Honeymoon, Hot Springs and Hikes in Costa Rica

Honeymoon, Hot Springs and Hikes in Costa Rica

While honeymooning in Costa Rica, Matt and Jessica stayed at the beautiful Secrets Papagayo.  They drove through the countryside and enjoyed the stunning views. As an added adventure, they hiked through the rainforest which ended with a romantic swim underneath the waterfalls. The butterfly gardens were exceptional … a must see. Matt and Jessica also swam  in the natural hot springs which was absolutely amazing, an unforgettable experience!

Day trips from Auckland New Zealand when stopping over

In August 2015 I had a 2 day stopover in Auckland and I found many opportunities for day trips and excursions from the city of Auckland. If you find yourself with the chance to stop over, I highly recommend it. Even better plan an entire trip just to visit New Zealand.

Hobbiton

Experience the Lord of the Rings movie set to take in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Middle Earth. Hobbiton is a must see for travelers to New Zealand where they are given an opportunity to see the living movie set and immerse themselves in the wonders of the Trilogies.

Wonder the paths of the Shire, escape into a Hobbit hole and attempt to recreate your favorite scenes. The land Sir Peter Jackson loves so much comes to life as your guide shares details of moving making and famous movie sites.

They even have a banquet room on site and opportunities for dining after your tour.

I had never even seen the movies before experiencing Hobbiton but I still found the tour the be very interesting and a great introduction to the countryside of New Zealand. This is only a 2 hour drive from Auckland.

My time as a Hobbit

My time as a Hobbit.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are another must see when visiting New Zealand. The glowworms radiate luminescent light that illuminate the caves with historical and geographical interests.

Enjoy the tour by boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history. While on the boat ride you cannot have any light and must stay extremely quiet or you will scare the light out of them. You are guided through the caves by a pulling system lead by a professional glowworm dude.

I wish I had more opportunity to explore here but it was pouring rain and the caves had flooded. It is very rare that this happens so I will plan it to go back because what I did see was worth every minute. This is only 2.5 hours from Auckland.

America’s Cup Sailing Adventure 

Enjoy the thrill of sailing on the America’s Cup sailing ships. With no sailing experience necessary, you can still be involved in all things sailing. It takes more than you think to get these ships race ready. As the wind hits the sails, the professional crew shares their experience with you while letting you feel the exhilaration and power of a sailing regatta.

Not only did I enjoy the race I also enjoyed seeing the contrast of natural landscapes and city skyscrapers that line the harbour from the best view in town. I was given the opportunity to steer, use the grinders to raise and trim the sails and try not to fall off the ship. Located in Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.

I specialize in travel to Australia and New Zealand. Use my insider knowledge and experience to help you plan your bucket list vacation.

Disney Dancing Queens

Disney Dancing Queens

The ASU Dancing Devils is a sports club at Arizona State University. Their club was started 15 years ago and they haven’t traveled outside of the valley (Phoenix/Tempe area). This was a huge step for their club to not only travel, but to travel across the United States to Florida.

“Tammy was a huge part in the success of this trip! We definitely couldn’t have done it without her. She worked with us on finding the best deals for both flights and hotels. Tammy made my life a lot easier by staying very organized, and being able to answer any questions I had!! We appreciate everything that she has done for our team in order for to travel to Disney World!!”

– Megan Bonesteel, President of the ASU Dancing Devils


Choosing the Right Destination

When you are planning a destination wedding choosing the right destination is the biggest decision in the whole planning process along with the budget. These two go hand-in-hand but cost should go to the top of the list. Figure out what you can realistically afford and don’t forget to factor in gratuities, dress alternations and the bridal emergency fix-it-kit.

  1. Take out a piece of paper and write down the top three requirements for your wedding experience. Have your partner do this as well and compare your lists. Do you want beach? Or would you prefer a grand ballroom? Is a formal dinner a priority or do you want to experience the local cuisine?
  2. Next outline your ideal destination. When you picture your wedding do you picture barefoot on the beach, an underwater ceremony or in a jungle locale? Much like couples, countries, islands, states and resorts have distinct personalities. Take into account travel time and accessibility for you as well as your guests. Also make sure you know the legal requirements for getting married in another country. Some may mandate waiting periods and on-site medical tests so these should be factored in to your budget.
  3. Choose a resort that speaks to your wedding vision as a couple. Send out e-mails to the wedding coordinators and ask basic questions. Find out if your date and wedding location are available. What is the cost of the wedding? Does the resort offer a free wedding package? What is the weather plan if your beach wedding gets rained out? Some resorts even offer a site inspection trip where you and your partner can visit the resort and see if it is the right fit.

