Planning Travel for Olympians - A Full Circle Moment

I love being able to share real-life travel experiences with you. I think it helps you see my process and understand that no two trips are exactly alike because they are created with the specific traveler in mind. Today I wanted to share a couple vacations that are close to my heart. They are trips I’ve planned for athletes — people I know from my days as the same.  It’s kind of a full circle moment, and I love it.

So, how do Olympians travel? Well, here is a sneak peek at a trip in process and an exciting adventure happening next month that just might be the most exciting trip I’ve planned to date!

Where to Eat, Sleep, and Play in Tulum

Tulum is fast becoming one of the “go-to” Mexican destinations for many travelers.  It’s easy to see why this Mayan city built next to the sea is so popular.  It has a spectacular setting, and a laid-back, casual chic vibe that makes it an ideal place to relax and rejuvenate.

Here is my personal rundown of how to best enjoy this Caribbean beauty.

Featured Testimonial: The Caribbean

Ann + John: 3 week Caribbean Experience

My boyfriend and I were dreading a long cold winter in New England this year and had an opportunity to take a few weeks off to seek sun and warmth. The challenge was where to go, what to do, and how to plan it all without getting completely overwhelmed. That's where Brianna came to mind with Milk + Honey travels! I knew of Brianna through a friend and had been following her travel blogs and posts for a while and reached out to her for some assistance in our trip planning. Brianna was immediately responsive to my inquiry and such a help from the very beginning. We had a general idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do and how much we wanted to spend- and within a very short time were drafting tentative travel itineraries and excursions for our Caribbean getaway. 

How to Eat Gluten-Free in Italy

Could you imagine anything worse than a two week trip in Italy without being able to eat pizza and pasta?! I have a hard time wrapping my brain around such a concept, and an even harder time knowing why someone would consider a trip to the land of “BEST. FOOD. EVER.”, if they couldn’t eat most of it.  

Such was almost the case of a recent trip to Italy that I planned. I believe that food is an integral part of any vacation, and I knew that some research and planning needed to be done so that this trip to Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome could be vegetarian and sans gluten— yet still amazing in the foodie department.

Different Ways to Experience Ireland

Ireland is magical. There is beauty to be found across the whole country, and so much of that you get to see by actually driving from place to place.  Whereas sometimes driving on vacation is a necessary evil, in Ireland it’s part of the specialness. So, whether you take an extended vacation and see the whole country, or get specific by just picking one half or the other and take your time to see and do more at each of your stops, there will be no shortage of things that leave you speechless.  

A First-Time Trip to Europe

Creating itineraries for people who don’t travel very extensively can be exciting. It also can be a bit challenging in it's own way. Whereas you can have some clients who know exactly what they like and what they want to do, the flip-side is having clients who don’t know too much about what they might enjoy while traveling. Case in point- I just had a honeymoon couple return from an absolutely amazing trip in Europe that had never been, yet wanted a fully customized, off the beaten path trip that was all their own.

The hard part at the beginning though, was being able to uncover what the experience was they were after. Our literal starting point was: “We want to spend about three weeks in Europe.” No specific countries, no specific type of trip… just Europe.  A whole entire continent of goodness.

Testimonial: Puerto Rico Trip

I received the following message about a week ago (with pictures!!!), soon after this lovely lady returned from her trip to Puerto Rico.  It made my day and reminded me why I love doing what I do. 

"It had been years since I've had the chance to go on a real vacation and get away from the craziness of reality.  While I love the idea of vacation and traveling, I less than despise the planning part of it. 

Brianna, you truly made my much needed and long overdue vacation seamless, stress free, and amazing!!  THANK YOU!!  My main goal was to relax, soak up the sun on the beach, read a good book, and work on my tan. ;)  Because of you, I did just that!  I just had to show up and you pretty much did all the work - figuring out where I would enjoy staying, my flights, booking my tours, etc.

