I was ever up for oysters and champagne after, like, late night chef's tasting dinner with wine courses. But it was nice that it was there if I wanted it true. But yeah, I definitely thought it was great. And I agree it would be good for couples.   [00:16:12.090] - Kim Tate And I think it was nice that they did have the set up where they did arrange transportation in and out of the city via Uber, but they kind of managed it themselves. So that is a little bit of a perk. It's maybe a little clunky right now how that works. But for people who are maybe looking to be not in the middle of the city necessarily. And like those lazy mornings and kind of being on site and eating, I think that's a good option, because you can then just get transportation into the city and then back home when you're ready or back to the hotel.   [00:16:43.050] - Kim Tate But building on that, why don't we talk about maybe getting from place to place? Because we got to explore a lot of Portugal, which was one of my favorite things that I kind of got outside of the cities and got to see more of what Portugal is like the countryside. So what do you think your recommendation is for families or couples, whoever. How should they get around Portugal? Because don't you agree that there's more to Portugal to see than just Lisbon and Porto?   [00:17:10.350] - Kirsten Maxwell Yes. Absolutely. And I think that was one of my favorite parts of this whole trip was getting outside of the major cities and seeing the countryside both in the Douro Valley and in Alentejo. And I think for families because usually have more than two, three, four people. I would recommend probably renting a car or hiring a driver, I think definitely hire a driver if you're going to do wine tasting. I highly recommend that I have had experiences many times with the transportation system, the public transport in Portugal, and it's not the most efficient.   [00:17:49.710] - Kirsten Maxwell So for me, it just kind of makes more sense to do it on your own or hire a driver or like you said, take a plane, fly into one, fly out of the other, rent a car in between the two. I think that would be a great idea. What did you guys think?   [00:18:04.890] - Kim Tate I definitely felt like the highways and everything are very easy to drive. It's normal, right sided driving. So for those who are used to driving in the States and everything, it's easy and things are well marked and all of that. The only thing is little towns. There are some tiny, tiny streets, and I would definitely not want to be doing that. So that's where if you're going to be touring little towns or like you're getting in and out of Lisbon or Porto, I would be a little hesitant to be driving in the city itself, but definitely small cars are going to be your friends there, which is going to be a little trickier for families with a lot of luggage.   [00:18:44.850] - Tamara Gruber I feel like with so many cities, the idea is if you have to have a car, drop it off, like outside of the city, right. We saw Kirsten, you weren't there, but driving in Lisbon is just impossible. There's no way I'd want to attempt that. And I definitely would also agree with certainly hiring a driver for the Douro Valley and having someone that is maybe not just a driver, but that can arrange a wine tour for you to visit different wineries, because like many places, it's something where you need to have an appointment.   [00:19:17.250] - Tamara Gruber But we saw, like, especially on I think it was the north side of the river. The roads aren't even as fully developed. So we were on some very narrow, gravely roads that were like Cliff right there, and there's no way you'd want to go wine tasting and beyond those roads. So 100% you need a driver then?   [00:19:35.850] - Kim Tate Yeah. Absolutely agree.   [00:19:37.770] - Tamara Gruber Since we're talking about the Douro Valley, we should talk to a little bit about kind of what it's like when we touched on it briefly. We know it's popular as a river cruise destination. So what are some of your overall thoughts about the region? Just what are the things to do outside of wine tasting? Or is this strictly something that you would recommend for people if they're looking for kind of beautiful scenery and wine?   [00:20:05.190] - Kirsten Maxwell That's an interesting question. I think that there probably is a lot to do. We didn't have a lot of time to explore outside the vineyards, but we had a conversation with our host at Douro 41 Hotel, and they were talking to us about going kayaking, that there's several national parks nearby that you can go and explore and do hiking and stuff like that. So I think you could make time out of it. A little bit of a city escape where you're sitting by the pool or you're going out and doing some hikes.   [00:20:39.090] - Kirsten Maxwell For the most part, though, I probably stick to couples, girls trips, single travel, even. I think that it really is all about the wine region for the most part there.   [00:20:51.390] - Kim Tate Yeah, we did do that boat tour on the river out of when we were in Pinhaõ, and I think that was quite fun and neat and would be great for families. And maybe we didn't spend enough time in that city specifically. But I agree 100%. I think that region the real gem of it is visiting the different Quintas and tasting Port and wine and having some lazy lunches and definitely can find some luxury and high end stuff there as well. So maybe not the best for families, depending on how much time you want or what your family's travel style is, I think.   [00:21:31.230] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I must feel like if you have little kids, you could stay at a place where there's a lot of very kid focused activities and do some relaxation and then just take a day trip, even if they had kind of the babysitting or kids club activities, maybe just the parents go off and do some wine tasting and come back. But you need to look at it as like this is the downtime, quieter time of the trip.   [00:21:54.390] - Kim Tate Or just like your hotel base type. It's the kind of destination where you're going to really enjoy your hotel activities. Yeah, that's fine.   [00:22:03.390] - Kim Tate So do you think, Tamara, you recommend the Douro, just like Kirsten said, you think it's good for mostly couples or girlfriend getaways type thing.   [00:22:11.010] - Tamara Gruber I think it would be ideal for that again. Like with little kids. I think you want to be at a hotel that has hotel based activities. And then for teens, maybe you want to be a little bit more like where we were at Douro 41, which is somewhere between Porto and the Douro Valley, where you can do a lot more adventure and active types of things.   [00:22:31.530] - Kim Tate I definitely think that was kind of a little gem there, with the Douro 41 being kind of on the Porto side of the Douro Valley, and it seemed like they did have more. They were saying they're pretty popular families and had, like, the movie nights and stuff. But then they had beaches and water activity on the riverfront, so definitely more of a fit for families there. So what do you think about any tips for visiting Douro? I feel like we kind of went through Porto pretty quickly, but maybe those together.   [00:23:01.410] - Kim Tate What do you think are the tips for visiting the Douro region? And what about anything to follow up with Porto either?   [00:23:08.130] - Kirsten Maxwell Yeah, I think we covered some of the small tidbits. But number one, Tamara talked about the roads. Definitely. If you're not comfortable driving small roads or winding roads or have a kid that gets car sick, you might want to make a mental note and consider an alternative option of exploring, which would be by a river cruise or just a day trip. Even from Porto, you could take a cruise up there might be easier and then making appointments at the different Quintas because they aren't like, I know a lot of places in the States you can just drop in.   [00:23:41.730] - Kirsten Maxwell It seemed like many of them were making appointments ahead of time. I'm sure maybe some of the bigger ones you can drop in, but I'm not even sure about that. Which is why it comes in helpful to have somebody do that for you.   [00:23:54.870] - Kirsten Maxwell I think that the hotels, restaurants, everything else seemed to be pretty spread out. So you want to have a clear plan going into things like have your itinerary sketched out of where you're going to go. What you're going to see what you're going to do ahead of time because it's not really let's wing it kind of a trip.   [00:24:15.210] - Kim Tate Yeah, I know. Let's get on the road. Oh, let's stop there. That looks good.   [00:24:19.170] - Kim Tate It's not really not that kind of part of your trip.   [00:24:22.350] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I found that, especially in the Douro Valley, that it wasn't like they were just restaurants all along. You had some that were tied into Quintas, which I think you pretty much needed the reservations for. There was that one. Was it called like, Doc, I think. Yeah, Doc or something? That was, I think, a Michelin star chef, but it's a very nice restaurant right on the river. And then there's only really a couple of little towns there's Pinhao that we stayed at that seemed pretty small in terms of restaurants and things.   [00:24:51.450] - Tamara Gruber And then there was one larger town gosh. I can't remember the name of it. I remember, it wasn't, like, super attractive.   [00:25:00.450] - Tamara Gruber You definitely need some planning. And we all enjoyed our experience with Lab Tours Portugal.   [00:25:08.310] - Kim Tate I was going to say I really think he did a great job, and I would recommend that way of doing it and even doing it from, like Kirsten said, a day trip from Porto kind of getting over there and getting picked up. That's really great.   [00:25:21.390] - Tamara Gruber Well, we talked a little bit about some of the hotels that we experienced. One of the things that as we get into more of our Portugal trip, we'll find that we moved around a lot. But the good news is we got to experience, like, a lot of different hotels, which some of them would appeal to different types of travelers. And so we can break down some of the ones that we experienced in the Douro Valley when we stayed at two and then we had lunch and took a tour of another.   [00:25:46.650] - Tamara Gruber So should we start at the top and just talk about six senses?   [00:25:50.730] - Kirsten Maxwell I mean, how do you not? I think it's one of the most popular accommodations in the Douro Valley. If I'm correct it's very high end luxury property and tons of activities for families, families, adults, friends. They've really kind of thought about everything when it comes to six senses. I think that's kind of what they're known for. I would definitely recommend that for families with young children because I believe they had a child care there. You guys can correct me if I'm wrong and definitely had activities. Teens might like it, but I could see them getting kind of bored.   [00:26:29.490] - Kirsten Maxwell You'd have to schedule some off property activities, which I'm sure they could schedule for you.   [00:26:34.470] - Kim Tate I did see they did have quite a few activities each day that some were complementary and some were extra. But there were things like four by four tours and things like that. So I think if you're splurging to stay at the Six Senses, you can probably afford a few of those activities, and you could keep teens entertained so that could work. But yeah, and I think when you talk about luxury, we all looked up kind of the pricing there, and it's definitely you're going to be paying for that.   [00:26:59.970] - Kim Tate But it's a very nice property. I loved how it was decorated and everything, and especially their little hotel dog Aqua.   [00:27:09.210] - Kirsten Maxwell So cute.   [00:27:10.950] - Tamara Gruber It's always nice to have a little friendly greeter like that. I feel like a lot of the programming that they had. I agree. It would definitely like that younger age group would be wonderful. We did something in the spa where we made a scrub. So they do those types of things for adults. But then they had that whole little workshop where they did types of things from the ground. So they would do things with herbs or pickle vegetables, or they seem like all types of different, very unique hands on types of things that I think some younger kids can really get into.   [00:27:44.070] - Tamara Gruber So definitely, if you can spring for six senses would be a great way to go. But then we had another stay at Vintage House, which was a very different vibe, but very nice in its own way. So can you describe that one Kirsten?   [00:27:58.050] - Kirsten Maxwell The Vintage house is. I call it traditionally British kind of hotel. It's very classical decor, something you'd expect to find in England almost was located right on the river, which was perfect. And you can kind of see the boats coming and going from your balcony in the room. They had lovely restaurant. We had really good dinner there, and it's located in the town of Pinhao. So if you wanted to walk into town and explore, you could do that. But it really was for them all about I think the location and their food. They had a great pool to be wonderful during the summer for kids and families, but there wasn't really much I felt going on for a family stay. Do you guys agree? Disagree.   [00:28:48.030] - Kim Tate I agree. That's where we took that river cruise and they offer longer river cruises. We did, like a 1 hour one. I think that was ideal. So for families or even couples, it gives you a good little taste, but it's not so long that you're like, okay. Yeah, I've seen this. There's another Quinta on the Hill, so I definitely think that that was really nice and its location right there on the river was great. I loved the decor and kind of the classicness.   [00:29:15.810] - Kim Tate They mentioned that it's going to be going through a remodel soon because you definitely had the it's very old and classic and kind of original. It's the original building. And so it's kind of got some really quaint and cool things like that. But I wish we would have had more time to kind of explore that city because I feel like if we knew more about Pinhao and what it was like, then maybe that would be more of a gem. So if you're thinking of kind of a little bit of a city stay in the Douro Valley region, you might look at Vintage House and Pinhao out and see what it kind of attracts.   [00:29:46.530] - Kim Tate But I think overall, as we kind of expressed, Douro is kind of a maybe one or two night stay type destination, depending on what type of vacation you're looking for.   [00:29:58.710] - Tamara Gruber Definitely central location. Good for that short stay. If somebody did want to stay longer in Douro, then stay at one of the other properties where they have much more going on on site. And it's more of a relaxation. This is kind of like a great place to lay your head while you're exploring the Douro Valley.   [00:30:15.450] - Tamara Gruber So we already talked a little bit about the other one that we see. That Douro 41. But, Kirsten, what are your thoughts about Douro 41?   [00:30:22.810] - Kirsten Maxwell I love six senses because it was super over the top and amazing. But Douro 41 is more of the reachable hotel for most families. What I loved about the rooms is you really felt like you walked in. Then you had floor to ceiling windows right overlooking the river. And it feels like you're almost on a river cruise. It seemed like that was kind of the feel that you got in the room. And then there were so many different little nooks and crannies around the hotel for families.   [00:30:53.910] - Kirsten Maxwell There was a game area, there was a snooker table, there was a movie night area. They had pizza making classes, so many different things they had to offer for families that I thought it would make a really good stay if you wanted to escape from the city. Yeah.   [00:31:11.370] - Tamara Gruber I was really impressed by some of the things they did from arranging picnics and doing the boat rides, doing the stand up paddle boards and kayaks. It just seemed like there was really such a great range for different age groups. And while it wasn't right there by anything, there were some restaurants. They said they were, like, 15 minutes away. Plus, they have two restaurants on site. One was like, I think a Michelin Star chef, and the other one was a casual, more of a casual pizzeria. So, like having those options around it.   [00:31:40.170] - Tamara Gruber So you're not in the middle of a certain region or town, but there's still plenty to do, especially if you're willing to drive a little bit. Yeah.   [00:31:48.330] - Kim Tate Agree. So any final thoughts about Porto and Douro Valley? Kirsten, you start then maybe Tamara you can kind of give your chime in about what you thought of those two areas. And just so people know, they're the north. They're on the north side of Portugal. So to give you a feel for the country, that's where we're talking.   [00:32:09.030] - Kirsten Maxwell I think they're definitely must visit places in Portugal. I think so many people get trapped into the Lisbon Algarve experience because that's what they hear.   [00:32:21.750] - Kirsten Maxwell But I think Porto is one of those. I mean, it's a huge city. Don't get me wrong, but there's still something about that seems a little bit hidden gem exploration kind of thing. Douro Valley. I really loved it, but I kind of feel like it's once you do it, then you can be. I don't know that I would go back to experience it's. Maybe with my husband. It just didn't give me that vibe of, like, hey, everything here is unique and felt very repetitive for me. The region.   [00:32:54.870] - Kim Tate I totally agree.   [00:32:57.270] - Tamara Gruber Before I went, I've heard so many people, especially young people, like, really raving about Porto, and I was never quite sure if it was just because it's like, the new thing versus Lisbon, like Lisbon being a little bit over touristed and trying to find that new thing. So it kind of had really high expectations of Porto. And with the Douro Valley. I've heard descriptions and I've seen some pictures and I kept thinking, oh, it would be a great place to do one of those week long river cruises, like a Viking cruise or something like that.   [00:33:29.010] - Tamara Gruber So my two impressions, like leaving are that I really love Porto, but I didn't love it like that much more than Lisbon. So I think it's maybe just if people went to Lisbon and it was a little too crowded that Porto would possibly be a better alternative. I think we were also there at a nice time in fall when it's maybe not high season, but those nice shoulder seasons. So I definitely enjoyed it. And then the Douro Valley, I am pretty sure I would not need to take a river cruise through there.   [00:33:59.790] - Tamara Gruber I think spending the two to three days there, it was definitely good. I think a week would feel kind of long. And then also, I guess there was our experience in the lounge of seeing all the people going on the Viking cruise, where we were kind of convinced that maybe we should pick a different one, right?   [00:34:17.010] - Kirsten Maxwell Yeah. Different demographic than us.   [00:34:19.770] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So I feel like if you want to go to Portugal for just a few days, like, maybe you have, like, a five day trip in mind. If you did just Porto and Douro, you could do that. And if you wanted to do a longer trip, then you want to add in those other things and do it. Kim said, which is like, go into one and out of the other. That would make a lot of sense. But it would be nice, like, as a pairing if you want to do just a five day trip or if you want to stretch it into a week and just have a little bit more downtime to relax.   [00:34:49.350] - Kim Tate Yeah. I think that's all good. Those are all good points.   [00:34:51.750] - Kirsten Maxwell I agree.   [00:34:52.170] - Kim Tate I think the one thing we're not giving enough credit to Douro Valley is that no, I think we're doing enough credit, but that's the thing to know. It's amazing to see. And I remember the first day when we drove into there. We're like, Can you please pull over the car and we're all taking pictures? It was just amazing.   [00:35:06.630] - Tamara Gruber It was so beautiful.   [00:35:07.650] - Kim Tate And so it's breathtaking like that. It's a very unique area, and you can see why it's UNESCO World Heritage Site. However you get that and then you've gotten it. So you're good. So that's the thing to know about it. We're a week long vacation. It's kind of like, okay. Well, I guess we're going to go this do this again. So I think that that's good points for people to know. And I think that if you do, like Port and you do like wine tasting. It is a fun destination to go like that.   [00:35:33.450] - Kim Tate However, it's also not like Napa, where you're able to just drive down the street and find another winery. I mean, they're spread out very far, and it's in a region that's not overly developed. So they were saying, like we were talking when we were on the river, like Kirsten said, one side, there's like no roads, barely. And the other side is where the main road is. And so if you're doing wine tasting and you work with a driver or a tour guide, they're going to help, you know, to stay on that other side of the river where you can visit a couple at a time.   [00:36:02.010] - Kim Tate Because if you go across and try and drive on those no road type places, you're going to spend your whole day getting to one quinta, and you're going to miss out on when you maybe would have been able to visit two or three on the other side.   [00:36:13.590] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Great points. Great point, Kirsten. We obviously worked with Epic to plan this trip, and they kind of took what we were interested in covering and developed an itinerary for us. When do you think it would make sense for a family to work with someone like Epic when they're planning a trip to Portugal?   [00:36:32.970] - Kirsten Maxwell Wow. There are so many good times, I think, to use a boutique travel agency like Epic, it was so nice to be able to tell them our interest and have them kind of figure out what would be a good itinerary to go along with that. I think too often if you book, like, one of the major group tour travel agencies, you're stuck with a big group of people and you're going to the places that they pick for you versus Epic. I mean, they're working with you to customize everything from the beginning of your day to the time your head hits the bed at night and to kind of relieve yourself of all that stress of planning.   [00:37:15.270] - Kirsten Maxwell There's just something to be said for that. And I think they did a phenomenal job of just hitting everything kind of right for us and what we were looking for.   [00:37:24.270] - Kim Tate I think one of the other things that was huge about them is they're able to arrange kind of these unique things that maybe you wouldn't necessarily know to ask for to look for. And I think that's where the fact that they're not just a general travel agency, they only focus on Morocco and Portugal, and they live in those countries, so they know the guides, they know the hotels, they have personal relationships. Like we were there. Tamara and I were on talking to one of the Epic girls that was traveling with us, and she was like, oh, yeah.   [00:37:50.670] - Kim Tate I'm just checking in with the hotel about some clients that are coming in next week, and I just want to make sure everything is set up for them. It's like a real personal experience. They're making sure everything is ready for you. And I think that's a huge thing. And little things, like, Tamara and I were going to the source, and we needed to have a negative PCR test. And so they arranged all of that in Lisbon for us. So we had the appointment, they got that all set up.   [00:38:19.110] - Kim Tate So that kind of having someone that just knows what to do and helps you set all that up is huge.   [00:38:25.290] - Tamara Gruber And the experiences that they can do, and they really focus on finding those unique things. I mean, it's easy enough nowadays to be like, oh, I want to do a food tour, walking tour, like, when you're in a city, fine. Like, you can find that. But then there's always, like, that next level of experiences. Like, I remember when we were taking the tram into downtown Porto, they were telling us about some things they did, like, they can arrange to do a private tram with a dinner on it with a great chef.   [00:38:52.710] - Tamara Gruber Where you're doing, like, a chef's tasting while you're on the tram, going around the city. And one of those bridges, they do this experience where you're I don't know what you'd call it, like bridge climbing, like, you're like cable. So if you're into adventure, I mean, I'm thinking some teens, especially, would love something like that. It just seemed like there were so many of these things that they can do throughout the country that were so unique. And, like you said, you wouldn't know to ask for it.   [00:39:20.550] - Tamara Gruber You many know I want to take a walking tour. I want to take a wine tour. Things like that. But these are things that you would never even come up with. But because they've spent so much time getting to know people personally, they have these relationships can do these types of things. So if you say, hey, I know I if I was working with them, I'd be like, hey, my daughter really loves stargazing, and we definitely would have been doing that. They can find those interests and things and then just make that next level experience and then having that hands on knowledge and even things when it comes to the hotel rooms, like, okay, this one is going to be better for, like, this room type is going to be better for you, like, knowing things to that level.   [00:40:01.470] - Kim Tate Well, even me, like you said, I mentioned, oh, when we're in Lisbon, I really want to see a great sunset. Can you help us figure out and arrange so at sunset, we were at some kind of lookout or really great sunset. And they ran with that. And they were like, we ended up on a private Chartered sailboat river cruise for sunset. Right. Tamara? And she said it was all because you mentioned that you wanted to have a great sunset in Lisbon. And that's what we ended up with.   [00:40:26.610] - Kim Tate So that's the kind of stuff that they do.   [00:40:29.310] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And that's the kind of thing where that's just the moment that you remember with the trip, right? Like, something like that is the best way to start a trip or end a trip. It's just so like, wow, special.   [00:40:42.210] - Kim Tate Well, Kirsten, we've probably already asked you what you like to wear when you travel since you've been a guest before. But what about anything new, any new travel products or apps or anything you've discovered recently that you want to share with our listeners. Okay.   [00:40:54.090] - Kirsten Maxwell I came up with two things that I thought. Okay, maybe you haven't discussed on here before, but number one, because of the whole thing with having to carry your vaccine card. Now I've invested in a passport wallet so that I can always keep the vaccine passport and vaccine card with my passport anywhere I go. So I found that carrying one of those kind of wallets has been super helpful for me, especially when I'm usually tasked with carrying everybody's passports in our family. So it's kind of nice to have them all in one place.   [00:41:26.970] - Kirsten Maxwell And then the other thing that I've found for individual traveling is a doorstop. And you guys maybe have seen these, but that you put underneath your hotel door and that if anybody tries to get into your room, it makes a big alarm, super blaring alarm to let you know somebody's trying to break into your room. But I feel like when you travel alone, you can never be too safe. So in addition to checking out your surroundings, like, I think it's a nice peace of mind to just stick it under the door at night, go to bed and then enjoy the rest of your trip.   [00:42:01.890] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, that is a good idea. I feel like I've thought about those in the past, and I haven't invested in one. And I said I'm thinking about that time I forget where we were, which hotel. But I went to take a shower and I came out and they had made a delivery of, like, an Amenity or something. And I'm like, that wasn't fair when I went in the shower. Yeah.   [00:42:20.970] - Kim Tate I'm thinking even with being the mom of two teen girls as they start going off on their own travels or stuff, maybe with girlfriends or whatever by themselves, then that would be a good little.   [00:42:31.650] - Tamara Gruber Or you can have them in a separate room, right?   [00:42:33.930] - Kirsten Maxwell Yeah. Exactly.   [00:42:36.630] - Tamara Gruber Good suggestion, Kirsten.   [00:42:38.010] - Kirsten Maxwell Oh, thank you.   [00:42:39.090] - Tamara Gruber So can you remind our listeners where they can find you online? Absolutely.   [00:42:44.430] - Kirsten Maxwell You can find me at kidsratrip.Com.   [00:42:48.030] - Kirsten Maxwell That's A-R-E-A. Versus just the letter R. And then I'm at multigenerationalvacations.Com.   [00:42:55.530] - Kirsten Maxwell That's my site about multigenerationalfamily travel.   [00:42:58.830] - Tamara Gruber Awesome.   [00:42:59.370] - Kim Tate Well, thanks again for being a guest. And I'm so glad we all got to travel again. It was really fun, and there's nothing quite like taking a trip with your girlfriends so thank you.   [00:43:10.050] - Kirsten Maxwell Guys, thanks so much for having me. This was such a fun trip, and I would love to repeat it again with a different destination because there were so many good times that I'm like, oh, my God. That was really fun. Having a good time relaxing and enjoying life without the stresses of family.   [00:43:28.110] - Tamara Gruber 2022 Here we come. Thank you.   [00:43:32.250] - Kirsten Maxwell Thanks.   [00:43:32.610] - Tamara Gruber Bye.   [00:43:32.850] - Kirsten Maxwell Thanks, guys.   [00:43:37.690] - Tamara Gruber Well, thanks for listening to another episode of vacation mavens, I hope you enjoyed hearing about our first few days in Portugal, and we are going to take a little break from our Portuguese coverage.   [00:43:46.990] - Kim Tate So tune in next time because we are going to be talking about cruising and how cruising is coming back, which I know we just booked a spring break cruise. So I'm definitely interested in hearing about this. And maybe you are, too.   [00:43:57.610] - Tamara Gruber Yes, lots of new policies, new ships, things to talk about. So we're going to get a couple of cruise experts on to dive into some details. So see you next time. Talk to you soon. Bye.  

    199 Fall Travel

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 31:38

    Is the weather starting to change where you live? Autumn has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere and this week Kim and Tamara talk about where they have visited recently for fall travel and some other fall favorites. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.000] - Kim Tate It's time to fall into fall travel.   [00:00:14.670] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:29.180] - Tamara Gruber So Kim, by the time this comes out, it's going to be less than a month from Halloween. Do your girls still do stuff for Halloween, or do they dress up or do they go on any haunted hay rides or any of those kind of things they have done?   [00:00:42.560] - Kim Tate We have haunted corn mazes and stuff down here, and they normally get together with friends. And there's some kind of youth event that happens at some of the local farms and pumpkin patches and stuff. And we've been known to go to the pumpkin patches and do some of the kiddish activities. But with Mia being 14 now, she's kind of at the cusp of that, and she's got a sweet heart, so she still likes it. But she's not quite into all the activities as much anymore.   [00:01:10.100] - Tamara Gruber No more trick or treating?   [00:01:11.930] - Kim Tate She actually mentioned because they didn't go last year, and she said, I think I'm going to go this year. It'll be with her best friend. She's like, it'll be our last year, and we're going to go for it. And I said, go do it. That's awesome.   [00:01:23.240] - Tamara Gruber So yeah, I'm waiting to see what Hannah will do. I know her friends have really been trying to convince her to do some kind of haunted house hayride kind of thing. To me, the whole idea of a haunted corn maze sounds absolutely terrifying. Something could just jump out of you. I don't like jump scares either. As a teen, I did do a haunted hayride, but at least then you know, the direction they're coming from. They only come outside, and I can kind of sit in the middle in a little safer, but right down the street for me, they have some kind of I don't even know I've never gone, but it's this whole horror thing in one of the parks that you kind of walk through.   [00:02:00.240] - Tamara Gruber So it's a little bit more of a walk through type of thing, but they've not convinced her. So I don't know about trick or treating, though, because last year obviously no trick or treating. The year before she was going to go with one friend, but then it ended up raining. So I think they decided just to stay home and hand out candy instead. I'm not sure if there'll be one last or she'll just stay home, and we usually try to do Apple picking or some kind of visit to a farm this year.   [00:02:27.240] - Tamara Gruber I've already gone and picked up Apple cider Donuts for her. I think she's just so busy she can't really see about it this year. I'm trying to still give all the fall treats. Here's some Apple cider and Apple cider Donuts. And I made pumpkin pie dip when we had some people over recently in our backyard. And so as she's getting the fall stuff without the scary stuff, that's cool.   [00:02:52.230] - Kim Tate I grew up in Kansas City, and when I was a teenager, there's this area. And I can't even think because I know it's something like all the Kansas City listeners are going to be laughing that I can't think of this. I want to say it's something like the flats or the bottoms, or I can't remember. But there's this area in Kansas City, and it's like, known for having some of the creepiest most amazing haunted houses. And because it's this old warehouse district, right. And they would dress them all up and everything.   [00:03:19.730] - Kim Tate And that was the thing that we always did as teens. And I'm kind of glad that my girls haven't gotten into that. I do know there's one up north, that's kind of a haunted house type thing in a warehouse. But other than the corn maze, there's not as much around here, but I remember as a kid those things that freak me out so mad.   [00:03:38.260] - Tamara Gruber I'm starting to wonder if it like, haunted or not haunted, but it's just general, like, really creepy lawn decorations are like the new holiday lights. You know, how people know, there's the houses that do a really good holiday lights, and they drive around and look at them. The other day, I was driving and a home from practice, and there's a house that is absolutely terrifying. I don't know what's wrong with the people that live there, but there's basically a 15 foot skeleton. Then there's a whole line of super creepy zombie dudes.   [00:04:09.280] - Tamara Gruber And then out of the corner of my eye, I see it's got to be like, ten foot tall pig with a giant knife and an apron on. And I'm like, Where do you even find this bizarre stuff? I really need to go buy the house and take a picture of it. But I'm scared that if I do, I don't know somebody who's a little disturbed in there.   [00:04:31.390] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think I saw something a while back that spending for spending for decorations and all that stuff on Halloween is second only to Christmas.   [00:04:42.320] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's so easy. And I were talking about all the houses that we used to never be able to go to when she was little. There was the house with the giant Spider. No, we had to skip that one. There was the one that had the little smoke tunnel you went through. We had to skip that one because she was scared of everything when she was little. So we were laughing about that. But not everything has changed because, yeah, I know, literally, we couldn't even go down certain aisles and target because if something started to move and make noise, she'd have a little breakdown.   [00:05:10.370] - Tamara Gruber Oh, man, she's not the haunted house type. That's for sure.   [00:05:14.760] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:05:15.470] - Tamara Gruber Well, there's lots of other fun things to do, though. You just went and did some haunted kind of stuff. I know I saw your picture when you're in Disneyland, and I'm like, Whoa, that looks kind of crazy for Disneyland. But tell me what you did when you were just down in California.   [00:05:29.370] - Kim Tate Yeah. So for those of you who know Disneyland, they actually do a lot of seasonal parties. And starting in September, they do a Halloween time at Disneyland Resort, and they go out. They kind of decorate the parks with beautiful Orange swags, and they have some hand carved pumpkins decorating Main Street. And then they do a few other things this year, they have quite a cool area back in one of the regions for Coco and Dia des Muertes. And then some celebrations around that as well. And then the bigger thing that you saw my picture of was they have parties called Oogie Boogie Bash, and it's kind of crazy how expensive it can be, especially for a family, because they sell these bash party tickets in addition to your park ticket.   [00:06:19.400] - Kim Tate But you don't have to have a park ticket for this party, which is kind of nice. So you can theoretically go to the parks with normal park ticket and then buy one of these. And you can get in 3 hours before your park before the party starts. You can get in at 03:00 p.m. When the party starts at six. And so some people choose to do that, but they are sold out. So if anyone's hearing this, you need to be looking ahead to 2022 if you're thinking of doing kind of a Disneyland and fall.   [00:06:45.290] - Kim Tate But you can still go to Disneyland and celebrate stuff during the Halloween time celebrations. They do a ride overlay for Haunted Mansion, which is called Haunted Mansion Holiday. And it's got Jack Skellington, and he kind of takes over the ride. And sorry for Disney people. I should say the attraction. But anyways, so he takes that over and that lasts all for Christmas because it's kind of like him like that spooky mixed with Christmas season. So it's kind of fun thing. And then they also do cars Land also gets a big makeover and becomes radiator screams, which is kind of funny. And they do a lot of fun, like car part themed, like spiders made out of engines. And, you know, Crow bar stuff. And then they've got these fun cones and tire eyes. And each of the two rides that are not the main radio racers. Each of the two rides get a makeover with fun music and theming around Halloween. So they do that. And then the last one is Guardians of the Galaxy, which used to be Tower of Terror.   [00:07:45.380] - Kim Tate It gets a makeover at night. So kind of later afternoon evenings, it becomes Guardians of the Galaxy, Monsters after dark. And so the theming of the ride, like the story that you see on the screens and the music changes, and it can be pretty intense and scary, I think, for some people. So anyway, that's kind of the thing at Disneyland, but the OG Boogie bash party is something different. And that's what I showed your picture of. Yeah.   [00:08:10.200] - Tamara Gruber Well, I mean, Tower of Terror or Guardians of the Galaxy. The attraction itself is scary to me with that one.   [00:08:18.930] - Kim Tate I know. I see that one I can't handle. My stomach can't handle it.   [00:08:23.210] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So how long do they keep that theming before they switch over to Christmas stuff?   [00:08:28.900] - Kim Tate so this actually is ending October 31 for the season. Sometimes it goes to the first day or two of November. I think it depends on how the week falls, but there's a chance you'll see some stuff. Still, if you're there on November 1 as they take it down. But they're pretty good about getting those holiday things up. And then right back down and then the Halloween decorations will be gone. And then you'll have until about the second week of November. I think this year it's November 12 is when the holiday overlay starts happening and kind of comes alive.   [00:09:02.960] - Kim Tate And then they'll have some festival, the holidays, events that celebrate not just Christmas. So they tried to bring in like Hannukkah and Kwanza and Three Kings Day, so they're trying to make it a little more open to everyone. And then they also just launched this brand new party thing. It's just kind of like the Oogie Boogie bash party called Merriest Nights, which is a ticketed event. There's still a couple of tickets for two days open for that one. So if you did want to do holidays in Disneyland, you could look into that.   [00:09:31.820] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:09:32.510] - Kim Tate So there's a little about ten to 14 days that you get the parks without anything. And then it goes from Halloween time to Christmas time. Or I guess I should say holiday time, out of time, festive season, winter festivities. Yeah.   [00:09:50.540] - Tamara Gruber And they do some similar things, but different at Walt Disney World, right?   [00:09:54.870] - Kim Tate Yeah. So the big news with Walt Disney World right now, they are doing like a boo bash thing. That's an after hour ticketed event. I haven't heard as much about it. I don't know how big of a hit it was. And then they normally do some kind of Christmas thing. They've announced a few things down there. But the big news for Disney World right now is that October 1 is the start of their 50th anniversary celebration, and they've kind of gone all in on decor and merchandise and special things around that.   [00:10:23.730] - Kim Tate So if you are headed to Florida and Walt Disney World this fall and winter, you'll be kind of looking at that 50th anniversary. Definitely. Check out the two Halloween and winter holiday activities that they have and parties.   [00:10:39.310] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. It's good to know, too, that you need to plan in advance for some of these, or at least you might get lucky with some tickets, but it makes sense to try to think ahead.   [00:10:48.730] - Kim Tate Yeah, especially since you have to make reservations for all the park. Still. So you still have to be making you buy your tickets and make your park day reservations and stuff. And park hopping is very limited. So you pick the park, you're going to start it, and then you can't go to another park until 01:00 p.m.. I'm not quite sure on the timing at Walt Disney World.   [00:11:08.590] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's even more complicated.   [00:11:11.280] - Kim Tate More exactly, even more planning than it already has been. But, yeah, that's just a little bit of fall holidays. But what about in your neck of the Woods, about fall seasonal stuff? What kind of things are you for? Travel wise? What do you know about what do you hear about?   [00:11:30.200] - Tamara Gruber Well, we're kind of in that time where everybody wants to go all type of fall here in New England, but I just got back from a trip to the Finger Lakes in New York, and that's definitely a great destination. We were there for the grape harvest. You know, it always varies a little bit on timing when that's going to be, but definitely a fun time. And we have a beautiful weekend. It was low 70s or high 60s, but sunny, and it was just such a perfect we I went with two of my College friends, and we had a blast because I've talked about the Finger Lakes before.   [00:12:06.840] - Tamara Gruber This time I stayed in Ithaca. I was actually hosted at Hotel Ithaca in downtown Ithaca, which is home to Cornell and Ithaca College. It has that College town vibe. In the past, I've stayed at on a different Lake. I've stayed Ithaca right near Cayuga Lake, and in the past I've stayed at Watkins Glen, which is on Seneca Lake. And then one time, I took Hannah to the Finger Lakes, and we stayed in Hammondsport or Corning, which is on Keuka Lake. So there's actually eleven Lakes in the Finger Lakes region, and there's over 100 wineries.   [00:12:39.510] - Tamara Gruber And there's also a ton of craft breweries. There's distilleries, there's tons of cideries, there's tons of farms. So we did a really nice mix of, like, some wine tasting. And we also went to a cider place. But we also did agritourism types of things because it's beautiful up there. It's kind of like a little bit hilly between the Lakes. So there's so many farms or wineries where you're looking down a gentle slope to the Lake in the distance. It just gives such a pretty backdrop. And the leaves there are just starting to change.   [00:13:12.610] - Tamara Gruber So I think in the next couple of weeks, it's going to be really nice. We started with a boat tour with Discover Cayuga Lake, and that was like a little sunset cruise. They do a whole bunch of different Eco cruises. And then the next day, we went to their farmers market in Ithaca, which is like amazing tons of food and beautiful produce. Wineries, cideries, honey, there's local apiaries, so many nice things. We picked up some breakfast there and sat at a picnic table by the Lake and just enjoyed that.   [00:13:45.400] - Tamara Gruber And then we did a couple of tastings at wineries like a pairing with everyone had a charcuterie board, too. And it was just like a really nicely paced, like, really good, relaxing, enjoyable pairing. And then we did a blind tasting somewhere, which is a lot of fun. And then we visited a goat farm. And then yesterday we went to an alpaca farm. I don't know if you got a chance to see my Instagram stories on that, but they're so cute.   [00:14:13.240] - Kim Tate Sweet. Did you buy some alpaca socks or Wolf?   [00:14:17.760] - Tamara Gruber I bought plenty. I had held back at the farmers market and all these other places, but then I was like, okay, I'm supporting the economy right here, which is nice because it's a family on farm. We had signed up to do a farm tour and to take the alpacas for a walk. And I can just say from a wellness perspective, getting to see and interact with really cute, adorable animals is just really nice. It gives such a good feeling, right? Yeah. But yes, I bought a hat, which maybe I'll bring with me to Portugal.   [00:14:51.940] - Tamara Gruber Maybe you'll get to see it. I bought a little scarf. I bought this adorable little fluff ball thing that looks like an alpaca for Hannah, because that was the one thing I always say these days. She's not very jealous of when I go away and do things like she still enjoys when we get to do things together. But she's so busy and stuff going on with her own life that she's not like, oh, I wish I could come with the one. I told her I was going to an Alpaca farm.   [00:15:16.990] - Tamara Gruber She's like, Can you send me pictures?   [00:15:20.020] - Kim Tate Well, I'm jealous. Definitely. I can't wait to see your hat. I hope you do bring it because is it like a felted wool hat?   [00:15:26.650] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's kind of. I don't know what kind of like a news boy hat.   [00:15:31.760] - Kim Tate Oh, yes. I don't know what that's called. The sweeper.   [00:15:37.760] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:15:38.430] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:15:39.450] - Tamara Gruber I'm not a fashion person, as you know, I'm not a fashion person.   [00:15:42.030] - Kim Tate But I know I should know what that's called, but I can't think of it right now. Okay, cool.   [00:15:46.230] - Tamara Gruber So that's definitely one great destination. And I can see just from the traffic on my website. Like, what the other popular things to do are. I think even back to last year, last year, we did some family glamping, and I did some glamping on my own, and I think that that's a really nice time to do it before it gets too cold. The nights are crisp and the days are nice. You're not, like sweating in the tent. It's kind of perfect camping or glamping.   [00:16:15.590] - Kim Tate Kind of want the fires at night and stuff.   [00:16:18.550] - Tamara Gruber Exactly. So I think that's a really fun thing to do now. And there's so many places to do that now. I have a whole post on my website about places to go glamping in New England and new ones keep cropping up, which is great. But I know Vermont and New Hampshire are super popular. I think some people come a little bit too late, so just keep track of every state puts out a fall foliage kind of tracker. I have a blog post on my website about following road trips in New England, and I have links to each of those state trackers, so you can see when they expect it to be peak and stuff like that.   [00:16:56.060] - Tamara Gruber But basically the further north you go, the early it's going to be. So things are starting to really pop right now in New Hampshire, in Vermont and Maine, and that's going to continue to kind of work its way south. So one of the things that we like to do is in New Hampshire, there's a scenic drive called the Kancamagus Highway, and I have a post about all the scenic spots to stop along there.   [00:17:23.560] Nice.   [00:17:24.040] - Tamara Gruber And that is now kind of doing really well on the website. And I have a post about New York road trips to take in the fall and Vermont. I know I've been getting a lot of messages from people like, what should I do in Vermont? All of how many people are open to and yeah, exactly. The thing to think about, though, is that it's total leaf peeping season, and it is hard to find hotels on certain weekends, especially the three day weekend in October can be really tough.   [00:17:55.110] - Tamara Gruber So you might need to, you know, try to search early. It's a little bit late for that, but try to look for maybe Airbnb or VRBO or the Glamping and things like that to try to find some alternatives cool or just plan for 220 and 22. What about by you? Do you have other I mean, I'm sure between, like, Apple season and wine harvest, you must have so many great places to go for fall by you as well.   [00:18:19.280] - Kim Tate I was going to say I think Washington State is definitely a big gem for October trips or fall seasonal trips, especially people think about New England, but if you look, it's latitude, right? Not longitude. Yeah. Latitudes. We're kind of similar. And even though we are like the evergreen state, there's a lot of aspens and poplars and Maple trees out here, and we get some beautiful fall colors mixed in with the green trees. So I definitely think that in Washington State, October is also just a really nice temperature.   [00:18:53.680] - Kim Tate If you want to do hiking or drives, you definitely do have to prepare for dreary weather. I'll call it because it's not necessarily always rainy. But dreary is definitely the right word. And fall is when we do get most of our wind storms. We don't have, like, thunderstorms like I grew up with in the Midwest. But we have these massive wind storms, and that normally is in the fall when that can be a problem. So that is something to keep in mind. But otherwise, it's just so nice here.   [00:19:24.150] - Kim Tate The temperatures are so mild, and it's like you said, with glamping and things. It's cool in the evenings, but can kind of get a little warm in the in the daytime, but not too much. It depends how much of the cloud cover Burns off. But I think kind of like with the Finger Lakes. The big thing out here is the fact that it's harvest season. And there are a lot of fall festivals and wine crushing events. And I know that Chelan, which is a very popular vacation destination for Seattle people.   [00:19:52.630] - Kim Tate It's kind of a Lake community destination out here. And they have a massive fall festival that lasts from October through Thanksgiving. And so you can find stuff happening all the time there with different vendors and activities and things like that. And they have, like, an evening. They have family events during the day, and then they have these evening haunted things as well. So it's kind of a big destination. So if you're in Washington state, Chelan is kind of a big thing. And then, of course, some people may have heard of the little town of Leavenworth, which is a Bavarian village out here in Washington.   [00:20:26.820] - Kim Tate It's about, I'd say, about 2 hours from Seattle, probably it depends what traffic's like. And when you're going. And it is known for first, it's October Fest because of the fact that it's a Bavarian town. So it's very German inspired. And they do a big October festival. But then they also do a big holiday lights festival and that's very popular local. So those are kind of the main things I'm thinking about here, of course, like you said, with apples, there's a lot of cider events happening.   [00:20:56.800] - Kim Tate So if you like to drink cider, Washington State is a great place for that as well. And I think Oregon is pretty big in breweries and cideries and stuff as well. And of course, they have their whole Willamette Valley for wine. So they're pretty big as well in the fall embibing travel. Maybe that should be a term. But yeah. So those are kind of the big things that I can think of. I've heard also that I am not a fan of mushrooms, but supposedly Washington has a big mushroom festival as well.   [00:21:28.850] - Kim Tate I guess October is a good mushroom season. So if you know.   [00:21:32.620] - Tamara Gruber A and the Finger Lakes, there is a mushroom spirits distillery. Okay. I don't know much about distilleries. You know, obviously, they're they're made from many different things from vodkas.   [00:21:43.720] - Kim Tate Potatoes, but you never know exactly like.   [00:21:46.770] - Tamara Gruber I don't know what that would be like.   [00:21:49.050] - Kim Tate No idea.   [00:21:49.570] - Tamara Gruber I also saw that they were having an Apple Fest in Ithaca, like next weekend. Definitely. The Apple Fest is huge. Yeah.   [00:21:58.330] - Kim Tate We also have Washington state and even in Oregon and stuff. It's really, really big. I know you have this on the East Coast too, but pumpkin patches and corn mazes. It's just huge. Like I mentioned with when I was talking about what the kids do with the haunted corn maze and all that stuff. It's insane. In our little area. We have probably seven pumpkin patches and corn maze and stuff we could choose to go to. So, I mean, some are definitely bigger than others, but it's a huge thing out here in Washington are the at least at Western Washington is the pumpkin patches and all that stuff.   [00:22:31.820] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's definitely big here, too. We have were small state, but we have quite a few in Rhode Island, and then in Massachusetts, there's some super massive ones. I remember taking Hannah to one in Rhode Island, one where the parents didn't go in. We kind of stood outside and chatted, and then we're like, it's been a really long time. Are they ever going to make their way out? But that wasn't haunted. It was just during the day, regular regular comes. But yeah, there's so many fun things to do.   [00:23:01.620] - Tamara Gruber It's outside and a lot of the farms by us. They'll bring in food trucks and live music and sometimes like, little kiddie rides. You definitely do the wagon rides into the pumpkin patch.   [00:23:14.380] - Kim Tate Hay rides, and there's normally some animal.   [00:23:18.700] - Tamara Gruber Some cows, petting Zoo kind of thing. And then there's all kinds of great baked goods. And I love this time of year. I will still always love summer more, and I try to really get out and appreciate fall when I can, because it's just so short for us. September through mid to late. October is beautiful. You still see blue skies. The weather is great. This year has been fantastic, but by November it's Brown and Gray, so it's over. It's done. So I try to take it in as much as I can.   [00:23:57.470] - Tamara Gruber Now, even I'm sitting here looking at my window, like, Why didn't I go for a walk out?   [00:24:02.190] - Kim Tate You can still go.   [00:24:03.970] - Tamara Gruber I know. I have to get work.   [00:24:06.440] - Kim Tate I can still go. I'm with you. I definitely prefer summer. And being in Seattle, we don't have that nice blue sky. Fall day in Seattle is celebrated as if it's the best thing in the world because it's when the cloud cover definitely moves in. So that is one kind of bummer, but we definitely keep our green. I mean, I love the fact that we have green trees all year round, so there's a payoff to it.   [00:24:35.080] - Tamara Gruber Well, I think for people that are looking for some fall color and stuff a little bit later in the season because I've had people reach out to me like, we're coming to Boston in November and where can we see the best? I'm like over one, but you think about a Great Smoky Mountain National Park and so many parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, the Northern Georgia mountains that gets it in Yosemite and stuff as well. That too.   [00:25:02.710] - Kim Tate It's absolutely gorgeous in the fall.   [00:25:04.880] - Tamara Gruber And I know you mentioned Aspens. I definitely see, like in Colorado, they are really popping right now.   [00:25:09.560] - Kim Tate Like, Vail is gorgeous right now.   [00:25:11.510] - Tamara Gruber Not everything is on our time schedule since we're up here further to the north.   [00:25:18.480] - Kim Tate Well, and then we headed in November will be heading down to Arizona. And so for those people who are looking to start escaping that dreary winter, moving in the south, especially Arizona in the fall can be amazing. I'm looking forward to spending a few hours by the pool with you.   [00:25:38.460] - Tamara Gruber I'm kind of hoping that this year we can go back to previous years where I can escape my drink Gray dreary winter with some Sunshine if you the winter. So, knock wood, because Arizona. And then we're supposed to, as I mentioned, go to Aruba, and then we'll see how it all goes. But I really look forward to those little bits of Sunshine in the middle of the cold is that we have well.   [00:26:05.800] - Kim Tate And for those people that are looking for that are into cruising. I know Thanksgiving cruises are very popular. I do feel like they're doing limited capacity on ships because it seems like prices are not really moving on cruises. You're not going to be getting a steal of a deal. And I think getting to choose your cabin, it's going to be limited as well. But I don't know how long that's going to be kept up, but cruising is always kind of a fun fall getaway because you normally head somewhere warm.   [00:26:34.980] - Kim Tate I know the fall is really popular for a lot of Seattle people. They go down to Cabo and that area of Mexico in the fall.   [00:26:41.980] - Tamara Gruber So here's to a good fall. I feel like I need to go pour myself some Apple cider right now.   [00:26:47.830] - Kim Tate I'm jealous of the Apple cider Donuts. Do you know that I've never had Apple cider?   [00:26:51.550] - Tamara Gruber Donuts?   [00:26:51.940] - Kim Tate I don't think I ever have, and I would love them. They sound amazing. I've had pumpkin spice Donuts and I've had lots of fresh Apple cider, but Apple cider Donuts. I don't think I've ever had one.   [00:27:01.480] - Tamara Gruber See, now I'm going to see you soon, and I would happily bring you some Apple cider Donuts. But I will say there are nothing like getting a hot, fresh, fresh one cider donut. So can you just come visit me next fall? Yes, I will have to.   [00:27:16.960] - Kim Tate That's a plan. Let's make it happen. 2022 New England or Bust. Yeah.   [00:27:22.400] - Tamara Gruber New England. You should see New England in the fall for sure.   [00:27:26.030] - Kim Tate Yeah, definitely.   [00:27:26.990] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:27:27.530] - Kim Tate Well, you'll be my tour guide, so I think we can make that happen. It's always so busy. Like I just got back from a trip. And why is the fall always so busy with work?   [00:27:37.210] - Tamara Gruber Stuff. I know as excited as I am about Portugal. And I know that we're going to get a little taste of all there, too, because we're going to be there during their wine harvest. And we're going to get to in some of those wine events. And for those of you that are listening, pop over to Instagram and check out our Instagram accounts because we're going to be doing some really cool things, like hot air balloon and some very special wine events. And so staying at some really interesting, amazing hotels sounds like it's going to be awesome.   [00:28:09.740] - Kim Tate We're staying at some amazing places we are staying at. Now. This will give you guys a little idea, like work is work, and it's not always vacation. But we are staying at a new hotel almost every day. I think there's two times that we stay at a hotel two nights. Yeah. And we're there for 17 days. So just so you guys know, we are going to be sharing a lot. And we're not just in Lisbon, we're going to Porto and the sorts and Lisbon and and we're going to see a lot of the country.   [00:28:40.580] - Tamara Gruber And I think people are kind of used to seeing certain pictures from Lisbon in particular. And I no Porto is very popular as well. But we're going to get out into the countryside and show you and be able to help figure out what are the great itineraries to do. How can you organize it? So you're not visit our not a new hotel every night?   [00:29:01.640] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:29:02.180] - Tamara Gruber Exactly.   [00:29:02.740] - Kim Tate Well. And also knowing it to be a situation where it's like, what's worth? What are these gems that you're not realizing so that you're not just the standard tourists going to the Portugal is an amazing country. And so I'm so excited to get a feel for more of this country that I've already fallen in love with. And so I'm really excited about that and being able to share kind of the other because I think you and I have always said that there needs to be this balance with doing the standard touristy stuff.   [00:29:29.280] - Kim Tate It's a touristy thing for a reason. Most of the time it's worthwhile. And some you don't want to not see it. But you need to balance that with some more, not even off the beaten path, but more things that you wouldn't necessarily know about or think about. And that's why I'm so glad that we're working with the epic travel people because they're on the ground there, and they have all those little gems that they can help put us on that you and I I don't think we wouldn't necessarily have known to look for I'm really excited.   [00:29:56.480] - Tamara Gruber So of the regions we're on top of mind. Right. And then we're doing something like one of the big products in Portugal is cork. And so we're going to do a cork trekking hike. I can't wait where we're going to go and look and see how they would harvest it.   [00:30:16.380] - Tamara Gruber So there's so many interesting things, like digging deeper, traveling in a way that really gets to know the culture and totally up our alley. I'm super excited. So I know we were talking all about fall, and my whole point was as excited as I am about Portugal. I'm missing out on some of the best part of here in New England, but I'll take it. I agreed.   [00:30:39.170] - Kim Tate I mean, everything I'm looking at, it sounds like Portugal is going to be an amazing October destination. So if any of you are listening and thinking about October trips, definitely be following along Tamara again is @we3travel and I'm @stuffedsuitcase, and we will be sharing because from the research I'm doing, it seems seems like a great time to go.   [00:30:58.230] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Definitely follow along when we come back. Our next episode is going to be all about our Portugal trip. So hopefully you'll follow along and then you'll want to hear even more about it. So you'll tune in next time.   [00:31:13.160] - Kim Tate Well, thanks for joining us, as always, and we hope that you have some wonderful fall travels or local adventures planned ahead. Tchau.  

    198 Hotel Loyalty Programs

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 53:16

    You know how you always hear people talking about getting free stays at hotels or status perks? How do they do that? Find out! This week on the podcast we talk road warrior Ed Pizza from the Miles to Go podcast about the best hotel loyalty programs for families and ways to earn status and free hotel stays. About Our Sponsor: Room Steals Today's episode is sponsored by Room Steals.  Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside existing booking sites to show you what the wholesale price is for that room. Just install the browser extension and search for a hotel as you usually would on Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, or Google. Once you've done your initial search, Room Steals will show you in a pop-up if that same room is available for less. If it is, you can click on that pop-up and book it directly through Room Steals. Downloading and using Room Steals is free; however, if you want to book a discounted room you have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20% off the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens.  If you travel multiple times in a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener already saved $400 using Room Steals on her first booking!  To learn more, visit roomsteals.com. That's roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20% off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support. About Ed Pizza Ed Pizza is a road warrior and family traveler.  When we're not in the middle of a pandemic he travels 100,000 miles a year for work.  His family loves luxury travel, all things Disney and even bought an RV during the pandemic.  You can check out his podcast, Miles to Go, the same places you catch Vacation Mavens and you can find him writing about travel at pizzainmotion.com. Best Hotel Loyalty Programs for Families Hyatt offers the best loyalty program for families as it is easier to earn and use points (you need fewer points to redeem for a free night than other programs) and they offer great family-friendly perks like free breakfast, guaranteed late check out, and, if you have status with them, the concierge is good at guaranteeing connecting rooms or confirming suite upgrades in advance. The only challenge with Hyatt is that they don't have as large of a footprint as Hilton or Marriott, especially if you are traveling to smaller destinations. Hyatt does have a number of family-friendly brands including Hyatt Place on the lower end and Hyatt House for suites. A few terrific Hyatt properties in popular family travel destinations include: Hyatt Grand Cypress (outside of Disney), Ziva Resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean, the Hyatt Regency Sydney in Australia (which is more affordable than the Park Hyatt Sydney but still has amazing views), Grand Hyatt Bahia Mar in the Bahamas, and the Driscoll in Austin. Wyndham also is an excellent choice for families. In addition to the hotels, you can use points at many of their vacation rental or timeshare properties, which offer so much more room for families. Wyndham also has a partnership with Vacasa for vacation home rentals. Some great Wyndham properties include the Magic Villages in Orlando, ski lodges and log cabins in Montana, and great properties overseas. Wyndham now has a credit card through Barclay's that helps you earn points and they have bonus points on things like utility bills, which you don't find elsewhere. Hilton has some pros and cons for their loyalty programs. Hilton values treating folks well on award stays and they don't add resort fees, unlike some other programs that still charge fees on free stays. Hilton also gives away a lot of points for stays and through their credit card. The footprint isn't as big as Marriott but larger than Hyatt. Hilton Honors Gold members also receive little perks like free bottles of water at check in and free WiFi. However, Hilton recently rolled back their free breakfast offer for members (at least temporarily). Instead there will be a credit per day to use as you want (drinks from the bar, meals, etc), however it wouldn't typically cover everything that you would get at a free breakfast. Marriott has the largest footprint, but they do charge fees like resort fees and parking on award stays. IHG (which includes Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Hotel Indigo, etc) doesn't offer as much as the other brands but can be good if you do a lot of road tripping and then redeeming points for stays overseas at classic, boutique hotels. Unless you are a road warrior traveling frequently on business, the best way to earn points is through a credit card. Instead of using the brand specific credit card, it is better to use a credit card with programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards that you can transfer points to hotels to book award stays. Chase offers a bit more flexibility and value over Amex. When you transfer points, it is often 1:1 transfer so you will get more bang for your points if you transfer to a program like Hyatt where your points go further. If you are going to stay with a specific brand often, a hotel credit card can get you to the next status tier (and related perks) faster and you will often get one free hotel stay certificate per year. You need to make sure you are using the value of the cost of the annual fee. Generally it makes sense to pay for your hotel stays with that card but you will get more points per dollar for other types of stays from other types of cards.   Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.000] - Kim Tate Which hotels deserve your loyalty? Stay tuned to find out. [00:00:15.290] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel. [00:00:29.940] - Kim Tate Today's episode is brought to you by our sponsor, Room Steals. You guys may have already heard of it. Room Steals is a browser extension that you add to Chrome, so that when you're shopping for the next hotel for your vacation, you can see if you are really getting the best rate. You plug in your destination on one of the major booking engines, whether it's Expedia or Travelocity or booking.com or hotels.com, and a window will pop up, letting you know if they found a better deal for you. [00:00:55.810] - Kim Tate The program is free to use, so you can always see and shop and figure out if the there is a better deal out there. And if you do spot a better deal, you can book it through the Room Steals site where there is an annual membership fee. But our listeners get to save on their annual membership fee with the code vacationmavens, they can save 20%. [00:01:14.110] - Tamara Gruber So I was just researching some potential hotels in Dublin in Ireland because we're still trying to figure out where to take Hannah for her graduation trip. And that's one option. And I was going through some of these options because I really want it to be like, nice hotels, like special hotel in for this trip. But obviously I would always like to save some money. So I found one on Room Steals where I could save $142 and then another one where I could save $60. So it's like all these things could add up over the course of a big trip. [00:01:46.570] - Tamara Gruber So it's like even just that one hotel stay would be saving more than the cost of the membership. So I definitely encourage everyone to go check out Room Steals. Like Kim said, it is a browser extension that you can download add to Chrome. And then when you're searching for hotels, you're able to see whether or not there's a deal that you'd like to take advantage of. And just remember, check out Room steals. Com. You can sign up using Code vacationmavens all one word, all lowercase and save 20%, and we thank them for their support. [00:02:15.280] - Kim Tate So Tamara talking about hotels and getting deals through Room Steals. Today we are going to talk with a guest that we've had on before, and he's one of my favorite savvy travel guys. And that's Ed Pizza. [00:02:27.960] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So he travels so so much every year, he knows all the hotels, all the programs, what the best deals are, what the best credit cards are, and he's going to share all of his knowledge. So I can't wait to jump into that interview. [00:02:40.540] - Kim Tate Let's chat with him. [00:02:49.470] - Tamara Gruber So today we're here with Ed Pizza. He's a road warrior, and family traveler. And when we're not in the middle of a pandemic, he travels 100,000 miles a year for work. His family loves luxury travel, all things Disney, and even bought an RV during the pandemic. You can check out his podcast Miles to go at the same places you can catch vacation, mavens. And you can also find him writing about traveling a pizza in motion dot com. So Ed, welcome back to the podcast. [00:03:15.640] - Ed Pizza Hey, thanks for having me back, guys. It's been a while and I'm excited to be back on talking stuff. [00:03:20.110] - Tamara Gruber I know you're back traveling a little bit for work, but how long did you go without being on an airplane? [00:03:25.780] - Ed Pizza So I was actually in New Zealand helping a friend on the Tarmac when the US announced that they were closing arrivals to Europeans. And that was me coming back into the country. So that was called like, March 14 ish. And I didn't get back on a plane. That was March 14, 2020. Sorry, I didn't get back on a plane until early June 2021, but I have been ramping things up, and I think it's interesting that if you guys hadn't reached doubt to have me come podcast, I was almost going to reach out to you guys because we're following this parallel track and that I spent a couple of weeks in Maine, I think right before you did, Sarah and I just finished coming back across the Canadian border on the east side, Kim to your west. [00:04:11.260] - Kim Tate Nice. [00:04:13.150] - Ed Pizza So a little bit of family travel, mostly road warrior stuff. [00:04:18.470] - Kim Tate Especially now that you have an RV that you were one of the many that jumped into that lifestyle. I've seen some of your things that's kind of funny how you're like, I'm embracing this for my family, but I am not embracing this. This is what I want to do with my life. [00:04:33.000] - Ed Pizza Yeah. I mean, as I've said jokingly a number of times if it happened to burn to the ground and I got an insurance settlement, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. But the kids and you guys know that your kids are older than mine. And so I think you probably have a better grasp of this than I do. You wake up at some point and you realize that they're going to College and you're like, Well, did I fill up the bucket enough? And our kids still love both of us. [00:04:59.150] - Ed Pizza My wife and I, and they like being with us. And they really love the camping thing. And so as much as I grumble and say bad words, sometimes when things break, which is pretty much every time we roll it anywhere, the memories that they're creating with us, I hope, will be things that when they get to College, it's, wow. That's in the bucket of things that I love doing as a kid. [00:05:21.850] - Tamara Gruber That's good. You speaking to my heart there. [00:05:24.870] - Kim Tate I was going to say Tamara and I are both right there because we both have girls going off to College. As you've probably heard, we're definitely in that wondering how we can keep scraping some more trips in there and then hoping that the College schedules will allow us to keep traveling and that our kids will keep traveling with us through those four years as well, at least for me. [00:05:47.390] - Ed Pizza And I know it's not what we're talking about today, but I think a really good point to make that I've obviously seen with the way that both of you guys travel with your family is that we all make memories in a variety of different ways. But we've all chosen travel as one of those primary ways to create those memories. And just like you, I'm hoping that the work that we put in for travel up until our daughter is a sophomore in high school. Now I'm hopeful that when she gets into College, it'll be, hey, I'd love to go take a Disney trip. [00:06:18.940] - Ed Pizza Hey, dad, mom, do you want to go or, hey, I love Lisbon. Or can we go visit Peggy's Cove in Canada? Whatever that there's a powerful enough connection to a place that they've been. They're like, I want to go and I want to go with mom and dad. [00:06:32.830] - Tamara Gruber I was just thinking mine is talking about the road trip that she wants to do with her friends post graduation, but I know she'll come back to our trips as well. [00:06:41.510] - Kim Tate Definitely. I think we're in that same boat, Tamara. So if you're listening to this and like, do you have a few more years? Definitely. Don't worry about I spent so many summers not planning and stuff because I hated crowds and also because we have such nice summers here in Seattle. But I now kind of regret not using that summertime more efficiently. Although we did take a lot of family trips and visited family and had family here. So I guess it was well used, but definitely maximize your time off with your kids. [00:07:13.940] - Tamara Gruber Well, speaking of traveling with kids and planning and thinking ahead and all of that, one of the ways that we've gotten to travel a little bit more or structure our budget a little bit more is using hotel loyalty programs and trying to maximize some free nights here and there. And I was thinking about which programs are really best for families. And I know a lot of programs have changed recently. And Ed, you came to mind because I know on your Miles to Go, you talk about this a lot, and I think I might know the answer. [00:07:47.180] - Tamara Gruber But when it comes to hotel loyalty programs, what one do you really like for families? So not business travelers, but really for families. [00:07:56.600] - Ed Pizza I'm going to give you my favorite. And then if we have time later, I'm going to give you my sleeper because I think there's someone coming up on the outside turn that maybe doesn't become my favorite, but it started to earn their keep above some of the other chains. But for me, it's it. And for many years it was starwood preferred guest before Marriott bought them because they understood that road warriors have husbands, wives, significant others, in a lot of cases, kids. And they want to take care of those other people because that makes that means the business traveler want to patronize them and high. [00:08:29.570] - Ed Pizza It just where they really get this right, and they get it right in a number of different ways. But I think primarily it's in reducing friction for family travel. So when we think about a family of three or four, we don't all live in one room at home. We certainly don't share one bathroom, especially with a teenage daughter. So being able to have space when we travel, it is huge. And it has benefits like being able to request and confirm a suite upgrade at the time of booking, which is unique amongst the major hotel chains. [00:09:00.780] - Ed Pizza And you say, well, if I know ahead of time where I can get that extra space for my family, that helps drive where we might choose to go on vacation. And there are a lot of other benefits to the world Hyatt program that I think make things easier for families, things like free breakfast, guaranteed late checkout, just things that make it easier for when family travel goes sideways, which the younger your kids are, the more frequently that happens. [00:09:23.820] - Tamara Gruber 100% agree. My husband was ambassador level with Marriott for a while, and he had these five suite upgrades of a year or something to use. And we were looking to book a suite in Amsterdam. I think it was and we like you we want the space. It's all about having a little extra space, not being crammed into those two double beds in particular. And we wanted to book this week, but we're like, do we actually pay for it, or do we take the risk that we can use one of these upgrades and not being able to confirm that, you know, you have that upgrade. [00:09:58.620] - Tamara Gruber It makes such a difference because you're making a totally different choice. And of course, we ended up just doing an Airbnb instead. [00:10:03.840] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And especially when you talk about families in Europe in that the restrictions on the number of people in a room are very different from the US. There are plenty of rooms in Europe where two is the Max Occupancy and a flu or three same in Asia. So that's a complication. And I think one of the things you mentioned, Marriott Ambassador, and I had a Marriott ambassador for a long time. In the beginning, they were great at communicating with the properties and they could advocate on your behalf. [00:10:31.470] - Ed Pizza But I'll be honest with you. For me, at least one of the biggest benefits that world of Hyatt provides for me. I have their equivalent. It's called my Hyatt concierge as part of their globalist status. It isn't even necessarily the suite upgrades. Those are great. And who doesn't love a big plus room with an awesome view and all that stuff? But for me, it can really be as simple as can you just guarantee me connecting rooms? My kids are younger, like we just want connecting rooms. [00:10:56.420] - Ed Pizza I don't need something fancy, and my Hyatt concierge would always contact the property early on my behalf, and they would work with the property to block rooms. And I can say, honest to God, I very rarely use the words always or never. In the ten or so years I've been top tier status with Hyatt, I've never shown up at a property that promised me connecting rooms ahead of time and not gotten them. And as a family traveler, that's huge. I need just a few times a year, but when I need it, I need it and they always say yes, we're going to take care of you. [00:11:29.720] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, Hyatt is not a property or a brand that I get to stay at a lot. There aren't quite as many. I think that's one of the problems that people run into. But when I've had an opportunity to stay at a Hyatt place just in terms of the lower tier, I was kind of amazed. I love this setup where it has kind of a partial dividing wall between the bed and the sitting area with the pullout couch. So when you have a younger child, you have that little bit of that separation of space without going for the larger suite or two rooms. [00:11:59.390] - Tamara Gruber So another benefit to me are some of the Hyatt brands that people may not be familiar with. [00:12:04.310] - Ed Pizza Yeah, no, I agree. And I think Hyatt House is another brand of there where they have multiple room suites. And I've had a reasonable amount of luck in contacting a property ahead of time through the concierge and asking even though it wasn't, isn't a published benefit to say, hey, can I use a suite upgrade certificate to just get a two bedroom unit instead of a one bedroom? And very rarely I've been told no for things like that. So I think it's the flexibility that they work with folks on. [00:12:30.320] - Ed Pizza It's not that Marriott or Hilton or anything to change doesn't have fabulous, unbelievable properties. I think it's for family travelers and for specific needs. We just need a little bit more flexibility at times. And Hyatt works hard to give that that's nice. [00:12:46.630] - Kim Tate I've heard a few other people that are kind of in the point space. They just love Hyatt. I'll admit, one of the things that's kept me from just going all in on them. I find I have a harder time finding properties where if you're doing like a road tripping type family or something like that, those Marriott properties, it seems like everywhere you go there's a Fairfield Inn. So that is one thing that I have noticed. Do you think there's any limitations on property availability with Hyatts? And then do you have any favorite property within that program that you think are great for families to check out if they're looking for a kind of hotel destination? [00:13:23.000] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And I think that's a fair criticism of Hyatt. If there is one is that they don't have the third tier city when you're going to visit friends and family when you're going to visit Grandma, if you're road tripping in the US, that's certainly an area where they're weaker than the other chains. They've expanded their footprint through really interesting partnerships. They have a big partnership with small luxury hotels of the world, which means that they now have over a dozen properties in Italy where they used to have one, and they things of that nature. [00:13:54.090] - Ed Pizza But as you say, I always use Williamsburg, Virginia, sort of my textbook example of the comparison between Marriott Hyatt, and each person will choose what's most important to them. Williamsburg, Virginia, Colonial, Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, all that stuff. It's a family destination. Not far from my house. There are zero Hyatts. There are no limited service properties. There are five Marriotts. They're all kind of dingy, but there are five properties there. And so the choice I make when my family goes to Williamsburg is do we drive 45 minutes from a very new Hyatt place, or do we stay right there at one of the Marriotts? [00:14:28.410] - Ed Pizza That's convenient, but not as nice as property, and I don't know that there's a right answer for that. I think every family makes that decision. But if you're going to make a compromise at times, that's the compromise you'd make with a road tripping in the US where I think they have some really specific fits, though, that work well for families. As you mentioned, what are some of my favorite properties? First and foremost, I think Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, just outside the gates at Disney World, is a big plus, and it didn't use to be as big a plus. [00:14:57.680] - Ed Pizza But as Disney has reduced the benefits you get from staying on site, the Grand Cypress, it hasn't taken anything away. And beautiful property, tons of space, lots of pools, all that stuff right outside the gates of Disney, so it's easy to get to. I think again, when we think about family travel, Hyatt has a brand called Ziva, which is a family geared, all inclusive brand with properties mostly focused in Mexico and the Caribbean, which on points can be a really great way to go on vacation without spending money, because you could generally redeem points for extra guests in your room as well as the two base guests that are normally included in a reservation. [00:15:36.710] - Ed Pizza So you can actually use points to pay for your meals at an all inclusive with Hyatt, which I think is interesting, and it might not be the best value for everyone. But again, if it's hey, how do we take an extra family vacation every year being able to use points to cover meals? It might mean that your family gets to go rent a catamaran for the day or swim with Dolphins or do some other activity that maybe you didn't have the cash for something like that. [00:16:00.530] - Ed Pizza It's a great choice. And then we were really surprised to go further afield. Everybody, all the bloggers talk about the Park Hyatt Sydney is this unbelievably beautiful property that overlooks the opera house, and it's under the Harbor Bridge in Sydney. And I agree with all those things. I stayed there a few times. It's a wonderful hotel, but right down the road from it is the Hyatt Regency Sydney, which opened up a few years ago. And it's kind of a rooftop lounge up on one of the really high floors. [00:16:26.870] - Ed Pizza And so we were there for a week right before the pandemic in 2019. And by the second day of our stay, everybody in the lounge had memorized not only our kids names but the drinks that they liked in the morning, in the evening and what they like for breakfast. And so my kids were doted on by the lounge grew all included with my room as part of our stay, and they never had to ask for anything. They were doted on. They loved it. And my wife and I could enjoy a cup of coffee or out on the terrace on our own and watch our kids through the glass and watch the staff take care of them. [00:16:59.420] - Ed Pizza And it was a really great way to sort of sneak away for a few minutes as a husband wife while our kids were still with us on this epic trip. [00:17:06.460] - Kim Tate That's important. I think that when you can find a good hotel, they kind of recognize your kids as guests as well. Kids love that. And they remember that for sure. [00:17:15.240] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And I might not get this exactly right because I didn't look it up on the charts before we hopped on to record. But I think it's half the points of the Park Hyatt, which again is a delightful hotel, but it's pricey. And then I think there's other fun things. Grand Hyatt Bahamas is a really huge resort property in the Bahamas. So if you're looking for a way to do something like in Atlantis style property, but using points, I think that's a great choice. And then I'm a sucker for old historical properties. [00:17:43.390] - Ed Pizza So the Driscoll in Austin, Texas, is the Yellow Rose, as they call it, is one of my favorite old historic hotels. That's part of it as well. [00:17:51.240] - Tamara Gruber Does it have a collection like that the way the autograph collection for Marriott or gosh, what's the Hilton one. [00:17:58.350] - Ed Pizza There's so many of those different brand like the Marriott Hilton has spawned all these names for different things of all the brands. And the short answer is not only is the answer yes, but there's a ton of them, and some. Some of my fellow travel bloggers have almost criticized the hits and the merits of the world for having you have too many brands. Those things don't necessarily matter as much to me per se. I guess I understand it to some degree, but at the end the day, I think as travelers and especially family drivers, we're just looking for interesting, unique properties. [00:18:29.110] - Ed Pizza And as long as they come up on the website, I'm all years yet they have their unbound collection. And that was where it started with some recent acquisitions. They sort of added a bunch of other brands, so they fall under a bunch of different names, and I won't list all of them out. But like unbound one destination hotels, Thompson Hotels, a bunch of collections that they've absorbed over the past few years and acquisitions. But I think one of the fun things that hit does is they have what's called a Brand Explorer program. [00:18:57.870] - Ed Pizza I don't quote me on this, but I think there are 15 brands right now across the portfolio and in the boundless portfolio and the independent collections. For every five different brands you visit with it, you earn a free night, and so you can earn up to three free nights by staying at all the different brands. So it's a pretty cool unpublished benefit of it is that every time you chalk up one of these, you're closer to a free night at a high in the world. [00:19:22.760] - Tamara Gruber That's interesting. So they really want you to explore the breath of those brands. I mean, I like those kind of collections because then, you know, you're having something that's maybe historic or at least has character and personality versus your standard Hyatt. Hilton, whatever the generic kind of business hotel cool. That's good to know. Well, I am very intrigued by your hinting at a dark horse. So before we jump into our other questions, what would be your number two? [00:19:51.760] - Ed Pizza Yeah. So I'm not sure if this is my number two, but certainly they're right there in line with Hilton, because I think Hilton's maybe just a smidge ahead of them. But Wyndham redid their credit card portfolio late last year. And honestly, it was one of the things I wasn't paying a ton of attention to and through a mutual friend they had asked about sponsoring the podcast, and I'm generally not somebody who does that sort of thing unless it's a brand that I really support a lot of like, I really want to be into something. [00:20:18.520] - Ed Pizza I was like, Wyndham, it's not my favorite. Could there are a lot of lower to your properties that weren't really my fit. The credit card is really geared up being able to maximize points for earning for families, which I think is a hard thing to do if you're not a road warrior. And where I think they really fit for family travel is they have a huge chunk of vacation rentals. So they have some of their own, quote, unquote vacation rental properties. And they have partnerships with brands like Vacasa. [00:20:47.480] - Ed Pizza I never know if I say that correctly, but because of that, that we think of again, when we think of families, or at least for me, I think of space. And so there's a property in Orlando called Magic Villages, which is a Wyndham property, and you can use your points to redeem for up to a four bedroom luxury condo with pools and all that other stuff that are beautifully appointed, big barbecue grills outside at Zero fridges, all that stuff. And you can do that with points. [00:21:18.200] - Ed Pizza And it's equidistant between Disney World and Universal. And then you've got ski lodges and log cabins in Montana and properties overseas. And so I think when I think about family travel and I think about space and Airbnb and the role it plays and how our family travel world has changed. Wyndham sort of forging this middle ground where they say like, yeah, sure. If you want a Wyndham hotel or one of our other limited service brands like, we got you covered. But if you need more space, you can turn those points into Airbnb ish type rental in hundreds of cities around the world. [00:21:56.270] - Ed Pizza And I think that adds a lot of value for family travelers. Not as much for people who like to travel in a traditional way. But I think family Traveler specifically Wyndhams carving at a niche to say you could earn a bunch of points on our credit cards and you can use them for Airbnb ish type stays around the world. [00:22:12.740] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, that's good. I think about Smugglers Notch in Vermont, which is an amazing family ski resort. I used to be part of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, and I have to double check that it is. And I know I have a friends awesome that really love the property in Orlando and love that space option. Like you mentioned. [00:22:33.490] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And the Smugglers Notch is still a Club Wyndham property. And again, people think of timeshares like, oh, I don't want to buy a Timeshare, and that's a whole other podcast for some other day. But I think Wyndham gives you the ability to stay at those properties and not be a timeshare owner. So I think that's what's unique about the them in Hyatt has a very small collection of those properties time shersh sort of residence club properties. In fact, one of my favorites is in Sedona. It's called the Hyatt Residence Club Pinon Point, not that far from the Grand Canyon, but they only have 15 or 20 of those where Wyndham literally has over 1000 with the Club Wyndham stuff, vacation rentals and the Vacasa partnership. [00:23:14.530] - Ed Pizza So if you like that sort of travel where you're not staying in a hotel and you want a little bit more space, Wyndham is really carved that niche. And before when they didn't have a really robust credit card platform, it was harder to earn a lot of points with them. And now, especially if I'm a small business owner, and I understand that not everybody is that. But if you are a small business owner, some of the stuff that they have bonus categories on are very unique, like utility bills and stuff like that, that definitely aren't for everyone. [00:23:47.230] - Ed Pizza But if you happen to be somebody who as a small business owner and you've got all that stuff, it's a great way. Wait a pile on a ton of points that you're not going to find somewhere else. [00:23:54.620] - Kim Tate And do you know, if Wyndham is a transfer partner of either Chase or Amex it's one of the downsides is that they're not really have that kind of the credit card of their own to their credit cards are issued by Barkley's. [00:24:08.960] - Ed Pizza And I think you guys know some of the Barclay cards they've had over time, but they don't really have a flexible currency. Okay, as you say, with Chase and American Express, and even sort of coming around the bend with City adding like, I a partner like American Airlines to their fold, that in doing the and the Capital One is really up their game. This is the area where I think Barclay's as weakest is that they just don't have that robust transfer network. So you'd have to invest in holding a Wyndham card to earn a bunch of Wyndham points. [00:24:41.800] - Ed Pizza And I might be forgetting some other Wyndham transfer partner out there. And if they're out there, I apologize. I'm definitely not a credit card expert, like some other folks are in the space. I my interest has been peaked in a way that I wasn't expecting. [00:24:55.860] - Kim Tate Well, definitely for families. I can see why that might be appealing. So let's quickly just finish up this little bit of a category and touch base about maybe Hilton, of course, Marriott. Maybe even if we have time, you could mention IHG do you see, what are the pros and cons for any of those three type brands for to show up on their loyalty train. [00:25:20.870] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And I'll try to cover all three quickly. I think they all represent slightly different things. One of the things that I think Hilton has in common with Hyatt is that they value treating folks well on award stays. So things like no resort fees on award stays is a really cool benefit of Hilton that it has as well. I think the benefit for Hilton is massive footprint, easy to earn lots of points. And so you sort of got this world where Marriott has really expensive properties that cost a ton of points, but they don't issue a lot of points you've hired as a smaller footprint, and their properties cost less points. [00:25:57.480] - Ed Pizza And Hilton somewhere in the middle, and that they do have an award chart where the resort property can get pricey, but they give away a lot of points for hotel stays, they give away a lot of points for folks who happen to hold their credit cards. And as you mentioned earlier about road tripping, you can find a Hilton anywhere. Marriott is the same way in terms of footprint size, but they do charge things like resort fees and parking and stuff like that on awards stays, so they're not completely quote, unquote free. [00:26:23.030] - Tamara Gruber Can you explain for our listeners what award stays are? [00:26:26.040] - Ed Pizza Yeah. So if you spend on a credit card or you stay on a paid stay, you earn points in the loyalty program. So if you have a Hilton credit card, you're in Hilton points. If you have a Marriott credit card earning Marriott points, and then there's all the transferable partners, which maybe we find time to talk about today. But as Kim alluded to Chase and American Express, so you build up these points. And those points help get you a free room. And not all points are created equally. [00:26:54.150] - Ed Pizza So we like to say that top tier property at Marriott is 100,000 points and a top tier property that is 30,000 points per night. And so it's a lot easier, cheaper in points to get a free room with it. But they don't quite give the same amount of points per dollar. That's where it gets a little bit like funny money math. But Hilton, like I said, sits in the middle where they give a lot of points for folks who stay on paid nights. And you can also earn a lot of points with bonus categories on their credit cards. [00:27:25.740] - Ed Pizza So you you can build up a pretty big balance of Hilton points quickly if your goal is to save up for a family vacation. [00:27:32.140] - Tamara Gruber Now, some of these programs have changed some things recently. Do you want to touch on that? [00:27:37.280] - Ed Pizza Yeah. So again, we talk about family travel. Things like free breakfast is important, and Hilton rolled out some changes that they say are temporary. And I'm actually supposed to be recording with an executive from Hilton on my podcast in October. So hoping to get a more final answer on this. But they've temporarily removed to a benefit where instead of getting free breakfast, you get a credit per day that you can use for breakfast. If you wanted to use it for breakfast, which you can also use it for a drink in the bar in the evening, et cetera. [00:28:08.660] - Ed Pizza It doesn't cover traditionally what a free breakfast used to cover. And sort of where this came from was during the pandemic. A lot of hotels eliminated free breakfast completely in the beginning. It was because we didn't really know how COVID was bread is now sort of become this thing of, well, gosh, we lost a lot of money during COVID, so we don't want to have breakfast out anymore. And I think it's a big question Mark right now on what the future will look like. I think hotel owners don't really want to give free breakfast. [00:28:32.760] - Ed Pizza They've never really wanted to, but it's always been a benefit that's been there. And so there's this unique most moment where a chain like Hilton is trying to move away. It seems from that free breakfast benefit, and I'm going to be really interested to see how this rolls for, because as of right now, it is only listed as a temporary benefit. You guys have been in this business long enough to know that lots of things that are temporary become permanent. So that might be where we end up with us. [00:28:57.450] - Ed Pizza But right now, the breakfast benefit, Hilton is nowhere near as good as it used to be in a vacuum. That being said in my travels, I've seen very few hotels that really have have a free breakfast out, as opposed to a Brown paper bag with a Nutri grain bar, an Apple and a bottle of water [00:29:14.620] - Kim Tate for a while there when we took our spring break road trip, they weren't even stocked with that stuff because they couldn't get supply chains as like we have one almond milk and an Orange going to the first customer down. [00:29:27.910] - Ed Pizza Yeah, it has been crazy and I didn't touch on IHG I think is sort of falls behind those others. I think at this point Wyndham has passed them in my mind and that it doesn't really have the vacation rental part of their platform. And for those that might not know IHG or brands like Holiday Inn, Holiday and Express Intercontinental, they have beautiful properties overseas, Europe and Asia, much more so than I'd say in the US where the I think they can play a role is definitely road tripping. [00:30:00.260] - Ed Pizza And then also, if you happen to be somebody who has some travel for work in the US, I think earning points stand staying at US based IHG properties and then using them for some of the really cool properties overseas. They have some really eclectic older style properties in Europe that I think are a lot of fun. So that would be how I think about trying to use is it would be saying if your traveler road warrior staying at the Holiday Express throughout the year so you can redeem for a really cool Intercontental stay in Europe or Asia. [00:30:34.620] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, they have cool. The Hotel Indigo brand properties are pretty cool too for those boutique type of stays. [00:30:43.570] - Ed Pizza And they are expanding. The Hotel Indigo brand obviously has a lot of change during the pandemic, but I do expect there to be more Hotel Indigo being built over the next handful of years. [00:30:57.260] - Kim Tate A brand I always like the decor and stuff. It's very clean and modern feel and a little bit of the local vibe with local artists and some of that stuff. So that's cool. [00:31:07.960] - Ed Pizza Yeah. Last I checked and don't quote me on this. There's probably about 100 or so Hotel Indigo in the pipeline and there's probably about 100 open right now, so they'll probably double the size of that brand over the next call, four or five years. [00:31:23.220] - Kim Tate So now that you've given us a good layout of all the great programs, and maybe people are thinking of which property or which brand might work best for them. Do you have any tips or suggestions for how to build up points with some of these programs beyond just hotel stays? So you mentioned a little bit about the Wyndham credit cards, so I know credit cards are a huge part of it. So any other tips or what info do they need to know about earning and transferring hotel points? [00:31:49.700] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And I think you keyed right there on the last two words that you said are the two ways that we're thinking about this. Are we earning points or are we transferring them? And so I think there's two separate paths, and I'm going to take them backwards because I think the transferring path is the one that's going to work for more people. Then the best example I like to use for folks is for anybody out there that has a retirement account. I hope you don't have everything all in one individual stock or mutual fund. [00:32:14.850] - Ed Pizza You're diversified. So Kim kind of alluded to this before where Chase and American Express both have their own flexible currencies. Chases is called Ultimate Rewards, and American Express is called membership rewards. And so you can spend on a credit card, a certain Chase branded credit cards and certain American Express branded credit cards. And you can then transfer those points to hotels. And for this, I specifically like Chase better than I like American Express, and that Chase has multiple hotel partners you can transfer to IG. But you can also transfer to Marriott and to High. [00:32:49.820] - Ed Pizza So lots of flexibility there. And if you ultimately decide you didn't want to transfer hotels because you got a really super deal, like you found a super cheap hotel and you want to use your money on your hotels and then use your points for airline tickets. You'd have that flexibility. But this also goes back to what the value of points are. And if you transfer points from Chase Ultimate Reward, so let's say you had, like, a Chase Sapphire preferred card, and you earn points for dining out and groceries and all that stuff. [00:33:17.670] - Ed Pizza And then you transfer those points. They're going to go a lot further with Hyatt, where the most expensive property costs 30,000 points a night versus Marriott, where the most expensive property will set you back about 100,000 points a night because you're still transferring on a one to one basis from Chase Ultimate Rewards to these different hotel programs. So for most folks, I think those sorts of cards offer great flexibility, which I think is what we want in travel, especially for family travelers. If hotels is really the thing that you're most focused on, then yes, absolutely. [00:33:49.470] - Ed Pizza They're or hotel credit cards. And not just because of my bias towards Hyatt, but I also think they have a pretty strong offering for credit cards in that they offer bonus points for dining out airline tickets, gym memberships, which is a fairly unique category. Mass transit,  tolls, taxis, just a whole bunch of different categories where you can earn points for the things that you do on an everyday basis and use those to turn into vacation points further down the road. [00:34:19.360] - Tamara Gruber So would you ever recommend having a brand specific card as well? [00:34:24.720] - Ed Pizza You know, I think if your main goal is that you're going to be a free agent from an air travel standpoint where you're never going to use points for that, then I think a hotel branded credit card can make more sense. I think the other thing, too, that's a really solid reason to pick up a hotel credit card is that some of the cards do offer some level of status along with holding the card. That's a benefit of some cards, and it's very different amongst the different cards people use Hyatt  as an example is that you do get discovered status with them, which earns you a free late checkout and a bonus on points that you earn. But it also gives you sort of a head start to the next level of status as well. So those can be great ways to sort of bridge across. Marriott has a lot more credit cards than hit us, so you have the ability to sort of maximize that if you're willing to hold multiple credit cards, they also have credit cards from both Chase and American Express. [00:35:23.520] - Ed Pizza But you really do have to sit down and think about as you start to get into multiple credit cards. Are you really getting the value for the annual fees for all these cards? Because some of them have gotten quite expensive for annual fees for five $600 a fee. And we just want to make sure that we're getting that value if we're going to keep that card in our wallet year in, year out. Whereas something like Chase Sapphire preferred annual fee is $95, and it's not hard to get $95 in value on a yearly basis. [00:35:48.640] - Kim Tate Yeah, I was going to say one of the things I have the Marriott, and it is kind of nice when I choose that knowing that I'm earning six points or ten points or whatever it is now on those hotel stays, and I don't even have to think about that. And then it's kind of funny, though, because I get gold with them, which doesn't do anything with Marriott now and then I get gold with my Amex as well. So I'm paying all the stupid fees to get overlap that still doesn't do anything. [00:36:13.730] - Kim Tate But I've been really looking at my Amex Platinum lately to see if I'm really getting my $700 worth or whatever they raise the annual fee to this year. [00:36:23.030] - Ed Pizza Yeah, not to dig too deeply into the numbers of it but again, depending on which Marriott card you have, we talked about the one to one transfer from Chase to Marriott. And so for every day spend, you could still either category where you can earn three, four, five chase points per dollar and then transfer those to Marriott in a one to one basis. So you can definitely make an argument why a Marriott card might be really good for you to pay for your Marriott stays. [00:36:53.350] - Ed Pizza The other bonus categories on those cards generally aren't as generous as some of these, like middle of the road flexible currency cards where you can come out of head. [00:37:02.330] - Kim Tate Overall, I've been trying to figure that with dining. That's been my biggest dilemma lately is when I'm eating out because I don't have, like, a freedom or any of those things. So I feel like the Marriott actually recently looked like it was more. But then when you look at the points value, my Chase ink is probably the best way to go. So I was really torn about that one. [00:37:21.960] - Ed Pizza Yeah, and dining is one of those things. It isn't necessarily a big strength of the Marriott card. The chase cards are pretty weak on those categories, and I don't remember all the American Express benefits off the top of my head. But when you think about the fact that you take a car like the American Express gold card that are in four points per one dollars on dining, that's a pretty sizable bonuses compared to the other cards. And don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that annual fee is 250 where you're obviously a lot higher with some of the premium cards. [00:37:56.360] - Ed Pizza So you get three points per dollar on the Bonvoy brilliant. I was tell the names are confused. [00:38:01.250] - Kim Tate I know they make it. Yeah, I have their business one. I don't know which one that is. I don't have a really expensive one. [00:38:06.490] - Ed Pizza They all have B names, but that one only earns three points per dollar on dining where you're getting four on American Express gold. So again, it's a mixed bag of things. I think if you're going to have a lot of Marriott stays, those can be solid cards for you, but I think at the end of the day it's hey, sit down and make sure you're doing the math on what you're paying for annual fee to make sure you really are getting the value. Because on that one, like a big part of why that card should be in your wallet is because you're going to use that $300 credit that it comes with at a Marriott property, because if not, then you're paying $450 for a credit card on a yearly basis. [00:38:44.060] - Ed Pizza And that's a pretty big chunk of change. [00:38:45.950] - Kim Tate I have the size down one on that one. I don't have that expensive one. The other one boundless or busy. I don't know why they chose to make the full you'll never know makes them hard to say. [00:38:58.580] - Ed Pizza Yes. [00:38:59.470] - Tamara Gruber I will say that one time I got Marriott card for a while. And if anybody has an event coming up, it's a good thing to do. Right. So I hosted my daughter's, bat mitzvah party at a Marriott, and you basically got, I think, like, three times the points. If you're hosting an event there, there was some kind of calculation that I did where I was getting points for the rooms that were booked as part of my group as well as the event itself by putting it all on that Marriott card. [00:39:29.840] - Tamara Gruber So that's how I tried to maximize that for a while. [00:39:33.200] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And you can even triple up and that they have a meeting planner program. So when you're planning larger events like that, you can earn points on top of those points. [00:39:41.940] - Tamara Gruber I think that's what I did. Yeah. [00:39:45.020] - Ed Pizza That's a great way to triple up with you, as you say, when you have things like special family events that can really maximize your earnings. [00:39:51.480] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Well, as you said, we can dive into credit cards for a very long time. And I suggest anyone that really wants to get into this should definitely be subscribed to Miles to go, because sometimes you guys get into conversations on there where I'm like, Whoa, too much vernacular, too much jargon going on here because you definitely have guests that really know what they're talking about. So I would definitely recommend that. But I'm just curious. As a road warrior in so many hotels, sometimes you always want to write a post about biggest hotel pet peeves. [00:40:22.900] - Tamara Gruber But of course, who would care? But I want to hear what are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to hotels? And are they brand specific? [00:40:29.860] - Ed Pizza Well, and first off, I would care. So if you ever do write that, so let me know what I'll read it for me. Honestly, the biggest pet peeve that's developed over the past couple of years, and I hate to think of just the pandemic, but I think that this was lasting effects after we're done is what I've started to affectionately refer to as what I call no notice. No housekeeping. A lot of chains made changes to their housekeeping rules during the pandemic. In some cases, they weren't coming into rooms at all. [00:40:56.890] - Ed Pizza In other cases, like Hilton, they sort of moved away from the the standard of daily housekeeping. Two rules that make it sound like can't have housekeeping on a daily basis where in most cases, you could still ask for it. But I think the notice is the big part. We're all adults here. Let us make adult choices if you're not going to offer me housekeeping, which for the 40 plus years I've been on this planet has been a standard of pretty much every hotel in the country, minus some very limited narrow set of brands. [00:41:26.170] - Ed Pizza Housekeeping is a thing. We expect it. And so if you if you don't have enough staff or there's not enough money to do it. All those things. Just be honest about it and tell me upfront that. Hey, you're going to be here for six days and we're never going to clean your room. As with anybody in the pandemic, I can understand that hotels have gone through a real tough time not to sound sarcastic. I'm in the restaurant industry. We serve burgers and fries. If a customer pays me the same price they paid for a burger last year, I can't tell them I'm not giving them a hamburger bun today. [00:41:56.150] - Ed Pizza I still need to give them everything that they paid for. And housekeeping. I still just one of those things that I expect as part of hotel stay unless you tell me a time. And if you tell me out of time, hey, we're not going to here are the rules. At least I know the rules going into it. It's the changing of things and not telling customers clearly hear that we're not offering just like we talked about the free breakfast thing. Like, look, it's the published benefit than I expected. [00:42:17.600] - Ed Pizza And if you tell me you're not going to deliver it because of XYZ, at least I can make the choice as to whether or not I come stay at your exactly. [00:42:24.460] - Kim Tate I totally agree. They've been really lazy at notifying everyone even along on booking. I understand they can't always control third party booking sites, but on their own sites, they need to be saying if the breakfast is going to be a grab and grow bag, it should be right there on your reservation page. Or if they're not offering daily housekeeping or daily housekeeping can be added on to your even if they start saying, okay, you can get a prepay rate, you can get a regular refundable rate, or you can also book a rate that includes housekeeping. [00:42:55.990] - Kim Tate Fine, start doing that. But I think the lack of, like, housekeepers has been a big impact, and but I'm with you. Just let us know in advance. [00:43:06.360] - Ed Pizza Yeah, just be intellectually honest with your customers. We're smart enough to figure out that nobody came in and cleaned the room, and we're smart enough to remember we weren't told. So just get it out there ahead of time. [00:43:15.100] - Kim Tate That's the most annoying thing to me is just not knowing and then coming home expecting, especially when you're a family. [00:43:20.740] - Tamara Gruber Right. [00:43:20.950] - Kim Tate And you've got all of your towels are all mixed up and the kids would put theirs all over the floor, beds or carpet. And you're like, who's that never happens. You. Well, your kids are perfect. [00:43:31.790] - Tamara Gruber And not to mention there's that one tiny garbage can that fills up within a minute of arriving. [00:43:37.800] - Kim Tate And then for a while, when you were eating all your meals, like in your room, that worked really well. [00:43:43.740] - Ed Pizza Yeah, I think again, like, we're all adults, we can all cope with a new reality. If you tell me. I've got to put my trash can out by 08:00 at night, and sombody's going to pick it up. [00:43:52.060] - Kim Tate Great. [00:43:52.600] - Ed Pizza Then I know what the standard is. If we're never going to dump your trash can for five days, that's going to get ugly. [00:43:57.390] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Well, and also back in the day, you were at least given the incentive of you get some points if you bypass housekeeping with kind of I always did not trust the greenness of that. I thought it was more of a way of getting out of housekeeping, but at least you got something for for it, right? Whereas now it's like, oh, no, you have to request it like you're being a diva to request it. It's like, no, if I'm going to say that, I'm not kidding it then give me something for that. [00:44:25.090] - Ed Pizza And the height of the pandemic when hotel rates were like, 50 or $60 a night because nobody was staying, I think it was an understandable quid pro quo. As a business traveler, I paid $300 to stay in a regular old Marriott property a handful of weeks ago and was told that I couldn't get daily housekeeping. It's like I'm paying three hundred dollars a night. That rate should have enough baked into it that you can get somebody clean the room. And if you can't understand, staffing is a big issue, but you need to communicate that. [00:44:51.910] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I told this story recently on the podcast where I paid 250 a night to stay at a really crappy town place suites that was dirty and they didn't even have a pillow for my daughter to use on the pull out bed. It's like those kinds of things, like, no, sorry, it's taking it too far. Yeah, I agree. [00:45:09.430] - Kim Tate So now that we've talked about pet peeves and things that are driving us all nuts, what about some of the amenities or perks that you look for when you're debating between what hotel to choose? Yeah. [00:45:20.830] - Ed Pizza Well, we obviously talked about one of my favorites before, which were those confirmable suite upgrades at time of booking for Hyatt. So I think that's a really big one, just because I can lay that shit down when I need to for that one or two vacations a year and say, here's my ticket. I want that special room and tell me now. So I think that's a big one for me and for our family. I also think we're Hyatt and Hilton have really focused on reducing fees for folks who are on award stays. [00:45:50.310] - Ed Pizza So resort fees for Hyatt Hilton Hyatt went so far as to say we're not going to charge for parking on award stays. And it's not that parking costs a lot of money, but it's more like the nickeling and diming of stuff when you're on vacation, like, here's another fee and here's another fee and here's another fee. So I really like that those two who chains are really focusing on removing those fees when you have a, quote, unquote free room, it's actually closer to free. And that sounds funny for folks who maybe don't redeem points a lot. [00:46:17.830] - Ed Pizza But at some brands, there are lots and lots of fees. I know there are a lot of people that love club lounges. As our kids have gotten a little bit older, we probably use them just a little bit less because we like to get out and sort of explore local cities, if you will. And eating breakfast at a small cafe, Paris or Amsterdam or Lisbon is more appealing than hitting the lounge. But I still think lounges have a tremendous amount of value for families with younger children. [00:46:48.040] - Ed Pizza And so as our kids have gotten older, maybe that one's a little bit less important. But, boy, did we save a lot of money on properties that had free breakfast. And actually, I think the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was a great example of that pre pandemic. Their lounge has been closed during the pandemic, but before going to Disney World every morning, we'd have breakfast in the lounge. And I would say that's probably worth at least 30 or $40 a day for a family of four to eat breakfast somewhere. [00:47:12.660] - Tamara Gruber Well, I'm with you on the lounges, but also one of my things that I love is free water. So it's like the Hilton will give you the bottles of water. I remember checking in with my husband to a Courtyard Marriott in Portland, Maine, and he's Ambassador level. They didn't have us an upgrade available. And I was like, Can we get a couple of waters? And they're like, oh, we don't do that here. And I'm like, Seriously, you won't give us two bottles of water and the lounges. [00:47:39.520] - Tamara Gruber I stayed recently at a Marriott in Buffalo and had access to the lounge. And I think I was wiping them out on the water because the stuff from the tap just wasn't doing it. And they didn't have any refill stations open. So those little things Kim, knows how much I need my water. So it saves me a lot. [00:47:57.040] - Kim Tate It seems like they've gotten rid of those communal water fill, you know, for, like, some hotels have the little jug in the lobby, but because a COVID they got rid of that. And I have a feeling that's going to be another thing we never see see return. [00:48:10.580] - Ed Pizza Yeah, it's a good point. And I think you're the same way I am Tamara that I drink a ton of water when I'm on the road, just trying to stay hydrated wherever I am. And so that's a huge benefit for us. And you're right, Hilton is very good about offering that every time I check in like, hey, do you need a couple of bottles of water? It's also something that IoT is very good at and not to pile on Marriott. Put your comment about we don't do that there. [00:48:35.510] - Ed Pizza It's kind of sort of like an unwritten model of Marriott. That the property sort of do what they feel comfortable with. And some properties are really good about taking care of their guests. And a lot of the other ones are like, well, there's no financial justification for us to give you two bottles of water so you can buy them. [00:48:50.330] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, they're like, there's a little shop, little. I don't know what to call it, but it's like the main marketplace. Thank you. [00:48:57.540] - Ed Pizza Where you can pay $4 for a bottle  of Aquafina. [00:49:01.840] - Tamara Gruber well, you've been on the program before, so you know that we always ask a question about what you wear. But since we've heard that, I thought maybe we would mix it up and ask if you have a favorite type of luggage or brand for a carry on bag or a rolling bag. [00:49:16.240] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And I'm among the minority here. So my favorite brand is Briggs and Riley. They're not the prettiest suitcases. Sometimes my wife kind of looks sideways at them because not all the bags are like the sexiest and sleekest suitcases. But my main Briggs and Riley bag is now almost 20 years old. They've prepared at a time or two. A true lifetime warranty. It's got over a million miles rolled on it. They're just really, really durable, functional bags again, not as pretty as to me, but never had a zipper break on a Brigand rally bag in almost 20 years. [00:49:51.190] - Tamara Gruber That's amazing. [00:49:52.420] - Ed Pizza Yeah. [00:49:52.760] - Kim Tate There's somebody else who really loves those that I'm trying to think of. [00:49:56.000] - Tamara Gruber Is it Eric? Yeah. Okay. [00:49:58.130] - Kim Tate Maybe I couldn't remember. I was like, who else do I know that's a real Briggs and Riley fan. [00:50:02.340] - Ed Pizza Yeah. I mean, I've had really good luck with them. I think the brand stands behind their bags. And I've had so many people tell me about how they tried to send there to me, a bag away to get it repaired. And it was gone for weeks and weeks, and they had to pay for shipping and all this stuff. And I'm just a no nonsense guy. And the bags just work. [00:50:24.330] - Kim Tate Well, you have given us so much great information, but as we've already shared before, you have a lot more out there. So why don't you tell our listeners where they can find you on the line and follow along with all your great travel tips? [00:50:34.900] - Ed Pizza Yeah. And thanks again, guys, for having me on this was a lot of fun for me. I live vicariously through some of the travel that you guys have done over the summer, and I can't wait to get back to some of those fun places. So it's always great to be on the show with you. We do publish a podcast on a weekly basis, just like you guys find me at Miles to go on all the popular podcasting platform where you can find vacation mavens. And you can find me writing at PizzainMotion.com and all the Twitter, Facebook Instagram stuff is all @pizzainmotion as well. [00:51:06.880] - Tamara Gruber Thanks so much, Ed. [00:51:08.100] - Kim Tate Yeah, thanks. We love having you, and we will look forward to chatting with you again sometime soon. [00:51:12.940] - Ed Pizza Thanks, guys. [00:51:17.060] - Tamara Gruber And we forgot to mention at the beginning of the episode, but Kim and I do have an announcement to make, and that is something that we talked about a little bit on the last episode, but is now official. We're going to Portugal, although I'm totally knocking wood as I say that because, oh, my God, things can totally come up last minute. Now, I'm like, scared. Did I just drink this? Kim? [00:51:37.290] - Kim Tate No, no, it's all good. We're good. [00:51:39.300] - Tamara Gruber But we're going to be in Portugal. We're going to be exploring so much of this country. Kim and I have actually gone there together in the past, but now we're going to get to Do Porto and the Duoro and Alentejo hopefully that's how you pronounce it the Algarve. We're going to the Azores. It's going to be an amazing trip. I hope that you will follow us both on social media. So Tam