Sandy toes and salty kisses, whatever destination you choose I can help you plan your perfect destination wedding.

Get Your Honeymoon Right

If there’s one trip you *must* get right, it’s your Honeymoon. For fifty percent or so of us, this is the only one we’ll ever get. For the rest of us, well that’s another story. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty darn important trip.

What comes to mind when you envision your perfect honeymoon? Adventuring in New Zealand? Relaxing at a luxurious, couples-only beach resort? Sampling culinary delights throughout Europe? Although we all may picture our once-in-a-lifetime journeys differently, we can all agree that if not planned carefully, things can look very different than that romantic getaway playing in your head. Think lost hotel reservations, hours spent in car, waiting around wondering what to do next, or being confined to your hotel because it’s storming. Every. Day.

Long ago, before I entered the fabulous industry of travel, I was married in October. When selecting a honeymoon destination, my then husband and I both agreed that we wanted something exotic in the Caribbean. The BVIs? St. Lucia? We were both very busy with wedding planning so we contacted a Travel Agent. She informed us right away that we were traveling in the peak of hurricane season and advised that we go instead to Aruba, which is out of the hurricane belt. Her expertise saved us from a humid, wet, rainy honeymoon. Her recommendation was spot-on and we had a great time.

I guess the moral of this story is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Your honeymoon is such a special trip and most of us want every detail considered and an overall seamless experience! Take the stress and guess-work out of planning and contact a Travel Agent. We’re here to make sure every base is covered – from planning through post-trip follow-up.

My kind of honeymoon includes adventure!

Romance in Tahiti

Tahiti is simply one of the most romantic destinations on earth, who wouldn’t want to get married here? It was only a few years ago that laws changed in Tahiti and now weddings on these beautiful islands are now legally binding for Americans and Canadians.

A Tahitian ceremony has a Polynesian influence, which makes for an unforgettable ceremony. You can even have a Tahitian Priest perform your ceremony. Exchange your vows in the sugary white sands with beautiful tropical petals surrounding you amongst the palm trees. If you’d rather wear heals instead of flip flops or bare feet you may consider the over water glass-bottomed chapel, located in front of Mount Otemanu. 

Best yet, if you want to go on your honeymoon immediately following your nuptials French Polynesia has multiple islands you can visit. You can easily escape your guests and experience the beauty and romance of Tahiti. If you’re looking for adventure there are great experiences such as feeding rays & sharks, snorkeling with tropical fish in crystal clear waters unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! There are plenty of hiking trails, jet skiing or 4WD adventures. If you’re looking for romance, adventure and culture … Tahiti has it all!

I would love to help you plan the dream wedding for you!

Xplor and Xcaret: Riviera Maya Adventures Xposed

In my last two trips to the Riviera Maya region, I had the amazing opportunity to experience both Xplor and Xcaret. These two parks are both owned by the same company, but are worlds apart. Let me explain to you why!

Xplor Fuego:

My first experience at Xplor Fuego was in November of 2016, with several other coworkers. Our time there was thrilling, and for some of us, scream-worthy.  Once you are strapped into a helmet after you check in, you are free to “Xplor” the park at your own speed. We ran up to the zip lining towers right away, and we were able to complete the zip line course during sunset, so the view was absolutely glorious. The zip lines are lengthy, the workers have fun pushing you off the ledge until you are air born, and there are even a couple of them that carry you through fire and waterfalls. Absolutely thrilling!

Every attraction here screams “Extreme Adventure”, and that is exactly what you get. From ATV rides through the jungle, to river rafting through beautiful caves, this park provides attractions that are definitely fit for the thrill seeking, active adventurer. Even walking to each attraction, you feel like you are on an expedition through the jungle!

Fun Travel Tip for Xplor: Invest in a water proof camera case that will hold your phone around your neck. This will allow you to capture many of your activities on video and in pictures, as many of the activities involve water. It was a great investment for me!

Experience Xcaret:

I had already visited Xplor twice before I made it to Xcaret, and I was completely blown away by how different they were. Xcaret prides itself by being located on a Maya Civilization Archeological site. This park goes above and beyond when they share about the Mayan Heritage and traditions. Throughout the day they have cultural dancing, shows, and opportunities to meet and greet the characters in their traditional dress. I felt like I was in a completely different world!