I really appreciated the email you sent me the day before I left asking if I had any additional questions and letting me know I could reach you while I was there if I had any issues - you were truly a pleasure to work with - friendly and professional.  I'm already thinking about where I want to go next, and I will definitely be contacting Milk and Honey Travels to plan it!" - Bincy

Whether it's a solo trip that is long overdue and much deserved, a honeymoon to celebrate and begin your new life together as Mr. & Mrs., or a celebration of one of life's many milestones-- travel should be a part of your life. It doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming, because all the planning is where I come in.  You are free to just enjoy the outcome!  

If you are ready for that, I would love to hear from you!

A Caribbean Honeymoon

For romance-seeking travelers, and those who want plenty of beach time while on vacation, the Caribbean can seem like an obvious choice. That’s why so many honeymooners head this way for their first vacation together as Mr. & Mrs.

Such was the case as my most recent honeymoon-ing couple, the Lourdeaux’s.  They took it one step further though, and decided to island hop, and give themselves the opportunity to visit and explore 3 separate destinations.  That is the beauty of the Caribbean— the island hopping potential is huge— and lest you think that all islands are created equally, I assure you that each place has it’s own vibe and feel, and offers visitors unique experiences.  

Here is a closer, in-depth look at the 3 islands they visited, the fabulous places they stayed, and what makes these places special in case you decide to consider them for your honeymoon!

Nevis

Why you should go- Nevis is the sister island to the bigger and busier island of St. Kitt’s. It’s a tiny place that has yet to be taken over by tourists, and offers a tranquil slice of island life that is becoming harder and harder to find in the Caribbean.  There are great properties, white-sand beaches, and friendly locals to meet and interact with.

Where they stayed: Four Seasons Nevis

 Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Nevis

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Nevis

This resort sits on a large, beautiful beach and offers beautiful views from the gorgeous and well-appointed rooms.

St Barths

Why you should go- This sophisticated French island is perfectly suited for those who want to create a stylish and upscale caribbean vacation. There are chic boutiques, stylish villas, and the cuisine ranks among the best in the Caribbean. It also has some gorgeous beaches (and there are 22 of them)! It definitely has an elite, upscale feel and is more posh than most places in the caribbean.

Where they stayed: Hotel Le Toiny

 Photo courtesy of Hotel Le Toiny

Photo courtesy of Hotel Le Toiny

It’s one of the most prestigious resorts on St. Barths, and sits amidst the mountains with breathtaking views of the ocean. The private villas all come with their own infinity pool.

St. Martin

Why you should go- There are two sides to this Caribbean island, Dutch and French. The Dutch side (St. Maarten), is more lively and is also where the casinos are located. The French side has a more genteel ambience and continental flair.

Where they stayed: Belmond la Samanna

 Photo courtesy of Belmond la Samanna

Photo courtesy of Belmond la Samanna

This resort sits on a lovely stretch of white-sand beach, and is by far the most luxurious property on St. Martin.

 

I absolutely love planning honeymoons, because it allows me to help couples who are coming off the whirlwind and craziness that is wedding planning, to truly have an amazing experience customized to their personal tastes. There's nothing better than knowing that every detail of your trip has been thought of and planned for, and all that is required of you is to show up and enjoy! You can learn more about my Honeymoon Packages here, or contact me to discuss this, or any other romance-filled trip!

Planning a Trip to Cape Town

Anyone that knows me, knows how much I’ve been dying to take a trip to South Africa.  Of course it’s going to happen, but the “when” is still up in the air.  I always thought it would be really awesome if that was my honeymoon destination (I have given way more thought to that then I have flower arrangements and color palettes!), but it might be one of those situations where it’s ok to eat desert before dinner.  Sometimes the cupcake is calling your name, ya know?

For now, the next best things is going to have to be planning other people’s vacations to South Africa. 

I’m in the middle of planning a trip to Cape Town this December for a solo traveler who had some airline credit and an adventurous spirit! I plan on helping her have the very best experience and together we are planning for her to get up close and personal with the beauty and essence of my favorite city I’ve never been to!

A few things that are on the agenda:

  • Hiking the infamous Table Mountain
  • Visits to the Cape Pointe Nature Reserve and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
  • Heading across Table Bay to see the notorious former prison at Robben Island
  • A visit to the famous South African winelands
  • Spending time at Boulder’s Beach to see the penguins
  • Food tour through the historical Bo-Kaap neighborhood
  • A traditional cooking experience in a modest Malay kitchen with local women- completely off the beaten track.
  • ….and more!