    197 Crossing the Canadian Border & A Road Trip to Buffalo

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2021 43:42

    This week Kim and Tamara are catching up on their respective August travels. Kim shares what it is like to cross the land border between Canada and the USA right now, plus what you need to know before you go. Meanwhile, Tamara almost made it to the Canadian border on her Western New York road trip, but not quite. She tells us about her eating adventures along the Upstate Eats Trail in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, New York. ABOUT OUR SPONSOR: ROOM STEALS Today's episode is sponsored by Room Steals.  Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside existing booking sites to show you what the wholesale price is for that room. Just install the browser extension and search for a hotel as you usually would on Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, or Google. Once you've done your initial search, Room Steals will show you in a pop-up if that same room is available for less. If it is, you can click on that pop-up and book it directly through Room Steals. Downloading and using Room Steals is free; however, if you want to book a discounted room you have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20% off the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens.  If you travel multiple times in a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener already saved $400 using Room Steals on her first booking!  To learn more, visit roomsteals.com. That's roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20% off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support. Crossing the Canadian Border The land border is still currently closed for Canadians looking to enter the USA, but US citizens are permitted to visit Canada. To cross the border, US citizens need to show a negative COVID test result taken within 72 hours of crossing (note 72 hours NOT 3 days so test timing matters). Tests need to be PCR tests done through a lab (not an at-home test). Anyone age-eligible needs to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada and be prepared to show your vaccination card. Children under 12 crossing with a vaccinated parent may need to be tested again at the border crossing. You also need to have a quarantine plan (identify a hotel where you would stay if you needed to quarantine in Canada.) Canada can also do random COVID testing at the border. You currently do NOT need a negative COVID test to return from Canada to the United States if you are crossing via a land border (anyone arriving into the US by air still needs to have a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of boarding the plane.) You can upload all your documents into the Arrive CAN app prior to travel. Keep in mind that if you are driving through Western Canada you will want to pay close attention to any wildfires and road closures when planning your route. Be sure to check the Canadian government website for the latest updates. Upstate Eats Trail Road Trip Stops The Upstate Eats Trail runs from Binghampton to Buffalo to Rochester to Syracuse, New York with local food stops along the way This area also has a lot of history with the Erie Canal, suffrage movement, and Underground Railroad See Tamara's full blog post about the Upstate Eats Trail In Syracuse, Green Lakes State Park is home to a glacial lake with a beautiful blue color like you see in the some of the lakes up in Canada. In Downtown Syracuse, Dinosaur BBQ is a popular restaurant with excellent barbecue. Salt City Market is a food hall in Downtown Buffalo with many different types of cuisine from Burmese to Jamaican, Thai, and more. The Marriott in Downtown Syracuse is a beautiful historic hotel and has a great location for exploring downtown. On the way from Syracuse to Rochester, stop in Auburn, New York at the Harriet Tubman House National Historic Site and the New York State Equal Rights Center. In Rochester, stop at Bill Gray's for their red and white hot dogs with meat sauce. One location is right on Lake Ontario. Nearby you can grab a soft serve frozen custard Abbott's. Rochester is famous for the garbage plate, which was invented at Nick Tahou Hots. A garbage plate has potatoes (usually fries), macaroni salad, and is topped with either hamburgers or hot dogs and covered with meat sauce, onions, and other toppings. If you are visiting Rochester with kids, be sure to visit the Strong Museum of Play. This interactive museum focuses on play and has areas with interactive play as well as a Toy Hall of Fame and toys from different decades. High Falls is another spot to check out in Rochester, which is a 90' waterfall in the center of town. There is a nice bridge and viewing point overlooking the falls. Genessee Brew House is located right near the falls. Famous for Genessee Cream Ale, they now have a craft brewery and restaurant. Buffalo is known for a wide selection of food beyond wings, 35 craft breweries, 5 distilleries, street art, history and a revitalized waterfront. Tamara stayed at the Downtown Marriott in Buffalo in the Canalside district, which is where the boat tours leave and where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and water bikes. Buffalo River History Tours runs boat tours that explain the history of the river and the grain silos that line the banks. River Works is another entertainment district along the river that is home to ice hockey/roller derby rinks, a ropes course, a brewery, restaurant, tiki bar, entertainment venue and soon a Ferris wheel and zip lining. Silo City is home to a large number of grain silos and elevators that are being converted into lofts and commercial / exhibition space. Duende is a fun bar in Silo City that features live music on some evenings, outdoor space, and fun cocktails or local craft beers. General Mills still has a plant in Buffalo that manufactures Cheerios and Lucky Charms, and the area around it smells like cereal. There are many breweries in Buffalo and one favorite is Resurgence Brewing. Ted's Hot Dogs is famous for its spicy meat sauce. Anchor Bar is home to the original buffalo wings. Other local Buffalo foods to try include beef on weck, sponge candy, and Buffalo-style pizza. If you enjoy architecture, be sure to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House. See more things to do on a Buffalo girls' trip. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.000] - Kim Tate We're saying goodbye to summer. Here's the latest of what we've been up to.   [00:00:15.440] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:29.940] - Kim Tate Today's episode is brought to us by our continuing sponsor, Room Steals. Room Steals is an extension that you can add to your browser. And while you're shopping for your next hotel room, you can see if you're getting the very best rate.   [00:00:43.230] - Tamara Gruber I don't know if I had mentioned to you, but my family is planning on doing a Thanksgiving get away this year with all of Glenn's family. It is a multi generational trip, hopefully to Aruba. It was something that was supposed to happen a couple of years ago and was cancelled. I don't know if it's going to happen, but right now that's what our plan is. And so I was like, you know what? It's Thanksgiving week. I don't think that there would be any deals on Room Steals, but let me just give it a quick look.   [00:01:08.730] - Tamara Gruber So I looked and we were going to do the Ritz Carlton in Aruba, and it looks like we could save almost $900 if we use Room Steals because it depends on what room types. Some would be like $400. Some would be 600 or would be $800. So now I need to go and tell my father in law, but he's going to pay for quite a few rooms. So if you think about if that's like $800 per room, you know, when you're doing, like, five rooms, that's a lot of money.   [00:01:37.110] - Kim Tate That's a lot of money.   [00:01:37.930] - Tamara Gruber It's a lot of money. So anyway, if anyone is thinking of planning some travel, I definitely suggest checking out Room Steals. As we mentioned, it's a Chrome browser extension that works alongside all of these different booking sites, like hotels or Booking or Expedia or even Google. And the nice thing is, you can see what the rate would be for free. And then if you want to book that rate, that's when you can sign up for Room Steals membership. And they are offering our listeners 20% off the annual membership fee with the promotion code, vacationmavens. It is Vacation Mavens. All one word, all lower case. Go ahead and check it out at Room Steals dot com.   [00:02:18.200] - Tamara Gruber So, Kim, I was hoping to use this episode to talk about our big announcement of a big trip that we're doing that we're going to see each other on for the first time in how long? I know. I don't know. I don't think we have an announcement to make.   [00:02:33.330] - Kim Tate I don't think we can announce it yet, but I can at least say what we're crossing our fingers for. We are crossing our fingers that Tamara and I will be going to Portugal in October. So I'm still hoping I'm crossing my fingers and my heart.   [00:02:49.080] - Tamara Gruber I think anyone that's trying to plan any trips right now is very much in this state of is it happening? Is it not happening? Especially if it's international. We're all trying to make the best decisions and look at the most recent information. And just recently we've gone through, do we do this or not? And we're like, okay, Portugal has the second best vaccination rate in Europe. Their cases are flattening out. They've got all these great measures in place.   [00:03:18.380] - Tamara Gruber Everything was coming together, all getting organized. We're ready to go. And it's like one of those things where just when you're about to pull the trigger, it's like because Europe announces that they are taking the US off of their safe list of countries that they're accepting into the European Union. So at first that's like, what is that going to mean? You read into it a little bit more. It looks like it probably will be mostly targeted towards unvaccinated travelers, but it's really up to each individual country now to determine what they're going to decide to do.   [00:03:55.110] - Tamara Gruber And so I think probably a lot of them will do is that you need to be both vaccinated and have a negative test for arrival and then implementing that vaccine passport that they're using throughout Europe to be able to check into hotels and go to restaurants and things like that. So it is definitely something to keep your eye on very closely as it can change at anytime.   [00:04:18.380] - Kim Tate I mean, we're over a year into this, so hopefully we've all learned to keep things fluid, but it's definitely a a situation that's up in the air. And like Tamara said, we're just trying to really follow all the rules and regulations, make sure. And the thing is, you have to make sure you're doing the research yourself because I saw someone recently. They showed up to the airport and they had done their own research and knew that they had to get a test and all this stuff. But people were at the airport and being denied their flight because they didn't have a test to show the airport check in, and they were complaining.   [00:04:52.500] - Kim Tate Well, the airline never sent us this information. They never told us this was needed, so you can't rely on getting your information from one source. You have to really kind of do the leg work yourself.   [00:05:03.120] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I think there's a lot of that, like, just not understanding what needs to happen. And I think sometimes I pay a little too much attention to the news, but you need to definitely follow all that information. I just put up a little Instagram story the other day just with some steps to take, make sure that you register for the Smart Traveler enrollment program, the Step program through the State Department, make sure you are following and read through everything on the embassy page to understand what the rules are and following those kind of resources, especially on social media, is that probably gets updated more quickly.   [00:05:39.220] - Tamara Gruber So you definitely need to get some information. But things are always changing even here in the US, right. We were just kind of talking about how difficult it is even to plan a travel podcast, because some of the things that we wanted to talk to you guys about this fall. Now it's probably not the best time to visit those destinations. So between fires and storms and other things, travel is continued to be fluid. But road trips tend to still be good. And you and I both made a road trip recently, right.   [00:06:09.540] - Kim Tate We did.   [00:06:10.360] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:06:10.890] - Kim Tate I think it's hopefully still in our ability. However, there's some interesting stuff, even with road tripping, it we had experience when we were in Canada, but yeah, I think that things right now. I mean, just as we've always said, things, you have to really pack your patience and do your research and be flexible and fluid.   [00:06:29.340] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So you got to finally visit Paul's family, which I'm so glad you were able to do that. So what was it like driving across the border? I guess both ways, especially since we're a little bit unequal partners in that. We are now allowed into Canada. But Canadians are not allowed to cross our border. So there's all these different rules to sort out. We talked about it a little bit last time, but now that you've been through it, maybe you could just talk about that would like, yeah, definitely.   [00:06:53.880] - Kim Tate So it's probably good to let everyone know what the experience was. In actuality, we got up to the border. We made good time. We were the only car at the border crossing where we went, and we were using one of the border crossings. That's not as busy up here. We have three that we well, actually, there's four that we can use kind of across the Washington, our side of the border that we do when we're traveling up to Edmonton, we normally pick ones that are a little bit further east than the traditional Vancouver ones.   [00:07:22.280] - Kim Tate So we passed at a slower location, and it was we were the only people there. We got up there and they wanted to see our passports. And then I had put our vaccine cards in my passport and it dropped, of course. And he's like, I just want your passports now. So he didn't want to see my card, but he saw that we had it. I'm guessing. So he gave that to us and looked at our passport, scan them and everything. And then he wanted to see our negative COVID test.   [00:07:52.420] - Kim Tate And so I pulled mine up on my phone. But the girls, they don't have digital ones because they're minors, so they don't have the digital account. So we had gotten print outs in advance, and he looked because I know that mine. We actually we got tested separately and mine and Mia was exactly three days before. And whereas Paul and Lizzy there was two days before, but early in the morning and he looked at his watch because he was looking for the 72 hours. So I was curious how that would work if they really hold to the 72 hours or it would be just kind of like three days before.   [00:08:28.270] - Kim Tate But he looked at his watch because ours got processed at 05:00 p.m.. And he wanted to make sure that the time that you got the test or the time that the results came for us. It was the time that the test was administered. So what happened, though, is we collected. We gave our sample probably around 1:20, but the test results said sample process at 05:00 p.m.. So there was like a holding period before they actually ran our sample. But our results didn't come in for two days after that.   [00:08:58.220] - Kim Tate But it's not based on when you're basically, I would say, is have your sample collected no sooner than 72 hours before you think you're going to pass that, you know, that border. And I know there's different rulings on if you're originating in one place and then connecting somewhere. And I think there's some stuff with that as well.   [00:09:20.230] - Tamara Gruber Well, you really have to account for traffic there, too, just yet.   [00:09:23.610] - Kim Tate I know that's what I was saying. So that's where we were, because it's like, okay, well, we want to leave the house at this time, but knowing my family, we're probably going to know we give it that time. So I want to give myself an hour cushion. But then we had, like I said, we had quite a bit of a cushion from just when the processing was when the test was processed. It was a few hours after we'd given our samples.   [00:09:48.540] - Tamara Gruber Did you do that through like, a standard state testing site. We did pharmacy or anything.   [00:09:54.690] - Kim Tate We did it through our normal clinic site. So our hospital, like our doctor's clinic has a drive through clinic set up for all the patients. And so we were able to just drive through there and do our little swabs and stick and imagine it has to be PCR. It has to be PCR. And Canada does not allow those Abbott ones.   [00:10:19.370] - Tamara Gruber Unless they've started self administered one.   [00:10:21.800] - Kim Tate Yeah, it has to be through a lab and stuff in there. They have different rules. So you just need to really make sure you're doing it the right way and stuff. So we got them and no problem. So he checked that. Now we had used the app that was the arrive can app, and I had it pulled up and in there. And again, I wonder how much they noticed this and don't ask for it then, because he didn't ask us for vaccination cards, and he didn't ask to see the app.   [00:10:46.760] - Kim Tate But I had it already, like in the hand on my lap. So then we got through. It's kind of funny how we did this because we drove separately. So Paul and Mia were right behind us, and they got up there and he wanted to see their arrive can, and he wanted to see their vaccination cards in addition to everything else. So I don't know how that worked, but yeah, so we had everything in order. So we had the arrived can filled out. The tricky thing about the arrive can is they actually make you create a quarantine, not create, but tell them what your quarantine plan is because because they can spontaneously request a test at the border.   [00:11:24.150] - Kim Tate And I'm guessing this is done more when you're flying. But I did have a friend recently say that it happened to their kids because they weren't able to get vaccinated. But those tests don't come through for three days or can be three days. And so when they give you the results, they've already let you into the country. But when they give you the results, if you're positive, you have to go into quarantine immediately at that point, and you have to follow that plan that you input into this app.   [00:11:52.290] - Kim Tate So we just put that we would stay at a residence in that was near his family. So that's just something to be mindful of that you do have to know what your arrangements will be. And you can't just say, oh, we'll just stay with family because it has to be in a situation where you can not touch or be around anyone else. So you have to be able to get your own food. You have to be able to not be with anyone who is not part of your traveling party.   [00:12:18.500] - Tamara Gruber Well, that's challenging. But you didn't have to make a reservation just in case.   [00:12:23.220] - Kim Tate No, I did not have to make a reservation. They just wanted to know what you would do. And I thought for some people who were going to Vancouver, I wondered if you could just put your home address in there and say, hey, I just turn around and go right back home.   [00:12:35.540] - Tamara Gruber Right.   [00:12:36.050] - Kim Tate But I don't know if the US. So that was the other. So then we get to the other flip side of it, which was once. The reason we drove up separately is because we actually parked one car at the airport, and we were driving up to together to visit Paul's family. And then we were able to me and I flew back early on our own to at an airport and picked up the car and drove home because she had a camp that started the day. And normally we do that drive in two days.   [00:13:00.300] - Kim Tate It's a little long for a one day drive. So we had that experience when we were ready to cross back in the border, we went through the same again, very small border crossing, and it was closed off. And so I was a little worried because I was like, okay, I didn't check the hours. But it was like, 10:00 a.m.. I was like, sure, truly, it's open at 10:00 a.m.. Maybe it's a weekend. And there was a border patrol agent there and got out of his car and it was like, pull forward.   [00:13:25.670] - Kim Tate And I was like, okay. And I rolled down the line. I'm like, Is this crossing not open? And he's like, Well, the border has been closed since March of 2020. Don't you know that? And I was like, no we are Americans. And so he's like, sdo you have American passports? And I was like. Yes, here they are.   [00:13:42.030] - Kim Tate And so he looked at him and he took them. And I was like, we're just visiting my husband's family, my in laws. And we're just coming back home. And he's like, okay, and move the thing. And he's like, drive forward to the booth. So we drove forward. I went through the process. And that was so like, they didn't want to test. They didn't want anything. They were just like, welcome home. Then we went through.   [00:14:02.340] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I was listening to the Miles to Go podcast. And he also recently had gone up to Canada, I think, to visit family. And apparently you don't need a test to come back into the US when you are at a land crossing. Yes, you only do for a flight. Which seems so odd. I don't know why you wouldn't just have the same rule. But did you know that ahead of time, I had you gotten tested, just in case.   [00:14:27.690] - Kim Tate When I recorded the previous podcast, I had mentioned that we were going to buy those Abbott Binax and just do a testing. But then I had two friends who had both crossed recently. One had been crossing regularly to visit her family, and then the other one had just gone up to visit his family. But both of them said they've never been. There's nothing with testing required when you're crossing at the land border. So we did not buy those Abbott tests. And we just took it at words at the word.   [00:14:56.040] - Kim Tate And sure enough, they did not ask for any kind of test. So interesting. Yeah, it is kind of interesting. I don't know how that works, but we're thankfully lucky enough that we didn't have to do that extra step and expense.   [00:15:07.050] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Glad everything worked out and that you have a family.   [00:15:10.620] - Kim Tate It was so nice. I'm so glad we went. And it was good to be around my, you know, one niece, she had a new baby. So we were able to see him. And it was great.   [00:15:22.310] - Tamara Gruber It was nice.   [00:15:23.400] - Kim Tate We went to West Edmonton Mall. So for those people are curious, we didn't do it. We did mostly just hang out with family. But we did go out to eat a couple of times. They had some patio seating. And with it being summer, it was actually really nice to be in Edmonton and we went to West Edmonton mall, and the girls got some back to school shopping done. And we happened to be during a big hockey tournament. So there's a bunch of kids playing. They have a big ice rink in the middle of their West Edmonton wall.   [00:15:53.520] - Tamara Gruber As they do in Edmonton.   [00:15:54.990] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. It's like, is anyone surprised that they have a big hockey rink? If anyone doesn't know West Edmonton mall, I used to be kind of the largest mall in North America, and it and Mall of America, which is in Minnesota. I think they used to go back and forth. I don't know who's the current reigning champion because they would add on and do different things. But anyways, while the girls were shopping, we kind of stood and watched the kids play a hockey tournament. And it was a fun, very Canadian that.   [00:16:27.300] - Kim Tate Yeah, it was. And we got Tim Hortons coffee. So Tim Bits, it was a very Canadian esque situation. My sister in law is actually a pilot, a small plane pilot. She's working up her. She just got commercial pilots, but she's working up her hours and stuff. But she took Paul and the girls up in her little four seater plane up for a flight one day. So that was another fun thing they got to do. And they loved that. It's neat. Yeah. I stayed on the ground.   [00:16:56.350] - Kim Tate I did not go.   [00:16:57.540] - Tamara Gruber I'd be in after my one experience with the glider plane. I'm okay on small planes.   [00:17:04.130] - Kim Tate I remember when you and I have that chance to go on the helicopter in Ireland.   [00:17:09.170] - Tamara Gruber And we both were like.   [00:17:10.250] - Kim Tate No, maybe not a good idea.   [00:17:11.750] - Tamara Gruber See the helicopter for me is more about the motion sickness.   [00:17:15.560] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's what I was worried about.   [00:17:17.180] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I was little planes. I'm just not a fan of the little plane inside.   [00:17:20.680] - Kim Tate Yeah. For me, I was pretty sure that I just know I'm not a calm flyer. Like I have fear flying. I used to have it really bad. And then as I flew more, I've gotten over it. But turbulence and stuff is just a problem. But I also know on the smaller planes, the motion sickness would really get to me if I couldn't be looking out continually and stuff.   [00:17:42.110] - Tamara Gruber Especially when they're like, oh, let's Zoom in to see the scenery. I really enjoyed our float plane that we did in Alaska when we went to see the bears and stuff, but it was short. So I did get to the motion sickness wasn't too bad, but yeah, well, I was up right near the Canadian border. I thought of you.   [00:18:01.870] - Kim Tate Exactly. You didn't quite cross. Yeah. Had you considered it?   [00:18:04.910] Initially, I was tempted. But it's funny because a friend of mine met me in Buffalo, and I'll explain the trip in a minute. But she's from New Jersey, and she actually never had Tim Hortons, which here in New England. There are some Tim Hortons around okay. So it's not like a brand new thing, but she was like, oh, what is that? I've never heard of it. And we're like, what have you never heard? It's important. So anyway, we're very used to our Dunkin Donuts here.   [00:18:29.570] - Kim Tate And, yeah, that's something. I don't even know if I've ever had a Dunkin Donuts. I can't think if I ever have.   [00:18:37.360] - Tamara Gruber Well, you know, I'm not a coffee person, so I don't get into that hole to be all I can evaluate the Donuts.   [00:18:43.490] - Kim Tate Yeah, I have to say that Tim Hortons, I like Tim Hortons more than McDonald's, but that's about where the level is at. So for people who are wondering, it's not like, you know, in Seattle, I'm so spoiled because we have a coffee stand booth of, you know, like, small source coffees at every corner. So it's a little different. So it's definitely like, drive through coffee. So I don't know if I could compare honestly what Duncan ones versus McDonald's versus Tim Hortons. I don't know if I could do any justice to that in there.   [00:19:13.740] - Kim Tate Yeah, but, yeah, I want to hear all about because I know you went up to Buffalo to do a big foodie trail. So what was that like?   [00:19:20.150] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I had talked to the tourism board from Visit Buffalo back in January. So this is a trip that they hosted me on because what intrigued me about Buffalo is it kind of has some similarities to where I live here in Providence. They talked about a big revitalization of their waterfront, a good foodie scene, craft breweries, things like that. So I thought, you know what that sounds like a fun summer getaway summer or fall. I didn't really want to go up to Buffalo in the winter. And so they've put together this entire Upstate Eats trail.   [00:19:55.190] - Tamara Gruber So it's really more Western New York. You could hit Binghamton, which is down more like Upstate, but a little closer to where the Finger Lakes and then cut through the Finger Lakes up to Buffalo. What I did, though, since I'm coming from Rhode Island, is I went right across Interstate 90, and I stopped first in Syracuse and spent a night there, and then one night in Rochester and then three nights in Buffalo. So I got to experience three stops along the Upstate Eats Trail and kind of got to see the unique foods of that area, which I just have so much fun discovering what foods are really unique and special.   [00:20:34.050] - Tamara Gruber And sometimes it's just like a twist on something like a hot dog. But it's just the thing that they have up there. So I found that when I moved to Rhode Island, so many people that live in Rhode Island have lived there all their lives, and they may not recognize that these things are not everywhere. But when I moved to Rhode Island, I'm like, oh, there's so many very unique foods. And I remember writing a post about the must try foods in Rhode Island. So it's become my thing to really discover those unique foods that you only find in certain places.   [00:21:04.500] - Tamara Gruber And I found a lot of other things along the way because that area just has so much history between the suffrage movement, the Underground Railroad, just overall industrialism and stuff. There's just so much history to explore there, too. So there were a lot of places in between those cities that I wanted to stop at. That I didn't always have a chance to. So I did a few on the way back. I'm working on a whole blog post that I'll link to in our show notes when this comes out about the different stops along the way.   [00:21:35.150] - Tamara Gruber But, yeah, my first surprise was that when I got to Syracuse, they have a glacial Lake there. That is that beautiful color that you see, like in Canada. I'm like, wait, I didn't know that we had this in New York, but then Syracuse, downtown. Syracuse is big for the University, Syracuse University, but it has a good downtown. There's a lot of diversity there. I didn't have. I didn't get a chance to do some of the things I would have liked to have done because it was a Monday in museums and some other things were closed.   [00:22:08.220] - Tamara Gruber But it's also that area is because of the Great Lakes. You see so much distribution and things. So the Erie Canal was a huge deal in terms of getting goods from the Great Lakes down into other parts of the state. So they have an Erie Canal Museum. And there's also stops along the Underground Railroad. They're in Syracuse. So the thing that I got to do, of course, was eat. I asked people, where should I eat? And certain places always came up in Syracuse. It was dinosaur barbecue.   [00:22:44.720] - Tamara Gruber So it was just like a big, famous place for barbecue. Which is funny. I was actually in my grocery store yesterday, and I had to buy a barbecue sauce, and I saw that they have dinosaur barbecue sauce. I'm like, either I've never noticed that before or I just didn't know where it came from. Right.   [00:22:59.330] - Kim Tate Right. Yeah.   [00:23:00.260] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:23:01.080] - Kim Tate Like the sauce, right.   [00:23:02.610] - Tamara Gruber I didn't realize that that was a restaurant. So I did that. And then kind of just spent my time walking around town. And then in the evening, I went to they have a food hall.   [00:23:12.710] - Kim Tate I love those.   [00:23:13.800] - Tamara Gruber So this food Hall, Salt City Market, was right next to the hotel where I was staying at, which was like a Marriott, which was beautiful. It was an old historic hotel that had been renovated and changed into a Marriott. And the food hall had all kinds of different cuisine. I had, like, I think I got a Jamaican meat pie. And then they had another place they made, like, homemade, I think, a peach pie, different things. They had Vietnamese and Burmese and Cambodian. So tons of different cuisines that you could try and sample.   [00:23:44.870] - Tamara Gruber So that was the cool thing. I always like when I see these kind of interesting food experiences. Yeah. Definitely.   [00:23:51.200] - Kim Tate We were talking about that when I was in Irvine. It's neat because we get so stuck in kind of the standard stuff. And maybe when you're traveling far away, you think of it. But yeah, that's nice.   [00:24:00.980] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And then in Rochester, I went up. Well, first I stopped like an Auburn, and I stopped the Harriet Tubman house and did a tour there, just trying to take in a little bit more of the history. I've been through this area a couple of times and stopped at a few historic sites. And we're trying to put it all together at some point that I've seen a lot of it and also in Auburn, and they have an equal rights. It's like a New York State equal rights center.   [00:24:24.520] - Tamara Gruber So it deals with women's rights, civil rights and LGBTQ rights. So it's like this whole kind of all of the luminaries within New York who have fought for equal rights of some type. So that was an interesting little stop, too. Then in Rochester, I went to a place called Bill Grays, and they're famous for their red hots. So the red hot and their white hot. So apparently it's like you're talking about.   [00:24:52.000] - Kim Tate Like, the candy, right? No.   [00:24:53.610] - Tamara Gruber Exactly.   [00:24:54.210] - Kim Tate Oh, sorry.   [00:24:55.140] - Tamara Gruber I'm talking about hot dogs. Okay.   [00:24:57.600] - Kim Tate Sorry.   [00:24:58.410] - Tamara Gruber It's confusing, right?   [00:25:00.280] - Kim Tate That's what I thought.   [00:25:01.210] - Tamara Gruber Too, when I saw the red hots listed. So there's just all these different hot dog joints. They use specific hot dogs that are produced there. And this particular place, Bill Grays, has a white one. So it's like a white hot dog. Kind of looks like a sausage or something or what. But it's not those bright red hot dogs that you've seen. And sometimes in Maine, those are just kind of crazy from outer space. Hot dogs. There's kind of like a regular hot dog or a white hot dog.   [00:25:31.170] - Tamara Gruber But they put a meat sauce and onion and a bunch of other stuff on it. I'm kind of used to usually and onions. Yeah. But it's not chilly. It's kind of close. So that's kind of what makes it unique, like, where you go. And I know how there's always like, oh, I like this one because they do something in their particular style. I think everyone develops a style that they like. So anyway, I try to wait one just to see what it was like. And it's fine.   [00:25:59.910] - Tamara Gruber So I did that. And then I was right on Lake Ontario there. So I took a little to walk on the Lake. And every time I'm on the Great Lakes, I'm just amazed by, of course, how big they are. But you and the beach also felt like it was a nice, soft sand beach. And this is actually really nice.   [00:26:15.840] - Kim Tate You know, that's an area I've never been to or discovered. So that's nice. I think it's I'm sure it feels like it's overlooked by a lot of people. But I'm sure there's a lot of people who know about it. Probably it's probably got a great tourism industry.   [00:26:29.210] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. But I don't think when you think of New York, you think generally, of course, New York City, you think maybe the catskills, the other index, the finger likes things that we've talked about. And I think this section of Western New York isn't thought of as a tourist destination unless it's Niagara. But I will say Buffalo is only like half an hour from Niagara Falls, so it's easy to add in a few days there and expand what you can do in that area. It's also there's a lot of great ice cream stand.   [00:26:59.900] - Tamara Gruber It's a lot of this kind of, like, fast casual types of food. It definitely brought my tum along, but it was fun to explore the different styles. But one thing that they have in Rochester that is just so cool is the Museum of Play. And I've heard about this for a long time. Everyone always says it's something you have to do when you go to Rochester. So even though I wasn't going with a kid, I was by myself. I still went to the Strong. It's the National Museum of Play, and it has this whole reading area where it's focused on different genre or characters from books.   [00:27:38.710] - Tamara Gruber And it's like an amazing children's Museum, but with a real focus on play. So there's an area where it has toys from different generations. There's a Toy Hall of Fame. So it kind of reminds me of a place that you and I went to in Kansas City.   [00:27:55.550] - Kim Tate Where in Kansas City.   [00:27:57.130] - Tamara Gruber Where you look back and you're like, oh, I remember light bright. Remember that. Remember all this kind of different toys? So there's, like, the nostalgia factor. But then there's also an area where there's a whole Sesame Street thing or like a movement thing where you're building paper airplanes and learning, trying to see how far you can make them fly. There's a Wegman, which is like the big grocery store chain up there. So it's like the little like you would go to at a children's Museum where you're pretending to shop and pretending to check out.   [00:28:27.820] - Tamara Gruber And I imagine if I lived up there, I would have had a membership and been taking my kid there all the time. So much fun. They had a whole butterfly garden. There were, like a pinball arcade, like another type of arcade, just so much to do. That's very interactive. You could easily spend hours and hours. They are you're with kids. So if you do make it to that area with kids, definitely check out the Strong Museum of Play and also downtown. There's this area called High Falls.   [00:28:59.080] - Tamara Gruber That is basically I think it's like a 90 foot waterfall in the middle of town. It's like one of these surprising things that you're in the middle of what feels like not industrial city. But you have a strong presence there of Kodak and some other large commercial buildings. And there's really interesting architecture downtown. So you don't really expect to see this big waterfall in town. There's a great bridge that you can walk and get a good view of it. It's right by the genes. Have you heard of Genesee Cremale?   [00:29:33.210] - Tamara Gruber Jenny Cream ale? Is that just like an East Coast thing?   [00:29:36.130] - Kim Tate But I was like.   [00:29:36.780] - Tamara Gruber I haven't heard it very much. I think what people's grandfather's drink, it's like an old cream ale. So it's like one of the breweries that's been around for a long time. But now they still produce that. But they also have more of, like a craft brewery side as well. So I actually had dinner there because it's kind of like the next generation of these original breweries. And I did not try the cream ale, but I tried some others, and those were pretty good. And the other thing that Rochester is really famous for is called a garbage plate.   [00:30:06.930] - Tamara Gruber So it's one of their famous dishes that was created. And I was feeling exactly. It was so funny. I was talking to the tourism in person, and she was saying like, yeah, some people are like, why would you want to advertise your city with something with garbage in the name? But at the same time, so many people search for that because they know that that's the thing to eat there. So it's like, where are you going to get the best garbage plate. So I went to the place that invented the garbage plate, which is like a total little hole in the wall kind of place.   [00:30:35.970] - Tamara Gruber But now everywhere you go for dinner, if it's a casual place has their version of the garbage plate. So they might call it the everything plate or something like that. But it is basically like a pile of French fries, a bunch bunch of macaroni salad, which is like a strange combination to begin with, topped with either like burgers or cheeseburgers or hot dogs without buns. And then on top of that, just like this meat sauce and onions and ketchup and mustard. And who knows what else?   [00:31:07.910] - Tamara Gruber I'm not even sure. So it's just like this pile of carbs and meat I just presented to you on a plate. It's pretty funny. I think it's the kind of thing where if you are looking for something after a late night, it would hit the spot. I was really surprised at the place that I went to that originated it closed at, like, six. I'm like, is this more like a two in the morning kind of thing to eat?   [00:31:31.730] - Kim Tate Maybe they need to open up a thing in Colorado or Seattle? I'm just kidding.   [00:31:42.760] - Tamara Gruber But it was good to experience that because it was something that everyone's like, you got to try the garbage plate.   [00:31:47.830] - Kim Tate Yeah, it sounds. I don't know.   [00:31:50.500] - Tamara Gruber Oh, well, I like fries. So fries.   [00:31:53.420] - Kim Tate I like fries, but are you talking about macaroni salad, like the creamy potato salad thing?   [00:32:00.080] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I thought it was going to be like, Mac and cheese. Yeah. But it's like macaroni salad, like the mayonnaise based one. Yeah.I like macaroni salad, like on a picnic and stuff.   [00:32:13.160] - Tamara Gruber But, like, apart from the so it would not be good for the people that are like, I don't like my food touching.   [00:32:19.670] - Kim Tate Yeah. Exactly.   [00:32:20.800] - Tamara Gruber Definitely not good.   [00:32:21.680] - Kim Tate My husband is not one of those people. He would probably be if he ate meat. He would be all over it, I'm sure.   [00:32:29.170] - Tamara Gruber But it's something like if you go there, you have to try it. Try it.   [00:32:32.870] - Kim Tate No, that's awesome. I'm glad you tried it. So you could report back. I'm sure there's some people listening right now on this podcast. They're like, oh, yeah. I'm craving one right now.   [00:32:40.240] - Tamara Gruber And people were, like, telling me where to go to favorite was funny. Yeah. But then I drove from Rochester over to Buffalo, and Buffalo was definitely so fun. I mean, if you're looking for a place where there's a wide selection of food, it's not just Buffalo wings. There are 35 craft breweries, five distilleries. There's a ton of street art. They have all these different areas that they've developed along the river front that are being revitalized. There's history. So there's a lot to do there now pretty busy for our three days there.   [00:33:19.270] - Tamara Gruber So we had a great time. It's like a lot of what interests me. I think when you go to a place and luckily, the friend that met me, there was not somebody that travels a lot, but she was really happy to have discovered something that she would have never thought to go to. And I was like, That's what I love to do. And she's like, Well, I need to travel with you more often. I'm like, yeah, come along.   [00:33:40.060] - Tamara Gruber So it was fun. But a couple of things that I'll call out. So we stayed at the downtown Marriott in Buffalo, which is a rate in the Canal Side District. So this is an area that has different boat tours going out from. We took one called the Buffalo River History Tour, and there's also one that go out more onto Lake Erie. And you can also rent kayaks and paddle boards and even those water bikes if you just want to explore the river front on your own. So you can do all of that rate in this Canal Side district.   [00:34:14.370] - Tamara Gruber And there's also a naval or more of a military ships park there. So if you like to climb onto an old naval ships and submarine, that kind of thing. So that would be a fun thing to do, I think, with kids as well. And it's just an area where they have, like, a carousel. And there's a little beer garden, and they do a lot of outdoor events. So they would do music there. I know the day that we were checking out, I look down from our hotel room and you could see this big lawn.   [00:34:42.550] - Tamara Gruber And there was a big yoga class taking place out there because it's very community driven to have a lot of entertainment, like free entertainment available for people as well. So that's one area there's this other area called River Works, which was about a mile from where we were staying. But we walked because it was pretty easy. And there they actually they're building out more of a whole entertainment center or district. I should say they have a couple of ice or roller banks, so they will do curling, their ice hockey, roller Derby.   [00:35:18.610] - Tamara Gruber They have a ropes course. There's a couple of bars there's a brewery, there's a Tiki bar. There's one of those floating Tiki bars that leaves from there as well. And what they're building right now is like a Ferris wheel. And then they're going to have zip lining between grain silos and some other rides and entertainment there. So it's going to be like this whole district. There's quite a bit of it. They are already and you can tell that they do concerts because the inside of the one restaurant was huge and clearly had a stage where they would have live entertainment.   [00:35:52.540] - Tamara Gruber So definitely like a fun place there. And another section that's being developed. It's called Silo City. So one of the things that Buffalo is really famous for is all these green silos, because their position on the Great Lakes, like corn and wheat would come in from the Midwest. And then they would put it onto trains or into the canals or whatever. And they would also process some of it there. They're actually still a General Mills plant there. And so when you're going by, it smells like Cheerios.   [00:36:26.580] - Kim Tate That's funny.   [00:36:27.570] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So like Cheerios or I don't know, something very sweet, because what's the one with the little leprechun, Lucky Charms, because they have a mural right next to the plants with those two things on it. So I'm like, really, it makes you hungry when you're near there that they have the largest collection of green silos in one area in the world. But a lot of them are abandoned now. And so when you go along the river front, you learn about this history. You see all these big old structures, but they're like, prime real estate for developing into different kinds of things.   [00:37:01.820] - Tamara Gruber So some of them this area of Silo City, they're into, like, lofts. And so that will be like part residential, part commercial. And they have an entertainment space and some of them or they will do, like art exhibits or poetry readings or live music, something like that. And we went to one of the bar. Well, there's 1 bar that's there as well called Duende, and we went good cocktails, local craft beer. And they had live music playing outside or just like a very cool settings. So there's a lot of these cool little places, you know, when you're just walking somewhere and you're like, oh, this is neat.   [00:37:40.820] - Tamara Gruber This is cool. This is not chain restaurants or overly busy, overly commercial. It has this nice modern vibe to it. And so we took a walking tour one day, and we met at one of the breweries called Resurgence Brewery. And again, that was a really cool space that felt like it was probably an industrial building and that's been transformed into this brewery. And that's something that we see here in Providence a lot, too. And great beer. So it was a lot of fun. And we definitely did a range of things for the food scene.   [00:38:16.420] - Tamara Gruber We went to Ted's Hot Dogs, which is famous for their spicy meat sauce that they put on their hot dog, of course, went to Anchor Bar because Buffalo wings were invented there. Okay.   [00:38:28.330] - Kim Tate I never knew. I figured it's funny how that becomes such a thing. Are you a Buffalo Wings fan to start with?   [00:38:37.160] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I love buffalo wings but I like them crispy with a lot of sauce.   [00:38:44.110] - Kim Tate I don't like the skin to be kind of rubbery. No, I like it crispy. And I also like lots of sauce. It's tricky finding those, because so often I find that they're not fried enough.   [00:38:57.580] - Tamara Gruber I agree. And I actually will say I Anchor Bar not my favorite wings that I've ever had, but it's definitely a tourist attraction. It's the kind of thing where you can buy swag from the T shirts and all that. And it's like a food challenge.   [00:39:10.850] - Kim Tate Like you have to eat a plate of wings to earn a shirt or something.   [00:39:13.750] - Tamara Gruber All the locals are, like, the only people that go to Anchor Bar, the tourist.   [00:39:18.380] - Kim Tate But fine.   [00:39:19.130] - Tamara Gruber They have a good business for that. Everyone has their own favorites, and they also have Buffalo style pizza. They have something called sponge candy, which I remember when I was told about it. I expect it to be like those marshmallowy kind of candies that you get in a sampler box. But it's not. It's actually like the circus peanuts kind of. And I wonder if it was going to be like that, too, but it's actually more of like a coffee, like a square, like an inch square crunchy butter crunch or coffee type of candy.   [00:39:51.880] - Kim Tate So I'm near bubbles in it. That's where it's sponge.   [00:39:55.240] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And actually, what we found out was if you just leave it out when it's not sealed, then it I get spongy. It was not as crispy the second day. Yeah, it wasn't, again, my favorite, but it was interesting to seek it out. And it's just one of those things that you see everywhere, and people just don't understand that you don't know what sponge candy is.   [00:40:15.440] - Kim Tate Yeah. That's funny.   [00:40:16.850] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it was fun just exploring all of that. I would definitely recommend it if you enjoy the kind of things that I talked about, then give it a shot. Actually, I was looking into flying there, and I think they have direct flights from 20 different cities across the country, so maybe easier to get to than you might expect.   [00:40:38.980] - Kim Tate That sounds cool. It sounds like you had a lot of good experiences.   [00:40:41.870] - Tamara Gruber We did, and I got to hang out with a friend of mine that I used to be very close to. That just don't get to see very much anymore. So that was nice as well. The other thing we did was we visited one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses.   [00:40:53.960] - Kim Tate Oh, yeah. I saw that.   [00:40:55.130] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:40:55.630] - Kim Tate That's the one architect I knew. And you were like, which architect? Yes.   [00:41:00.260] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Exactly. I know it's pretty easy between his style and the fact that he is probably the most famous architect. It's an easy guess, right?   [00:41:08.980] - Kim Tate Exactly. Well, it sounds like we both had kind of a nice little end to our summer, and you got to eat some good food. I got some good family time. And now, as we mentioned earlier, cross our fingers that we will see each other in person in October.   [00:41:24.520] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. We will let you guys know so you can follow along. Yeah. Otherwise, good luck with back to school shall even mention that that are going back to school.   [00:41:33.890] - Kim Tate Should you even mention what?   [00:41:35.330] - Tamara Gruber That we both have seniors?   [00:41:38.320] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:41:38.540] - Tamara Gruber I know.   [00:41:40.330] - Kim Tate For those of you who know that we are in the stressful College application time frame of our lives right now, right?   [00:41:49.210] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Well, especially for me. It's like the last is the last that it's like.   [00:41:55.330] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:41:55.960] - Tamara Gruber The thing of having only one is that it's your first and last at the same time.   [00:42:00.130] - Kim Tate Right? I guess for me, it's also the first one. I feel kind of guilty because my first one's kind of mad that she didn't know more advance. And so she's telling her little sister everything and making me feel really bad. Why didn't you have me take more AP classes?   [00:42:15.740] - Tamara Gruber I'm like. I don't know. So anyways, well, I'm pretty sure if you were, like, take all of these AP classes, she would have said, I don't want to take all these AP classes.   [00:42:27.260] - Kim Tate Well, it's just weird. It's sad how competitive it's gotten because she doesn't love history and routine, so I would never push her into those APS. So she took all the APS she could with math and science. But when you're going against people who've had seven and ten APS, it's a little hard to show up before, but she's a great student, and I'm sure she's going to end up where she's supposed to end up and have a great College experience.   [00:42:54.170] - Tamara Gruber I and Hannah will tell her she's better off that she didn't take a push because it's not really fun class.   [00:43:01.900] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:43:02.200] - Tamara Gruber Exactly. Yeah. So anyway, best of luck to everyone out there this year, back to school because obviously continues to be challenging.   [00:43:12.660] - Kim Tate Those who are going back to school. Enjoy your travels. I'm on your time not having to manage it, but, yeah. Thanks for joining us again. And we will look forward to talking to you guys again.   [00:43:23.260] - Tamara Gruber Soon. Take care.  

    196 Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (Beyond Cancun)

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 31, 2021 43:47


    We all know Cancun, and maybe even the Riviera Maya, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen...but did you know there is so much more to the Yucatan Peninsula? This week we chat with Rossana Wyatt from Life is Full of Adventures to learn more about the Yucatan state of Mexico, Mérida, Mayan ruins, and other things to see on the Yucatan peninsula. ABOUT OUR SPONSOR: ROOM STEALS Today's episode is sponsored by Room Steals.  Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside existing booking sites to show you what the wholesale price is for that room. Just install the browser extension and search for a hotel as you usually would on Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, or Google. Once you've done your initial search, Room Steals will show you in a pop-up if that same room is available for less. If it is, you can click on that pop-up and book it directly through Room Steals. Downloading and using Room Steals is free; however, if you want to book a discounted room you have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20% off the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens.  If you travel multiple times in a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener already saved $400 using Room Steals on her first booking!  To learn more, visit roomsteals.com. That's roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20% off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support. About Rossana Wyatt Rossana is a gluten-free lifestyle & travel writer specializing in family & solo travel, she loves discovering new foods & adventures on her journeys as she explores. Rossana tells the stories of the destinations she has visited, sharing her love of travel, her wanderlust and enticing her readers to explore these places on their own.  When she is not traveling, Rossana works as a social media strategist in the tourism industry. She brings people and brands together, creating campaigns that build awareness and community, while building influencer relationships. Where to Go in the Yucatan, Mexico Cancun is part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the Caribbean-facing side of the Yucatan Peninsula At the moment, you don't need to quarantine or test to enter Mexico but that is subject to change. Keep in mind to that return to the U.S. or Canada you will need a test to return to your home country and many hotels do on-site testing. Keep in mind that Mexican citizens are only about 27% vaccinated so you need to be aware of keeping the local community safe as well through masking and testing. When you get beyond Cancun and into the state of Yucatan, there is so much history and culture to explore. Instead of flying into Cancun, to explore the Yucatan, it actually makes more sense to connect through Mexico City and fly into Merida, since getting from the Cancun airport to Merida is a bit more challenging if you aren't driving. Chichen Itza is about 2.5 hours from Merida and the beach is 30 minutes from the city center. Las Coloradas has pink sand salt pond beaches is about 1.5 hours from Merida. Unless you speak Spanish well or know the area, it is best to join tour groups or private tours from Merida.There are many beautiful haciendas just outside of the city that have their own pool or rooftop patios if you want more privacy, but there are also beautiful boutique hotels in the renovated haciendas within the city. You could also split your time between Merida for the city vibe and Progresso on the beach. Cenotes are fun to do with kids as you can swim through these ancient sinkholes. Be sure to shower first and don't wear sunscreen or creams. Just keep in mind that the water is from underground and is chilly. Izamal is known as the Yellow City and was named one of Mexico's "Pueblos Mágicos" in 2002 that are recognized for their magical qualities. It is a beautiful city to explore and is built on an ancient Mayan city and the ruins are scattered throughout the city. The Convent of San Antonio de Padua is one of the most well-known buildings in the area and has the second largest atrium next to St. Peter's in the Vatican. You can still hear Mayan spoken in Izamal. Izamal would be a great place to stay overnight to have more time to enjoy and soak in the magic of the city and enjoy the wonderful restaurants.Valladolid is another great town to visit, and it has a cenote in the middle of the town. Plan to visit the Mayan temples and buildings in Chichen Itza and Uxmal. At Uxmal you can climb on the buildings. Chichen Itza has an amazing evening light show that also covers a lot of history. There is also a driving route that explores Ruta Puuc and ruins near Merida including: Kabah, Labna, and Sayil. There are also plantation-style hacienda or farms to visit. It is important to look up safety warnings for each specific city/state that you are visiting before you go. It is recommended to drink bottled water or using water purification processes. Carrying cash is best for small towns but don't carry large amounts, carry it in different spots, and be aware of pick pockets. You may need to adjust your meal times to local customs. Always wear sunscreen and dress according to the weather. Hurricane season is usually late summer to early fall. Spring is an ideal time to go because it is very hot in the summer. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.000] - Kim Tate Dive into Mayan culture this week as we talk about the Yucatan Peninsula. [00:00:16.070] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel. [00:00:31.710] - Kim Tate This week's episode is again brought to us by Room Steals. Our listeners may remember that Room Steals talked to us in Episode 185, and it's all about using a Chrome browser called Room Steals that works alongside booking sites to make sure that you're getting a wholesale price for that room. And what you do is you install the extension and then you shop for a hotel like you normally would on your favorite booking site, whether that's something like Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, or even Google. [00:00:57.390] - Kim Tate And then once you've done your search and pick your hotel, Room Steals will show you a pop up to see if that room is available for a cheaper wholesale rate. When you click on that pop up, then you can book the room directly through Room Steals. Downloading and using Room Steals is totally free. You can just install the browser and be able to see if they can get you a better deal. If you want to book the discounted rate, you're going to have to pay an annual membership fee, and our listeners are going to be given 20% off their fee with the code Vacation Mavens Again, Vacation Mavens. [00:01:28.260] - Kim Tate So if you travel more multiple times a year or even if you're shopping around, the nice thing is that you get to test it out before you pay. And it's possible that you'll make up the annual membership fee in savings with just one trip. So go ahead and check out Room Steals again. It's an extension. And then if you use the code Vacation Mavens, you'll save 20% off your membership, and we thank them for their support. [00:01:50.680] - Tamara Gruber And if any of you guys have already signed up for Rooms Steams and had some savings, please let us know. We'd love to share what you've saved and what your experience has been. So, Kim, it sounds like you had some good news recently with the Canadian border opening and maybe you get a chance to go see Paul's family. [00:02:09.490] - Kim Tate Yeah, we're really excited. I'm still crossing my fingers that it all works out, but we are planning to finally get to go see Paul's family. It'll be the first time we've seen them in two years since we haven't been able to travel either way. And so we're really looking forward to it. And Canada did come out and say that they would welcome vaccinated Americans and our family of four all qualifies as that. So we're excited to hopefully head up there and visit his family. [00:02:38.670] - Kim Tate Finally. [00:02:39.260] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. It's still a little complicated. From what I understand, but I know that you've dug into it a lot deeper, obviously, because you are going to have some Canadian family come stay with you. And now you're going to go stay with them. And so can you kind of walk our listeners through what are the things that people need to be aware of if they want to go visit Canada right now from the US? [00:02:58.640] - Kim Tate Yeah, definitely. So I think that's the first thing to mention is that this is Canada has said that they will allow vaccinated US citizens to come up into Canada. There are testing protocols, which I'll talk about later, but the US recently said they are still keeping the borders closed to Canadians. So that was a big for non essential travel. So that was a big hindrance. So our family can't come see us, however we are able to go up to them. But like I said, there are a few things that have to be done in order to make that happen. [00:03:30.860] - Kim Tate And I just want to specify right now the information is still very unknown a little bit. It's a little up in the air. And there's also how it's being handled if you're flying into Canada versus if you're driving across the border, it's a little unknown about how exactly things will be handled with that. But right now, the policies that I know of and that is currently being released is that in order to cross the border into Canada, you have to be vaccinated. And they have one of those apps. [00:04:01.370] - Kim Tate It's called I think it's called ArriveCan. And you use that app to help upload and share your vaccination information on that app, as well as you have to have a PCR test done within 72 hours. Now, this is a tricky one where Canada has actually said they have not mentioned that they will allow those Binax that the US is allowing. They actually want it to be done at a laboratory type facility. So whether that will adjust and they'll start allowing those tests, I'm not sure. [00:04:30.840] - Kim Tate So right now you would have to go get a test done at a lab. And so we'll be scheduling that. And again, it has to be 72 hours before your travel day and those results that are uploaded in your app as well, then you're allowed to cross the border. And when you cross the border, there are, this is where I say you have to keep checking because it's a little unsure of whether they will require you to test. Again. I think this might be a thing where they'll do spot checking if you're flying into an airport and maybe as well, if you're crossing at a land border, they might spot check and say, okay, you need to pull over and get tested. [00:05:04.080] - Kim Tate Again. I'm not sure how that's going to actually work out once it opens on August 9. So that's how you're covered there, and you can get into Canada, and that basically you're exempt then from the quarantine, which being vaccinated to exempt you from that. So right now, Canada had been saying that you could come into Canada with all these tests, but then you would also have to quarantine for 14 days, and their quarantine was pretty strict. You had to have separate facility like you couldn't just go stay with your family. [00:05:33.680] - Kim Tate You had to have completely separate facilities, which which was not doable for most Americans or US citizens wanting to visit into Canada. [00:05:43.170] - Tamara Gruber Right. I don't really want to sit in a hotel room for not much to pay for a hotel. [00:05:48.340] - Kim Tate Yeah. Exactly. So that's where that all comes down to. And then the other part of that, then is the US is still requiring Americans who are traveling back internationally to be tested 72 hours before they cross the border. And so what we're actually going to do is have those rapid test and take them up to Canada with us. And hopefully that will take care of it, because the tricky thing is, and this was part of the thing when we originally thought Canada was just going to require tests. [00:06:17.210] - Kim Tate Our Canadian family was trying to figure out how they would get tested in the States without having to pay $150 per person. And there wasn't a good option at that time. Whereas, you know, for most US citizens, we can go and testing and vaccines are covered by the US government right now for easy to go. Yeah. But for a Canadian who doesn't have US insurance to be able to prove they would have to pay out of pocket. So that's one of the other. I think over time, as things work out, it'll maybe become a little more easier to navigate. [00:06:52.940] - Kim Tate But then when the United States came out and said no, they're going to continue to extend the closures, it became an on issue because it was two whammies. They couldn't get around either. [00:07:03.520] - Kim Tate So that's kind of the situation [00:07:05.290] - Tamara Gruber and a couple of things that come to mind when I'm listening to you talk about that. Like, number one is I've noticed because every time I get basically anything, I go get tested if I feel like a little bit rundown. So I've noticed that a lot of the testing sites around me are closing end of July, something like that. So I think we've gotten used to as Americans having a lot of access to testing, thankfully. And I think that it's not that it's going to be more limited, but there's going to be fewer testing centers. [00:07:36.440] - Tamara Gruber So you might have to plan a little bit more in advance. And to understand, you might have to drive a little further. Or you might have to book your appointment a little bit earlier to make sure you get the time slots that you want things like that to keep aware of. And then on the way back, I know we mentioned when we were talking in the episode we talked about in Greece, but the next text that you can buy, like a CVS aren't the ones that are valid for travel back to the US. [00:08:00.980] - Tamara Gruber So just make sure for people that are considering it, to get the ones that are qualified for that. [00:08:06.400] - Kim Tate And you have to buy those. I did some reading and research. I had an article which we can link to in the show notes, but I think it's through. I think it's Emed. It's kind of a random website where you can buy them and you buy them as a six pack for $150. And the other tip that they recommend is that they recommend, actually, if you're really relying on traveling, that you buy each person should have two, just in case there's an inconclusive or if there's any issues in administration, I don't think we're going to travel with eight. [00:08:38.960] - Kim Tate I think we'll have the the six pack and hope that the two extras will cover our family of four if we have an inconclusive or if we need to redo one. But just a mind just for everyone to be mindful of. It's something to keep in mind. [00:08:51.980] - Tamara Gruber We were debating that because we're planning on going to Aruba in November and who knows what the situation will be and if the world will change, whatever. But just thinking ahead, we're like, oh, if testing isn't available down there, maybe we would buy one six pack for the three of us. I'm like, I don't know. Maybe we should at least get two. Yeah. So it's definitely something to think about. I wonder you don't want to be stuck without anything? [00:09:16.580] - Kim Tate Well, the Caribbean and Mexico have been so great about at least the tourist resorts. All inclusive resorts are really going out of their way to make sure that US citizens have access to testing. So that is kind of one benefit. And I'm sure I guarantee you, in Canada, it's probably not too hard to figure out a way. And once we were up there, I could be able to figure out a way to go get tested. And it would probably literally cost us $23 out of pocket or something knowing how they handle their medical right there. [00:09:48.940] - Kim Tate But just we didn't want to risk that. [00:09:51.850] - Tamara Gruber I'm actually heading to Buffalo, New York, and I will be up there right after the border opens. And part of me was like, oh, maybe it's really close to Niagara Falls. Maybe I should just swing by. I've been to Niagara Falls before, but just for kicks, when you're so close, you feel like you should just go. And I'm like, oh, and I can just walk across the border then. I'm like, yeah, but how am I going to get the get tested to think about usually something like that. [00:10:19.530] - Tamara Gruber You could literally just walk across the border on the bridge, walk back an hour later, but more things to think about. [00:10:26.130] - Kim Tate Yeah, definitely. [00:10:27.320] - Tamara Gruber I'm glad I'm happy for you that this is finally happening. I was very excited. Glad you'll get to see family. And hopefully this will be a positive sign for things moving forward. I know there's been movement in terms of visiting the UK as well, and we'll just see, obviously everything is constantly changing, so definitely everyone needs to stay vigilant and keep up with the news. But I guess it's a positive sign for now. Right. [00:10:58.620] - Kim Tate Yeah. We're going to take it as that. And we also talked about just trying to be more mindful of watching our own exposure during the time we're up there. And then also leading up to the week two weeks before we leave because we don't want to make all these plans and then have everything fall through because one of us test positive. And so that's the other thing is you really don't want to test positive. If you're doing all these tests, what will happen if someone test positive? [00:11:27.260] - Kim Tate So make sure that you guys are all thinking ahead of what is the worst case scenario. What do we do if that happens? Yeah. [00:11:36.640] - Tamara Gruber We are about to talk to a Canadian and we're going to talk to her about our neighbor to the south. Yeah. [00:11:43.790] - Kim Tate We're covering all of North America. [00:11:45.380] - Tamara Gruber To stay tuned, we're going to talk about the Yucatan. [00:11:58.320] So this week we're here with Rosanna Wyatt. And she is a gluten free lifestyle and travel writer specializing in family and solo travel. She loves discovering new foods and adventures on her journeys. As she explores, Rosanna tells the stories of the destination she has visited, sharing her love of travel, her wander last and enticing her readers to explore these places on their own. When she's not traveling, Rosanna works as a social media strategist in the tourism industry. [00:12:23.550] - Tamara Gruber She brings people and brands together, creating campaigns that build awareness and community while building influence to relationships. So welcome to the Vacation Mavens. [00:12:34.940] - Rossana Wyatt Thank you. So nice to be here. [00:12:37.480] - Tamara Gruber And I guess we should specify that you're in Canada. [00:12:44.720] - Rossana Wyatt  I'm located just west of Toronto. We are in across the border. [00:12:50.840] - Tamara Gruber Across the border that by the time this comes out be open once again. [00:12:55.960] - Rossana Wyatt Yeah, it will. [00:12:58.890] - Kim Tate At least one way I was going to say which way it'll be open. [00:13:01.410] - Tamara Gruber That's true. [00:13:02.030] - Rossana Wyatt A and then all that depends on what's happening with the variants as well. [00:13:07.230] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, of course. Right. But we're hopeful. So before we dive into our topic, today is going to be about places in the Yucatan. And before we talk about that, I just figured as we're talking about changing guidelines and rules and all that kind of stuff, I know people are already thinking about winter break and spring break even. Do you have any insight that you can share for right now? Obviously, we know the situation is always changing, but for people that do want to visit Mexico from the North America, either the US or Canada. [00:13:40.760] - Rossana Wyatt Well, I at the moment, there really aren't any rules about quarantine. They do like you to have tests, but then again, they're not strict about it. They do have protocols in some areas are more strict than others. So depending on where you're going to be heading, of course, all hotels will have access to the testing information for when you're coming back, because there are going to be different expectations where you're coming back across the border and restrictions. But there are going to be specific protocols according to where you are going to be going. [00:14:16.260] - Rossana Wyatt But all hotels, most public places will have specific, I guess, disinfection and cleaning protocols in place, and many places will still have masking going on. But Mexico is just starting to ramp up on their vaccination schedule. So there are people that I know that won't be getting their vaccines until sometime in October. And that's the first one, whether it's Canadians, Americans when we're going over. And even though we're vaxxed, we still have to remember that we may have protection for ourselves, but we can be carrying that symptomatically, and we have to be careful where we're going and making sure that we're being safe for everyone else as well. [00:14:59.330] - Rossana Wyatt Yeah. [00:14:59.570] - Kim Tate That's a great, great insight. And I think people don't always see that that it's not just like you're safe. It's also about doing your part as a world citizen and making sure that you're keeping the communities that you're visiting, keeping those people safe as well. Exactly. [00:15:14.270] - Rossana Wyatt And when you're heading into different areas that don't have the vaccination rates that we have here, we have to be extra careful because we can be annoyingly spreading it further. So although we keep ourselves safe, like you said, we need to make sure everyone is safe. [00:15:33.290] - Kim Tate Yeah. And I think it's also just important that we all know how this has been such a fluid and quick changing time. And so the best thing to do is when you're researching whether you want to travel, is researching exactly where you're going and what the rules and regulations are for that there'll be rules. Like you said, the United States or Canada will have their own set of rules on getting back into the country. And then, of course, Mexico, depending on which state you go into, will have their own protocols depending on when you're visiting. [00:16:02.570] - Kim Tate The best thing to do is to research that probably at that time. [00:16:06.480] - Rossana Wyatt Yeah. And then, as I said, they do have most of the towns and cities within the States themselves will have different areas where you can have access to testing so that you can get it before you come back to your own home state or home province. [00:16:21.740] - Kim Tate So I know a lot of all inclusives were doing that to try and get their tourists back because they will make it as easy as possible. [00:16:27.740] - Rossana Wyatt Which makes it very nice because then you don't have to go finding right. Right there. Yeah. [00:16:33.400] - Kim Tate Well, we will jump right in then. And obviously, Cancun is what most people think about when people start thinking about the Yucatan Peninsula, and it's considered popular, affordable destination, popular with families. But it's nice to know what else there is to do beyond that hotel strip and all inclusive and everything that so many people are used to. And so can you help maybe talk about some other areas of the Yucatan Peninsula that you're going to be talking about today and focusing on? [00:17:02.620] - Rossana Wyatt Absolutely. Yes. And as you said, most people know about Cancun and the different areas around there. But there is so much more to the Yucatan peninsula itself it encompasses both UK and Quintana Roo. As you said, most people know Cancun is the beach destination, and it is a big hub that people fly into. But the Yucatan itself has so much history and so many areas to explore. The Mayans are there's so much culture in history in the Mayan civilization, and most of that was centered around the Yucatan itself, which is right next to Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located. [00:17:45.260] - Rossana Wyatt The history, the beaches, the ancient ruins there are so many cenotes as well, I'll bet, are located all over the state. They are also located in Quintana Roo, but you'll find many more within Yucatan itself. But there are historic cities and haciendas to visit. So there's always so much more to explore. And the food is actually kind of cool because what they do is they do use a lot of their cultural and bring that back the history into the food. So you see them cooking with fire in pits in the ground as well, which is actually quite neat. [00:18:17.970] - Rossana Wyatt And they have their special little spices that they use. So there's so much in the Yucatan area itself to explore. [00:18:24.300] - Kim Tate It sounds like what you're describing also is just a much more culturally aware visit than just an all inclusive on the beach. It's nice that if people are actually wanting to understand a little bit about the history and the culture, it sounds like this is the kind of vacation that you might want to plan. [00:18:40.440] - Rossana Wyatt Yes. Absolutely. And it's so great, especially if you have kids. There is so much history there. And it's really cool to see that be able to actually see the physical most of the pyramids within Yucatan. You can't climb because they want to make sure that they don't get ruined because they've been around for so many years. But there are a couple that they still allow the kids to climb on and to explore and to sort of climb into. And it's neat for them to even see they sort of step into history, because that's what you're doing. [00:19:12.870] - Rossana Wyatt You're stepping into those historical sites and you're stepping into that history, which is really amazing. And then when you have some of the Mayan gods go through and they're telling you the retelling that whole history and what they're doing and what things were for, what buildings were used for. It's really quite cool. [00:19:31.660] - Tamara Gruber Well, I remember my very first time that I flew. My very first time that I went out of the country was with a Spanish trip from high school. I think I was 16 and we flew to Mexico City and then to Merida. And can you maybe help our listeners understand if you wanted to visit Yucatan, the state of Yucatan, and see some of these ruins and things like that, where would you fly into? Where would you base yourself? And then maybe if you moved around a bit like, where are some of the top places that they should look at staying? [00:20:06.560] - Rossana Wyatt Well, actually, you did it perfectly because you go into Mexico City and you can fly into Merida from there and then you can base into Media. Then everything is located fairly close to there, Chichen Itza, which is one of the main ruin sites, is about two and a half hours from Merida. You have the beach, which is like 30 minutes from Merida. Then you have La Coloradas, which are about, I believe, an hour and a half from Merida. But then there are smaller ruins as well. [00:20:40.250] - Rossana Wyatt Within an hour drive an hour and a half drive from Merida. So everything is pretty central to Merida, so that's probably one of the better places to fly into. If you were to go to fly into Cancun, it can be a little bit more difficult to get to that area if you're not driving. [00:20:56.520] - Tamara Gruber So it's not as easy to get a connecting flight there. [00:20:59.350] - Rossana Wyatt No, not from Cancun. But Mexico City has many flights into Media throughout the day so that it is easier to do that. But if you wanted to to drive, you could fly into Cancun and then drive into it's about 3 hours. If you're going from Cancun to Merida it is about a three hour drive. [00:21:20.280] - Kim Tate So are you recommending then would you say people should rent a car and have their own car? Or do you think it's better done as kind of like tour group or day trips or hiring a driver? What would you say is the best way to if you are basing yourself out of Merida. [00:21:38.080] - Rossana Wyatt  if you're basing yourself in merida, tour groups are probably one of the better ways to go unless you can speak the language and you can hire a driver. So that would probably be the other option is to do some of the the tour. They have many tour groups that will go out to different destinations or you can hire to me honestly, if you don't know the area and you don't speak the language quite well, I think it's probably best that you stay with a tour group itself that will go out that has different time schedules and things that will be going out through the day as I said many of these things can be done on day trips. [00:22:17.080] - Tamara Gruber And do you find would it be good to rent a Hacienda if you are a family or better to stay at a hotel? Do you have any places that you would recommend? [00:22:26.990] - Rossana Wyatt There are some incredible haciendas within some of the cities. The Hacienda themselves are absolutely beautiful. Sometimes they have their own little pool and some of them have some rooftop patio that you can take a look at and see the rest of the city. And they're really well taken care of. But they're also the one hotel that we stayed at a a beautiful and closed courtyard with a pool. So some of the buildings are they're all a colonial architecture and they're just absolutely stunning. And they take all that in and work it in with upgrading some of the interior of the buildings. [00:23:02.150] - Rossana Wyatt But I would stay in a smaller boutique hotel, which they've sort of taken some of the Asian doesn't turn them into these but hotels. Or if you wanted to go out of town for a little bit and rent Hacienda itself, that would be another option, depending on the size of your but I think one of the smaller boutique hotels within the city is probably a great place to start. [00:23:30.500] - Kim Tate So I have a quick question. I say family is going to spend a week down there. How do you recommend maybe like what are some of the beaches or cities or something they should check out? Or do you recommend they split their trip between two destinations? So how would you recommend, like what are the must see kind of in that region? If they had one week? And how would you time that? [00:23:53.160] - Rossana Wyatt Well, Progresso. Like I said, Progresso is only a 30 minutes drive from Merida, the beach there. So you could certainly either if you wanted to base in progress or you could even do that and then stay away from some of the business of the city. Not that it is that busy compared to some, but Progresso would help get the feel of the beach area. And you could relax, have a few days relaxing there, and then also go into the city when you wanted to be able to do that. [00:24:20.800] - Rossana Wyatt But then again, you probably they do have a great transportation as well, so that you could go back and forth. But the cenotes is probably a fun sort of thing for would be a fun thing for the kids, because they're the ancient sink holes that the Mayans used to use for a groundwater and depending on some of the rituals and things like that, and also they're great for swimming for the kids because it's a different experience and they're absolutely stunning. The no two sites are like either, and some of them are quite small and some of them are quite open. [00:24:59.630] - Rossana Wyatt They would be fun for kids to explore. But the other thing is you have to make sure that when you're swimming in the cenotes that you shower, most areas will have shower facilities before because they don't want you going in with any kind of creams or anything on you, because that can hurt whatever plant life is within the site itself. [00:25:17.890] - Tamara Gruber Is it like the one in Riviera Maya, where there's some organized where you to tube through, or is it more like go on your own? [00:25:27.810] - Rossana Wyatt Well, they do have some where you can go, but you don't tube through any of them. Some of them you can go down through stairs. They're actually just like a hole. You go to specific areas you drive up, and there's like a little area where you shower and stuff. And then there's a staircase that's taken down, and some of them are not that deep, but they are not in the same they're not the same as you see the ones that they show through Cancun with that you're going through in these different little boats to different little caves and things like that. [00:26:02.410] - Rossana Wyatt But they're not like that at all. [00:26:03.640] - Tamara Gruber The water still very cold. [00:26:05.610] - Rossana Wyatt It is it is, but it's just they have this I had this huge way of sunlight coming in, and it's just absolutely spectacular. It's so magical just to see it. And as I said, no two are alike because they're different sizes. There's different vegetation growing. They're different depths. But it's a cool experience for kids to sort of be able to jump in. And some of them, they have these ropes that you just sort of swing and you jump in and others you can sort of walk in, but not all of them. [00:26:40.330] - Rossana Wyatt So they're all different. [00:26:42.130] - Tamara Gruber So you never get going to get the same feeling from are there certain ones that are more famous or ones that you would really recommend? Or is it really just you kind of ask the hotel where to go? [00:26:51.040] - Rossana Wyatt Yeah. And then actually, one of the cities has a note in the middle of the city, but you just kind of have to go with the tour group that will take you there because you can just rent a car with a driver and they'll take you out there and you can go out for the day or even take a side trip out there's. Also, aside from the Cenotes themselves, just some of the cities as wonderful historic city. Izamal is known as the Yellow City, and it was named Pueblos Magicos in 2002 by the Mexican government. [00:27:28.140] - Rossana Wyatt They're basically towns are recognized for the quote, their magical qualities, whether it's their incredible beauty, the rich history, or some extraordinary Legends that they're known for. But this city is when you look at all the yellow, it's this beautiful, rich goldish yellow. And it truly is magical seeing it everywhere with the colonial architecture and this hue of yellow. But it gives the city kind of an energy. And this city is actually built upon ancient Mayan city and you can see some of the ancient Mayan ruins here and there. [00:28:08.210] - Rossana Wyatt And the convent of San Antonio de Padua is one of the most well known buildings in the area. And apparently it is the second largest, quote atrium after St Peter's, the square in the Vatican. And it's a big cultural significance as part of the homage for Catholics as well. So that's another big draw for many people. It's a very small town. And as I said, you can actually hear the Mayan language spoken because it's still spoken a lot of the homes there so that they retain a lot of their cultural qualities. [00:28:42.200] - Rossana Wyatt And it's a beautiful city. Like I said, the energy and the light just seen that all the Arc protector just in viewed with this incredible color. [00:28:52.600] - Tamara Gruber Is that one that you would maybe stay out overnight or still just visit on a day trip? [00:28:57.290] - Rossana Wyatt I would stay overnight only because actually there are a couple of different little areas there, and they have a lot of, I guess, what you would call sandos, but they're all little homes that you can rent, and they have their own little sort of courtyard, and they're just absolutely stunning. The city itself just walking around. And the people are so warm. It's really quite beautiful. And of course, they have many wonderful restaurants as well. And with the food. So it's always nice to be able to integrate that because that's part of their culture. [00:29:31.300] - Kim Tate So I know you mentioned some of the cenotes and you said Progresso is a great beach to go to. And then, of course, you just talked about a Izamal that sounds like a wonderful little town. What are some of the other highlights that you think if people are spending time in that region, where are some other places they should check out or plan to visit? [00:29:50.620] - Rossana Wyatt Well, Valladolid is another city. It's a very colonial town. It has a lot of historic buildings and plazas. And this one also has the Cenote in the middle of the town, the one that I mentioned. But along with Chichen Itza, there is another one about an hour and a half from Merida Uxmal U-X-M-A-L, and this is the one that I was mentioning that they let people sort of climb all over and actually go through. And it is larger or an area in ground area, then Chichen Itza is, even though Chichen Itza is more well known to people. [00:30:28.540] - Rossana Wyatt So there is also a driving route if you wanted to take hire a car. And it explores different Mayan ruins near Merida itself. It's called Ruta Puuc. And it goes across the hilly forest and train, and it passes up three different Mayan ruins. They are the Tie Pac and Lana, which I know that you probably didn't get all of it, but I can install them out if you want. [00:30:59.500] - Tamara Gruber If you can give them to us, we can put it in the show notes. So anyone can look it up there. [00:31:04.760] - Rossana Wyatt And they lead all those if you're following that route along, they will actually lead to their Mayan ruins at Kabah. So there's that. And there's also outside of Merida itself, there are lots of haciendas that are known. The people in Yucatan know as Hacienda are these big plantations very similar to the plantations in the US. So they were big, sprawling manufacturing and farming States at the time, especially around the turn of the century, when they did a lot of the crop is the Hannekin or Sisal. So they were very popular back then. [00:31:45.290] - Rossana Wyatt And then once all the synthetic fibers came to be, they sort of started to fall back and unfortunately lost a lot of the work because of the synthetic fibers. So right now, a lot of those haciendas are being restored and they're being used as big event venues. But there are also some of them also have a lot of the manufactured area sort of still there. And so they do some of the tours through some of those areas. So many are turned into luxury accommodations, but they still retain a lot of those production areas. [00:32:19.350] - Rossana Wyatt So you can actually tour them and learn what the unique history and the Hannekin production itself, because it was huge. The production from the Yucatan was sent out all over the world, and these cases became quite wealthy until, as I said, the synthetic fibers came to be small. [00:32:40.640] - Tamara Gruber Uxmal, If I'm pronouncing it correctly, that was the first place that I went on my little trip with my Spanish class, and I have a picture of me climbing the pyramids so that you can still do that, although I remember being very steep and very little scary coming back down. [00:32:55.590] - Rossana Wyatt Yeah. Ok. Uxmal, unfortunately, because of the erosion and everything else, they really want to try and keep as much as many people off of it as possible. Yeah. The one thing I have to say is the fact that we can to have an evening light show, which is really quite cool because they go through a lot of the history and they explore why they moved to certain areas and how they did certain things and stuff. But then we also did the sunrise tour, where we were the only group out there. [00:33:30.830] - Rossana Wyatt And you could just watch the sunrise over the ruins, which are still just incredible. And you could see how they would see it first thing in the morning. And it was really quite spectacular. So I would recommend that if they can. [00:33:43.210] - Tamara Gruber There's so much emphasis on early mythology and things that I always go back to the Rick Riordan books that brought so much interest to Percy Jackson, the Greek and the Romans, and then they be Egyptian. But my daughter has always been very fascinated by Mayan culture. And also it's just absolutely amazing when you are there and you realize the knowledge and how much was learned. I remember I think it was Chichen Itza where it's like on the Solstice, it looks like the way that the light hits, it almost looks like a giant snake is coming down the side. [00:34:14.380] - Tamara Gruber  It's mind blowing. And so I think for kids that are interested in some of these, like, I don't want to say just mythology, because these are ancient cultures, but the beliefs of ancient civilizations and things, it really is a great place to absolutely. [00:34:31.580] - Rossana Wyatt And the best thing is when you're talking to one of the guides, the Mayan guys, they had it handed down to them. And there are really only a handful that know the actual cultural aspects of the historical aspects, because even though some of the languages carried on, not everything is passed along. So it's neat to hear how everything, how it's been down and so much of the history itself. But yeah, it's absolutely incredible. And it really boggles your mind how much they knew and how much what word I'm looking for, how progressive they were, I guess, because of everything they knew, they were such they were so lightened for the time that they were in. [00:35:15.270] - Rossana Wyatt Does that make sense? Yeah. [00:35:17.390] - Tamara Gruber Until you talk about the sacrificial well. [00:35:21.230] - Rossana Wyatt I wasn't talking to it. Yes. Absolutely. Yes. [00:35:24.920] - Tamara Gruber I know exactly what you mean. Well, I know one of the concerns that people have when traveling in Mexico, especially in a region that is not dominated by resorts and all inclusive and things is just around safety. It sounds like you're mostly talking about doing some guided tours, which obviously you don't have to worry about wandering off on your own there. But do you have any thoughts just about safety in this particular area? [00:35:50.280] - Rossana Wyatt Well, actually, I found it very safe because even though I was part of the group itself, I was staying somewhere separate from them. So I would walk back and forth on my own. And then I actually had some time on my own. So I went to explore in and around Merida on my own so that I had no worries about trying to explain that area. Izamal was the same because I ended up walking back and forth from where the others were staying. And like I said, it was just walking in another. [00:36:22.910] - Rossana Wyatt I felt just a safer than walking here in my area here because people they were just regular people from the town. And I didn't have to worry about anything. And even in Merida, which is much larger and they're much more people, I had no worries about safety. Obviously, you don't want to be going and doing something silly and standing out like a sore thumb. But my daughter says that I look over that could fit into the different crowds and stuff. So I don't know it's with anything else. [00:37:00.360] - Rossana Wyatt Don't do anything that you wouldn't do at home and don't stick out like a sore thumb. [00:37:04.990] - Tamara Gruber Well, and I think it's important to you here in the US, at least. I'm sure Canada has something similar. But you can look up safety warnings and things about places that you're going to visit. And I think it is important to dig down into the particular state or city that you're visiting and not just look at kind of country level or something. [00:37:22.010] - Rossana Wyatt Yeah. And every state is going to be different. There are some States within Mexico that have a little bit more crime, and what you do is you stay away from them. Even areas within Quintana Roo that people don't know about, they're more well known are the ones that people know about the crime that are going on because Quintana Roo more popular areas. So crime there is more well known, I guess, in a sense. And people tend to just sort of stick to their resort areas. But within the Yucatan itself, you can certainly go out and go on to different tours and not really worry about them so much. [00:38:03.920] - Rossana Wyatt So because it is one of the safer areas in Mexico. [00:38:07.500] - Kim Tate It's good to know and have your insight on that. So do you have any final tips to wrap up about traveling to the Yucatan that you think people should keep in mind those trusty travel tips, somebody who's been there? [00:38:22.470] - Rossana Wyatt Well, the water is purified most within the Merida, the city is getting most of the purification done. But the thing that you had to remember some of the tanks because a lot of those buildings have big tanks that they used to hold. This is cisterns where they used to hold the water. And because they have been all upgraded, even though the water itself may be purified, it isn't always what comes out. Does that make sense? Yeah. So it is always good to make sure that you're wary of that. [00:38:56.930] - Rossana Wyatt So you're either drinking bottled water or you have something that may help disinfect your water itself. Like I have one of those water bottles that actually it's called the crazy cap that actually purifies water itself. And that helps a lot because it just sort of cleans the water. I can put in water from wherever it'll purify it and clean it. And that way I have water on demand all the time. I but the other thing is maybe carrying cash is best instead of credit, because not every place if you go, especially if you're going into a small town, everyone has the credit capability. [00:39:34.010] - Rossana Wyatt You'll also be able to barter a little bit more when you're carrying cash and don't carry large amounts. And as always, just be weary because I mean, they're pick pockets everywhere and people the flight bump you never know in carrying in different spots. But the same thing with pretty much anywhere you go, don't carry a lot of cash. If you do carry can make sure you carry it in different places. And you'll also find that if you're looking, especially with families, because you tend to eat at a certain time. [00:40:02.750] - Rossana Wyatt You also have to remember that in certain villages you won't find or towns cities you won't always find everything open. So you kind of have to accommodate meal times to according to when they're going to be open. Restaurants and cafes will be open. I think that's it for one, but always wear sunscreen as always, because it's very hot. It is very hot there and try and dress cool because it can get quite humid and the heat you don't always depending on where you're from in certain areas, but you feel heat a lot more. [00:40:34.200] - Tamara Gruber What about when it comes to when to travel? Is there a rainy season? Is it often hit by Hurricanes or the times to avoid or better times to go? [00:40:42.850] - Rossana Wyatt Well, Hurricane seasons are always the early fall is usually more of a Hurricane season, but I think I've been in October and it was fine. But with anything, things change really quickly, so it's just a matter of just keeping an eye out when things are going to be happening. It gets very hot in the summer months down there. So spring is probably a good time to go and really fall. [00:41:17.560] - Kim Tate Perfect. So we will wrap up with our question that we ask all of our guests and that is what do you wear when you travel? Do you have any favorite go to that you like? [00:41:26.830] - Rossana Wyatt I don't have any favorite. It goes. I prefer wearing dresses because they tend to keep me cooler on scores when I can't when you're hiking or whatever. But I guess more than anything is just sandals and shoes that give me extra support, like Keens and Clarks. I tend to go to those more than anything else because then I can have a pair of shoes that doesn't look so horrible and I can wear them with a dress. And then I can also wear them hiking and they keep my feet cool and support it. [00:41:57.100] - Tamara Gruber Well, before we close out, if you can remind our guest where they can find you online and sell your travels once Canadians can start traveling again. [00:42:07.180] - Rossana Wyatt Well, I'm Rosanna Wyatt on all social platforms at Ross A-N-A-W-Y-A-T-T, pretty much most of those social platforms. And then you can also check out my rating and life is full of adventures com, but those are mainly the places that you can find me. [00:42:27.760] - Kim Tate Great. Thanks so much for for joining us and giving us this insight into the area beyond Cancun. We appreciate your time. I look forward to sharing more about this area. [00:42:38.180] - Rossana Wyatt Well, thank you very much for having me and for allowing me to share. As I said, the area around Yucatan is just amazing. We can certainly learn so much more about the Mayan culture and there is more to that Peninsula then just at the Cancun and the Riviera Maya and Playa Del Carmen. . [00:43:00.940] - Tamara Gruber Sounds good. [00:43:01.910] - Rossana Wyatt Thank you. Bye. [00:43:06.460] - Tamara Gruber Well, that wraps up another week on Vacation Mavens, and we think Room Steals for their support. Please go check out their Chrome browser extension and see what kind of money you can save on your upcoming travels. And I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. Next time we'll talk to you. I guess we'll be in that whole back to school time. [00:43:24.470] - Kim Tate Yeah, thanks for joining you guys. Talk to you later. Bye.