Xcaret also holds animal sanctuaries with many forms of wildlife – they have Panthers to Macaws, Manatees to sea turtles, you will not be disappointed by what you see. If you participate in the cave swimming, you will get to swim next to a tank full of Manatees – exciting, but slightly terrifying for me, as they are so much larger. But oh so gentle!

From 7:00pm-9:00pm, they hold their evening show in the arena close to the entrance of the park. This show has 19 parts, each one covering a important part of their heritage. It covers Mayan Traditions, such as Fire Hockey, Mayan Ball Games, and beautiful representations of the dress and talents of each region of Mexico. The performances were extraordinary, and I left with a new understanding of Mayan Culture, and had an even bigger appreciation for Mariachi.

If you find yourself in the Riviera Maya, make sure to make your way over to one or both of these parks. Each one offers a unique experience, but both will give you memories of a lifetime.

Back Home Again … in Mexico

I have been sending Steve & Joanne to Mexico since 2009 and their last 12 trips have taken them to Be Tulum, a small beachside resort in Tulum.  This has become their home away from home and they go back several times each year.  Be Tulum provides a low-key atmosphere where they are treated as returning family.  The attention to service and detail has earned Be Tulum a place in their hearts forever.

 

Experience Walking Tours

As an avid traveler, one of the best ways to explore a new destination is a walking tour. You can visit landmarks, chat with the locals, and hopefully unveil a hidden gem. I’ve had the pleasure of doing a couple walking tours myself, including Istanbul and London.

If you’d like to hear more about my experience with walking tours, please contact me. I’d be happy to share my experiences with you and would love to help you plan your own.


Upgrade to Business Class for your Mediterranean Cruise

Sure, you know you like cruising, and you know you want to go, but did you know with Silversea you can also include your airfare to Europe for special Mediterranean cruises for FREE? And now you can also upgrade to business class for only $499 each way! Think of the savings! Think of the luxury!

If you are planning a honeymoon, this would be a great way to see and do more!

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LaVonne’s Adventures in Africa

What an exceptional trip and destination.  I would highly recommend this destination for your travels and I will go back whenever I get the opportunity.  While in South Africa I visited the Nelson Mandela statute, homes and Liliesleaf Farm where Mandela and others planned the uprising.  These were very fascinating to visit.  We also went to Soweto, which stands for South West Township, where the black Africans were relocated to in Johannesburg.  I recommend spending two nights in Johannesburg allowing one day to visit all of the Mandela locations.  Then we were off to the Madikwe Private Game Reserve.  The nice thing about private reserves is you have dirt roads and if there is a big five sighting, you can go off road to view the animals.  The lodge was wonderful and our private suites each had a plunge pool on the deck with views of the savannah.  The highlight, besides seeing all the animals, was when our sommelier set up a wine tasting table with hors d’oeuvres out in the bush under the stars.  It was unbelievable.

Following this, we were on to Cape Town.  This is a beautiful city, very easy to get around and again, everyone is very friendly.  Some highlights here are Table Mountain, Robben Island and the water front area.  A few shopping areas are the Watershed and the African Women’s Craft Market.  We traveled down the peninsula and saw the African Penguins (the second smallest in the world) at Boulder’s Beach, stopped at the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.  Besides wildlife and scenery, there is a very large wine region with excellent wines and the Garden Route.

The last adventure was going to Victoria Falls and seeing it from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides.  You get two totally different perspectives of the Falls.  The water flow over the Falls changes according to the time of year with the wet season having the largest flows.  This was spectacular!  We were able to experience a Boma, which is an outdoor event where a meal is prepared and where local entertainment is enjoyed.  

In southern Africa, we were able to try crocodile tail, warthog steaks, Mopani Worms (known as Macimbi), smoked Steenbok, Impala, as well as others.

If you have not considered Africa, add it to your list of places to visit.  It was fantastic!

African Safari Africa Africa Elephants Africa Hippo Lion in Aftica Rhino in Africa Zebras in Africa Africa Sunset Africa Penguins LaVonne Africa Landscape Africa Cape Union

Mingalarbar (Hello) Asia from Avalon Myanmar

I just returned from a fabulous trip to Myanmar with Avalon River Cruise. What an unbelievable country and the people are so friendly. If you say Mingalarbar (min-ga-la-ba) (hello), you won’t believe the smiles that you will receive. We also learned and used Kye zu bar (jeh-zu-ba) (thank you) and Ya bal tal (Yah-bah-day) (you’re welcome). Just learning this much made a big difference to the people on the ship and those on the streets.

