Friday, September 25, 2015

The Big D

While not a Texan myself, I spent a weekend in Dallas with a few local friends as tour guides. Here are their suggestions, in pictures, for places to see when visiting their town, nicknamed the "Big D!"


Mega-churches - Prestonwood Baptist,
Potter's House of Dallas, Friendship-West Baptist
Parks - Thanks-Giving Square, Klyde Warren Park
BBQ - Pecan Lodge, Lockhart Smokehouse and Hard Eight
Museums - Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Garden

Fort Worth

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Historic Stockyards - Cattle Drive

Pecan Lodge - One of the best BBQ joints in Dallas!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Are 5-star hotels worth the cost?

The Breakers - Palm Beach
(Image obtained online)
It's hard to put all 5-star hotels into one category. Especially as star rating and quality can vary widely between countries. But, if we focus on the United States, the question becomes whether the luxury is worth the cost. I've been lucky to have visited a number of 5-star resorts, and have mixed feelings. Here are some of the pluses and minuses I've encountered. Leave your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Positives to 5-star Hotels
* Service is normally spectacular.
* Location and comfort is excellent.
* Often have spas for added relaxation.
* Attention to detail.
* Special holiday events.
* Transportation is streamlined.
The Broadmoor - Colorado Springs

Negatives to 5-star Hotels

* Cost - Not just of the hotel itself, but the added resort fees, parking fees, internet fees, tips, etc. It often feels like they nickel and dime you to death, even though you're already paying a high rate.

* Not as family friendly (this can be a negative or positive depending on the customer).
* Can feel "stuffy," though it really depends on the location.
* Often quieter in the evenings, less live entertainment at the bars/restaurants.

The Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay

Friday, September 11, 2015

Americans Abroad

Whether I'm traveling myself, or hear stories from foreign friends, it always makes me cringe when Americans just don't seem to fit in traveling abroad. Not that being unique is a bad thing, but please avoid some of these common mistakes which make us all look like fools…

White tennis shoes and Jeans
=  American Tourist
Blue jeans with white tennis shoes - While comfortable, white tennis shoes and jeans have been the sure sign of being an American Tourist for generations. There are so many different styles of comfortable walking shoes - buy one and take your travel style up a notch!

Athletic workout clothes - In America we wear workout clothes to do almost everything (except actually working out)! My foreign friends have mentioned that it's so weird that Americans do this. Prevent the "lack of style" stigma - dress respectfully when traveling abroad!

Socks with sandals - Travel Faux Pas
Sandals with socks - Either forego the socks or buy a comfortable and trendy pair of walking shoes!

Baseball caps and t-shirts - Ok, don't get me wrong, I think sun protection is important! (Always wear sunscreen and a hat!) But, please take off your hat when indoors.

Loud Americans - There's no surer a way to stand out than loudly announcing it with your voice. Be respectful and keep it down!

What do you notice when traveling abroad that screams American Tourist?

Friday, August 28, 2015


When traveling internationally, it's important to keep a hard copy of all documents with you.  People often store these things in their email or on their phones, which is great, but if your phone gets stolen or you're somewhere without reliable internet, having a paper copy of your documents can be a lifesaver! (Also, with email security settings, if you check your email on a new computer abroad, you might be required to enter in a code sent via. a text to your phone. That won't work if your phone is lost/stolen, you don't get service, or it's out of juice!)

What documents should you keep a paper copy of?
  • Passport - Make sure it doesn't expire within 6 months of travel
  • Visa - Both the credit card type (toll free number), as well as an immigration visa
  • Health Insurance card
  • Important contact information of family
  • Itinerary - Print-out of airline tickets, hotel addresses, maps, directions, etc.
Make sure to keep a copy of all documents safe in your luggage while out and about for the day. Just don't put them in your checked baggage! Nothing would be worse than lost clothes and information!

Safe travels!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

World's Most Famous Beaches

The world is full of beautiful beaches!  I even wrote a previous post on some that are close to major airports. But, walking along Waikiki Beach one day I was thinking of which beaches are household names around the world (or at least well known in the United States).  It really isn't that long of a list!

Think these are worth the hype? Have any to add? Leave a comment below!

South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California, USA

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(Photo from Wikipedia)

Paradise Island, Bahamas
(Photo from