    195 Kim's Trip to Disneyland & Irvine, California

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2021 54:54

    Wondering what it is like to visit Disneyland now that California is reopened? Want to hear about a fun place to stay near Disneyland that makes a great family vacation? Tune in this week while Kim shares her family's experience in Disneyland and Irvine, California. About Our Sponsor: Room Steals Today's episode is sponsored by Room Steals.  Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside existing booking sites to show you what the wholesale price is for that room. Just install the browser extension and search for a hotel as you usually would on Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, or Google. Once you've done your initial search, Room Steals will show you in a pop-up if that same room is available for less. If it is, you can click on that pop-up and book it directly through Room Steals. Downloading and using Room Steals is free; however, if you want to book a discounted room you have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20% off the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens.  If you travel multiple times in a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener already saved $400 using Room Steals on her first booking!  To learn more, visit roomsteals.com. That's roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20% off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support. Tips for Visiting Disneyland (Summer 2021) Disneyland reopened this spring and is now allowing out-of-state visitors, and has been steadily increasing capacity. The parks are crowded and they have not yet restarted Max Pass so you have no choice but to wait in long lines. The rides have also been breaking down frequently this summer, making it harder to ride all the rides that you want to get to. At the time, they were no longer offering annual passes, although there was a special for California residents. A new annual pass plan has recently been announced. When you purchase tickets, you need to make a reservation for a specific day to visit and which park you want to visit. Park reservations can be booked 120 days in advance of your visit. If you are visiting in less than 120 days, make sure you look at the availability calendar before booking your trip. If you purchase a Park Hopper ticket, you can hop to the other park after 1 pm. Two rides require boarding group reservations on top of your ticket reservation. You can try to claim a boarding group beginning at 7 am, and they are usually gone within seconds. Another opportunity will begin at noon, but only if you have already used your first boarding group or if you didn't have success in the morning. Those two rides are Rise of the Resistance in California Adventure Park and the new Avenger's Web Slingers. You need a Park Hopper ticket to be able to get two boarding groups/virtual queues within the same day. To get prepared for how to snag a spot in the virtual queue for Web Slingers, check out this post on Trips with Tykes. Mobile ordering for food is getting better but still a little spotty. It is best to plan on eating off hours and bringing snacks to tide you over. Kim stayed at the Hotel Lulu, which is nearby Disneyland and newly renovated. There are pharmacies on the corner, which are great for stocking up on snacks and drinks. There is also a Starbucks nearby. Hotel Lulu, which was recently taken over by Red Lion, is a good budget option. They are often allowing guests to go through security and the turnstiles before the opening time so for a 8 am opening, it pays to arrive around 7 or 7:10. It pays to stay in the Grand Californian hotel for easy access to the parks but the hotel pricing is $800+ right now so finding a nearby alternative helps the budget. If you stay at one of the Harbor hotels you can still take a break in the middle of the day. Just keep in mind that the hotels around Disneyland are suffering from major staff shortages this summer. Also keep in mind that car rental shortages and pricing continues to be an issue as well, especially with the smaller, non-airport locations. Auto Slash is a good option for finding deals on rental cars. Tips for a Family Vacation to Irvine, California Irvine is where the John Wayne / Orange County airport is located, which is the closest Disneyland Kim stayed at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum hotel, which was a nice way to decompress after a few days in Disneyland. The hotel has a nice pool and a rooftop bar on the 16th floor that is popular with locals and guests. There is also a Club floor that provides access to a lounge with snacks and drinks. Boomers is a cool family fun park with go karts, putt putt golf, laser tag, an arcade, and all kinds of games. Irvine has one of the lowest hotel occupancy taxes in California. Tanaka Farms in Irvine is family-owned and is a non-profit that donates food to people in the area. You can do a U-pick tour on a wagon tour and you can pick the produce that are in season. Irvine is also known for its outdoor hiking paths. Irvine Spectrum Center is a large outdoor mall with a ton of restaurants and the Great Wheel ferris wheel. There is a lawn with a stage and they have live music. Irvine is also home to the Orange County Soccer Club, which is fun to watch and is near the Great Park Balloon. Diamond Jamboree is a great spot to find authentic Asian cuisine. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.060] - Kim Tate It's summertime at Disneyland, listen to find out what it's like right now.   [00:00:15.900] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:30.690] - Kim Tate Today's episode is sponsored by Room Steals. Listeners may remember Room Steals from our discussion on finding hotel deals in Episode 185, but Room Steals is a Chrome browser extension that works alongside your existing booking sites. To show you what the wholesale price is for that room, just install the browser extension and search for a hotel, as you normally would on Hotels.com. Booking.com, Expedia or Google. Once you've done your initial search, Roo Steals will show you in a pop up if that same room is available for cheaper.   [00:00:57.210] - Kim Tate If it is, you can click on that pop up and book directly through Room Steals instead. Downloading and using Room Steals is free. However, if you want to book a discounted room, you will have to pay an annual membership fee. Listeners can save 20 percent of the annual membership fee with promo code vacationmavens. If you travel multiple times a year, the subscription will quickly pay for itself. One listener has already saved four hundred dollars using Room Steals on her first booking to learn more visit RoomSteals.com, that's roomsteals.com and use promo code vacationmavens to save 20 percent off your membership to Room Steals, and we thank them for their support.   [00:01:30.790] - Tamara Gruber So, Kim, last week we talked all about my trip to Greece and this week, we get to talk all about your return trip to California. You're really doing a lot of California these days, huh?   [00:01:41.620] - Kim Tate Yeah, it's so funny because we had family and friends say, you're going to Disneyland again. And it's tough because I know that in some ways we'd like to do other vacations. But the girls had missed getting to Disneyland. And I feel like they really liked it and that's what they wanted to do. And it's a pretty easy trip in a lot of ways. So we headed back to Disneyland for family vacation.   [00:02:05.650] - Tamara Gruber And it's a really nice, I'm sure, a change of scenery to go to from pine trees to palm trees, right?   [00:02:11.680] - Kim Tate Yes, exactly. It's so different. It's kind of funny how the atmosphere is so different there. And we experience that, especially because we did Disneyland for a few days and then we spent three days in Irvine, California, which is actually a city. It's kind of the neighboring city to Disneyland. A lot of people will know if you fly in and out of Disneyland. The closest airport is called in a also known as John Wayne or Orange County Airport.   [00:02:36.040] - Kim Tate And that airport is located in Irvine. So it's kind of a neighboring city. And we thought it would be a good time to kind of get that Disneyland trip for the girls, but then also be in a hotel and kind of have a more relaxed end to our vacation so that Paul could be happy and have, you know, time to sleep in and kick up his feet a little.   [00:02:54.360] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, that's good. I mean, plus like you've been to Disneyland, but it's probably been a couple of years or more since the girls have been. Right.   [00:03:02.110] - Kim Tate Right. Yeah. So in February 2020 we actually went to a conference in Disney World and then I was in Disneyland for a conference in March of 2020. Well it was end of February when I flew home March 1st before everything shut down. But yeah, the girls have not been to Disneyland in a little while and so that's what they were really excited about. And it was our home park that we kind of know the best. And I think for the girls, they feel really confident in how to manage it and touring it.   [00:03:30.440] - Kim Tate And so that was kind of a for them. It's a trip that they they feel, I think, empowered and excited about.   [00:03:37.970] - Tamara Gruber And it all worked out because they just reopened for out-of-state visitors in June.   [00:03:42.640] - Kim Tate That was one of the big reasons. When they got that news, they're like, that's what I want to do. I want to go back to Disneyland. And I figure, you know this, too. With the girls getting older and especially with Lizzy going into her senior year, it's getting tougher and tougher. Once they get into high school and even late middle school, it gets tough to pull them out of school. And so you kind of need to do those summer trips.   [00:04:04.070] - Kim Tate And that's where they wanted to go. I thought, well, you know, I guess that's what we'll do. And I was hearing these reports that everyone was saying, oh, it's the perfect time to be in Disneyland. You know, there's no crowds and it's really easy and it's really nice. And then they had the new Avengers campus that was going to open. So we thought it was going to be a great trip and we had a lot of fun.   [00:04:21.850] - Kim Tate But it's definitely not the it's not the low, low crowds that people were expecting, I think, for summer in Disneyland. You if you if you've been to summer to Disneyland in the summer and you know what those ride wait times were like, then, yes, it's going to be a real delight for you. But if you go normally in off-seasons or other times and you kind of are used to being able to really own the park and kind of fly through lines, especially with the fact that there's no Fastpass or Max pass, which we are very confident using, you are faced with just plain waiting in lines and that's something my girls were not very excited about.   [00:05:02.020] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I was going to say. And just the fact that it's been so long since people have been around a lot of people and had to do these kind of things were waiting in line. It must have like probably gets to maybe even a little bit more.   [00:05:15.490] - Kim Tate Yeah, it is interesting, especially also because we some of the rides I felt like the rides were going down more often. Also it seemed like or they had limited capacity, not on, not for social distancing, but just you know, for example, Lizzy's favorite ride is the Guardians of the Galaxy, which used to be Tower of Terror. And on we were there for three days. And the first day she rode it twice, thinking she would write it the other days as well.   [00:05:40.390] - Kim Tate And they had two of their elevators break down. So they were only using one one elevator of. So basically they had to have six loading zones and, you know, park opening would happen and you would see it go from like a zero 15 minute wait all sudden in one hundred and twenty five minute wait, 90 minute wait throughout the day. And so that was real disappointing. They finally got it fixed, but she wasn't able to go on it again the whole trip.   [00:06:07.210] - Kim Tate So she was kind of bummed about that. So there are those little things where when you're used to doing that and then I don't know if it's just staffing or if the maintenance I mean, I don't know if Disneyland has been able to get all their workers back. But you can see that, you know, when something went awry that you love does go down, it can be tough. And then, you know, it's weird because Space Mountain is normally one of the top rides with long wait times.   [00:06:30.510] - Kim Tate And, you know, you're used to seeing it with those kind of wait times, normally 70 to 90 minutes is what I see a lot of times, and it was regularly 40 to 60 minutes throughout the day. So that was a real win. But like the railroad was 30 to 40 minutes. It's just unacceptable to me. So it was really weird how the the numbers kind of flowed. So I don't know what to think. And they had opened up a Disneyland California resident ticket offer shortly before our trip.   [00:06:59.340] - Kim Tate And I'm wondering how much of that special affected people, because, you know, they don't have annual passes anymore. And I think a lot of locals are craving their Disney fix, but buying tickets each time has gotten expensive. And I think this ticket coming out probably made a lot of locals who really understand the park flocked to the park. So I think it affected certain certain rides and things more maybe.   [00:07:24.810] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I mean, that all makes sense. It seems like it's just in that transition kind of phase. Now, what you said that there's no max pass. So that obviously is a big change. What are some of the other things like do you need a reservation for that day in advance and that kind of thing?   [00:07:40.290] - Kim Tate Yeah. So you still need reservations so you can buy your tickets and then you have to reserve the day you want to visit and it's automatically linked to your ticket when you reserve the day through your, you know, like Disneyland, my Disney account. And so that's one nice thing, is that it's all linked. So as long as you have a reservation for that day, you have no issue booking, not Max, but the boarding groups for two other rides, which I'll explain in a minute.   [00:08:07.770] - Kim Tate And so there is that it's it's very fluid, like going through the turnstiles. It's all linked. You just show your ticket. It's it's good to go, but you do have to do a little bit of advance planning and definitely make sure before you plan a trip that there's the availability. So they are opening up the park reservations for you to book one hundred and twenty days out. So if you're, you know, planning a trip that's more than that, it's no problem.   [00:08:33.090] - Kim Tate Just decide what they want to do it and then you book it as those days open up on the calendar. And then if you are within the 120 days, you definitely want to make sure you check the availability calendar and make sure however, it's the calendar is pretty open. It seems like the capacity has definitely been increased. I know our week that we were there, they had it looked like the Disneyland park, because that's the other thing that I'll explain in a minute, because you book a specific park.   [00:08:58.290] - Kim Tate It looked like Disneyland had locked up and was closed and there weren't any more reservations. But then all of a sudden, I know they opened up more reservations. So it's kind of an interesting I don't know if people are releasing reservations and that's why it looks open or if they're strictly just adjusting capacity limits as they want, I'm not sure. So something to know about the reservation system is it is so Disneyland has the two parks, they have Disneyland Park and then they have Disney, California Adventure.   [00:09:24.990] - Kim Tate And the reservation works for one of the parks. And that's the park you start in. Now, if you buy a park hopper ticket, you can hop to the other park after 1:00 p.m., but you have to start in that starting park. And if you don't buy a park hopper ticket, then you're only in that park for the day, if that makes sense. So that's kind of an extra little level that you have to think about. And then it gets even further planning because there's two major rides have to have boarding group passes, which is a huge ordeal in itself.   [00:10:01.080] - Kim Tate And you try and get into a boarding group, which is basically the chance to ride. You still go stand in the line, although the line is very short, but you have to win one of those boarding groups and these things are gone in seconds, like not even minutes. These are gone in seconds. And your chances at seven a.m. and then at noon. And so whichever park you're starting in is the one you can get the seven a.m. for and then at noon you can get it for the other part.   [00:10:27.360] - Kim Tate So in Disneyland, it's rise of the resistance. That's that Star Wars in California adventure, the other is the new Avengers Web slingers ride. So that's another level that we had all four of us logging in trying to get these boarding passes. And it was it was stressful, but we were successful every time. So but that's part of it because I knew I, I knew this was a thing.   [00:10:54.420] - Kim Tate And I've been reading articles like our friend Leslie from Trips with Tikes has an article about it. And then I actually watched like a video on YouTube to show Paul and the girls, like, here's what you need to do. And it's sad, though, because I think people who are wanting to experience those, the fact that you have to know all of that and be, you know, like 6:58 we're there on our phones, like, OK, stop everything we're doing and get ready to get these tickets and then setting alarms for eleven fifty eight so we can get the noon one and it's it can be stressful.   [00:11:25.470] - Kim Tate So it's kind of an interesting and and if you don't have hoppers you only have the one. You do have it at 7:00 a.m. and noon, so so if you're booked at Disneyland and you miss out at the seven a.m. one, you can try again for the noon one. Either park, you can try again, but you can't go on the same ride twice. So if we were in Disney, California adventure, we couldn't go to Web slingers if we got a boarding group at seven a.m. and then try and get another boarding group for Web slingers at noon.   [00:11:52.100] - Kim Tate But we can. And then this is another level of it. Sorry, you guys. This is getting a lot of information, but you have to have already used your first boarding pass before you can get the noon one. So if you have a late boarding group that hasn't been able to ride yet and you haven't used your boarding pass yet, by noon, you won't get to try for the noon pass for the ride. Right.   [00:12:14.240] - Tamara Gruber But if you had like a one o'clock boarding, I'm sure by one o'clock they're all gone for the rest.   [00:12:18.740] - Kim Tate Oh, definitely. Yeah, in seconds. I mean, literally it's seven to one. There's nothing available like for people who sit there and they don't know the system and they think, oh, it's seven, I'm going to open my app and try and get a boarding group. Nope. They're already gone like you. There's some tricks. You have to have the like, we were rebooting our phone. Everything was closed. We had the app already open and then there's like refresh, refresh, refresh, and then you have to know exactly where to hit.   [00:12:42.230] - Kim Tate Like you hit here and then you hit start hitting here and you just get lucky you're not. And it's crazy.   [00:12:47.930] - Tamara Gruber I heard Leslie talking about that on her Disney deciphered podcast. It was yes. It was very intense. I know. And when Hannah and I were in Los Angeles, we had a free day and Glenn was like, oh, you should go to Disneyland so you can finally ride. You know, the the you know, Rise of the resistance. And I was like, no, it's like, first of all, like, I'm just not it would have been like the day after they opened to out-of-state people.   [00:13:10.370] - Tamara Gruber And I was like, I just can't deal with that stress. Like, I, I want to go when I know that I can ride that ride because that's why I would go, you know. Yeah.   [00:13:20.330] - Kim Tate We were talking about that as a family. We're just saying how, you know, hard and it's nice that we knew what to do and that we were able to do it. But then the other thing is it's kind of bad, like, OK, well, we got to ride the rides multiple times. What about like, we felt kind of bad. What if there's people out there like this little kid who really wanted to go on Spider-Man loves Spider-Man and we wish there was a way we could be like, here, just use our pass, you know, for this kid to be able to go, you know, because it's it feels bad because you.   [00:13:47.960] - Kim Tate Yeah, and I saw people on Twitter, you know, they're like, oh, I didn't get it, you know, and I just want to ride this ride. I'd wait three hours for it because and I think that's what they're trying to do, is prevent, you know, when Disney World opened Avatar, Pandora flight of passage. Right. And people were like parking out in the parking lot at three a.m. so that they could get out of their car and go wait at the gates and be the first people to the rope line and then be the first people in that line because the line would grow to like three hundred and twenty minutes.   [00:14:16.070] - Kim Tate It was just insane. Like, I don't even know how you spend your entire day there. It's just crazy.   [00:14:20.360] - Tamara Gruber So I could just say, like, I'm sure there's nothing in the world that I want to do that much.   [00:14:25.070] - Kim Tate I do. It's kind of crazy. I mean, you want to wait six hours for a ride. It's just insane. But yeah. So I think they're trying to avoid that because that's it's not a positive park experience. But unfortunately, right now and then the other issue you have is just these rides have a lot of working mechanisms and go down a lot. I mean, we got we were on ride of the resistance, and it went down and we got had to leave the line and then come back later.   [00:14:51.740] - Kim Tate And thankfully, they do have a fastpass working for that now. They didn't originally, I think, but they have that working again. So they were able to program that for our ticket. So we were able to come back when it was open and go back through. So it's interesting. It's it's definitely another level. So I would say if you're planning a visit and you're not wanting or willing to be obsessive about getting those passes, definitely maybe take those two rides off your agenda and just pretend you never heard of those rides and be happy with all the other things that are.   [00:15:24.440] - Kim Tate Yeah, right.   [00:15:25.820] - Tamara Gruber So this helps to be like Disney ignorant in a way. That just going to be like happy with what you get, I don't know.   [00:15:32.810] - Kim Tate Well, and there is certainly some great I mean the wait times can certainly be great. So in a lot of ways certain rides, if you're not trying to go for these certain rides, the wait times can be great, like Toy Story mania. We almost ride that only once because normally the family is not used to it and it normally has a long wait and nobody's willing to wait with me because it's one of my favorite rides. And this time, I mean, we went on it twice because the wait time was kind of low.   [00:15:56.390] - Kim Tate And but then you looked at Mickey's fun wheel, which you would normally. It's not too crazy, but it was easily fifty to sixty minutes. It seemed like there in the middle of the day every time we were there. So it's just weird. It was a really weird. That's why I think there was a lot of California people maybe who just kind of wanted to go for, I don't know how to read the visitors because it was just an odd, odd feel.   [00:16:19.580] - Kim Tate Yeah, the numbers didn't line up everywhere we wanted and dining was a little tough. Still, they've definitely they've got the mobile ordering down a little bit better, I think, at Disneyland. Where. You can place your mail order. We didn't really have an issue getting our order, we found we have one place that we love called bingo barbecue, and we had no real issue with finding an open time slot that fit with what we wanted. And it was almost always available right away.   [00:16:45.020] - Kim Tate And then it's like a half an hour time slot. So then you go and you're like, I'm here. And then once you say I'm here to pick up your food, it's normally a it can be, you know, a minute to ten minutes before they have your food ready. But it was pretty quick. Well, that's good. A little, yes.   [00:17:00.110] - Tamara Gruber But with that, it sounds like you guys had a good time, though. I mean, luckily, it all worked out for you with the with those particular rides, because I'm sure the girls, you know, really wanted to. Yes.   [00:17:10.970] - Kim Tate Yeah. Web slingers, we all kind of thought it was ho hum. In all honesty, we did it again. And once you do it a second time, you kind of understand it a little better. And so maybe it becomes a little more fun. But I think for people who are waiting and then we also we waited 60 minutes. Well, it was we got in line at like ten, I think it was ten or two or something.   [00:17:30.410] - Kim Tate And we left at eleven o four after the ride. And that was the ride had gone down while we were in line and it was probably down for 15 minutes. So I mean, even when you get there, it's you might still have a long wait to get on the rise of the resistance. We didn't have quite that at any other times. We rode that. So but just, you know, Web slingers is a you kind of put on these 3D goggles and you it's a bit like Toy Story in a way, but you use your hands to shoot webs and you're trying to attack these, you know, little bots on the screen.   [00:18:02.570] - Kim Tate And so your webs are shooting them and you earn points. And so at the end of the ride, you have accumulated a certain amount of points.   [00:18:09.260] - Tamara Gruber So instead of like shooting a little laser gun thing.   [00:18:13.280] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly.   [00:18:14.630] - Tamara Gruber The next generation more interactive, I guess.   [00:18:17.060] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah. But you're just moving like it's I thought it would be more like I don't know how to explain it like spinning or like, you know, universal Orlando. That's the Harry Potter, the forbidden journey. I know how you go in front of the screens and you watch stuff happen, but going between the screens you're like, oh it's roller coaster.   [00:18:37.760] - Kim Tate OK, yeah, but I kind of wanted that kind of experience. And this you're just on a car like Toy Story mania and you just kind of get like moved over to this next screen and then you move to this next screen and it opens. And so there's no real there's it's it's literally like, yeah, Lightyear, not Buzz Lightyear, but like Toy Story with the screen. And instead of using a little gun thing that's in front of you, you're using your hands and then, yeah, you earn points and people want to do it because they want to get better at their points.   [00:19:07.700] - Kim Tate And that's it.   [00:19:09.380] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:19:10.070] - Kim Tate Rise, on the other hand, is amazing. We really liked it, although it it's funny because we were so excited for Paul to finally get to ride it because he was a he's a Star Wars guy like Star Wars. He's not a Star Wars freak, but he I don't mean to say freak if he runs into Star Wars fans. I know. No, I didn't mean like that. But he's he likes Star Wars, you know, like.   [00:19:27.890] - Kim Tate Yes. Age. He grew up with it and like, I know Star Wars, but yeah. So we are really excited for him to do rise. And then we took him to Millennium Falcon. He's like, oh, that was way better than it was so funny because we live opposite. We were like a Millennium Falcon is not that great. And then he just loved it and he thought it was so fun and he liked it. He liked Millennium Falcon and rides better than Web slingers so.   [00:19:49.580] - Tamara Gruber Well, it's just something about like when you're so invested in a franchise, like to have like the that more immersive kind of experience is so exciting. I mean, that's why I know, like, the first time we went to Universal and all the Harry Potter stuff, it was just like a dream come true, I think like to be like walking through Hogwarts and all this kind of stuff. So I think that type of response, you know, it doesn't surprise me too much because it's not just about the ride, it's about everything else.   [00:20:16.790] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:20:17.000] - Kim Tate The characters and all that. Yeah. The big thing we dining just eating off hours is a big thing because seating seems to be a little limited again. And so just I recommend I always say like take a granola bar so that they can tide you over and just try and plan to eat off hours. We actually saw the first day the girls did the full day in the park and we got there. We did rope drop every morning, which they're back to rope drop.   [00:20:42.410] - Kim Tate So I was kind of bummed because they had done with rope drop because they didn't want to have everybody congregating together. And so people were getting there early and they were opening the turnstiles early and people were able to go just on rides like an hour before the park officially opened. Wow.   [00:20:56.570] - Tamara Gruber Because it used to be like even if you could get through the turnstiles, like the rides weren't operating, but you could least get in line.   [00:21:02.210] - Kim Tate Yeah. And so that's what they're back to. So you can get through the turns, you can get through security, you can get through the turnstiles and then you go wait at this rope. Were these, you know, cast members are holding and a big group mob of people just line up there and it's kind of depending on where you're at, but the ropes are leading into the main main areas. So you kind of held back and you can get there early.   [00:21:25.160] - Kim Tate So that's what we did. So we aimed. So we kind of aim to be on our way. Walking, we got we stayed at a new renovated hotel, it's newly branded through a best western is called Hotel Lulu and it's nearby. It's kind of in walking distance a little longer. But the cool thing about it is it is near a Walgreens and a CVS. So we stopped in there and we're able to get like Gatorade's and water for much cheaper.   [00:21:49.440] - Kim Tate Kind of, you know, that was nice for stocking up on little snacks and drinks. And definitely, even though it's a pharmacy, you know, pricing it still way cheaper than in the park. And it was nice to have that. It was so convenient that it was next door and the walking distances, I would still call it walking distance. It was maybe a ten minute walk. And there was also a Starbucks next to it. They had mobile ordering most days, but they seem to close that down on our last day.   [00:22:14.100] - Kim Tate We're not sure why. So I don't know if they're just over staffed with mobile ordering, but that's something to check. And it made it easier for us to get coffee in the morning on our way. And so we try and get coffees and then be on our way. And then we'd be slightly outside of the park and at the six fifty nine, when we'd try and get those boarding groups, we'd walk or, you know, pull over to the side of the sidewalk and get it and then go get in line.   [00:22:34.080] - Kim Tate So we were showing up. It was an eight a.m. opening time. So we were getting to the security line up right around seven to seven tennish, you know, and it worked pretty well for us. We we got in there, so we went through the security line. Then we got through security fast and then we waited in the line for the turnstiles. They open the turnstiles a half an hour before the park opened. And then once you got through the turnstiles, you walked and waited again at the rope drop where you wait, you know, where you waited for the eight a.m. opening and then you quickly walked, don't run.   [00:23:05.070] - Kim Tate Even though people ran down to the whatever ride you wanted to go for. So that was it. It was fun. It was it's a lot to manage. I think Disneyland is one of those things where if you just want to show up in the middle of the day and go on some rides, you should probably allow for more time, because there are people who I mean, we know the ins and outs. And if you're not willing to learn all those ins and outs of tricks, then you're going to just have to wait in lines, be OK with that.   [00:23:31.080] - Tamara Gruber So I'm ready to go back after the fast passes are back and after the special like after hours events and all the kind of stuff.   [00:23:42.570] - Tamara Gruber I was just going to say I just really I don't love rides except some of the special ones like Flight of Passage and I'm sure I will love the Star Wars ones. And so just being able to do it without the lines, you know, that would be the way I prefer to go.   [00:23:58.260] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah. I think that's where our girls are at because they really liked the rides. And so it's funny because Paul he wants to just like oh I want to watch that show or I just want to sit on this bench and people watch and I and there was like, no, we're going to go get this right and we're going to get this right. And this was the trip, though. It's nice when you're a little older and the kids can be left alone.   [00:24:17.280] - Kim Tate Like like I said, the first day, the girls stayed the full time the park. And then Paul and I left towards the afternoon evening. We took a little break in the room and then we went and got dinner again. This hotel where we stayed down the road, it's near, you know, like tourist restaurants. So it's like Cheesecake Factory and Bubba Gump Shrimp and I don't know what else there was, but opening. So we went out there and it was nice to have that little break.   [00:24:42.270] - Kim Tate And then the next two days we left after we did the rope drop, the numbers were just going insane. And the girls, like I said, they're all about the ride. So when those rides, the wait times were more than they wanted to wait. We just left and went back and took a midday break in the hotel and then went back later in the day to do more stuff. And so I think those it's that's one of the benefits.   [00:25:02.010] - Kim Tate Where does that is if you stay on property, it's great because you're in kind of the bubble of Disney. And if you stay at the Grand Californian, it's got the private access into Disney California Adventure Park. But those rooms are going for like eight hundred bucks a night right now. And you don't get the early entry with it, which normally one of the benefits of staying on site is that you get into the parks an hour early. So it's definitely a tradeoff.   [00:25:26.580] - Kim Tate So if you stay off site on one of the harbor hotels, you can, you know, kind of take those midday breaks still and walk to and from the park. But you're faced with that extra, you know, a little bit extra going through more people and a few extra waits. But it is nice to have the midday breaks.   [00:25:43.820] - Tamara Gruber I'm telling you, if I ever come to Disneyland, I'm going to go with you. Yeah. You and Leslie. Oh, yeah. I follow you guys because, I mean, I feel like, you know, I had gone to Disney World a long time ago and then recently I've gone a few times in recent years. And so now I feel like comfortable with Disney World, you know, but I've never been to Disneyland. So whole new thing.   [00:26:03.870] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, well, I'm excited to take you and show you all the ins and outs, but I will say for anybody who's thinking of taking a trip, there's a couple of things I want to mention. First is hotels. So our hotel that we stayed at, Hotel Lulu, they, you know, mentioned that they're in a real staff shortage right now. And of course, there was no housekeeping. You can request your towels when you want them and if you need garbage taken out.   [00:26:26.550] - Tamara Gruber So we definitely did that and they took care of it right away and. But it's something to keep in mind, and the Hotel Lulu, like I said, it's the best Western property recently got taken over by a Red Lion. And so it's definitely a budget friendly park property. So if people are looking to save money, that would be a good option, especially since, like I said, it's near the Walgreens and there's a CVS right across the street.   [00:26:45.840] - Tamara Gruber They both have like Disney souvenir stuff at less price than what you're going to pay in the park. So if you want to surprise your kids with something, you could always go in there and grab it. They also have, you know, of course, sunscreens and anything. You might forget that it's just a little bit different than buying them in the park. So that's convenient from a budget standpoint. The rooms themselves, I, I think there they go for around, you know, depending on the season, around 150 a night.   [00:27:10.440] - Tamara Gruber So comparing that to some of the other hotels that are a little closer, it's definitely a budget savings. And then again, even with going down the street, you have those you know, there was a California pizza kitchen, P.F. Chang's, and Cheesecake Factory. So you've got some major restaurants there. If you're trying to save a little money and take a midday break and get lunch there, get an early dinner before you go back in the parks or something, that might be an option, but definitely something with all of the hotels around Disneyland right now is that they are all dealing with a severe staff shortage.   [00:27:42.240] - Tamara Gruber They went, you know, the hotels where I talked to the people at the hotel where we stayed and they went from having like 17 rooms booked to all of a sudden having over one hundred. And they just don't they haven't been able to hire the staff. They've increased their pay rate and they still can't get staff in. And so managers are going up to clean rooms. And it's just I mean, we've heard this everywhere. But in Disneyland, it's really obvious this summer is that hotels are hurting with staff.   [00:28:08.460] - Tamara Gruber I know one of the hotels that's a popular kind of mom and pop called candy cane inn. They are not even open again yet because of staff.   [00:28:16.720] - Tamara Gruber Wow. So, yeah, it's it continues to be a problem. I hope that by far maybe things will, you know, sort themselves out. I'm seeing even like restaurants around here like closing because they're not able to have the staff and service that they want. And it's yeah, I'm sure they'll be back, but it'll just take us some time.   [00:28:35.730] - Kim Tate Yeah. And so I think you just have to be, you know, little things to just be aware of and be a little more. I mean, we've talked about this be patient, but just understanding that like maybe the cleanliness level in hotels and what you're expecting or what you're used to is not perhaps going to be what you are thinking you're going to get. So just be aware of that. And then the other thing would be the car rentals. We had our own little issue with car rentals, which everyone knows the car rental shortage issue.   [00:29:01.860] - Kim Tate We rented a car from the airport to drive and go to Disneyland and do it. We visited USC and Cal Tech for Lizzy and we had no problem. The car was there. We rented it. I was like, phew, I think it is no issue. We are fine. We dropped it off after ours, dropped our keys and we dropped it off at this Alamo that was right near where we were staying at Disneyland. And we were supposed to pick up another car on Thursday, so we dropped it off on Sunday.   [00:29:28.650] - Kim Tate We're supposed to pick up a different car on Thursday because we didn't need a car for those three days when we were at the parks because we were just going to go to the parks. And we got called Wednesday night like five minutes before they closed, telling us they wouldn't have a car for us. That was it. And then they never returned my phone call. So I reached out to them on Twitter, gotten a reply, and finally just used auto slash, which we've I think we've mentioned that before, and a rental car episode.   [00:29:54.840] - Kim Tate But I've never used it before. But I used auto slash to just find a rate and they found me a great Hertz rate that was actually cheaper than what I walked through. Alamo maybe last minute, you know, they had some availability and I was able to go down there the next day and we got the car rental and had no issue. So thank goodness it all worked out. But just beware some of the smaller like I think this was part of it because it was a smaller location.   [00:30:17.160] - Kim Tate They're not managing their inventory well. And so beware.   [00:30:20.940] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I mean, if there's problems at airports, I can certainly imagine that there's even more problems at these, like off, you know, airport kind of locations. Yes, it's it's sad. I mean, I definitely see as places are increasing, you know, we've talked about Hawaii before. I saw someone that just got back from Iceland posting that things were like five hundred to a thousand dollars a day. And then I saw someone in my Iceland planning group just saying, like, I can't find a rental, like, what am I going to do?   [00:30:48.450] - Tamara Gruber And so I was just advising my aunt to try to book something like in advance, you know, as far as you can. But it's just hard because like you did that and then they canceled that. What do you do? You know exactly.   [00:31:00.690] - Kim Tate And I know I have another blogging friend who had the exact same thing happen to her with the exact same Alamo's site there in Disneyland about a week or two before I did. I have that problem.   [00:31:11.010] - Kim Tate So definitely something to be aware of. You can do the booking and know that you have your your reservation made. But whether they actually have a car for you when you show up for that reservation and they what I experienced, they did nothing to help us. So you just I think when you you have to be ready to backpedal and hope for the best and. So we were ready to just, you know, use Uber, find another one available, and thankfully it all worked out and we were able to get another kind of wonder if that's a case where, you know, maybe it helps if you, like, pay more like Hertz is always usually the most expensive.   [00:31:45.940] - Tamara Gruber Right. But it's like if you pay more or if if you're part of a like a loyalty club versus. Yeah, you're going to save more if you use, like auto slash or Costco or something like that. But I wonder if booking direct helps at all, like if the first people they cancel are the third parties, like who knows. But it does. I have no idea. I even booked a premium car hoping that they like it would give us more as opposed to an economy.   [00:32:09.500] - Kim Tate I booked the premium because it was only two dollars more. And so I thought that would help. But no. So it was nothing help. So I don't know now.   [00:32:18.010] - Tamara Gruber I'm glad it worked out for you. Yeah. And then you guys had some time to chill out and. Yeah.   [00:32:21.960] - Kim Tate So that was the other part of it. Yeah. So we you know, Paul's not a huge Disneyland person. Even I like Disneyland, but I'm not crazy crazy. And I can you know, I enjoy taking the breaks. And so we booked our final three nights in Irvine, which was nearby and near the John Wayne Airport that we were flying home from. And they we stayed at a brand new hotel called the Marriott Irvine Spectrum. And we loved it.   [00:32:47.540] - Kim Tate We had such a good time is the perfect way to end our vacation, because we I worked with Irvine. They gave us a couple of ideas and helped us set up a couple of things. And then we got to our hotel, kind of had a lazy day that day and just had it. It was nice. We just had I don't know what the term and what I'm trying to think of, but we just didn't have a lot on our calendar, so it kind of worked out well.   [00:33:09.030] - Kim Tate So the first day that we were checking in, we got in there and then we went to this kind of family park fun center called Boomers, and it was where they had a huge arcade with the arcade. But we did putt putt golf and then we did laser tag game, which surprisingly enough, we were all super competitive. I was completely out of breath after that. It was brutal. The girls beat both the parents. Paul actually was very sad to find out he was last, which is kind of sad.   [00:33:36.890] - Kim Tate Doesn't surprise me at all that you would be competitive.   [00:33:41.150] - Kim Tate Yeah. Evidently I rubbed it off on my kids too. So but yeah. So it was kind of fun and we we had a great time there and then playing it was a lot of fun and it was a great, you know, like, that's like a vacation. Right. I mean that was so nice. Like we did the Disneyland thing, but then we had this break in Irvine so close we didn't need to do that much traveling on the crazy interstate's of, you know, Sokal and.   [00:34:05.420] - Kim Tate Yeah, so Boomers was fun. It was just kind of one of those family park fun centers. We didn't do any of the arcade. We just did the laser tag. And oh, they did have go karts, which Paul got. You talk about competitive. He got super competitive. I got taken out by like a twelve year old boy. It made me really mad because you're like you're not allowed to bump.   [00:34:22.670] - Kim Tate But they evidently care about the rules. And so and he was just going and going and going and he'd figured out that I think he was with a friend and they figured out which cars are the fastest. So they just kept going and going. And they would always like he would specifically skip cars and go to a specific car where the rest of us just got in the car where that was next in line and it was brutal. So that was one one negative.   [00:34:43.520] - Kim Tate Is the teenage boy or not? I guess tween boy, but we still had fun and it was nice. So that was, you know, kind of a relaxed day. And then, like, we just hung out at the pool and the hotel was really nice. They, you know, it was a new Marriott. It had trying to think of how many flaws there were. Now I think it was sixteen floors. And on the sixteenth floor, they have like a rooftop bar that's supposed to be really, really popular.   [00:35:09.170] - Kim Tate They actually were able to get in on our last night and kind of go up there and look. And it's absolutely gorgeous. And I talked to the manager of the bar and he was saying that it's like seventy percent locals and visitors and only thirty percent for the hotel. So it's got its own, like, vibe and social standing. Not that's not even linked to the hotel, if that makes sense.   [00:35:29.120] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's a place to go.   [00:35:31.130] - Kim Tate So, yes, the hotel itself is a gorgeous Marriott property. Knew the rooms were nice and everything was good. It had a view our room had like a view of the freeway, but it had mountains in the background. So it was really kind of cool. And Irvine, I think, is unknown. I'm trying to think of I thought it was something I'm trying to think of what I know them for. But they had a whole bunch of office buildings, so they must have.   [00:35:50.000] - Kim Tate I know they have really they're one of the lowest hotel occupancy taxes in California. So you know how you always get those, you know, 15 to 18 percent charges. There's just like ten percent. So if you're staying in a nice hotel for a while, that little bit of savings can be nice. So but they have a lot of businesses around there and we were staying right across from the Taco Bell headquarters. So we laughed. And I wonder if they have a drive through.   [00:36:15.920] - Kim Tate So the hotel is nice. They had a club lounge which we were able to get into. And you know that with Glenn's, you know, status, it's always nice because lots of water. I mean, we went there for so much water, it was nice. And the girls would go there to get all the. Free chips and stuff, and then, of course, we had breakfast in the morning there, which was a nice little perk.   [00:36:33.600] - Tamara Gruber Oh, that's surprising. Like the actual hotel perks, really, when we were seated that that nice Athens hotel, that's a Marriott and we were on the what did they call it like the the butler or concierge. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we walk by like the little you know, usually the the lounge room and it was locked and I was like, oh well good thing we're only here one day and it included breakfast early. So it was actually a wonderful breakfast that included.   [00:37:02.730] - Tamara Gruber That's nice. Yeah. But we were like oh can we get a little extra perk.   [00:37:06.660] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah. This is nice because they had, you know, like the coffee machine there and then they had like three hot dishes so and a meat and potatoes and then they had like porridge and cinnamon rolls. But it was great. I mean it was really nice. And they have this little patio. I mean, the hotel itself, it's a really nice property is one of those. It's a it's like weird. It's kind of resource. We feel it's not huge, though, but it's a resource we feel in this, you know, city of California.   [00:37:33.180] - Kim Tate So it was nice. But the pool lounge and then the restaurant and bar area is just beautiful. It's absolutely gorgeous. Like downstairs restaurant of our not even the rooftop bar is just really, really nice. And we we enjoyed dinner there and it was great.   [00:37:47.760] - Tamara Gruber Nice properties. Sounds like you wanted to have that pool time and stuff.   [00:37:53.190] - Kim Tate Exactly. And we actually were able to get so we went down two times to middle of the day, like to lounge and everything, get drinks at the pool and we were able to get loungers each time and there's not tons loungers. So I think we definitely noticed in the weekend because we we were there Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and we flew home Sunday. And we definitely noticed Saturday was much busier. Whereas when we were there Thursday and Friday, the pool was not as busy.   [00:38:18.910] - Kim Tate So definitely kind of well. And a sports team came in for a competition. And so there was a lot of kids there in sports uniforms and stuff, which was kind of funny because it doesn't strike me as a I mean, it's definitely a business Marriott property. So it kind of struck me as funny that. But I don't know. There must I mean, there's a big sports complex that we went and saw a soccer game at. So it's possible that that's why they pick there, because it's close to that kind of one of the most popular hotels near that sports complex.   [00:38:48.200] - Tamara Gruber Makes sense. Yeah.   [00:38:49.680] - Kim Tate So one of the I'll just mention a couple of the other things we did was in Irvine, we went to a place called Tanaka Farms, which was really cool. It's like this family owned, you know, farm it actually they told us the story that I don't and I didn't I haven't checked this. But it's a Japanese family who they said that in when the war was going on and they were doing the internment camps in the U.S., that if you opened a farmer, were running a farm, you were able to not go to an internment camp.   [00:39:19.800] - Kim Tate And so this family opened this farm. And that's sort of how it's how it stayed and it's family owned. And then it's also a nonprofit. They have volunteers who worked there and they donate part of their produce and everything to local people in need in the area. So it was pretty cool. And so we did this. It's called a you pick tour. So it's like a wagon tour and they give you these little, you know, cardboard basket things and you go around to different parts in the field.   [00:39:47.940] - Kim Tate They're like, today we're going to be picking tomatoes and Sushmita peppers and melon. And so they drove us. I mean, OK, we're going to go here and you're going to pick from these plans on the tomatoes and you got your little cardboard basket and you could just fill it up with whatever you want to. And they drove you on the wagon to the next spot and they're like, OK, now we're picking Chido Peppers. And we picked those and then moved on.   [00:40:06.450] - Kim Tate OK, here's our melon. So we've already picked some but pick which ones you want. So it's kind of cool is a really neat experience and then they hand you it or. Yeah, we kept it so we ate it on our trip. We actually brought the peppers home with us in our suitcase and they were fine because we TSA says fruit and vegetables are allowed. Paul actually carried on some of the melons, but they were getting super ripe.   [00:40:25.350] - Kim Tate It was funny because we were on the plane and I was like, OK, those melons are starting to smell too, right? Like I can. I'm starting to smell them. So, like, they weren't soft. Yeah, but, you know, they just start putting off the strong scent. People are like smelling it. I'm like, don't put it at your feet. Definitely put it up. I was so embarrassed. I was like, no, I have such a sensitive nose.   [00:40:44.390] - Tamara Gruber I would have been like, you have melon like like hand cream or whatever was that   [00:40:50.220] - Kim Tate It was so embarrassing. I was like, oh my gosh. So anyways, but yeah. So we you got to keep the food and everything and it's just neat. And they had animals there. So we got to see some, you know, sheep and chickens and all that. But it was just a cool, you know, neat little thing to see this big farm and agriculture and then to get a pick food that you couldn't eat.   [00:41:08.430] - Kim Tate So we thought that was a neat thing. And then we like I said, we did. We went to UC Irvine, which they told you that. But Lizzy's college shop in and UC Irvine was kind of on her list of interested campuses. And so we drove there and got out and she actually really liked it. It was kind of funny because she it seems like she's drawn to more of the city college campuses, but this one's more suburb, and she really liked it, she thought it was really nice.   [00:41:34.710] - Kim Tate So who knows if she becomes an anteater that's still there, the anteaters. It's an interesting, interesting mascot.   [00:41:41.430] - Tamara Gruber But I've been watching, like, never have I ever. Is that what it is? Yeah. Netflix, have you watched that.   [00:41:48.030] - Kim Tate I haven't. But the girls I know, the girls were like, oh, there's a new season or there's new something.   [00:41:51.680] - Tamara Gruber It's so cute. It's like, I don't know. It's a teen comedy. Yeah. Yeah, I, I know. I love it. I thought it was so cute. But their mascot is a cricket like so terrible. Exactly.   [00:42:03.900] - Kim Tate I think anteater is slightly better than cricket. Yeah. How funny. So we did that and we, we drove by. So Irvine is known for their outdoor like they have so many bike paths, hiking trails and stuff. So it's really interesting. So if you're an outdoorsy person and looking to do something like that remains a great destination. So we they had a wild, wild wilderness access to this place called Bomber Canyon, and it's near the campus.   [00:42:29.670] - Kim Tate So we drove over there and it was basically they give you this access to this deeper part of the woods, the deeper part of the park that normally isn't open. And we didn't pack for hiking. So we just kind of looked at it and got a feel for it. It's definitely of course, not Pacific Northwest hiking. It's definitely like Southern California, more arid hiking. So we but it was just it was neat. So it's kind of a thing.   [00:42:52.200] - Kim Tate So if you're into outdoor stuff, Irvine is a destination for that. I don't remember all the facts, but I know they have a huge number of miles of bike and hiking trails. It's crazy.   [00:43:02.470] - Tamara Gruber So definitely interesting because my perception as an east coaster, Irvine has just been. Yeah, like the John Wayne Airport. I used to work with a guy that lived in Irvine and he would talk about like some kind of giant shopping mall that's out there. Like, I have very different view of Irvine. I think of it as very like Orange County upscale. Like, I do not think about outdoor activities.   [00:43:28.260] - Tamara Gruber So that's cool to know that it has that side, too.   [00:43:30.870] - Kim Tate It's really cool. It actually is a neat little city. I think. I think people would be surprised if they gave it a chance. It feels very spread out. So it's not total. OASDI like Huntington Beach, Newport. It's not one of those tiny it's not one of those. It's more spread out open a little more open area. But there's got some really cute little houses, lots of businesses. And then, yeah, the shopping mall, which I'll talk about in a minute, is a big part of Irvine, which is a huge aspect, but it was actually a lot of fun.   [00:43:57.960] - Kim Tate So but yeah. So that was kind of that aspect of it. But the big thing that you're talking about is the Irvine Spectrum Center, which is basically a large outdoor mall that has tons of restaurants. And then they have this thing called the Great Wheel, which is kind of a Ferris wheel. And so it's not really like it's not an enclosed wheel like some of the, you know, other cities have like. Yeah, like it a lot.   [00:44:22.920] - Kim Tate And I and I not as big as that and not even like the Seattle one. That's kind of like gondola Sized seating. This is more like Ferris wheel chair lift or not chair lift. It's that's the weird thing. So it's almost like a ride where it's got kind of bench seating around. So our family of four, we sat like in a circle and there's a center thing that you hang on. But it was really cute and they had live music there when we went and we just sat on this.   [00:44:47.670] - Kim Tate They have kind of Astroturf lawn in front of the stage that's right in front of the wheel. And I showed on my Instagram stories people might have seen it, but it was just so pretty and it was fun. And the girls, whenever they had a Hello Kitty cafe and then of course, they had Brandy Melville. And I don't know what other stores the girls went to, but they did a little shopping. I went early to a place called the Yard House, which we actually have in Seattle, but it's a big sports bar with lots of beers on tap.   [00:45:11.610] - Kim Tate And so I said, oh, Paul's never been to Yard house and he would love that. So we went there and kind of watch TV while the girls finish shopping. And then we got some, you know, ordered dinner and they joined us and then we headed home. But it was fun. So it is a it is a big shopping mall, but it's it's got a neat vibe and a good feel. And it was busy on the weekend, that's for sure.   [00:45:31.350] - Kim Tate Definitely the the Irvine teen hangout spot.   [00:45:34.830] - Tamara Gruber Well, then teens should fit right in.   [00:45:36.810] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. So I mean they, I mean they were happy, they loved it so and it's got a lot of name brand stores in Barnes and Noble. So Lizzie was excited about that. Yeah. It was good, good place. And one other cool little thing that we did was we went to a soccer match. So they have a it's called the Orange County Soccer Club. And so it's a, I think, level for soccer. So it's not MLS like level one.   [00:46:01.260] - Kim Tate So it's level four. And so some young kids, but some people who just love playing the sport, some are paid, I think in some aren't. I think some are just walk on. But it was a really cool kind of outdoor venue. And it's in this area, I think it's called Great Park, but they have this famous, like balloon thing called the Great Park Balloon. It's this giant orange because destination Irvine, their logo's and orange.   [00:46:25.110] - Kim Tate I never found out if they have a bunch of orange fields or Richard. Nearby or something, but it's this kind of I know that you've seen it from it's very similar to Walt Disney World, what they have that downtown Disney, the Disney Springs balloon that kind of goes up and people get in the basket. Yeah. So that's basically what it is. And it's supposedly free, but there can be long waits and of course, it's dependent on wind and all that.   [00:46:47.390] - Kim Tate And so we didn't we didn't have time and go up it, but we saw it when we went to the soccer match and we were able to see that it, you know, looks like a fun little thing, gives you an overview of the whole area. But in that that complex was where it was staying so that we watched the soccer match and then there's that balloon. And then there's also like baseball fields and soccer fields and softball fields. So I think it's a big little sports center for probably local teams to play it cool.   [00:47:13.760] - Tamara Gruber So does that wrap up your trip?   [00:47:16.040] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think I want it. I'll mention one of the things we did, and that's just about food, because we didn't you know, we did eat at the hotel and then we ate at the Irvine Spectrum Center, like I mentioned. But one thing that's interesting about Irvine that I learned is that they have a over 40 percent demographic Asian demographic for their in their citizenship. And so international, like Asian cuisines, have been a big part of their make up of their dining industry.   [00:47:41.210] - Kim Tate And they have this area called Diamond Jamboree, which is basically a strip mall, but it's filled full of, you know, like different Asian cuisine restaurants. And it was is they recommended that we go there. And so we went and it looked like a really popular place. And so it's funny because you think, oh, it's just a standard strip mall, but it's just neat. They have all these different places you can eat. And they'd given us a recommendation, like one of the places they had it was called Tim Huan, which is a Michelin star, like he's a Hong Kong based chef.   [00:48:10.640] - Kim Tate And I guess there was something about like, oh, it's a best paper place at Michelin Star meal. You can get her the cheapest Michelin star meal you can get. So I don't know what he is, but it's supposed to be pretty cool. So we were thinking about going there, but we ended up going to another one. They said it was called Pepper Lunch, which is like a DIY tepid restaurant. But it's more like kind of we did teriyaki, but basically you're served your food on a really hot, hot cast iron dish.   [00:48:37.220] - Kim Tate So you don't touch it. And they'll put like if you get a certain meat dish, they'll actually have the meat is raw and you kind of move it around and mix it with the rice to cook it because it's that boiling hot on that cast iron still. And it was it was a neat experience. And it was again, it was so fast. I mean, it's just order and it's there. So it's a popular lunch place for, I think, a lot of those businesses and working people in Irvine.   [00:48:59.570] - Kim Tate But it was a really neat place. It's called the Diamond Jamboree. And if you you know, it's a great little stop and a very affordable too. So that was nice. Double bonus. That kind of wraps it up.   [00:49:11.810] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, that sounds good. It's like I love being able to try different cuisines when you're traveling. I mean, here in Rhode Island, we don't have like I mean, I don't know, it's getting better, but there's not like as many different kind of ethnicities when it comes to cuisine. And so when I go other places, I'm like, oh yeah, I try that so well.   [00:49:32.610] - Kim Tate And I think, yeah, I think the cool thing about this is that you get so I mean, being Americans like us, sometimes we get so pigeonholed like, oh it's Asian cuisine, OK, like that must be Chinese or Japanese or and it's neat to think no, there's all Cambodian. Ah. There's, you know, there's a lot of types like, you know, different, you know, Hong Kong and different cuisine styles. And so that was kind of an interesting concept to consider.   [00:49:56.930] - Kim Tate And keep in mind,   [00:49:57.830] - Tamara Gruber when we were in Berkeley the first night, we're exhausted. Hannah could barely stay awake. And I walked out to get something to eat. And, you know, it's like a lot of just like more casual pickup places right near the school. Yeah. So I found, you know, like a good Korean place. And that was I think it

