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A Trick to Make Traveling So Much Simpler

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Jay and I at the Colosseum.

I’m feeling refreshed and reinvigorated after returning from Italy and Switzerland last week with Jay and a few of our friends. Jay and I went to Rome on our own — taking a tour inside the Colosseum and the Roman Forum plus having our favorite pizza in the world at Baffetto.

We also ate our way through through the Testaccio neighborhood. If you go to Rome definitely take a food tour with Eating Italy Tours — it was a highlight. And I’ve recently had to follow a gluten free diet as a complication of my appendix rupture and they were so sweet and accommodating about it! Don’t worry if you go somewhere like Tuscany instead of Rome, they still have Tuscany Tours that show off all the food that Italy has to offer. You won’t miss out on the amazing food of Italy!

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Eating my favorite pizza at Baffetto.

Then we were off for Geneva to meet up with our traveling friends Peter & Nicole and Nancy. We hopped in an SUV and drove an hour to Montreaux for the 50th annual Jazz Festival there.

The jazz festival was lots of fun with wonderful gourmet food, wine and lots of cool music. The town of Montreaux itself is really adorable with lots of shops and restaurants. Plus it’s right on a lake so the views are amazing. A note if you’re ever in Switzerland – it’s super expensive. Think 35 dollar cheeseburgers and 15 glasses of wine (and the pours are miniscule.)

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In the adorable town of Montreaux, Switzerland.

Off to Lake Como from there with a 4 hour drive through the Swiss Alps. Such a cool experience to drive through nearly untouched mountainsides. We saw snow capped mountains and lots of animals on our twisty travel. Those roads are all over the place and obviously very high up. It was a bit unnerving at times but we made it through with good music and snacks!

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The beautiful Lake Como!

We stayed in a small town called Varenna and absolutely loved it. It was so charming and picturesque. We were in love. We stayed at a villa called Casa Stacy and I highly recommend it. Not only did Stacy make sure we had everything we needed but she also hooked us up with some fun excursions. We went on a boat tour of the entire lake and had a private wine tasting that was amazing.

On a boat with our friends Peter and Nicole

On a boat with our friends Peter and Nicole.

Then it was off to finish the trip in Milan where we got a full tour of the city and got to see The Last Supper thanks to Milan Day Tours. It’s so interesting to see ancient art up close. When I saw the Mona Lisa I was a bit underwhelmed because it’s so tiny. Not like you’d expect. But this piece by Leonardo di vinci is huge. It takes up an entire wall and I thought it was in very good shape. We learned all about the restoration and history. I’m glad we did that tour.

My vacation was full of amazing food.

My vacation was full of amazing food.

Trick to Make Air Travel More Bearable

Our travels throughout Italy and Switzerland went off without a hitch. Air travel is usually the biggest headache for me when I’m on vacation. But here’s the trick I promised — get Global Entry. It’s amazing how much time you save.

Global Entry gives you several benefits for 5 years and a $100 price tag. First you are eligible for TSA Precheck within the United States. That means you get to basically skip the line at security, keep your laptop in it’s bad and forego taking off your shoes and sweaters.

Then when you travel internationally there’s another perk – you get VIP treatment when you return home and go through customs.

We just had to scan our passports and fingerprints. We got a printed pass and brought it to the customs officer. It took us about 7 minutes to do this. So from the time we landed to the time we were in a taxi at JFK heading home — just 37 minutes went by. That is a far cry from the usual experience we have when coming home internationally.

Other than the cost — the other catch is that you have to go for an in person interview to get access to Global Entry. It’s a pain to carve out the time in your calendar – I totally get that. But I have to tell you – not having to wait in line and prolong an already long trip was key for me. I’ve been trying to mitigate stress in my life and this is definitely one way to do it while traveling.
If you go for Global Entry let me know how your experience is. I’m giving mine two thumbs up!

Free Up Time Now For a Fabulous Summer

summer-still-life-783347_640The days are starting to get longer, the weather’s a bit warmer – summer is on it’s way! I always love summer not just because of of the vacations, slower pace and sunshine — but I’m a summer baby. My birthday is in the summer so it’s always a fun time.

Are you ready for the summer? If you want to make sure you have the best summer possible you need to start planning now! I know it sounds ridiculous but I’m a firm believer in planning for vacations, events and fun in advance. It’s why I start my Christmas shopping in August!

Here’s how to guarantee that you have a fantastic Summer 2016! Read more

A Personal Travel Guide Makes Your Trip Less Stressful

1dOsJawbWhen this post goes live, I’ll be in Puerto Rico catching some desperately needed sun and relaxation (and cocktails) before the holiday season.  It’s all part of my plan to recharge and renew.  My husband Jay and I have done a lot of travelling this year with trips to Mexico, San Francisco (we got a tour of Google!) and even Orlando. I’ve really enjoyed our vacations and I’m definitely planning to take more trips next year — hopefully overseas!

I take travel pretty seriously and always prepare well in advance.  And when I say prepare — I mean stalk TripAdvisor, blogs, Rick Steves guides and travel sites for weeks on end.  OH and I ask everyone who has ever been to that destination what they recommend.  

Now there’s another resource in my arsenal.  It’s called the Trip Scout app. They provide self-guided city tours. With local tour guides who explain about the local history, culture, and food as you go along.  My friend Konrad who blogs at World Venture Project created it.   Read more

News Anchor Tamsen Fadal Lives by Lists

Tamsen-1002Like me Tamsen Fadal works in the news business, so she knows the importance of a good list. She currently co-anchors the PIX11 News at 5, 6 and 10 in New York City. I used to work at PIX11 too, as a copyeditor/producer for the News at 10.

It’s always good to catch up with people there.  So I was excited to hear that Tamsen just released a new book called, “The New Single.”  And guess what she talks about in it?

Her love of list making!  So I asked her a few more questions about how she does it all.

Why do you call yourself a compulsive list producer?

There is no question about it. In fact, this interview was part of my Monday To Do List to make sure that I got it done. I love having a plan in place. It keeps me organized, efficient and it allows me to focus on the task at hand versus trying to do 10 different things and not accomplish any of them.

What do you make lists about?

I make lists about anything and everything.

  • Tasks I need to do.
  • Websites and apps I want to check out.
  • Foods I want to incorporate in my diet.
  • My workouts.
  • Long term goals and short term goals.
  • Pros and cons of a topic.

Read more

Checklist for Moving Around The World

SignpostToday’s blog post is brought to you all the way from Riviera Maya, Mexico. My husband and I decided to take some of my own advice and take a break to recharge and relax. What better way to treat yourself than with a beach holiday!

Before I left my friend asked me for a checklist because she’s thinking of moving to Australia or New Zealand. I don’t have much experience with moving halfway around the world. But I do know a lot of people who consider emigrating! The only thing is, it can be difficult to know where to start. So I reached out to my fabulous editorial assistant Nicole, who is from the UK. She has made some cross-continental moves and has lived South East Asia and travelled around South America, Europe and Africa. Plus I also asked my Aussie friend Niki if she had any thoughts. The help they gave me was so good I thought I had to share it with all of you just incase. Read more