This may sound completely like your cup of tea or nothing like how you would want to experience Cape Town… that is the beauty of creating unique and personal travel experiences! Feel free to contact me to figure out what your dream looks like!

The Beauty of Solo Travel

A dear friend of mine recently returned from a solo trip to Lisbon that had amazing written all over it. She only had a short time in the city, but we made sure we created an itinerary that fulfilled all that she wanted to do and see.  

The outcome of this trip was nothing short of amazing. Each time I got an update from her, it made me fall more in love with this destination, and I had a newfound appreciation for it’s beauty by experiencing it though her eyes. 

This was a trip she took on her own. Yes, she’s married, and certainly she has the best friends in the whole entire world who are also world-travelers (duh!).  But sometimes our own schedules and those of the ones we love and feel comfortable traveling the world with, simply don’t line up.  What I love about her is that she didn’t let that deter her from making memories and seizing the opportunity to make this trip happen anyway. The result is something she will always cherish, and from the sounds of it, was worth it 100%.

In Melanie's own words:

There is nothing like the rush of renewal that came over me as a result of my tiny solo trip to the Iberian Peninsula. I couldn’t quantify the value of a few fleeting days of reflection and self-indulgence. I reintroduced myself to the curious, excited woman I used to be, who’d somehow gotten herself buried beneath a growing mound of life stresses and obligations. I feel reinvented, bursting with positivity and gratitude that I wish were always closer at hand. I’m reminded how lucky I am to live the life I do, and now, as I go back to it—the reality and normalcy of it—I will treasure my memories of lovely Lisboa in the quiet, reverent corners of my mind, so as never to forget to always stay just a little bit wild and a whole lot free.

If the beautiful city of Lisbon excites you, or if just the idea of going somewhere on your own because you deserve it and you absolutely CAN, then contact me to discuss how we can make it a reality! The sooner the better!

How to live in Paris like a local

It’s Bastille day today!! How appropriate that I am spending my morning researching Paris apartments for a family trip over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I’m feeling an extra special French connection. 

 The beautiful view from an apartment you can rent in Paris!

The beautiful view from an apartment you can rent in Paris!

Something I wanted to share with you today, is the beauty of the wide array of options you have when it comes to traveling and the types of accommodations you stay in.  In this day and age, multigenerational families are traveling together more and more.  When you want to stay together as a family, and have room to spread out and not live on top of each other your whole vacation, there are great options to make your stay comfortable. 

The trick comes in finding something you can trust.  There are plenty of sites out there that allow you to rent someone’s personal apartment or home, in virtually any city worth visiting across the globe.  But as with anything that is on the web, you have to be careful. 

I love to give my clients the option for renting apartments or villas when they need a bit more room, and that will be the ideal way for them to all stay together. However, I am very careful to try and provide them with trustworthy and vetted options. 

For this Paris trip, the goal is to find a 3 bedroom apartment that has room for the parents, grandparents, and two kids.  They want at least two bathrooms, and to have it feel “Parisian and chic”. I am certain we can make this happen, and in the end, they will be far more comfortable than if they were crammed into two tiny Paris hotel rooms.

If this is the kind of thing you would like help with when planning your family trips, or you just prefer the ability to stay in accommodations that give you more of a sense of place, I’d love to help find the perfect fit! Contact me to discuss.

Testimonial: Milnes Family

You know what makes my flippin’ day?!! Testimonials. Because that isn’t just someone telling you personally that they appreciate and value your services, it’s them sharing that sentiment with others, and allowing your work to be validated in public. 

Jenny and her family headed to Puerta Vallarta before baby #2 was set to arrive to get in some quality family time before life became that much more hectic. Both Jenny and her husband Jamie have travelled the world extensively, and their daughter Georgie already has a few passport stamps of her own! But this trip was just about quality time and them connecting after a busy season, and before they head into the next one. I’m all for that.