    194 Tamaras Greek Islands Trip

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 27, 2021 68:18


    Tamara is just back from a trip to Greece and she tells us all about this dream vacation. Find out what it is like to travel to Greece right now -- plus what to do and where to stay in Santorini and Naxos! ABOUT OUR SPONSOR – ATLAS OCEAN VOYAGES Today's podcast is brought to you by Atlas Ocean Voyages.  If you have ever dreamed of cruising to Greece or Egypt, now is the time to book! Atlas Ocean Voyages just introduced its expedition ship World Navigator. This small ship, luxury vessel is built for adventure in a sustainable, energy-efficient manner.  Perfect for adventurous families or multi-generational groups, its compact size and small guest count of fewer than 200 passengers, means a higher space to guest ratio and more intimacy and personalized service. From August through September 2021, World Navigator will sail 7 separate 12 night itineraries to Greece and Egypt. And its small size and agility means she can dock in smaller ports, avoiding large crowds and getting a more authentic experience. And this summer, arrivals in Greece do not coincide with any other cruise ships in port! Bookings are all inclusive, including both airfare and excursions. The ship's facilities and protocols reflect state of the art public health guidance. With stringent public health protocols followed by staff and crew with pre-boarding and pre-embarkation PCR testing provided for all passengers. Social distancing will be maintained with small group shore excursions. Atlas welcomes travelers to ‘come back to something brand new'      To learn more, please visit www.AtlasOceanVoyages.com and we thank them for their support. 2021 Trip to Greece Tips Greece reopened to USA citizens this springs. Visitors need to either be fully vaccinated (all shots + 14 days) and have a vaccination card OR show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding the plane. These are reviewed at check in for your flight. Visitors also need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form more than 24 hours before arrival. The Greece government will then send you a QR code after midnight on the day of your arrival that you need to show at Customs on your arrival. You need to show the receipt of submission or QR code when you check in to your flight. Masks are required in airports, planes, trains, ferries, ferry ports, busses, and taxis, as well as indoors. You also need to complete health forms before going on ferries or boats and either be vaccinated or take a test before going on a ferry. Vaccination cards will also be checked when you check into hotels. To return to the USA, you need to take a PCR test within 72 hours of your flight departure. There are public clinics available to get tested but appointments may be required and hours are limited. Tamara's tests on Naxos were 60 euro per person. You can also order Binax Now tests from Abbott Laboratories online. Just make sure they are the ones approved for travel and include online monitoring of the test as that is what is needed for re-entry into the USA. On Santorini, Tamara stayed at the Canaves Oia Epitome, which is a new property from the Canaves brand, and it is a luxury hotel located about 10 minutes walk from Oia and Ammoudi Bay. They booked the honeymoon suite with private plunge pool. Elements Restaurant at the Canaves Oia Epitome offers an amazing Degustation Menu and it was a top dining experience. Santorini is a very popular destination and Oia is the most famous town. When you visit, be sure to go into town early in the morning to avoid crowds. Tamara also had a chef's tasting dinner at Lycabettus in Oia but felt it wasn't worth the price. Santorini Wine Trails does half or full-day wine tours in Santorini. All tours are private right now. Ammoudi Fish Tavern is a fun restaurant right on the water in Ammoudi Bay with great views and fresh fish. Tamara also did a photo shoot with Nikola from Flytographer and got some great photos. Book ferry tickets in advance of your trip Note that you should arrive at the ferry port early to figure out where to queue up. Boarding the ferry can be chaotic so listen closely for when they call your boat and note that the same ferry makes multiple stops at different islands so it isn't like there is a separate boat for each island. It helps to arrange transportation for airport and ferry pick ups so you don't have to wait in a long line when you arrive. We used Welcome Pickups on Santorini and Athens. On Naxos, Tamara stayed at the Virtu Suites boutique hotel on the beach in Agios Prokopios. Naxos is a much more affordable than Santorini -- dinner for two costs only about 40 euro at many local tavernas. Tamara booked a full day private boat tour and snorkeling with Naxos Sailing. They also offer small group trips and have a variety of itineraries. The boat tour stopped in Paros and Tamara took a cab to Naoussa, the main town, which is really beautiful and filled with shops and restaurants. Tamara and Glenn also took a full day wine, cheese and island tour with Eleni from Philema Food Tours. In Naxos Town many people visit Apollo's Temple or the Portara for sunset but you need to get there early to get a prime photo spot. In Athens, Tamara stayed at the Hotel Grand Bretagne, which she was able to book using Marriott points. The rooftop restaurant, where breakfast is also served, has beautiful views of the Acropolis. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.060] - Kim Tate Today, we're taking a European journey to the Greek islands.   [00:00:15.900] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:30.870] - Tamara Gruber Today's podcast is brought to you by Atlas Ocean Voyages. If you've ever dreamed of cruising to Greece or Egypt, now is the time to book. Atlas Ocean Voyages just introduced its new expedition ship, The World Navigator. This small ship luxury vessel is built for adventure in a sustainable but energy efficient manner. It's perfect for adventurous families or multigenerational groups. Its compact size and small guest count of fewer than 200 passengers means a higher space to guest ratio and more intimacy and personalized service.   [00:01:00.750] - Tamara Gruber From August through September 2021, World Navigator will sail seven separate 12 night itineraries to Greece and Egypt, and its small size and agility means she can dock in smaller ports, avoiding large crowds and getting a more authentic experience. And this summer, arrivals in Greece do not coincide with any other cruise ships, and port bookings are all inclusive, including both airfare and excursions.   [00:01:22.590] - Tamara Gruber The ship's facilities and protocols reflect state of the art public health guidance, with stringent public health protocols followed by staff and crew. With preboarding and pre embarkation PCR testing provided for all passengers, social distancing will be maintained with small groups shore excursions. Atlas welcomes travelers to come back to something brand new. To learn more, please visit AtlasOceanVoyages.com, and we thank them for their support.   [00:01:48.330] - Tamara Gruber Kim, I have to say after just coming back from Greece, now is such a good time to go that if people could still book a cruise for later this summer or the, you know, the fall, it would really be a great time to go.   [00:02:01.560] - Kim Tate I can see that I was following along on your stories. I think a lot of people are just unsure about all the you know, I guess in some ways you'd say loopholes and things you have to think about when you're traveling. And so it might be the perfect time for summer in Europe.   [00:02:16.230] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's definitely not as crowded. And people are very eager to welcome you back. And, you know, luckily, especially with Greece, the emphasis that they've put on vaccinating people in hospitality and on the islands and plus the fact that everything is outside it makes you feel so much more comfortable. So definitely a good time to go. But otherwise, if you can't go this year and you've dreamed about a cruise either to Egypt or the Greek islands, then check out Atlas Ocean Voyages for small ship luxury cruising.   [00:02:48.060] - Tamara Gruber Sounds like a great way to go because it includes all your excursions and everything else. At least you know exactly what it's going to cost you.   [00:02:54.660] - Kim Tate Yeah. And as we've already said, the small ships are really the way to get a more intimate experience with the destination. So you're not being dropped off on huge piers.   [00:03:03.390] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, exactly. When we took our ferry back, I saw maybe one or two cruise ships that a couple of the islands that we stopped out on the ferry back to Athens. But those were mostly like small ships as well.   [00:03:14.070] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, cruising is coming back. We saw on our flight back to JFK, like one whole section in the back seemed to have those little celebrity bags. So it's nice. Yeah, well, that's exciting. And I think it's great if people want to look at kind of that new journey. And like you said, there's still a whole month of August left for the summer. So if you've got some free time to make an impromptu vacation plans, then the Atlas Ocean Voyages might have a good deal for you to jump on.   [00:03:43.800] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, and if you want to explore Greece by land or at least to the islands, then I can give you some tips, because that's what we're going to be talking about this episode.   [00:03:53.460] - Kim Tate I cannot wait to hear about your trip. It seems like you guys really enjoyed your time together. And, you know, for an anniversary trip, it seems like it it just checked all the boxes for you guys. So I'm looking forward to sharing with our listeners everything that you guys did and what you learned. And we should just get right into it.   [00:04:11.580] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, definitely. It was one of those trips where I was prepping myself as we were driving down because we had to drive to New York and we flew from there just so that we could get a direct flight to Athens.   [00:04:23.550] - Tamara Gruber So since our other flight was canceled, we wanted to not have to worry about transiting through another European country and worrying about what their entrance requirements were and such. And so we're driving down and I said to Glennn, like, look like something is going to happen, like not everything is going to go smoothly.   [00:04:41.010] - Tamara Gruber You know, that's always the case, but especially right now, like, we need to prep ourselves like I've had in my mind, like this dream trip for two years now. Right. And that's like dangerous, you know, when you are putting so much like, you know, hope and everything into this trip that you've thought about for so long and especially, you know, as we're used to traveling. But, you know, after two years of not a lot of travel, it's like it gets even more focus, you know, for you.   [00:05:04.510] - Tamara Gruber I'm like, something's going to go wrong. And it just ended up like, you know, OK, there are a couple, like, little bumps, but thankfully, like, nothing huge happened. And it was just it was just so nice. Still be in a different place, you know what I had said, like, I need a change of scenery. If we can't go to Greece, like we're going somewhere that has palm trees or something, like I needed a change of scenery and then it just it was beautiful, but it was everything is outdoors and we just.   [00:05:33.430] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, you had to put on a mask when you were in, like, you know, a cab or something like that. But we just didn't worry.   [00:05:38.770] - Tamara Gruber And it was really amazing.   [00:05:40.450] - Tamara Gruber And I think it was like the combination of those couple of things of like feeling really normal and being in a new place and just having this amazing time.   [00:05:50.260] - Tamara Gruber And and we you know, it was a splurge trip for us. So I booked, you know, some luxury hotels. And just like being that back in that experience. And you think about like what we talked about in our last episode about how like for the services and the hotels and stuff right now, you know, because of staffing, I like to be back in like what felt like a very normal travel experience was it was just amazing. It really is awesome.   [00:06:13.570] - Tamara Gruber It really was so good. And I look yeah, I look at the pictures and I'm like, you can just tell, like, our smiles, like we're just happy.   [00:06:21.670] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. That's what I got that sense from. Just everything that I was watching and following and seeing. It was just seemed like you guys had had a really great time. So why don't you start us, you know, for the people who are wondering, why don't you explain what you did before to be able to get to Greece, you know, so they just know what the requirements are maybe. And then walk us through your itinerary if you want or however you want to present it.   [00:06:45.960] - Tamara Gruber Definitely. So, yeah, there's definitely a few things to know about going to Greece right now. I mean, they were one of the first European countries to open up. So what they require is you either need to be vaccinated, fully vaccinated, which includes the two weeks after your second dose or your one dose if your one dose person like I was. And you also need you know, if you don't have that, then you need to show a negative test PCR test within the last 72 hours.   [00:07:14.110] - Tamara Gruber And you show that when you arrive at the airport, when you're checking in in the U.S. and the other thing that you need to do is complete a passenger locator form and you need to do that. You can probably would be emailed it from your airline carrier, but otherwise you can find it on like the Greek website.   [00:07:32.710] - Tamara Gruber You need to fill that out before 24 hours before you leave. So, you know, at least a day before you leave, you fill that out and it has all your information, your passport information, all that kind of stuff. But also look where you're going to be staying.   [00:07:44.950] - Tamara Gruber You know what places you're visiting, all of that. It's an online form. You you submit it and then you get a receipt that it's been submitted and that's what you show when you get to the airport to check in.   [00:07:59.020] - Tamara Gruber Then when you arrive in Greece, it's kind of weird because they email you a QR code, but they only email it to you like after midnight the day of your arrival. So we were doing like an overnight flight. So it's like we couldn't show it at the airport when we arrived because we don't have it yet. But we showed it at the airport I'm sorry, when we arrived in New York. But when we arrived in Athens, luckily they have free Wi-Fi in the airport.   [00:08:23.800] - Tamara Gruber Just connect and then you get the QR code and you show them as you're coming into the customs area for Athens.   [00:08:30.550] - Tamara Gruber So that's really it. It's pretty simple, really. There are some other things to think about just in terms of, you know, traveling right now. Like if you're going on a ferry, you need to show your vaccination card or your test, but you also need to complete like a health form, you know, like one of those like you haven't had these symptoms, you know, that kind of stuff. And they give you a QR code for that.   [00:08:56.200] - Tamara Gruber Of course, I can talk later about like the whole ferry boarding process. And it's such like a madhouse. They don't actually check that.   [00:09:02.110] - Tamara Gruber But, you know, technically, you need to do those kind of things, too. So there are some things.   [00:09:07.900] - Tamara Gruber And when we checked into each of our hotels, they checked our vaccination cards.   [00:09:11.620] - Tamara Gruber So, you know, you keep that information handy. We had to do one for a boat that we went out on for the day. We had to show the vaccination card and fill out a health form for that as well. So I guess either a vaccination card or a negative test. Yeah, but then within three days, does it have to be within three days so we can keep repeatedly testing while you're there if you're not, you know, because we're vaccinated. That's something that you would look into if you have younger children that couldn't be vaccinated or something like that. Yeah. Something to ask. And then, of course, to come back to the US, everyone right now needs to have a negative PCR test.   [00:09:48.940] - Tamara Gruber So when we arrived, I had already figured out what we were going to do to make sure that it was possible. Otherwise I would have bought those Abbot Binax Now test to bring with us.   [00:10:04.990] - Tamara Gruber So they have two different Abbott ones. This is I guess good to know. Like there's one that you can buy just in like a CVS or something. That that does not qualify for overseas travel.   [00:10:15.310] - Tamara Gruber Because it needs to be monitored, but they have another one that you can order online, I think it's one hundred and fifty dollars that includes like multiple tests.   [00:10:24.220] - Tamara Gruber And what you do is you self administer it, but you do it like you get in an appointment with a doctor, like over Zoom. Right. And watch, you know, that you're doing it so that they can verify, you know that to you.   [00:10:36.700] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, that's a separate one. You have to order online and that's actually an option. But luckily for us, we were able to get to our second island of Naxos. We our hotel helped us arrange an appointment at a clinic there. We just it could take up to 24 hours before we were getting our results. So we did on Friday for a Sunday morning departure. And we had our results by Friday evening. And it cost us only 60 euro per person.   [00:11:03.400] - Tamara Gruber If they came to the hotel and did it for us, it was going to be like a hundred and twenty euro per person. So that's what we did.   [00:11:08.950] - Tamara Gruber But just one thing to note about when you are traveling and you're looking to go to a local clinic for your way back, the hours are very limited. Still, like the one that we went to is closed on Saturdays. So, you know, you needed to plan that into your time window. But then some of them will be open, like for a few hours in the morning or a couple hours in the afternoon. But it's not like all day or, you know, you know, 24 hours.   [00:11:31.600] - Tamara Gruber So you need to definitely plan ahead with that. But overall, like, it was pretty easy. I definitely think the the most challenging part is, you know, just the long flight, you know, frankly, like, I've never had a mask on for 16 hours before. And that is true. You know, that was a really long time because we had to deal with our long flight. You know, you have your time in the airport, the long flight on the way there.   [00:11:54.490] - Tamara Gruber We then had like a three hour layover in the Athens airport and then another flight to Santorini, because our itinerary was to have three nights in Santorini, five nights on Naxos, and then one night in Athens for our return. So when we arrived, we wanted to not have to spend time in Athens, but get right to our destination just because we didn't have we just didn't have a lot of time. If I had two weeks, I would definitely spend more time like in Athens.   [00:12:19.900] - Tamara Gruber So we had that flight, you know, and then the cab ride from the airport to our hotel. So, you know, that's that's a long time, you know, to be in your mask. I definitely switched up my mask like midway. Yeah. About getting this thing kind of stinks after a while, you know. Yeah.   [00:12:36.490] - Kim Tate Are they not doing food either? So do you have to kind of make sure you're packing your own food and then are you able to eat it.   [00:12:41.620] - Tamara Gruber They do do food, yeah.   [00:12:42.770] - Tamara Gruber So we had our flight was Delta from JFK to Athens. We did have a bit of a scare that we weren't going to make our flight because we gave ourselves five hours to get to New York and it should take three hours. But it ended up taking like five and a half. And we parked in like an economy pre booked online. So then we had to take an air train over to the airport. And we were so nervous that, you know, we started off so relaxed, like we have plenty of time. Then we were so nervous that we weren't going to make it, but we got there. It was kind of chaos in the JFK Airport because it's just super busy. And, of course, you know, everyone, not everyone had all the information they were supposed to have right now.   [00:13:25.360] - Tamara Gruber And then that takes a little bit of a longer time. But we got triggered as we were boarding.   [00:13:29.920] - Tamara Gruber We got on luckily, they were serving food because we our plan was to go to a lounge and have a meal and, you know, take some, you know, some time. We didn't have that. So we were getting on to the plane with a bag of chips and some trail mix for like a ten hour flight. So, yeah, luckily they serve food and basically, you know, they make announcements, of course, when you board just the same way they would in the US.   [00:13:53.560] - Tamara Gruber And while you're eating, you can lower your mask. And then it's kind of like after they do their meal service, they're going around being like mask up, like making sure everyone was still lingering, you know, that they're lifting the mask. But I will say, and I've said this before, like with us travel, that if I was not vaccinated, I would not be comfortable going because there are a lot of people that, you know, it's an overnight flight, it's dark.   [00:14:20.080] - Tamara Gruber People are kind of lowering their masks as they're sleeping. And on those kind of overnight flights, the flight attendants aren't up and down the aisles as much checking. So I think, yeah, you definitely see some like if they saw someone, they would say something, but they weren't being super proactive with. Checking often is I say, you know.   [00:14:40.840] - Tamara Gruber But that's not the case in the ferries and in the, you know, Athens airport, it seemed like, you know, much more strict. And on the ferry, someone went around regularly like, you know, talking to people and even having a little confrontations with people. So if that's something that's worried, I know I've gotten a lot of messages. I don't want to linger on this too much because there's a lot of really good stuff to talk about.   [00:15:01.900] - Tamara Gruber But, you know, I've gotten a lot of messages from people, like asking how comfortable I was. And I want to say, like when I was in Greece, I felt extremely comfortable. I really, really did.   [00:15:10.900] - Tamara Gruber You know, we had masks on in the cabs, but everything else. Is really outside, you know, like it's it's amazing how much everything is outside, I came back and I'm like, oh, right, restaurants have indoor dining, but we don't want to do that, you know? So it's it's very comfortable in that way.   [00:15:28.320] - Kim Tate Great. So you made it to Santorini. That was your first stop. So what sort of things did you do there?   [00:15:34.440] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So in Santorini, Santorini is a very crowded like over tourist island. It's really expensive, but it is very, very beautiful.   [00:15:44.820] - Tamara Gruber And so I knew that we wanted to only spend a few nights there because they didn't have the budget to spend a long time. And I have to say that this year is such a great time to go because it still seemed a little crowded at times and it was picking up like throughout our stay seem to increase. But they were telling me, all the locals are telling me that it was only about 20 percent of the 2019 numbers. So it's definitely like an over tourist destination.   [00:16:12.600] - Tamara Gruber And I had an opportunity to visit when there weren't that many people there, which made it like absolutely amazing.   [00:16:18.460] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, we stayed like one of the main towns is called Oia. And it is it's an essential that everybody sees in the pictures. Exactly.   [00:16:30.130] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Yeah. So I really wanted to stay there again. This was our milestone anniversary, a birthday trip. So it was a splurge, something that we'd saved up for for a while.   [00:16:40.620] - Tamara Gruber So I had booked us three nights at a luxury hotel that called the Canaves Oia Epitome. So this brand, the Canaves, they have, I think three or four properties that are well known, luxury properties, most of them are right in the town. This one is brand new and it is just about a ten minute walk outside of town, kind of like down the hill. But we love the location and I loved the property. It was gorgeous.   [00:17:07.740] - Tamara Gruber I had booked us a honeymoon suite with a plunge pool. So big splurge on the suite. We've never spent this much on a hotel. I will admit, you know, definitely like a huge privilege here.   [00:17:17.580] - Tamara Gruber But we walked in and so it was like you kind of opened this one door. You go up some steps and there's like our patio with our plunge pool to loungers, picnic table, a little bench. And then you go into the room from there.   [00:17:32.340] - Tamara Gruber And we walked in and we were just like, wow, like this. It's just so nice to go back to, like a luxury hotel and have this beautiful place and beautiful, you know, setting. And it was just it was so nice. Like, I'm so glad that we had that splurge. They do have other they have some other spaces for families. And there actually I saw a number of families, both with teens and with like toddlers are smaller, like elementary school age.   [00:18:01.770] - Tamara Gruber So there are other types of rooms, some larger, some smaller. So that was my big splurge. At one point, Glennn was like, how much was this place? And I'm like, I'm not going to tell you. This was one where I was like, I want to book this, you know, and surprise you. And so we we really, really enjoyed that, like, kind of sitting out by the our little plunge pool.   [00:18:22.500] - Tamara Gruber But then they also have, you know, the property has like a really nice infinity pool and it overlooks the water. And you get really beautiful sunset views there, which, you know, in this part of Greece, like some some of the views, some of the places will face a caldera. So you'll get really pretty hues and color, but you don't see the actual sunset. So this is the sunset and it's like ten minute walk up to town or they can shuttle you and like a ten minute walk down to Ammoudi bay, which is where are the sunset catamarans go out.   [00:18:55.620] - Tamara Gruber And it's just like there's a lot of cool fish restaurants. So I thought the location was fabulous.   [00:19:01.110] - Tamara Gruber The service was amazing, the food was great, the breakfast is included. And it's one of those things where you can order as much off the menu as you want. You know, like you order a la carte and then they're like, oh, do you want fruit? Do you want this? Like the one day that I had breakfast, I like pineapple juice. And so on their menu, they had grapefruit and orange juice. And I was like, oh, do you have pineapple juice?   [00:19:22.440] - Tamara Gruber And they're like, we can do that for you. And they came out, they had like blended a fresh pineapple for me.   [00:19:28.770] - Tamara Gruber And the the food was just it was fantastic. Like everything was so good. And our first night there, like we were exhausted.   [00:19:35.280] - Tamara Gruber Right, because we had this five hour drive. Then we had, you know, a ten hour flight, three hour layover, half hour flight, you know, so we got there and I saw those lounge chairs by our plunge pool. And I'm like, I am taking a nap right there. And so we kind of just like napped in the sun for like an hour or two was somehow like it. Just something about the excitement of the first day of your trip where you just like kind of have the adrenaline to keep going, right?   [00:20:01.320] - Tamara Gruber So that little nap was like all I needed. I usually plan for something like this for our first day to just have dinner close to the hotel where we're staying. So I had booked dinner at the hotel. The hotel has two restaurants, one is like fine dining, one is casual. I had booked us at the fine dining restaurant and so we ended up having like a degustation menu, like a chef's tasting menu, seven courses. And so you would think we would be like way to jet lag to like appreciate it.   [00:20:31.580] - Tamara Gruber But I will tell you, this is one of the best dining experiences of our lives. And we still go back and we're like, is it because we were just so happy to be there? Or is it just like that first night? You have nothing to compare it to.   [00:20:44.120] - Tamara Gruber But it was really just wonderful because the service was so it was just so perfect.   [00:20:49.160] - Tamara Gruber It wasn't crowded because it was primarily just people at the hotel. So, you know, we were outside. We are overlooking this beautiful infinity pool and the sunset and, you know, our tables were all spaced and our server was just so sweet. Like every time I was, like, really enjoying a dish. And I would compliment her and compliment the dish. She would get almost like a giggly, you know, like she was so pleased with how much we liked it.   [00:21:17.480] - Tamara Gruber And it just like that shows like how much like it means to them to, like, present and prepare like something that someone's really enjoying, you know, like that kind of hospitality where it's not just like a you know, like a process, like a routine. You know, it was just like a lot of it added a lot of enjoyment. And the the food was just it was fantastic. It was so, so good. So, you know, another huge splurge for us.   [00:21:41.090] - Tamara Gruber But like, if you stay there and I actually had like three people, I think like or more messaged me on Instagram saying that they had either already booked it or they were booking it for the fall, like that particular hotel and asking about the restaurant. So I definitely think it's the it's a luxury hotel. And the price point is just slightly below the places that are in town. So it made it you know, it made it fit with my budget.   [00:22:07.400] - Tamara Gruber You know, it was already a splurge budget, but. Yeah. So anyway, that's what we did the first day. And then the next day, again, I didn't want to like over because I really wanted to make sure that this trip was like some exploration, but a lot of time for like relaxation and doubt and just time to enjoy it and soak it in. You know, I didn't want us to be like, go, go, go.   [00:22:26.300] - Tamara Gruber And we also didn't want to be around a lot of other groups or people. So we did things, you know, like more on our own or privately.   [00:22:33.560] - Tamara Gruber So the next day we decided to walk into town and I thought we're just going to maybe, like, wander around for a little bit. But it was so charming. And so we were just like going down all these side streets and I'm taking like a million pictures and we just loved it.   [00:22:47.810] - Tamara Gruber And it was so quiet at first. Like in the beginning, the streets were like empty when we got there, probably like ten thirty.   [00:22:54.500] - Tamara Gruber And the streets were so empty. And everyone says, like, go super early in the morning, but I'm like my first day. I'm not getting out there like 6:00 a.m. you know, that's not my idea of a vacation. And then it got like a little busier, like closer to noon. But I think if you're going on a regular year, you probably really have to get there early to avoid the crowds. That's why it's kind of nice to stay right in that area, because if you're traveling from another part of the island, of course, you're not going to get there, you know, quite that early.   [00:23:19.820] - Tamara Gruber Right. But it got really hot, definitely. People ask me about the weather, too. It was probably in the high eighties, like maybe low 90s the entire time we were there. I mean, I loved it.   [00:23:30.470] - Tamara Gruber Like it was it was the kind of weather where I could go out every night in a sundress and not have to bring a sweater, you know, just like, wonderful. And it was, you know, the sun was strong.   [00:23:40.940] - Tamara Gruber So you would like a little break from it or take a swim. But it wasn't I didn't find it oppressive. Apparently earlier in that week, there was you kind of what's been typical Europe right now is the end of June, early July for the last few years has had like an extremely high heat wave. So they had temperatures well above one hundred for a few days. But then, like I said, when we were there, it was kind of more normal summer.   [00:24:03.300] - Tamara Gruber But still, we needed a place. We needed a little break. And their lunches are a little bit later. They're still like at one point we stopped and we just Glennn had, I think, like a beer and I had a smoothie and we just sat at a place where we're having this beautiful view. And then we walked around some more and then we had this amazing lunch. I like this salad with grilled shrimp and like, everything was like so wonderful.   [00:24:24.050] - Tamara Gruber And all I could think was like years ago when I was a picky eater, I was like, oh, I could never do I could never go to Greece because I don't like and I like this like at the time I didn't like feta, now I love feta.   [00:24:34.970] - Tamara Gruber I still don't like olives. And I didn't eat as much fish. But it is like the food was amazing. All the food that I had was really, really good and I did not have a problem with that at all because I for a long time ago I was like, I'm gonna have to do it on a cruise so that I like the food, but I've expanded my palate. So we had a wonderful lunch. Like there's just so many places that have beautiful views or cute courtyards.   [00:24:58.520] - Tamara Gruber And it's just we had a lovely time and it reminded me a lot of the Amalfi Coast in Italy and in Capri, except the shops there aren't like the big designer shops. It's more like, you know, there's there's a lot of touristy kind. You know, now knickknacks and T-shirt kind of things, but then there's some more local shops, and so I liked that. You know, sometimes when you go to places and you see all these, like really upscale designer shops and like, well, first of all, I can't afford to shop there wherever I see them.   [00:25:30.650] - Tamara Gruber And like, if you can get that at a city, like, near you, like, why do you need it like on vacation? You know, I'd rather find, like, more of the local kind of authentic things. Like we stopped into a gallery and I totally was ready to buy art until I realized we missed a zero on the on the painting price. But yeah, we just had a really lovely time. We went back and we sat by the pool and then we went back into town that night and we did another tasting menu at this place called Lycabettus, I'm sure mispronouncing it.   [00:25:59.150] - Tamara Gruber But it's named that after a place in Athens that also has a beautiful viewpoint. But it basically is a restaurant like on a cliff side. So you pay more to sit on this like promontory that sticks out into the caldera. And you have this great view. Of course, Glennn was like, so where it is like, am I going to be nervous? And we had to go down all these steps to get to it.   [00:26:24.500] - Tamara Gruber He was like slowly going down the steps and the the hostess kept turning and looking back. And I'm like, we're OK, you know? But I will say, like, that place was crazy expensive, which we knew it was going to be, because it's definitely very like this is one of the most beautiful places to have a meal or whatever. But I didn't think it was worth it. So I wouldn't say to do it like the food was good, but it was much more like it came out very quickly and it was like everybody near us was getting the same thing at the same time.   [00:26:54.950] - Tamara Gruber And it just didn't have that personal feel to it. And for like a gas station menu was a lot of like phone this and, you know, like very I don't know, kind of it was inventive, but it also felt very like it's probably been done a lot, you know. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, but it was still we had a beautiful view. We wandered around town afterwards and it's just so nice.   [00:27:13.550] - Tamara Gruber We sit as we're sitting there because we probably had like an eight thirty reservation, like, you know, the sunsets. And then so things start to have that beautiful glow and then the lights start to come on. And then by the time you leave, it's like all lit up and it's just, you know, like really, really gorgeous. I really fell in love with, like, that part of Santorini. But, you know, someone asked me, like, how long should you stay in Santorini?   [00:27:35.750] - Tamara Gruber And I said, well, I think at least three nights, you know, maybe two nights if you've already, you know, been in Greece. But really, it depends on your budget. Like, how long can you afford to stay there because the food's expensive, like everything is definitely pricey.   [00:27:49.700] - Tamara Gruber So our last day on Sunday, we ended up we had booked a half day wine tour with Santorini wine trails, and we did that. All the tours that they're doing right now are private. So, you know, we basically visited a vineyard and then Santorini is probably most well known for their wine, their white wine. And so we went to, I think, three wineries and did different tastings and tasting. We had like some local cheese or one thing I totally fell in love with was the tomato paste, because like Santorini is known for tomatoes, too.   [00:28:25.520] - Tamara Gruber And you think about tomato paste like that, you would buy at the store, come to where the little can and you just like your lasagna or something like that. Like this was it was like you just want to spread it on bread. It was amazing. You know, I definitely had a great time on that tour. We learned a lot. You know, it's just the kind of thing that we like to do. Again, this trip was very oriented towards couples, you know, as I apologize, or people like looking for family, you know, kids, things to do because we were very focused on things that we love to do.   [00:28:56.390] - Kim Tate Well, that still sounds awesome. Sounds like a gorgeous splurge. And I'm sure there's plenty of people listening that don't have kids are looking for an anniversary trip or, you know, some kind of luxury luxury time. So I think it's good.   [00:29:08.840] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:29:09.800] - Tamara Gruber And then our last night, we walked down to Ammoudi bay and we watched other sunset catamarans go out and man, those things were packed. Those were crowded.   [00:29:17.900] - Tamara Gruber And then we had dinner down there at a Ammoudi Fish Tavern, which was it was just a great you know, it's very touristy feeling, but it's just it was like such fresh fish. The guy was like, no, no, come over to that, because I was asking, like, what is this type of fish like? And he's like, come look. And I'm like looking at it is not going to help me know how it tastes like, you know, he kept trying to like, you know, like, look at this one and we'll cut it this way.   [00:29:44.810] - Tamara Gruber He'll do this. But, you know, it's very fresh.   [00:29:47.390] - Tamara Gruber So, you know, that was that was a lot of fun. And I didn't mention. But if you follow on Instagram, you've probably seen.   [00:29:52.730] - Tamara Gruber But we did a Flytographer photography shoot that morning before we did the wine tour. So that was a lot of fun to   [00:30:00.770] - Kim Tate those turned out so well. And I'm happy with the dress you chose. It looked perfect.   [00:30:05.240] - Tamara Gruber Thank you. And thank you. Yes. For your advice. I was going back and forth, but I'm like, you know, I just feel comfortable in this one. And I think, like, you know, Glennn is a pink shirt. It'll kind of go together and yeah, we worked with Nikola and he did a fantastic job. And he did so many different, like locations. We're like really fast, which is good because, like, I didn't think about poor Glenn because it was a lot of like edges. Edges.   [00:30:33.540] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, exactly. I did at one point he was just like, I need a break. I, I'm sitting this one out, take some pictures of her on her own. But, you know, we had fun. It was it was really nice. So it's just something that it's just such a good memory. Like I know I will look back at those photos and like always smile, you know, I was they'll bring back such happiness.   [00:30:56.520] - Tamara Gruber It's nice to have photos of the two of us because frankly, I don't know. We have some from our wedding, like, yeah, I have a lot of that.   [00:31:03.210] - Kim Tate So he did a great job also of posing you guys. I mean, they were definitely nice anniversary shots. And I think that was part of it is some of the looks and the poses were great. So it wasn't just being in a beautiful area. I mean, they really were engaging of the two of you and good, good representative representation of your relationship.   [00:31:22.210] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, no, I agree.   [00:31:23.970] - Tamara Gruber It was it was really it was very nice. And so I'm happy to do that and tip for anyone that wants to do something like that for a future trip. What I do for photographer is every Black Friday they have a sale and I buy a gift certificate like gift card for that sale and then I'll just use it whenever I book for a trip. So little money saving tip there.   [00:31:47.270] - Kim Tate If it's that smart, is it? So it's like a gift card or whatever. And then you can. Yeah.   [00:31:51.840] - Tamara Gruber And then I get a code or whatever you apply.   [00:31:53.670] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Yeah.   [00:31:55.320] - Tamara Gruber So and that one I had a credit from, we had booked for Paris and twenty twenty that we didn't do and so I wanted to use it. I didn't know how long they were going to keep that credit valid and I didn't know when our next family trip would be. So my kids do this so.   [00:32:09.600] - Tamara Gruber Yeah but so that kind of wraps up Santorini. And then the next day we were taking a ferry over to Naxos, which is one of the largest of the Cyclades Islands. And it's you know, but it's quieter and it is a lot less expensive. I know that our friend Eric from Travel Babo has gone there a lot with his family. And, you know, so I decided to do that as our second island.   [00:32:32.860] - Tamara Gruber It would have been nice if we had a little more time to maybe squeeze in one other island. But, you know, that one was good. We did five nights. I think a lot of people will do like Santorini. Well, maybe they'll do Mykonos, but Mykonos is very much like a young party island. I'm like, yeah, I'm too old for that. And it's super expensive. Or they'll do Crete, but Crete is huge. And so you could do like your whole vacation.   [00:32:54.150] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Just on Crete. Yeah. So yeah, this felt like a good mix for us to have like one more of the famous ones and one of the slightly less visited ones. So we took the ferry and I'll just like a few words about taking the ferries in Greece just because it was new to me. And now I know. And if I had known what to expect, I may not have been so stressed out.   [00:33:12.420] - Tamara Gruber But we got to the very port early. But it's just open. There's no like docks that have names of where to go. So we went into like the siege at office, which was the ferry that I had booked.   [00:33:24.000] - Tamara Gruber We had filled out our forms and also done our mobile boarding passes. We had all that like on our phones, but we weren't quite sure where to go when we got there. So I went to the office. They're like, oh, just go to like this building like Terminal four. So, OK, so we go in there and we're sitting there and I hear different people talking around me and they're like, oh, we're going to make a noise, we're going to Athens.   [00:33:43.740] - Tamara Gruber So I'm like, OK, so there's multiple boats. So we have to like, really listen for like when our boat is coming right. And the time is getting closer and closer and closer and the place is really filling up and everyone's talking and it's just like loud and you can't hear a thing. And then I hear some guy like all the way at the end of the hall, like coming in and shouting like anyone going to want, you know, and you're like, what was that?   [00:34:06.870] - Tamara Gruber So there's like nothing on the loudspeaker to like. No. You know, which boat are they announcing? Should I go out? Do I not go out like what's going on? And then finally I hear them say, like Paros and I hear them say things.   [00:34:20.280] - Tamara Gruber And so I'm like, oh, OK, that's not us. That's not us. And then finally, it seems like everyone is just walking and going. So I'm like, we should just go. Like, I was going, yeah. So as we get out there, the boat is coming in and I realize it's a huge boat. This boat is going to all those islands. It's not like there's one boat to meagerness, one boat to Paris, one boat to Athens.   [00:34:43.320] - Tamara Gruber So I'm like, oh, OK, I get it now. But so you're in this giant, like heard and then they are running a few minutes late, which they often are. And so like the boat is not even like docked yet and you know, the gangplank is down, people are ready to walk off and they're like hurting us. They're like, go, go, go, go, go down. You, you know? And I'm like, you know, I have my you know, we have our luggage.   [00:35:07.230] - Tamara Gruber Of course, I have my phone out to show, like the boarding pass. And I think I'm have to show like my health form and my boarding pass and like all this stuff. And the people are streaming off the boat and and, you know, we're like streaming on at the same time and the people are in the back almost with, like, cattle prods, like, go, go, go. And I hear the captain go in like, we got to go.   [00:35:26.710] - Tamara Gruber We got to leave. We got to leave my. Oh, my God. Like, what are they going to do, like leave people, you know, we're barely on the boat. And the thing is coming up and they're pulling away and we're it's just like you're in the hold of the boat with, like, the cars. And there's like these racks where you can put your luggage and some of them are labeled with certain islands. But, you know, people are just throwing their luggage up on racks and like you're running out of space.   [00:35:51.910] - Tamara Gruber So Glenn's like putting it up on the top thing. And then there's this huge, like line to get up the stairs, you know, but it's like very bouncy at this point. So you're, like trying to keep your balance, but there's like a catch point because that's where you then have to show, like, your boarding pass. They never checked the health forms, you know, and then we get up there and then finally they're like, OK, these are your seats.   [00:36:11.650] - Tamara Gruber And we sit down.   [00:36:12.160] - Tamara Gruber We're like, oh, OK.   [00:36:14.200] - Kim Tate Like, that was very stressful. How long ago, right? Was it?   [00:36:17.560] - Tamara Gruber It was. I think I was like about an hour and a half to go from Santorini to Naxos.   [00:36:22.900] - Kim Tate What do they do with the people who don't have their boarding?   [00:36:25.120] - Tamara Gruber I know. Exactly. And they start from like they stopped at another island like Ios, I think first, you know, and so I don't know. I don't know. Do they like I have no idea what you put your kind of don't want to put your bag in first either because like how do you get your bag out then these racks of everybody and throwing their bags on top. And I believe that they wait there for a while. They'll let you get your bag.   [00:36:50.590] - Tamara Gruber so then we're sitting there and you hear and it's, you know, how things are. At least they had a loudspeaker on the on the ferry. And the ferry is very much like, do you actually hear it, though? It's probably like what you're used to with your ferries where, you know, you have assigned seating. It's more like airplane seating, like, you know, like you have seats.   [00:37:07.330] - Kim Tate We don't run out here in Seattle. It's open seating.   [00:37:10.790] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah. So we had assigned seating and I was like, there's a concession bar. So it's more like, you know, it's, it's a big, you know, it's a big boat.   [00:37:17.410] - Tamara Gruber There's multiple tiers.   [00:37:18.790] - Tamara Gruber So there is a loudspeaker, there's like TVs playing but they're in Greek. I don't know what's going on in them. And they're making the announcement first in Greek, but then in English. But I tell them, you you cannot understand it. It's just Charlie Brown. Yeah. And so we're just like, what?   [00:37:33.010] - Tamara Gruber You know, what was that?   [00:37:34.000] - Tamara Gruber What was that? And like, luckily we had seen as the boat was coming in, there was like one of those leg things where it was like Ios, Naxos, Paros, and it gave like the order. It seems like we're going to be the second one. Just remember where the second one, you know, but they're like, oh my, please report to whatever.   [00:37:50.770] - Tamara Gruber So basically, like before you get to your island, they're calling you to go down to the hold and that's where you grab your luggage. Yeah. So then we grab our bag.   [00:37:59.920] - Tamara Gruber But even then, like, it got stuck on, like there was like a net up there and like the wheel was stuck and we're like, oh, I got to get it out, you know. And then we're, you know, standing there and again, like it's like the thing is barely coming down. Stop, drop and roll.   [00:38:12.280] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, like, go, go, go, go.   [00:38:15.040] - Tamara Gruber And then the cars are coming off and they're like, get out of the way. And I'm like, oh my God. Like, what am I supposed to do? This is crazy. But one thing I will say is when you arrive at an island by ferry or by plane, it's really helpful if you have your transportation already arranged because there are not a ton of taxis on these islands. So we saw people like waiting a really long time for a taxi.   [00:38:37.510] - Tamara Gruber So I had used I read about it online somewhere, but it's called Welcome Pickup's. It's like a little bit like an Uber, but you arrange it ahead of time and it worked seamlessly. They weren't on Naxos, but it worked in Athens and it worked in Santorini, you know, where we walked out of the plane in Santorini. And there's a guy holding a sign, you know, Gruber, and we get right in and go. And that's how it was when we arrived in Naxos.   [00:39:00.730] - Tamara Gruber Although I didn't use that service, it was like through the hotel. But it was just so nice to be like, oh, here's a guy. You know, we do that we like just super long line to try to find a taxi. And, you know, so that was really great. I would definitely recommend using the welcome pick ups because the hotel in Santorini was going to arrange something. I think they were going to charge us maybe like seventy five euro.   [00:39:21.580] - Tamara Gruber And then I booked through this and it was like less than 50 euro. So I'm sure it's even cheaper if you got a taxi. Sometimes it's like you're already spending that much money. It's like, do you really need to save twenty five bucks or whatever?   [00:39:38.170] - Tamara Gruber Then that's how a lot of like when we were in Naxos, we the main town is called Naxos Town or Chora, I guess like what I've learned is that on the islands there's one town and all the others are villages, you know, so you have to like get to a certain size. And then all the main town is called like or something like that. And but it's also just called Naxos.   [00:39:56.620] - Tamara Gruber So so we were about fifteen minutes south of there, like on a beach called Agios Prokopios. I always like switch the key in the P and so you could take a bus like back and forth. But we were like, yeah, I'll just take a taxi. But, you know, like, it's it is a little bit more so I can see why people would like to stay in town, but I really loved our location. So we stayed at a place called the Virtu Suites.   [00:40:30.980] - Tamara Gruber Maybe they have a dozen rooms or so. They have different ones. We didn't we didn't go with the top of the line there. I just looked like a Seaview suite. So it was just like basically you walked out of our room and the pool was right there. But I love this hotel again. It was really new. Like they opened, I think late 2019.   [00:40:51.880] - Tamara Gruber So then they were closed most of last year.   [00:40:55.090] - Tamara Gruber And so there, you know, they are back and they were like, please leave us a review. Or if you like, we need, you know, we need to get the word out and like don't you worry. Yeah. I'm going to like let them know. So we, I loved it. Like everything was all these natural materials. It was like rope and wood. And, you know, it's just like a very, very nice style, very comfortable style.   [00:41:16.990] - Tamara Gruber The service was wonderful. It wasn't I don't even know if all the rooms were filled. Definitely not when we got there, because we got there on a Monday, I felt like at first. We might have been like one of the only ones in the place. The room was pretty large, you know, it was just it was just so nice like you.   [00:41:32.230] - Tamara Gruber We walked out of our room, you know, two steps.   [00:41:34.930] - Tamara Gruber There is the pool, you know, ten steps. We're at the restaurant, which is like open area, restaurant, bar facing the street. And then you go across the street and there's the beach and the beach is gorgeous.   [00:41:46.840] - Tamara Gruber And they have you know, they have loungers with umbrellas. And all you have to do is a hotel guest just have them reserve it. They give you a form the night before and the reserve you loungers down in the front. And then if those don't fill up, then like people can come and pay to stay at the other ones, you know, and they can bring you drinks and food and stuff. And so it was the and the beach was beautiful.   [00:42:09.850] - Tamara Gruber The water was like fairly calm, whereas up by town, like there were a lot more waves. It was rougher. Like that's where people like surf and windsurf.   [00:42:17.260] - Tamara Gruber So I thought it was great even for families, you know, like it. And it was it was fun because someone had said like, oh the yeah, the because the beaches in Santorini are like rock.   [00:42:28.990] - Tamara Gruber So they're like, oh no. Naxos has really good beaches there. It's like silk. And I'm like, OK, they haven't seen, you know, some beaches because that was not like Florida. Well, it was it was not rock. It was more like, you know, what I'd have here in the in the Northeast, like, you know, coarse sand and then, you know, maybe some rock, like as you are getting into the water.   [00:42:51.400] - Tamara Gruber And then it kind of drops off fairly quickly. And then it's super, super soft, like there is no seaweed, no shells.   [00:42:57.130] - Tamara Gruber Like it was just really beautiful.   [00:42:59.470] - Tamara Gruber You could go out, you know, and just kind of float or swim. And you had a pretty good current. Glenn tried to swim a little bit and it was it was tough.   [00:43:06.700] - Tamara Gruber But, you know, you can just float and just like, you know, enjoy and relax. And the water was clear and, you know, a couple of fish swimming around. It was just it was really, really beautiful. Like, I was like, why am I in the Caribbean like this water? It was so turquoise. It was really beautiful and quiet. there were families. They would play like beach games and, you know, kids around. But it was it did not feel super crowded at all, like especially if you were out there in the morning. I think I posted some pictures and you can see there was like no one in the water. It was just it was beautiful, really, really beautiful. So I loved where we stayed.   [00:43:40.720] - Tamara Gruber The town right where we were staying was smaller. So it was basically like a couple of beach shops with like beach bags and bathing suits and stuff like that.   [00:43:50.200] - Tamara Gruber Maybe one boutique shop where I actually bought something and a few restaurants, you know, there were there were a few like attached to hotels. There were a few like right on that beachfront road and then a couple of others, but like very, you know, authentic and good food.   [00:44:07.000] - Tamara Gruber You know, like we had our two dinners that we did. There were forty euro total and we had an appetizer to like giant entrees that we couldn't finish, I think. Well, the one place they brought us a free dessert, two drinks, like I was like forty euro versus Santorini. So it was it was really very affordable there. Even the hotel restaurant, which was really good, was not overpriced, you know, for anything. A hotel restaurant is always going to be a bit more.   [00:44:35.380] - Tamara Gruber So we loved it there. I would definitely recommend looking at staying there. Like I said, it was very comfortable, great service.   [00:44:42.520] - Tamara Gruber And, you know, the distance from town was a little bit of a challenge, like we did take a taxi back and forth a few times. But it depends like if you're planning on renting a car or if you're going to, you know, just spend time on the beach, like you don't necessarily need to be going back and forth every day. Yes, I really enjoyed it. And then our first sounds nice.   [00:45:03.010] - Kim Tate You know, first full day there, I had arranged for us to charter a private sailing on a sailboat. It was something that we had done. When we were in Italy one time and it was like one of my best travel days ever, so like, I really want to do this and we just didn't want to do like we wanted. I felt like we're in the islands, like, how do you not get out on the water and see it from the water?   [00:45:25.360] - Kim Tate And like that felt like part of the experience. But I didn't want to do like a big group thing. Like, it just wasn't comfortable with that.   [00:45:31.900] - Tamara Gruber So, yes, I had booked it through Naxos Sailing and the guy, the Captain George was like he was such a character, so funny.   [00:45:40.960] - Tamara Gruber So I don't know, like, sarcastic, like just he was great. But he also like, you know, he really took care of us and he had like another guy that was kind of like apprenticing for him, helping out too. But we went out for the whole day and we went first to it. So basically, like from Naxos, you can see the island of Paros. So we went over to Paros and then there's some small, like a smaller island off of Paros called Antiparos And so there was an area there where we were snorkeling or is like definitely popular. You could see like a number of boats coming out to do snorkeling there. There are a couple like yachts sitting there. It was a little bit rough. It reminded me a little bit of when you and I were in Key Largo and we went, oh, yeah, yeah. So not as seasick, but like, remember when we got in there and we're like, really bobbing around like the water bobbing like this.   [00:46:37.390] Like I went in and I'm going to I'm you know, I'm just not comfortable in the water. It's, I've never like the water, I don't enjoy swimming. I don't like going under the water. Snorkeling is fine because I can stay on top. But then when you're like bobbing around and then like a wave is coming and like water went down my snorkel. So then I'm like coughing and they're like, just blow it out. And I'm like, no, I'm done.   [00:46:55.000] - Tamara Gruber I'm out of here. So, Glenn, you know, he did a little bit more and I just, like, hung out in the boat. But, you know, the water is beautiful, is great.   [00:47:02.680] - Tamara Gruber Then we went over on Paros.   [00:47:04.930] - Tamara Gruber There's like a sea cave that you can snorkel into, but the top of the cave has a big hole in it. So you had, like, the stream of light, like coming into this cave. So it's like a really neat experience. So we pulled up to there. But because it's like a fairly big sailboat, he couldn't get super close.   [00:47:20.200] - Tamara Gruber So you'd have to, like, swim over and he gives you like a noodle and stuff, you know, because, like, I'm not a super strong swimmer, but I, I was like climbing down to get into the water and I just looked at it and I'm like, no, I'm not doing it. I'm sorry. Like, I'm just not I don't because I, I remember when we were in Italy, we I swam through this like grotto and like on the other side I had Hannah and stupidly, we didn't have like life jackets or noodles with us.   [00:47:45.010] - Tamara Gruber And we were both getting tired. And I pulled her up on to some rocks and some guy had to like, help me get her back to the boat. So I'm like, no, I just don't think I can swim that far. Like, I don't think I'm that, you know, I'm comfortable. So Glenn went with, like, the other guy on the boat and I just hung out on the boat and he loved it. He thought it was great, but it just wasn't something like like, again, I'm just not a very good swimmer.   [00:48:06.370] - Tamara Gruber So then from there went to like a small fishing village on Paros and we could stay in, like, hang out and have lunch there and go to a beach there. We're going to be there for like three hours. So it gives you time to like explore Paros. That's the reason I booked this particular tour, because I felt like, oh, this gives us a way to, like, see another island without having to, like, worry about the ferry schedule.   [00:48:29.860] - Tamara Gruber So we decided to go and take a cab to the main town and I always mispronounce this one too. But it's like Naoussa. We had to wait a really long time for a cab. So again, like if we had arranged it ahead of time, it would have worked much better because by the time we finally got there, we only had like a little over an hour and we needed to eat some lunch too.   [00:48:59.380] - Tamara Gruber Like I would have I would have had lunch while I was waiting if I had known it was going to take that long. And they're like, oh, it's going to be ten minutes and it was going to be half an hour. And then suddenly, like an hour later, we're still like waiting for the cab. But that town was gorgeous.   [00:49:12.490] - Tamara Gruber It was so charming. I know again, Eric has posted some pictures from there in the past, but it was I fell in love with that town and I'm like, we have to come back and we have to stay on Pario so that we can explore more of this town.   [00:49:24.430] - Tamara Gruber It just felt like there were just so many shops. There's so many, like in the old town, like so many little alleyways and restaurants and things to explore. Just looks so cute. But we had kind of a quick lunch quick, a little walk through, and then we had to take the cab back.   [00:49:37.990] - Tamara Gruber And then from there we sailed back to Naxos and I just kind of like chilled out. And it was it was a great day.   [00:49:46.420] - Tamara Gruber So, you know, again, a really fun thing to do, whether you do it private or they do, you know, small groups, you know, and he has a bunch of different tours he does on sunset catamarans. So actually, he gives you a DVD with the photos because he has like an underwater camera. So he takes photos all throughout the trip. Then he gives you a DVD.   [00:50:04.990] - Tamara Gruber So the next day when we were in town, we stopped by the boat to get the DVD and he was like, oh, someone like already reached out to me that said that, you know, they heard. About it from you, and they booked a trip with us. I'm like, oh, that's amazing. You know, so because I don't think he I mean, we paid for everything on this trip like nothing was sponsored or comped. So I didn't even always even mention that to people.   [00:50:25.670] - Tamara Gruber So I don't even know if I don't think he's very savvy when it comes to Instagram. I don't think he knew that I tagged, you know.   [00:50:32.000] - Tamara Gruber Oh, yeah. He was probably just like, wow, this is great, you know? Yeah. So that was a great day. I'm sorry. I'm just like going on.   [00:50:41.600]


    193 Kims Summer Travels to Seattle WA and Vail CO

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2021 59:21

    Kim is back to traveling and this week she fills us in on her recent Seattle staycation and her mother-daughters trip to Vail, Colorado. About Our Sponsor - Atlas Ocean Voyages Today's podcast is brought to you by Atlas Ocean Voyages.  If you have ever dreamed of cruising to Greece or Egypt, now is the time to book! Atlas Ocean Voyages just introduced its expedition ship World Navigator. This small ship, luxury vessel is built for adventure in a sustainable, energy-efficient manner.  Perfect for adventurous families or multi-generational groups, its compact size and small guest count of fewer than 200 passengers, means a higher space to guest ratio and more intimacy and personalized service. From August through September 2021, World Navigator will sail 7 separate 12 night itineraries to Greece and Egypt. And its small size and agility means she can dock in smaller ports, avoiding large crowds and getting a more authentic experience. And this summer, arrivals in Greece do not coincide with any other cruise ships in port! Bookings are all inclusive, including both airfare and excursions. The ship's facilities and protocols reflect state of the art public health guidance. With stringent public health protocols followed by staff and crew with pre-boarding and pre-embarkation PCR testing provided for all passengers. Social distancing will be maintained with small group shore excursions. Atlas welcomes travelers to ‘come back to something brand new'      To learn more, please visit www.AtlasOceanVoyages.com and we thank them for their support. Seattle Staycation There are two many tourist districts in Seattle, one is downtown not far from Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium, and the waterfront, and the other is at Seattle Center, where the Space Needle, MoPop, the Science Center, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass is located. You can use the monorail to get between these two main areas. Kim and her girls stayed at the newly remodeled Fairmont Olympic Hotel downtown. You can have afternoon tea in the newly redecorated lobby and lobby bar -- and they are very good about food allergies. A great way to explore the city is with CityPASS. For the Seattle CityPASS you can go to three of the following five attractions: Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Harbor Cruise, MoPop, and Woodland Park Zoo. The Pacific Science Center is usually included as an option but it is currently closed and scheduled to reopen in late 2021. Many attractions currently require reservations but the CityPASS system makes this easy to do online -- although it pays to do it a week or more in advance. If you can, try to plan your days to visit the Aquarium and Pike Place on the same day (and do a harbor cruise if that is your choice). Then visit the Space Needle, Chihuly, and MoPop on the same day since they are all very close to each other. You can then visit the zoo on the third day of your trip. However, you should consider the weather forecast and try to pick a clear day to visit the Space Needle. Right now MoPop has a special Disney Villians and Heroes Exhibit (not included in the CityPASS) Pike Place Chowder in the waterfront area is a great place for lunch. Woodland Park Zoo currently has a very cute baby gorilla. Summer Trip to Vail Note: Kim and her family were hosted by Vail Resorts. All opinions are her own. If you fly into Denver, you can take the Epic Mountain Express shuttle to Vail, which is about a 2.5 hour trip depending on traffic (Denver is known for bad traffic) Kim stayed in the Manor Vail condos, about a 10 minute walk from Vail Village (there are also shuttles). Manor Vail is next to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens In Vail Village there are many restaurants and shops, an indoor bowling alley, and outdoor cornhole, which is a lot of fun Give yourself time to adjust to altitude but rest, drinking a lot of water, and an oxygen shot can help. You can go horseback riding in Vail with a two hour trail ride through a magical forest. Alpen Rose is a great spot in town for dinner. From Lion's Head you can take the Eagle Bahn Gondola At the top of the mountain there is an Epic Discovery park with ziplines, a mountain coaster, trampolines, a rock wall, and a lawn slide. Eating at the top of the mountain is expensive so be prepared or eat before you go. The ziplines and ropes course is currently closed for the summer. Picnic Vail will arrange a picnic for you at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, including set up and clean up, complete with food and interactive games to play together. If you can visit during the week it will be less crowded in Vail Village and at the activities If you decide to rent a car, rent in advance and be prepared for long lines and high rates this summer. There are also more flight cancellations this summer as travel gets back into gear and airlines struggle to bring employees back on board. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.060] - Kim Tate Staycation and vacations. Find out what Kim's been up to this summer.   [00:00:16.530] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:31.620] - Tamara Gruber Today's podcast is brought to you by Atlas Ocean Voyages. If you've ever dreamed of cruising to Greece or Egypt, now is the time to book Atlas. Ocean Voyages just introduced its new expedition ship, The World Navigator. This small ship luxury vessel is built for adventure in a sustainable but energy efficient manner. It's perfect for adventurous families or multigenerational groups. It's compact size and small guest count of fewer than 200 passengers means a higher space to guest ratio and more intimacy and personalized service.   [00:01:01.500] - Tamara Gruber From August through September 2021, World Navigator will sail seven separate 12 night itineraries to Greece and Egypt, and its small size and agility means she can dock in smaller ports, avoiding large crowds and getting a more authentic experience. And this summer, arrivals in Greece do not coincide with any other cruise ships in port bookings are all inclusive, including both airfare and excursions. The ship's facilities and protocols reflect state of the art public health guidance, with stringent public health protocols followed by staff and crew.   [00:01:30.390] - Tamara Gruber With preboarding and pre embarkation PCR testing provided for all passengers, social distancing will be maintained with small groups shore excursions. Atlas welcomes travelers to come back to something brand new. To learn more, please visit www.AtlasOcean Voyages.com, and we thank them for their support. So Kim, I'm sure you're like melting over there in Seattle in this heat wave. Are you ready to hop on a cruise ship to Greece?   [00:01:56.760] - Kim Tate Yes. That sounded pleasant when you were saying it. I was thinking it'd be so nice to stand out on a cruise deck with the ocean. And, you know, that cool ocean breeze sounds so amazing right now.   [00:02:08.310] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And, you know, I love the small ship concept. Sounds like really good to me. And the fact that it can go into the smaller ports and the more authentic kind of places and not have any other cruise ships and ports. You're not fighting with all those other gazillion passengers.   [00:02:22.710] - Kim Tate You know, that's huge, I think, because we all I mean, those of us who have cruised on mega ships, which is everything I've done, you definitely get that sense of kind of being the herd at the end of the dock as you all come off and everybody's trying to sell you stuff and it's just chaos.   [00:02:40.800] - Kim Tate So I like the idea that it's just a small ship and kind of sounds like it's more of an intimate feel and you probably get more, you know, like you think when you step off and there's not a bunch of people you can kind of enjoy taking in the scenery a little more. You're not worried about all the hustle and bustle and hurrying somewhere, right?   [00:02:57.630] - Tamara Gruber Exactly. Yeah. Well, I'm by the time this comes out, I'm actually going to be back from my trip from Greece, assuming all goes well. But you've had a few little trips of your own recently and I would love to hear more about them. So do you want to tell us a little bit about your staycation first?   [00:03:15.690] - Kim Tate Of course, yeah. I'm so excited to get a chat a little because you've been so busy traveling. So finally, I got to dip my toes back in the summer travels and our first trip was more of just a staycation and it was with Seattle. And what happened is basically it was that CityPASS had reached out and said, hey, are you still in Seattle? Do you want to, you know, use some CityPASSes and enjoy some of the sights now that they're opening back up?   [00:03:39.060] - Kim Tate And I said, absolutely, let's do it. And so I actually arranged with the Fairmont in Seattle, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, which I've never stayed at before. And it's kind of considered one of those classic original hotels in Seattle that people will actually come in to kind of tour and get a look around. And they have a brand new lobby design and a brand new lobby bar that they just opened. So I reached out to them and they hosted us for two nights.   [00:04:07.260] - Kim Tate And one thing I'll say is for people who are planning a trip to Seattle, I don't know much about Seattle. I consider, of course, Seattle's spread out and has tons of neighborhoods and each neighborhood has some benefits and nice parts to it. But if you're going to do like the traditional touristy things, there's kind of a downtown district that's more of the business district and it's just up from kind of Pike Place Market and the wharf and the aquarium and all the all the cruise sports kind of are nearby there. And then a little further up is Seattle Center. And that's where I mean, I know, you know this that's where they have MoPop and the Space Needle and Chiluly is there as well as the science center. So there's two main kind of tourist sectors. And I personally love staying in the more the downtown corridor that's near Pike Place, that's just I like that area better.   [00:05:01.530] - Kim Tate It just has kind of a vibe that I like. So that's where Fairmont is. It's kind of in that area. And we really liked our stay there. I stayed in a King executive suite and then they gave us a connecting room for the girls, which was a double and. Again, it's just so nice I mean, the rooms are nice, very clean, you know, fresh linens and all of that, the lobby is just amazing there.   [00:05:25.170] - Kim Tate And we actually had afternoon tea at the Fairmont, which is something they're well known for. All Fairmont's are known for.   [00:05:30.990] - Tamara Gruber I was going to say, yes, I always think I mean, I love Fairmont Hotels. They're just wonderful. I've stayed in that area a couple of times, but it's always been the Westin. But the Fairmont's definitely are known for the tea, so you got to do that.   [00:05:44.370] - Kim Tate So we did do that one day and it was so nice. The girls and I both liked it and I thought, they were so helpful with Mia's allergies. So we had said, you know, nuts and eggs are an issue. And they actually brought her out her own little tray of food and then and our own tray that Lizzy and I could eat off of. And so it's just things like, you know, we had chicken salad.   [00:06:08.220] - Kim Tate Some of our sandwiches were like chicken salad on little piece of lettuce, whereas they just gave her little bits of chicken without the mayo for the salad part. And then the all the sweet treats they provided were vegan. So no eggs and then didn't have nuts. So she was very happy. And it was nice that they recognize that. And then, of course, the tea aspect, it's so fun for them. They really enjoy that because we each you know, each of us got to choose our own type of tea.   [00:06:34.950] - Kim Tate And then they bring the pot and you have your glass and your little strainer and you can pour it. And they just it was just nice. And the other thing is the seating areas they have they're in the lobby for it are all cozy seating, you know, which has become so popular, I think, with hotels now. But, you know, we had like a couch and two armchairs and that was to kind of whatever you call poufs, which, of course, we didn't use because there was just three of us.   [00:06:59.760] - Kim Tate But it's just a really it's kind of a fun seating area where you can relax a little bit. And so we talked and we spent, I would say, about an hour and 15 minutes just kind of enjoying our experience there. So that was a lot of fun. And I was glad that we got to experience one of the Fairmont Classic things to do.   [00:07:16.410] - Tamara Gruber Did you guys get dressed up for it too?   [00:07:18.510] - Kim Tate We did. Yeah, we did. I had each of the girls and I was kind of nice. So then we went back up to our room, changed into more, you know, normal everyday clothes. And we we used, which is something I did with you. We use the monorail a lot and it is under construction. Now, the Westlake Center is under construction right now, but they're still operating the monorail, which is such a convenient way, like I said, to get between those two areas.   [00:07:44.070] - Kim Tate And that was the funny thing about the monorail is built with the 62 World's Fair when the Space Needle was built. And so it's got this futuristic feel, but it is just like a monorail, kind of like it Disney or, you know, anything like that. The thing that throws most people off, because I heard tourists on the train, they didn't get that. There's literally one stop. It's just a back and forth shuttle of sorts. So that's one thing to keep in mind.   [00:08:08.310] - Kim Tate It's not like this really long. You're not going throughout the city in it.   [00:08:12.270] - Kim Tate Yeah. You're not getting a tour. Exactly. Yeah, that's a great way of saying it. So but we use that a lot just to get up there, because like I said, with the CityPASS, which is one of the reasons we're there, your admission if you buy a CityPASS ticket, you automatically get admission to the Space Needle and the aquarium, which, like I said, are in the two different sectors. And then you also get to choose three attractions from a list of five.   [00:08:35.850] - Kim Tate So it's you can either take a little harbor tour with Argosy Cruises. You can go to the Museum of Pop Culture, also known as Mo Pop, used to be called Experience Music Project. And then you can go to the Woodland Park Zoo, you can go to Chihuly garden of glass or you can go to the Pacific Science Center. The Pacific Science Center is still closed right now and isn't set to reopen until the end of this year. Late this year or so, that one wasn't an issue for us.   [00:09:02.310] - Kim Tate So we chose to do the Space Needle. The aquarium, MoPop, the zoo, and Chilhuly. And the thing to think, the thing that we did on that, that is something you have to keep in mind right now. A CityPASS is the fact that you have to make reservations in advance for a lot of these places because they're still just doing limited capacity. And so I was a little worried about how that would work. However, the CityPASS system is really just works great.   [00:09:28.140] - Kim Tate They have everything streamlined and it's all done electronically. You know, through a website, you just click on, say, make a reservation. The hardest reservation to make was the aquarium. They had the most limitations. And like I said, because of the location of things, I tried to pair the aquarium up on a different day, whereas I compared, like the Space Needle and Chihuly and MoPop, I wanted to pair them together since they're all in one area and then the zoo is a little further north.   [00:09:55.470] - Kim Tate So when we checked out of the hotel, we just drove up to the zoo and did that before we drove home. So, yeah, it was a fun day. You know, they're just such classic things to do in Seattle, the Space Needle, it was a beautiful, clear day. It was very busy. So we once we turned it, you know, scanned our tickets for entrance. It was probably about a half an hour. Till we got to the elevator, so they have kind of a queue line that wraps around the gift shop of all places, but you stand in that line and then you you don't actually get to shop.   [00:10:27.370] - Kim Tate It's kind of an overlook over the gift shop. But you then get to the elevators and they have a couple of different elevators that they start taking people up. There's actually four elevators on different sides. And I didn't even realize that. It's so funny. I've been up the Space Needle a few times and I've never really considered that it does make a difference which elevator you get your view. I mean, obviously. So the four elevators that face different directions give you a very different view.   [00:10:53.020] - Kim Tate So we are lucky enough to get the which I consider one of the best elevators, which is more of the south facing elevator. So you can see Rainier as you're going up and you also see the Puget Sound a bit. And whereas if you're on the north side, you see like the Lake Union, Lake Washington, University of Washington, kind of that angle. So it's an interesting thing to keep in mind is just that depending on what elevator you get, your view up is a little different.   [00:11:16.900] - Kim Tate But once you get in, you know, I walk around when you're like, yes, yes, that's I was going to say, of course, once I get to top, it doesn't matter what the view is, it's strictly just when you're in the elevator, they have to it's got kind of the window view. But, yeah, once you're at the top, they've got the interesting thing is they've got it open. However, they've started doing something.   [00:11:35.410] - Kim Tate I think this might have just been I'm curious if this will stick around. I saw that they did close it for the summer. And so I'm wondering if this is going to be an off season thing or how this works. But they did close sections of the viewpoints and they had put private tables there and they sold packages to people where you could go do like wine tasting and appetizers up on the needle. And it was a table for two. And I think they had maybe some for four as well.   [00:12:02.270] - Kim Tate So if you did it with another couple, but it is something to keep in mind so you don't get quite the wide open look as you used to. However, when I was doing the research, I noticed they closed. There was no more tickets for that. So I'm wondering if during peak summer they're getting rid of that. And that's more of an off season thing to help fill dollar bills that say, you know what, I'm trying to.   [00:12:23.890] - Tamara Gruber So, I mean, the Space Needle, they just redid that, like not that many years ago. So I remember when you and I met up there. Yes. It after we did the cruise. Right like that. It was recently done and it looked, you know, looked things looked really nice. Yeah, it is really nice. They have a few they have kind of that the you know, they've got the glass walls now and then they have these glass benches or maybe it's not glass, plastic or whatever it is, but basically it's clear.   [00:12:51.130] - Kim Tate So you can get the sensation, like you can sit on the bench and lean back, you know, so slightly angled out on the glass if you feel brave enough. And so there's a couple of things where they try make it interactive like that and then you can go down. So that's the upper level. And then you go down one level and that's where they have the rotating floor. That's the glass. And so you can stand on the floor and kind of see yourself rotate over the Seattle center area.   [00:13:15.370] - Kim Tate And then, of course, you still have the windows to look out, but it's not the open air like on the upper level. And so there are two levels that you can explore. And then they have a little, you know, bar up there. So some people choose to you know, I don't know how the reservations work for that. But, you know, it's just something to keep in mind. But they are it's a fun thing to do, especially if it's a clear day, which since you have to make reservations, it's a little more, you know, to make sure you time that right.   [00:13:42.850] - Kim Tate So I did definitely look on for a weekend. I looked on the weather forecast and I chose the day there was seemed, you know, it was like partly cloudy and sort of cloudy. We had a beautiful, beautiful view of Mt. Rainier in the city skyline. So it was gorgeous.   [00:14:00.790] - Tamara Gruber And so it's nice and it works out, especially with your Seattle weather, right?   [00:14:04.840] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Our Seattle weather man, it's like you already said, we're dying now. So it's crazy, our weather. So that's the one thing we did. And then we actually had worked it. We actually did that on the first day. And like I said, how I tried to pair everything up. But the aquarium we did that evening. So we finished up the needle, went and got lunch and then came back and then walked down and did the aquarium, which is, you know, it's it's renowned and people love it.   [00:14:32.530] - Kim Tate It's my girls really wanted to go there. That was the number one thing they wanted to do. I think it's a fine aquarium. It's not like Monterey Bay Aquarium or it's not, you know, like some of these massive aquariums that you hear about the Seattle aquariums. Not like that. The cool thing about the Seattle Aquarium is that it's really focused around, like the fact that it sits over Puget Sound and they actually funnel water from the sound through some of their exhibits.   [00:14:55.660] - Kim Tate You get a real sense that these are the animals, this is the climate, this is the habitat that you're looking at right out here. And I think that's the neat the neat part of it is that it is so tangibly linked to the Puget Sound. So that's one cool thing. They they're little. They my girls love their little otters and they were not out and visible. So we were kind of bummed on that. But it's neat to be down there.   [00:15:20.860] - Kim Tate And like I said, it's on the waterfront, which is always a fun, fun place to walk around and see.   [00:15:28.000] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I remember when I was there just to hanging out at the otters for quite a while because they are so cute is a bummer that they're not that they weren't swimming. They are there are a lot of fun to watch. And I do have to say something really quickly about if you're the type that likes to buy souvenirs, all these Seattle attractions do an amazing job with their gift shops. I don't know who curates them or whatever, but we end up always browsing and walking through the gift shops and they they just somehow find the cutest little things that they procure. And so allow time for that and money for that.   [00:16:03.340] - Kim Tate If you like buying souvenirs, because the gift shops at the Space Needle, especially, we bought actually a puzzle for my mom. That was from the sixty two World's Fair. That was really cool. And the girls got Lizzy got two sweatshirts. But anyways, the Seattle Aquarium was great. We went back then we went we went and got dinner and then kind of called it a night. And then the next day we did Chihuly and Mo Pop.   [00:16:30.370] - Kim Tate I'm sure a lot of people have heard of Dave Chihuly. He's a major glass artist that he actually studied in the Seattle area for a while. And that's why there's such a tie to him there. I can't remember where he's originally from. I'm blanking right now. But he helped found some of the glass school stuff in Seattle. So he's a big name for the Seattle Glass art community. But that usually garden and glass exhibit is just beautiful. It's not if you've been there once, it doesn't really change.   [00:16:57.700] - Kim Tate It's but it's got the most amazing artistry when you can really look at the artistry of the pieces instead of just like, oh, cool. It's a big piece of art sculpture that's cool. And you kind of get past it. But then when you actually start diving in and looking at the unique striations or little bumps here and you think of how that was done with hot molten glass, it really is quite, quite amazing artistry.   [00:17:23.080] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, his work is is amazing. I've I mean, I think everyone's seen it even if they don't know that they've seen it. You know, there's so many pieces and so many places from like know casinos to airports and all that, that that museum is really spectacular.   [00:17:37.780] - Kim Tate Yeah, it's quite beautiful. And they have a nice little, you know, cafe near there that we actually ate at on this trip. And I love that cafe because it's kind of fun. They have these it's a really eclectic it's like collectors. They have they have like a whole bunch of old accordions hanging from the ceiling. And then they have these old radios on the wall. And I don't know, it's kind of fun on our our table.   [00:18:01.570] - Kim Tate There was a hollowed out section. So under the glass top table, there were, I think, old radios. It's just cute.   [00:18:08.140] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I remember the food is good. It wasn't just like, you know, some places would have a like a restaurant cafe and it would be like, you know, burgers and fries and stuff like.   [00:18:17.210] - Kim Tate Yes, this one. Nice. Yeah, this was flatbread. Pizzas is what they had going on right now and definitely pricey. But the the pizzas were delicious. We each got one and yeah, it was well done. And you can see them cook in the pizzas, you know, nearby. So it was great. So that was a nice little stop. And again, it's right next to the Space Needle, but we had done that the previous day and then we went over to Mo Pop, which I actually upgraded from our CityPASS.   [00:18:44.500] - Kim Tate Right now they have a Disney Heroes and Villains costume exhibit, which was six dollars more per person. So I actually paid that and upgraded our CityPASS. The CityPASS covers the the museum itself and then the extra exhibit cost more. But we've been. To MoPop before, and it's it's just kind of a fun, fun thing. It was funny because I was just there in March with Mia when it was still kind of, you know, things were still kind of locked down and they had just recently reopened and there was nobody in there.   [00:19:13.870] - Kim Tate And they had a Minecraft exhibit that she was really wanting to go see. And so we had gone and done that and there was nobody in there. And, you know, you get there and they gave us these little styluses to use. And now when we when we went there and it was, you know, June, everything's open again. And they still have the timed entry. But there was so many people. And, you know, Lizzy was kind of sad because she didn't get to see the Minecraft exhibit because they got rid of that, of course, to bring in the Disney exhibit.   [00:19:40.030] - Kim Tate And there was just it was there was a lot of people visiting. And so tourism is definitely back in Seattle. We had one of our favorite places that Mia loves is called Pike Place Chowder, and they are down this kind of back alley is what it's called near Pike Place Market. And we thought, oh, yeah, we'll just hop over there and get you some food. And that was our first experience, like our first day down there.   [00:20:02.860] - Kim Tate We went down there to go get lunch there. And I was like, wow, OK, tourism's definitely back because the line was all the way to the street. And, you know, it's just it was just kind of funny. It was it was great. It's great to see that people are back and visiting the city and spending money. And so we were you're like, oh, I have to wait in line.   [00:20:20.690] - Kim Tate Exactly. Especially when it's a staycation. Right? You're like, oh, this this is my town. I want to just be able to do whatever I want. And why didn't I take advantage of this before everyone came back? So, yeah, it's but it was good. So we didn't get the chowder there. But I don't remember where I was going with this when I went off on that.   [00:20:41.950] - Tamara Gruber I've been to MoPop twice and I do love that they always change those exhibits because, you know, it makes it very fresh. But I do I think the first time I visited, I didn't realize that I was in a temporary exhibit. So I came back and I told Glenn all about this whole Star Trek exhibit. So when we were there for the cruise, we're like, we got to go, we got to go.   [00:20:57.610] - Tamara Gruber And we went there and he's like, there's no Star Trek exhibit. But then I think it was like Marvel, which, you know, he loved, you know, having that thing, all the Marvel costumes. Right.   [00:21:06.380] - Kim Tate But yeah, that was good. That's always that up upper level is the one that they use. And they do I think I think sometimes the visiting exhibits are just amazing. We there's another one that we always like. That's the fairy tale which is down. There's the floor of horrors, which is kind of freaky. And then there's the, you know, fairy tale exhibit, which is kind of fun. But we it's funny because things must be getting busy again, like I said, because there is a few things when me and I were there in March that she wanted to show Lizzy, like one of it was I'm trying to think is a crown from some I can't think of which show now.   [00:21:44.530] - Kim Tate And it was on loan somewhere. And then another piece that was in the Harry Potter memorabilia was on loan and they had put something else instead. And we're like, oh, man. You know, I was just kind of funny how sometimes the rotate to you, so but they have a few like inset places and of course, Nirvanas huge there. And that's a big part that people a lot of people do pilgrimages to Seattle to do the whole nirvana and grunge movement thing.   [00:22:13.690] - Kim Tate So that's a big part of it there. Sound lab, which they normally have, which our kids love, and it's very hands on thing that is still closed. So they don't have the sound lab open. But the Heroes and Villains exhibit with Disney was amazing. It was so neat, especially because I like Disney and just the costuming. It makes you realize how much costumes make characters really stand out. And I think it's just it's really cool to see that.   [00:22:42.260] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, those are really neat, especially for like fantasy kind of shows like that, like where you said it's it is so much about the costume. Like I'm thinking of you and I were in Belfast and we went to the Game of Thrones exhibit all the you know, the different costumes for them.   [00:22:58.000] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And the Belfast one was cute or cool with the Game of Thrones because they had a lot of the accessories and props as well. This one didn't have as much like the props. It was definitely the costumes. So but anyway, so that was kind of cool. And then, like I said, our last day we went to Woodland Park Zoo, which is kind of just normal zoo. They do have a baby gorilla, which was born in January and it still looks so small.   [00:23:25.540] - Kim Tate And we were seen and the mom was just holding it. And it was funny just the way seeing her hold it and just the way she would like pat his head, like just, you know, and this kind of maternal way. It was so sweet. And yeah.   [00:23:39.670] - Tamara Gruber So I remember seeing your story about that and just how cute and sweet it is.   [00:23:43.990] - Kim Tate It's so adorable. Yeah. Yeah. So that was kind of our little Seattle staycation. It was great. There was just you know, it was I really do think that when you're going to do the traditional tourist things and even being locals, we still like to do some of these tourist things. The CityPASS really is a great way to do it, and especially if I think I did the math and basically you have to do three things.   [00:24:07.350] - Kim Tate You can do four and already save money. And then, of course, you get an extra bonus item as well. So if you're if you're planning to visit for it depends on how the math works. But most of it is if you're planning to do four of the things, then yes, makes a lot of sense.   [00:24:22.020] - Tamara Gruber And I like the way, you know, in Seattle, they're so clustered able to do like if you could get the timed entry tickets. And, you know, when this science center opens, like, you know, the way then the Space Needle and the Chihuly and the Science Center, it's like you can just so easily walk to all the three.   [00:24:38.040] - Kim Tate All those. Yeah. Same at the Science Center. It's right there as well. So. Yeah. Yeah. And then the crew. Yeah, yeah. It's all together. And then the Argosy Cruises is down by the aquarium, so that's very easy to get in the right place anyway.   [00:24:50.790] - Tamara Gruber So it's exciting to be there. So it's like you can really fit it into a weekend or definitely a three day weekend, but even a two day weekend because sometimes you feel like I'm never going to be able to fit all this in if I'm just visiting for a weekend. But I think. Yeah, yeah, CityPASS is great. And like, not only I mean, it may not be the case now, but there are some times when you can skip the line to you.   [00:25:12.570] - Tamara Gruber And I did that in New York when I went to the Empire State Building. And that saves you I mean, I could save you a couple of hours sometimes.   [00:25:19.590] - Kim Tate I agree. Yeah. It can be really useful to be able to do that. I didn't have that at the Space Needle. They used to a long time ago. So I don't know if they'll ever bring that back. But it's not a not a thing they're right now. But yeah, when you can skip the line, they normally promote or publish that. And that's very helpful. Yeah. So, yeah, that's right. I agree. Yeah, it was good.   [00:25:40.590] - Kim Tate And I think a weekend, it works for a weekend. It depends how busy you want to be because if you want to it's definitely that. But we're going to be doing attractions all weekend long and not having a lot of downtime when you get you eat and just kind of wander between the two things. So we'll see how long the advance reservations last. And that just requires a little bit of advance planning. But like I said, we were able to get reservations.   [00:26:02.670] - Kim Tate No problem. I booked, I believe, the day before. So like I said, the aquarium was the hardest one. That one was one where it would have made more sense to book it a week out and book that one first. So just a heads up on that. But yeah.   [00:26:15.450] So from that, we just got home from Vail, which was very different. But I'm excited to share all about that trip. And we so from Seattle, we flew into Denver and then we took the epic Mountain Express shuttle from Denver to Vail.   [00:26:33.030] - Kim Tate And we've taken a shuttle system like that to Keystone as well before. And so all those from Denver to all of those kind of mountain resorts, it's about a two to two and a half hour trip. But traffic is definitely the the asterisk on that.   [00:26:50.340] - Tamara Gruber Yes.   [00:26:50.880] - Kim Tate Yeah, yeah. I mean, you've been in the area, too, but Denver traffic can really throw a kink into things. There's construction a lot of times, especially with the summer and then just a lot of people coming in and out of Denver in all directions to go to the suburbs. And so that's just something to keep in mind, is that traffic can be an issue. Hopefully it's not, especially in the summer. It's less of an issue in the winter.   [00:27:14.400] - Kim Tate Sometimes there's avalanches or, you know, roads are closed down for a few hours. And so that can be an issue. But it is standard. I've done like I said, we've done it twice and both times it's been about two to two and a half hours. And they do allow they have us a middle midway spot that they will actually say, does anybody need to use the restroom or get something to drink? And they have like it's kind of funny because it's a privately owned store and Starbucks that's actually owned by the by Epic Ski, you know, Vail Resorts that does the epic.   [00:27:46.800] - Kim Tate So it's kind of funny. So they they stop there and they have, you know, front curb parking for the shuttles and you can go in and go to the restroom. And then of course, seems like all all of us bought Starbucks as well. So it's a smart little a very contained system. You get all the.   [00:28:05.600] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, they've got it figured out. So anyways, that's but that's good. So we headed to Vail and we actually stayed at this condo resort type community called Manor Vail. And it is just I want to say east, but I don't know my map perfectly for Vail. So it could be us, but it's just about ten minutes walking distance like outside of Vail Village, but really connected availability, if that makes sense to you just kind of wandering in to get to the main center.   [00:28:34.620] - Kim Tate It might not even be ten minutes, but about ten minutes would be the safe thing to say. So we walked. So you have so many different accommodations, things. So, you know, always going to be like directly in the village.   [00:28:47.730] - Tamara Gruber But I mean, I remember when we a couple of summers ago stayed in Copper Mountain and we were right in the village. There's downsides to that, too, because like the music playing and stuff like that. So it's sometimes it's not too bad to have, like, a little bit of a walk.   [00:29:00.450] - Kim Tate Yeah, we actually really liked it and there is a free metro shuttle system and we chose to walk because it was not bad. We did get rained on once and we just dealt with it. The girls were give me a hard time. They're like, we're from Seattle, Mom, like, chill out, it's fine. And I was like, don't you want to take the bus? But yeah. So it was it was great.   [00:29:22.080] - Kim Tate And so they do have a bus that, you know, operates regularly, like every I think they say like five, eight minutes, you know, a bus is coming around and takes you and then so on. The other end is Lionhead, which is where another one of the big gondolas is and between where we stayed in Manor Vail and Lion's Head is about one mile, but it's about a 30 minute walk just because of curves and in and out of streets.   [00:29:42.750] - Kim Tate And we did that walk, we know one day and it is a little longer, but it's totally doable. And so I you know, we really liked it. We fell in love with Vale Village. It was it was so nice. And just what you expect of those kind of, you know, European folsky villages, it was just nice. And I think that's a hidden those are hidden destinations in the summer, although it's certainly definitely it certainly seemed busy.   [00:30:06.680] - Kim Tate I'll say that, you know, which is great to see.   [00:30:09.480] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I mean, I've only experienced it a little bit, but I really love mountain resorts in the summer and I have not been Vail. But when I whenever I see anyone's pictures, it just looks like a little Swiss town. And I'm like, oh yeah. It just it looks so cute. And I just I would love to do this today. It's just so it's just nice to be, you know, in the mountains because they have so many activities like those those resorts are so good about, you know, like you don't have to leave that resort.   [00:30:35.040] - Tamara Gruber There's so much to do. Right.   [00:30:36.840] - Kim Tate Right. Well, it's so nice to be able I mean, there's so much to eat. I just there's so much. And so we're we're out Manor Vail. It's actually right next to this Betty Ford Alpine Gardens area and park. And so we had this beautiful view of the water and people were, you know, go over there and they sometimes have little festivals and there's an amphitheater over there. And it's just really neat. And like you said, there's just there's stuff to do.   [00:31:00.930] - Kim Tate And even if, you know, like in the center of town, there's this big Solaris, which is a kind of luxury condo, I think, resort. And they have a big space. They have like the lower level are all restaurants and shops. And then upper levels are the rooms. And on the lower level, they have this place called Bowl, which is an indoor bowling alley. And then outside they have cornhole in kind of an open green space that kids were playing soccer while we were playing cornhole.   [00:31:26.580] - Kim Tate And there's just they can sell you drinks and there is seating and you can just hang out and chat. And so it's a really it's kind of one of those villages where you could easily just go find a place to people watch and sit and drink and eat and chat. And so I think it's a really good social town, if that makes sense, like it's a good place to go, be social as a family or with friends for sure. Yeah.   [00:31:48.840] - Kim Tate So yeah, our first so we flew in and the first day we arrived we just took it easy and we had dinner at our, you know, after a long travel day, we just had dinner at our hotel which they have like a little restaurant there. And then the next day we got up to go horseback riding. And one thing is, Lizzy, she got up and she was going to go. She was like, oh, I'm not feeling good.   [00:32:08.910] - Kim Tate And it took her a while to get out of the room. We were a little late because we were just buying her. We bought her some oxygen shot and she got there and there was a booking issue. They only had two of us and they were going to add a third. But she's like, you know, honestly, I don't feel good anyways. And we didn't want her to, like, pass out on top of her horse or be uncomfortable.   [00:32:27.810] - Kim Tate Yeah. So the we had gotten, you know, driven there by the hotel. And so they we called and they were going to come back and get her and take her back to the room. And we told her just to drink lots of water, eat food, rest, take some of the more of the oxygen shot. And then so me and I went on the horseback ride and I was we made the right choice because we actually went up quite a bit like took a bit of an elevation because we wanted to out to our to her, to our to her anyways, changing ours there, but headed up the mountain.   [00:32:56.790] - Kim Tate And it was just beautiful. It's nice to go horseback riding. We did it through Vail Stables, which was right across from where we were staying at at Manor Vail. So it was an easy, really easy get to thankfully they drove us. It's oh, it's across the main interstate. So you can't, like, walk there and it's quite up the hill a little. So but it was it was fun. We had our little horseback ride and it was the nice thing.   [00:33:20.550] - Kim Tate Like one of the one of the parts was they called it magical forest and it was where it was a really narrow path. And of course, it was a trail ride. So single single-file line, but it was just through these aspen trees and just the green and the white bark of the aspen trees and just like little birds chirping. And we actually heard they were like, that's a moment that was talking, you know, like to make these funny noises.   [00:33:44.280] - Kim Tate And so it was just it was really nice. It's a great way to kind of get that mountain, you know, Aspen feel. And then, of course, we got on a couple little meadow outlooks where you could look down and see Vail Village in the distance. So that was pretty cool. But yeah. So we did that. Yeah, and then once we came back and got to the room, Lizzy was feeling much better and was ready to go out to lunch.   [00:34:05.810] - Kim Tate And so thankfully, she had adjusted with the rest and water and oxygen. We had gone into the village and did a little bit of shopping, like souvenir shopping for some sweatshirts and just getting a feel for the village a little. And then we went back to our room and we were thinking about going swimming, but it looked like there was rain moving in. So we decided to just that we wouldn't do that. And then we ended up going to dinner that night at a really famous place in the village called Alpen Rose, which when you're talking about like Suess, this is total Bavarian, I think, a little restaurant in the heart of the village.   [00:34:42.410] - Kim Tate And it was so perfect. It's kind of one of those things where, you know, we had a busy day and then there was some rain and we just were looking for a good evening meal. And this place was just amazing. It's a very it's I wouldn't call it very limited menu, but it's a small menu because what they do, they do really well. If that makes sense and they put us in this front little it's kind of a house is what it feels like, maybe like a chalet, because it's kind of open, like not tons of little rooms, but the lower floor definitely felt kind of like a house.   [00:35:15.020] - Kim Tate And they put us at the front, a front window bench seating table, which was just so cute. And you could totally they have an outdoor patio as well. And it was just amazing. We loved it. And it was kind of one of those things we had. We all three of us got hot chocolates which were served in these kind of enamel mugs that just looked really cute with the whipped cream. It was just it felt like we were like you said, it felt like we were at a European ski village and just enjoying some great pasta, Mia got salmon, and it was it was awesome.   [00:35:49.670] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I was going to ask if you had, like, schnitzel or something like that because it seemed like it would the kind of place.   [00:35:54.390] - Kim Tate That's exactly. They had it on the menu. There is schnitzel on the menu. But yeah, we were we realized we got a few because there was a big pretzel. I don't know if you saw the picture that, you know, they had a massive pretzel. And then we also got this. I can't even think of the name of it, but there is kind of like fried potato bites of sorts. And we got so full we realized that Lizzy and I should have just shared because we both ordered the pasta carbonara, which featured grandma's pasta, which was like fresh made pasta.   [00:36:23.930] - Kim Tate And we realized we should just shared it because after the appetizers and, you know, the hot chocolate and everything, we we both didn't finish our our plates of pasta.   [00:36:32.240] - Tamara Gruber I feel like there's always so many times when Hannah and I are traveling and we're like, when are we going to learn that we need to just share?   [00:36:37.730] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think you should we should know that, like when you order appetizers, but you order the appetizer and then you're like, OK, well, what are you going to order for your main dish? Then you just kind of forget that there's going to be this other food that's about ready to arrive, right?   [00:36:49.160] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And, you know, sometimes menus are exciting and you're like, well, that sounds good. And that sounds good.   [00:36:54.920] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, we that was our we ended our day on that one and the next day we like I said, we walked over to Lion's Head, which is such a fun walk. I mean it really is like I said, and I don't know how to say this enough, but part of the appeal was just wandering and kind of going into shops. And there's so many little patio seating areas where you could just go, OK, let's go get a drink here.   [00:37:17.060] - Kim Tate We'll have an appetizer here. I think it would be really fun to do that is where you just kind of visit one place and get something here and then go to another place, get another drink and eat something there and just kind of wander around, I think would be a real fun way to enjoy that village. So we wandered and walked over to Lion's Head and we ended up going up the Eagle Bahn Gondola because we were headed up to the top of the mountain to be able to go on there.   [00:37:41.840] - Kim Tate They have it's called Epic Discovery, and it's basically kind of like an adventure park at the top, OK? And they've got, you know, zip lines and ropes courses and a big giant lawn slide. And they've got this little roller coaster, mountain coaster thing. And then they also had little kids. They've got like kids bouncy like trampolines, and they got a kid zip line. And then they have like a rock climbing wall and a kid's lawn slide as well.   [00:38:06.170] - Kim Tate So it works well, like there's some little kid things as well. And we were there and then lightning moved in in the area. And so they had to shut everything down. So they shut the gondola down. So we did a couple of passes on the slide. And then unfortunately, we weren't able to do any more of the activities. And we actually kind of just waited up there. They had a food place, so we grabbed some food.   [00:38:26.090] - Kim Tate I'll be honest that the food was extremely pricey at the top of the mountain. So once they it's kind of like once they have you there, they know you don't have an option.   [00:38:36.800] - Kim Tate So we did get some we got some fries and some drinks because we weren't sure how long we'd be waiting. And then we they opened back the gondola and we thought, well, instead of waiting on the line, we'll go wait and hope that they open the coaster back. They opened both gondolas, but they didn't open the epic discovery things and the zip lines and the ropes courses were both already closed for the summer, I don't know if they're going to do a renovation, but to me it looked like it was probably just staffing because those things, I think, require a lot of staff for getting in and out at a higher level of training, probably also just for insurance and security. So those were not open. And so we went back down the gondola and just kind of again explored the village a little bit and hung out. We got lunch and then we headed back to our room to get ready because we were doing something really cool, which was called Picnic Vail, which like I said, remember how I said Manor Vail is right next to the Betty Ford Gardens.   [00:39:36.060] - Kim Tate Actually it's this company. I think it's a lady like she started up this business called Picnic Vail. And she basically comes and sets up a little one of those outdoor picnic, the charming outdoor picnics for you outdoors. And she found for us because she was like, well, we don't know if it's going to sprinkle again because it had rain. Like we said, that we got stranded up on the mountain because rain and we got back down.   [00:39:58.020] - Kim Tate It wasn't raining anymore. So we went over to the gardens and it was sunny and gorgeous. And she had set us up in this little picnic underneath the bow of an evergreen tree, like it was kind of open and it was so cute. She had a table set up and it was just like this gorgeous charcuterie board. And then we had water. And then she also had a table of games, which was really fun.   [00:40:19.530] - Kim Tate I didn't realize that would be part of it. So when we were thinking, I was like, oh, it's probably going to be about an hour, you know, just eat and chat and then we'll go. But we got there and she had, like, ladder ball set up, you know, the little ladder ball we have. Those are fun. Yeah. And so we had ladder ball and then there was also like this conversation starters.   [00:40:37.590] - Kim Tate It's the, you know, that Scandinavian word for like cozy home. h y y g y e.   [00:40:46.990] - Tamara Gruber Yeah.   [00:40:47.460] - Kim Tate Anyways that was like a conversation starter game and we had a lot of fun doing that. We kept just passing around the cards and we draw and ask questions for the other people and it was just fun. It was a great conversation thing and and then yeah. Ladder ball and there was something else. I'm blanking out what it was, but we had just a great time. We really enjoyed it. So and again, she was able to make sure that there was no nuts or eggs on the board.   [00:41:11.490] - Kim Tate So that worked out well as well and really good with that.   [00:41:15.810] - Tamara Gruber So that was a nice change from being just always restaurants to have something like that. And when I saw pictures of you doing like a lot of guys assume that that was like where the cornhole was and like other games, like in the village.   [00:41:27.840] - Kim Tate So that's, you know, yeah, it was our own private little experience, you know. So it was great. It was I mean, it was fun. The funny thing was they were also doing a festival of sorts.   [00:41:39.900] - Kim Tate It looked really small. It wasn't massive, but they had live music. So we had heard the live music the night before. And then when that happened on that was Friday night, they had live music again. So she was like, I didn't realize you'd get live music with your, you know, with your picnic. So we sat there. Is this kind of funny because the festival is like right there and we get to hear the live music while we enjoy things.   [00:42:00.870] - Kim Tate So it was great. It was a fun little experience. And and the nice thing is she you know, she leaves like her name and her phone number. So you get two hours and then she's like, if you want to leave early or just give her, you know, 20 to 30 minute heads up because she cleans everything up for you. And the food, of course, since it's in a park, she doesn't want there to be attract animals.   [00:42:20.850] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, that's really neat, because when I saw it again, I just assumed that, like, you picked up a picnic from a place that does picnics, but you picked up a picnic and there they are and they included games. But I didn't realize, like, they set it up for you. They set it up for you. Is you like. That's exactly it was it was a nice service. Yeah.   [00:42:37.590] - Kim Tate Yeah, it was great. Yeah. You do nothing. So and there was even take home containers. She's like, oh there's containers if you want to take home any leftovers. And we're like, well we've been eating well and we leave tomorrow so there's no time for us to eat it. So thank you though. But yeah, you, you don't have to do any of the cleanup. She acts like there's a bag there for garbage if you do open stuff, wrap garbage and things.   [00:42:57.210] - Kim Tate But yeah, it's all done for you. And that was what was so nice. And I think for families it's it would be so nice for moms. I mean, it was so nice for me to just show up and the kids fix their own food and all of that. And then we had games that they played and we're having fun with. And then I just called her and I'm like, OK, we're ready to wrap up. And then she showed back up and it was I mean, and you don't have to do that.   [00:43:19.200] - Kim Tate If you go the two hours, which we could have, it was just the girls were getting a little tired. So I was like, go ahead. You know, we just did fifteen minutes earlier. So we said, you know, meet us at some fifteen and yeah, it was just awesome. So I think it was it was cool. Like I tried to start folding the blanket because we as she left to really cozy blankets as well in case it got chilly and I had pulled one out and she's like, don't, don't do that.   [00:43:41.340] - Kim Tate Stop being a mom. I get it. I clean up everything.   [00:43:43.800] - Kim Tate You know, it was awesome. So I think for for being on vacation, it was a really fun way to, you know, just relax. And it was unique for the girls as well. So they were engaged more on playing and, you know, just kind of the game, you know, varied the games. She had like four different games. There, so you definitely have enough where kids get bored with one thing, you can move to something else.   [00:44:04.780] - Kim Tate So it was great.   [00:44:05.550] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, and you're not like waiting for the server to come over to order and then waiting for your food. And then we had another check and all that kind of stuff. So.   [00:44:13.650] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly.   [00:44:14.760] - Tamara Gruber Yes. Sounds like a great getaway. Now I'm like, OK, Colorado next year.   [00:44:19.500] - Kim Tate Yes, I loved it. I you know, the girls were saying, like, because I asked them, I say, what is this some place you would want to come back to? You know, what did you think? And they were like, yes, they absolutely loved it. And like I said, the Vail Village was really cool. I definitely I would give I mean, I think it depends on what you're looking for. But I did notice, you know, we arrived Wednesday and even like coming in and seeing what we saw Wednesday and then Thursday, the difference between Friday and then when we left on Saturday is quite remarkable.   [00:44:47.880] - Kim Tate So it definitely, I think, attracts weekend visitors. And so if you can visit during the weekday, you might have more of a a little more laid back. But then again, if you're looking for like the live music and a lot of the if you like that vibe of the socialization and stuff, the weekends are great for that. So that's just something to keep in mind.   [00:45:08.610] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, no surprise, I guess. But I think the other thing is, like you mentioned, just kind of planning for that traffic and stuff, right?   [00:45:16.740] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah, that's true. And I asked them, I said, is it tied to like rush hour, like you should get into the airport during a certain time and not during, you know? And they said, well, that's some of it. But a lot of it, they said, is just the construction. You can't always be sure. But like our return trip, he said, like, he brought us some wide way instead of going, like closer to the city.   [00:45:38.130] - Kim Tate He took a different route because he said, you know, he was looking at traffic and he's like, oh, you know, 70s really bad. So we're going to do 70. What? I don't remember it. It was so just something to keep in mind that you can probably ask if you are getting a shuttle. And they do know kind of the if you're not renting a car, the shuttle people kind of know the tricks to try and avoid some of it.   [00:45:59.310] - Kim Tate So but definitely I would think you just try and avoid that standard rush hour ideas of, you know, into the city and out of the city, I'm guessing.   [00:46:07.200] - Tamara Gruber And was your shuttle like one of the big charter busses or more of like a sprinter and yet more sprinter than the first one? When we arrived, we were the only ones. So I don't know how this. Yeah. So I don't know how they time the I don't know how they manage the pickups. Like, I don't know if we just got lucky randomly. I don't think they booked it as a private, you know, private experience. So but on the way home there were two other, we were the third and we're the last pick up.   [00:46:36.690] - Kim Tate And but thankfully there was a nice couple on because Mia and I both have motion sickness issues and they were sitting in the front and I was like, oh, I didn't even realize because we were the only ones on the way there. I hadn't realized it wasn't going to be a private thing. And so I asked the driver and he's like, well, you should have made a request for, you know, that you needed to sit in the front.   [00:46:53.970] - Kim Tate And he's like, we have this one front seat. And the next would be right next to the two people for two hour trip because it was like a three seat, like the front seat, three seats. Does that make sense? And so I just spoke up and asked the couple. I was like, you know, do you guys need to sit in the front by any chance? I was like, my daughter has bad motions. And they were like, oh, no problem.   [00:47:12.840] - Kim Tate And they move back one. So thank goodness it wasn't an issue.   [00:47:15.870] - Tamara Gruber That's good, because the one time that I took one of those shuttles, I thought we were all set because they picked us up and like the village where where we were and we were like the first ones on. So we sat right in the front. And then it's like and now we're going over here where you're getting on like the real shuttle, you know? And so they brought us to another meeting place and then we were the last ones. And so we were literally like against the back wall.   [00:47:40.140] - Tamara Gruber And and we were jammed in, like the whole thing was full. And we're Hannah and I were just we felt terrible the whole time.   [00:47:46.170] - Kim Tate Yeah. I have a feeling that it you know, you could get the bad luck of the draw and be could get sixteen passengers, I'm thinking. But we didn't have that experience. So that wasn't one of the big, big ones. It definitely was a sprinter van, but still it's for sprinter. So you know, and didn't think about the option of is always renting a car but yeah. You don't really need it when you're there say probably especially these days when you're paying so much for cars.   [00:48:13.230] - Kim Tate And can I just mention, like, the whole car rental thing, because I know we've talked about it off and on like one hand and I just flew to California, we waited in line to pick up our rental car because there was remember how we've talked about how, like, you know, if you're Emerald Club or whatever, like you, you don't have to you can, like, bypass the line. There was no there was no bypass.   [00:48:31.290] - Tamara Gruber It was like the desks were closed and it was like go to the garage. And then there's just like one line in front of, like a little not even a kiosk, but like a podium in the garage. And there was shows they were so short staffed. So it's again, it's another thing we're like a lot of people got laid off and it's taken a while to like hire people back and train them up and everything. And so we waited in that line for definitely over an hour.   [00:48:53.850] - Tamara Gruber And I talked to a friend of mine that rented a car in Savannah. She flew down, I think it was either Savannah or Charleston. And she waited in line for over two hours. Oh, my goodness, to pick up the car.   [00:49:05.160] - Kim Tate That's horrible. Yeah, that's what I'm hearing. So just something to build in your stomach. Exactly. Yeah. Is be prepared for that.   [00:49:13.170] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I, I'm really glad I decided to drive from like San Francisco to L.A., L.A. to California to Arizona, renting a car each time.   [00:49:22.140] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Originally I was thinking, oh I'll just fly, fly. But I'm like, oh it's going to be such a pain. And what if they don't have car, you know, like just I want to deal with all the hassles. And then I was so relieved.   [00:49:31.320] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's good. Yeah, that sounds dreadful. I'm you know, I'm wondering what we'll have because that was one of the reasons I was looking forward to our our rental was oh it's you know, I don't know if we're alema inside or whichever one it is. And you can get the skip the line if you do the advance check. And so be interesting to see at LAX if they have it staffed that way better, I don't know.   [00:49:53.860] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, yeah. I mean it's hopefully better, but everything you know kind of has this.   [00:49:59.520] - Kim Tate Yeah. Well we've seen what's happening also with flights and everything. I know one of our mutual friends, Leslie, she's stuck in Connecticut for an extra two days because Southwest just canceled a bunch of flights, including the one they were supposed to be on south of the flight on me like I was before the flight. And I spent my entire tour of University of Arizona walking around in like 110 degree heat, trying to figure out how I was going to get from Arizona to Houston in that afternoon.   [00:50:27.750] - Kim Tate So, yeah, super stressful, like it's in Southwest has been doing this a lot.   [00:50:32.580] - Kim Tate I think this is definitely a summer where everyone the demand is just higher than what the capacity the work capacity is right now. So if you do not already have vacation plans, I would definitely recommend a road trip, you know, near you in your own car.   [00:50:49.860] - Tamara Gruber Well, it's funny. I read an article recently that American was having people volunteer to work in the in the airport. And I'm like, oh, my gosh, who wants to do that? You know, like to be the one that's maybe like getting yelled at or something. But I think they're more like directing people to different places. But yeah, they're like asking office workers to come volunteer to work for jobs and like, that's that's a that's a huge ask.   [00:51:16.140] - Tamara Gruber Like, why are you not paying that? They're not. I don't know. I understand. Like, I know. And they got bailed out. So it's like they don't have the funds. Yeah. And then I've also seen and hear I've heard a lot of people complaining about cleanliness in hotel rooms. I don't know what your experience has been, but they're saying that, you know, everyone's saying they're up to the standar