We began our journey with two nights in Yangon. It is a very busy city, with lots going on, but very safe. We walked around on our own and ate street food, which was great. They have markets there and one was just around the corner from our hotel, the Sule Shangri-la. The market had everything and you could bargain with them on the price. Many people spoke at least some English, so it was easy to communicate. From there, we flew to Bagan to begin our river cruise on the Irrawaddy River. In Bagan there are over 2000 stupas and pagodas. We even visited the stupas to see the sunrise and set over them which were really great. The Avalon Myanmar is a beautiful ship and the staff is very friendly and helpful. It has 36 cabins; however, we only had 25 people on our trip. The ship has wooden floors; hand carved wooden panels surround the dining room and original paintings. It was very welcoming.

As we traveled north, we had daily excursions to see cities, visit villages, and visit a school and a nunnery. These excursions were all included in the trip and were very enjoyable. There was so much to see and we felt very comfortable traveling around the country. We even went to an elephant camp and nursery. The elephants are no longer used to harvest teak trees and pull them out of the forest. Now they give a demonstration on how it was done and they give rides on the elephants. The elephants are well cared for by their mahouts and there is also a veterinarian on site to take care of them. If the vet sees an elephant standing on all four legs instead of only on three, he knows that the elephant is sick. We were able to feed the babies bananas and watched the mahouts take the elephants into the river for their twice daily baths. It was a great experience.

I would highly recommend this trip. The Avalon Myanmar is built for the Irrawaddy River and it travels all the way from Bagan to Bhamo, whereas the other ships only go as far as Mandalay. You lose out on a lot of the country and villages along the way.

This was an outstanding trip! Please contact me if you would like to hear more.

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Carrie’s Adventures in Alaska

In early September I was able to visit the beautiful state of Alaska.

Here’s a highlight of some of the activities that I did:

  • Rode the Alaskan Railroad from Anchorage to the gate of Denali National Park
  • Sea Kayaking in Prince William Sound which I must say is breathtakingly beautiful the glaciers are enormous. You can be a mile away from one and think you   are so close
  • Drove a 4 wheeled ATV through the backcountry right outside of Denali National Park
  • Ate at many world class restaurants and stayed at some really nice hotels and cabins

There is so much to see and do, there really is something for everyone in Alaska. Please contact me for more information about how I can help you plan an awesome Alaskan Adventure.

The Majestic Blad Eagle

The American Flag with Mt. Denali in the background.

The American Flag with Mt. Denali in the background.

ATV in the backcountry of Alaska

Mandy Visits Puerto Vallarta

In June 2016 my husband and I took our first trip to Puerto Vallarta and we had a blast! On our flight down we upgraded ourselves to first class and this is the way to go. If you have never done it I highly suggest you try it. All you can eat and drink, bigger seats and more leg room. We stayed at the RIU Jalisco and were told we had the best view in the hotel- full ocean view! It is such a treat when you come from a cold weather state to open your shades in the morning and see the ocean and hear the waves. The hotel is very large so there could be a lot of walking depending on where your room is located. The food is yummy, the hotel is clean and the staff is friendly.

When I am in a new location I like to take a tour to really get to know the destination so one day during our vacation we did this. Puerto Vallarta is not as Americanized as other Mexican destinations which allows you to have a more cultural experience. We visited a church that was built by the local residents who donated whatever material they had at home to build it. It was gorgeous! We also visited a flea market where we did a little bartering for our souvenirs and then visited a fourth generation home where organic tequila is made. I am not one to drink tequila but this tequila is yummy! Nice and smooth:-)

During one of the evenings we did an excursion called “Rhythms of the Night” and I highly recommend this tour.  I would describe it as Mexico’s version of a luau- you take about an hour long boat ride, where you are served unlimited snacks and drinks,  to the cove of Las Caletas. You dine under the stars at your own private beachside table bathed in the soft glow of candles. After dinner you walk over to the theater and the show begins. The dancers tell the story of ancient civilization through movement and music. Take my word for it, you don’t want to miss this show!

When you are ready to plan your adventure to Puerto Vallarta let me know, I am happy to help!

 

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