“It was such a pleasure working with Brianna to plan & book our trip to Puerto Vallarta. Brianna did all of the research, comparisons and bookings for our amazing Babymoon to Mexico. It was nice to have several options based on our specific needs and budget- this research would have taken me weeks to do. Bri is reliable and professional, easy to reach, and fun to talk with! I highly recommend using Brianna for your next get away- she’ll make sure it’s better than you could have imagined.” 
The Milnes family

Jen, I adore you and your sweet family. Thanks for these incredibly kind words. I look forward to many, many exciting trips in your future.

Going off the beaten path near Rome

I was contacted by a lovely couple a few months ago to plan a trip in Italy.  This was going to be a personal vacation that went along with a destination wedding they were attending in Tuscany.  Never having been to Italy before, the door was pretty much wide open as to where they could stay and what they could do.

If someone has never been to Italy, the first inclination is to do the obvious.  Either Rome or Florence would have been incredibly convenient places to visit and then make your way to the Chianti region in Tuscany. However, after speaking to them in depth about the type of experience they wanted to have, what they really hoped for was an opportunity to spend some peace and quiet time with each other, and yet somehow manage to see a few of the sites in Rome… without having to be in Rome during the height of busy season. 

Enter Nettuno. 

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This small, quaint beachside town is about an hour outside of Rome, easily reached by train from the city. There are not many tourists here, your English won’t get as much use, and this is certainly not the place to go for nonstop action and sightseeing. It is peaceful, quiet, and wholly authentic.  It also allowed them to take a day trip into the city and meet up with a wonderful guide to experience historical Rome, walk the streets, throw a penny in Trevi Fountain, and make their way back to serenity. 

When I checked in with them near the end of their stay last week, they shared the following sentiments with me.

Oh my gosh we are having an amazing time!! We are so happy we chose to stay in Nettuno! This town is so rich in history it's crazy! We had no idea! We met an amazing American family who runs the WWII US memorial cemetery here and they are just awesome. They have taken us to great restaurants! Definitely met life long friends. The Astura has been great. Literally right across the street from the beach.

Your directions for the train and subway were amazing and a life saver! We have not gotten lost once. Amazing!! The coliseum yesterday was breath taking! We ate at propaganda. Today we plan to just explore Nettuno some more.

We cannot thank you enough for planning this trip! We have already decided you are it from now on!!!

Friends, to me this is what travel is all about!!! It’s having the ability to go off the beaten path, have authentic experiences, and meet random strangers that become life long friends.

Yes, they got to see the Colosseum, and walk the streets of Rome. But they also had a truly unique experience by trusting their gut and trusting me! When I suggested not doing your typical Rome vacation, which is what they were originally considering, it was up to me to find something that fit the bill as to what type of experience they said they wanted. I think we did just that, and it brings me so much joy when I get to see that experience come to life and lived out. 

If you are the type of traveler that likes your travel a little more off the beaten path, but with options to hop on the path if you’d like, know that working with me will help you accomplish that effortlessly. I work very hard to give you just the experience you’re after. Feel free to contact me and discuss your ideas!

Planning a Paris Vacation

It is one of the most known and visited cities in the world, and rightfully so.  Everyone should visit Paris.  Everyone. 

I have been hard at work planning a detailed itinerary for two fabulous women, a mother and daughter duo, headed to Paris for the first time together. They have been incredibly gracious in letting me shape and guide their trip, ensuring they experience all of the must-see’s in this beautiful city, as well as spend time simply soaking up the essence. 

I have also sought out some of the best guided tours for them, both private and small group, because they appreciate the expertise of local guides to show them the most interesting parts of the city. Not all tours need to involve large groups of fanny-pack wearing tourists following a guide holding an umbrella, or a big red double decker bus (although who doesn’t want to hop on one of those every once in a while just for kicks?!).

Choosing the right tours and working with the best companies provide you with an opportunity to gain priceless insight and knowledge from people who know their city well and have a love for sharing it with travelers. 

Part of my job as a travel advisor is to play matchmaker and seek out the best way for someone to experience parts of the destination that interest them. Here is a closer look at some of the ways they will get to experience Paris by allowing me to prearrange and book some fantastic opportunities.