    192 Off-The-Beaten-Path Maine

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 29, 2021 61:36


    This week we dive into Tamara's recent Maine road trip and explore how to get off-the-beaten path in the Downeast Acadia and Maine Highlands regions. ABOUT SAFE TRAVELS KIT Our sponsor this week is Safe Travels Kit. Founded by New York fashion executive and avid globetrotter, Adriana Martone, the Safe Travels Kit is a patent pending, first-to-market travel and airline bedding kit that launched in December 2020. After a horrific experience with a dirty airplane seat, Adriana thought something more needed to be done to create more sanitary, comfortable travel experiences for all. Hence, the Safe Travels Kit brand was born.  Now, when travelers set off on a vacation or business trip, instead of worrying about encountering unsanitary surroundings, they can journey in comfort and serenity, resting on the Safe Travels Kit super-soft seat covers and pillowcases, made from high-tech fabric that prevents germs from penetrating. Each kit costs $39.95 and contains: One lightweight, washable, compact travel pouch (weighs .7 ounces) one seat cover that fits planes (economy and business class seats), trains, and cars; One standard size pillow case (made of the same material as the seat cover); 10 individually wrapped sanitising wipes; and One surgical face mask. How to Get Off-the-Beaten Path in Maine Read Tamara's post on 7 must-try adventures in the Maine Highlands Read Tamara's post on things to do near Acadia National Park Read Tamara's Maine road trip itinerary When visiting Acadia National Park, visit the Schoodic Peninsula and the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park. You will not find the crowds that are on Mount Desert Island. If you do stay in Bar Harbor and visit Acadia National Park to see Cadillac Mountain, you do need reservations to drive up the mountain at sunrise. Tamara stayed in Winter Harbor, which is very close to the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park and you can take a ferry to Bar Harbor. Visiting Schoodic Point is nice at high tide when the waves crash against the rocks. When visiting less touristy towns, be prepared to be flexible and patient when eating out and recognize that many restaurants close by 8pm. Fogtown Brewing in Ellsworth is a great stop at the beginning of the trip. Drive the Schoodic National Scenic Byway east of Ellsworth and stop for KidsQuest interactive learning activities along the way. Renting a cottage or vacation home is a good option for families. Tamara stayed at MainStay Cottages & RV Park in Winter Harbor. You can take a puffin boat tour from Winter Harbor or Milbridge. Many trails in Schoodic are family friendly including the Alder Trail. Make sure to have lunch at Lunch on the Wharf in Corea. The oldest winery in Maine is Bartlett Maine Estate Winery, which is also a distillery. You can take a puffin tour from Milbridge with Robertson's Sea Tours and Adventures. Have a picnic at McClellan Park in Milbridge with great water views. Hazel with Maine Outdoor School leads guided hikes and paddles to help you find new places and learn more about the area. Be prepared for flies, mosquitos and ticks when you are hiking or spending a lot of time outside. You can spray your clothing and gear/shoes before you go outside. Lubec is the easternmost town in the USA and people like to visit West Quoddy head Lighthouse for sunrise. When the border is open you can visit Campobello island where the Roosevelt's summer home was and they have fun events like Tea with Eleanor. You must stop at Monica's Chocolates when in Lubec. Bangor is a nice small city with a vibrant downtown and great history and architecture. The Bangor Historical Society offers walking tours to learn more about the history of the town and the region. The Hollywood Casino Hotel is a good place to stay in Bangor even if you aren't interested in gambling. The Hirundo Wildlife Refuge is located close to Bangor and has good walking and hiking trails, many of which are wheelchair or stroller accessible. You can also borrow canoes or kayaks for free. The Orono Bog Boardwalk is also a nice and easy trail for families Tamara stayed at the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) on Millinocket Lake, which offers cabins and lodges to rent. At NEOC you can borrow canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards as well as rent fat tire bikes or take a wildlife tour. From Millinocket Lake, drive the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Scenic Byway to the town of Patten. Tamara stayed at Shin Pond Village near Patten, which also offers both cabins and camp or RV sites. Shin Pond Village rents out Polaris side-by-side vehicles and there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore nearby. Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument is a new national monument that is also a Dark Sky Sanctuary. There are not any facilities like a visitor's center or bathrooms, but it is perfect for backcountry camping, hiking, and star gazing. For more information on star parties and events, visit Dark Sky Maine and Friends of Katahdin Woods & Waters. Baxter State Park is very popular, especially in the southern entrance. Parking reservations are required for trails that lead to Mt. Katahdin. Sandy Stream pond is very popular early in the morning for moose and wildlife viewing. Driving all the way through the park is on a gravel road and it could take 3-4 hours to drive through the entire park. Shin Pond Village is close to the northern entrance to Baxter State Park. From there, the South Branch Pond area offers many hiking trails and you can also rent canoes. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.120] - Kim Tate From Rocky Coasts to Mountain Lakes, today, we're talking about Maine.   [00:00:16.460] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:31.700] - Tamara Gruber Today's episode is brought to us by Safe Travels, Kit, Safe Travels Kit is a travel and airline bedding kit that helps travelers create a more sanitary, comfortable travel experience. Now, when travelers set off on a vacation or business trip, instead of worrying about encountering unsanitary surroundings, they can journey in comfort and serenity, resting on the safe travels, super safe seat covers and pillowcases made from high-tech fabric that prevents germs from penetrating. You can purchase one for your upcoming travel safetravels.com or on Amazon or at many airport Brookstone locations.   [00:01:02.750] - Tamara Gruber So, Kim, we've been talking about Safe Travels Kit for a little bit now. And, you know, I was just on this road trip that we're going to talk about on this episode, and it made me think about the number of times that I've rented cars and maybe from, like, budget kind of places. and I've gotten in and be like kind of smells in here, like what's been going on in here. And so I was thinking you could put the seat cover on your rental car probably as well.   [00:01:28.730] - Kim Tate Yeah, of course. I'll never forget that time that we rented a car. And I remember it was pretty stinky, smelly. I don't remember where we were, but for some reason it stayed in my head.   [00:01:38.640] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, we had that. I feel like we took out the like they had they had one of those that room fresheners, like a car freshener, air fresheners. Oh, that's in there. And we took it out and then we realized why it was in there.   [00:01:50.810] - Kim Tate Like, OK, it needs to be here. Yeah. Especially now, you know, I, I saw somebody who's a frequent traveler sharing that he was rented a 2018 vehicle recently at the rental car lot. The rental cars are not many left. So there's getting whatever they can. So now what am I going to get when I go to California?   [00:02:14.750] Yeah, well, I'm bringing I'm packing my Safe Travels Kit, so I will have it for the plane and I'll have another rental car, so and I'll have an extra pillowcase.   [00:02:26.390] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's a long flight for you. You guys might try to, you know, use the time on the plane wisely and   [00:02:32.600] Yeah, I think actually my time on the plane is going to be writing about Maine.   [00:02:37.280] - Kim Tate Oh nice. That's good. Well we will jump right in then and get talking about your trip to Maine, because I was I have to admit, I was so jealous and wished I was there with you, especially because it was a solo trip for you. And I was thinking, man, I could have just flown out there and, you know, spent some time. We could have had our our fun little hiking and, you know, Maine time together.   [00:02:57.380] - Kim Tate But it seems like you had a lot of fun. You were definitely ready to get back to your family, but you were gone for a while. So we're going to jump right in and talk all about your your time exploring, you know, all the rocky coasts and lighthouses all the way to the lakes. And I know you saw a few moose, so we'll talk about that.   [00:03:13.190] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, definitely. I was thinking about you, too, especially since, you know, two summers ago we went to some of these areas, not the same exact area, but similar. And so I was definitely I was missing you and thinking of you. But, yeah, I spent I think it was about twelve days in Maine, which is such a long trip. But the state is so huge, you know, like people tend to think of more of the the Maine beaches, which is kind of like the southern coast.   [00:03:39.620] - Tamara Gruber And then there's the Portland, of course, and then like the mid coast. And then they kind of look at Acadia National Park is super popular. But to go beyond that is, you know, much more off the beaten path. And so I made my way up the Maine coast and maybe we'll talk about that actually in a different episode, because I think if I covered all twelve days, it would be like way too much.   [00:04:01.160] - Tamara Gruber But I was working with two different tourism boards. They had hired me to do a campaign with them because they're trying to say, hey, there is so much more to Maine than just, you know, these parts that people tend to gravitate towards. And so I was working with Downeast Acadia Regional Tourism, which is kind of the region from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, all the way to the the Canadian border along the coast and then the Maine Highlands, which is Bangor, and then up into kind of that Moosehead Lake area that we've been before and Baxter State Park and that, you know, mountains and lakes type of area.   [00:04:38.540] - Tamara Gruber So it's a lot to cover. When I was driving along and meeting and talking to different people, I mean, one thing about traveling by yourself is I become a little bit more extroverted. I mean, there's no one else to talk to you. Right. And it's really nice because you get to, like, make more conversation with locals. And and there were hardly any visitors at the time, which is great. So I was really able to kind of get a sense of the real thing.   [00:05:02.180] - Tamara Gruber But somebody was saying, like just one county in Maine is bigger than Connecticut, I'm sorry, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. So it's like people just don't understand the scale. Like they get calls like, you know, places to stay and things like that. They get called. They're like, well, we're going to do like a day trip to, you know, they'll name a place I like, you realize it's like a five hour drive away, you know?   [00:05:22.230] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah. So it is a really big state. There's a lot to cover. But I think what I did with this road trip was kind of a little bit like the best of both worlds, because everyone loves that quintessential rocky coast with the lighthouses and the lobster and all that. But then, you know, the idea of seeing moose and getting out and hiking and seeing the lakes and the rivers like, you know, that is really appealing too.   [00:05:48.240] - Tamara Gruber And so I feel like for especially for this summer, it's going to be a great trip for people to do because you are trying to be outside still, but you're also trying to get away from people. And we've talked about before the summer is going to be really, you know, it's going to be really busy. Yeah, especially in national parks. And I saw a headline when I was there saying that Acadia is expecting record breaking numbers this summer.   [00:06:12.780] - Tamara Gruber I think that record breaking last summer and they expect to break that again this summer and they are requiring reservations. If you want to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain and see the sunrise there, which is a very popular thing to do. So it's something you where again, like you really have to plan ahead. You don't really expect that as much on the East Coast as much as you might. And like Zion and, you know, some of the other parks where it's a little bit more known that you might need to take like shuttles and reservations and things.   [00:06:40.510] - Tamara Gruber So I really focused on areas outside of that. So I guess I'll just kind of start off with talking about what I what I did on the trip. And I did stay one night in Bar Harbor and that was at a glamping resort that I've just wanted to check out on my own. And that was like before I started this campaign portion of the trip. And so, you know, if you do want to start in Bar Harbor, that's fine.   [00:07:03.840] - Tamara Gruber And I think what Acadia National Park is most well known for is like the town of Bar Harbor and then the part of the park that is on this island called Mount Desert Island. And so that's where you're going to find the popular Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond and the Beehive Trail, things like that. But there are actually two other parts of the park in different locations and no one really goes to those. So you can still see some of the really beautiful parts of like why this is a national park without all of those crowds.   [00:07:33.610] - Tamara Gruber And so I stayed in a town called Winter Harbor, which is kind of just across the the bay or, you know, as you would imagine, like, you know, different harbors. And I was maybe five minutes outside of a section of the park that's called this Schoodic section of Acadia National Park, because it's on the Schoodic Peninsula, because if you think about the coast of Maine, it's kind of like all these fingers coming down. There's all these peninsulas coming off of the coast, which is why you have all that great coastline.   [00:08:01.290] - Tamara Gruber And so this is just, you know, right across there is actually right next to where I stayed. You could take a ferry that would bring you over to Bar Harbor, but the area, the Schoodic section of the park was empty. I went on a Friday night, my first time there, a Friday night for sunset. And you think, oh, it's going to be busier. There is no one on the right like the whole time.   [00:08:21.870] - Tamara Gruber I think it's of maybe a 14 mile loop. You know, I should probably look that up, but it's a one way loop through the park with different viewpoints and different trails and things that you can stop at. And the end point is called Schoodic Point. And that's where, especially at high tide, the waves are crashing on the rocky shoreline and the sunset is like, you know, going down right over there. So it's a popular spot to go for sunset.   [00:08:46.530] - Tamara Gruber And I saw, I think, to other people when I was there. Wow. Yeah, it was amazing and great. It's early June, but still it was like Friday. It was a weekend, you know. Yeah. So it was really it was it was quiet. So if you want to kind of get all of that national park ness with your. Yeah. Beautiful coastline and hikes and mountains and all that, without the crowds, you just have to go across over to this peninsula part of it.   [00:09:13.390] - Kim Tate So that's a great tip. I think that's what people need to be looking for, especially I think this is the last year that we'll have a lot of because there's even though international is coming back, people I think are still staying domestic. And so all those people who are eager to travel are all looking. And I've seen Maine coming up quite a bit. It's kind of it's kind of been funny.   [00:09:32.010] - Tamara Gruber So I have to yeah. I think it's you know, maybe people are thinking about alternatives to like the Southwest, knowing it's going to be high and. Yeah, maybe alternatives for some of the the other Western. Well, I think yeah.   [00:09:44.970] - Kim Tate I think people forget that Maine is up there and it offers I mean, it's kind of like they think of New England and they forget about everything else. That's like even upper state New York and, you know, all of that. They kind of forget that there's all that beautiful nature up there.   [00:09:59.130] - Tamara Gruber And yeah. Yeah. And I will say, like, last summer I went to the Adirondacks and granted it was in the middle of summer, but it was you know, things are really crowded like there. You really have to get to trailheads by six a.m. and, you know, expect like you might have trouble parking and all that and. I just don't see that in this part of these parts of Maine that I'm going to talk about, it is, you know, it is further, but if you're flying, you can fly into Bangor and then everything like from Bangor to Acadia is like an hour and 15 minutes.   [00:10:31.880] - Tamara Gruber And then from Bangor up to like where I was on Millinocket Lake. And like some of the Highlands area is, again, like an hour and a half, you know. So it's really. Yeah, you can even use that as a, you know, like a home base and do like a hub and spoke kind of trips you wanted to as well. So it's really and from it is it is up there. But even from Boston, like if you drove highway and not coast, you can get up there in like five hours.   [00:10:59.540] - Tamara Gruber So, you know, it's really not too bad. But again, I will say, though, the one thing to think about is that it is a little bit further out. And so you're not going to find all of the same tourist infrastructure that you find like a little bit further south or in some of the towns like Kennebunkport or Portland or whatever. And just I think everywhere is kind of experiencing a bit of a labor shortage right now.   [00:11:23.480] - Tamara Gruber But they're definitely seeing that in Maine, too, and places trying to get staffed up. And so you see more of, you know, there's, you know, maybe going to be a slower service at some of the restaurants or shorter hours or just the fact that when you're in some of these towns, there might only be two or three options. And what I found is that some of them close early, actually, most of them close early because it's just it's more of a you get up early and go to bed early kind of place than me, which is a night owl.   [00:11:53.360] - Tamara Gruber You know, I think when I was working with the person, the tourism board, I was like, yeah, dinner at around 7:00, you know, sounds good. And she's like, oh, I could tell you're not a morning person. Oh really? I thought that was still kind of early, but I found out, like, I would go, like, try to take sunset pictures and then go have dinner afterwards and no, no, no places close at 8.   [00:12:12.440] - Kim Tate So it's like that's that's surprisingly enough.   [00:12:15.260] - Kim Tate When we were in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is Estes Park is right there, they were the same thing. It was this small mountain town and everything closed to eat. It was so weird. You know, we had trouble sometimes, I mean, because it was the middle peak, July, middle of summer and. Right.   [00:12:29.790] - Tamara Gruber You have a lot of sunlight. You want to be out. Yeah. Stuff.   [00:12:32.060] - Kim Tate Right, exactly. Yeah.   [00:12:33.740] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Well, let me I'll get into my trip a little bit and kind of give some details for people that want to plan some of their own. So my first stop was in the town of Ellsworth, which is kind of right above Bar Harbor, and it's a little downtown that has like some different brewing places. And I went mean, is like big with their craft beer scene. They're known for lobster, but they're also big blueberries. There's certain things you got to try.   [00:12:57.530] - Tamara Gruber So I went to this place called Town Brewing and that they had like an outdoor like food truck and beer garden kind of place. So, you know, it was really cool. And then I drove it was a lot of scenic byway. So I drove this Greek National Scenic Byway down. Like I said, this peninsula to this town of Winter Harbor. And again, you're not going to find the same like hotels and things they're going to find.   [00:13:21.380] - Tamara Gruber And Bar Harbor, there is a couple of inns, there's a couple bed and breakfasts. But if you're going as a family, you're probably better off trying to look for like a cottage rental of some sort. And I definitely saw lots of signs for those. And some of them are gorgeous. So I think that that's probably a better choice. I stayed at a place called Mainstay Cottages and RV Park, and I thought it was going to be kind of like your traditional RV park.   [00:13:46.130] - Tamara Gruber It was not. It was so nice. It was this piece of land right on the water. So your RV sites are like really overlooking the water. But there's only like 10 RV sites. And they were kind of to one side and the other side where cottages and I stayed in what was the original building there, which is a boat house. So it's like, you know, I walked down to the water, up a little ramp to my boat house.   [00:14:07.970] - Tamara Gruber That's like sitting over the water. So amazing, like sunset views. It was just a little like one bedroom cottage, but it had this back deck, the where you could just sit and watch the boats and watch the sunset.   [00:14:21.050] - Kim Tate And yeah, it was I would say that I remember that about Maine having the most amazing sunsets and the stuff you were sharing, it just reinforced that, that it's just amazing the colors that their skies get.   [00:14:34.640] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Especially because a lot of it was kind of dreary when I was there during the day. And then it would surprise me at night. I'm like, yes, thank you. You know, so that was a really nice place to stay, like as a home base, because you literally could walk to the to the ferry that would go to Bar Harbor right there. There was also a little boat tour that went out that did a puffin tour, I think it was called Acadian Puffins.   [00:14:57.560] - Tamara Gruber So you could take a boat tour to go to an island off of a wildlife refuge where they've brought back the North Atlantic puffins. And so I was supposed to do that actually in a different town. And it got canceled because of high seas, but luckily earlier in my trip when I was in Booth Bay Harbor, I was able to do a similar trip.   [00:15:22.500] - Tamara Gruber But the thing about like Booth Bay is a bigger boat, more like a whale watching boat, like multi-tier. And so I have a feeling they don't get quite as close. Like maybe these boats were smaller. But the other thing to worry about is like if it is rough seas and you're on a small boat, you're going to feel it a lot more, you know. So but, you know, that's definitely a neat thing to do because, I mean, I've been fortunate enough to see them in Iceland, but it's a very unique thing to get to do and see.   [00:15:49.890] - Tamara Gruber And I think most people don't realize that puffins are actually really small. They're smaller than seabirds.   [00:15:55.050] - Kim Tate So they're very tiny.   [00:15:56.740] - Tamara Gruber Yes. You really it's hard to get a good view of them. I think people really expect you see the pictures and you're like, oh, that's what I'm going to see. I'm like, no, I had this amazing zoom camera and I could still only get so close. So, you need to bring binoculars.   [00:16:12.420] - Kim Tate Yeah, definitely. I agree with that. We went whale watching in, you know, on the Pacific Coast, surprisingly, and there's a wildlife refuge and they have some puffins and we actually got to see puffins out here. And it was it was kind of crazy because they seem so bright and like when you see them on rocks and in people's photos because they do zoom in, you don't realize how small they are. And you'd have to be really close to be able to even get that clear vision of their beak and all that beautiful coloring they have.   [00:16:40.260] - Kim Tate And so, yeah, I know what you mean by that, but they're so cute. They are. They're adorable.   [00:16:45.150] - Tamara Gruber And we mostly saw them like on the water when I took that trip. But there is a place in this downeast region that you have to book it in advance, but it's like a small boat. And so it depends on the weather. But they'll take some people out to the island and you can stay there and like, stand in the bird blind, you know, like the box where you are kind of covered. You just watch them. So there are if you're really into it, there are things to do like.   [00:17:12.590] - Tamara Gruber But where I stayed, like as I said, I was like five minutes from the entrance to that section of Acadia National Park, there was a place where you could rent kayaks there. There was a place where you could rent bikes because a lot of people just bike into the park and loop that way, which is a great option. So it's definitely a place where you could stay for a few days and just do there's so many different like hiking trails and things to do.   [00:17:36.150] - Tamara Gruber So like, you know, there's some in the park, but then there's all these different, like preserves and the national wildlife preserves, other types of preserves like around. And a lot of them have kids activities like there's this thing called Kids Quest where they're like each place has like different like learning opportunities for kids, like a train station. So this is where we you learn about seaweed, this is where you learn about tides, you know, so there's things like that that you can do if you have younger kids.   [00:18:02.020] - Tamara Gruber Also, you know, I spent pretty much like my first day really exploring the park. And I did a hike, like up to the top of a mountain. And the hikes there are not super long. I mean, you can do kind of a longer ridge, not real ridge, but, you know, you could do like a longer one. But most of the hikes are not too long and not too steep. I did come down one that was like a little bit steeper and not as clearly marked.   [00:18:28.140] - Tamara Gruber But I think for families, if you could do like this Alder Trail and I will put this all in the post that will be published by the time this episode comes out. So, like, everybody can see the details. But I also somebody told me that at low tide you can walk out to this little island that's off the coast of the park and sometimes the harbor seals will hang out there. So I checked to see like what time low tide was going to be.   [00:18:52.530] - Tamara Gruber And I made sure I went before, like, the actual low tide, you know, so I would have time to be there and get back before, you know, the water would start coming back in. Unfortunately, I didn't see any seals, but like that, you know, that was a neat kind of thing. Like you're walking on the ocean floor kind of thing. Yeah. And then just you did the loop, went out to see the waves crashing and, you know, so it's just it's pretty.   [00:19:15.390] - Tamara Gruber If you like a rocky coast, you will definitely get your fill.   [00:19:20.130] - Kim Tate Yeah, that sounds amazing. I'm impressed with Maine even from my one trip. I think it's really a place if you're if you're looking for like a relaxing, outdoorsy, just kind of laid back vacation. I think Maine is definitely a good place to look for that.   [00:19:34.410] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And like I said, there's a lot of, like, little charming things like one of the I think that day I left the park and I went to have a late lunch that someone told me about. Again, some of these things like you need like a local will tell you that because they're not very well promoted or, you know, talked about even within the park, there's a place that was called like Ravens Nest. And it's not even on the list, like it's not even on the park map.   [00:20:01.320] - Tamara Gruber But like all the locals will tell you, oh, you got to go to these cliffs, you know, so stuff like that. So I talked to actually the person that was she owned the the property where I was staying. And she recommended going to this little fishing village of Corea or. Actually, I think it's Korea, but with a C and there is like a food truck kind of thing there, but lunch on the wharf and it's only open in the summer and it's only open like from 11:00 to three and not open on Sundays.   [00:20:28.550] - Tamara Gruber So that kind of thing, like where you kind of have to know about it to go, but they have lobster rolls and all that, and you're right on the water. And, you know, there are places like that and like further south in Maine that people will line up for for like an hour, you know, but they're like it was just so nice, you know, like I sat just looking at the boats, because I can't even tell you how many harbors there are, because all these little coves and, you know, they're just filled with lobstering boats and fishing boats and they're just bobbing there.   [00:20:57.440] - Tamara Gruber And all along the the pier, as you just see, you know, all the lobster traps and you see the bouys and the ropes. And it's just it's so classic. It's so classic, like Maine and New England. So it's like, I don't know, it just kind of, you know that expression like fills your bucket, just kind of like your bucket with like all these, like, good sites that you wanted to see when you came to Maine.   [00:21:18.470] - Tamara Gruber And it's like everywhere you turn is there there's another lighthouse, you know, like it's just it's so quaint.   [00:21:24.440] - Kim Tate Yeah. Well, I was definitely jealous of all the lobster rolls and stuff you were having, so I definitely think that's something people think about. So the food sounds like it's it's definitely not to be missed when you're on a trip there.   [00:21:37.080] - Tamara Gruber I came home and Glenn was like, what would you want for dinner? And I'm like, I think pasta, a chicken, I had a lot of seafood. And then when I was like further north, you know, it was like much more casual. So like I had a lot of fried stuff there. So I kind of just want, good. You know, like, give me salad, you know, that kind of stuff.   [00:21:56.360] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. But yeah, there's a lot of other things, like there's some cute farms like organic farms you can stop at. There's a couple of wineries surprisingly, but they specialize in fruit wine. But I did visit the one that was the oldest in Maine. It's called Bartlett Maine Estate Winery. So it's a distillery too. So I guess, you know, you can maybe find your your drink in one of those, too. So, you know, there's other things that you can do.   [00:22:20.210] - Tamara Gruber It's not just about like hiking and stuff like that, but yeah, there's just so many good places. So after I stayed in Winter Harbor, I went over, I kind of made my way east to the town of Machias. But first I stopped in this town called Milbridge. And there were a couple of things that I think of note there that I would want to mention. And one is that you can do a puffin tour from there with Robertson seatours and Adventures.   [00:22:48.740] - Tamara Gruber That's the one that I was supposed to do, but unfortunately got canceled. But there's some really nice parks around there, too. So I went to this park called McClellan Park. It's a state I don't actually I don't know if it's State Park. I think it's just a local town park. So you're driving, like, down this peninsula and you're like, oh, is this going to be worth it? And then you turn into this park and it's just, you know, you're driving through the woods, really bumpy little road.   [00:23:13.580] - Tamara Gruber Follow the sign to the picnic area. I get out of the car at the picnic area and it's like one table in the middle of like a grassy kind of field surrounded by trees. And I'm like, why am I here? You know? And then I realized then I realized there was like this little path. And so I follow this path. And then you're on these gorgeous, like rock. I wouldn't call them cliffs, but like, you know, these big boulders along the coast with picnic tables there.   [00:23:37.640] - Tamara Gruber And I'm like, OK, I get it now. It's gorgeous. And if this was at home, there would be so many other people there, you know, you'd have to stake out your spot. All that there was I saw, like in the distance one other person, you know, so you could just go and have this amazing picnic with a wonderful view. And I feel like, you know, that's that's what it was about. It was just about like amazing views and stuff like that.   [00:24:00.680] - Tamara Gruber But without the people, I'm going to sound like very like people adverse. But, you know, like it can get crowded in places. And it's just so nice to find those places that are still so great that are undiscovered somewhat, you know.   [00:24:13.130] - Kim Tate Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's awesome. I think it's it's kind of interesting that, like you said, that there are those spaces still and it's hard to know, like, as you know, people like you and I who shared travel destinations. And I think we need to all be mindful of looking for those little more. I mean, beautiful places certainly don't just end at the border of a national park, although sometimes they can. But, you know, it can be quite beautiful anywhere you go.   [00:24:41.890] - Kim Tate Yeah. And in talking to the locals, they're kind of like, well, we know we want people to come in, don't have to change. So it's still in that little bit of, you know, back and forth thing. But apparently, like during the pandemic, people have been buying land up there, like sight unseen, paying cash, just like grabbing up land. So they're kind of like what is going to happen after they have a winter to up here, because that is a very different experience.   [00:25:10.760] - Tamara Gruber So we'll see. They're a little worried about, like, you know, driving up the cost of land and rent. And things like that, but we'll see, you know, like it might really transform, you know, so that there becomes a bit more of an infrastructure. But I will say, like, you know, you do have to go with expectations, like I ate at this one place called Saltbox in Winter Harbor that was, you know, a very nice restaurant, you know, wonderful food.   [00:25:33.670] - Tamara Gruber Like, you know, what you would expect from, like a fine dining type of experience. But mostly it is like a family home cooking kind of places, you know, so you just have the right expectations. It's not like there's anything wrong with that. But, you know, you're not going just a lot of heavy, rich food over time.   [00:25:51.500] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, yeah. Lots of fresh fish and stuff, though. The other thing that I would really recommend, especially for families, I think is I did a guided hike with Hazel from Maine Outdoor School, and she's like an outdoor educator. She's, you know, she's from Maine. She's very passionate about it. But she knows so much like about the area, but also about like the, you know, all of the plants and all the trees and all the the birds and, you know, like everything that you're going through.   [00:26:22.600] - Tamara Gruber So I feel like she could do something that would really engage kids. She's used to doing like kids programs, too. So she knows how to be very engaging with kids and, you know, teach you a lot, but then maybe bring you places that you may not have found on your own. And, you know, one of the things she offered to me was to do like an evening paddle, like where you could see wildlife and stuff.   [00:26:43.030] - Tamara Gruber And we didn't do that just because of my schedule. But that would be something other. I'll just make sure you bring, like, proper bug gear if you're going to do that. Yeah, I should I should mention that, like, yeah, May and June are usually like black fly season in Maine but I got really lucky and I did not get bothered by them at all. And even the mosquitoes, which they're always there's like t shirts that are like the state bird is, you know, mosquito.   [00:27:08.410] - Kim Tate Yeah. I remember having to fight with mosquitoes when we were there.   [00:27:12.160] - Tamara Gruber So I didn't have too much of a problem with that either. I mean obviously I put on bug spray the things that drove me a little bit crazy a couple times were like those no see ums.   [00:27:20.110] - Kim Tate Oh yeah. Those little gnat biters.   [00:27:22.090] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Because they're the ones that just drive you insane. Yeah. But it was only a couple of times and like usually if you're moving it was fine. And they say like after like mid-July somebody said that's like the third thunderstorm in July is when the flies go. I love these like old time.   [00:27:39.820] - Kim Tate Like the Farmer's Almanac type. Yeah that's right. Yeah. What about I mean another thing does just mention that, you know, we don't deal with as much out here, but pretty soon the whole US is going to have to deal with it. Just being aware of ticks and Lyme disease when you're out hiking and checking yourself for that. Right.   [00:27:54.550] - Tamara Gruber Ticks are a huge problem. And I actually I'm a little bit worried that they're going to be worse this year just because, like some people that I know that are spending a lot of time outdoors are finding them already. I actually when I did the glamping at Terramor in Bar Harbor, I sat outside by the fire for a while and then it started to rain. I had a blanket wrapped around me because it was kind of cold. And when I came in, I, like put the blanket out just to look at it.   [00:28:16.570] - Tamara Gruber And I found a tick on it and I was like freaking out. You know, I flushed it like it wasn't on me. I did it had a decent mirror. I did like a good tick check, but I definitely think, like, yes, spray your gear. There's some stuff I can link to it on our show. Notes that you can spray like your backpack and your shoes and things with before you like, not, you know, like spray it, not when you're in it.   [00:28:38.350] - Tamara Gruber And then just, you know, use some good bug spray and do good checks and wear it and all that kind of stuff. But Hannah's going back to camp this summer in Maine, and I've already told her, like, OK, you really have to be good about this.   [00:28:49.270] - Kim Tate You know, I think wearing the hats, the big one is just getting in. Your hair is the other.   [00:28:52.960] - Tamara Gruber Apparently, they climb up, you see, like a lot of times because it's like you're going through the tall grasses and they grab on your leg, they grab on to like your shoes and your legs. And that's why some people will tuck their socks, like, in to their socks and then, you know, so then they crawl up and they look for like warm areas, like armpits and stuff like that. So, yeah, I mean, there's plenty of stuff online to tell you, like what to do about it.   [00:29:17.470] - Kim Tate Yeah. I don't want it to discourage people. I mean, everyone is dealing with that, but it's just something like for me, I'm not so used to it out here in the West Coast. So it's definitely something to be mindful about. I think Kansas I remember my mom checking me when I were I would play in the woods.   [00:29:32.200] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, when I grew up, we we would get them a lot. And it didn't figure out the same way because there wasn't that disease associated with it, you know. Yeah. So yeah. So it is definitely, you know, something to stay aware of. But luckily that was my only encounter with that, you know. And I did keep checking all throughout.   [00:29:51.910] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah. Just something to be mindful of for people I don't want. Sorry to go off on that side tangent, but I think it's important to just know since we are talking about it as a destination.   [00:30:01.720] - Tamara Gruber Definitely. So from there I made my way to this town of Machias, which is like a little bit larger of a town. And there's some other things you can do if you did want to like kind of base there for a little bit. There's Roque Bluffs. State Park has a nice sand beach, and I think nearby there's like Jenkins' Beach, which is more like ground, colorful pebbles, but there aren't as many like beach type of places, you know in Maine, because it's at least in that section, because it's more rocky coast.   [00:30:27.500] - Tamara Gruber So it's nice when you can find, you know, a real beach to, like, hang out on or sabayon. In the town of Machias, there's a nice, like waterfall in the center of town. But I will say, like, there's not again, there's not a lot when it comes to restaurants. And I think there's two or three more motel kind of places. I think a couple of them have been renovated, you know, so that they look, you know, newer.   [00:30:52.130] - Tamara Gruber But it is still that kind of accommodation unless you would want to rent a cabin. But I actually stayed at a gorgeous place. It was called the Inn at Schoppee Farm. So it was a farmhouse that they've converted into an inn. And I stayed in the river room, which was on the first floor. I think the other rooms are on the second floor. And it was gorgeous, like the person the people that run.   [00:31:18.190] - Tamara Gruber It's like a young couple clearly have such nice design style because it felt like it felt like it was from like a magazine or a decor show because it was just very simple, like farmhouse kind of, you know, like white linens, like the wide plank floors, the exposed beams in the ceiling. There's like old little table, but just with a like a vase of like these simple yellow flowers. So it's just like wood and white and a little splash of yellow.   [00:31:45.140] - Tamara Gruber And it was just it was beautiful and it's right on the river. It's accessible to like this path that's used for like biking or running or ATVs or stuff like that. So and it's just really great outside of town. So that was really like a wonderful farm. I don't know if you'd call it like a farm stay because there weren't like animals and things around, but it was it had that feel. But I think, you know, unless you're going to take a couple of rooms, it's going to be better for like a couple than a family.   [00:32:12.010] - Kim Tate Makes sense.   [00:32:13.640] - Tamara Gruber And then the next day, I decided I was going to drive all the way out to the Canadian border, the town of Lubec, because it is everyone kept telling me, you got to go. It's such a cute town. And I realized I was only like forty-five minutes away. And I'm like, how do I come this far and not make it go all the way, you know? So I was like, you know, I'm just going to get up early one day and do it.   [00:32:36.710] - Tamara Gruber Although I will say I did not get up as early as some people do, because the thing to do in Lubec is there's this really cute, like red and white striped light House called the West Quoddy head light. And it is the, you know, the easternmost town in the U.S. And so it is where, like the first sunrise, you know, first hits the U.S. So it's like a lot it's a thing for people to go and see sunrise there.   [00:33:02.240] - Kim Tate New Year's Day. I've seen pictures of that.   [00:33:05.510] - Tamara Gruber But you know me, I'm not a morning person. Sunrise right now is like four something, you know. So I was not going to get up at like three thirty to drive out there wasn't happening. But still I went out there and again handful of people were there while I was there. So I, I set up shop, I had my tripod, I was taking pictures, you know, I was like hanging out there. And I am so self-conscious about stuff like that, like I feel so uncomfortable, like taking up anyone else's space or time or whatever.   [00:33:35.990] - Tamara Gruber So I tend to not do those things when there's people around. I just feel really uncomfortable. But because there was no one around, I'm like, oh, cool, I can take some pictures with me in it. I'm going to set up my tripod. And so it was it was nice. It was really cute. And then the town itself, I mean, it's quiet now because obviously the border is closed, but it's really cute. There's a place called Cohills inn & Pub which supposedly makes like great cocktails.   [00:33:58.970] - Tamara Gruber There's a brewing place there. There's all kinds of trails and things. If you did decide to stay. And what most people do when the border is open is there's this island that kind of shares the border and it's called Campobello. And it's where the Roosevelts had like a summer home. So you can go out there and visit like this, you know, historic home. Sometimes they'll do like tea with Eleanor, you know, and the those things to do.   [00:34:23.540] - Tamara Gruber But, like, that's a really popular thing to do. But it's it's closed right now because of the the border is closed. But if you go in the future, when the Canadian border is open, like, definitely check that out. But it was well worth it. And there's also if you go, you have to stop at this place called Monika's Chocolates. She will walk you through every bit of her shop. She makes everything by hand.   [00:34:44.660] - Tamara Gruber So not just the chocolate, but she makes her own peanut butter. She makes her own caramel. Like everything that's going into this stuff, she's making by hand also. And the chocolates are amazing. So I was like, OK, they're going to melt in the car, but I have to get some. And so I was like trying to keep them cold by putting, like, water bottles around it and stuff. So that was kind of wrapping up my time in the Downeast region.   [00:35:10.250] - Tamara Gruber And then I went up to the Maine highlands.   [00:35:12.740] - Kim Tate Yeah. And so that's the Maine highlands. It's kind of like what you and I that's more of the lake and mountain interior, is that correct? Yeah.   [00:35:19.400] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I spent one night in Bangor kind of as a layover and I visited like I drove by the Stephen King's house. He does still live there, but I guess they're turning it into a writer's retreat. And actually, I was able to get a lot of history because I took a walk, actually were supposed to be walking tour, but it because it was like 95 degrees, they nicely drove me around with the Bangor Historical Society.   [00:35:42.620] - Kim Tate But they have a whole bunch of different tours that you can do because it at one point had the most millionaires. And I don't know if it was New England or the U.S., but because it was a logging town, there was like just a lot of wealth there at one time. So the town itself has these beautiful Victorian mansions, like the architecture's really beautiful. A lot of downtown was destroyed in a fire at one point. And obviously it's not a big lumber town today, but it's still cute like downtown.   [00:36:12.470] - Kim Tate I mean, it's a little bit hard to judge sometimes right now some of the towns, because they're like coming back. But it was much more vibrant than I would have expected given this past year, you know, and everything that's happened. Yeah, but it was you know, there are a lot of cafes. There are tons of like outdoor dining kind of options. It was cute. You know, it was definitely a cute little town. And then they have like a good concert arena there that apparently bands love to play at.   [00:36:38.090] - Kim Tate It's like you're on a river. And so, you know, people will come from far away to go see a show there and then stay overnight. So I stayed surprisingly. This one really surprised me. There's a casino hotel like I didn't expect that. They say this place called like the Hollywood Casino Hotel. But like, luckily, like, I was not interested in going to the casino, but like, the hotel part is separate. So, like, you didn't have to encounter any of that other stuff at all.   [00:37:06.770] - Tamara Gruber Like even I came in a different entrance thinking I could cut through to get to the hotel because I'd walked across the street for dinner. And that was completely sectioned off, so it's like you, I did not have to walk through it at all, so that was like if you're not into gambling, then you don't worry about it   [00:37:25.430] - Kim Tate We have a casino hotel out here like that, that's very separate that you can get to him through a lobby, but you don't it's not like a Vegas hotel where you walk through the casino to get to the elevators or something.   [00:37:34.690] - Tamara Gruber Right. And where they don't want you to find your way out.   [00:37:36.890] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. You know, you actually can't find your room.   [00:37:40.790] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So from there, like the next morning I drove up to where I was staying in Millinocket Lake. But first I stopped at a place called the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, and I did like a guided paddle, was with a naturalist there. And this is like a it's a really nice like if you are staying in Bangor and you want to get out and do some, like, walks and hikes without driving an hour and a half, it was you know, it's only like maybe 25 minutes or so out there.   [00:38:09.830] - Tamara Gruber And they've tried to make it really accessible and affordable for families. So it's free. They do take donations. You can even borrow canoes or kayaks for free. I mean, they hope that you make a donation. So that's really nice. And a lot of their trails are wheelchair or stroller accessible, which is a lot of hiking trails in Maine are what they call rocks and routes. So it's a very uneven surface. So anyone that has any mobility issues, it's it's a bit of a struggle to get out in nature.   [00:38:40.500] - Tamara Gruber And so the fact that these are like, you know, nicely done trails, there's also another one called the, I don't know, Orono bog boardwalk that I did. So it's like a boardwalk, you know, out like overlooking a bog back in. So it's nice to see that, like, again, for families that don't want to have, like, something too strenuous but want to get out nature, there's something for them to do.   [00:38:59.870] - Tamara Gruber Then I drove up to it's called the New England Outdoors Center. And remember how you and I did like the Appalachian Mountain Club Lodge and we did that. Yeah. So it's you know, they have a large and then they have cabins. They don't do the same kind of family style dinners, communal dining.   [00:39:17.710] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:39:18.200] - Tamara Gruber So it is different in that way, but it's on a lake and it's a lodge. They run activities, they have a restaurant there. It was closed when I was there just for that day. They try to balance it with other restaurants in the area so that everybody has a day off, you know, especially being short staffed right now. But they put me up in an amazing cabin like this, especially when I walked in there, I was like, OK, to three bedroom, two bath cabin with like this gorgeous kitchen.   [00:39:44.690] - Tamara Gruber I can't believe, you know, like this is what I wish I had people with me.   [00:39:47.720] - Kim Tate Yeah, of course. I remember you sharing your stories. I was like, oh, man. And it's like always happens with us when we find a great place, it's like, oh, you're here for ten hours.   [00:39:56.420] - Tamara Gruber I was there for one night and I'm like, oh man. But they have a mix of cabins like they have smaller, like, you know, kind of more basic cabins. They're premium cabins. I think this was like a premium lodge, you know, kind of thing. But they have some that sleep up to fourteen. So great for like family groups, you know, extended families, friends, that kind of thing. And the waterfront there is beautiful.   [00:40:18.380] - Tamara Gruber So they had their on Millinocket Lake looking across the lake to Mount Katahdin, which is the tallest mountain in Maine, and that's the end point of the Appalachian Trail. So it's like where it's famous because a lot of people will finish their hikes there and so people will go and meet them and greet them. So it's a great view. They have, like, I guess a tiny little beach front area, but they have like a picnic area, you know, like along the waterfront.   [00:40:44.210] - Tamara Gruber And you can borrow canoes and kayaks or stand up paddleboards to go out. They also rent mountain bikes and they're building out like mountain bike trails there. But the thing that I did that was exciting was I did one of their wildlife tours. So when you and I did a moose tour, we went out like early morning and we're in a van. And then we did a canoe. This one they have in the evening or the early morning. But you go out on a pontoon boat, so you go across the lake and then you go into all these little streams and inlets because that's where the moose come down, like   [00:41:17.630] - Kim Tate where the almost like the airboat tours in Florida.   [00:41:20.660] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, yeah, yeah.   [00:41:23.090] - Tamara Gruber So we did that and we were like looking around and it was like, you know, that point where you're just about to give up. And then he's like, I think I see something. And it was really far in the distance, but you could really see there's the moose. And as we were coming back, we saw another one like a little bit closer to shore. So I still have not seen one with, like, the I've still haven't seen a male with the antlers   [00:41:43.940] - Kim Tate Still. I know I was watching all year. I was watching all your pictures and I'm like, oh, another. And whatever the female ones are called.   [00:41:50.690] - Tamara Gruber Cows. Yeah. Yeah. So and they're still big because they're still like they are because.   [00:41:56.870] - Kim Tate Yeah. You don't want to get, you know, next to one of those.   [00:41:59.630] - Tamara Gruber But yeah I was super excited though because I saw a lot of beaver and beaver was one thing that it's just I don't know, I've always wanted to see one in the wild because I see the beaver dams a lot.   [00:42:10.970] - Tamara Gruber But you never actually see the beaver. And so as we were going, you know, you would see the Beaver Dam and then you would see like a head swimming through the water. And when I did my paddle at the wildlife refuge, like earlier in the day, she was talking about Beaver and, you know, you mostly would see them at night and that they slap their tail to scare you away. And she kind of demonstrated with the paddle how loud the slap was.   [00:42:35.410] - Tamara Gruber Well, I got they slapped their tail at us a lot, you know, so I have a picture of like this huge splash from them. So, like, I have some pictures of their head in the water, but it's like a distance. It's nothing. It's nothing that like. Yeah, yeah. Nothing great. But definitely saw them. Definitely heard them that really get away from here. Oh yes. That was cool.   [00:42:56.540] - Kim Tate Awesome. So lots of wildlife and getting out into nature. What else did you do when you were in that area.   [00:43:02.830] - Tamara Gruber So I did do some kayaking on the lake, but it was a little bit choppy. So I didn't go. I kind of just stuck to shore and, you know, just kind of explored a little bit because then I was driving the next day, I drove up a little bit further north, but I took another scenic road. It's Route 11 and it's called the Katahdin Woods scenic byway up to a town of Patten, like there's a lumberjack museum there.   [00:43:29.650] - Tamara Gruber So it's big, big, big lumber town. And I stayed at a place called Shin Pond Village. And this is they also have a bunch of cabins. So they have camping sites, RV sites. And then I think about a dozen different cabins, again, like a two bedroom cabin. It was you know, it was nice. It was it was not fancy, but it was it was spacious and, you know, nice.   [00:43:54.950] - Tamara Gruber And so I liked it a lot. And, you know, it had kind of a nice view over like a meadow. But the thing that they do there is they rent side by side like ATVs. But the Polaris like side by side here, because there's just like tons of trails out there. So it's kind of like one of the big things to do in that area is to go, you know, ride these trails. And so there's different ATV clubs that have built them out and maintain them.   [00:44:22.600] - Tamara Gruber And so someone from Shin Pond Village took me out on a little guided tour. They don't usually do the guided excursions, but each of the vehicles has like a GPS built in and a tracker built in. So it's kind of easy. They give you a map, they kind of talk to you about where to go. But I was surprised that even as we're driving, like I would get lost in a second, you would think. But she was easily following GPS.   [00:44:43.600] - Tamara Gruber But there were also times when you come across like a trail map and they'd be like, you are here. And it was so different things. So that's good.   [00:44:49.750] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, they really maintain them nicely.   [00:44:51.610] - Kim Tate It sounds kind of funny, but there's some show on TV and I don't even know what it is, but it's like the I don't know what they would be called, but they're like the police officers that take care of nature, OK, or whatever. Yeah. Some kind. And they have the show. I remember it being in Maine and they were talking about it was there was a bunch of ATV drivers and they were talking about all the trails and like their speed limits on the trails and yeah.   [00:45:14.710] - Kim Tate Like a whole trail system. And it was kind of it seems like it's a major it's almost like it seems like it's like cross-country ski trails during the winter and then in the summer. Snowmobiling. Yeah. Or snowmobiles. Yeah. So they turn out that's what it probably is, a snowmobiles and they turn on ATVs in the summer. So it's kind of cool how they it's such a big part of their life out there.   [00:45:35.860] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I was talking to Riley from Shrimpton village and she was saying that it's actually winter was always there big season for snowmobiling, but summer is now becoming like just as big or even bigger. And it's longer season, obviously, you know, for ATV and Hannah and I did something similar to this, like a couple of years ago up in northern New Hampshire. We went up and we did a little cabin in a place, you know, did kind of guided tours, you know, and we actually crossed over into Vermont for the day and had lunch and came back.   [00:46:03.400] - Tamara Gruber And, you know, it was really neat. So it's definitely some of these towns, like there's just not a lot of other stuff there, you know, so like this has become both their recreation and a way to bring in tourism. . And I think of like my nephew loves ATVing, you know, like he would love to go up there and do that, kind of like for me, you know, an hour or two of bumping around and I'm OK.   [00:46:25.780] - Tamara Gruber But, you know, some people are like, really love it. And I also like, how fast can we go? How much, how dirty can we get that stuff. Yeah, but like like they brought me up to the top of I think it was called Robert's Mountain and, you know, really beautiful view. She's like, we love to watch sunset here. But then on the way back we encounter a lot of moose. And again, that that's OK.   [00:46:45.130] - Tamara Gruber I do not want to be on the ATV trails at night, but she said those things I like really good lights and all that. So I'm like, OK, I mean, you know, so if you're into that, it's definitely a great place to go for it. But there's also like plenty of other hiking and stuff to do nearby, of course.   [00:47:00.250] - Kim Tate Yeah.   [00:47:00.730] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So because it's so there's this new national monument called Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. So if you think about like the national park system, like National Park is like the most well known. But then there's all these other types of public land, right, the historical monuments and, you know,   [00:47:17.480] - Kim Tate That's like that white sands, I always got thrown that it was a national monument, but now it's a national park.   [00:47:23.670] - Tamara Gruber Now it's a national park. Exactly. Yeah. So it is. They told me it's very rough and I didn't know exactly what that meant. But basically it means that there's really not like facilities there.   [00:47:33.810] - Kim Tate So I mean infrastructure. Yeah, there's no visitor center and bathrooms and stuff like that.   [00:47:37.230] - Tamara Gruber Exactly. It's more about I mean it's it's newly designated. So I'm sure some of that will develop over time. But it's also an international dark sky preserve and newly has that designation too. And that's like actually I think it might be a sanctuary. So there's levels there's like a sanctuary preserve community. There's like different designations for dark sky, but it is known for its dark skies. So I don't think they want to develop it too too much. But it's good for like if you want to do backcountry camping and stargazing or if you did want to do some like a real back country, like hiking.   [00:48:14.340] - Tamara Gruber But I will say, like I so the first night that I was up there, I drove in and I was meeting an astronomer from Dark Sky Maine to do some stargazing because I was a little nervous to just like wander out there on my own, like, where do I go? What do I do? And so I started driving into the park and it has like a 17 mile loop, I think 14 or 17. And they told me it would take like two hours to do the whole loop.   [00:48:39.030] - Tamara Gruber And I'm like, OK, you know, and wondering. But as I didn't realize, it's like ten miles, like just to get to the loop it felt like. And so and it's really rough. So there are a number of places where you would go, you know, up in this section of Maine and you and I experienced this to where it's really logging roads.   [00:48:57.240] - Kim Tate Yeah. You don't even know if it's a road. Yeah.   [00:48:59.460] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So it is, you know, it's gravel but there's like there's different grades of gravel, like it is, you know, like there are big potholes, big chunks of rock, you know, like where if you, if you have a low clearance car like forget about it, like it's it's not happening for you. And so I'm bumping along this and I right before I went, I had my car serviced. I'm like, OK, we just did a whole lot of driving, going to make sure my car's like in good shape.   [00:49:24.780] - Tamara Gruber And they said like, oh, I think you need tires. And I'm like, really? Because I got tires right before you and I went to Maine two years ago. But I well, I didn't drive like 5000 miles, you know. Yeah. For one road trip. And then I've done all these other we drove to Florida, you know, like we have put on a lot of miles. And so I could think was what if I pop a tire out here?   [00:49:43.230] - Tamara Gruber There's no cell service. There's no one coming. I just have to walk, like, through the wilderness back. So I'm like, you know, I'm just going to wait. I'm just going to wait over here, you know, for the person I'm meeting and he's going to drive me in. So that's what I did. So I would say, like, it is a place to go, like if that is what you're looking for.   [00:50:01.860] - Tamara Gruber But just be aware, you know, when it comes to services that that's what it is. I actually totally because I was reading a blog post recently and it said you could see lots of monuments there like you were there.   [00:50:18.570] - Tamara Gruber Yes. Because it's called the National Monument. Does not mean there are monuments there.   [00:50:22.470] - Kim Tate Exactly. It's not like Washington, D.C.. Yeah, that's crazy.   [00:50:26.610] - Tamara Gruber So I'm like, OK, blogger, start to make sure you've actually been there.   [00:50:30.390] - Kim Tate But anyway. Don't write for SEO, write for helping people.   [00:50:33.420] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, exactly. So at least our listeners know that we're going to give it straight. Right. You know. Yeah, I really feel. But we went out there and we saw a beautiful sunset over the mountain because we stopped this overlook overlooking Mt Katahdin and then they clouded it up. So I was like, I am such a bad.   [00:50:53.430] - Kim Tate You have such bad luck with it.   [00:50:59.250] - Tamara Gruber I mean, at least we got this. I got to see the northern lights. Normally every time I've done stargazing, you know, it rains or it clouds up. So we hung out for a while. I mea


    191 Tamara's New England Travels

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2021 50:07

    This week we are catching up on Tamara's recent travels around New England -- from a girlfriend getaway in Vermont to glamping in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. About Safe Travels Kit Our sponsor this week is Safe Travels Kit. Founded by New York fashion executive and avid globetrotter, Adriana Martone, the Safe Travels Kit is a patent pending, first-to-market travel and airline bedding kit that launched in December 2020. After a horrific experience with a dirty airplane seat, Adriana thought something more needed to be done to create more sanitary, comfortable travel experiences for all. Hence, the Safe Travels Kit brand was born.  Now, when travelers set off on a vacation or business trip, instead of worrying about encountering unsanitary surroundings, they can journey in comfort and serenity, resting on the Safe Travels Kit super-soft seat covers and pillowcases, made from high-tech fabric that prevents germs from penetrating. Each kit costs $39.95 and contains: One lightweight, washable, compact travel pouch (weighs .7 ounces) one seat cover that fits planes (economy and business class seats), trains, and cars; One standard size pillow case (made of the same material as the seat cover); 10 individually wrapped sanitising wipes; and One surgical face mask. New England Trip Tips Many state tourism boards have put together different trails that make it easy to plan a trip. Vermont has a cheese trail, beer trail, covered bridges trail, and more. The visitor center or the visitor's board website can provide a lot of information and sometimes coupons. Tamara has a good post on We3Travel with her itinerary for planning a Vermont road trip and read more about her weekend getaway on YourTimetoFly.com. Brattleboro, Vermont is a hip artsy town. Bennington, Vermont is a historic town in Southern Vermont. Manchester, Vermont has a lot to do in town and nearby and Tamara has a post about things to do in Manchester. Lye Brook Falls is a great hike just outside of Manchester. The Mountain Inn in Killington was perfect for a girls' trip. They have a restaurant and distillery on-site and have renovated the rooms to be trendy. In the winter they have a dining experience to eat in a gondola. Cold Hollow Cider Mill has great apple cider donuts and hard cider tastings. Bring along a cooler or cooler bag with ice packs to be able to bring home cheese and other goodies. Morse Farm near Montpelier does a maple syrup tasting. Auto Camp is a glamping resort that offers airstream camping, safari tents, and X Suites. There are locations in Sonoma, Yosemite, Zion, and now Cape Cod. You can read Tamara's full review of Auto Camp Cape Cod on YourTimetoFly. See other places to go glamping in New England. You can read about Tamara's trip to the Tuxbury Tiny House Village in New Hampshire on We3Travel, which is not far from Newburyport, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco has a great location in Old City Philadelphia. It is a great hotel right next to all the historic sites like Independence Hall. Stay tuned next week to hear more about Tamara's trip to Maine! Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.240] - Kim Tate Today, we're checking in with Tamara about her recent travels to New England.   [00:00:16.710] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:32.040] - Kim Tate Today's episode is sponsored by Safe Travels Kit. And as some of you may know, we are a family that deals with food allergies and the Safe Travels kit is perfect for those who are trying to protect themselves when they travel normally. I have to board the airplane in advance and wipe down our whole seat. And trust me, all the crevices around seats are not always the cleanest things. And the Safe Travels kit comes with an adjustable seat cover that covers the seat.   [00:00:57.100] - Kim Tate So I don't have to worry about all the germs and any food particles that may be there, as well as a super soft pillowcase and 10 sanitizing wipes that are perfect for helping me wipe down the tray table. And it even comes with one face mask. So if you guys are looking for a safe way to travel, you might want to check out the safe travels kit.   [00:01:14.960] - Tamara Gruber You know, I think about so many other kinds of germs, but I luckily don't have to deal with those allergens. So I never even thought of it for that reason. But really, I would love the security of knowing that those things are being kept away.   [00:01:27.570] - Kim Tate Definitely. Especially the spaces between chairs that can just get gross. So nice to know that this is an option for us. Great.   [00:01:33.570] - Tamara Gruber Well, everyone can check out Safe TravelsKit.com or check it out on Amazon.   [00:01:39.560] - Kim Tate So, Tamara, I, of course, follow you all over social media, and I've been very sad and feeling left out because you are just jet setting around New England and I have been stuck at home in Seattle. And so why don't you tell us all about some of the adventures you've been on lately?   [00:01:56.000] - Tamara Gruber I know I feel a little bit like a champagne. That was shook and then the cork was popped you know?   [00:02:01.130] - Kim Tate Well, exactly. It's like party vaccination rocks.   [00:02:05.720] - Tamara Gruber Totally.   [00:02:06.560] - Tamara Gruber I mean, it's just like it just has come about in that way. But there's definitely, I'm sure for everyone, like a lot of pent up demand for travel. And it just worked out like luckily Glenn is still not traveling for work. And so he's here to help out, you know, bring Hannah to and from school. So I've been able to go out and do some things on my own. But our first one was actually a Mother's Day thing.   [00:02:27.170] - Tamara Gruber So one night Glenn was asking, like, you know, what would you want to do for Mother's Day? Do you want to go for brunch or, you know, these things? And I kind of looked at him and I'm like, how do I tell them I just want to go away, like, without them? So I did. Yeah. So I was like, you know, I really just want to go somewhere. And Vermont had recently reopened to people that were vaccinated.   [00:02:49.970] - Tamara Gruber And I have wanted to go to Vermont like all last summer, but I couldn't because of the travel restrictions. So I asked a friend of mine who had also said, like, hey, when we're vaccinated, like, we should do something. So she's a teacher and she's had, of course, like a really very stressful year. So I was like, would you want to go to Vermont? She's like, absolutely. And so I planned it.   [00:03:12.740] - Tamara Gruber And I was like, Do you want to know anything that we're doing or should I just surprise you? And she was like, I have so much to deal with. I would be happy with whatever you do. And I know she's like she's someone that she likes to travel. She loves checking out new things. She's kind of like up for anything type of person anyway. So I just, like, went crazy. And I was like going through all these like, oh, like Vermont has a cheese trail and they have a beer trail and they have a, you know, like covered bridges trail.   [00:03:38.600] - Tamara Gruber And I'm like, how can I, like, fit a whole bunch in to, you know, like a long three day weekend.   [00:03:43.790] - Kim Tate So that's I like states do that when they do. I mean, that's become a thing. I remember remember that long time ago you and I did that press trip to Jefferson Parish. Louisiana. And they had like an oyster trail. And I just think it's it's really cool how, you know, states do that. It kind of gives you a cohesive theme and very organized literature to help you learn how to kind of explore.   [00:04:09.360] - Tamara Gruber It does. You know, and I think a lot of times, like a lot of people really don't have time to plan things. And so you see something like that, you're like, oh, yeah, that sounds interesting. Like, let's go do it. And it's fun. Like, I know my sister and my brother, actually, both of them, they're part of this group of couples through their church where they always travel together like twice a year.   [00:04:26.960] - Tamara Gruber And my brother is the organizer. Imagine that one of the things that they do is like this chocolate. I don't know if it's like a scavenger hunt, but it's like one of these things, like the town hall sets up like different kind of chocolate related death by chocolate, I think it's called, and then makes you go visit like each of the businesses that are participating to get your little piece of chocolate at or whatever. So it's just a fun thing and like and now it's something that they look forward to.   [00:04:53.780] - Tamara Gruber Like we go and we do this together and it's our tradition.   [00:04:56.870] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think that's awesome. I think also a heads up to people just when you are planning to explore a new region, don't forget about the visitors bureaus and visitor centers of the city or town or state that you're planning to visit because they are there for visitors specifically and they have a lot of great information and can really help you make the most out of your trip. So a lot of it's online, but sometimes I find that going into their little visitor centers can be extremely useful.   [00:05:26.180] - Kim Tate Yeah, and that's done some great coupons.   [00:05:29.210] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, that's what I really want to do with Vermont, which I think is Vermont vacation dotcom. But we were coming up from Rhode Island, so it was kind of doing a lot of southern and central Vermont. But they have a lot of scenic byways, as you can imagine, because it's just a very it's just such a pretty state. It's one of my favorites in New England. It just has that very classic feel, you know, like these towns with the church, with the big steeple and, you know, like just exactly what you think of when you think classic Americana.   [00:05:58.430] - Tamara Gruber Totally. So we started out in Brattleboro, which I hadn't really spent a lot of time in, and that is kind of like a artsy kind of hip little town. So we just kind of walked around town and did like a cheese shop there. And then we drove across like a scenic byway over to the town of Bennington, which is like a little bit more of a historic town. We started a bunch of covered bridges and different sites, and then we went up and we spent our first night in Manchester.   [00:06:27.950] - Tamara Gruber And if anyone hasn't been to Vermont, like Manchester is definitely one of my favorite towns. It's just it's really pretty. It's really quaint. There's a lot to do nearby. There's, you know, a number of ski resorts that aren't that to. Too far away, really good food scene, there's outlet shopping like a high end outlet shopping, if you enjoy that. But then there's also like the Orvis. Yeah, flyfishing company, their headquarters is there.   [00:06:51.340] - Tamara Gruber They have a resort there that has like a Land Rover experience. And then there's, of course, fly-Fishing, you know, there's Norman Rockwell stuff. So tons to do in that area. But we we stayed overnight there and we the next day went and did a waterfall because I was like, OK, we're going to see a lot of covered bridges. We're going to see a lot of waterfalls that we're going to eat like a lot of cheese and maple sirup kind of stuff.   [00:07:11.900] - Tamara Gruber So we did this hike, which I think you would have enjoyed, too. It was like five miles round trip, but it was up to a waterfall. And when we got up there, it was pretty much empty, like there was no one there for quite a while. And then after I was taking some pictures, like a bunch of people came and then there was like a whole flood of people coming up. We're like, well, we made it here just in time.   [00:07:30.370] - Tamara Gruber But it was like one of those good, you know, like uphill climbs that you felt like you worked hard for it, but you weren't, like, totally exhausted afterwards, you know, and you had a good reward, you know, when I got there.   [00:07:41.590] - Kim Tate So that was sometimes something. Yeah.   [00:07:43.150] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And then we went we did a historic home that Robert Lincoln, who's Abraham Lincoln's son, had built a summer home up there when he was like president of the Pullman like the Pullman cars and trains like that company that like, you know, a little self guided tour of that home. And then we drove from there. We made a couple other stops at like Maple sirup places up to Killington, which is one of the major ski resorts in in Vermont.   [00:08:12.280] - Tamara Gruber And we at this place called the Mountain In. And it was kind of like you could tell it was probably like an old like not so great hotel that they have renovated to make it look like cool and retro. You know, sometimes they take anything like motels or different hotels and they add like this, you know, kind of cool element to it.   [00:08:31.330] - Kim Tate We stayed in one like that in Santa Rosa. I remember we. Yeah, that it was kind of a motel, but it had such cute, like, retro theming.   [00:08:38.110] - Tamara Gruber Right. Right. Yes.   [00:08:39.560] - Kim Tate This one was. I think it was anyway. Sorry. Go ahead.   [00:08:42.300] - Tamara Gruber This one has a distillery there. So it's like distillery and in and then they have like a restaurant there. So it's like cool. And I thought it was really good for like a girls trip because, you know, like they have the little tasting room where you can taste the different spirits. And like I was like a cool, trendy thing. And then they had little balconies off the room where you can overlook the the slopes at Killington, which still had some snow on them, you know, so it was really neat.   [00:09:06.610] - Tamara Gruber And then I booked us a special experience, like something that I've wanted to do all winter here. But the places that do it are so darn expensive that I haven't done it. But is eating in a ski gondola. Oh, yeah. Yes. Have you seen those? Do you have.   [00:09:20.410] - Kim Tate Yeah, I don't think we have a gondola, but we have the little the Globes like the glass triangle globe things in Seattle. But yeah, I've seen the gondolas. I know they have them in Colorado.   [00:09:31.390] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. It's just something that I've wanted to do and like yeah there's a place here called Ocean House which does it and it's like a fondue experience, but it's like five hundred dollars and you get basically like crudite and fondue and like not even wine or anything. So I'm like I want to do that. Looks so cool. It's like so cool Instagram ish kind of thing. But anyway they had it there, you did have to pay a little extra, but then the food was just like normal and they're heated and they had actually like built it out so that it had like little curtains and pillows and like it was like designed inside.   [00:10:04.870] - Tamara Gruber So it was really neat. And they had music piped in so, so fun because it was definitely cold that night, you know. So they're like the waitress would come in, like open the doors and give us the food. And it was just it was such a fun experience. It was very too, because they brought out like a I think a like maple aged bourbon or something like maple barrel bourbon was like their thing and they brought it out.   [00:10:26.920] - Tamara Gruber And I don't really drink like spirits that much. And so it came out, you know, you know, like an amuse bouche. When they're serving you like dinner, they'll bring a little thing from the chef. So I'm like, is this like the alcohol amuse bouche? But like, I I'm not a bourbon fan. So I was like sipping it. And then I'm like, OK, I'm just going to dump the rest and the rest of my drink and.   [00:10:48.850] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, but I'm like, is it really bad if I just switch to wine when I'm at a distillery?   [00:10:54.280] - Kim Tate Yeah, I'm not a spirits person but it sounds good. I wonder how many restaurants are going to have a whole new monetization like as bad as and hard as the you know, pandemic was on them being able to have this new revenue stream that maybe some of them have found and developed is going to be exciting like the outdoor dining.   [00:11:13.340] - Tamara Gruber I mean, Glenn and I were just talking about that this weekend because we're in Philadelphia. And I was saying, like, there's so many things that I hope stick around. You know, like so much outdoor dining, I really hope stays. But yeah. So we did that. We stayed. So that was our second night. We stayed in Killington and then the next day we drove up the scenic route one hundred to a few more like waterfalls and different sites.   [00:11:34.930] - Tamara Gruber And we hit we're going to hit that Ben and Jerry's factory store, but we've both already done. So we went to this other, like apple cider place that I've gone to called Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and since I last been there, they actually added hard cider, too. So you would like this because they do like a cider tasting. Like hard cider tasting.   [00:11:53.690] - Kim Tate That's right up my alley. Yeah, I like regular cider and hard ciders.   [00:11:57.680] - Tamara Gruber Well, and the good thing about this was, although you may not like it as much as I did, but when you do the hard cider tasting, they give you a coupon for six free apple cider donuts across the street.   [00:12:06.920] - Kim Tate Oh, I would love that. Love it.   [00:12:09.860] - Kim Tate Yeah. I have to come do fall with you in New England because the Apple Cider Donuts, we have one place out here that does, um, and I've heard of people getting them out here, but I've never gone around to it. But that's, you know, sounds like a dream dessert for me.   [00:12:24.890] - Tamara Gruber They're so good. They're so, so good. There's a place that I like to go to. Sometimes they'll have like an hour waiting in line to get them. It'll be worth it if we'll just chat for an hour. We can record a podcast while we wait for apple cider. Well, I will say definitely the thing to do is if you're going to do one of these road trips to Vermont is bring a cooler because I brought like a cooler like a small cooler bag.   [00:12:45.170] - Tamara Gruber But it was not big enough because, of course, like, there's all these cheese places, like we went to like two or three artisan cheese places. So we bought cheese and then we would stop at the maple syrup, you know, the maple sugar shacks. And so you'd get like maple syrup and, you know, just like different maple goods, you know, and then you have the craft beer, you know, like there's so many things that you want to, like, pop into that cooler.   [00:13:07.280] - Kim Tate We'll have to go back to that travel tech episode. I'm sure that he has some advice on the best coolers. I remember him talking about that.   [00:13:14.810] - Tamara Gruber I was like, well, good thing it's still cold out. You know, we did bring it in for, like a fridge one day, but the next night it was going to be 32 degrees and like, it can just be fine. So we had a lot of fun. And we in the last place we went to, I think it was called Morse Farm, and they did a syrup tasting.   [00:13:31.520] - Tamara Gruber So a lot of places like you kind of have to know, do you like like a rich robust or do you like a lighter amber? But there they didn't and even did it with covid. They had a Plexiglas shield. They gave you a little spoon each time and then you just kind of lowered your mask and popped it in. But it was really neat, you know, to do that kind of sirup tasting. And of course, everybody, one of the things that's big there are maple cremees.   [00:13:52.880] - Tamara Gruber So it's like a soft ice cream, but it's maple flavored soft ice cream.   [00:13:57.710] - Kim Tate That's so that sounds good. I like maple sirup. I'm not I'm not like in the maple candies that much, but I don't.Yeah, I like caramel so maybe I don't know, I'm not big on like the maple stuff. Like the sugar candy.   [00:14:09.650] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I was never big on that but I love syrup definitely. I round my pancakes and syrup and like all of these country stores are just they're so cute, you know, they have like all the pancake mix and you know, just like all the locally made products kind of stuff.   [00:14:26.150] - Tamara Gruber So I anyway I have a whole itinerary that I just put up on We3Travel just with the three days in Vermont if you want to see all of our stops. But it was just so much fun. It was just a very it was a good girls trip, right. Yeah. I don't know if, like, everyone would have wanted to do the stops that we made, you know, like I probably would have been like, OK, enough of cheese shops or enough covered bridges.   [00:14:49.550] - Tamara Gruber Now, like, they all kind of start to look alike, you know, like things like that. But the waterfalls are beautiful, too. And it was a good time of year to be out there, you know, because the water is in this. Yeah, the water. I will say, though, the only the struggle still was finding a bathroom because so many of the visitors centers and I think because Vermont had just reopened. Oh, yeah.   [00:15:09.560] - Tamara Gruber Like a lot of places that had closed down, maybe they open during ski season, but then closed again. And we're going to open like after Memorial Day. So we had a little bit of trouble sometimes, like finding restaurants that were open or like one day we just we took some of our cheese and crackers and we made ourselves a little picnic, you know, and that's what we did for lunch.   [00:15:29.270] - Kim Tate Yeah. I definitely think that, like, the travel sector is changing fast. And I think after Memorial Day, it'll be interesting to see how quickly destinations are able to adjust. And because, you know, I think it's also finding workers again and getting back on board.   [00:15:45.950] - Tamara Gruber And so I was going to say definitely the challenge is staffing because know here, like quite a few states have lifted restrictions entirely. So it's like, yeah, wide open, which is kind of crazy and takes getting used to.   [00:15:58.520] - Tamara Gruber But definitely the challenge is still like staffing. You know, we went to a restaurant the other day and we're looking to like move our reservation to be a little bit earlier. And there didn't seem like there's anything available. And we walked up and like the whole like half the patio is empty. We're like, what do you mean it wasn't available? Like, that part was closed off. I'm sure they just didn't have, you know, staffing for it.   [00:16:20.750] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, definitely an issue. But it was it was such a nice trip. My friend loved it. It was just like one of those things where it was like the first, you know, getaway like without the family, the first getaway, like, you know, and so long. And it was just it was just so nice. It was just kind of strange. Like we got to be around someone that we didn't live with and stayed in the room with her and you still negotiate some of that, like, mask.   [00:16:49.300] - Tamara Gruber It was interesting. I mean, I definitely think that's going to be everyone has to come to like different comfort levels. And it's like the more you kind of get yourself out there, the more comfortable you might feel. It's also nice to know that, like, Vermont is like 70 percent vaccinated. So you're going to a fairly safe, you know, destination where everyone around you is kind of in a similar boat. So it makes you good.   [00:17:12.370] - Kim Tate But that's awesome. So that's trip one. I know there's like two or three other ones. Was what's next that you're going to dish about?   [00:17:21.790] - Tamara Gruber So the next thing I did, I did on my own and it was glamping things. So I went to this place called Auto Camp Cape Cod. So Auto Camp is like a upscale glamping resort that uses Airstream like retrofitted like new Airstream trailers. And they also have some like camping tents and some what they call X Suites, which are tiny houses, really, but they have locations. There's one in Russian River and Sonoma. There's one outside of Zion, one outside of Yosemite.   [00:17:54.760] - Tamara Gruber This one in Cape Cod just opened, I think, in April. And then there is a few others that are opening this year. So it's definitely like one of the it's kind of like under canvas, you know, it's like dedicated glamping, but upscale lots of amenities, you know, kind of feels like you're on a hotel resort, except your accommodations are are very different. And I will say I loved it. So this one I went by myself because I just wanted to check this out.   [00:18:20.350] - Tamara Gruber I've written about glamping in New England in the past. In the fall, I have an article about like 20 different places that you can go camping in New England. But I wanted to do more of a deep dove into this one. And I just I was really happy to be away by myself. It was so fun, but it was such a unique experience. It was like the first of all, the clubhouse that they have, like the main kind of lobby.   [00:18:45.010] - Tamara Gruber You could say it was just gorgeous. It was very like they call it mid century modern, but it felt like they had like an eco lodge type of feel to it, too, because it was very like inside. Outside. So you, like, walked in this big door. There's a desk, there's like a little shop with all the kind of curated gift shop kind of stuff, but then also like food and things like that that you could buy.   [00:19:05.830] - Tamara Gruber And then they had this huge, like, lobby area with all these different types of like lounge seating, a little area where they would you can purchase breakfast or coffee or they do all day dining. Then there were these long, like work tables that you would sometimes find in like a Courtyard Marriott type of lobby where there's like a workstations like long tables that have like outlets and things so people can do work there. But then it opened straight into a patio with more different types of lounge seating.   [00:19:31.420] - Tamara Gruber And then like a view across the lawn and in the distance, you could see like the ocean and they had like a fire pit, you know, set up outside. And then there was like a really neat looking fireplace inside as well. So it was like a just a beautiful property. Like, you step in right away and you're like, OK, this is not like a campground. You know, this is something.   [00:19:53.140] - Tamara Gruber I love how more hotels and resorts are getting kind of this lobby focus where they're creating a lot of sitting areas in the lobbies, because I think a lot of people want to do that. They don't want to just be in your room the whole time. So that's cool that I think that's a trend that I've been noticing more and more.   [00:20:12.340] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's nice, especially if you're traveling with somebody to right to have a place to, like, hang out. And I definitely saw that with, you know, whether it was like family groups or, you know, like friend groups that these kind of places, you know, tend to attract that kind of thing where you can have your individual accommodations, but then you're kind of hanging out around the campfire together, something like, yeah, I definitely feel like this was a really good spot for a romantic getaway, because the way that the trailers are set up, they have a queen bed in a bedroom and then they do have a couch that could fold out into a futon.   [00:20:46.090] - Tamara Gruber But it's really like one adult or two little kids. Like there's no way like a family of four, like teen, you know, with teens, like there's no way you could do it with them. Yeah. And even that like even the family, like I saw a lot of families are like toddler age. They're like, OK, so they put the kids on the pull out, but like the bathrooms on one side and the bedrooms on the other side and the kids are in the middle, you know, so it's like a little bit like where do you go, where do you hang out?   [00:21:13.330] - Tamara Gruber And I know you have that in a hotel room, too, and you can certainly hang out, you know, outside by the fire and such. But, you know, I definitely felt like it would be really nice as a romantic getaway for something just very different.   [00:21:25.960] - Kim Tate I think that sounds nice. I mean, I yeah, I think it's it varies based on what people are looking for. It's so it's good to consider spacing. I mean, you talked about that even when we talked about the road trip, the massive road trip. You. Like, sometimes families need space, and so you have to remember that when you're booking your accommodations, right?   [00:21:45.680] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Just because it says it can sleep four.   [00:21:48.440] - Kim Tate Exactly.   [00:21:48.970] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, well, it was sleep, the four of you comfortably. Yes. But the Airstreams itself, they were really nice. So you went in and there was like this, you know, lounge living area with the couch that converts to a bed and then there's a kitchen area. The kitchen had like a mini fridge and a microwave and a sink and just like a coffeemaker with, like, fresh ground coffee from like a local roaster. And the bathroom was super nice.   [00:22:19.130] - Tamara Gruber And they had all of the products that you would need, again, like, you know, local organic kind of products, really soft towels. They provided robes the bedroom, like little things that you don't even always find in a hotel like next to the bed either side. There is a little mini nightstand that had USB plugs as well as like the lighting controls and stuff. And in the whole Airstream, you could actually pair your, like, phone or something to their Bluetooth and then play music through the speakers like throughout the Airstream I saw, which was really neat, like when I was just hanging out by myself, I was doing some work and I was like playing some music and just doing some work using the Wi-Fi.   [00:22:59.930] - Tamara Gruber You know, it's just little things like that that were good. And then I had like air conditioning and and heating and I had like a skylight. And even in the bathroom, I had like a little you could pop the skylight and then the fan to kind of get the steam out of there. So I was really impressed. I just I really liked it. They all come with, like a picnic table and two chairs, not like folding chairs, but like, you know, two chairs next to a little fire.   [00:23:26.240] - Tamara Gruber The only thing is that you can't burn firewood there. You have to, like, buy the stuff called Goodwood, which is kind of like, look, I kind of compressed sawdust like made into like a log kind of thing. So I think it's like for environmental purposes, just not to be burning like wood. But it was also like it was right on this bikeway that goes through one section of the cape. It's like an 11 mile bike path and it's backs right up on the on the bike path.   [00:23:51.080] - Tamara Gruber And they have a little bike shed where you can borrow bikes to use. So the next day I, I rode all the way down to Woods Hole, which is where the ferry will go out to go over to Martha's Vineyard, you know, one of the islands off of the Cape. And, you know, it's just a cute little town with shops and restaurants and stuff. So you can ride down there. You go past a beach, you can hang out at the beach, you can go.   [00:24:14.210] - Tamara Gruber This other direction was through like a swampy. Sounds terrible, but like a nice, you know, like a marsh area where there's like seabirds and things like that. So it was just, you know, it was really it was really very, very nice getaway. And I had fun. It was nice. I would definitely check out one of their destinations. If you're going to be, you know, in some of the national parks, and especially as they start to open up more, I think they're opening up one in the Catskills, which we did an episode on that.   [00:24:39.780] - Tamara Gruber So another option for you.   [00:24:43.130] - Kim Tate Well, that definitely sounds like a great solo getaway, but I know that you have even more coming up. You've been so busy. So what's next on your New England adventures?   [00:24:53.510] - Tamara Gruber You know, it's funny because I was just thinking about it, too. It's like one of each kind of trip. I did a girls trip. I did a solo trip. I did a family trip, and I did a couples trip. Yeah, that's where all the kind of that you like to enjoy. It's nice that you had that. That's awesome.   [00:25:06.930] - Kim Tate So what's what's up next? Now, what's the family trip?   [00:25:09.650] - Tamara Gruber Well, so the family trip was a weekend away and another type of glamping situation. It was a tiny house. So I think everyone's kind of heard of these little tiny houses. It's definitely a trend like some people are moving to, like, let's get rid of the house and live in, like, these tiny house living type of thing. But it also can be used for camping. And so there's a place called Tuxbury tiny house village, and it is part of the Tuxbury Pond RV resort, which is right on the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.   [00:25:41.420] - Tamara Gruber So I think the address is officially New Hampshire, but it was only about an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes away for us to go up. And I've written about them, you know, in my little glamping round up, but I hadn't had a chance to go and do it. So they were like, hey, you know, do you have a chance this year? So I was like, sure, I'll come up.   [00:25:59.300] - Tamara Gruber So they hosted us. And luckily Hannah agreed it was like between her exams. So she was able to get away for the weekend because sometimes she's like, no, I'm too busy. So it was like the one weekend that we didn't have anything going on. So I basically came home from Cape Cod and then repacked and we drove up to New Hampshire. But it was a similar type of thing. But instead of it being an Airstream, it was a tiny house.   [00:26:23.000] - Tamara Gruber So you guys can go on to We3Travel. And I have a post that'll be up by the time this comes out. So you can see a little bit more. If you can't understand what I'm describing, you know, from the pictures, you'll you'll be able to get it. But this was like this was like a real rV campground, so like when you pulled in the office, it was already closed, but they left keys for us.   [00:26:44.210] - Tamara Gruber So it's like, you know, your typical, like RV campground where there's just tons of RVs everywhere. Like, some peoples are clearly like permanently there. You know, some people have porch decorations.   [00:26:58.820] - Tamara Gruber And it's also every time I've been to one of these, like when I've done a KOA kind of thing, I'm always taken by, like, how it's such a community, like everyone seems to know each other. Right. And so like the next day.   [00:27:13.610] - Kim Tate I was just going to say, you have hosts like there's like RV campground hosts that welcome you or, you know, is family a very community respect.   [00:27:20.960] - Tamara Gruber We late for that, I guess. But yeah, they have all kinds of activities. But you would just see, like, neighbors talking to each other. A lot of them, I think, because it's a really big campground, have these golf carts that they store there. So they're like zooming around in their golf carts and waving to people and talking to people. And, you know, just, you know, it's like being in a neighborhood.   [00:27:38.900] - Tamara Gruber So sometimes when you go into that, you're like, oh, I feel like a little like I'm missing something here. Like I'm not part of that. Yeah, but we just kind of did our own thing and they had all of the little tiny houses off to like one side. And ours was called Emerson because they'll have names and it was right on the pond. So we had like a really nice view sitting in our Adirondack chairs looking at the like where a fire pit was like looking out on the pond, you know.   [00:28:04.640] - Tamara Gruber So that was it was nice. And they definitely have activities there, like they had horseshoes and basketball and volleyball and they have a pool and they have a playground. And they had like a calendar of activities. And like, Hannah, do you want to go to the hypnotist show? And she's like, yeah, no, I'll pass on that, you know, but they have stuff that you can do, you know, on site.   [00:28:23.210] - Tamara Gruber And otherwise it's like so accessible to so many things there. We went to Portsmouth, New Hampshire one day, which is like a really nice historic downtown, kind of like a Portland, Maine, that you've been to cobblestone streets like, you know, little downtown, like lots of great restaurants and shops and things. So we did that one day. And then the next day when we were leaving, we went to Newbury Port in Massachusetts, which similar kind of on the water, cute town harbor, cobblestone streets, shops and things like that, which I had promised Hannah I would take her to a bookstore.   [00:28:56.000] - Tamara Gruber And so she was like, be lining for that bookstore. But she was happy because she came back with a bag full of books. But, you know, it was just like a nice little getaway. And we have not done very much of that, you know, even beyond covid, just like in the school year during high school. So it was really nice and it was nice that Hanna was like chill and relaxed about it. And, you know, we went to lunch one day, actually both days we went out to lunch.   [00:29:23.170] - Tamara Gruber I will tell you, it was funny story, though. So when we got up there, we were running a little bit late. And I'm like, we have to get there before it turns dark because I need to take pictures, you know? You know what that's like.   [00:29:32.720] - Kim Tate I know that I planned vacations with knowing and I need to get to an area. If I could tell you our safari west spring break, I'd understand anyways.   [00:29:42.710] - Tamara Gruber So, of course, like Glenn's on phone calls and he has like every day he has like a five thirty phone call or whatever. So I'm like, you know, driving. And he's like on the phone in the car and I'm like racing up the highway trying to get there. And so then we get there and the office is closed and I'm like, oh my God, we can't even get any cell phone coverage. Like who do I call what I do.   [00:30:02.000] - Tamara Gruber Luckily there was like the keys were left in a mailbox. It just took a minute to figure that out. So we get there and I'm like, OK, we need to start dinner right away because we had these burgers. So I figured, OK, that night when we get there, we're just going to make dinner there. And then the next night we'll go out to dinner because I don't like to cook every night when we're like on vacation because, yeah, of course you want to chill out, but I'm like, I don't know what's going to be around.   [00:30:25.130] - Tamara Gruber Let's like bring stuff to cook like that night. So I saw it was a charcoal grill. We have a gas grill at home, so I don't really know how to cook on charcoal. But like I did it when I was at auto camp, I just bought charcoal from them and I lit it with a match and it lit and it was fine and it was all good. So we get down there and we had this old bag of charcoal.   [00:30:45.320] - Tamara Gruber I put it in there. So I'm like, OK, you guys like, start the fire, I'm going to take the pictures. And then I come out and like, Glenn could not get this fire going. Like he's like trying everything to get this charcoal. And of course, we can't go buy charcoal like lighter fluid because the store is closed and we have no idea where, like, the closest whatever is, you know, and it's already like getting dark.   [00:31:04.850] - Tamara Gruber And I forgot to bring, like, the headlamp, you know, I'm like, oh, we can't even see what we're doing out here. So, you know, he's trying he's trying to get it going and it and we were already late, like, we didn't get there until almost eight o'clock. And so we're like, is there even going to be a place to get food that's still open? And, you know, so he's like trying to get on the wi fi to try to find, you know, and he was like, pick up some food.   [00:31:26.540] - Tamara Gruber So that just we're not, like, starving that night. I mean, I brought, like, snacks, but we were hungry.   [00:31:30.480] - Kim Tate Right.   [00:31:31.430] - Tamara Gruber And so then I'm like, OK, there's a stovetop here, there's a frying pan. I'm just going to cook the burgers on the stove top like. Granted, it's going to take a while to the frying pan fits like one burger at a time, but I'm going to go ahead and do this. So I start cooking it and the whole place, like, fills with smoke. And I'm like, I don't know how that smoke detector didn't go off.   [00:31:51.560] - Tamara Gruber So I'm like opening every window in the place and trying to, you know, when you're like the smoke alarms going off and you're like when you're fanning it.   [00:31:58.250] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, yeah. So I'm like trying to push the smoke out the window and I'm trying to find is there an exhaust fan? And I'm turning on the fan from like the bathroom trying to get anything to suck the smoke out of there. And so Glenn is like, that's it. I'm just going to like get a pizza. He's like, just turn it off. And I'm like, well, now these burgers are like like half. What do I do?   [00:32:16.820] - Tamara Gruber And so he calls and he's like, I'm just going to go get a pizza. So he goes and he leaves because he's like, I have to get there. They close at 9:00, I have to get there. So I'm like, OK, go, go, go. And then I like come out and I see Hannah still trying to work on the charcoal she's got and she has like the coals kind of going. So I'm like good job honey.   [00:32:34.640] - Tamara Gruber I'm like, OK, I'm gonna bring these burgers that I'm like half cooked in the pan will put the other half over the charcoal. So, you know, but we can't see what we're doing. It's like pitch black. I like did Dad even clean the great or am I putting like my burger on some like disgusting, like dirty thing, you know, and so we start cooking the burgers out there and the first two are like, OK, those are done.   [00:32:56.570] - Tamara Gruber So I'm unwrapping the other two to bring out and have them start to cook. And so meanwhile, like Hannah and I are sharing a burger while Glenn's like sitting waiting for pizza, because then the pizza place is like really backed up. He ends up not getting back until almost 10:00 at night with the pizza. Meanwhile, we've already had like a burger and a half to try to cook these other two burgers. And the coals just will not keep they're just dying.   [00:33:21.380] - Tamara Gruber They're dying. We cannot get them going. So then I have like, these gray pretty much raw burgers and I'm like, what am I going to do with it? And it's grossing me out. And I'm like, you know, like raw meat, like whatever. So like, I have nothing to even wrap it in. Glenn's like, well, don't just throw them out. Those were like good burgers. I'm like, well what are we going to do it.   [00:33:39.410] - Tamara Gruber Like what, where are we cooking these things? You know, so they cover them up and put them in the fridge. I'm like, OK, fine. So I had them on a plate and I put like a bowl on top of it and put it in the fridge. And then the next one we're finally leaving because we never cooked the burgers. I'm like, now you're going to have, like, stinky rotting meat, like in the garbage. So we were like tying it up in bags so it wouldn't smell and wasn't disgusting. But anyway, that's my terrible story about trying to cook while we're at the tiny house.   [00:34:06.860] - Kim Tate Oh my goodness, that is so funny. It's just this is family travel.   [00:34:12.470] - Kim Tate Like I feel like all of us who have traveled with kids have been in a situation like that where your food is such a stressor. There's all these like different levels. And if something can go wrong on a family vacation, you know, there's a good chance it will.   [00:34:26.870] - Tamara Gruber So I thought I had it figured out. I was like, yeah, like, you can eat well.   [00:34:31.300] - Kim Tate I mean, well, we all have so much experience on this, but inevitably something still is like, oh, I hadn't planned for that. Like, OK, now, you know, you need to pack coals and lighter fluid.   [00:34:41.210] - Tamara Gruber Right.   [00:34:41.930] - Kim Tate And flashlights. Although did you use your phone flashlight you could have used. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We were using it. So funny. Oh my. OK, so well you know after any other parts of that stay that you want to mention, was it a nice it looked like a cute little place and a nice getaway.   [00:34:57.320] - Tamara Gruber It was like I definitely you know, I would recommend it. It was so much more affordable too than some of the other glamping kind of things that are out there, because it starts, I think, around one hundred and forty five or a hundred and fifty dollars a night, you know, for this space, which, you know, I thought was pretty good. So it slept. I think that one could sleep up to six, but that would be really tight.   [00:35:18.200] - Tamara Gruber So basically, like downstairs, it had a couch that could fold open. It had a table with three chairs. It had the kitchen, tiny little bathroom. And then you went up a flight of stairs to the sleeping loft. But the thing is, like the loft, it's not like full size. You can't stand up up there. Right. So basically, like, you walked up the stairs and then kind of crawled onto the bed and fell asleep.   [00:35:38.660] - Tamara Gruber And there was a queen and a double, just like on the, you know, on the ground, like the mattresses on the ground. But it was fine, like it was comfortable and we enjoyed it. It was very different. You know, we had fun. It was just nice to be away. We like sat and like, you know, looked and watched the pond, like we took a little walk and then we went and did those excursions, you know, on those days.   [00:36:00.140] - Tamara Gruber So it's just like a chill, you know, getaway. It wasn't about like we're doing a lot of stuff.   [00:36:05.570] - Kim Tate Awesome. So then the final trip of your, you know, massive travel reopening, you know, it was a couple's getaway. So tell us all about that.   [00:36:16.280] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So my nephew was getting married down outside of Philadelphia. And, you know, we were all invited, but Hannah had to study for exams and she also wasn't fully vaccinated, so she wasn't really comfortable to go and do that quite yet. And so then I decided that we were going to go and we actually left her alone for the first. Oh, nice. Which is like big and that week was actually the first time that she drove on her own because like we you know, she got her license a month ago, but she's still like only driven with me in the car, you know, like she hasn't gone to see her friends or anything like that.   [00:36:52.770] - Tamara Gruber It's just like the way it's a little bit hard because, you know, she lives a half hour away from school, half hour away from her friends. So, you know, anything that she's going to go do is like, you know, getting on the highway. It's like a bigger thing, like she does it with me. But just to do it on her own, you know, she hasn't had the opportunity. She hasn't asked for it.   [00:37:11.360] - Tamara Gruber And then she's not the type to be like, oh, I want to go to Dunkin Donuts. Like, it's funny because sometimes I've been like, hey, why don't you go do this? And she's like, but then I have to buy something. Then I have to talk to someone. And she's like, well, how do I do it? Like, I'm like, well, you have a debit card. And she's like, Yeah, what do I do?   [00:37:30.740] - Tamara Gruber Put a pin in? And I'm like, I don't know, like I don't use a debit card like cash. So it's just really funny. But it's one of those things I think. I'm sure you've experienced this with your teens, but it seems like a big deal until it's done. And so, you know, there was all this like I don't know if I'm ready to drive on my own. I don't know. I don't know. And so earlier that week, she had something out at there, like the schools, like farm campus, which is a little bit easier to get to.   [00:37:56.720] - Tamara Gruber And it's you don't have to parallel park on a very small city street. There's a parking lot. So I'm like, hey, why don't you drive yourself? And she's like, what? It's like, drive yourself. So she did it. And it was like, you know, this major milestone. And she came back. She's like, Yeah, it's fine.   [00:38:11.720] - Kim Tate Nice!   [00:38:15.980] - Tamara Gruber and then they did it and they're like, What are you talking about? I just never worried about that.   [00:38:19.770] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah.   [00:38:21.290] - Tamara Gruber You're all you're making it all up, you know. So we went away and she did have to drive herself to go to her friends, the school play there in the school play. So she did that and she cooked herself dinner and cleaned up after herself. So she had her first little independence.   [00:38:36.140] - Kim Tate That's good. Yeah, it's kind of yeah. It's been nice with Lizzie. She has a job now and stuff and she has a lot of her own money and she, you know, is responsible now. She books her own hair appointments and she's totally done shopping on her own. She buys stuff online. She's fully it's nice. It's been really it's definitely a step in independence when they have their own money and they learn to start making choices with that money.   [00:39:00.230] - Kim Tate And it's cool. So, yeah.   [00:39:02.700] - Tamara Gruber I guess it's yeah, we're at the beginning of that road. I know it'll probably snowball and go quickly like once it starts. But it's kind of neat to watch. But it was good. I mean we were nervous but she's such a she's a good kid. I mean when we were leaving Glenn's like we're still through any house parties and she's like, Dad, I have to study.   [00:39:22.160] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah. So it was also your anniversary.   [00:39:28.790] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So it was our twenty first anniversary and obviously we didn't really do much last year. And so I was like, look, you know, we can stay at like the best western near the place where the where the wedding is taking place. Or we can just stay in downtown Philadelphia. Nice hotel and make a weekend of it. So we're like, yeah, let's make a weekend of it. So we went down and we stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, which I've stayed at before when I was in Philadelphia.   [00:39:52.160] - Tamara Gruber And it's such a great location. Like, I just I love Philadelphia. I know you haven't been, but it's like it's just, you know,   [00:39:57.770] - Kim Tate I was there with you once! We went for a one day conference. We took the train from New York. It was my first, like, East Coast train experience. Yeah. Yeah. But I didn't really see much of Philadelphia, so yeah. I've been there.   [00:40:12.440] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I think where we stayed was more like Center City and this was more like Old City. So it's right, right across from like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell. So you just have like some cobblestone streets, you have all this history right there. There's a lot of green space around like a lot of parks. It's just a nice part of town. I really like staying there. And I just feel like Philadelphia in general, it's just it's cleaner.   [00:40:35.000] - Tamara Gruber It's like not as busy, but there's still like a good vibe to it. You know, it's still an energy. And this was our first experience, like kind of being in a city post, vaccination, you know, feel like it's nice out and just feeling kind of normal ish. And it was it's actually really cool. So we we arrived again. We're like racing, you know, because Glenn's phone calls and all that stuff, you know.   [00:40:58.220] - Tamara Gruber So racing into town, I had made a nine thirty dinner reservation for us because I'm like, look, we can either stop an eat like whatever crap on the New Jersey Turnpike or we can get into town and just eat late but have a good dinner. And there's this place called Buddakan that I've always wanted to try, and it's like a three minute walk from our hotel. So I'm like, let's just go there. So I thought for sure we weren't going to make it because Friday night traffic and everything like that.   [00:41:22.130] - Tamara Gruber But we kind of like skidded in just in time. And I'm like, Glenn, go check the valet and I'm going to go like walk down and make sure that our table's kept. So we we were doing like outdoor dining, but the way that they've done it is they've built like almost like little individual booths. So it's like a protected kind of space, but there was like a barrier in between each table, so it was really, really cool.   [00:41:43.330] - Tamara Gruber The dinner was fantastic. And then, you know, when it comes to good dinner stories, OK, I, I shared this on my Instagram story, but this story is still kind of blows me away. But we were having dinner and the table next to us, they were celebrating a fiftieth birthday. It was like a group of women friends and you know, so when they were singing Happy Birthday to her, we clapped and we were just like wishing them happy birthday.   [00:42:06.190] - Tamara Gruber And then someone came along the street and he was like looking for money. And, you know, first Glenn was kind of trying not to pay attention because we were having our dinner. But then we you know, the guy I don't know if his story was true or not, but he's like, I served the country for 20 years was that, you know, I'm a vet and like all this stuff and I'm down on my luck and have four year old daughter.   [00:42:26.020] - Tamara Gruber And we're like, oh, you know, like it just it was we were in a tough spot. So, Glenn, I gave him some money and he left. And then, like, the people next to us were like, oh, that was so nice that you did that. Like, I'm so glad you didn't come to our table because we wouldn't have done that or whatever. And so at the end of the meal, you know, Glenn, I just like we're just really enjoying, like, being out the two of us having a great dinner, great experience, just like a nice energy around.   [00:42:48.580] - Tamara Gruber But we felt like super safe because, I mean, first of all, we're outside we're vaccinated. It's all like, you know, distanced and everything. And and then the woman from the table next to us comes over. She puts a receipt on her table and she was like, your dinner is taken care of. And she walked away. And we're like, what? Because this was like our anniversary dinner. We were not like holding back, like it was not a budget dinner.   [00:43:13.240] - Tamara Gruber And she paid for our dinner.   [00:43:15.490] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's also it was unbelievable. Like, I was like, oh, cool.   [00:43:19.240] - Tamara Gruber This is a time when I feel like so much distrust over other people and fear and like, you're just getting used to being around other people again. And here is this woman comes over and just like pays for our dinner just because she thought Glenn did something nice. And I'm like, wow.   [00:43:37.120] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's amazing. That's awesome. Yeah.   [00:43:39.520] - Tamara Gruber So it kind of started our a weekend off great. But we had a wonderful weekend, just like exploring, you know, like walking around Philadelphia was like ninety degrees. So it was like boiling. We were it was just great. We were outside and just enjoying it. We stopped on Saturday that this independence beer garden near the hotel. So it's just all this outdoor space really cutely designed, you know, some of it shaded just a beer garden.   [00:44:04.600] - Tamara Gruber So we hung out there for a while, had had some lunch, and then we went, you know, got dressed and we went to the wedding. And then on Sunday, we just had brunch. And then we drove back home, which that was a nightmare, but it was just nice. Yes. I've had a little bit of every kind of travel, which is really nice. I really. What is that? Is it. Yeah, I think that sounds so great.   [00:44:25.720] - Kim Tate I'm so excited about travel reopening and I think the biggest thing is now I'm it seems like everybody wants to travel again now. And so I feel like things are more busier than ever, and especially if some places are still not fully staffed and or have capacity limitations. I just I still wonder if we're quite there yet where it's normal. I feel like there's people are ready to travel, but whether the industry can handle it right now is where am I, where my worry is.   [00:44:53.950] - Tamara Gruber I agree. And I do think that there's going to be some both disappointment and frustration this summer because of that. I think people are going to find they're going to be very eager to have the perfect experience, but they need it, you know, after everything. And then they're going to get there and it's going to be crowded or service may be what they're expecting. And so I definitely think that if you can set your expectations, you know, a little bit lower, it would be good, because I just find, yeah, everything is going to be crowded and you are off the beaten path as you can get, you know, like the better.   [00:45:27.160] - Kim Tate But avoiding national parks. Yeah, I agree too. Yeah. We so we jumped on because the girls really wanted to go to they miss Disney when we went down for spring break. Like I don't mean to be one of these crazy Disney families, but we do like Disney and the girls had really wanted to go to Disneyland again. And so I thought, well, you know, kind of the same situation with you. The summer right now is definitely the only time we can really travel, because Lizzy, going into our senior year and with college applications, everything, it's just not a lot of flexible time.   [00:45:56.860] - Kim Tate And she has a job. And so we booked a trip for mid-July for Disneyland. I thought this is going to be a great time to go. We're hoping that it's opened out of staters. I mean, they're saying that they think it's going to happen in June. And they but now with the worry over if they're going to reopen everything at one hundred percent, which is what California is going to do starting June 15th, we're just worried, like, are we going to end up in the summer at Disneyland with eight million crowds?   [00:46:23.530] - Kim Tate Like, I don't know what their capacity is. So, yeah, I think it's people we're all I mean, I was hopeful. I was so excited like twenty five. Thirty five percent capacity. That sounds awesome. Like, OK, let's use our hard earned money to buy this communication and now I'm kind of regretting it and. Yeah, I think everybody just going to have to really keep in mind what I don't even know what I'm trying to say, but just have a little bit of ability to be relaxed and, yeah, expect crowds and maybe slower service than you might think.   [00:46:54.720] - Tamara Gruber It's going to be tough as things continue to to change. And I you know, I feel bad for the people. Like I know some of the people that I follow on Instagram now had booked a trip to Disney World and was super excited about it. But then, like before they got there, they dropped the mask mandate. And, you know, and so her experience there is not at all what she expected it to be.   [00:47:20.460] - Tamara Gruber And that changed on a dime. Know. So it's.   [00:47:22.710] - Kim Tate Yeah, they made that decision quickly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, we are lucky that all four of our family will be vaccinated, and that's a huge relief.   [00:47:34.150] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, I feel actually as of today, Hannah is fully vaccinated. So I've said that many times. Like I feel today when we're recording this, I feel very fortunate, you know, that we're in that position. I definitely you know, I feel for the families that are dealing with having younger kids and then feeling, you know, maybe not as safe because of the some of the restrictions have been lifted. And, you know, but they're still vulnerable.   [00:48:03.030] - Tamara Gruber So it's it's a challenging time to continue to navigate and hopefully have a little bit of, like you said, patience. But also just share a little love, I guess. Yeah, I'm still feeling it from my experience.   [00:48:15.450] - Kim Tate Well, that should teach everyone be kind to your neighbor. Yeah, well, it's been great to chat with you and hear about all those trips. And I'm sure that if anybody has any questions for you, they can always reach out to you on your social media @we3travel. So I know our next episode is going to be about another one of your travel adventures in the Northeast. So why don't you give everyone a teaser about where we'll be talking about next?   [00:48:38.040] - Tamara Gruber Yes, my next trip is to Maine, which you and I have been to, and I'm going back to some of that region, but I'm first going to do a trip along the coast and so hitting a lot of the coastal towns of Maine. And then I will be up in what they call down east, which is the area around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. But I'm going to be doing exactly what I'm recommending everyone else do, which is do the stuff outside of the national park, you know, the bit off the beaten path kind of stuff.   [00:49:09.000] - Tamara Gruber And then I'm going to head up into the Maine Highlands, which is around Bangor, and then like Baxter State Park and some of the kind of lakes and mountains area, a little bit, you know, close to where you and I were when we had our girls trip up there. And so definitely getting like a little off the grid, you know, off the the beaten path. And so I can't wait to share that because I think it's going to be a good option for families, at least those in driving distance to the northeast or flying this summer.   [00:49:38.730] - Tamara Gruber I think it'll be a good option. So, yeah. So stay tuned for that one. And then I guess after that, we're going to be talking about your travel and my travel. And we've got other topics coming up. So definitely stay tuned.  

    190 West Coast Road Trip - Oregon to Central California

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 1, 2021 60:43

    This week Kim gives us the download about her West Coast road trip from Seattle to Los Angeles, California. Planning a West Coast Road Trip Driving from Seattle to Southern California takes about three days if you want to take the scenic routes and make stops along the way. Ideally you will take 10-14 days for this trip. However, if you have less time you can drive from Seattle to Southern California and then fly home. The best way to take the trip is from north to south (Seattle to LA) versus south to north because you will have better views and the scenic pullouts will be on your side of the road. Try to plan no more than four hours of driving time a day to leave plenty of time for stops and attractions. There are three main routes that you can take once you are in California. The fastest route is on Interstate 5. Highway 1 is the coastal route which is the slowest but most scenic. Highway 101 will still take you through vineyards and farms with some scenic attractions but it is faster than Highway 1. You can start in Seattle or Portland, Oregon. If you start in Seattle, cut over to the Olympic Peninsula where you can see the Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach, and the famous tree of life before hitting some of Washington's small beach towns like Long Beach and Ocean Shores. On Kim's trip they drove straight to the Oregon border and stayed the first night in Astoria, which is a neat little town where the Goonies was filmed. You can also visit the Naval Maritime Museum. If you are traveling in the summer of 2021, keep in mind that many restaurants are still understaffed or not fully open so plan accordingly as these small towns get very crowded and overwhelmed with tourists, especially on the weekend. A few other stops in Oregon should include: Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock, Tillamook Creamery, Devil's Punchbowl, and the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area, and Agate Beach. Kim stayed her second night in Klamath on the Oregon/California border (be aware that there is major road construction going on in this area.) On the Oregon coast, check the tide charts to know when the high and low tides are because it can make a big difference in the experience. Try to avoid weekends in the small touristy town as much as possible. Google will also sometimes give predictions on when the busiest times are for attractions, which can help plan your itinerary. In Northern California, Kim stopped at the drive through tree in Klamath, Trees of Mystery, and Avenue of the Giants in the Redwoods. On the third night, Kim stayed in Ukiah, CA. The next day, Kim and the girls stayed in a glamping tent at Safari West and got to do the drive through safari. Kim then spent two nights in Monterey (read all about things to do in Monterey) and did an e-bike tour with Mad Dogs and Englishmen and visited Pacific Grove, staying at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. In Monterey, Kim recommends eating at Rio Grill, Alta Bakery, and Lucy's on Lighthouse, which is a hot dog stand with a skateboard theme. Keep in mind that highway 1 is often closed by Big Sur because of landslides so always check ahead to see what is open and take Highway 101 as an alternate. You can drive as far south as Bixby Bridge, but be careful and stay within the boundaries when taking a picture. Lily Valley is another great stop where wild calla lillies grow. If you are going to hike to the Hollywood sign, look for options for a four-mile hike, versus the six-mile hike from the Griffith Observatory, and go mid-week if you can. There is then so much more to do in Southern California but what Kim did would be at least a 7-8 day trip. Read Kim's Olympic National Park itinerary Read all about Kim's West Coast Road Trip itinerary and tips Read Tamara's tips for driving from San Francisco to Cambria on Highway 1 [00:00:00.060] - Kim Tate Today, we're winding down the West Coast.   [00:00:14.880] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:29.820] - Tamara Gruber Today's episode is brought to us by Safe Travels Kit, which does exactly what it sounds like and it helps keep you safe when you're traveling, whether it's on an airplane, a train or even in the car, it is all in one little pouch that includes a seat cover and a pillowcase and sanitizing wipes and a face mask. What I love about it is that it's super soft. So, Kim, the material, you know how sensitive my skin is, but if I'm going to put my face on a pillow case, I want it to be like super soft and comfortable.   [00:00:57.660] - Kim Tate And I love that part. And if there's anything that we've learned in this last years that there's a lot of germs out there and now I'm even more like not wanting them to touch me, definitely.   [00:01:07.950] - Kim Tate I can't even imagine using one of those airplane pillows at this point where you're never quite sure if they actually changed that white little non soft cover that they put over them.   [00:01:18.450] - Tamara Gruber Definitely. So this is very easy to pack in your carry on. It's actually sold on Amazon as well as you'll find it in many of the Brookstone airport stores or in Bloomingdale's. But you can find it on Safe Travels, Kit.Com, and we thank them for their support.   [00:01:35.360] - Tamara Gruber So, Kim, I know that your West Coast road trip feels like probably ancient history by now, but I know that we wanted to come back to it and really do a deep dive because so many of our listeners have planned on doing some type of California or West Coast road trip.   [00:01:52.010] - Tamara Gruber So I thought it'd be really helpful if we could, you know, talk about what you've done. And I know that you've done this trip quite a few times. You have a lot of knowledge to share. But can you fill us in, I know you did, what, two weeks down back in April from Washington down to California. But give us an idea of what was your overall itinerary like?   [00:02:14.890] - Kim Tate So in this trip, yeah, we had two weeks, but part of that was because we were going to hang out with friends at the end of our trip and then spent three days getting home. So I would say for this trip, we just focused on mainly driving along the Oregon coast and California coast a bit and then headed over and near Santa Barbara where we stopped, which is kind of the southern central. It maybe is considered like the northern tip of, I consider central California.   [00:02:44.140] - Kim Tate But some people might think it's kind of So Cal because it's near L.A. But I think of L.A. is kind of the northern part of SoCal. So anyways, that was a long ramble. So I would say we spent 14 days, but of that, we took about a five day, five to seven days to drive down. That's the timeline. I think that there's a few options. Like you said, we've done this trip quite a bit.   [00:03:07.850] - Kim Tate When we were going to Disneyland and spent a few days in Disneyland and we actually did a one way car rental and we drove from Seattle down and just did kind of the California coast and then stayed in Disneyland for a couple of days and then flew home to help save as much time as possible. So I definitely think that's an option for people. This trip, we actually did some of the Oregon coast and then California coast, which again is adds time and all of these things.   [00:03:34.360] - Kim Tate You just have to think about how much time you have. And then another option, if we had a lot of extra time and didn't want to spend as much time like in California being a tourist in California, if that makes sense, if you're just in it for the road trip, then adding the or The Washington Post, which is basically Olympic National Park, the Olympic Peninsula and a few of the Washington Southern Washington coastal beach towns, that's another option as well.   [00:03:59.020] - Kim Tate So I think if people are looking at a timeline, then it's going to depend on how much time you have on how much you can do.   [00:04:07.120] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, like what things you need to skip or whether you're taking the highway or the coastal route. And I mean, obviously the point of this is to see as much of the scenic parts as you can. So nobody wants to spend all of their time on the interstate. And I definitely think if people are from not from that area. So if you're coming from the East Coast, like us you would want to fly in and then just do it one way.   [00:04:29.530] - Tamara Gruber And if you did that, do you think which do you like better? Do you like the north to south or the south to north?   [00:04:34.510] - Kim Tate This is a huge, huge tip I have. And this I actually wrote this in my West Coast road trip post. I think north to south is the only way to go. Absolutely. And the reason I say that is for two reasons. One, the driver's most always going to be focused on the road and for safety reasons. I think that's good. So I think it's good that the passenger gets to look out and can have a phone and take pictures if they want.   [00:04:56.260] - Kim Tate But the bigger point that I think north to South works is because all the turnouts are on the, you know, far west side of the highway. And so if you're headed on the right side of the road, you are easily you have easy access to enter and exit the pull out into the lane of traffic as opposed to trying to cross traffic, which on busy you know, travel day is not a busy route like that. It actually can make a huge difference and kind of be a safety hindrance.   [00:05:22.780] - Kim Tate So I think north to south is the way to go.   [00:05:25.990] - Tamara Gruber Absolutely. I've only done, you know, a piece of it, you know, from basically San Francisco down to Central Coast. And I would totally agree. Definitely the better option, you know, from a driver and a passenger standpoint.   [00:05:41.200] - Kim Tate Yeah. And I think a few other tips for just planning when people are thinking about this is this is the kind of route where you really need to allow a lot of spontaneity and stopping time. And so our first time we did this and I mentioned this before, we way over packed our drive times and we were looking at, you know, five hour days and stuff and then with stops and getting started and going in the morning and then traffic and winding roads.   [00:06:08.080] - Kim Tate We we were getting into our next stop like at 7:00 or 8:00 at night sometimes. And it was just brutal. And so this trip, I tried to make sure that no day was longer than four hours and my target time for drive time each day was around three hours. So that's something to keep in mind that really, I think makes a difference in planning. It's not your typical, you know, open highway type road trip planning. It's a very I mean, you want to take it slow and easy.   [00:06:35.080] - Kim Tate I'm sure some people would even want to do, you know, a couple of days in one place and then an hour and another day and, you know, take it really slow. But for us, I found the three hour mark, kind of the sweet spot.   [00:06:46.270] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I mean, if you have the ability to do slow travel and you can take, you know, the summer. Yeah. And that's wonderful. But otherwise, yeah, you have to have some trade offs. But it's good that you gave yourself that extra time this time, especially since you were the only driver to. But it well I guess Lizzy could have driven, but it gives you, you know, a nice little break and it makes it much more relaxed.   [00:07:07.720] - Tamara Gruber I hate that feeling of like I'm usually the one that wants to stop so the other people don't like mind skipping as much, but I hate that. Feeling of like missing out, you know, is something I really want to do, like how many times am I doing this trip? And so I hate like having to skip things that I wanted to do. But I also hate that feeling of like stress, like, are we going to get they're going to get there is going to be too late.   [00:07:29.530] - Tamara Gruber Everyone's going to be so hungry, you know.   [00:07:31.990] - Kim Tate Yeah, it can be horrible. And I'll just mention, like for people planning who are and pretend that people that maybe are not aware at all, even with all the extra time I had and trying to allow all this time, I still made some choices to shorten the trip. And so this is I'll give this little tip and information. I think people need to know that there's three main north south routes along, mainly along the California section. But this sort of applies to the Oregon and Washington, a little Oregon and Washington, the one and one on one, are kind of the same through a lot of it.   [00:08:04.780] - Kim Tate So it's not as noticeable. But once you get past the redwood forests of Northern California, you kind of start having this choice of Highway one is what hugs the coast. That is the one that, you know, is right there on the coast. And it's extremely slow going, but it's extremely beautiful. And then you have the 101 that kind of juts over. And that's when you start to get into like wine country and some of the agriculture area.   [00:08:31.180] - Kim Tate And you'll notice that the 1 and the 101 kind of travel together until you hit San Francisco and they kind of merge in a little bit together again. And then they split off again. And you're you're left with that same choice of the coastal routes versus the a little more. It's still coastal and not coastal, but it's still close to the coast in a way. But anyways, that's two things to know, that there are those two routes and they do separate.   [00:08:54.040] - Kim Tate And it's a very different driving experience over time as well as visual like what you're going to see. And then, of course, Interstate five is the main interstate that runs north and south all the way up to the California border, to the I mean, the Canada border to the Mexico border. So for us, we went down along, you know, the one and then we actually cut over to the 101 because between like Santa Rosa and San Francisco, the one, it's beautiful.   [00:09:20.410] - Kim Tate And there's some cool things to see. And like just north of San Francisco, you have Muir Woods, which is, you know, I've still never spent a lot of time on that side of the route. But it does add, you know, probably a couple of hours to what you would plan if you just went the 101, which is a little bit faster and more heavily trafficked. And then on our way home, we just drove by five the whole way because at that point we were just hurrying to get home.   [00:09:48.850] - Kim Tate So when people. Yeah. So I just wanted to give you a heads up that there's three main routes that people need to think of. One's going to be your slowest. So if you want to do the one the whole way, you really need to allow a lot of time.   [00:10:00.700] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, we've done part of the one. And I know what when we moved back up to San Francisco, we did the five and it was like, how did we just do that? And what, like an hour or two while the other took all day. And even that was kind of scenic because you go through so many like agricultural, like giant farms. And we realized like we're so much produce comes from. But yeah. So let's dig into your trip a little bit.   [00:10:23.650] - Tamara Gruber So what like what was your first day like, where did you stop along the way. Like if you can walk us through some of your itinerary would be great.   [00:10:31.240] - Kim Tate Yeah. So I think that like I said, if people are wanting to do this and they're not they don't live on the West Coast, Seattle is a great starting point. You could also do Portland, Oregon. That would be if you don't care about the Washington section of it. If you do want to do Seattle, you can do Seattle and then cross over onto the Olympic Peninsula and do your Washington side of the road trip, which is where you're going to see like the HOH Rain Forest.   [00:10:54.130] - Kim Tate You're going to see some of the beautiful, like beaches like Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach, a few things on the Olympic Peninsula. You'll see that famous tree of life that some people maybe have seen. And then you'll come into a few of the popular little Washington State beach cities. I think Long Beach and Ocean Shores are two of the main ones right there, the the border. And then you can also cross there's a really cool bridge that you can cross into.   [00:11:19.300] - Kim Tate But our first day we just drove I5 straight down to the Oregon border and then crossed over. And we stayed overnight in Astoria, Oregon, which we've been to before. It's kind of a neat little town. People may be familiar with it because of its famous for being the place where they filmed a lot of The Goonies.   [00:11:37.690] - Tamara Gruber That's what I thought.   [00:11:38.860] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. And they definitely have a kind of a seaside. They have a beautiful naval, kind of a fun Naval Maritime Museum. That's cool. So if you have a kid that is really into ships or even an adult that's really in the ships, that's a neat place. And the actual it's really neat to think because Astoria sits at the mouth of the Columbia River, which is a major, major, you know, like through route. And they have these pilot boat captains.   [00:12:05.410] - Kim Tate And it's one of the most rigorous piloting, I don't know what you would call it, like waters. There's a lot of sandbars and a lot of heavy. Tides and currents, and so it's a very you know, it's you have to have a lot of skill and experience to be able to pilot a boat and help get the barges in and out of that that little Columbia River mouth. So it's kind of cool to learn about that history. So I think a story is that is cool that way.   [00:12:31.440] - Kim Tate It's definitely a little bit of a grungy, you know, small northwest town. It's got some limited dining experiences, especially, you know, like we've talked about on our episodes. We hit there on a Saturday night and our dining experience was a headache. So just a heads up, if you are planning summertime trips around some of these smaller coastal towns, you really need to think ahead of your dinner time planning shows early. No, it's mostly just because there's only a few restaurants and then they have all these tourists that come in.   [00:13:05.490] - Kim Tate And so you have, you know, to wait for an hour to order or they're a small little restaurant and so they have five tables. And so people are waiting to just get takeout, even if there's just a long line, because you only have if you don't want fast food, you only have like three restaurants to choose from to find food. So it's just kind of a tricky situation with that. So just a heads up on some of those.   [00:13:27.360] - Kim Tate You know, the weekends, summer weekends we were traveling during spring break can just be a bit of a headache. We waited about an hour, just under an hour to order our food. And then it was another 40 minutes to actually get the food to take back to our hotel room. So, yeah.   [00:13:43.250] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So some angry people at that point.   [00:13:46.440] - Kim Tate Yeah. And we had that same experience in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula when we did our Olympic National Park trip in August of 2020, we had the same thing where those smaller coastal towns are just not used to it. And so on the weekends when you have a bunch of tourists that come in, they just really flood the few restaurants that are available and they just are so small they don't have a lot of seating area. And then their take out program gets really bogged down.   [00:14:11.460] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, and we should mention that we did do an episode on your Olympic National Park, a trip last year, so people can look that up. And I'm sure you have a post on your website about it too. I do too.   [00:14:22.170] - Kim Tate Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So our first night was in Astoria, but we just basically got in there at night and that was probably the longest little stretch of our our drive, you know, of our trip. And then the next morning we set out and I had all these great. This is where you have to be, you know, fluid with a road trip. I had all these great plans. And of course, we're on the Oregon coast.   [00:14:42.270] - Kim Tate It's going to be awesome. We were going to go to Cannon Beach and see the famous Haystack Rock, which, you know, we had never really seen. And it was disgusting whether it was blowing blowing winds like, you know, you're holding white knuckling the steering wheel. So when the you know, the winds, the rain is blowing sideways and it's just gross. So my day for that day was a little ruined because I had all these plans.   [00:15:04.380] - Kim Tate So we were going to see Haystack Rock. We skipped we drove over there and kind of looked at it. But no, we didn't get out and hang out on the beach at all. And then we also were planning to go to the Tillamook Creamery, which is we've been to before. And it's really it's so funny because we went to years and years ago, it was actually when me we were headed down to California on this road trip for Mia's fifth birthday.   [00:15:25.080] - Kim Tate So that gives you an idea. It's almost, you know, ten years, nine years and it's gone through. Evidently, everyone figured out that it's an awesome destination because they have fully made a whole tourist attraction museum tour system. And on a Sunday, it was jam packed with wall to wall, people waiting outside to get in because they had limited entrance. So we skipped the Tillamook Creamery because we didn't want to stand in line for hours outside.   [00:15:55.170] - Kim Tate There's also a famous stop along the way called Devil's Punchbowl, which we skipped because of the weather. And then we finally we're going to end right around the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. And again, because of the weather, we skipped that. So we got in really early to our, you know, best Western basic hotel in Reidsport. Oregon was where I kind of picked because it was near those dunes. And I thought it would be a fun a fun stopover, but it did not happen.   [00:16:22.380] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, I it's so hard. Like we talked about, like, you know, letting go of things. I think, you know, you're a photographer. Like we both, you know, do this for work. It's it's sometimes it's not even just about missing seeing something, but it's like, oh, we had these dreams of like the pictures that you're going to get and, you know, how are you going to use them and you know all of that.   [00:16:41.340] - Tamara Gruber And then you're like, yeah, now this does not cooperate at all. I've had so many of those experiences where it's like, oh, I'm going to get these epic photos. And you're like, yep, nope, that's not happening. Yeah, but I think I find it interesting, like what you're saying about Tillamook, because I feel like in general, like agritourism has become so much more popular. You know, it's just something that is, you know, of a lot more interest.   [00:17:02.670] - Tamara Gruber And I really I think it's smart the way a lot of these farms and, you know, other makers have turned it into, you know, another revenue stream for them. You know, so it's interesting, I remember one time we were staying for a week on Cape Cod and it was pouring rain, so it's like opening the summer, like what are you going to do? You look like indoor stuff. And we're like, oh, let's go to the Cape Cod potato chip factory.   [00:17:25.940] - Tamara Gruber And we stood outside in line, you know, with an umbrella overhead for like an hour. Yes. Get into like this potato chip factory where basically all we did was like shuffle down a hallway and like, look at the machines working. Yes, we know. Yeah, they went to the gift shop. But I'm like, you could have gone to the grocery store and bought like five different flavors, like, why did we do this?   [00:17:44.070] - Kim Tate Yeah, yeah. That's what I was thinking. That's why we skipped Tillamook, because we kind of know already. I mean, it had been improved. So we thought, oh, it'll be neat to see it. And but you do you kind of just walk and you get to see the factory and, you know, the machines working. But it you know, it was a Sunday, too. So I was like, well, it's probably not really in operation right now because most of those factories also are just, you know, the the next day.   [00:18:06.740] - Kim Tate Yeah. So anyways, we skipped it and. Yeah. Just kept going. But yeah, I think that's, that was our, that was our idea is like, oh it'll be nice, go inside and have those inside things since it's such a gross day. But everyone had that same idea here. But the next the fun thing was this was where I talked about once we got to our hotel, since we're there early, I kind of started looking the next day to see if there were any, you know, like dunes on that stretch on our next day out.   [00:18:31.490] - Kim Tate And that was where I found that one random all trails where it was like some weird trailhead that held ten cars. And we went and it turned out to be this awesome, cool sand dune that we spent an hour at. So I think that, you know, it is fun when you can have those kind of things.   [00:18:47.120] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's nice. You can find, you know, find something that you didn't plan on that makes up for the things that you missed.   [00:18:53.690] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. And I think that's cool. You know, that would be something for people to know about, like the Oregon coast that I know California has it as well. There's you know, Pismo Beach is known and famous for their dunes. But that is something to just be known that Oregon is known for. And then as we made our way sort of south, we did, like I said, that scenic. It was like this scenic corridor that I saw from road trippers.   [00:19:14.930] - Kim Tate And again, it's just on the road, basically. And you just turned off. We just turned off and parked and did a little hike. And it's where you start getting that feel a little more of the California, you know, rocky coastal feel of stuff. But it's cool because in Oregon, it was still very Pacific Northwest with lots of, you know, evergreen trees. And so it was kind of a neat feeling as you move south and just see a little bit how things start different, differing, a little.   [00:19:42.650] - Kim Tate It's cool.   [00:19:44.000] - Tamara Gruber It makes me kind of want to see that landscape. But, yeah, one of the things about the summer is like, Glen, no matter what we do, like, I need a different landscape. I'm super excited about the trips that I have coming up around New England. And, you know, really, I can't wait for it, but I really want just a different landscape. And I remember years ago when Hannah and I were driving through central Oregon and we landed in Portland, we did a little bit of the Columbia River Gorge.   [00:20:07.130] - Tamara Gruber And then we started driving down to Bend and just driving through those forests, the pine forests of those towering trees. It's like we just don't have that here. And so, yeah, I'm picturing that as you're talking. Yeah. Like the redwoods and everything. Just kind of it's exciting to be in one of those types of forest. They're just so. Like magnificent.   [00:20:25.910] - Kim Tate You know, it is it's a really it's a cool part of nature and it's fun.   [00:20:30.170] - Kim Tate And when you do the whole coast, like, you know, Washington, Oregon, and then you make your way down into California, it's neat just to see, you know, when you're doing it on one trip like that, it's fun to go, wow, you know, things really start changing and feeling different. And it's cool. It's neat and fun. So, yeah, but then we so we kind of stayed overnight, right at the.   [00:20:51.140] - Kim Tate It's kind of funny how this happened too, because we ended up staying overnight in Northern California, a place called Klamath, California. And the cool thing about that, that you know, how you everyone's mind you get lucky on something is there was major road construction. And this is something to keep in mind, you know, on these smaller routes. And it's where it's, you know, the piloted car allowance. Do you know where they it's only one lane open.   [00:21:15.470] - Kim Tate And so they'll have like a truck that guides the, you know, northbound through and then the truck running right around three.   [00:21:21.530] - Tamara Gruber So I've experienced that before.   [00:21:22.930] - Kim Tate Yeah. So you know what I'm talking about. Well, we were crossing and it was right along the Oregon to California border and we were crossing and we didn't have any weight at all. We were like the fifth car and we got picked up on the next pilot and it was fine and didn't think anything of it. And then the next morning, like where we we're when we were getting out of the we were checking out of our hotel that we stayed at, they had notices all about like Oregon border, you know, construction and two hour delays.   [00:21:51.470] - Kim Tate And so I was like, oh, my goodness. So that's something to keep in mind also is that when you're on those two lane highway routes, you have to really be mindful of construction and stuff because they that route, Highway One is so susceptible to landslides and, you know, erosion where they have to close the road down because they're doing major repairs. So it's just something to keep in mind and. We lucked out being, you know, kind of at the end of the day and doing that crossover.   [00:22:18.210] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, well, it's funny, we were just talking, you know, on a recent episode about how bad the roads are and how much they need them fixed. I was thinking that today as I was driving Hannah home from school and there was road construction, two places that I had to, like, detour around. And I was like, you know, our roads are terrible, but why do they have to fix these?   [00:22:37.360] - Kim Tate We get all mad. Really, right? Can it just happen magically? Yeah. Yeah.   [00:22:43.380] - Tamara Gruber Well it sounds like that good that you avoided that. At least you got a good start.   [00:22:47.730] - Kim Tate Yeah. So I do think that, you know, something to keep in mind is like weekends right now in this season of local road trip travel that I feel like people are doing weekends. If you can avoid weekends as much as possible, it's definitely the thing to know, especially on those small, like touristy coastal towns. It seems like a lot of locals are going to them as well and are doing things on the weekends so that you're getting tourists as well as locals that are just getting out of their house and trying to do something.   [00:23:16.020] - Kim Tate And so just a heads up to people if you're planning a vacation at all, that's involving like smaller towns are road tripping, trying to avoid the weekends because that's something I noticed, not the most surprising.   [00:23:27.720] - Tamara Gruber Everyone is so excited to do anything and everything. Yeah. I mean, I found any little thing that we try to do is, you know, it's busy. Everyone is excited to be out of the house.   [00:23:38.680] - Kim Tate Exactly. Yeah. We have that experience. A couple places that I can mention, but definitely something I noticed. So as I said, we moved into Northern California and we were susceptible to billboard advertising, which how many people can actually say that? I didn't even know they worked anymore. But evidently when you have a 14 year old kid in your car, they can still work because my daughter saw this trees of mystery mentioned on the billboard as we were getting ready to cross into California.   [00:24:06.160] - Kim Tate And she's like, I really want to do that. You know, I always see that. And I you know, I never let them stop because I've always got the schedule planned. I'm like, no, we don't have time. And so this time, since I did try and allow more flexibility, I called them and they the last entrance was like four or something. And they said we probably wouldn't make it in time. And so I told me I was like, well, let's go do we'll do the drive thru tree, which I had planned for in the morning, and then we'll do the trees of mystery thing in the morning.   [00:24:32.310] - Kim Tate We'll just drive back up because it was about a ten minute is about ten minutes away from the hotel. So we backtracked a little, but it wasn't a big deal at all and that worked out perfect. So I would say try and have some flexibility with your planning, if you can at all. But it actually paid off because and here's another tip for people. We if you do like Google, if you do a search for Google, like for the destination.   [00:24:56.310] - Kim Tate So, for instance, I did the tour through Tree in Klamath, California, and I had navigated to it or something. And sometimes you'll see Google will give you like it's busier than normal or they'll have you seen that where they give you a little line graphs and tell you how busy it is? Well, I noticed that on the daytime, like in the mornings, it's very busy, but in the evenings it's not busy at all. And I was like, well, this will actually work perfect.   [00:25:21.870] - Kim Tate We'll go in on that Monday evening, get the pictures and do it because it's still fairly light out, you know, until 7:00 p.m. or so and do that. And then the next morning, it gave us time to go to Trees of Mystery. And we drove up and had no wait. And while we were there taking pictures, only one other car showed up. So that's the other thing to think about are some of these things. If you can actually, you know, eat somehow and then really use that, I would say it's the final two minutes, kind of it's like the five p.m. to seven, eight, especially in the summers.   [00:25:50.610] - Kim Tate You can really push it to eight or nine with the longer daylight. I think that's a sweet spot of like avoiding a lot of crowds if you if the places are operational and open.   [00:26:01.320] - Tamara Gruber So. Yeah, yeah. Well, it's like typical dinnertime. Yeah, no. So if you can either eat earlier or eat late, but just make sure that places are open, especially in small places like that. But that's good.   [00:26:12.780] - Kim Tate Well it's funny, the road trip routes, people kind of get to their hotels by four or five p.m. and they're kind of done for the day they go eat. And I mean, that's sort of what we would do. So then if you add something in during that time or go back out from your hotel, which is what you know, we did it, it really can pay off.   [00:26:28.590] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. It's funny that you mention, though, the the roadside like advertising, because I actually like that part of road trips where it's advertising a an attraction, you know, and not just, you know, whatever business or lawyer, you know, fill up at Shell. Yeah. Yeah. So when we were driving to Steamboat Springs, I was probably about two hours on this like smaller road. And I can't even tell you how many signs it had to be like one hundred signs, just like every, you know, whatever number of feet advertising this one, like cowboy hat and cowboy boots off.   [00:27:06.450] - Tamara Gruber So when we were in Steamboat Springs, we we had lunch there and then we walked around a little bit before we went to the ranch. I'm like, we have to go into this. Or I mean, they put so much effort into it, like not and we walked in and Glenn was like I'll be next door, I was like, OK, but I had to at least check it out. Yeah, exactly. Kind of like the wall drugs or, you know, of those sort of tourist attraction kind of places.   [00:27:29.170] - Tamara Gruber I don't know. Yeah. It kind of makes me happy to see those kind of things.   [00:27:32.050] - Kim Tate Yeah. There was another one in like southern Oregon that we kept passing signs for. That was like a wildlife drive through park thing. And the girls were like, oh, that's cool. And, you know, so, you know, it seems like that's the thing to do for some of those those attractions is probably how they get a lot of people. But again, that's where I say having some flexibility and not over scheduling your drive times allow you those a little bit of ability to be a little more spontaneous, which I think makes a road trip because and we've talked about this on our road trip thing where you needed to decide if the road trip is going to be just about getting to a destination or if the road trip is going to be a the the trip of itself.   [00:28:11.770] - Kim Tate Right.   [00:28:12.370] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. So so I'm getting from you, though, that the trees of mystery is worth skipping, whatever that mystery is.   [00:28:20.290] - Kim Tate I think it depends. It was definitely like it's a little pricey. It's like 20 dollars a person. So but if you we had fun. It's like rope walks and then you take like a little gondola way high on a hill. And the look from the hill isn't anything fun. But the girls had fun riding in the gondola and I mean, walking through the bridges, through the trees is fun.   [00:28:44.530] - Kim Tate And the girls liked that. But it's short. And I mean, I think I'd be more comfortable at the ten dollars per person mark. However, you know, I don't regret going. And the girls enjoyed it. And it was a good way to stretch your legs and stuff. And it's kind of a fun way to it's a quirky roadside attraction. It was the one thing where we saw it definitely was attract a lot of out-of-state tourists. We saw a lot of out-of-state plates in the parking lot.   [00:29:09.550] - Kim Tate We did see a lower mask compliance, just like passing people because it's outdoors and stuff. And this is where the outdoor like if you're vaccinated. So it I think it just attracts like it's an outdoorsy type place. So I could see that it could get really crowded on a weekend. Yeah. We definitely by the time we left, so it was good because we got up early because we are and like I say, we were only ten minutes away from our hotel.   [00:29:31.990] - Kim Tate We got up early, went there and it was it was great. I mean, we weren't like maybe it seemed like there was five other people there same night we were. But when we came out, it was just packed. And so we probably were leaving around eleven ish and we got there around nine thirty and. Yeah. Yeah. So that gives you an idea of just earlier the better for that thing. Right. Yeah. So then we entered into the redwoods as always that we've been to before.   [00:30:00.190] - Kim Tate We did notice something weird, like the main exit I normally take because I wanted to drive along like the Prairie Creek Road. They had that closed for some reason. So I went south and I could have come back in from the north route. But I don't know why they had it closed for any reason. But we decided to skip that little leg of it and just kept going. But here's something to think about. If you are doing a coastal trip and this is something that I mentioned in my Olympic National Park Post, and it also matters.   [00:30:28.360] - Kim Tate On the Oregon coast you really need to become familiar with tide charts when you're on the West Coast. And I'm sure the East Coast is the same thing. But it it makes a difference when you're expecting these great like things. One of the things we looked at that I wanted to do is called Agate Beach, and it's supposed to be a really popular place where you go and you can walk along a pretty beach and find these really cool Agate rocks and kind of collect some if you want.   [00:30:54.370] - Kim Tate And we found out, though, as we were coming through and looked at the tide schedule, that we are going to be there basically smack dab at high tide. It seems like it's not finding any rocks. Yeah. So we wouldn't and so I pulled in and it was a ten dollar. I thought, well, we'll still go look and see, but it was ten dollar, you know, park admission. And so I asked the they had a actually they had a park ranger on site there.   [00:31:17.560] - Kim Tate And so I asked if they had a you know, if it was even worth going down there. And he was like not really, not during high tide. So just something to keep in mind that if you're doing any like beach visits and things like that, that it can really make a difference depending on the tide charts.   [00:31:31.810] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I feel like I saw that recently. Someone had posted something somewhere about the sea glass beach that you had gone to in the past, much in the past.   [00:31:40.270] - Tamara Gruber And they were super disappointed with it. And I was like, oh, that's interesting because someone else, you know, really liked it. So clearly it's a different experience, depending on if you're there, you can actually collect sea glass or not.   [00:31:51.430] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that makes a difference. You know, we had the same thing, like with tide pools, like when the tide pool, when things are really high, the tide pools aren't as cool, you know, because sure, you can't walk out and see all the pools. And so you want to visit during low tide. And then something to keep in mind is it's always good when you look at the charts, you always kind of want the tide to be leaving as opposed to the tide come.   [00:32:13.520] - Kim Tate And because if you happen to go around like a jut that seems like it's dry at the time, but the tides coming in, suddenly you turn around to go back to where you parked or whatever, and it used to be a beach and now it's, you know, two feet underwater. And so that's just something to keep in mind when you're doing an app for that or just just the weather app that shows you the the tides as well. I just do Google searches and I click on one of the websites that does the tides.   [00:32:39.530] - Kim Tate I don't use just a general weather one. I definitely do like a specific, but I don't have an app. I'm sure you could install an app. I just do a Google search for it and I just search for the destination. So if I'm like I beach or it was called some park, you know, tide schedule and you can normally find a few different ones and I'll show you. And there's, you know, it'll show you like low tide times.   [00:32:59.030] - Kim Tate And based on the chart they give you, you can easily figure out if the tides leaving or the tides coming in. And then we kind of the big thing we did was the Avenue of the Giants, which is one of my favorite parts of the Redwood Forest. And so we still did that. And even though we've done the redwoods a lot in, the girls are just kind of like your mom. I don't need to do any hikes. And I accepted that.   [00:33:20.330] - Kim Tate I was like, yeah, we've done a lot of like walking in the redwoods. We still pulled over. There's a lot of little turnouts and we still pulled over and tried to get kind of some fun, you know, like tree road drive shots, like tree road pictures. That's a tip is you know, that would be another thing that if you're there at night, like between five to seven, it would look so much better because with the sunlight dappling through the trees, it looks pretty.   [00:33:42.170] - Kim Tate And it seems like it would be really pretty on like in photos. But it's not it doesn't look right at all. You definitely want the darker, moodier shot for those kind of shots. But sorry, that's a little photography talk. But we did have one little stop where we went and kind of explored a little. And there is this awesome big tree that the girls climbed on. And I got a fun picture on that, that you guys might have seen.   [00:34:02.120] - Kim Tate Those of you who follow me on Instagram. Yeah.   [00:34:04.340] - Tamara Gruber And reminded me of a shot that you and I had when we were in Santa Rosa.   [00:34:08.450] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It was even bigger than that tree at the Armstrong Woods in Santa Rosa. So it was kind of cool, but it was pretty epic. It was funny because I was taking these pictures with Lizzy and all of a sudden I'm like, Mia, where are you? And then she's like, I'm up here like thirty feet in the sky. It was crazy. But yeah. So we did the Avenue, the Giants, and then we went and stayed at a hotel just for the night to prepare for our two little kind of partnership things.   [00:34:35.120] - Kim Tate So we the next day we headed into Santa Rosa. This was a funny I'll just share with people our little tip, because this is something fun that I want to share. We so the weather in Seattle is normally pretty moderate. I mean, we don't even have an air conditioner at our house that I think, you know. You know, that summer we hadn't had major harsh hot weather yet from this road trip. Mm. Especially being on the coast.   [00:34:59.450] - Kim Tate Well, we stayed overnight in a place called Ukiah, and that was where we had kind of moved away from the redwoods in the coast. And we started moving inland at that point. And we woke up the next morning and we slept in it was asleep and day and got in the car and started driving. And it was boiling hot. I think by the I think when we left just before noon, the it was about seventy two or seventy three and then the temperature was going to hit like 81 or 82 that day.   [00:35:26.780] - Kim Tate And we started driving and we're all like sweating and the air conditioner is not working. Like I'm literally like my shirt sticking to my back and we're like, oh my goodness. And I'm trying to get a hold of Paul. I'm driving or trying to call Paul. And he's in meetings all day. And he's normally my I'll be I'll admit, like he's definitely the car guy for us and the fix it guy. And we then decided, like, what am I going to do?   [00:35:50.060] - Kim Tate And so I asked me to help look up a Honda dealership because thankfully this was a really short drive into Santa Rosa and there was a Honda dealership there. So I called them and said, here's the situation. We have a busy road trip. Like, I don't have any time, do you have any time to get in and look at it and maybe be able to fix it if it's something easy and they're like, yeah, go ahead, bring it on in.   [00:36:09.410] - Kim Tate And I said, OK, we'll be there in forty minutes. We're on the road. And so then we pull into this Honda dealership and they tell us that it's a five hundred dollar diagnosis fee, like just to diagnose. I'm not even to fix it. And Lizzie jumps on because she's learned from her dad, she jumps on YouTube and she types in like a Honda Odyssey air conditioner not working. And she finds this YouTube video that she starts to watch.   [00:36:34.850] - Kim Tate And in it, the guy talks about a Fuse, you know, they call it a Fuse. It's actually called a relay, I guess, or something. But she learned she's like, Mom, I watched this video. And there's just you take the you open the hood and you take off this lid on this thing and you use some pliers and pull out this thing. And I'm going, oh, great. You know, OK. And so we've sure enough find an auto autozone.   [00:36:54.860] - Kim Tate I get a hold of Paul. Finally, he has a short break and he's like, yeah, just go ahead and try it. And, you know, I've got another Mini I can't talk. And so I'm like, OK, great. So I'm going to the AutoZone and Lizzy and I just are watching this YouTube video. And so we talk to the AutoZone. They don't have any pliers or anything we can use. They try and sell us a fuse puller, because of that point, Lizzy keeps calling it a Fuse, and so we buy this Fuse puller, we go out there and open it all up and are like, this doesn't fit. This is not what it is. And so we go back in and return that and ask the guy like, can we just borrow some pliers? Because Lizzie said that's what the guy used on YouTube. And we buy the had to buy pliers for ten dollars.   [00:37:30.710] - Kim Tate And sure enough, we pull the piece, the part out that the guy recommended and take it into AutoZone. Do you guys sell this part? Nope, they don't sell it. So then we call Lizzy actually gets on the phone calls the Honda dealership that just told us they'd charge us five hundred dollars to diagnose it and asks if they have this part. Sure enough, they have the part for thirty four dollars. So we all hop in the car and drive back over to the Honda dealership, going to the parts department, buy the part in the parking lot.   [00:37:56.240] - Kim Tate We swap out this little Fuse relay and put it all back together, turn on the car. We have air conditioning. So instead of spending five hundred dollars plus, you know, they probably would have charged us seventy dollars for the part and another hundred dollars for to install it. We came out of there having Lizzy empowered about fixing her own car, our own car problem, and then also only spending thirty four dollars.   [00:38:20.780] - Tamara Gruber Yeah I think that's amazing. When you shared that story I even told Glenn and Hannah and we were all like, wow, we were so impressed with, with Lizzy and you guys are figuring that out. So awesome job. So Paul should be very proud of you.   [00:38:33.740] - Kim Tate He was, he was so excited. He thought it was the coolest thing ever. And he was a little, you know, worried, like, did you keep the did you put it all back together? You sure? You know, like a little a little concern, but we're like, no. And so it Lizzy is very proud of herself to which I think was was a lot of fun. But just a heads up for you guys. YouTube can teach a lot.   [00:38:52.910] - Kim Tate I feel bad sometimes for the parts departments, but my goodness. Or I mean not part the service departments of car places.   [00:38:59.360] - Tamara Gruber But it's helped me with my washing machine when I've had.   [00:39:02.010] - Kim Tate Yes, yeah. We fix so many things on YouTube. And I was so happy that Lizzy, you know, learn from her dad to look it up. And yeah, that was her thinking.   [00:39:09.230] - Tamara Gruber So empowering.   [00:39:10.340] - Kim Tate Yeah. So sorry guys. That was a little side note, but we did make it to Santa Rosa finally. And then, you know, we had air conditioning and we headed over to Safari West, which you and I have been to. And I think we talked about it on the podcast whenever we talked about our little getaway to Santa Rosa. But Safari West is a it's an accredited zoo association. It's part of the ACA and it's a wildlife park that, you know, is works towards conservation and education about primarily African animals.   [00:39:41.360] - Kim Tate And it's pretty cool because you can camp there overnight and they have these amazing, you know, like really luxury Botswana camping tents. And Tamara, you and I have stayed in one and we got to stay with the girls and had a great time.   [00:39:56.270] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, they're really nice tents, too. It's gorgeous. Yeah. I was always I was very impressed. I mean, I've now done a few different glamping tents and I would say that they were the best. I was. Yeah, probably. Yeah. Better than under canvas even which I would put maybe second. Yeah. Yeah. Really. Like although I did do a really nice one at KOA that had electricity and he and a bathroom with like a rain shower kind of thing, but not a super, super nice because where else in the U.S. can you stay in that tent and then step out onto your porch and look at giraffes.   [00:40:29.600] - Kim Tate Yeah. And that's where, you know, you you and I, we had a different they were like fully booked when they hooked us up for our stay. And so we were in a different location. We were up on a hillside. And I definitely like you and I had the better cabin and it's worth it. I think they cost probably about fifty more dollars to stay at that lower location. But for reasons of sound and just accessibility to the main lobby areas and then the view of the giraffes, I think the Antelope Valley is what those ones were called and it was well worth a little bit of extra, but they're definitely the premium.   [00:41:00.380] - Kim Tate I love all the linens they have, like you said, like the heating blankets. And it's you don't and they've got the space heater, whereas, you know, under canvas you're kind of dumping you have to manage your own fire to make heat. And then I also like that it's got two plugs in the bathroom. So you do have some electricity and then you can also turn on the shower like a normal shower with under canvas. It's a pull chain shower.   [00:41:22.160] - Kim Tate So. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, it was it was so nice. And I love it there because you can truly do, you know, like a getaway where they've got the restaurant, they serve you breakfast and then you can have dinner there as well. You can even arrange lunch if you want it. And then you get to do this, you can do this wildlife tour, which is about two and a half to three hours, and they drive you around and you get to see see all the different animals.   [00:41:44.540] - Kim Tate So it's really fun.   [00:41:46.460] - Tamara Gruber Do the girls really love it? I mean, they haven't been before, so now they haven't.   [00:41:50.630] - Kim Tate They loved it. Yeah, they thought it was cool. And they're excited about the they of course, really loved the giraffes and then they just had fun. Once we moved to the top, we weren't on the top in the giraffe section, but once we moved up to the top later on, they had a lot of fun. And when we were lower on, the ostriches came over in like we're really close to me.   [00:42:06.860] - Kim Tate And she thought it was so fun. And we just sat there and kind of looked at them up close and personal and it was pretty cool. So I think it's great and the food there is really good I mean, we had a great time and with it being covered right now, they've got it where you get to order your breakfast in advance and they have, like kind of your tent. You have a section you can set out for dinner and everything is just spaced well and you're eating outdoors.   [00:42:28.380] - Kim Tate And it just felt really nice. And relaxing, I think is the big thing is it's just a really relaxing type of trip, I will say, which you and I experienced. Mara, you do have to look at the temperature, especially the overnight temps, because when you go to bed at night, it can get cold fast. And then when you wake up in the morning to go into that bathroom, you keep the door to the bathroom close because they keep it kind of airflow for smells, I think, or something.   [00:42:51.540] - Kim Tate But it's really cold. So when you if you choose to take a shower in the morning, it's icy, the water's warm, but the room is just really cold.   [00:43:00.600] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I had that when I did my glamping stay in New Hampshire and I think it was early October, but I was freezing, absolutely freezing. And I had like a little space heater in the bathroom and the warm shower. But it's still like it was harsh stepping out of it. Yeah, well, it sounds like a neat and fun, very different thing for California. So, yeah. So now you're like, you know, heading like out of Northern California to central California.   [00:43:27.810] - Tamara Gruber What was your next, you know, day?   [00:43:29.340] - Kim Tate So the next stop after Santa Rosa is passing through San Francisco and we almost always have driven across the Golden Gate Bridge. But on this trip, this was where we wanted to go swing by and just see the UC Berkeley campus. And so we actually went across the other bridge, which I don't know if it's the Oakland Bridge or if it's just some other bridge. I'm not sure which bridge it's called, but it was a pretty nice bridge as well.   [00:43:50.490] - Kim Tate And it just passed is kind of a little more east than the Golden Gate Bridge. And we drove through the Berkeley campus and then got back on the road and we were going to go to Santa Cruz near Santa Cruz place called Watsonville. There's the Martinelli's cider. And we've done that cider tasting there and we were so excited to do it again. But before we left, I made sure to check and I realized they're not even doing the tastings because of covid.   [00:44:16.620] - Kim Tate And so we didn't stop, you know, because it's all closed down. So thankfully, we figured that out before. We actually because it was a little out of the way, but not too bad. But we determined that. And we just made our way to Monterey, where we spent two nights in Monterey, and that was kind of the last part of our trip. So I think you've done more of the central coast, like from Monterey down you go through Big Sur and all of that.   [00:44:39.690] - Kim Tate Cambria, there's a lot of beautiful stuff that as you get ready to come in, like Ventura and Santa Barbara and stay along the coast there, the highway one was closed at Big Sur. So Monterey was kind of sort of the most the main the southernmost, most section that was still open. And so we headed over after Monterey, back over to the 101 and then headed down to stay with our friends.   [00:45:05.700] - Tamara Gruber So what do you do in Monterey? Did you go to the aquarium?   [00:45:08.160] - Kim Tate We did not. The aquarium was still closed, so they had not opened yet. But we actually did a couple of things. So we did a bike tour. So we kind of did an E bike tour, which was fun with a company called Mad Dogs and Englishmen. And so we headed out in the morning, met them, and they actually have a new little spot right there in Monterey on Cannery Row. And so you can park at the hotel.   [00:45:32.910] - Kim Tate They do free valet parking for the tour guests, which was a huge perk. And you can then get on your little E bikes. And they took us around like part of seventeen mile, seventeen mile, you know, Pebble Beach. Yeah. And only part of it though. And then we headed back around and came through some of the town and they just would stop occasionally. And of course Pacific Grove where they had the beautiful purple flowers just along the coast and just gave us some little tips and had some pretty stops along the way.   [00:46:00.930] - Kim Tate And it was E bikes, which is yeah, it's gorgeous. And it was kind of a cold morning. So I actually ended up buying like seventy dollar hoodies for the girls because both of them somehow managed to not get the message to wear coat because I guess it had been so hot, you know, at their other things. So we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, which is just kind of remodeled, I think, not remodeled.   [00:46:24.240] - Kim Tate The the rooms have been upgraded. So more of a soft linens upgrade and kind of refashion. And it looked really nice. And so we we stayed there. They are like fully open and have a couple pools open and then they also have a golf course there. So they at night they do these fire pits, kind of communal fire pits. But if one group's already there, you're not you're not supposed to go into it, if that makes sense.   [00:46:46.660] - Kim Tate So it was kind of a central it was a good jumping off point because we stayed there and then went around and did a few things. So that was good. We did drive down to the famous Bixby Bridge, which we just wanted to take a look at that.   [00:46:59.550] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, but I saw you guys there.   [00:47:01.920] - Kim Tate Yeah. And they're really they're trying to, like, not encourage travel there. People are just insane. So it's really limited parking, of course, but then they have these big, big rocks to try and. Encourage people to stay in, like right along the parking area and just look at the bridge and the coast, but I mean, these people are insane. They're like climbing over the rocks and climbing, like off the ledge, a little bit of the you know, because it's a it goes to the ocean and people have gotten hurt there and people are not caring.   [00:47:32.630] - Kim Tate So they're not necessarily encouraging that. But I just encourage you, if you're going to go to Bixby Bridge, make sure you stay safe on the ground. That's next. The parking area. And don't try and go get that perfect Instagram shot, which is what I saw. All the crazy people that were doing it were kind of going past that section. But sorry, I'm doing a so it's really a shame. Like how many things have turned into that?   [00:47:54.980] - Kim Tate Like, because of Instagram, I was going to get like this shot and it's it's definitely not worth taking your life in your hands.   [00:48:04.280] - Kim Tate So right near that is a place called Garrapata State Park.   [00:48:09.920] - Tamara Gruber I stopped there. That's beautiful.   [00:48:13.310] - Kim Tate It's beautiful. Beautiful. And they actually have a beautiful you can go, they have a white sandy beach area that you can hike down to and they also have not too far from there are really famous spot called Lily Valley which is where all these wild calla lilies grow. Wow. And it's kind of along a stream that empties over into the ocean and along this little streamy valley is this calla lilly Valley. It's just insane of all these wild calla lilies. So it's kind of a popular little tourist spot.   [00:48:41.030] - Kim Tate And we hiked around there and all the wildflowers and just kind of the it's like a cliff beach of a sort. So you're you're up a little higher and then you kind of look down on the white sand beach and the waves, it just seemed like a really nice place to hang out. And I think the parking lot is very the parking is limited. And you could see that it's probably really popular and can get busy.   [00:49:03.440] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, when we stayed in Carmel, we we stopped there like on our way down towards Big Sur. But then we had also done like a day hike or, you know, like a spent part of a day at Point Lobos State Park, which is another gorgeous spot right now.   [00:49:19.130] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's that's a really popular spot. We didn't go there, but yeah, I could tell that was popular. There was people like hiking out to the highway from the from the park entrance. They marked it closed because there was no parking. I mean the park was open but you couldn't drive in there.   [00:49:32.460] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I was full. I love that part of the coast. It's really beautiful. And it's so especially if you can if you can. I know some other people do like kayaking tours are where you can see otters and things like that. So there is definitely a lot to do if you, you know, for people that want to spend. Yeah. A couple or a few days in that area.   [00:49:49.040] - Kim Tate Well, in the Monterey Bay Aquarium is amazing and really cool. But like I said, that was it was closed, but it was opening. It was opening in May. So it will be reopen soon. And I have to say, I'll give a couple shout outs to food places in Monterey just because this is one place I know we're getting a little long, but one place that I really had some good experiences, one place we ate at was called Rio Grill, which it's kind of cool.   [00:50:09.530] - Kim Tate You can tell that they have kind of made their sidewalk and outdoor seating area and it was quaint. They had, you know, heating the heaters going and they had created kind of a wall of sorts from the parking lot with plants and. Yeah, fence. And it just looked great. So they did a good job at that. And the food was delicious and they were so helpful. Mia had ordered something and felt like she was like she started eating it.   [00:50:34.490] - Kim Tate They thought it was safe. But she's like, no, and it's normally eggs will do this. It wasn't nothing. But she's like, no, it doesn't seem right. And so they were like, oh, no problem, let's get you something. And so she took a Benadryl and then they got her something different. And it was so awesome. And the food was delicious and they were so friendly and so helpful. And then there's also a really famous bakery in Monterey called Alta Bakery.   [00:50:58.280] - Kim Tate And we stop there for breakfast the next morning before our bike ride. And I have to say they had some amazing things. There's a huge line normally waiting outside to place your order and stuff. So you do have to allow a little bit of time. And finding parking can be a little tricky, but it was an awesome little spot. And then lastly, I want to give a shout out to a place called Lucie's on Lighthouse, which was a hot dog joint that's got like kind of a skateboard theme.   [00:51:22.460] - Kim Tate And basically they have all these crazy hot dogs that you can get all these different, whatever it's called, you know, like toppings and stuff. So a little bit about that. It was really awesome. Sound fun. Yeah. And so for Monterey, we went, like I said, to our friend's house and that was kind of it, and that was in Ojai. And so we didn't really do much else. We did some day trips.   [00:51:45.950] - Kim Tate We hiked the Hollywood sign, which was a pretty epic fun thing to do. And that was about a I think it was just over four mile hike, round trip and, you know, some great views of L.A. It was not t