The Eiffel Tower at Sunset: If you’ve ever tried to visit the Eiffel Tower on your own during the busy season, you know that without some preplanning, you are looking at spending a good amount of time queuing before you make your way up. This small group tour not only allows for travelers to skip the line and head right up, it’s timed so that you are looking over the city at the most beautiful time of day. You can listen to a short presentation about the tower, and spend as much time on your own on both the 2nd and 3rd deck admiring the beautiful hues of the sky as the sun sets over the city.

Paris Landmarks Private Walking Tour: Having a personal guide to show you around the Notre Dame and Isle of Cite is a fantastic way to explore not only the tourist must sees, but the hidden gems that not many people know about, and would be hard to ever find on your own. The expertise of a local is invaluable for things like this.

Baking Class: What better place to learn how to create french baguettes and croissants than from a French baker in his own Parisian bakery? And after you become a master baker, you get the opportunity to become a master eater. It’s a win/win.

 

These are just a few examples of how working with a travel professional can take your travel experience from good to amazing. As I always say, I am interested in giving you your best experience while traveling, and whatever that means to you, I want to make it come to life. If baking flaky croissants might be in your future— or something equally amazing— contact me to start planning.

My office is... Wherever I am.

I have an entrepreneurial spirit.  I have always known that about myself, and it was further confirmed when I took a multitude of tests after I retired from being an athlete that were supposed to help guide me into my next career. It told me I was driven, self-motivated, unafraid of taking risks, resourceful, don’t need to actually get paid to work my tail off… and on and on. So, instead I headed straight into pharmaceutical sales, which is like corporate america on steroids.  It took me less than 2 years to realize that as comforting as it is having money just appear in your bank account Every. Two. Weeks., it just wasn’t me. 

I want to create.. help people in my own way.. work on my terms.. take big risks.. and I don’t want to always do it from “the office” (read- my desk/kitchen table/couch/window seat). I’ve discovered that the beauty of having the majority of my business be online, is that all I really need to work is my computer and some half decent wifi. I can easily plan your trip to Guatemala and set up your tour through ancient ruins while I am discovering the best place to go wine tasting in the south of France, while actually being in France — or sitting at my favorite coffee shop in LA. 

Just last week, one of my client's who is a wildly successful business owner summed up perfectly  how she meshes together her business life and personal life. She finds a way to bring out the best opportunities within her own unique parameters:

"The beauty of being an entrepreneur is the ability to locate an office anywhere in the world.  If there's wifi, there's endless possibilities.  I love mixing business and personal travel because it embodies the best of both worlds.  Working is a necessity, but doing it while sipping on bubbly seated next to a pool makes all the difference!”
 photo: Jasmine Star

photo: Jasmine Star

I want you to really consider this mindset if you are a small business owner that does a lot of your work online. So often we are the type of people that believe we can never take time off to travel because there is always so much to do, stay on top of, and get done. For most of us, there is no such thing as getting our work done between 9 to 5 and then having 3 weeks paid vacation that you can take whenever your heart desires, simply by requesting it. But I don’t believe that should stop you from seeing the world. It’s certainly not going to stop me. Sure, I am building my business around travel, so it behooves me to continue to do important market research. But I also believe that I can combine these two parts of my life in a way that is going to ultimately bring me the most joy, and I believe others can too simply by being intentional. We live in a day and age that makes our world so small, so take advantage of that by not limiting yourself to staying in that one corner of your office/dining room/work area. I promise you I can find you a much better backdrop!


How to eat at great restaurants when traveling

I consider myself a minor league foodie. By this I mean that there is nothing very sophisticated or educated about my food obsession, other than the fact that I simply love good food. And because I wouldn’t say that I really love to cook, I’m a person who loves good food in a restaurant.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, or complicated, or even hard to pronounce… it simply has to be delicious.  For this reason, I am a firm believer that every amazing vacation should include great food.  There are very few destinations on my list of places I have immensely enjoyed visiting that didn’t offer this component.  (Besides maybe the Czech Republic. I loved Prague...hated the food!)

As such, I like to make it a point to discuss this topic with clients when creating custom itineraries. Would they prefer reservations every night for the hottest restaurants in town? Are they going to trust the concierge to point them in the right direction? Or do they plan on wandering down unknown streets and simply pop into wherever is calling their name? None of these approaches is wrong, but just in case they find themselves at a loss and in a country that isn’t as yelp friendly as they’re used to, I like to give some recommendations so they feel prepared in this department

The following is a list I included in a custom itinerary for a client’s recent trip to Sydney.

I myself have only been to Sydney once, and it was years ago, before I was in the habit of noting extraordinary restaurants I might stumble upon. As such, this list was mostly done from research. However, checking in with clients when they return is a good opportunity to learn and continue to refine my knowledge. According to them, a dinner at Mr. Wong’s was LIFE CHANGING (emphasis theirs), a delicious meal at Home Thai proved to be so legit, and an afternoon spent at Bondi Iceberg Club right on the beach was a wonderful way to relax, take in the beautiful views, and enjoy some cocktails. They shared with me a few of their own faves they discovered from their trip that I can now add to my list and feel confident in recommending the next time I have clients heading to Sydney!

Is this something you might find helpful when you're out traveling the world?


No passport... No problem.

I recently had an inquiry for an amazing beach vacation, full of sun, surf and beauty, and also the feeling that they went somewhere.  The problem was they had an expired passport and a desire to travel immediately.  So, the big question became was there anywhere to consider besides Hawaii.   It’s the tropical destination that everyone thinks of when you consider what is available for an amazing vacation on U.S. soil. And yes, it is a truly beautiful place that has some of the best beaches and most amazing scenery of anywhere in the world. But for someone traveling from the East Coast especially, is Hawaii the best choice when all things are considered?  

I’d like to present some of my favorite destinations available to American travelers without a passport… and even those who have one and who still may not remember that these locations are truly worth a visit. 

Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, and it happens to be one of the best islands in the Caribbean, with beautiful beaches to explore and a historic Old Town to experience and photograph. Throw in the El Yunque rainforest and you have a wonderful convergence of romance, nightlife, and adventure at your fingertips.  Not only that, many low cost airlines fly there direct from the states, including Southwest, Jet Blue, and Spirit airlines.  

U.S. Virgin Islands

Just next door to Puerto Rico are the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the three main islands being St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.  St. Thomas is probably the most visited and well-known, due to the large amount of cruise ships that visit the island. St. Croix embodies an air of historic charm, and St. John is a true nature lover’s dream full of luxury and romance. Each island is unique in it’s own way and one of them is surely to be a perfect match for your vacation style.

American Samoa

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, this unincorporated territory is a collection of five volcanic islands and two atolls located between Fiji and the Cook Islands. Here you will find beautiful unspoiled beaches and a culture that is wholly authentic, plus encounters with some of the nicest people you will ever come across.

So, if you are part of the almost 60% of Americans that don't have a passport...don't let that stop you.  The world is full of amazing places, and there are some that don't even require a passport to get there!

 

Getaways

I love last minute trip plans.  This may seem slightly counterintuitive to my personality because I am the queen of planning on top of planning cross checked with more planning. But there is definitely something exciting about deciding to go somewhere NOW.. just because.  The anticipation that builds up once you know you have a trip to look forward to is enhanced because your trip happens to be just around the corner! I don’t know what it is about January, but that has been the mindset of a few of my clients who decided to find the time in their schedule to book last minute trips and make the time for a romantic getaway. 

Starting your year off with a little unexpected R & R can do wonders for your sense of well-being and allow you to attack 2015 with a renewed sense of fervor and excitement.  If that is sounding right up your alley, contact Milk and Honey Travels to help you escape the day-to-day, chase the sunshine, and put a little bounce back in your step as you get ready for the amazing year ahead.

The following are some beautiful shots from last week's getaway to the stunning Four Seasons Santa Barbara, where they were able to enjoy the gorgeous grounds, relax poolside  and have their best friend tag along, as this resort also happens to be pet friendly!

Where would you like to go, and how can I help you plan it?