    189 Southwest Grand Circle Road Trip

    Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2021 41:41

    This week we tackle on of this year's most popular road trips -- the Grand Circle road trip in the Southwest USA. And we have the perfect guest! Anne Howard from Honeytrek shares her insights and tips after having spent weeks in this region over multiple trips. About Anne Howard Anne is the co-founder of the couples adventure travel blog HoneyTrek and co-author of the books Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America and National Geographic's Ultimate Journeys for Two. Since 2012, Anne and her husband Mike have been traveling full-time across the seven continents and have road tripped from Baja to The Arctic Circle and 50 US States in between. Mike & Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January 2012...and never came home. They created HoneyTrek.com to chronicle their journey across all seven continents and help people mobilize their travel dreams. Their story of the World's Longest Honeymoon, savvy tips, and blog have been featured in hundreds of international media outlets—from USA Today to Lonely Planet. Firm believers that love and travel make the world a better place, they authored Ultimate Journeys for Two—National Geographic's bestselling couples travel guide. To write their newest book, Comfortably Wild, they bought a vintage RV (aka Buddy the Camper) and traveled 73,000 miles across 9 countries to find the best glamping experiences in North America. Along the way, they fell in love with RVing and have made Buddy their full-time adventure mobile. They've taken their 1985 Toyota Sunrader from the tip of Baja Mexico to the Arctic Circle of Canada and 50 US states in between. As full-time nomads and travel journalists, the Howards are always on the hunt for off-the-track destinations, uncommon adventures, and the human stories that make each place so special. Follow their adventures at www.HoneyTrek.com or on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also see a gallery of photos from their Grand Circle Road Trip on Facebook. Tips for Planning a Grand Circle Road Trip The Grand Circle road trip is the loop of national parks and monuments in the Southwest including the Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, the Grand Canyon and many other national monuments, tribal lands, and state parks along the way. Trying to hit the six big National Parks, you need at least two weeks to adequately cover the Grand Circle road trip. You want to leave time to stop at roadside shops, restaurants, photo opportunities, etc along the way. Utah has such amazing landscapes but also has many dinosaur fossils. To start the road trip, fly into Las Vegas. Sometimes camping or RVing in the parks sounds ideal, but it can get hard to find campsites in the national parks so sometimes staying in hotels or other lodging can actually be better. Keep in mind that big RVs aren't able to go in some areas of the national parks and driving a large RV on the small roads or fitting into parking lots can be a big challenge. If you are renting an RV to do the Grand Circle road trip, stick to an RV that is 27' or smaller. The ideal size is probably 22 feet. From Las Vegas, it is only a three hour drive to Zion National Park (versus four hours from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.) From Zion you will go to Bryce along Highway 12, which is a gorgeous scenic drive. You will also pass by Escalante National Monument, which is massive and you want to leave some time to explore. You will then go to Capitol Reef, then Arches National Park, before heading down to the Grand Canyon. Don't just follow Google Maps, which will just route you the fastest way. After Canyonlands, leave time to go to Bears Ears National Monument, which is underrated but is a sacred destination for various Native American nations and you will have an opportunity to see cliff dwellings and petroglyphs and it is not crowded at all. You will also want to leave time on your trip down to the Grand Canyon to swing through Monument Valley and the Navajo nation's lands and tribal parks. Just 15 minutes or so away from Monument Valley is Goosenecks State Park. It has a double loop in the river, which is a much better photo opportunity than the popular Horseshoe Bend and it is inexpensive and not crowded. It is a true hidden gem! Beyond the national parks, look for other types of public lands -- national forests, Bureau of Land Management land, etc. To find public lands and campsites, you can use iOverlander and UCPublic CG Ultimate Campgrounds app. But please leave reviews and share useful information to grow these communities. Don't miss hiking the slot canyons of Spooky and Peekaboo Canyons in Escalante National Monument. It is a tough road to get there and one is a more technical hike, but doable for kids and well worth the effort. They can get very narrow at points, sometimes no wider than a foot. A more family friendly hike between Bryce and Escalante is Willis Creek Slot canyon. Keep in mind that this could be icy in the winter. This is also much easier to get to. Escalante Yurts is a great spot to glamp when you are in this area. Make sure you hike a slot canyon while in Utah. You can also plan other adventures, like canyoneering in Orderville Slot Canyon near Zion or off-roading in Moab, where there is some of the best off-roading in the world, or do a scenic flight over Canyonland and Arches. Bryce also has astronomy rangers and you can do full moon hikes twice a month. Some big adventures need permits, such as hiking the Narrows. Try to do the national parks midweek and state parks on the weekend to try to avoid some crowds. This can also be a good winter road trip when it isn't as crowded and it can be beautiful in the snow, but not everything may be available. Spring is another great time because there is more water running, more flowers, and it isn't as hot as summer. These areas are warmer during the day and can get colder at night, so be prepared. In Arches, if you can't do the whole park because you are pressed for time, make sure you hike Devil's Garden with the largest concentration of arches. Zion isn't that large and doesn't take too long to do. Canyonlands is huge, and there are also two separate entrances, which makes it almost like two separate parks. The Island in the Sky in the north end near Moab is actually hours aways from the Needle section. The Needle section is actually less traveled and very lovely. Make sure you spend time understanding the Native American history for all of these places. When you are traveling in the Needles section of Canyonlands, Newspaper Rock is a quick stop but it has two thousand years of history in petroglyphs. (Note: this was recently horribly and thoughtlessly defaced.) The Butler Wash Ruins in Bears Ears is another great place to see amazing cliff dwellings from the 1200s (similar to Mesa Verde in Colorado.) Glamping is a great way to experience the outdoors and this area including Under Canvas, which is usually just outside of the national parks, and Wunder Camp, which has a series of camps near national parks but at a lower price point. Be sure to buy Anne's book, Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America , for more glamping suggestions. If you need to skip something, you can miss the full 18-mile scenic drive in Bryce as the best parts are at the beginning and it is an out and back drive and not a loop. Be careful about hiking down the Grand Canyon as you have to hike back up and it is a tough hike and plan accordingly with time, water, and energy. This is a good trip to buy a National Parks Pass. It would also be useful to buy the Secrets to the National Parks and Scenic Highways and Byways books for the trip. Anne also covers a lot of the southwest, including Moab and a southwest road trip section, in her book Ultimate Journeys for Two. When visiting this area, make sure you pack a good wide brim sunhat to block the strong sun and layers to deal with the changing temperatures. Anne recommends Asolo hiking boots for women and men, as well as Kyodan leggings with pockets. Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.060] - Kim Tate Stay tuned, because today we're circling around the southwest.   [00:00:16.090] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:31.000] - Tamara Gruber Hey, Kim, I've missed talking to you.   [00:00:33.580] - Kim Tate I know it's crazy. I feel like we just got done saying, like, we're back and now we are. We had another break.   [00:00:39.430] - Tamara Gruber So it's you know, we've gone to these every other week episodes for a while because we weren't traveling. And now I think we're going to start traveling, which makes it hard find time to record. But in the meantime, we've gotten some feedback from our listeners. And I thought we should maybe take a little bit of time before our interview today just to share a little bit of the feedback, because I always love it when our listeners come back with some advice and some recommendations of their own.   [00:01:08.060] - Tamara Gruber So I thought it would be great to share.   [00:01:09.700] - Kim Tate Yeah, definitely. I love knowing that people are actually listening to us because I really like you and I just love talking to each other and it's kind of fun. But to actually know that people actually care and like us, it's awesome.   [00:01:21.400] - Tamara Gruber I know we say it all the time, but we really, really do get a big smile on our face every time we get, you know, one of these kind of comments or emails or messages. And it just, you know, definitely makes us happy to know we aren't just talking into the void. But I wanted to share about our episode, probably a month or two now ago, we talked about some of our favorite hotels in Florida with Joella.   [00:01:43.330] - Tamara Gruber And I got a message from David and Karen from family boarding pass, and they had some to recommend also. So I thought I would share those because I feel like it is prime vacation planning time right now. And I know that hotels, especially in Florida, getting really booked up. So they had recommended the Pink Shell Hotel, which is in Fort Myers Beach and also the Hilton in Clearwater. And there's lots to do around there. You can walk to beach locations and they also have additional activities like kayaks and bike rentals.   [00:02:12.610] - Tamara Gruber And I know that they gave one other recommendation for old Key West, but unfortunately, that part of the message got cut off. And so, you know, thanks, guys, for sending that in. I always love finding new hotels that people that are like me have tried and liked. So check those out if you're looking for a stay on the west coast of Florida, the summer.   [00:02:32.860] - Kim Tate Yeah, I definitely feel like hotels are kind of people seem to be really into resort vacations right now, and I think it's just they're starting to get ready to branch out a little more. But organizing tours and with some things being closed down, hotels are definitely getting some good travel. I am going to share something because speaking of hotels, we recently had Episode one eight five and we talked to Nate from Room Steals and we actually had a listener, pint sized mommy who left us a message on our Instagram post about it, saying that she used her Room Steals to book a hotel and she saved four hundred and forty five dollars.   [00:03:08.980] - Kim Tate And so she thanked us for that episode. And I think that's cool like we were talking about. It's fun to know that we're actually helping our listeners, too.   [00:03:16.360] - Tamara Gruber So it's a reminder to go back and use that too because, you know, I, of course, like added the extension and then said, I'm not always using chrome. A lot of times I do my searches either on my phone or in Safari. And so I need to go back and try to use that because I am trying to book some things, you know, in the next couple of weeks. So maybe I can get a deal, too, because.   [00:03:36.850] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, Elisa, that's amazing. I mean, 440 dollars. That's that's substantial.   [00:03:42.400] - Kim Tate Yeah, it is. And you know, one of the cool things, you know, we had originally when we were talking to Nate, I wondered about if it defaults to a specific room taken, families might be stuck. But I actually tried it out myself when I was looking at some hotels for a trip that we're planning coming up. And you can actually click through and then you can see different room types and the pricing that they found for those different room types.   [00:04:03.220] - Kim Tate Even so, it's not like you're just buying one room or one price and you just get stuck with whatever room. So they still have the ability to choose a specific room, which was cool. But just so everyone knows, it only works on like aggregator sites like Expedia and stuff like that. It doesn't work if you just go to like Marriott Dotcom. So the idea is that it's it uses those aggregate bulk pricing sites.   [00:04:27.730] - Tamara Gruber Interesting. Yeah, it's good to know. Yeah. And I also wanted to give a shout out to Patty from following the magic on Instagram. She has been a follower for a bit and she gave us some feedback that she really loved the episode that we were talking about my road trip because remember how I went on and on and I felt like it was so long. And so she was like, no, no, I love listening to you guys, you know, share about your travels.   [00:04:48.310] - Tamara Gruber And so I just want to say thank you. I definitely appreciate that. And I know that those always tend to get a little bit even higher downloads than some of the other episodes. And so we are traveling again. And so you'll hear more of those coming up. But that Patti, thanks for that feedback.   [00:05:04.420] - Kim Tate Yeah, we loved hearing that. And it's so funny to actually have her message that because it made Tamara and I both look and we're like, yeah, when you look at download numbers, which with podcasting, you don't get a lot of statistics, but you can definitely see download numbers and then listening time and Tamara and I have both have noticed that you guys seem to like when it's just us rambling on like nonsense. So that's good to know. But we also wanted to take a moment to reach out to you guys and tell you that we're thinking about doing a mailbag episode.   [00:05:33.520] - Kim Tate And if you're a podcast, avid podcast listener, you probably have heard of this where the episode will just be filled with questions from our, you know, listeners. If you guys have a question about maybe you're planning a trip, you need advice, maybe you want Tamara and I to look at a specific destination and help you pick a hotel, maybe you need help with an itinerary or destination ideas, any of that. We would love to hear from you and help you do some travel planning or give you some travel tips.   [00:06:00.160] - Kim Tate So if you have any thoughts or questions for us, send us an email at podcast@VacationMavens.com, or you can always reach out to us on social media @stuffedsuitcase or @we3travel or even @vacationmavens and send us a message. So just let us know and we would love to hear from you and be able to do an episode all about our, you know, our listeners questions.   [00:06:23.860] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And if we don't have the answer, we may know someone that does or will read it in. One of our listeners may tune in for the next episode to try to give us some answers. So it's the great thing about the community. But in the meantime, we're going to be talking about a really popular road trip. I feel like especially this year, I feel like everyone that I know seems to be planning a trip out here. But a lot of our listeners have also asked for an episode for us to talk about the grand circle through a lot of the Southwest, the Utah parks and some of Arizona.   [00:06:54.190] - Tamara Gruber So we're going to be chatting with Anne Howard, who has spent so much time in this area. And this was an interview that I absolutely loved because she just had so many great tips to share. So definitely stay tuned.   [00:07:05.770] - Kim Tate Yeah, we already love Anne and her enthusiasm about this subject will come through in this episode. So I hope you guys enjoy.   [00:07:21.840] - Tamara Gruber So this week, we're here with Anne Howard and is the co-founder of the couples adventure travel blog, Honey Trek, and also the coauthor of books Comfortably Wild The Best Glamping Destinations in North America and National Geographic's Ultimate Journeys for Two. Since 2012, Anne her husband, Mike, has been traveling full time across the seven continents and have a road trip from Baja to the Arctic Circle and 50 United States in between. So Anne, you've been everywhere. Where are you right now?   [00:07:48.870] - Anne Howard We are in San Miguel de Allende Mexico.   [00:07:51.660] - Tamara Gruber Oh, I've heard such good things about that area.   [00:07:54.170] - Anne Howard Yeah, it's always hard to leave. The camper waits and long term storage somewhere randomly outside of Sacramento, but I'm sure it'll be fine because you got to mix up your adventures domestically, internationally. So we'll be back to the camper in about two months.   [00:08:07.500] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. What is the campers name, Buddy?   [00:08:09.450] - Anne Howard His name is Buddy. Yeah, buddy. The camper. Good old buddy.   [00:08:13.980] - Tamara Gruber Well, you took our you took Buddy on a big road trip. I mean, you've taken Buddy on many, many road trips. But one that I know a lot of our listeners have been asking about is the grand circle road trip is kind of a I'm not exactly sure where and when it got that name, but I've been hearing it kind of pop up in all kinds of chat groups and Facebook groups and things. It seems to be on everybody's radar this year.   [00:08:36.690] - Tamara Gruber So I was hoping maybe you could tell us a little bit about what exactly is a grand circle type of Southwest road trip? What does it include?   [00:08:45.570] - Anne Howard Yeah, the grand circle. I mean, conveniently, many of the most amazing national parks of the Southwest are in a sort of natural loop. Zion, Bryce Canyon lands arches and the Grand Canyon all connect. But what makes it even grander is that there are many national monuments, state parks, Navajo tribal parks that that actually follow this route as well. So it's as grand as you want it to be. And in reality, we've actually done it over the course of two years, really many years.   [00:09:20.340] - Anne Howard We've done many of these parks many times. And then a certain point we're like, wait a second, we just did the Grand Circle Road trip. And because it doesn't need to follow such a linear path, but in its classic sense, it's hitting those big five national parks. But we really encourage people to take as long as they can. And rather than really rush and think about it is like a bucket list thing, like I must do it all in one loop.   [00:09:43.500] - Anne Howard It might be two different trips for you. And that's OK. I'd actually prefer people break it up into two trips because I'd hate to see race by all these other fabulous things just to have it be a check on your bucket list.   [00:09:57.110] - Kim Tate Yeah, totally, I know we talked to I can't remember who our guest was, I want to say, Alison, it was perhaps a while back like it was one of our first episodes. So we'll have to link in the show notes to that episode. But she had mentioned, like, how amazing many of the Utah state parks are and that they can have a lot less of the crowds and offer some of the same amazing scenery. So I agree with what you're saying.   [00:10:19.920] - Kim Tate Like this type of thing isn't maybe to be rushed through and split it up a little and decide, you know, take it in parts maybe. But it is a lot of ground. Yeah, definitely. It's a lot of ground to cover.   [00:10:37.550] - Anne Howard I missed one. So it's Zion, Bryce Capital, Reef, Canyonlands, Arches and Grand Canyon. So six are technically on there. But like I said, there's so many more wonderful national mountains, the state parks along the way.   [00:10:48.710] - Kim Tate Yeah, of course. I think Grand Canyon throwing it in there throws off the big five. That is Utah's big thing. Yeah, it is. It really is. All you tell you.   [00:10:56.150] - Kim Tate Yeah. So do you think how many days, you know, if they are going to try and do it as the grand circle, you know, how many days do you think they. I'm I'm sure you guys are going to say two months, but somebody is going to try and do it with a standard vacation allotment. How many days do you think they need to adequately make the grand circle trip?   [00:11:15.110] - Anne Howard I would say really two week minimum if you could. But every anything is possible, right? You could do all the parts and just, you know, one day I think it's nicer to be at them two days each. There are some sometimes was more significant travel days. You have to realize you're not going to do all of Zion one day and then all of the other because you're going to be you need to actually get between those places, those you happen to be closer than the others, but it's hard to get from Canyonlands to Grand Canyon.   [00:11:43.640] - Anne Howard So that's you have to buffer in a little bit of extra time. And you just you know, that is always the serendipity of a road trip, is you never know what you're going to find along the way so that having those those stops and when you see them incredible photo stop, a fun rock shop, a neat roadside restaurant, you don't want to squander those things.   [00:12:00.590] - Kim Tate Mm hmm. Yeah. There's nothing worse than being on a road trip. And, you know, like because I've experienced this, unfortunately, where you're like, sorry, we don't have time to stop. And like, you actually start skipping like turnouts. Yeah, no, we're not going to get a snack there because we have to get to this hotel and it's almost dark. And, you know, the office closes at ten and that's just miserable.   [00:12:20.090] - Kim Tate You don't you don't want that life.   [00:12:21.890] - Anne Howard Yeah, totally.   [00:12:23.390] - Tamara Gruber I feel like especially that part of the country, you know, for many of us, it's just such a different landscape. It's such a unique place that you do want to stop. Like, would I usually want to stop at a rock shop? No, probably not. But I don't know if I've really seen a rock shop, so maybe I do want to stop.   [00:12:39.740] - Anne Howard You do want to stop at at rock shop. Utah particularly has incredible history and not just geologically, but also dinosaurs. I mean, you'd stop at a rock shot. You're like, I'm pretty sure that's a Tyrannosaurus Rex femur in this guy's backyard. Like, are you serious right now? Like, there's some crazy roadside things to see, especially when it comes to rocks and bones and probably a lot of crafts, too, right?   [00:13:06.080] - Anne Howard For sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.   [00:13:08.300] - Tamara Gruber So I guess the point is, like, where do you start? Do you typically would you fly into Phoenix, would you fly into Vegas. Like what is if you're not driving buddy, you know, where do you usually start?   [00:13:20.510] - Anne Howard And even though it seems like we have an advantage because we do have a camper, we actually have have done this road trip in many ways. So while we love RV and can sing those praises, we've also done it as traditional road trips where we stayed in camping camps and some of the historic park lodges. So I think it's actually just as cool a trip either way. So don't feel bad if you don't have an RV if you wanted to try it.   [00:13:43.220] - Anne Howard I think it's an awesome way to do it. But it's also really tricky to camp in national parks. They fill up fast. They're crowded, like sometimes camping in RV and national parks is not the way to go. So I think you could do it whichever way makes you happy, because there are so many charming lodging options and they're not massive distances. So you it's you're going to get to your destination before sunset and check into a into a camp or a hotel.   [00:14:11.030] - Anne Howard So it doesn't have to be that way, even though I am a fan of RV. But I would say if you are going to fly in and rent a car or rent an RV, flying into Vegas just makes a lot of sense. If you from from Vegas, it's like under three hours to Zion and there's plenty of cool things. One, there's Vegas is its own phenomenon. So if you want to spend the night there just for fun, it's it's a great kid friendly place as well.   [00:14:33.860] - Anne Howard But then you to get to Zion in under three hours versus if you came from Phoenix is more like four hours the Grand Canyon. And it's just kind of a slog and it's like Vegas ready for that road trip and you know, people are coming for it. So I that would be my recommendation.   [00:14:49.010] - Kim Tate That's some great advice. And I think, you know, one other tidbit about that is I'll never forget being in Yellowstone and seeing the campers and even though they. Parking for RVs. You know, it seems like sometimes the stress for those guys getting in and out of some of those turnouts, especially when you're looking at the bison further, you know, in Lamar Valley, there was times where you just couldn't get in there. And that's kind of disappointing.   [00:15:12.640] - Kim Tate So I see what you mean about maybe RV's aren't the best for national parks.   [00:15:16.170] - Anne Howard Also that also small, big RV's are not the best for national parks. There are length restrictions on many of these like wonderful winding roads that you want to be on. So if you are going to rent an RV, like keep it under twenty seven feet, we think the smaller the better. We think the perfect size of twenty two because yeah. You'll get boxed out of certain opportunities because of your length.   [00:15:36.750] - Kim Tate Well so we talked about flying into Vegas. You think that that's a good one. So does that mean then you're like there's a certain direction that you take the loop or a certain order that you hit the hit the six parks.   [00:15:46.480] - Anne Howard Yeah. I mean, from there you're going to go to to Zion and then you're going to then is Bryce one of the Highway 12 is absolutely gorgeous, like going along that way. But then as you're going to also be passing through Escalante National Monument, which is massive. So you want to give that some extra time, if you can, before heading into Capitol Reef, then Canyonlands. And then I had my map up and then my computer crashed.   [00:16:12.270] - Anne Howard And I don't have my map in front of me right now.   [00:16:14.230] - Kim Tate And I think it's Arches.   [00:16:16.020] - Anne Howard Then Arches, then Canylonlands. And then down to Grand Canyon. But then once again, you're going to pass through if you're going to go just the straight Google map, fastest way they're going to have you skip major things. You also have an opportunity from Canyonlands to go through Bears Ears National Monument, which is totally underrated. It is an incredible sacred destination for various Native American tribes. So incredible opportunities to see cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.   [00:16:43.110] - Anne Howard And it's not traveled at all. So that's a gem. We actually lived in that area of Utah for two months doing a house that taking care of lots of turkeys and chickens. So and we lived we actually took care of a house for two park rangers. So they knew all the best places. And we had an incredible time. And then once again, they might want to speed you just to get to take the fastest highway. No, you should certainly take the very slight detour to go through Monument Valley, which is the Navajo Nation.   [00:17:10.740] - Anne Howard So, no, that's not a national park. But the equivalent of a Navajo national park is their tribal parks for Monument Valley. The highly recommend that before just racing down the Grand Canyon.   [00:17:22.140] - Tamara Gruber I once drove through Monument Valley at sunset. And it was so magical. I mean, this area is not an area that I've had a chance to explore very much. But I did once, as I've told I think on the podcast before, I had to drive from San Diego to New York City after 9/11, and we were like, it was me and my boss, because we were stranded there.   [00:17:42.990] - Tamara Gruber And we were like, if we're going to drive this way, we're going to see one thing. And so we decided to stop at the Grand Canyon and we basically had lunch, took a couple of pictures and then drove through Monument Valley up to Moab that night. But it was I think it was also that time that I was there that to see nature so beautifully and then the sun, it just it was kind of like a healing type of moment.   [00:18:03.690] - Tamara Gruber But that area, I think a lot of people do kind of skip over and it's yes, definitely beautiful.   [00:18:09.030] - Anne Howard And then actually one of our favorite, totally underrated state parks. I swear no one goes there. It is. And it's right next to to Monument Valley with like a 15 minute detour is called Gooseneck State Park. So everybody knows what Horseshoe Bend looks like. Right. It's probably the screensaver on your Windows PC right now. It's like that look like it's an arch with a river going around this peninsula. And it's stunning. Well, gooseneck is that Horseshoe Bend Times, too.   [00:18:36.990] - Anne Howard So it's a double loop around two peninsulas with this snaking river, Red Rock, turquoise water. It is absolutely stunning. And it's five bucks to go and a million dollar photo op and you can camp there and no one's there that night and they barbecue pits and the whole thing. So that's that's a fun extra that I feel like I wouldn't have known without the help of my Utah Park Ranger friends.   [00:19:00.090] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And I feel like especially now, like this year, I think is going to be a little bit insane when it comes to going to a lot of these national parks. I mean, I've already seen arches tweeting almost every day that by like ten, eleven they're full. You know, it's something that people are going to get to really plan in advance and hopefully really look for those other kind of opportunities. But I feel like between the desire for everyone to be outside but still travel this year domestically and then Instagram, you know, the fact that, like now I see so many people are talking about, like, I want to go to Goblin or I want to like these different places that I had never heard of until Instagram.   [00:19:37.170] - Tamara Gruber Right. So everyone's trying to get that photo op. Everyone's there at sunset or sunrise or, you know, the craziness of it. And I just, you know, I couldn't stand crowds before. So now I'm probably going to have, like, what's the phobia for crowds? I don't know.   [00:19:49.110] - Anne Howard But that's why I also because that's I feel similarily about national parks and that's why we discovered public lands. For every national park, it's that's like the most protected designation of public lands, but then it it definitely eases up and opens up from there. So I highly encourage people instead of thinking I have to stay at the the National Park campground, look at the surrounding public lands. That means National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, land, and that's all wide open and it's usually free.   [00:20:20.500] - Anne Howard So and there are no crowds and there are some some wonderful apps to find that kind of thing. I Overlander is a great app to find public lands, one of our favorite, which I will share, even though Mike is sort of territorial over it. But I do. I will share it if that you are one a good steward of the land and two, you leave a review because that's what this app lacks, is the community element of like people saying, hey, watch out for the pothole on the right or o sounds.   [00:20:49.240] - Anne Howard That is even better over here. I Overlander has that. But the app and I'm, I tell you, UCPublic CG, which is Ultimate Campgrounds app, is an incredible, incredible resource to discover public lands and camping opportunities. It's like five dollars for the app and it's so worth that. So that is a great way to kind of get out of the fray of summer like the the national park traffic.   [00:21:13.690] - Tamara Gruber So I know you don't want to give up all of your secrets, but since we're talking about these more off the beaten path parks and things that we should see, do you have a few others that you would recommend? That would be if you are looking for alternatives to some of the national parks or even if you can do a longer trip to add in there?   [00:21:32.440] - Anne Howard Yeah, I mean, Escalante, national monument is massive and one of the coolest hikes ever. It's a challenging road to get out there and it's a kind of a typical hike. But I also did it with some friends and they had their little kids with them and they were having the best time ever. So I've seen, like, kids age seven do it. I've seen dogs do it. But please don't bring your dog. It's way too complicated for that.   [00:21:53.290] - Anne Howard But Utah has amazing slot canyon. So no matter what, you can't leave Utah without hiking a slot canyon to the technical one I was describing. It's actually two that come together called spooky and peekaboo canyons. And it's sometimes it's only as wide as a foot. It's crazy. So a slot canyon, basically these sort of sheer walls that have been carved by a river or an erosion over time. And they kind of create this magical play of light and it's like a little bit of rock scrambling.   [00:22:23.410] - Anne Howard And and it really is a full body experience. And it's totally magic for those. That's a more challenging version, another one that is super cool and very easy and family friendly. And just kind of on your way between Bryce and Escalante is called Willis Creek Canyon. Funny enough, we did it with my mom and we were staying at Escalante. It's a great camping camp. That's a really wonderful base for your trip. She's like, oh, do definitely do Willis Creek.   [00:22:54.070] - Anne Howard And she didn't she didn't really mention that it might be frozen. So we were like ice skating there and well, still kind of through the river at one point. But it's only no matter what, it's only like four inches deep. So in the summer, that's going to feel really good. It's a waiting. You're wading through the water at very, very shallow levels. You're not going to worry. That swept away. And then it's maybe like a mile and a half and then, oh, it's like amazing.   [00:23:19.180] - Anne Howard Slot Canyon appears at the end and it's not very crowded and it's it's really special. And that's like an easy detour, peekaboo and spooky or like a life experience and a drive and of itself, but very cool. So do slot canyon no matter what in Utah. Also like this is the land of true adventure. Do a do something big. Don't you see, I love hiking, but you have opportunities to try new things. So maybe it's doing canyoneering in Orderville slot Canyon near Zion or maybe it's doing a four by four trip in Moab because they have some of the best rock off roading in the world.   [00:23:57.700] - Anne Howard Maybe it's doing the scenic flight to kind of get a sense of the geology from above what you can do for many places. But there's a great one that kind of loops over both canyons and arches that you could do another fun things if you can time your trip or with the full moon. Bryce does they have their astronomy rangers and you can do full moon hikes two nights of the month. So and that's a totally unique way to see the park.   [00:24:25.420] - Anne Howard So, yeah, mix it up, try new adventures, be it hiking, getting a boat at some point, strapping yourself in for some canyoneering or hopping in four by four and challenge yourself to do something new.   [00:24:38.400] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think that's great tips and kind of fun to think beyond, just, you know, like let's look for some fun hikes. You know, it is the adventure and there are soft adventures, you know. You know that you don't have to be, you know, jumping out of an airplane to have some adventures. Yeah.   [00:24:53.880] - Tamara Gruber It's perfect for our teens too right Kim?   [00:24:56.190] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, I could see it being much better to kind of having teenagers if you have. They always like to have something unique that's cool and that they can brag about with friends. It's not just we went on a hike so. Yeah. Any other, you know, a must see attractions or experiences you think. I mean we've talked a lot in the past about, you know, we've talked about the Grand Canyon, the big five, house boating even on Lake Powell.   [00:25:20.610] - Kim Tate But do you think there's any highlights that are certainly not to be missed? You've talked, of course, about, you know, getting beyond the beyond the standard, but what do you think are some of the must dos for that area?   [00:25:31.600] - Anne Howard It was good to know that some of these truly iconic things like, say, for example, hiking the narrows, which is up around the Virgin River, is an amazing experience. But it needs a permit. So it's not a big deal is you need to know that certain big adventures need permits, not too many. But like, that's one of the most Instagramable things ever. Why? Because it's that popular. And as a result, you now need a permit.   [00:25:54.450] - Anne Howard So don't let that deter you. But at the same time, like not, everything's always going to be available to you. I think to avoid some of this rush in general, though, is to know what days of the week you're going to like, maybe get your your national parks midweek and your state parks on the weekend and also your time of year. I think we chat about season later, but time of year is going to make a big difference about what things are available to you.   [00:26:19.650] - Anne Howard We actually loved doing these this road trip in the winter when, like, no one's around and you know it like seeing like the red hoodies embrace of the blanket of snow or the layers of the Grand Canyon like feathered with white. It's an unbelievable. So I wouldn't rule out I don't want my neck to rush to do it this summer when it's the hottest. Like you can hurry up. Actually, spring is a great time to do it. And spring and winter, our favorite times to go to beat some of the crowds and actually see some more unique things.   [00:26:47.880] - Anne Howard More water runs in the spring. More flowers come out in spring.   [00:26:51.780] - Tamara Gruber I'm really glad to hear you say that about winter because there's been so many times where we've talked about doing it as like our we have a spring break in March. That's two weeks. And we're always like, is it going to be too cold or not? And dances are usually we'll head off somewhere internationally, but obviously not now. But is that what we were actually thinking, like, well, hey, maybe next year we can try to do it for March break.   [00:27:15.660] - Tamara Gruber So if it if it's going to be nice in mid-March, it's still pleasant, you know, where you can still access everything. That sounds ideal to me.   [00:27:24.360] - Anne Howard Yeah. And most of these areas like heat up during the day, they might drop in the morning at night, but it's usually pretty much always hiking weather. You disappear, maybe dress a little. And we actually saw the Grand Canyon in a blizzard, a straight blizzard. And but we had we actually had booked a room at the Bright Angel Lodge on the rim. Actually, that not that was luck. That happened to be one room left. And we took it and we woke up to just the sunniest Grand Canyon, all fluffy white.   [00:27:49.980] - Anne Howard It was absolutely unreal. So I was like, what a benefit. We had seen the Grand Canyon the summer. I was like, wow, you can't beat winter. This is unreal. So, yeah, don't let nature deter you all year round is actually quite good. I'd say summer is probably the least desirable time to go. But hey, if that's what your schedule allows for kids, vacations, whatever, if you can make it work.   [00:28:09.400] - Kim Tate Are there any do you think there's any, you know of the hikes of I mean I'm thinking about of course, Big five a little bit, but were there any hikes that you feel like you have to get there early or do you have to make time for this one? Because the the views are just epic? Or do you or do you feel like maybe there's a hike in, say, because I've seen like Bryce, it looks very different than arches, you know?   [00:28:32.610] - Kim Tate So do you are there any that you're like, yeah, take your time, make sure you do get out and see this or anything like that.   [00:28:39.960] - Anne Howard I see. Well, I mean, say in arches like hiking the devil's garden, if you can't do the whole park, what you know, if you're really crunched for time. Well, Devil's Garden has the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. So, like, that's some place to prioritize. But, you know, all of these parks, like our like Zion isn't that big a place. Arches isn't that big a place. Canyonlands is a massive place.   [00:29:04.200] - Anne Howard And actually, Canyonlands is good to know that it's not one entrance. You actually it's almost two totally separate parks. So know that in your planning that the island in the sky in the north end near Moab is like hours away actually from the other end. The needle section, the needle section is actually less traveled and a really lovely and actually I'd say in general and needles is a good place to do this, but throughout is make sure you spend some time understanding, like the Native American history that goes with all of these places, because, of course, the geology says.   [00:29:38.220] - Anne Howard Eye popping, but really there's there's incredible narratives from various, you know, from ancestral Pueblo ones to the more contemporary Navajo who are who hold these places as sacred and who left their mark in their own way. So like, say, for example, when you're driving the the long road needles to get to the section of Canyonlands newspaper Rock is a quick little stop. But you could certainly miss it if you're not paying attention. And it shows petroglyphs dating back two thousand years and starting with ancestral lines.   [00:30:11.910] - Anne Howard But then, like other groups have layered on and layered on so called newspaper because like literally like kind of putting the news as time goes on on this rock. So it was incredible concentration of petroglyphs that actually are go pretty close to print. So it's very interesting the how different groups, you know, what they're what their symbols were and and spending some time learning about that also on the ancestral puebloan and sort of Native American history of the area.   [00:30:42.180] - Anne Howard Bear Ears there's one place called there's many places, but the Butler Wash ruins is very easily accessible just off the road. And that's where you get to see amazing cliff dwellings from like the twelve hundreds. So it's so cool to see almost like a city in the rocks and in Mesa Verde National Park is an example of that in Colorado, the canyon all the way to Colorado on this trip. We'll know that you can also do it in Utah.   [00:31:05.730] - Kim Tate That's fabulous tips. I think that's good. And I think that's what more people need to be willing to do to help with the overcrowding that we're experiencing in our national parks is you know, I appreciate you guys being such a great voice for that of recognizing, like you said, the heritage of these lands and then also, you know, getting beyond just the borders and the national park entrance and looking for the stories that are around those areas, too.   [00:31:28.110] - Anne Howard Yeah, absolutely. And one thing another way to kind of beat the crowds. And I will shamelessly plug that. We we wrote a book about camping and but it's because we're really passionate about this way to experience the outdoors. And I think particularly when it comes to this sort of everyone checking the same camp or the national parks or trying to be at the historic lodge, they offer great opportunities to places to look into. Under canvas is the most known, but they've kind of built their model about finding the public lands and building their beautiful safari tents just outside the national park.   [00:32:05.050] - Anne Howard So you can get that serenity again. They are more they are higher end or I'd say a higher price point, rather. But another really amazing company who's doing something similar at a more at a lower price point. Equally awesome is called Wunder Camp. And they have a series of camps that are around some of these national parks to where they're setting up tents and helping you kind of set up so that you could be they had various programing. So it could be you're doing the cooking or they're doing the cooking.   [00:32:35.460] - Anne Howard But that's that's a great way to be outdoors. And, yeah, I think I just think life is such a cool way to get in touch with nature and have that serenity and meet the crowds and try something different.   [00:32:46.650] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I agree. Kim and I have both stated under canvas what can you've been outside a glacier and Yellowstone and I was outside of Mt. Rushmore. And I love that experience. I mean, I've never been drawn to camping as much because I love my bathrooms and things like that. So I really like this kind of in-between world of camping. And it it's just such a unique experience that even if you don't do it for the your entire trip, just to do it for a few nights and have that experience, it really it makes things stand out.   [00:33:14.850] - Tamara Gruber It's very memorable, certainly much more memorable than, you know, staying at the Holiday Inn or whatever. So. Yeah, yeah. So, you know, we've talked a lot about some of the off the beaten path things. And I feel like one of the things that I know I struggle with and I think a lot of people do is letting go of something like, you know, everyone does this and you feel like this pressure like this.   [00:33:38.580] - Tamara Gruber Well, I have to get that picture, too. How can I come back from this trip and not have a picture of Horseshoe Bend or, you know, like some of these things, like you feel this pressure of like, I must do all the things and I'm just wondering, like, what are some of the ones that people feel are so like, you have to do this. You have to do the narrows or, you know, something else that you would say, you know what?   [00:33:58.950] - Tamara Gruber You really don't have to like you're not going to be missing anything. It's OK if you let that one go. Are there any that you think maybe are worth leaving off the list and to be able to fit in some of these other great experiences that you've talked about?   [00:34:12.430] - Anne Howard You know, like, say, for example, we were we showed my mom part of the Grand Circle, actually, we did the complete grand circle with her over the course of two trips and then we wanted to pack and that a lot that day and went to Bryce. And I really need to do the full 18 miles. It's in it's an in and out, so it's not a loop. So you're making the choice to go all the way out that way and turn around like the best of us, really on the front end.   [00:34:37.060] - Anne Howard So not just because it's not fabulous and you have all day go for it and you're going to it's going to get less crowded as you go. There is a benefit to completing, but that's one small example of like, you know, you don't need to do the full thing to feel like you've achieved the goal. And also knowing that when you hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you need to hike back up. So be very aware of how that it's going to make your body feel because you probably haven't hike straight down and then straight up to that degree ever in your life and you are going to feel it.   [00:35:08.980] - Anne Howard So not to say you can't do it, but know that you might just be really sore. And once whatever you do, it's hot and it's you need to be packing your own water and to plan for life pretty extreme. So it's it's more than a mile deep, but it's a mile like you've never experienced before switchbacks. So it's more than a mile. So. Yeah. So really weigh in your mind if you need to go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and plan accordingly, because it's going to take you all day and you might with kids, you don't want to be stuck in the dark and not make it back in time.   [00:35:41.230] - Anne Howard So take that with a real cautionary tale.   [00:35:45.390] - Kim Tate Yeah, that's a great tip, so we will wrap up and just ask if there's any final tips that you think people should consider. I was just thinking, you know, when you were talking that maybe this is a perfect kind of trip to make sure that you look into maybe buying a annual national parks pass, but maybe also Utah State Parks pass as well. I don't know if they offer it, but might be kind of a good idea. But do you have any tips for families that are thinking of planning this Southwest Grand Circle Road trip?   [00:36:12.120] - Anne Howard Yeah, mean, I think it's just so great the national parks pass with 80 dollars. And if it just inspires any other trip in your year, it's certainly worth buying because it encompasses like hundreds of sites that gets you in for free. And it's just 100 percent do that. And it spurs our park system, which I think is great. Utah State Park Pass is actually a really good tip. I can't tell you specifics on that, but probably worth it.   [00:36:35.190] - Anne Howard And we are big fans of the book, two National Geographic Books, one that's called Secrets to the National Parks and another one that is the scenic Highways and Byways book, which covers the Southwest in great detail, much less the entire country. We reference that book every time we take a big drive. It's fantastic. And then actually we wrote two books, so Ultimate Journeys four two that's published by National Geographic as well. We we love the Southwest and we have various sections.   [00:37:06.930] - Anne Howard We go in super detail on MOAB, which is the home of of Arches and Canyonlands, and then we have a different Southwest road trip. Sections of that could be a great resource for you and also supports us. And it's a really great book. And and then, as we said comfortably, while others are glad book, which has got a lot of SWS options to.   [00:37:24.590] - Kim Tate Perfect. We'll definitely link to those in the show notes. Thanks, guys.   [00:37:28.850] - Tamara Gruber So now for maybe an easier question, I don't know. But it's a question that we ask all of our guests, and that is, what do you wear when you travel? It's hard for you because you guys are always traveling. But so maybe we should focus it on the Southwest. What would you recommend? What is your go to gear when you're doing one of these kind of road trips?   [00:37:47.000] - Anne Howard Oh, my God, you need good hat. You need some strong sun, some incredibly strong sun. You need that, like wide brim, full ball caps. Not going to cut it like you need a proper sun hat. And yeah, knowing that the temperature swing is massive from morning to night. So, yes, layers being key. And I'm not a close person really. It's hard for me. I like, you know, since I literally drive with my closet, I have all things with me at all times.   [00:38:15.860] - Anne Howard So like I've become a terrible packer because like I always have everything with me. But yes, it's a hot place and, you know, hydrating and some coverage and all that is like more important than ever.   [00:38:26.780] - Kim Tate Do you have any favorite, like, shoes that you guys like to wear that works well for various rock shopping and hiking?   [00:38:35.090] - Anne Howard Yeah, I mean, these are a little heavier, but I think they look cool without looking. They don't. They are they're heavy duty. Then they look and they're kind of like Mike, even worse is like jeans and it still looks good. A solo makes a really great, sturdy hiking boot that's actually like not so clunky and aesthetically pleasing. So that's that's great. They have women's and men's. So in the market for any boots I'm probably will get well is the next round.   [00:38:58.370] - Anne Howard And I have these leggings that I swear by because now I'm discovered leggings can have pockets and I really just want like carry all my stuff, like to put a phone in my pocket, a little bit of money as needed. And even your car keys like without having to feel like you're jingling, jangling and things are being knocked around. Is this brand called Kyodan? And they are so soft and they have deep pockets. So I kind of tend to wear those when I hike.   [00:39:30.450] - Kim Tate Great, that sounds awesome, thanks so much for joining us and why don't you let our listeners know where they can find you guys online and follow along on your adventures?   [00:39:39.090] - Anne Howard Yeah, thanks so much. Has been really, really nice to you podcast. So we are we are we I say we my husband Mike and I with our couples travel blog is called Honey Trek. So Trek, like a long walk around the world and we are all over the place, but it's at Honey Trek across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, wherever you like to hang out. And Honey Trek is also sort of the hub of our our nine years on the road and glamping tips and road trip.   [00:40:07.080] - Anne Howard We have a lot of road trip content in general, and it's also where you can get signed copies of our books for gifts or for your own collection.   [00:40:15.600] - Tamara Gruber That's perfect. Thank you so much. We'll link to those in the show notes and you know where you're going to be after Mexico.   [00:40:22.110] - Anne Howard We bought a one way ticket. I don't want to be in Mexico where the camper is parked in Northern California. So, yeah, I mean, the trajectory. Might we kind of follow the seasons to we are going to probably head more north. Check out the far reaches of Northern California, which I think most people don't get to. Maybe check out Lassen Volcanic National Park, and the sort of the wild north of California and maybe into Idaho.   [00:40:47.070] - Tamara Gruber Good. Well, have safe travels and thank you again.   [00:40:50.580] - Anne Howard Yeah. Thanks so much.   [00:40:55.800] - Tamara Gruber We are back and thanks again for listening. And if you do have any questions for us or, you know, travel advice that you need, just a reminder to send in a message, a podcast@vacationmavens.com or talk to us on social media.   [00:41:09.390] - Kim Tate And in the meantime, tune in in another two weeks, because I'm going to be sharing all about my Oregon to California coast road trip and sharing kind of some of the things we did along the way. So stay tuned for that. Can't wait.  

    188 Travel Tech for Vacations

    Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2021 53:34


    Sometimes we want to avoid technology when we travel, but other times tech can actually make travel easier and more enjoyable. Stay tuned this week as we chat with Scott Tharler, The Family CTO, to get his recommendations for family travel. About Scott Tharler Married with three children, Scott Tharler is a gadget expert with over 20 years of experience writing consumer technology columns for Club Life Magazine, Gear Patrol, Maxim, Fodor's Travel, American Airlines and many others. He’s performed live gadget demonstrations on TV and radio, as well as for public schools and libraries, and at private companies and retreats. And this past fall, Scott launched The Family CTO, a new kind of gadget site to help you enhance your digital lifestyle with fun, practical gadgets. To hear the latest episode of The Family CTO podcast, just ask your smart speaker to “play The Family CTO podcast.” Or find and stream the show on your preferred podcast platform. If you’d like to see all sorts of helpful tech solution roundups, reviews and buying guides—or ask Scott a gadget-related question—head over to TheFamilyCTO.com. You can also follow Scott on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Travel Tech Recommendations This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. RoadTrippers is great for discovering roadside attractions and local recommendations. AllTrails is helpful to find hiking trails and read reviews and see pictures from real people. GasBuddy is helpful for finding gas stations, especially those that have cheaper prices. Scosche FrescheAir portable HEPA air filter is great for getting rid of odors on long road trips. The Calm App is helpful for providing sleep sounds or helping you get to sleep at night when in a new place (or at home) For road trips, it helps to have a reliable stand for your phone, especially if you are using it for GPS. Scott recommends the GoDonut, which is a little round phone or tablet stand. Iottie is a dash or windshield phone mount with Amazon Alexa built in. Wilson Electronics WeBoost is a cell signal booster for cars. Eggtronic Power Bar is a battery that allows you to wirelessly recharges two phones and a watch at once. QuietOn Sleep Earbuds offer active noise canceling to drown out noise when trying to sleep in a hotel room. Loop Earplugs are not electronic, but they naturally attenuates concerts and loud noises and are also good for sleeping. Bringing along a Roku Streaming Stick+ or an Amazon Fire stick will help provide entertainment in the hotel room if the TV has a port that you can plug into. Nomatic accessories such as the wallet and Navigator Tech Organizer are useful for storing cords and accessories. Twelve South AirFly Pro is a 2-way Bluetooth headphones adapter for connecting two headphones / AirPods to one device. Puro Sound Labs has volume limiting Bluetooth kids’ headphones. Pictar Pro Grip is a smartphone grip, charger, and remote shutter which is great for using your phone as a camera. Insta360 Go 2 is a tiny action cam Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD is a small wireless drive for storing extra photos. You can put the SD card from your camera into it and it will automatically back up your photos. And because it is wireless you can share it with others. SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C is a good back up for Android phones and the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go is good for backing up iPhones. Inrix Driving App is a good traffic monitoring app that if you plan ahead, you it will tell you the best time to go and during your trip, it shows you the best route. ScottEVest offers great tech-oriented travel clothes with lots of pockets. SkyHour lets you donate or save money toward flight time. ACBC offers zip travel shoes for men that lets you change out the top of the shoe. Link Flip-shoes is a topless, no thong flip flop. [00:00:00.120] - Kim Tate Gadgets and gizmos galore today, we're talking about family travel tech.   [00:00:16.760] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:31.640] - Tamara Gruber So Kim we're both back from our road trips.   [00:00:34.100] - Kim Tate And I don't know why I'm cheering that. I kind of want to be back on it.   [00:00:39.020] - Tamara Gruber Don't tell your husband that. But I'm wondering, we were going a long time. You were gone a long time. Did you find any, like tech or apps or things that you found really useful on this trip?   [00:00:51.620] - Kim Tate Yes, I actually have some good things to mention. And so this is perfect timing. I think I'll start with the app thing because there are two apps that I use tons.   [00:01:01.010] - Kim Tate And the first one was called Road Trippers. And we've talked I think we've talked about road trippers in the past. And I know you and I did a giveaway of a road trippers plus membership, which I think is pretty affordable. It's I want to say twenty four dollars a year, if that sounds right. I don't know if that sounds right to you.   [00:01:18.380] - Kim Tate So they actually gave me a complimentary one to try out. And so I thought, OK, I'm planning this massive trip. And we went basically from the Oregon coast all the way down the coast of Northern California and then kind of ducked inland and went down to stay at a friend's guest house for a while. And so I planned the whole trip with this road trippers plus.   [00:01:37.310] - Kim Tate And I absolutely loved it. It was cool. I think using the app is better. At first I started just using it on my desktop, like on through a Web browser, and once I installed the app, using on your phone is way easier, but it just helps you, you know, map your route and find little that kind of like roadside attractions.   [00:01:57.230] - Kim Tate But there's some really cool stuff on there. And like there was this one part where it was like a scenic byway. And I thought, oh, that's cool. So I added it to my itinerary. And then I looked on alltrails and found a hike to go with it. So that's the other app I used was on this trip. A lot that I recommend is all trails, but yeah. So Road Trippers Plus was just cool because it people can also add photos.   [00:02:18.230] - Kim Tate And so you really get a sense of like because one was like the largest totem pole and I thought, well that's pretty cool, like my girls might like that. But then when I looked at the photos I was like, yeah, it seems kind of like a cheesy tourist stop.   [00:02:29.330] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. Like you've been to Vancouver.   [00:02:31.520] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Like so so we skipped that, you know. So that's the idea is that it has some of those things. But also, you know, I finally decided on this trip, I wanted to do a drive thru tree and so I went and I got to see like what the drive through. There was three of them that are kind of the main ones that I know about. And I looked at the pictures and then also read the reviews and what people said. And it helped me decide that, like, OK, we're going to do this one that's in Klamath.   [00:02:55.940] - Kim Tate And so I really liked it for that sort of stuff because it is user generated content. So I loved that there's reviews about the spots and, you know, sometimes there's good photos and you really get a feel for it.   [00:03:07.160] - Tamara Gruber So that is what I like about all trails. You know that you can really get a sense of what you're going to see and how hard it is and things. And then, yeah. So it's nice to see it has that kind of community because I haven't done the plus a pro version, but I did look at it on my desktop when I was planning my trip, but then I ran out like the free version only has like so many stops or something.   [00:03:26.150] - Kim Tate Yeah. Yeah.   [00:03:26.840] - Tamara Gruber But I did see like we were going to drive past the what's it called. The Oh gosh. What's that movie. The baseball movie with Kevin Costner. Field Dreams. we're going to drive past that site. So I was like, oh Glenn. Like what else are we going to be in this corner of Iowa to, like, drive past that? Would you want to go? But then it turns out they were closed in March.   [00:03:44.540] - Kim Tate Oh, no, that happened to us. We wanted to go to the Martinelli cider tasting that we've done before, actually. And I was like, oh, I'm going to add that on there. But yeah, they were closed. They're not doing it right now. So I was like, oh, bummer.   [00:03:56.060] - Kim Tate But anyways, yeah. So I definitely if you're looking for new app, I think road trippers and paying for the plus, like Tamara said, you get to have as many stops as you want and so you can use it if you just want five stops and so you can get a feel for it and then you can really decide.   [00:04:12.110] - Kim Tate But using the app, like if you're doing planning on your iPad or your iPhone is the key. So that was the one thing.   [00:04:17.960] - Kim Tate And then, like you already said, all trails is huge. And I actually use that. It was so cool because we found we were driving through Oregon and I realized kind of the timing. It was a nasty, nasty day. And so the day I was going to do this big and didn't stop, it was gross. It was so windy and gross.   [00:04:35.270] - Kim Tate And I said, well, there's no point in us going because we're just going to be cold and miserable. And so then the next day, I was looking that night on trails and trying to find hikes, you know, along this stretch we were going to be doing and I found a dune, you know, a dune hike. And it was this random, like I never would have known where it was. It was like John P. Duganhim trailhead or something like that.   [00:04:58.940] - Kim Tate And I wouldn't have known to go there. And sure enough, it was a tiny parking lot, probably ten cars. And we parked and we we hiked maybe a quarter of a mile in.   [00:05:07.520] - Kim Tate And then all of a sudden we came out to this amazing, huge, like massive felt like the Arabian desert sand dunes. So awesome. Yeah, and if it wouldn't have been for all trails and just kind of looking and like you said, you know, being able to see the photos that people have submitted and really getting a feel like I like all trails because it shows you like the actual route and it gives you the distance.   [00:05:29.490] - Kim Tate So you can see like, oh, it's a loop, it's not back and it's just it works really well. And then it has a really cool, like getting there section for most of the trails, not all of them. And it helps you.   [00:05:39.870] - Kim Tate Like I said, it helped me go OK, right after the city. I need to kind of be looking because there's this campground. It's the turns right after that. Yeah. Yeah.   [00:05:48.360] - Tamara Gruber So that sounds fun. So any other tech or apps that you used?   [00:05:52.560] - Kim Tate Yeah. So another app, one more app. And then I have one tech thing. So another app that I loved was called Gas Buddy and I've heard of that before and I know I used it in the olden days like when it first came out, but I actually got it again and I found it really useful on a road trip because I actually ended up using Costco gas stations a lot.   [00:06:10.140] - Kim Tate And same with Fred Meyer because we're Costco members. And like at one place, we saved 30 cents per gallon by just driving a mile down the road and going to a Costco instead. And so, you know, I mean, it's not always worth it, but at 30 cents a gallon, it saved us about five or six bucks. So it was worth the little one mile down the road type thing.   [00:06:28.440] - Kim Tate But I think gas buddy's just great because you can really see that, oh, in this city, should I fill up now where our hotel is or should we get on the road for an hour and then fill up? Because I'm I kind of like to keep my gas really full, especially when I'm traveling on my own. Yeah. I'm like, once it gets below a half a tank, I'm like, okay, keep my eyes open, you know, where's where's the next gas fill up?   [00:06:48.000] - Kim Tate I'm going to do so anyways. But yes, a gas buddy was good. And then the one piece of tech that I absolutely loved and like full disclosure, these guys sent me this item by skosh and I got it from CES, which took place virtually in January.   [00:07:02.340] - Kim Tate It's called The Fresh Air HEPA Air Purifier. It's an air purifier that's like a cylinder. So it almost is like a coffee tumbler type thing. And it actually fits perfectly like in a cup holder in a car.   [00:07:14.190] - Kim Tate And I was wondering, I'm like, OK, how much use are my going to get on this? But we're going on a road trip. So I said, sure, send it to me, I'll try it out.   [00:07:20.820] - Kim Tate And it was so useful for these days of like eating in the car, because I will admit we ate McDonald's a couple of times and then one time we actually got like fish in the car, like fish and chips and coleslaw, and we're eating it in the car. And even though you throw the garbage away, your car still kind of stinks. And I turn this thing on after we would eat. And it really worked like it was amazing. And then the next morning, because almost every day for me, I have a really sensitive nose.   [00:07:46.140] - Kim Tate And so. Yeah. So you know how you park in the hotel and like, you don't really notice it because you've been in the car the whole day.   [00:07:51.750] - Kim Tate But then you go sleep in the hotel and then you come out the next morning, you open your car and you're like, OK, yeah, it smells like fish or McDonald's or whatever. I did not experience that on this trip at all. And so I think this thing really helps. So anyway, that's my one piece of advice   [00:08:05.220] - Tamara Gruber We ate in the car a ton also because it was just safer and I told Hannah, she's going to turn into a chicken nugget because they're going to start, like, calling her Nugget. I think we had more fast food in those two weeks than we've had like the last two years. It was crazy, but it's just easier and honestly, like it felt safer, like some of those kind of things. So, yeah, usually I would love to do all the local stuff, but we didn't this time, so I could have used that for sure.   [00:08:30.540] - Kim Tate Yeah, it's and I mean it is, I think it's, I think it's ninety nine dollars so it's not cheap, cheap. But if you do spend a lot of time in the car, I was, I was impressed with it. I felt like it worked. So I'm just thinking also like after picking up kids from athletic practice might be good.   [00:08:46.080] - Tamara Gruber Definitely. Yeah, for sure. So I remember even when we were we were talking a couple of years ago about that road trip that you took out West with like a bunch of teenagers near like.   [00:08:56.910] - Kim Tate Yes. Their feet. Yes. Yes, I remember that. Yeah. Perfect timing for, like, you know, summer road trips with teens.   [00:09:05.130] - Tamara Gruber Well, those are definitely good recommendations. I would feel like we didn't use nearly as much, although I will say that I lived with the Calm App because I needed that to for background noise, for sleeping.   [00:09:18.510] - Tamara Gruber And I also tried I think we're going to talk about this when we get into our interview. But I did just get some air pod pros and they're supposed to be noise canceling. But let me tell you, it's not quite enough to block out my husband's snoring. And the other thing is I didn't realize how short their time frame was because I used to have, like, the Bose sleep buds and they would last night. So these like go, they stop, they run out of battery at like six hours or so.   [00:09:44.220] - Tamara Gruber And so I would find myself like waking up and then I would take them out and I would like put them in the, you know, in the charger and like just like kind of like doze a little bit, hold it in my hand for a while. Then when, like, it always seemed the time of morning when Glenn got really loud.   [00:09:58.440] - Tamara Gruber So then I would put him back in for like another hour or so, like I need to charge these things. But the calm app at least, you know, like, well, it does do some calming. I actually enjoy it for sleeping, but I like the this kind of the sounds that they have.   [00:10:12.120] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, that was really my only thing, although I definitely need. Those little tinier, you know, earplug things that go in the ear, yes, these things definitely still hurt as a side sleeper.   [00:10:23.400] - Kim Tate So, yeah, I, I couldn't handle that because like you said, I'm a side sleeper, so.   [00:10:28.950] - Tamara Gruber Well, I know that Scott has a lot of other recommendations for us, so why don't we jump over and start chatting with him and find out what other tech he has to recommend.   [00:10:45.960] - Tamara Gruber So today we're here with Scott Tharler, and he's a gadget expert with over 20 years of experience writing consumer technology columns for Club Life magazine gear patrol Maxim, Fodor's Travel, American Airlines and others. He's also performed live gadget demonstrations on TV and radio, as well as for public schools and libraries.   [00:11:03.900] - Tamara Gruber And this past fall, Scott also launched the Family CTO, which is a new kind of gadget site which helps you enhance your digital lifestyle with fun and practical gadgets. So welcome, Scott.   [00:11:14.340] - Scott Tharler Hey, thanks for having me here.   [00:11:16.110] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's nice to talk to a gadget guy because I think, you know, I know Kim has reviewed quite a bit of gear in the past, you know, on her website. And I come from a tech background. So I think we both have that in our brains, which is probably why we started podcasting together, too.   [00:11:32.820] - Kim Tate Yeah, I'm excited. I've always kind of been an early adopter, too, which my husband hates because he he never buys the first iteration of something. He always waits a little longer. And I'm sort of getting into his line of thinking, but I still like having the brand new gadget.   [00:11:46.860] - Scott Tharler Well, there's something nice about having something that helps you out when you need it most. And I'm so into travel tech because that's it's the whole reason I got into gadgets. It's when you want something to help you enjoy stuff more or you want to make sure that you're connected and whatever that means to you, tech can help you on your trip.   [00:12:07.980] - Tamara Gruber So before we jump into some specific tech recommendations, can you tell us a little bit about, like, your family and how did you get into tech as a career?   [00:12:17.740] - Scott Tharler Sure, well, I'm married with three kids, they are 10, eight and four, which is they are interesting ages. I think every age is an interesting age, but those are interesting as they're starting to get to those preteen and teen years.   [00:12:32.410] - Scott Tharler I got into gadgets, I guess I was always into watches. I first started getting into watches, probably when I was about my kids' age. I was like eight or ten and I had a fancy watch that could not only digitally tell you the time, but the seconds. And it had an alarm like that's what passed for fancy back then. And from there that was like my gateway drug to gadgets. I had watches that could tell you the temperature, that had a calculator that played games that could dial the phone.   [00:13:04.540] - Scott Tharler And it's very funny now because I don't even wear a watch now. But watches were kind of how I got into it because I just love the idea of always having some tech with me.   [00:13:13.960] - Kim Tate That's cool. I was always jealous. I was not a Swatch kid. I wanted a Swatch, but my family couldn't afford one. So when you speak of watches, I kind of have these flashbacks to my nervousness of people who own the Swatch watches. And I remember playing Snake on a couple watch I had at some point.   [00:13:34.300] - Scott Tharler Yeah, there's definitely some Swatch envy out there, but I, I still look at watches. I'm jealous of my kids because now their watches have cameras and stuff built in and apps and they're listening to music from them and stuff like I literally couldn't have even dreamed of back then.   [00:13:51.940] - Kim Tate So we know that Tamara and I, we love tech and we're definitely into it. And so we're definitely excited about this and helping our listeners learn a little more about maybe some cool travel tech.   [00:14:02.650] - Kim Tate So outside of your phone, what do you think is the best tech gadget that somebody could bring with them when they're traveling?   [00:14:10.500] - Scott Tharler You know, it's a tough one because there's so many, you know, on some level, I'm I'm almost disappointed if I don't get stopped going through TSA because it's like, dude, I have so many things with me, I'm going to say something disappointing. My most favorite gadget is just my brain, because I am always thinking, like, OK, what am I going to be doing?   [00:14:31.380] - Scott Tharler How am I going to be using this? And so what winds up happening is there's not just one special gadget, but I take a lot of time to pack cords and adapters and accessories to make sure that I have what I need so that if I'm in the car, you know, OK, we're going to be renting a car. So I'm going to want to bring a car adapter so I can charge my stuff in the car or I want an audio, Jack, so I can make sure that if I want to play something from the TV in this place that we're staying at, that I can play it on this.   [00:15:06.060] - Scott Tharler So it tends to be more functional stuff. And I start packing. My wife will say, like, oh, are you packed already? I'm like, yeah, yeah. I just need to throw some clothes in a bag. Like I always have trousers.   [00:15:20.910] - Scott Tharler It's always electronics first because I really it's like when you pack you think, what am I going to be doing? I'm going to be going hiking. So I need comfortable shoes, comfortable socks and a water bottle and a hat. I do the same thing, but I think I want to make sure that my water bottle has a sensor on it to tell me that I'm drinking enough water. And given that we're going to be hiking, I'll probably want to bring a three hundred and sixty degree camera so that I can take pictures of everything around me and really get some great panoramic shots.   [00:15:50.820] - Tamara Gruber So you're not a minimalist, I think is what you're saying when it comes to to travel?   [00:15:55.980] - Scott Tharler I, I try to be I'm in theory. Well, when I'm packing, I'm not a minimalist. I have all sorts of redundancy when I'm packing. But when I actually go out. Yeah. I don't want to be schlepping around. You know, if we're at a waterfall in a state park, I want to be enjoying the waterfall. I don't want to be fumbling through my bag looking for just the right stand or just the right camera, just the right anything. It's important to know when to put your gadgets down and actually just enjoy where you are.   [00:16:25.730] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think that's a great point.   [00:16:26.930] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, and there's only so much you can fit in your bag, I always find, like I finally ended up selling my drone because I found I was always trying to bring, like, a tripod, my camera, the drone, all the cords, your laptop, you know, like ever your GoPro for the actual shots and too much stuff.   [00:16:45.090] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. But anyway, I thought it would be helpful if we kind of break it down into different kinds of travel when we're talking about family travel and see, you know, maybe some of your recommendations for that type of environment, you know, what will help us in, you know, different types of travel environments. So maybe we can start with road trips since a lot of people are doing those right now. Do you have any tech gadgets that you would really recommend for people going on a road trip?   [00:17:08.120] - Tamara Gruber And I say this, Kim and I are both, you know, have big road trips coming up, so.   [00:17:12.720] - Scott Tharler So the first one I mentioned is a car adapter. There are plenty of ones where there are very small ones that can charge to a USB like a regular if you have your charging cord with you and they can do a USB, see if you have that kind of a device. So I would look for something small that can charge multiple devices at once.   [00:17:34.020] - Scott Tharler And then also I think stands are important things that hold your phone or your tablet in place. I just got this really interesting one called a go donut, and I do not like the name of it, but it is actually it's like four inches across. I'm actually holding one right now and it's like the size of a donut. And then it has these slits in there that allow you to put your phone or tablet at different angles. And so you could put this on, say, the armrest and then everybody in the back seat is watching something.   [00:18:05.640] - Scott Tharler So that's cool. There are other ones out there that are more they would keep it more secure. So if you're bouncing all over the place, you don't have to worry about it going. This is I mean, it's pretty steady, but there are other things that I bring along that are more like a clamp that clamps on to one end and then it clamps your phone into place.   [00:18:24.180] - Kim Tate Yeah, I've seen those that, like, clamp onto the headrest and then lock in the phone. And I've always felt like those were a little safe, you know, nice. A little bit of a safety in case there was an accident or something. You don't have this projectile flying around.   [00:18:35.580] - Scott Tharler Yeah, you don't. You want as a rule, you want like the fewest number of things flying around the cabin. So there's actually one there's a company called Iotti and I'll send you a link and we can put it in the show notes. But they have this it looks sort of like a charging stand, but it's a suction cup that goes to an arm and holds your phone in place. And it actually has Alexa built in. And so you have your Amazon smart assistant with you in the phone, in the car, and then you basically just tell in the app, the Alexa app, that you want this to work.   [00:19:12.060] - Scott Tharler So I know that whenever we go someplace, we go to an Airbnb or a hotel or whatever, the kids feel like they're more at home. If Alexa is there and I'm not going to bring the Alexa speaker everywhere we go, but it's nice to know if you're in the car, you can say, hey, Alexa, how far are we from the nearest restaurant or whatever? And it's a it's a hands free thing. So you don't have to worry about, you know, fumbling with your phone or your tablet while you're driving.   [00:19:40.140] - Tamara Gruber I wish I had something like that when my daughter was little and she would just ask so many questions when we were driving. And I was always like, why don't you write that down in your notebook and we'll look that up when we get home because mommy didn't know the answers.   [00:19:53.610] - Scott Tharler Yeah, there are so many ways of passing the time. And I think, you know, I think gadgets are one way, but I like the fact that my kids are getting old enough that we can do all sorts of fun word games and math games and more of like the kind of things that I would do as a kid to pass the time when I wasn't we didn't have phones or anything like we didn't even read in the car. It was just sort of playing games.   [00:20:17.910] - Scott Tharler And so there's part of that. But for people who do use their phones and tablets a lot, it's good to have something like we boost, which is basically it boosts your cellular. So if you're going to be driving and getting, you know, a change of scenery, you could be going through some parts that you're only getting one or two bars. And so it's good to know that you have connectivity. And so there are things that are it's either a stand that you put your phone in or it could be something that boosts several devices, like whatever devices are in the car so that you always have cellular service.   [00:20:53.700] - Scott Tharler And I think that's a good one for people who are thinking about road trips. That's really cool.   [00:20:58.680] - Kim Tate Yeah. Especially as since so many of us rely on our phone GPS and you have those little moments where it's like, I can't find you any longer and you're driving along hoping that you're not going to miss a turn. Yeah, yeah.   [00:21:09.810] - Tamara Gruber It looks like you're driving through outer space or you're off the road.   [00:21:14.640] - Kim Tate Anything else about road trips?   [00:21:17.130] - Scott Tharler Road trips are interesting because it's not like when you're flying, you think I want to bring the fewest number of things possible and things need to be light. When you're bringing stuff on a road trip, then that's when I would think about bringing a drone instead of, you know, a different camera. So there are drones that sometimes I'll bring a drone along.   [00:21:39.390] - Scott Tharler It's not like an always thing. But I do think that there's some things that you think like, oh, I'll I'll just put this in the back and then if I use it, it's OK. Coolers are a good example. Actually, it's funny because they're not really super techie, but I started to write a piece about Cooler's because I love the the family CTO is all about the lifestyle and like, what are you doing? What problem are you solving?   [00:22:02.760] - Scott Tharler And there are a lot of different colors. And I didn't know until I did the research that in this article I'm going over like ten different kinds of cooler's. So, for instance, you might have a backpack cooler if you're going hiking, you might have something where it's more about the kind that you put when you're rolling onto the beach. So you want to make sure it has good wheels that go in the sand or there might be a different kind that does better for ice retention if you're going out camping.   [00:22:29.900] - Scott Tharler And so it really depends on the kind of trip. And so for all of these gadgets, it's thinking about what are you going to do and how can the technology serve you rather than how do I get 100 gadgets into my car? It's really thinking about the the purpose of the gadgets.   [00:22:47.780] - Kim Tate Yeah, I think you have to think also quickly about Coolers. We have like a little mini fridge for cars. That's supposed to be like a cooler. But we've realized it's really a pain in a way because it's really hard to open the door unless you keep a cushion kind of around it. So you can't pack the car as tight as you'd want, whereas if you have one that opens from the top, you could just open it and grab something out of it.   [00:23:08.090] - Kim Tate And then when they started inventing the car light, I don't know, I'm so old. I just noticed a cigarette light adapter. But whatever that's called and the 120 volt or something in the back, those worked so well because he could plug those fridges right in the back. But we still have older cars and so we don't have one of those. But when we've rented cars on a trip, it's been nice to be able to plug directly in back there instead of having a big cord going all the way up to the front.   [00:23:33.380] - Scott Tharler Yeah, and they have some now. There's a company called Go Son that has essentially the ice list cooler and it's solar powered. So you can not even have to worry about that. You can charge it up beforehand and then use solar to just keep it going if you're especially if you're out camping and stuff like that and you have some sunshine.   [00:23:52.250] - Kim Tate That's awesome. Oh, well, what about for hotel rooms and vacation rentals, you know? And I have a few of those coming up. So any products that you think, you know, we mentioned the Alexa, but anything else you think maybe makes it feel a little more comfortable tech wise?   [00:24:08.820] - Scott Tharler Yeah, I mean, tech wise, the first two things I always think of are basically power and audio or power and entertainment.   [00:24:17.520] - Scott Tharler So for power, I have this thing here called the Egg Tronic Power Bar, and you can't see it because we're on a podcast. But it's essentially like it looks like a bar that's about the size of a maybe a thicker version of like a big remote control. And then there are three spots on it. And it's essentially a battery that you can wirelessly charge like two phones and a smartwatch on at the same time. And I love that because I don't want to have to start worrying about where am I digging for outlets.   [00:24:48.360] - Scott Tharler And I'm not going to bring the same dock that I have by the side of my bed. You know, I don't want to start worrying about that. And so it's nice and portable and it's a big battery. So it is going to charge like three things and and be good. What's another one? I think for entertainment stuff, you could bring a streaming stick. So like a Roku or an Amazon fire stick. Those are fun to bring because it's little.   [00:25:14.220] - Scott Tharler And if you're someplace where either they don't have a lot of TV or you get stuck on a rainy day, you can sort of plug in your streaming stick, whatever it is, into the HDMI port of the back of the TV and then give it power. You do have to remember to bring your remote. I've done that where I forgot to bring the remote. But if you do that, then essentially it's like you're bringing your entire collection of entertainment like you never, never in the old days would you have brought like a DVD player and a remote and three hundred DVDs.   [00:25:46.440] - Scott Tharler But this you're just bringing bringing something that's like the size of a USB drive and you basically have all your movies. So I like the idea of doing that. It just has to connect to whatever the the Wi-Fi is.   [00:25:59.250] - Kim Tate And my girls actually we've forgotten remotes before, but they'll use their phones. So I guess at least with the Amazon fire, it has an app that you can use as a remote on your phone.   [00:26:07.980] - Scott Tharler So, yeah, and that's a great backup. I've actually had to do that with the Roku before. So as long as as long as your phone is on the same Wi-Fi network as the streaming stick, then that's a great workaround.   [00:26:20.400] - Tamara Gruber It's funny, my daughter just asked me the other day, I think the Grammys are going to be on on a certain night or some awards show that she went to watch while we were traveling.   [00:26:28.560] - Tamara Gruber And she's like, do you think the hotel will have CBS? They are so used, like only doing streaming kind of stuff they don't even know, like regular TV?   [00:26:38.700] - Scott Tharler Yeah, yeah. I my kids are growing up in a very interesting world where, like, if they can't listen to the exact song that they want or watch the exact movie that they want. Right. Then, then they're just befuddled. Like, why can't we? Because in the olden days we had to wait for things like we had to wait for a commercial.   [00:26:57.450] - Scott Tharler And then when The Wizard of Oz comes on once a year, you see it. You don't just say, like, you know, play Wizard of Oz and then it just shows up.   [00:27:04.200] - Kim Tate Yeah, we actually just had that last night where we were going to watch a movie and, you know, they were ready to just rent it for three bucks. And I was like, well, let me just check and see if it's on anything, because we have all these services and then we also pay for Comcast. And sure enough, it was free on Comcast through like Fox Channel or whatever. And they were like, oh, but it has ads and commercials, mom. I'm like, too bad we're going to take advantage of this like free streaming and not pay three bucks for it.   [00:27:33.990] - Kim Tate But they're just so like they just expect that they can just get it. And it's kind of funny. And we also happen to pay for Spotify, even though we already pay for YouTube music because they like Spotify and all their friends are on Spotify. And so I don't know. This tech tech world is when you have teenagers, it becomes a another level.   [00:27:54.180] - Scott Tharler Yeah, I mean, you were talking about swatches, I remember there was a thing when I was in junior high school of that people would have these jackets that could pack into themselves and it was like fold up jacket and everybody had it.   [00:28:08.160] - Scott Tharler And so, you know, that's one thing if you're buying like a 30 dollar jacket, but then there's like headphones and laptops and phones and there's so much stuff that teenagers are going to want to have that that seems overwhelming to me. So that's sort of what I'm bracing for. So you mentioned if you go to a vacation house or a rental or something like that, one of the things you might not be used to are the sounds that are going on.   [00:28:32.160] - Scott Tharler And so I like to bring they're either passive or active noise canceling earbuds. And by passive, I mean it literally is just an earplug. And there's a particular brand called Loop that I like. And then for active, that's more of what you're used to for noise canceling. But these are tiny. There's a company out of Finland called Quiet On and they're so small that they fit into your ears and you can actually sleep with them on and they will last the whole night.   [00:28:58.950] - Scott Tharler And it makes a big difference if it is canceled out snoring and other environmental sounds that I just didn't want to hear that help me sleep better on vacation because you want to be you want to be actually awake to enjoy your vacation. So it's nice to to be fully rested.   [00:29:14.450] - Tamara Gruber I'm gonna have to look those up because I think I've talked about on the podcast before, I used to use the Bose sleep buds and then the battery stopped working and then the company recalled them actually because they couldn't get the battery to work and actually refunded me, even though it was I had had the product for a year. And I've been wanting them to come out with a new one. I think they did just come out with a new one. But then I also just recently finally gave in and got the Apple AirPods that are noise canceling.   [00:29:39.870] - Tamara Gruber So they're not as small. So obviously not as comfortable, but they at least are multipurpose. But those sound those aren't great because that is always my issue is snoring and definitely any hall noise. When you're in a hotel like I can't stand when people walk by, like late at night making lots of noise or you're near the elevator or the ice machine, you know, something like that. Yeah.   [00:29:59.460] - Scott Tharler Or people that don't realize that, like after 10:00 p.m., maybe just don't stand in the hallway talking. They're actually other people who are families who might want to get to sleep. I always feel like such an old person saying that. But, you know, we just paid to come down here, stayed at Disney Resort and we're going to be going before the park opens. So maybe get back into your room and have that conversation.   [00:30:19.900] - Tamara Gruber That's why I hate when you either know that there's a wedding there because, you know, there's going to be the drunk people coming back late or when there's some kind of sports sports team tournament, it's those kids are going to be like, we're running up and down the hallways.   [00:30:31.180] - Tamara Gruber Yep, yep. So we talked about kind of in the hotel room where vacation rental. We talked about in the car. I know it's been a long time since we've flown. We're probably a lot of us, maybe not everybody. But, you know, what are some things that you would recommend to use on a flight to make it more comfortable or more enjoyable?   [00:30:50.040] - Scott Tharler Well, you know, I said that I am very much into the adapters and the cables and everything, but I don't want to be reaching into my bag until like a rat's nest of stuff to try to get at whatever I'm getting at.   [00:31:03.420] - Scott Tharler So I like having an organizer that's just four cables and little accessories like that. There's a great company you probably know about them called Nomatic. And it's that the last part of it is spelled like automatic. So Nomatic has great suitcases and bags. And I just discovered that they have some other sort of everyday carriers, like a wallet, a very minimalist wallet that just carries your cash and cards in with this little material, as you can imagine. And then they have this thing that they just call their travel organizer.   [00:31:35.220] - Scott Tharler That's exactly for what I just said. So it carries spare batteries and earbuds and memory cards and all your wires and things so that when you you know that you want to take something from that out, you can just pull out one thing, open it up, and there you have it. So I like that. You know, the old thing used to be, like you said, Bose, like everybody, you would walk down the aisle and you could just see like 20 different people wearing Bose headphones.   [00:32:01.140] - Scott Tharler And those are great. But it's not it's not the first thing I think of. I think of like, are my kids going to be set? And I'm not necessarily going to get them three hundred dollar headphones. So I like the idea of getting them their own headphones. There's a company called Puro that makes great kids' headphones that are actually stylish and they are a volume limiting so they can't crank it up over eighty five decibels, which can cause hearing damage.   [00:32:29.250] - Scott Tharler So I love Puro headphones for that.   [00:32:32.190] - Scott Tharler And then the most important little accessory you can have sometimes, especially if you have two kids, is a splitter, but they actually make them. Now there's a company called 12 s that make something called the Air Fly Pro and it's basically a Bluetooth adapter. And so it works both ways. So way number one is that if you plug this into the armrest or sometimes they have like an audio jack in the back of the headrest, you plug this in and then you can have two different sets of Bluetooth earphones listening to that same audio, whatever that is. So that's a great thing to stop fights for 90 minutes.   [00:33:13.830] - Kim Tate But it actually works important because I can't tell you how many times I've seen people bring Bluetooth headphones on a flight without their, you know, the cord that all the Bluetooth come with. But they forget the cord because they're just used to using Bluetooth and then they have the seatback entertainment for like a long international flight and they can't do anything that they have to ask for.   [00:33:32.250] - Kim Tate One of the pay five dollars for the cheap, you know, dollar store earbuds from the airline.   [00:33:37.770] - Tamara Gruber I still have like a JetBlue survey in my little travel kit, because for Hannah, I've had to do that a few times.   [00:33:43.090] - Scott Tharler Yeah, yeah. It's awful. And these actually this 12 South product I just mentioned, there's another kind of Bluetooth adapter, which is it can take wird headphones and make them Bluetooth so it works the other way. So if you have your favorite wired headphones or earbuds or whatever, you can plug those into this and then it can be Bluetooth to whatever your phone or whatever is the source of playing the music. Cool, and I'll give one shout out of something that happened to me is, you know, wireless earbuds are so popular and like air pods, they actually have like little and this is not techie, but I don't know what you would call it.   [00:34:23.460] - Kim Tate It reminds me of like glasses holders like that. You would keep on a pair of glasses to be able to hang there. But I had an earbud in and I was kind of falling asleep and it popped out of my ear. And then I'm like looking all over the floor for this earbud that just fell down. And, you know, it's not a good you don't want to be digging around for a earbud on the floor of an airplane.   [00:34:42.660] - Kim Tate So just a heads up that if you are using earbuds, it might, you know, see if you can look into any that have a some kind of like especially it works with the airports. I know where you can keep them together. So if one pops out, you don't. It's attached to the other one.   [00:34:56.910] - Tamara Gruber Still, I feel like that's why they make the announcement now. Like if you lose something, don't you know, like call your flight attendant or something. Yeah.   [00:35:05.430] - Scott Tharler Yeah. I don't want to be digging around on the floor for anything that's I don't know. Everybody has their own thing with germs in most places like around my house, if something falls on the floor, I will pick it up and eat it. That's fine. But there's certain floors where I just go like I don't even like walking around. Hotel room floor is like without socks on. So I don't know.   [00:35:28.650] - Kim Tate I hear you there. Well, why don't we move on and just quickly chat about photography? Because a huge part of travel is taking photos. So I know this can go down a huge you know, it could be an episode on its own, but just, you know, kind of top level. Do you have any favorite gear that you like to bring on family vacations for photography? Yeah, definitely, there are a bunch of different factors, I won't go into drones because we talked about that.   [00:35:54.430] - Scott Tharler I think one thing is most people don't even think about bringing a traditional camera, you know, like the old school camera. And so if you're going to be using your smartphone, then there are a couple of things that you can do to make it even better. There's a company called Pictou that has something called the they're pro grip, that it does a few things. First of all, it looks like sort of half of a camera. And so it looks and feels like you're holding a camera.   [00:36:23.770] - Scott Tharler So it's not you don't have to do that weird thing where you're like scissoring your your pinky and your pointer to try to hold your camera when you're taking pictures. But it actually will charge your phone while it's in there and it has some actual real life buttons on there. So you can do things like bring up a different mode or zoom in or actually take the picture by clicking a button, which is nice because then you don't have to, like, look away and fumble and touch your screen.   [00:36:50.770] - Scott Tharler So having something like that is fun. Another thing if you're going to be using your phone is a gimble. Have you guys ever used a gimble when shooting photos or videos? Yeah, we've. Yeah, yeah.   [00:37:03.280] - Kim Tate I own the Osmo pockets but and then the Osmo mobile too so.   [00:37:11.290] - Scott Tharler Yeah. So like that's the DJI product. A lot of these drone companies realize they're making things that allow the drones to be steady and take great pictures. Hey, why don't we make everybody's picture study. So I would recommend having a gimble with you.   [00:37:26.090] - Kim Tate I think for video mainly like if you're shooting video is what I've noticed on that. So, yeah, kind of my go to for that.   [00:37:32.890] - Scott Tharler There's sort of something nostalgic like when you picture, if you picture like your parents, your grandparents like, oh, remember those pictures we took from Bermuda in the fifties? You picture it being kind of shaky. So there's something nice about it. But if you plan on watching something for more than like two minutes, like you really don't want shaky video. So it's nice to just get rid of that. Another thing that's good to have is if you're going to be taking a lot of pictures and videos, that's going to take up a lot of memory.   [00:37:57.160] - Scott Tharler And so it's good to have a back up of memory. And so Western Digital makes a product that's basically like a wireless drive. It's about let's say I have it here. It's like about six inches by six inches and maybe an inch thick. And you can take if you do have a camera that you're shooting off of, you can take the memory card from that, put it in, and it will automatically back up your pictures. And it's a wireless drive, meaning that you can then everybody on their own phones can load up the app and see whatever pictures or video you shot from that.   [00:38:34.180] - Scott Tharler So you could actually have a bunch of videos that are just on there. And then if you're waiting at the airport, you could be everybody could be looking at pictures and watching them and talking about them on their phones and stuff.   [00:38:45.580] - Scott Tharler So I like having a way of backing up stuff so that I don't lose pictures that I've taken. I guess another one would be there's a company called Insta 360. And I actually just talked about this product called the Go on my podcast, and it's like the size of your pinky. And they just came out with the go to just this week. And it's so small that I read somewhere that it weighs the same as six pieces of paper. Like, it's super duper small and this is the kind of thing that you could wear and you can program it to just take pictures like every 30 seconds or every whatever.   [00:39:26.620] - Scott Tharler And so it's a great action cam because it actually does it uses some software to do some stabilization optically. And then it's just also good because there are a lot of fun effects.   [00:39:40.360] - Scott Tharler You can do slow motion, you can do time lapse. So like if you want to see, you know, it's kind of pretty to see a time lapse picture of, like the clouds going by along the beach in Hawaii or seeing a sunset or just seeing the rush of people in a city. So there are a lot of different fun effects that you can do and they make it really easy to edit stuff. And so it's a great little camera.   [00:40:01.540] - Scott Tharler But really, the secret sauce is the editing. It's so easy to make really fun effects and it's just a new way. Instead of like, you know, in the old days, you take a picture, you print it out, you look at it like that's all there is to do with it. This there's so many different ways of sort of making your memories into a more of a multimedia experience. So I like their stuff. So what does that look like?   [00:40:24.850] - Tamara Gruber I'm just trying to, like, picture how small it is. Is it you like clips on?   [00:40:30.320] - Scott Tharler Yeah, so they have different mounts and clips, the one that I have, the original one is it has a magnetic back. So you would put like the magnetic back one little piece of it under your shirt and then this on your shirt on their website. They show people literally like it's on a sweatband or on a hat. You can clip it on there.   [00:40:48.410] - Scott Tharler So it's more of like your eyes, your perspective, but it is tiny. And so there is sort of a conundrum with with having tiny tech. Like you just said, the last thing you want is to have a couple hundred dollar action cam falling on the floor of your airplane and then you don't know where it is or that you lose it in your Airbnb or wherever you are. So they have some some really good accessories that help you mount it to different places because they want you to be mounting onto your bike or your car or whatever so that you can take some interesting shots.   [00:41:22.060] - Tamara Gruber Kim, all I can think about is how many how much photo editing you're doing to, like, straighten the horizon.   [00:41:27.140] - Kim Tate Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It sounds like it's like stitching together and so   [00:41:35.210] - Scott Tharler yeah, it'll stitch it together and then it's all this artificial intelligence stuff that you basically upload this stuff and it says, OK, I will tell you what your best shots were or I will put together a montage of like all the coolest video that you did. So that's that's what makes it really cool, I think. Yeah.   [00:41:56.180] - Tamara Gruber But otherwise it sounds a little bit overwhelming. I'm just thinking back to back in the day when we would all come back from a trip and make like a photo book, you know, like how many of those photo books did we actually do? And, you know, like kind of I know I gave up on them in about twenty fifteen or something like that.   [00:42:13.010] - Tamara Gruber But so that's we've certainly covered a lot so far. I'm just curious. We've talked a lot about hardware, but do you have any favorite travel apps that you like to use when you're planning?   [00:42:23.990] - Scott Tharler You know, I'm so boring when it comes to that. I really just use Kayak to to look at what the best flights are because I just love the granularity of being able to say, you know, I want under this price range with no red eyes going through these airports. But for these dates, I tend to book hotels on Priceline. And because I do, I've become like a VIP gold. And so I just like the express deals. And if I what I like about Priceline is that you can get a good rate, but it it really rewards flexibility, which most travel does like.   [00:42:59.780] - Scott Tharler And so if you don't have to stay in an exact place at an exact time, you just know, I want to be somewhere near Charlottesville because we're going to go on the Skyline Drive. And so, you know, within twenty miles you can find something that is a good deal. So I like those you know, there actually some apps I've used. You're talking about road trips. There's one called INRIX. That is a it's basically a traffic monitoring.   [00:43:26.960] - Scott Tharler And I know other people use Waze or just Google Maps. It's sort of built in. But INRIX, I found if you say I'm going from here to here, it's the most accurate way of doing real time updates to say actually based on traffic, we think it would be best if you went this way. And then it has another interesting thing where you can slide the timeline. So it would say like, OK, it's three thirty, but what if we left at four and it will use whatever fancy eye is out there thinking of what's going to happen with the traffic to say, you know, if you go at three thirty, it's going to take you an hour. But if you go at four, it's only going to take you thirty five minutes.   [00:44:04.580] - Scott Tharler So I kind of like that. Other than that, I think there's there actually some interesting things that are more like programs that I found. My daughter is currently in the fourth grade and apparently that's a magical age because there's a program that the government has called every kid outdoors where they get like a free pass to every state park or every national park. Every national park. Yeah.   [00:44:27.920] - Kim Tate And so and they actually expand it to fifth graders this year as well because of the shutdown last year.   [00:44:33.410] - Scott Tharler Yeah, and that's great. And there was another thing here I happened to be in in New York. And they have there's a program called Ski in New York where fourth graders can ski for free. So it's a golden time to be nine or ten years old. Like, there's all sorts of fun things, but I think it's just a matter of sort of looking out there and seeing what cool programs happen to be out there. The the only thing that I don't know if you've heard of, there's a site out there called Sky Hour.   [00:44:58.250] - Scott Tharler Have you heard of that one? Sky Hour our is an interesting one.   [00:45:02.210] - Kim Tate I know you can imagine what it does, but.   [00:45:04.010] - Scott Tharler Yeah, yeah. No, it's like you when you recently had I think her name is Danielle from the the thought card, she was talking about saving up for trips. It's actually something to help you save up for trips, but it's something where people can help out. And the basis of it is that you pay for hours of flight, you're not paying for distance. You're not paying for like this is how much it is.   [00:45:25.790] - Scott Tharler You literally I think it's something like, you know, it's sixty dollars. For an hour of flight and so you can start to do the math and realize, like if you're going to Florida or California, that might not make sense, but actually going to Europe, that's not that crazy. Like, it's not that crazy that you would pay for, you know, five or six hours to certain places in Europe. And so if I know you're going on a trip, I could say, hey, Kim, I'm going to donate an hour to your trip and then either other people add more hours to that or you just pay whatever the differences.   [00:45:58.930] - Scott Tharler But it's basically good on any airlines. You're just paying for something that then gets instead of transferring points into a flight, it's if you have the right number of hours that turns into a flight. So I just thought that was an interesting spin on things I hadn't seen before. That's really cool.   [00:46:15.430] - Kim Tate Yeah, I was thinking it was going to be I know there's websites that'll show you like the Sunrise and Sunset Times for specific locations so that you can do it. So I was thinking when you said Skaara, that was what I was doing. It was. But that sounds way cooler. And I think that would be really good. I was thinking to my graduation trips type thing where, you know, you can say, hey, donate an hour of flight time or something.   [00:46:36.010] - Tamara Gruber That's pretty cool.   [00:46:37.010] - Scott Tharler Yeah, but it's also that factor, like you're saying with your other guest, where you get to see it building up. So you get to see, oh, cool, I have this much towards my trip and it's not just like maybe I'll get to go on the trip or maybe I won't. Right.   [00:46:51.280] - Tamara Gruber Right. You know, that's really neat. It makes you think of like when people get married and they register where you can kind of donate towards their honeymoon or something like that, it'd be another neat way to use it.   [00:47:01.720] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, exactly. Well, we've certainly have talked about a lot of things, but we have a question for you that we ask all of our guests. And I imagine that you're is still going to have some kind of tech angle to it since you talked about water bottles of sensors and all these kind of things. But do you have any favorite brand of clothing or, you know, what do you wear when you travel?   [00:47:23.800] - Scott Tharler I definitely do. And I think the first one is called Scotte Vest. And I am I am not the Scott and Scotte Vest. It's actually a friend of mine, Scott Jordan, that I've known for 20 years. And I love his stuff because it started off as just being literally like a fishing vest with a bunch of pockets in it. But it's grown to be shirts. I'm actually wearing a what they call their camping shirt now. It's it's like a nice short sleeved button down shirt.   [00:47:49.210] - Scott Tharler They have pants and shorts and dresses. They even have a mask nowadays. But all of their stuff is based on not just having a lot of pockets, but bringing your tech with you. And I know when I'm going on a business trip, if I have the blazer, they have like a sport jacket with a lot of stuff. It literally saves me like a carry ons worth of stuff that I can put in there. And so I have cords and batteries and a lot of the stuff that I talked about, I will have in specific pockets in that.   [00:48:19.390] - Scott Tharler So I'm a big fan of Scotty.   [00:48:21.280] - Tamara Gruber Best you can tell your friend Scott that I also own two of the long cardigans that they have for women with those big, deep pockets.   [00:48:29.650] - Scott Tharler Cool. Yeah. I mean, they they really have expanded. They have I guess they never got into shoes, but they have underwear. There's all sorts of stuff like if you want to for some reason, if you want to be walking around your hotel room and your underwear, but you also want your phone with you, then they've got you covered.   [00:48:46.370] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I'm really picturing the pocket, you said.   [00:48:50.210] - Scott Tharler Yeah, there's there's all sorts of fun ways that could go. But but basically I, I always have something. I always have like one or two things with me that are like it's usually like a polo shirt and a t shirt or, you know, like a camping shirt and a t shirt that have these pockets built in. And it's just it's nice. And it's also I think people nowadays are more accepting of the fact that you're going to have tech with you, but you still don't want to look like you're schlepping around a bunch of stuff.   [00:49:18.610] - Scott Tharler So it's good at hiding the fact that you have definitely.   [00:49:22.150] - Kim Tate I agree. Yeah.   [00:49:23.380] - Scott Tharler The other one that I tend to bring with me, it's an Italian shoe company called ACBC and it stands for anything can be changed. And basically these are these you might have heard of these. They're like zip up shoes. And what I mean by that is that you bring along like one pair of soles and then you zip the tops off like and right here I'm actually holding them in my hand. And so if you're hiking during the day and you're walking around another part of the day and then at night you're going to be going to some nicer event or just going out to a nice dinner, then you could basically have just three sets of the tops that you zip on to the bottom and it takes up way less space.   [00:50:04.480] - Scott Tharler You know, like when I go to the annual Consumer Electronics Show, I could have five pairs of shoes, but it takes up not that much more than just one or two pairs of shoes in my bag.   [00:50:15.550] - Tamara Gruber Oh, that's really neat to look into, though, because I've not heard of it, I am familiar with, like the women's flip flop brand that has where you switch out like the top, you know, the thong part, but interesting.   [00:50:26.840] - Scott Tharler Oh, it's funny you mention that actually, because there's a new company that I just I know you guys are fans of Oofos, but there's one that I just found out that they're based out of Israel and it's called Link. And they have what they call flip shoes. And they're like flip flops, except for they don't have the top part, just like the bottom part only. And so the bottom part goes like around your foot and hugs your foot and then you don't your front two toes don't have to grip on to the thong for dear life that like your foot, you walk out of your shoes.   [00:50:59.630] - Scott Tharler So those look really cool. I haven't tried them yet, but they look really amazing.   [00:51:04.090] - Tamara Gruber Sounds like modernistic space agey.   [00:51:06.910] - Scott Tharler Yeah. Yeah, definitely.   [00:51:09.100] - Kim Tate Well, Scott, why don't you tell our listeners where they can find you online? Because I know a lot of this tech they're going to want to kind of see and you probably have a lot of reviews and pictures. So where can they find you?   [00:51:19.570] - Scott Tharler So the company is called the Family CTO. And of course, we have channels on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. There's a podcast you can look up wherever you listen to podcast, you can look up the family CTO. But really, the website is the great launching pad. So if you just go to TheFamilyCTO.com, then there are links to all of that stuff.   [00:51:41.960] - Tamara Gruber Well, we will link to all of that in our show notes, as well as a lot of the products that you mentioned today. And so I know I'm going to be Googling a lot of things after this interview and looking things up. So I hope that our listeners found it very helpful. And I really appreciate you coming on and sharing all your knowledge. You have gone much deeper than either Kim and I think I've ever done into a dove into this, you know, family travel tech.   [00:52:06.350] - Scott Tharler Oh, it's my pleasure. I love talking about it. And thanks for having me on the show.   [00:52:14.030] - Tamara Gruber So we're back. And I just wanted to give a shout out to one of our listeners, Lee. He wrote in because he was listening to the episode that we did with Nate from Room Steals about tips for finding hotel deals. And I know that Nate was asking us recommendations for comfortable men shoes, and we didn't really have a lot to tell him. So anyway, Lee recommends Cole Hahn. He really loves those. And he said that their souls were actually made by Nike, which I did not realize.   [00:52:37.530] - Tamara Gruber So that explains why they're a little more comfortable. So guys that we've been ignoring, sorry about that. And we have some more recommendations for you. So thanks, Lee, for giving us an email and and giving us your tip.   [00:52:50.300] Yeah, that's a good tip. I actually, you know, my husband has a very Cole Hahn working shoes that, you know, are kind of l


    187 Spring Break Travel Tamara's Road Trip to Colorado

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2021 61:48

    This week we check in with Tamara about her family's spring break road trip to look at colleges. Find out how the trip went and why her visit to the Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado was the perfect spring break retreat. College Road Trip Stops The first stop was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to visit Lehigh University. This historic town is popular at Christmas time and offers a cute downtown with lots of restaurants. The historic Hotel Bethlehem is nice but in need of renovation. If you visit, try the Social Still for dinner and the Flying Egg for breakfast. The second stop was in Cleveland to visit Case Western Reserve University. Located in the University Circle neighborhood near the Cleveland Clinic, this is a nice area to explore the city's museums such as the Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, and Botanical Gardens. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is offering timed-entry tickets, temperature checks, one-way traffic, and social distancing. It was not crowded at all, making it a good time to visit. The third stop was in Ann Arbor to visit the University of Michigan. The Graduate Ann Arbor is a perfect spot to stay to visit the college and offers one-bedroom king suites for families. If you are staying in town, have lunch at Zingerman's Deli, dinner at the Slurping Turtle, and breakfast, lunch or dinner at Sava's. Next up was the University of Madison - Wisconsin. Again, The Graduate Madison is a good spot to stay just off State Street and close to campus. If you are traveling through Nebraska, the Old Haymarket District of Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska, is a cool neighborhood to visit. The next college stop was at the University of Colorado - Boulder. The Embassy Suites in Boulder offers beautiful views, one-bedroom suites, and modern decor within walking distance to campus. When in Boulder, plan to spend time in the Pearl Street Mall area. Two great dinner stops are Oak at Fourteenth and Santo Boulder. If you are visiting Colorado Springs, you will probably want to visit the Garden of the Gods park, but be prepared for crowds in addition to beautiful red rock formations. Tamara's family then spent a few days relaxing at the Vista Verde Ranch. This all-inclusive luxury ranch was an ideal spring break retreat offering snow tubing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, snow mobiling, horse back riding and other indoor and outdoor options. The food is amazing and plentiful and there are a number of cabin options on property ranging from one to four bedrooms. On their way back, Tamara stopped in Topeka, Kansas, St. Louis, Missouri, and outside of Pittsburg, PA. In St. Louis, the Hotel St. Louis, an Autograph Collection property by Marriott, is a great place to stay with gorgeous large suites and a convenient location. If you are planning on visiting the Gateway Arch, be sure to by timed-entry tickets in advance. The social distancing protocols make for a pleasant, uncrowded stay with designated tram cars and viewing windows. See Tamara's tips for road trip mistakes to avoid.   Full Episode Transcript [00:00:00.120] - Kim Tate We're back. Stay tuned to hear about our latest adventures.   [00:00:16.230] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens. A family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel.   [00:00:31.260] - Kim Tate Tamara, we have just had, you know, a couple of awesome road trips. So I'm sure our listeners are dying to hear all about it. Everything that we've done, everything we learned or discovered. So this is our episode to kind of dish and just tell them about our latest.   [00:00:46.920] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, I was thinking as I was driving, I'm like, hmm, this is what I want to say about Nebraska. This is what I want to say. Well, you know, just kind of and I was like, I really should make notes, but I was driving for half the time, so I didn't actually make notes.   [00:00:59.400] - Tamara Gruber But I'm excited to chat with you. It's been so long and I know we're going to go into more detail about your California road trip in a couple of episodes, because I know that that's a trip that probably a lot of people want to make.   [00:01:11.370] - Kim Tate But we should definitely talk about your epic one, because how many miles and how many states did you hit?   [00:01:15.990] - Tamara Gruber Oh, my God, 5000 miles. I didn't realize it was going to be quite that far. And I think I think because of the way we came back, we actually hit 16 states.   [00:01:26.970] - Kim Tate Yeah. My goodness. Yeah.   [00:01:28.260] - Tamara Gruber And I mean, a lot of those actually, for me, I had been to all of them before. But for Hannah, there were some new ones. For Glenn, there are some new ones. We saw, you know, a lot of ground, I will say, because we went in mid-March. I remember before we went, you were sending me pictures like it'll be pretty and you're sending me pictures of, like fields of wheat in the sun, sunset and like. Yeah, no, it is just brown.   [00:01:50.940] - Tamara Gruber It's brown, brown, brown. So it was not a scenic road trip at all. I think a lot of our listeners know that we were going to look at colleges. We did have a really beautiful part of Colorado, you know, where we were in Colorado and we stayed at a ranch. And, you know, I could talk about that a little bit, but it did convince me, too, that I really should consider moving to Colorado at some point. But it was most of the trip was, you know, a little bit boring when it came to the scenery.   [00:02:21.990] - Tamara Gruber But we did get to see quite a few colleges. And you know what? There's something about driving through huge parts of this country that it just stirs me. You know, like I just I it's so important to me to feel like connected. And I feel like I can visualize, like, what it is like to live in other parts of the country, you know, get a little bit more sense of like where people coming from, what their, you know, regular life is like, you know, because I'm just I've lived all my life in the Northeast and the Northeast we know is like, you know, it's crowded.   [00:02:55.050] - Tamara Gruber It's just, you know, like one city blurs into the other, you know, in our rural areas are, you know, like you can't drive for miles and miles without finding, you know, a place to get gas or, you know, like any of these things.   [00:03:08.490] - Tamara Gruber It's just very different. And so I really appreciate every time I'm able to, like, drive through a lot of this country. And I really I really hope that more people, you know, can do that kind of thing. You know, like even if it wasn't pretty, there was just something to it.   [00:03:21.810] - Kim Tate It's just something to like the vastness and the diversity and everything to it. Yeah, I think that it's good for the coastal people to realize and experience the breadbasket of America like they term it because it is so different. And, you know, I grew up in the Midwest, of course, and knew nothing really about toll roads and all that stuff. And so that's always something. When I go to the coast, I'm always like, oh, there's there's toll roads in these places.   [00:03:47.310] - Tamara Gruber So I just wrote a post about like road trip mistakes that people make because I feel like tolls is definitely one that people don't always pay attention to.   [00:03:56.130] - Tamara Gruber And nowadays there's not always a man toll booth like it's often like electronic billing. And if you're not from that area, you don't have that system. And so then you have to try to figure it out. I can't even tell you how many hours I spent trying to figure out where I was supposed to pay the Illinois tollway, you know, and I don't I'm not sure I'm expecting I mean, like eight tickets in the mail.   [00:04:16.530] - Tamara Gruber And I'm like, I registered for your site. I filled out everything. But I'm not seeing, like, where I actually I we took pictures of every single, like, gate kind of thing. Like the time and the number, you know, because Glenn's been there before and I'm like, I can't figure this out. So some of the systems are not so easy to figure out. Come to the northeast and they're like what do you mean it's fifteen dollars across the bridge. I'm like yeah.   [00:04:44.040] - Kim Tate Yeah. And it's you know, well we have on the West Coast like HOV lanes. Right. So we had where we couldn't even use the lane near San Francisco because we didn't have you there. And we have that in Seattle as well. Like you can use the HOV lane for a fee for a fee.   [00:05:00.150] - Kim Tate But if you want to use it as a high occupancy vehicle, you have to have the, you know, Washington tag that's in your windshield and is registered to your vehicle on your plate. And so, yeah, it was kind of frustrating. I was like, oh, because we got hit in a major traffic. And like, I was like, oh, I want to be in that carpool lane, but I couldn't. I didn't want to pay whatever the fee was because, you know, in Washington, if you don't have the past, you have to pay three dollars to pay it by mail. They charge you a three dollar surcharge. So anyways, it's crazy.   [00:05:32.830] - Tamara Gruber Well, I will say, I have a lot of overall observations of driving 5000 miles. Number one, our roads are crap. They are terrible.   [00:05:42.130] - Tamara Gruber Like I know they're trying to pass an infrastructure bill and I can't even say how much we need it. Like I always comment on that around, like where I live. But I feel like I live in such a busy area, like it's get so much traffic. Well, you know what, we're driving i 80, i 70, i 90 like.   [00:05:59.500] - Tamara Gruber And it's all trucks, there's so many trucks and it was you know, I don't know if it's more now or not, but like it was the point where it's not relaxing at all, even though it's just a straight highway. It's like because you're constantly passing trucks like we had had to drive. She just has a permit. Knock wood. By the time you hear that, she'll have her license. But she drove for like three hours in Nebraska and three hours in Kansas. And the speed limit is like seventy five. And she's like constantly like trucks are passing her, she's passing trucks. And it was she's like, I'm exhausted. I don't know if you see that on the West Coast, but it was terrible.   [00:06:44.740] - Kim Tate Yeah, well, we went through Oregon and I guess in Oregon, it's one of the few states that allows three semi links. And I think you probably passed some, but I we don't have it in California or Washington. Oh, but it's semi trucks allow three, you know, the back seat and it says long load.   [00:07:07.660] - Tamara Gruber I even said it like those trucks drive like they rule the world and like who cares about you. I had one literally drive me off the road like I'm so glad that I was driving and not Hannah because I managed to keep us like in the like in not a shoulder. I had to go into the grass but like straight without like like she probably would have with the car. It's like they I was next to it and not like far back, like next to its cab.   [00:07:38.740] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And it started, you know, it put its turn signal on and it started coming and I'm like laying on the horn and it just kept coming. And so I had to go into the median and again, you know, you're like you're driving through grass and you're like seventy five miles an hour, you know?   [00:07:52.790] - Tamara Gruber And then I was able to like, you know, safely get us back up, you know, on the road. And that almost happened to me multiple times. So I will say, like, it's not you know, it was not always pleasant driving. I would have loved to have gotten off on just some of the smaller roads, like when we were in like Wisconsin and Colorado, we were in some smaller roads that were like much more pleasant. Although let me tell you the other thing that I observed about Wisconsin.   [00:08:21.730] - Tamara Gruber I felt like I was in another country. We have you ever seen this where the instead of, you know, how you have interstate, you know, we have Interstate 95, we have high U.S. Highway One, we have state route two. There are like state highways or, you know, it was like exit for Highway X, Y or an X.   [00:08:42.070] - Tamara Gruber It was the letter letters I've never seen. I know we're going to have listeners that are like, what's wrong with you? But like, I had never I never seen that either.   [00:08:52.570] - Kim Tate I didn't know that either. I are. We're just inspiring people to take road trips with all these. I'm just kidding.   [00:08:59.050] - Tamara Gruber Sorry. anyways, these are the things you learn, right?   [00:09:02.830] - Kim Tate Yeah, these are the things you learn. But I always think it's cool how the states have different highways. They have the little symbols. And I've never seen anything fun like in California or Oregon or Washington. But I know once we were in like I think Utah and they have like a beehive. Is there like have you seen.   [00:09:18.400] - Kim Tate Oh yeah. It's like different shape. So, yeah, different states have fun little shapes and stuff, but I don't think we have anything fun. So I was wondering if you saw any fun shaped state highways.   [00:09:28.510] - Tamara Gruber Not that I recognize, but I can kind of picture that. I'm pretty sure in New Hampshire there's looks like one of the mountain faces. I did learn that Nebraska. Oh, what's that? What was the town?   [00:09:40.410] - Tamara Gruber Kearney, Nebraska is the sandhill Crane, capital of the world. As we're driving, this is the time that Hannah was driving. So I was sitting in the back because I'm like, you know, I need a break. And if I'm in the front, like, somebody needs to, like, be paying attention to her. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I'm just going to sit in the back for a little bit. I can't do it long because I get carsick, but I'm like, I'm going to go back there.   [00:10:01.450] - Tamara Gruber So I'm just like looking out the window and I just see all these birds that I'm like they kind of look like Osprey, like they look like water birds, but they're all in these open fields, you know, because it's just like plowed fields now. And I'm like, this is so I. And I'm like, did you guys see that, did you guys see that and they're like, what? What's, you know, like I have nothing else to look at back here. You can't, like, look ahead of me, you know?   [00:10:22.150] - Tamara Gruber So anyway, then we would drive past the sign that says the sandhill crane capital of the world. I'm like, oh, that's fascinating. Yeah, that's cool.   [00:10:29.380] - Kim Tate I was going to mention with bathrooms when you're talking about stops and stuff is surprisingly I forgot about travel centers like for when you know about travel centers.   [00:10:43.450] - Kim Tate They normally have like a food place in them, but I find they're the restrooms at most of those travel centers, like the big ones, like the TravelCenters of America, like the big T and A..   [00:10:52.750] - Kim Tate Yeah. Although it's funny, like growing up in the Midwest, we always laughed about the T and the giant T&A. But anyways, you know, it's normally a pretty good one. And so we stopped at that a couple of times. And I think that the other thing we had done was because she was looking for like a cheesy California keychain for a friend. And I was like, oh, we need to find a travel center, because that's the kind of stuff they have there.   [00:11:16.480] - Tamara Gruber And yeah, like, that's that kind of thing is very common here in the East Coast. It's not like they're not always the labeled ones like like they're just like like if you're driving like I-95, it's like, you know, here's this rest area and it's there's gas and there's inside there's bathrooms, there's, you know, food court. And there's the little shop and the bathrooms there.   [00:11:36.790] - Tamara Gruber Like I actually they're usually pretty clean, like they weren't when I worked at one back on the New Jersey Turnpike when I was 16.   [00:11:43.630] - Tamara Gruber But it's pretty clean and you don't have to touch any doors, you know, like everything touchless, you know. So that is and it's very open like versus going into like a gas station that has like a one.   [00:11:56.020] - Kim Tate Yeah, yeah. Or they've got like the paddle key you have to get. Yeah. That people have touched in the last fifty.   [00:12:00.250] - Tamara Gruber But even and even if they have like one that has multiple stalls, it's like two or three styles and people might be waiting in a line and it's very close, whereas those are like so open, you know, that like the circulation is much better.   [00:12:11.090] - Kim Tate Exactly. And there's normally find parking and certainly easy to get on and off and back on the highway. Yeah. So I really like those. And then we used rest stops a lot actually. And I was really impressed.   [00:12:20.860] - Kim Tate I think rest stops are like the gift to road trips because for us, especially with teenagers and when they were little kids, we discovered this.   [00:12:28.900] - Kim Tate Inevitably somebody is waiting for a bathroom, are looking for and they end up wandering down the aisles and wanting to get this chip in this drink. And you spend another hundred and fifty dollars on snacks that day because of all the stops for bathrooms that you ended up buying junk food. And I noticed at least on the West Coast, I think it was practically 100 percent mask wearing on all the rest stops. And I even noticed one point because I kind of I think it was partially me, because I noticed this older couple was walking towards me like walking their dog and they didn't have my son.   [00:13:02.530] - Kim Tate And I, like, gave them a wide berth. Like I walked in the grass to go around them. And as soon as I passed, I heard the woman go, Oh, honey, we have our mask. Let's see, I'm going to go to the car and get our mask. Like she hadn't thought of it because she was thinking they were just going to walk our dog. But then she realized, you know, there's a lot of foot traffic.   [00:13:17.050] - Tamara Gruber Right. Right. I've had that experience, too. Yeah. So for you, like when you say, like, rest stop, So that's like the building off of the highway where like, yeah, people walk the dog and there's bathrooms and sometimes there's like a brochure's or something but that's like yeah ok. Yeah.   [00:13:31.810] - Tamara Gruber Great. Yeah. Yeah we have been, we have like the big ones kind of too.   [00:13:36.460] - Kim Tate So yeah these are, I'm talking about the ones that are just like literally on and off the highway, I-95 there almost every twenty five miles ish most of the time. So but yeah. And there's definitely different qualities in some of them are nice and have lots of stalls and others are not great.   [00:13:52.660] - Kim Tate But everyone we all went to always had toilet paper, had seat covers, running water, all that. So it was a good, good thing for us.   [00:14:00.670] - Tamara Gruber It shows you our priorities that we're spending like five minutes talking about bathroom. I'm so sorry, everyone.   [00:14:06.280] - Kim Tate They're like, OK, yeah, I'm bored. Yeah, we're like twenty minutes. And we haven't even started talking about your road trip. So let's jump to that.   [00:14:18.220] - Kim Tate Let's talk about your specific road trip. We've talked about the mileage and the states, but what were the highlights?   [00:14:23.980] - Tamara Gruber Let's see. I'll just run through an order because it's easiest for me to remember, like, in that way. But we our first stop was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which is known for its like Christmas things, because, as you can imagine. So we visited Lehigh University there and that was good. It was actually a very cute little downtown. It was good.   [00:14:43.600] - Tamara Gruber I liked the university was beautiful, but it was not Hannah's favorite just because she wants something a little more integrated, even though it was like a very cute town, she's like it's more like town adjacent than town, like into like, OK, so that was our first stop.   [00:14:56.440] - Tamara Gruber And then we headed off to Cleveland and we stayed in the university circle neighborhood of Cleveland. So we didn't see a lot of downtown, but I really explored that area. It's so it's case Western Reserve University is the school that we're visiting and it's right next to like all the hospitals and Cleveland Clinic, but it's also near there. Museum. So they have like this really nice green area, you know, with like parks and it's like the Wade oval and around it there's a botanical gardens, a museum of natural history, an art museum.   [00:15:28.080] - Tamara Gruber And then also just a few minutes away, kind of right next to campus, too, is a contemporary art museum. So there's a lot of museums around there to explore. There's like a Little Italy neighborhood, you know, and of course, we spent time, like walking around campus.   [00:15:42.210] - Tamara Gruber But then one of the things that we got to do was to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because I'm like, if we're going to go to Cleveland, like, we have to do this, like we all love music.   [00:15:52.230] - Tamara Gruber You know, Glenn, you know, especially like is such a classic rock guy. But I was really surprised by, like, how up to date it was, you know, they had like outfits from Billy Eilish, you know, like it was it was very like all the like Harry Styles to like all the way up to date.   [00:16:08.280] - Tamara Gruber And here's going to be my plug in my learning for this. It's like I know that everyone's going to head to the outdoors in the national parks this summer. I know in a couple weeks we're going to be talking about one of those kind of road trips. But I will say, if you want to be counterintuitive, it's actually really cheap to be in cities right now.   [00:16:27.870] - Tamara Gruber And the indoor attractions are very quiet.   [00:16:31.470] - Tamara Gruber And it's so well managed that I we felt so much safer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than we did when we went to the Outdoor Garden of the Gods in a park in Colorado Springs because you had to get timed entry tickets.   [00:16:47.100] - Tamara Gruber Everybody has temperatures taken. It's one way traffic. It's all sanitized like everything. Like I really felt we were obviously were there on a Monday afternoon. So it wasn't like primetime.   [00:16:57.090] - Tamara Gruber But I was like, could there even have been 50 people in this entire building of like three or four floors? Like, it didn't it was not crowded at all. Some of the interactive types of things were closed. So I'm sure it would have been more fun if we could have done more of that, like listening kind of things.   [00:17:13.140] - Tamara Gruber But we still like, you know, we really enjoyed it. We got a lot out of it. So I feel like maybe it's not too bad to do some of these indoor things or things that are usually crowded when there's not the crowds. So I can throw that out there as an idea.   [00:17:26.520] - Kim Tate You know, I totally sorry. I was going to say I totally agree. I was just talking to Carolyn, our friend Carolyn, about that, because I went to the mop up museum in Seattle and it was the same thing. It was like a timed entry ticket that you bought online, got temperature checked. Everything's one way.   [00:17:39.510] - Kim Tate And there is it felt like nobody felt like we had the exhibits to ourselves. And of course, like you said, we went in the weekday. But I definitely think you're right that that's the place to, like, really take advantage of your, like, staycation local cities. If there's some museums you avoid or I think now's the time to.   [00:17:56.100] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, because and like I said, the the days I mean, for the most part, almost all of the hotels we were in, we it was not like they they are kind of concentrating people on certain floors, I think probably for housekeeping reasons.   [00:18:08.010] - Tamara Gruber So it's not like we're the only one on the floor, but only in I think one place did we sometimes encounter people like on the elevator and we'd have to wait for the next elevator. But for the most part, there was like no one around and it was cheap, you know, so that all worked out well.   [00:18:23.010] - Tamara Gruber So we moved from Cleveland and I actually really like that school, too. So so maybe we'll be back and explore more in Cleveland. We'll see. But from then, we drove like about two and a half hours to Ann Arbor, Michigan. And I will say, like, I know Michigan is a huge school, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and they have the largest stadium football stadium in the Western Hemisphere, the big house.   [00:18:43.680] - Tamara Gruber And so I thought the school is going to feel immense and like really just spread out and like not manageable and confusing. And it really didn't like first of all, Ann Arbor is the cutest town. You know, like there's great, like restaurants and like just little districts. And, you know, walking around was great. And the campus felt like there's like a north campus that you definitely have to drive to. But then the rest of it felt like pretty compact. And there's just so much school spirit there.   [00:19:10.110] - Tamara Gruber Like everyone that you walk by is wearing like Michigan or something, you know, like sweatpants, sweatshirt, you know, like it just you could tell, like, they're super into it. So and we had a couple we brought in.   [00:19:21.630] - Tamara Gruber Well, one time we eat outside at a deli. Zingerman's Deli is like really famous there. So we had to check that out. And then we brought in from like an Asian place called Slurping Turtle, which was delicious.   [00:19:33.300] - Tamara Gruber We stayed at the graduate there, which again, I love graduate hotels for college towns because they have so much personality. And there it was, you know, not crowded at all. And it was adjacent to campus, like adjacent to State Street, like everything was convenient. So if you go in to Ann Arbor, like, I would definitely look at a stay there. It was you know, it was a really nice property.   [00:19:55.680] - Tamara Gruber We I had booked a suite, so it wasn't quite as big of a separate little room as I thought, but it had like this little living room area, you know, I usually like the suite would be like the main room is like you walk into, like the living area and then the bedroom would be off here. You walked into the bedroom and then off the bedroom there was a. A little like I would call it a den, you know, like it had a little tiny couch and a little like a TV and a chair.   [00:20:20.810] - Tamara Gruber So we put Hannah in there and like you, you could extend the bed, but you couldn't then walk around it, like, crawl across.   [00:20:28.400] - Tamara Gruber So it's very small, but it was perfect because, you know, she had at least her own little space. And then the next morning before we left, we had this amazing brunch.   [00:20:37.920] - Tamara Gruber I have to, like, look up where it was. But we had this, you know, amazing brunch of this beautiful place. We actually had to knock on the door, like to have them open for us.   [00:20:46.790] - Tamara Gruber So we were the only people in there for a while. And I think that was one of the like, you know, eating inside still makes us nervous. So we're like, OK, it's like a two story place. We're the only people in here, so we're good. So if you go to Ann Arbor, the place is called Savas. And it was it was delicious. I'm sure it would be amazing for lunch or dinner, too.   [00:21:03.350] - Tamara Gruber But from there, we moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and I've been to Madison before, as you know, and I really liked it a lot when we got there.   [00:21:11.780] - Tamara Gruber It was pretty like rainy, but like an icy cold, you know, windy kind of rain. So it wasn't like ideal conditions for exploring. But luckily, like a friend of ours, their daughter goes to University of Wisconsin, Madison. So she was able to walk us around, I think, which definitely made an impression on Hannah because the other places we were just exploring on our own because tours weren't open right at the time. So, you know, so that was good.   [00:21:36.320] - Tamara Gruber And we that day was actually St. Patrick's Day. So I was like, I am not going out on St. Patrick's Day in a college town. Like, there's no way. Not a pandemic, no way. So we brought in some food there. And we also stated a graduate there and actually the graduate there, we stayed at we again booked a suite. It was called like the Camp Wanda Wenga Suite or something. But it's set up like very camp style.   [00:21:58.190] - Tamara Gruber And the separate little room had bunk beds and it had like an Atari and like, you know, a little gaming system and stuff. So it was really cute. And I was like, oh, my. Like, top bunk is going to be for this and I'm going to be in the bottom bunk. And I know she she had fun that she had bunk beds. That's cute. So that was good.   [00:22:13.250] - Tamara Gruber And then we drove. That's the day that we then drove and we stayed in Nebraska. So that was just like we had a driving day and then we had another driving day and we got to Boulder, Colorado, and we definitely loved our stay in Boulder.   [00:22:25.250] - Tamara Gruber It's such a cute it's a cute city. Has is like this Pearl Street district where it's just like an open pedestrian mall with tons of like restaurants and shops and stuff off of it.   [00:22:35.570] - Tamara Gruber And we stayed at an Embassy Suites. And I will say, like Glenn and I were, we used points for a lot of these. And so Glenn and I were kind of expecting, you know, a lot of embassy suites are kind of old, right?   [00:22:46.910] - Kim Tate You know, like, yeah, they have this in the nineties. Like this big center foyer. Pyramid or whatever.   [00:22:54.500] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, yeah, yeah. This was like a brand new Embassy Suites. It was the nicest Embassy Suites or looked brand new that I've ever seen.   [00:23:02.240] - Kim Tate And we had a nice we had an Embassy Suites in Seattle.   [00:23:07.220] - Tamara Gruber Really nice. Yeah. It's just. Yeah yeah I agree because you get that stuck in your head about certain brands. Right. You kind of have like what your expectations are. So I was like, well you know, we're using points like whatever, it's an embassy suites and I got there, I'm like, oh this is really nice. And again had a suite again. We were on the road a lot, very close together. So a few times I wanted to splurge and have a suite and have like a little more space, you know, to be in.   [00:23:32.150] - Tamara Gruber But it overlooked the you could see the campus, which is kind of up on a hill, then behind it, the Flatiron Mountains. And it was stunning. It's like, you know, to to open up the window and see, that was amazing.   [00:23:45.530] - Tamara Gruber And just the campus was beautiful. We love you know, she loved the campus. She loved Boulder. I just loved, you know, they had just gotten like two feet of snow a week before. So I thought it was going to be crazy. And, yeah, there was some snow on the ground, but it just doesn't stick. I think, like, you and I are both come from like wet climb, you know, colder like wet climates.   [00:24:02.660] - Tamara Gruber And so we'll get ice, you know, it sticks around. But there I think because it's dry, like the snow just melts and evaporates right away.   [00:24:10.970] - Tamara Gruber But yeah. So one day we drove down, we were going to go to Rocky Mountain National Park, but then I was reading about it and it looked like a lot of the trails, like I would need snow shoes. And then I'm like, well, you know, you can only drive so much of it because the main road is closed in the winter. You know, you can't go all the way across the park.   [00:24:28.520] - Tamara Gruber And so I was just debating, do we bother to go up there? We're going to have we're going to do snowshoeing and stuff when we go on our next stop. So I didn't really want to rent equipment to do that. So instead, we it was a beautiful day. It was like seventy degrees, which is crazy. So we drove down to Colorado Springs and we went to the Garden of the Gods, which I think everyone has seen pictures of.   [00:24:48.800] - Tamara Gruber And I just oh, it looks so beautiful. Like let's go down there.   [00:24:51.830] - Tamara Gruber First of all, we got stuck in all this traffic, which was crazy. And then, you know, so that was stressful. And then we got there and it was insane. It was it was a Saturday afternoon. It was seventy degrees, but it was insanely crowded. So I had and I got there. I had to use the bathroom speaking bathrooms. So I did wait in line like outside, because everyone that came in to the visitors center had to like sign in and provide your.   [00:25:14.170] - Tamara Gruber Contact information for contact tracing, which was a joke because it's interesting that they're still doing that. Yeah, like everyone else, like tons of people didn't even go inside. And so we're walking, you know, then into the park and like, no one had masks, hardly anybody had masks on.   [00:25:30.550] - Tamara Gruber And these are like jammed walkways, like you cannot avoid being within six feet of people. And it says, like, you know, mask is required even outside for when you can't be. It wasn't like it required all the time, but it's like when you can't be with, you know, more than six feet away. But it's like you clearly no one can be.   [00:25:50.440] - Tamara Gruber So we were wearing a mask and we're like trying to like, you know, get through it really quickly in a way. But it was it was definitely stressful.   [00:25:57.370] - Tamara Gruber It was like it was really like all of us were feeling it were a super stressful, you know, like trying to, like, look away when somebody, like, walked by you and like, you know, like just I don't know, like just protect yourself.   [00:26:07.860] - Tamara Gruber And I know what's outside. And you generally passing people like within seconds. And there's probably very little danger, but it's still kind of freaked us out, you know, like it's been a long time since we've been around a lot of people.   [00:26:19.090] - Tamara Gruber And it was not really fun. And I wanted it to be fun and I felt bad. So that's just my feeling is that granted, if I was in that situation and I had been vaccinated already, I wouldn't feel quite as worried. But I do really worry about being in crowded places like this summer and like what that's going to be like in some of the parks. And I know some people will feel like very comfortable because they're vaccinated. But like, if things are still circulating a lot, you know, like we still have to take certain precautions.   [00:26:47.890] - Tamara Gruber And, you know, I don't know. It does make me a little bit worried about being in, like I said, crowded places in the summer.   [00:26:54.370] - Kim Tate But was it pretty, though?   [00:26:56.110] - Tamara Gruber It was beautiful. It was. It was. But it probably was a little more crowded than I would have liked anyway. I just have to get used to that.   [00:27:04.900] - Tamara Gruber So after Boulder, we ended up going to a ranch for a couple of days, which was like definitely the highlight of our trip. And, you know, you know that when we went to the ranch in Montana a few years ago, it was still like one of our top trips. We just kind of love that experience. But I wasn't quite sure what it was going to be like in the winter, spring, you know, kind of season, like what activities there would be and what it would be like.   [00:27:30.400] - Tamara Gruber But it was exactly what we needed. You know, it was like time outside. We had, you know, time. It was just such a relaxed environment, I think. So we went to the Vista Verde Ranch, which is just a little bit north of Steamboat Springs, and it is a luxury ranch. So they definitely have more amenities and, you know, service than the ranch that we went to before. And I think both can be great.   [00:27:56.950] - Tamara Gruber But I felt like for this, especially for this season, it was nice to have the kind of that extra level of of amenities and activities and things. But there max capacity is something like 50 people, you know. So I think it's like a dozen cabins. They have cabins that go from one bedroom up to four bedroom. And you have you know, you have your own space because you have a cabin.   [00:28:17.500] - Tamara Gruber So it felt like a very covid friendly type of vacation. And I wasn't sure because everything that we did before was so like community oriented.   [00:28:26.590] - Tamara Gruber And I think that that does it is sad that you don't have some of that now, because that is like one of the really cool things about a ranch environment. Right. But it's still like they did it in such a way. That was it was just really nice. So I just can't like I don't know, I was so happy. Like, I wish we could have stayed longer. It's definitely pricey, but it is, you know, just a very unique experience.   [00:28:47.980] - Tamara Gruber I mean, we did activities they have like you can sign up for activities like the day before. They have a calendar out. There's morning activities and afternoon activities, and sometimes there's a night activity. And so we did snowshoeing one day, which was just fabulous. And the way that they do it, you know, they have all the equipment on site, they have guides. And what they're doing now is like if you're with a family or small group, they're sending you out with like a private guide.   [00:29:17.470] - Tamara Gruber So you're not even in a group of people, you know, it's just you and your family, which is kind of nice because I think I've told a story about like one other time when I went snowshoeing and I showed up and like all my ski gear, like thinking I was going to be freezing and I showed up and there were this there was like the guide in this other couple and they were in, I don't know, like a sweatshirt and like winter pants kind of thing.   [00:29:40.480] - Tamara Gruber And they were like, I hope we're going to really get our hearts going now. And I'm like, oh, crap. I did it myself into and the whole time I'm like huffing and puffing because there it was like climbing in, like trying to keep up with them and sweating and ripping off layers of clothes. And then I would catch up to them and then they'd be like and then they would keep going, you know what I'm like. I didn't get a chance to have a rest. And so I feel like to go by yourself. And the other time I did it was in Idaho and it was just me and a guide. But she was like twenty three. She was out there on the mountain every day, you know, and I was like my foot hurt from. For the last few days and, you know, it's just like you're at altitude and you're climbing up and I remember being like, I'm going to stop and take a picture.   [00:30:21.760] - Tamara Gruber I'm going to stop stopping and taking pictures because I needed a little break. But this one was like, you know, he kept stopping and he was just like, how are you guys doing? We're like, no, we're good. Like, let's keep going and let's let's climb up there. And, you know, we climbed up to this point. We had a beautiful view and know. So they really can match your peace. And like he says, like, you know, with a family, like your patient, with each other, you know, it's not like a group that, you know, someone's left behind or annoyed or, you know, all that.   [00:30:48.020] - Tamara Gruber So so that was, you know, really worked out well. And then I think that afternoon, Hannah and I did a trail ride. I forget what Glenn did. Maybe he just decided to skip it. But we did a trail ride. And so, you know, typical, like, you know, line up my horse.   [00:31:06.100] - Tamara Gruber My horse was a little nasty, though. Apparently, it was like the I don't know, what's the queen bee of horses, you know, like it has like seniority. So I kept trying to bite all the other horses. I would like to try to walk by. And so, yeah, like then the other horses were like, given it the side. I'm like, hold onto it like really tight. So stop trying to like bite the other horse. I have a little like a little bully over here.   [00:31:43.810] - Tamara Gruber I was talking to one of the ranch hands afterwards about it and she was like, oh yeah, he's got a little attitude, you know, but they're so used to some of it that I don't know, like I just I felt like like it was a personal reflection on me.   [00:31:55.360] - Tamara Gruber One of my horses tried to, you know, be nasty to another was like I wasn't controlling it well. But he was just like an hour, you know, ride like through a trail. But it's, you know, everything was still snow covered. So it was really it was just pretty. And I can't even tell you how much we enjoyed the weather because it was like sunny skies, blue skies, which I'm leaving looking at my window now in April.   [00:32:17.440] - Tamara Gruber And I'm just seeing gray, you know, and it's just it makes me feel like so much more alive when the sun is out.   [00:32:24.310] - Tamara Gruber And even though it was like twenty, thirty degrees when we were doing these things, like we went snowshoeing and I just had a base layer. And like a zip up fleece and that's it. And like my snow pants and I was totally fine and like that's kind of it felt like thirty degrees warmer than it actually the temperature was.   [00:32:46.150] - Tamara Gruber So we had a good time with that. And then afterwards they let you go into the paddock for this thing they call a spring shed. And so basically the horses are shedding their winter coat and so you can go and help like brush them and you can just like, you know, go up to any horse.   [00:33:01.840] - Tamara Gruber And so I was like, do we need to be careful around there? Like, no, just kind of like them. No, like, talk to them, let them know that you're coming.   [00:33:08.380] - Tamara Gruber And so we're brushing them and of course, like it was starting to be mud season. So it's like a little icky out there, like with the poop.   [00:33:16.900] - Tamara Gruber And and so I'm like, OK, I really wish I brought my rain boots that I could just, like, spray off. Yeah. So my tip would be to bring like a plastic bag or anything that is coming back from there. But it was, you know, it was just fun. Like Hannah loves horses.   [00:33:32.650] - Tamara Gruber So it was like, you know, fun for her to just be able to to do that for a while and then, oh, the food was crazy good, like so, so good and so much food like the first night we got there and it was barbecue night.   [00:33:47.590] - Tamara Gruber So you think it's going to be, I don't know, like family style. First of all, it's all like table service. And what they've done is they did used to have like community tables, but now because of covid, you can choose to have your own table. And so they've spread things out. So they have like them spread out in the dining room.   [00:34:04.030] - Tamara Gruber And ours was actually in the main lobby, which is like towering ceilings, like beautiful lodge. And we were by a window. So we had this amazing view. There was no table anywhere near us. So it was like so comfortable, you know, for like indoor dining. And they would know. So you had a printed menu every time, like beautiful place sitting. Everything was like a starter, an entree and a dessert. And the first night it was like brisket, ribs or Alaskan king crab legs.   [00:34:33.400] - Tamara Gruber And I'm like, I didn't even get Alaskan king crab legs when I went on an Alaskan cruise and I went to the seafood restaurant, you know, like so Glen was like, well, I can't decide, like, can I get everything? And the girl was like, sure. And he was like, what? Like, you don't expect people to do that, you know? And she's like, yeah, like if you want like whatever you want, like I can bring you a little bit of this, little bit of that. And in the next morning scene with like breakfast, I was like, OK, well can I have like a pancake and an egg and some bacon. She's like, sure. So they it was so much food and it was really. Yeah, it was delicious, you know. And the next night was a formal night. So the kids have an option of doing like grab and go. Dining where it's more like a kid's meal, you know, that they can just take and they can eat it in the cabin and or go do a kid activity, but it's a little bit more of a formal meal. But it wasn't like you had to get dressed up. But these chefs came out and like presented and then they had like a wine pairing to go with it. So that one was I think we had like a salmon over like a lemon truffle, cauliflower risotto and Brussels sprout leaves. And, you know, it was like really it was it was fine dining.   [00:35:43.710] - Tamara Gruber And every meal was great, like, you know, you had lunch. And I was like, OK, let's start with like a giant salad and then a burger and then dessert. And I'm like, I can't do this. Like, I can't keep eating.   [00:35:54.360] - Tamara Gruber It's like it's so much food. But it was all so good. So definitely like a food is food is like a major highlight there.   [00:36:06.780] So you go at happy hour at like five thirty and they have a selection of wines and beer. I don't even know if they had cocktails. I think it's wine and beer and then like a little like aperitif, you know, you had at one night was like a prosciutto wrapped date.   [00:36:21.760] - Tamara Gruber And one night was like a deviled eggs, you know. So you had these little like snacks with your drinks. And that's the time where people can socialize if, you know, if they want to. So like there was oh, we just sat at our table because we were already in, like, that large area with our reserved table. So we would just sit there. But then there was this one group, like a big family group that would gather by the fireplace.   [00:36:40.890] - Tamara Gruber And sometimes they were a little forgetful when it came to like putting on their mask, when they stood up to walk to back to the bar or whatever. But luckily, like, we're like, OK, we're over here. You stay over there. Yeah, but it felt weird to, like, not be super friendly, you know, like it's the kind of thing where usually you'd have more interaction with people. But then what do we do? The next day we went and we did cross country skiing because Glenn really wanted to try that. And all I can say. Have you done cross-country before?   [00:37:07.860] - Kim Tate I have once. Paul is really into cross-country skiing and something they did in Edmonton a lot.   [00:37:12.180] - Tamara Gruber But yeah, I could see that because he's like the triathlon kind of guy. Yeah, yeah. It's not my thing. That's all I'll really say we were doing.   [00:37:20.820] - Tamara Gruber It was funny because we were gearing up and they said, like, it's not really great conditions for it because it's a little too icy, because that day it was like a little bit snowy, a little bit, it was still pretty cold in the morning there. It's like it's better in the afternoon. But we wanted to do something else in the afternoon and we're only there for a couple of days. So we didn't have like a ton of choice.   [00:37:39.330] - Tamara Gruber And so we're like, you know what, it's included. This is our chance to try it. Let's just go and do it. And they kept saying, like, oh, like when you fall, this is what you do.   [00:37:47.460] - Tamara Gruber And I'm like, fall. Like, isn't this just like walking? Like, when are we going to fall on cross country? And they do have like groomed trails, but they took us into like backcountry. And so then we were going like up a hill and then we had to go downhill. And I, I had no idea how different the skis are, you know. So, like, there's just I'm used to being able to, like, dig in or like control.   [00:38:09.750] - Kim Tate And it's just, you know, was your heel is free.   [00:38:12.430] - Tamara Gruber So, yeah, I'm like walking and the edges, there's just not like the edges that you have in downhill.   [00:38:16.710] - Kim Tate No, not at all. Yeah. So you stay, the whole idea is like, I mean I guess some people like plow but when I that time I went cross-country skiing. You're kind of in a rut of already done.   [00:38:28.530] - Tamara Gruber So you kind of I think it would have been cool if we did like the groomed trail but. But they're groomed trail was more like almost like a track, like an overall kind of thing. And then they it's more used to get people comfortable with it and then they go out to backcountry. Yeah. So like that part, I mean we made it fine. It was fine. Hannah actually really liked it and she liked like going ahead and laughing at us a bit.   [00:38:51.120] - Tamara Gruber But I just, I definitely love snowshoeing. So I'm like I don't think I would choose like cross country over snowshoeing. You know, I just I, you know, me and my control, like, I like to be in control and like, it's so easy to be in control.   [00:39:06.720] - Kim Tate Snowshoeing is better for that with than cross country. Yeah. I took out, yeah. I took out my father in law because I didn't know anything about it or how to stop and he had stopped to like look at something.I just kept going. I don't know what to do. So it's kind of funny. I mean it we were fine but yeah.   [00:39:25.260] - Tamara Gruber Yeah that was cool to get to try that, you know, and then the next thing we did didn't end up quite as well, but we went snow tubing and again, it's like a little bit icy. And so they have, you know, there this is just all on their property.   [00:39:40.710] - Tamara Gruber So they have a hill where they have kind of, you know, trails. But it's not like this. Quite the same grooming that you would have, you know, if you went to a ski resort type of of snow tubing. But they pull you up in a snowmobile, so they take you up there up to the hill on the snowmobile, you tube down, then they snowmobile you back up, you know, so that's kind of cool. And it was a lot of fun.   [00:40:00.450] - Tamara Gruber Like, we were definitely having a ton of fun, like Glenn and Hannah were going down, like in Hannah. And I did it, too, like together together, you know, and like, go down. But when you went down, you were going really fast.   [00:40:10.680] - Tamara Gruber They're like it's really slick, just so you know. So if you. Want to slow down like you use your foot to, like, kind of slow you down, like it's better if you went on your belly. We're usually like sit in the tube, you know, go on your belly and then you can, like, control it a little bit more.   [00:40:23.870] - Tamara Gruber And then at the bottom, they had some, like, barriers. And it's like you don't really want to go past the barrier because you're not going to go off a cliff. But it's it's not going to be great if you keep going, you know.   [00:40:32.150] - Tamara Gruber So I would always, you know, slow myself down, but it definitely was getting sicker and sicker. And then Glenn and Hannah, which we're almost it was almost going to be like the end anyway, like we're almost at the end of the day. But he went and then I saw, like, the two of them went like because there's two runs and I was waiting at the top. And then I went down. I kind of saw Glenn go like, oh, you know.   [00:40:52.790] - Tamara Gruber And then I was like, oh, what happens? I get down to the bottom and he can't stand because he he was using his foot to slow down and he felt something. And then when he went to stand up afterwards, the snow is like really deep, but it was just a little bit crusty on top. So then you kind of fall through and you might you know, you might be like a couple feet deep and snow and you have to, like, lift your foot out.   [00:41:13.970] - Tamara Gruber And so he kind of fell in to someone's like hole and then his foot, like he just felt something so like a few to three years, two years ago, he fractured his foot doing, you know, like he was doing a half marathon.   [00:41:27.650] - Tamara Gruber He was running a lot and he had like a stress fracture. So he says that this is what it felt like. So that was not the ideal end to our little trip. Yeah, it's a bummer because it sounds like you guys were having such a good time.   [00:41:40.610] - Kim Tate And then now it's a, you know, kind of like the end as calmly as you want it.   [00:41:46.160] - Tamara Gruber And then, yeah, it was especially great that while at least I was like, OK, let's like put ice on it and wrap it and like, put it up and just like, relax for a while and like see how you feel. But then he called a friend and the friend was like, you really should get x rays before you go, like all the way home, because we're leaving the next morning to start at 10, 12 hour drive to Kansas.   [00:42:07.160] - Tamara Gruber And so then I was like, I really think I have to go get x rays. And by this point it's like five o'clock. And I'm like, well, by the time I get you to Steamboat Springs, like we're missing dinner here. And then we're driving back here at night after dark, which not like great roads for driving after dark when you're not familiar with them.   [00:42:26.510] - Tamara Gruber And then we're just getting up and leaving the next morning and we're we'll have to drive back, pass through Steamboat Springs, you know, like we were north and we needed to go south. So I was like, OK, I think what we should do is just pack up and check out early and I should take it as Steamboat Springs and then like, let's just stay down there and then start our drive from there in the morning. It just, you know, it just wasn't worth it to come back, like just for breakfast and so sad, like we only really had to two nights there, but it worked out like we drove down.   [00:42:56.810] - Tamara Gruber I got us all packed up and checked out and we drove down to Steamboat Springs and dropped them off at the hospital for X-rays. I'm like, well, I can't come in anyway. So like, let me go take care of, like, getting gas in the car and finding where we can get some food to pick up and, you know, researching where to stay. And so, like, we could have stayed in Steamboat Springs, but we were kind of like, you know what, let's just drive down to 70, Interstate 70, so that in the morning, like, we definitely have less of a big drive tomorrow.   [00:43:22.340] - Tamara Gruber And so we we thought it was all going to be good. And we he was finally done at like eight o'clock. So it's like, you know, maybe before eight o'clock is like just turning dark and we start driving and we have to go up like over a mountain pass.   [00:43:36.950] - Tamara Gruber And I'm driving, of course, because he has like a boot and crutches and it starts snowing like swirling white out snow, like I can barely see. So I'm driving this mountain pass like I don't know how easy it is, you know what I mean? Like, is it is it really slick? Like, it was terrifying. I will tell you, like even like everyone in the car just like was quiet. So I could like, just very much focus on my drive.   [00:44:04.100] - Tamara Gruber And I was like gripping that wheel and going like twenty five miles an hour and just trying to be so careful because, you know, like it's a mountain pass in Colorado, like.   [00:44:14.180] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. And all I could think was if I pull over, are we going to end up one of those people that like died on the side of the road because they froze overnight. And, you know, like, what if it gets worse, you know, versus better?   [00:44:25.220] - Tamara Gruber And so I just, like, pushed through. And when we finally started coming back down, at least it stopped snowing. But then I was like, still so tense, like the rest of the drive. It was like a two hour drive to get like south to Interstate 70 because, you know, it's just dark and small mountain road. And then we had to look out for deer. There's all these signs for Deer Crossing. And they even I saw a couple bridges.   [00:44:48.500] - Tamara Gruber So I think it's where they've made those like wildlife. Yeah. Crossing thing. Crossing things. Yeah. Yeah. So and and the people at the hospital had warned Glen, like, if you're driving that way, like watch out for deer. So, you know, we finally made it to our hotel and it was good that we were plant we had booked ahead because when we got there the hotel parking lot was jammed. And so I dropped Glenn and he ran off up front, you know, because he has crutches and they went in to check in and like I.   [00:45:12.700] - Tamara Gruber To go park so far away and as I got out of the car, I realized a lot of people were actually sleeping in the car and their cars were running. And I'm like, what's going on? And then I realized that, like, they had closed Interstate 70 because of snow. And people were just, like, waiting it out there, I think.   [00:45:30.520] - Tamara Gruber So I'm like, oh, I'm really glad that I had booked the hotel room and I'm glad that we didn't plan to go any further. But I was so exhausted. We got there and I was like, I just need a minute. Like, I just I need to decompress. Like it was I was at the point that stressful. Yeah, I felt like breaking down in tears. I was just like, I need to like, let out all the stress, like I was so like I just really needed to breathe for a little bit.   [00:46:01.570] - Tamara Gruber I really, really enjoyed the ranch part and then from there we just, you know, we headed home and we, we stayed. I will give a lot of credit to Marriott because we booked a lot of our hotels with points and we ended up on the way back, like having to adjust.   [00:46:16.720] - Tamara Gruber Like, I just like to have our hotels booked on a road trip because I don't know, like I'm just worried. Like, what about the thing like with, you know, Interstate 70 and like the hotel gets sold out or, you know, something like that. So we're planning on stopping in. You will know. Is it Seleena or Salina? Salina, yeah.   [00:46:34.180] - Tamara Gruber So we were planning on stopping there, but because we had started from, you know, like an earlier like because we had already gone south and we were starting it was going to be not as long a drive. We're like, let's just push on and go a little further. And so we decided to push on. I don't even remember where we stopped, but it was like closer to Kansas City. I think it was still in Kansas, like, I seriously can't even remember. But we called, you know, on at least it brought us like another hour or two, you know, like, yeah, further east.   [00:47:03.310] - Tamara Gruber And so Glen called and he had you know, he's so big into his like, I got the email the day before, you know, because I'm like, whatever status does in already. So, yeah, we want to change it. But he's already checked in like .   [00:47:15.700] - Tamara Gruber And so I was like, well you need to call because like if y'all like maybe they'll say something, you know, they'll let you. So they were like, OK, we're canceling it. But, you know, you booked this with a certificate, so you're going to have to call like Marriott to get it, like reinstated. So then luckily I'm driving because Glenns. But, you know, so he's calling. He gets them to, like, give him back his points and then immediately, like, we rebooked somewhere else, like with the points.   [00:47:41.770] - Tamara Gruber So it was all like very seamless. Yeah, it was great.   [00:47:44.680] - Tamara Gruber So we did that and then. Oh I think it was Topeka. Oh I think that's where we stopped.There was a very good coffee shop across the street. That's all I know. Which I don't, you know, I don't even drink coffee but it was really cool.   [00:48:07.150] - Kim Tate I saw people become coffee drinkers just because like when the craze of the coffee shop aspect and then, like, working at home, I think people it's kind of funny to think that way, but I'm convinced.   [00:48:18.700] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it was. And then. Yeah. So the next day we just had to drive to St. Louis and so we got there and you know, you and I had talked about on a previous episode like that, we were going to go to the arch and so I had bought tickets in advance. And it's another thing, just like the Rock Hall of Fame, where it was such a better experience because there were hardly any people, you know.   [00:48:38.800] - Tamara Gruber So I bought the tickets in advance, which is good. When we showed up, there was a big sign that was like we're sold out for the day, but we had something at the end of the day anyway. So we got there. We didn't have time to do the museum downstairs first because we were a little like five minutes late for our tram, you know, up to the top. You did that, which definitely it is.   [00:48:58.540] - Tamara Gruber If you've not done it is not good for claustrophobic people. So it's like these little pods. I don't know if you remember from when you went, but it's like this little round pod that, like, you get in. But they've done it.   [00:49:09.310] - Tamara Gruber It's kind of like a Disney ride now. So like you get a boarding pass and you stand on like Circle five and then you're going to be in pod five. And somehow in normal times, they could fit like five or six people in these pods. And I have no idea, like a gondola pod.   [00:49:28.810] - Tamara Gruber But then you're going up. I mean, it's kind of fascinating technology because first we're like, how do they do this? Like how do you go up on an angle.   [00:49:36.010] - Tamara Gruber So you have to like read about how they do it. But it's like because it's like a you know, like a round pod, they can like, rotate it like you don't feel it. But anyway, it's it's interesting, but it does have like a glass door. So then you can like, look down. So that's also not so great for some people. Even Hannah was like, I don't really like this, but it's like I think three minutes up or like maybe four minutes up, three minutes down or something like that.   [00:49:59.710] - Tamara Gruber But then when you get to the top, you have an assigned viewing window. So like we were window five and one on both sides.   [00:50:07.150] - Tamara Gruber So no one, you know, like you're not fighting with anyone for like a photo. No one's leaning into your. Like, you have your own little window again, and I didn't love it because you had to, she's getting like a little bit nervous with some heights you had to, like, lean just like you said, like you have to lean to look out the window.   [00:50:24.540] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, but and also it had been raining and so it was pretty foggy, but it was still is a pretty view. I'm glad we did it. We went downstairs. There was a really cool museum, which, you know, a lot of things.   [00:50:35.130] - Tamara Gruber She's like, oh, that's in our AP history class. And, you know, like all the, you know, things that she had learned recently. So it's a nice museum. Then they were closing. So we left and we had to leave the building. But it's pouring torrential rain when we walk out and we have to walk like ten minutes back to the hotel. And so we were like, well, like we just have to walk. Like, I hadn't brought an umbrella and I had a coat that's at least like water-Resistant, but hers was not really. And luckily it wasn't freezing, freezing cold, but it was so torrential, like we were laughing, like we were just so completely soaked, like to our skin that we were just laughing. And we got there.We walked in and Glen was like, oh, my God. Like, look at you guys. And like, the front of our pants were like a completely different color than, like the back of our pants.   [00:51:28.710] - Tamara Gruber Are you sure that I could feel the water like running down my leg inside my pants, like into my shoe. It was so bad but it was like funny. So we immediately were like, OK, we're like stripping out of this. I think we yeah.   [00:51:41.160] - Tamara Gruber We did like a room service, like drop off thing for dinner and we got into like the robes and stuff. Oh. And this was the place it's called Hotel St. Louis. It's an autograph collection of Marriott. And it is it was great. Like it was a beautiful, historic kind of property. And are we again got a suite like Glen did the upgrade thing with his points. And it was a huge, beautiful suite. And it had this big bathroom with like this nice shower stall and a tub. But it had something I've never seen before. And it had a heated toilet seat with like a built in bidet. But like when I pulled off those wet pants and I sat on that toilet seat and it kind of like, OK, I

    186 Best Florida Hotels Resorts

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 30, 2021 45:50


    Dreaming of sunny skies and palm trees? Us too. Before you plan your next vacation to the Sunshine State, be sure to listen to this week's episode with Joella Doobrow from RovingJo. We break down the best Florida hotels and resorts up and down both coasts (and a few in the middle) for families, girls' trips, and romantic getaways. About Joella Doobrow Joella was born in Venezuela and currently lives in Florida. She moved to the USA alone when she was 18 and is now married with two teenage girls. Together they enjoy outdoor adventures mixed in with a few great city escapes. Travel has been a part of her life since she was a few months old and it has undoubtedly shaped it.  Joella now shares her travel experiences through RovingJo.com to help inspire others to find their own adventures and create memories that will shape their lives in a positive way.   She believes that no matter how busy life gets, there is always time to travel and discover something new. Even if that something new is just a few miles away from home. You can follow Joella on Instagram. Best Florida Hotels and Resorts If you are looking for a bucket list resort in Florida and budget isn't an issue, look at Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys. Hawk's Cay in the Florida Keys is an excellent choice for families, with villas with kitchens, lots of activities, and even dolphin encounters. While in the Keys you could potentially take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. Margaritaville in Hollywood, Florida is also great for families. They have a Florider surfing simulator, a rooftop pool, and a Parakeets kids club. Just outside the hotel you can walk or bike along the boardwalk or go to the beach. The Margaritaville Orlando is also a great pick for families. In Palm Beach, The Breakers is old world luxury but has a kids and teens club and activities. They also offer activities like golf, kayaking, snorkeling, and complimentary bicycles. The Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne and Amelia Island both offer great properties and kids programs. On the Gulf Coast of Florida, the beaches are softer with white, sugary sand and the water is calmer with a beautiful blue-green color. Marco Island and Naples are favorite family travel destinations on the Gulf Coast. The JW Marriott in Marco Island is perfect for families. They have a beautiful beach, golf nearby, multiple restaurants, kids clubs, and even an arcade/brewery. You can also take Dolphin watching tours and other watersports, or tours out to the Ten Thousand Islands. Twin Rivers Island Resort in Captiva allows locals and visitors to pay a day rate to use the resort. Captiva is a great spot for shelling and watching manatees. In Naples, the Naples Grande or Ritz Carlton are good options for families. The Inn on Fifth in Naples is great for a girlfriend getaway or romantic getaway as it is right in the heart of town. Tradewinds in the St. Pete/ Clearwater area is great for families. They have a large ocean waterpark, five pools, plenty of restaurants and bars, as well as a kids club. It isn't luxury but is great for pure family fun. We also like the Wyndham or Hyatt in Clearwater. Anna Maria Island is a great destination to rent a vacation home, but you could also try the boutique Rod and Reel Resort. They offers suites for families and they offer paddleboards, bikes, and other amenities. In the Panhandle, Port St. Joe, Rosemary Beach, and Seaside are all great communities, but they are better for vacation rental homes. Watercolor is one beautiful resort in that area. For Disney hotels, Animal Kingdom Lodge is a favorite for families because of the pools, playground, food, and, of course, the animals. The new Riviera is also very nice and it is on the Skyliner for easy transportation to the parks. The Swan or The Dolphin are also convenient if you are going to one of the festivals at Epcot, plus you can sometimes use Marriott points. If you want to stay outside of Disney, the Four Seasons Orlando can't be beat. For a girl's trip, head to Palm Beach and stay at either the Eau Palm Beach or The Colony. If you like a spa setting and want to be closer to the Miami action, the Acqualina Resort and Spa is perfect for a girls trip. For a romantic getaway, try the Bungalows Key Largo. It is an adults-only all-inclusive property. Cheeca Lodge is another option but they are remodeling right now. Amelia Island is another great spot for a romantic getaway, but you may want to rent a condo or stay at a bed and breakfast. When looking for deals, you can find good options in the summer when it is hot or during hurricane season in the fall. Read the Full Show Transcript [00:00:00.090] - Kim Tate Craving some sunshine and palm trees today, we're talking about Florida hotels. [00:00:17.120] - Announcer Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We3Travel. [00:00:32.120] - Kim Tate So, Tamara, before we get chatting with our guest all about Florida hotels, I thought since we've been talking a lot about vacation planning and we talked recently about finding hotel deals, I thought maybe you and I could chime in a little bit on some of the tricks or things that we do when we're booking hotels, because you and I both just booked a whole bunch of hotels for our road trips. So did you want to start us off and share maybe a tip that you utilized or thought about with your booking? [00:00:59.480] - Tamara Gruber Sure, yeah. I think both of us with our road trips recently, we had to choose some destinations based on where we're going. But then some of our in-between destinations were maybe based on where we might have a hotel that we had a connection with, whether it's a loyalty program or,  something through the credit card. So I feel like understanding where you are from a point perspective or if there are any certain deals like with your credit card or any certain like rewards points. [00:01:31.550] - Tamara Gruber You know, one of those like  get the extra night free or, you know, double points or something like that. A lot of times I tend to ignore those. It's not very good as a a travel blogger, but sometimes I ignore them because I'm very focused on the destination. I like what I want to experience and not necessarily like chasing a particular hotel but I did for this trip try to look at that a little bit more. Some of it was like we also wanted to be like right in the heart of the town where campus was. [00:02:01.820] - Tamara Gruber So that's why in a couple of places I chose a Graduate hotel, because I'm like, OK, I know that this is going to give me like a very close to campus experience, but also a very local, authentic kind of experience because the Graduate hotels are awesome, bringing in local artists and local like culture and themes and things that you almost question. I know when we were in Madison, Wisconsin, and they have like Pink Flamingos and like, what's the deal with Pink Flamingos in Madison, Wisconsin, you know, and you you learn about it. And so I like that element. So we did that. But then we were more in between, you know, we're traveling, we just need a place to stop. I'm like, OK, let's look at you know, we're pretty loyal Marriott members like, what are the Marriott properties? [00:02:42.020] - Tamara Gruber You know, which ones are rated, you know, this where how far off the highway are they? But there are a couple of things that we saw because we were trying to book with points and we were also, you know, with the three of us being on the road, being in the car together so much, it's like, you know, a lot of togetherness. They thought we might want to spread out like a little bit when we get to the hotel and just, like, chill out and maybe have more than just like your typical to queen kind of room. [00:03:06.320] - Tamara Gruber So I was looking at different properties that have an extended room or have a one bedroom suite. So I'd find these Courtyard Marriotts that have a one bedroom king suite. So it's a king bed and then a separate room with a pullout couch. That gives us like lots of space. So I went and created a document with all the links to it and sent it to Glenn because he's the one with all the points and I'm like, can you book these? And he comes back to me and he's like, none of these are showing up. [00:03:36.710] - Tamara Gruber So what I learned is that a lot of times those premium rooms are not available for points, so then you have to make a choice do you really want that space? And the other thing is he is a titanium member so we could get there and get the upgrade potentially. So sometimes I'm like let's book the regular and see if we can get an upgrade. And other times, I'm like, we're going to be very tired. We're there for two nights, let's pay and make sure we get what we want. [00:04:09.380] - Tamara Gruber But when we were paying for it, I saw  American Express  Platinum card had a certain offer for Marriott where if you spent two hundred, you got a certain amount back. So then I was like, OK, well, let's use this deal. I made sure, like on my itinerary to write like use use Amex card. [00:04:31.040] - Tamara Gruber It wasn't just like an automatic thing. So sometimes like when you get those emails from your credit card, it does make sense if you have a trip coming up to really read through them and understand, because even though sometimes even deals like, I don't know, for restaurant chains or something like that. So I'm like, OK, let's like make a note of that so that I remember to use this credit card. [00:04:54.930] - Tamara Gruber So those are some of the things that we are doing. We also always get into the discussion of is it worth it to pay or not? You know, because as I mentioned, like on one of our episodes, you know, some of the inner city hotels are a little bit cheaper right now versus, you know, more of a leisure property. So we found a lot of good deals. And it's like, well, if it's only like one hundred and twenty five dollars, should we just pay for it, but then we decided towards the end of our trip, we wanted to, like, treat ourselves a little bit. So we decided to use the points. [00:05:24.970] - Tamara Gruber And actually, instead of staying at, like the Courtyard, we're staying at like an Autograph collection hotel, you know, something that's in the city has a little character, sometimes they're historic properties but it just has a little bit more character. [00:05:38.980] - Tamara Gruber I mean, I love a Courtyard and a Hilton garden inn because, like, I know exactly what to expect when we are stopping in Nebraska. I'm like, we're stopping in a Courtyard. I know that they have a washing machine. I know I can do my laundry. Like there's there's a comfort to that. They don't charge for parking. The Courtyards don't do breakfast, but if you stay at a Residence Inn and they do, you know, so you can always kind of figure out like what is going to be your state of mind? [00:06:05.530] - Tamara Gruber Are you in the middle of nowhere? And you really just want, like, a quick breakfast before you hit the road? Or are you staying in a city where you might want to go out to brunch or pick or see like a local place, you know, and therefore you don't need breakfast at the hotel. [00:06:16.780] - Tamara Gruber So I don't know. Those are some of the things that we think about and we thought about and planning our recent road trip. But I know you were a little bit more strategic in the way that you were using, like your points and your certificates and things. So why don't you talk a little bit about kind of what the process you went through? [00:06:32.380] - Kim Tate Well, I think you brought up something really good. I need to go check my Chase offers, because if you guys log into a credit card that you use, the offers will be like on your dashboard. And, you know, like Tamara said, she scored that Marriott one. And so it's always a good idea before you start doing a big trip like this to look and see what, you know, little bonuses you might have. And so I need to go check my Chase ones and see if I had anything from there. [00:06:59.170] - Kim Tate And then I also think that it's good to mention the breakfast thing, because that was something that really has me at a quandary right now, because I'm curious which hotels actually will have breakfast still and what that will look like because. [00:07:13.180] - Kim Tate So I'm not a yogurt eater. So I'm really worried that I'm going to be getting bags of like an orange or an apple and a yogurt every morning on right now when I have the free breakfast ones, because on the West Coast, you know, everything's still pretty, pretty locked down a little bit. So we'll see what happens. I have no idea what to think about the breakfast, but on a road trip, that's definitely something I look for is the free breakfast. [00:07:34.900] - Kim Tate Because for us, you would get this, but I have some late sleepers and it's hard to get up and get going in the morning. And if I have to make a stop for breakfast, then we are totally already going to be hours longer for us. So that's something that I keep in mind for sure. But I think one of the things that I do when I'm doing a big trip is I, I definitely plan. [00:07:57.880] - Kim Tate Like I said already last week that I look at how far I need to drive each week and or each day. And so I look at like, what are the main cities in those destinations? And I think what Tamara already touched on that a lot of us know is if you're doing a road trip, you're going to be doing a lot of these smaller towns. And so you're going to be drawn to a lot of those chains like Holiday Inn Express. [00:08:17.140] - Kim Tate You know, I for like Tamara said, Courtyard's I had a lot of Fairfield inns on mine. So you're going to be kind of looking at that. And I think the important thing is just to log in and check out what those hotels have going for promotions. For example, I saw that Holiday Inn Express, which is IHG, had a stay two nights, get double points promotion and you have to register in advance for it. So I registered in advance for that. [00:08:41.590] - Kim Tate And two of our nights on our road trip, are Holiday Inn Express's. So that'll work out and give us a little bonus on points. It's not that much of a money savings, but it's always nice to give. It's kind of like getting the free money that's sitting there. It's not a big deal if you don't get it, but it is a nice little perk. So that's something I think is important. You know, recently I was booking a Marriott property and I actually found that they were doing a certain promotion and I canceled my previous booking and rebooked it. [00:09:09.580] - Kim Tate And that's the other thing. Talking about cancellation of a lot of hotels offer you a much cheaper rate if you're willing to pay in advance. So you commit and say, I'm ready to do this, but for my planning and just with where the world is right now, I went ahead and paid the extra to get the free cancelation. Or you can cancel at least anywhere from one to three days normally before your trip. However, a little tip I'll mention is that there's nothing that says you can't log back in, recheck those rooms and cancel rebook at the lower the prepaid rate and then cancel the advance purchase rate. [00:09:44.380] - Kim Tate But that takes a lot of thinking in advance. But just a little heads up,  you can set a little timer once you know that you're going and there's not any real risk if you have like a day before cancelation, there's nothing that stops you two days before from rebooking at the prepaid rate. [00:10:00.100] - Kim Tate So that's just some of the little hacks and stuff I have. I'm a triple-A, member. I actually need to reminds me I need to add, Lizzie, because I just always felt more. I don't think I've used it once, but I like having it and it just makes me feel comfortable. [00:10:19.980] - Tamara Gruber I used to work at AAA so I'm a AAA fan. [00:10:19.980] - Kim Tate I remember you telling me about making all those triptiks. So I think AAA is another thing to have in mind, that for a road trip it it serves two purposes is it can, you know, offer you the peace of mind if you do lock your keys or need a tow or have car trouble or need a change of tire or whatever your case may be, you have them on, you know, at the ready. And then also because a lot of hotels offer triple-A discounts. And that's a great little way to save, you know, save some money. I saved about I, I think I save, you know, around 10 to 20 percent on a room with it. [00:10:56.880] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, it's funny you mention that because, like, I do that and I don't even think about I don't even think about mentioning it. But yeah, I mean, so many of them, when you're going and you're looking at the price they have like little checkboxes, like if you want to see the AAA. Specifically like ask to see the rate. [00:11:12.450] - Kim Tate And then I know with Marriott you actually have to input your triple-A number when you're making the booking. So it can be a great, I mean  based on this trip alone, it paid for itself. [00:11:27.930] - Tamara Gruber By the way, with us I actually went and I upgraded our membership to plus before because our like my car is getting like a little bit older. And so the roadside assistance isn't the built in like that when you buy it. Sometimes it includes assistance for a certain amount of time. So I don't have that anymore. And your typical triple-A is only like a three or five mile tow. And I'm like, we're going to be in the middle of nowhere. And so I want to make sure that I can. So actually, it's funny that you mention that because I didn't even think of it, but we actually upgraded our membership just so we can do that road trip. [00:12:02.340] - Kim Tate And the cool thing about triple A also for you parents who have teen drivers is it works for any car the person is in. So it's a membership for the person. So if your teen is with friends and there's something happens, they can always call AAA and get help even if their friend doesn't have AAA. Same with you. If you're renting a car or, you know, whatever the case may be, your AAA covers you. So it's really getting membership is free. [00:12:34.320] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I recently just got a thing asking me like free two months of the plus or whatever if I signed up for that. So I need to log in and do that because I thought of doing that just for a road trip. [00:12:46.230] - Kim Tate So anyways, that's some of the little tips I have. But yeah, I think hopefully we haven't overwhelmed people, but that's the way our brains work, right. We're always I mean, I'm just always looking for deals because if I can save a little money here and there, it means you can splurge and do a little more in other places. But I think the chains are the big thing to recognize on a road trip. [00:13:04.560] - Kim Tate You're going to be doing a lot of chains. And if you can have loyalty or look for those bonuses, it might pay off a little bit. I know a lot of hotels used to do, you know, stay two nights, get one night free you type certificates. And with my Marriott credit card, I get a free certificate every year. But figuring out how to use those is the tricky thing. And then also considering parking costs, like Tamara said, I considered an Autograph hotel as well. [00:13:28.560] - Kim Tate And one of our stops that was in a bigger city that had that. However, they charged a 35 dollar parking fee. And I thought that doesn't make any sense for us. We'll just stay at the Fairfield Inn and get our nice supposedly free breakfast. The differences between, you know, like just staying on the outskirts at a more of a chain property versus, you know, being in the city at a flagship property, you know, the extra expense can be insane between parking. [00:13:53.550] - Tamara Gruber Then you charge for breakfast and you think about like some of those chains, like I just love, like Residence Inn or, you know, one of the like Springhill Suites is that have also they have like the little happy hour. [00:14:05.820] - Tamara Gruber And then they have sometimes I know Residence Inn like sometimes on like a Tuesday night they have like the manager's reception or something and they'll like grill hot dogs, you know, like something like that. But there's, there's a lot of like little perks to some of the places that maybe don't have you know, they're not the downtown location. [00:14:22.440] - Tamara Gruber They're not the more stylish, perhaps. But I also I like the consistency of a lot of those brands, though, in terms of knowing what you're getting. [00:14:30.990] - Kim Tate Well, and I like the fact that if I'm on a long road trip, it's, a money saving because they're normally pretty affordable. And I just need a place to sleep for the night that I know it's going to be clean and I like the chains because I know that there's a cleanliness standard for the brand. And so you feel a little more confident there, even though they can't be franchised. [00:14:50.850] - Kim Tate So we are going to talk today all about Florida hotels, and I'm excited to hear about that because I'm definitely dreaming of sunshine and palm trees. [00:14:59.970] - Tamara Gruber Yeah, Florida is such a popular destination, so we wanted to cover kind of a variety, you know, from like what's good for family, what's good for girlfriend getaway, romantic, you know, different areas. So lots of, I think a little gems that we're going to talk about today. So I'm excited to talk to Joella. [00:15:24.700] - Tamara Gruber Today, we're here with Joella Doobrow, and she was born in Venezuela and now lives in Florida with her husband and two teen girls, travel has been a part of her life since she was very young. And today she shares her experience through her blog at Roving Jo to help inspire others to find their own adventures and create memories to shape their lives in a positive way. So welcome, Joella. [00:15:45.680] - Joella Doobrow Thanks. I'm really excited to be here with you guys. [00:15:48.350] - Tamara Gruber Now, I've been following you on Instagram for so long now, and I am always jealous of all of the day trips and, you know, weekends and overnights and things that you've been doing, especially as I'm kind of trapped in the cold up here. So I'm eager to get your opinion on some of the your favorite hotels and resorts in Florida. But before we get into some of the details, I'm going to ask you a really hard question. And that is, if you could stay at any resort in Florida with any budget, where would you go? [00:16:17.000] - Joella Doobrow Actually, I think it's this resort, it's called a little Palm Island resort. Tt's a very exclusive. It's on a private island and it's voted like the number seven resort in the USA by, you know, Conde Nast Traveler. And it's really the epitome of luxury and escape. I mean, you need to get there by boat or sea plane. And I just love the idea of no phones, no TVs, no guests under 18 and, you know, really good dining and just secluded and, you know, getting away from the world and having lots of luxury. [00:16:51.770] - Tamara Gruber It sounded perfect to me. Kim and I were actually just talking about this on our last episode briefly, because I was, kind of scrounging around for different ideas for the summer. And I came across it and I was so excited until I saw the price. So, yes, when I win the lottery, that's where I'm going to go to. [00:17:11.600] - Kim Tate So we are going to be talking all about Florida, which I'm sure most people understand is a, you know, fairly good sized state. So let's start on the East Coast. And, you know, there we're looking at Amelia Island, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Keys, of course. So what are some of your favorite East Coast beaches and resorts for families that you recommend for, you know, a good, good getaway? [00:17:34.340] - Joella Doobrow Yeah, there's actually several. And like I said, I mean, the East Coast is fairly large. So, you know, starting all the way on the south towards the keys for the family, we really enjoyed Hawk's Cay. So it's not all the way down in Key West, but they have a lot of really, really fun amenities that are for families. They'll do dolphin encounters, you can do snorkeling, scuba packages, sunset cruises, paddleboards kayaks, fishing. They have tons of activities on site, game rooms, kids club, a wonderful playground. [00:18:10.370] - Joella Doobrow They have this little pirate ship type pool putting course. I mean, it's it's just there's everything there and it's getting into the keys. So there's tons of things to do outside the resort as well. It's really fabulous. [00:18:24.440] - Tamara Gruber Yeah. I stayed there with my family once quite a few years ago, and I think I've told Kim before, I still have a scar on my knee from that pirate pool. [00:18:33.740] - Kim Tate I actually was talking to them recently and