celebration travel

Celebration Travel: 60th Birthday Cruise

I just returned home from a short cruise that docked in places I could have easily visited by getting in my car and driving up or down the coast for a few hours. But the point wasn’t the destination.  The point was to eat too much.  Oh… and celebrate with my mother while we bonded and remind her why I am her favorite kid. 

Personally, I don’t think that cruises are the best way to experience a destination. However, they can be a great way to escape and get off the grid, and have a whole lot of fun while doing so. Cruises vary widely in every way imaginable, and if you are thinking about taking one you should certainly speak with a professional (me!) about the type of experience you hope to have while on board, and how to get the most out of the destinations you stop at. 

Our first stop was to the far away exotic destination of Santa Barbara. I am a sucker for a stroll down Main St. but as luck would have it, the weather turned on us that day and we were greeted with rain and clouds and a whole lot of grey. Everyone knows that people from Southern California melt in the rain and become completely useless, so the ship was filled with people opting to stay on board and join the rousing game of Trivia, or read quietly in one of the many nooks to be found on board.  I went onshore and simply set up shop in a lovely coffee shop to do some work and take advantage of the free wifi.

During our next day at sea the sun made a glorious appearance, and even though the temperature never got above 70 degrees, everyone put on their bathing suits and took advantage of the sunshine.  The party was in full effect at the two main pools, but anyone opting for a quieter experience had a variety of choices to choose from. I found myself a nice spot to do some reading with virtually nobody around for most of the afternoon. Herein lies the beauty of a cruise ship: spend a couple of hours in peaceful serenity enjoying the beautiful day… then walk to another deck and turn down for what! {inside joke}

Our second destination was Ensenada, Mexico.  Now, seeing as how I just went to Mexico a month ago, there was literally nothing I needed to experience in this town. However, my mother and I decided to put our feet on the ground and go exploring in case there was a poncho we just had to have, or a silver bracelet calling our name. As luck would have it, it ended up being a guy with a whistle that called my mom’s name and she answered. Papa’s and Beer is not an establishment I seek out while in Mexico, but since she had never been I made an exception.  The video of her shenanigans shall remain in my care for bribing purposes.

Our time away was short but filled with memories and experiences I will certainly cherish.The laughter, dancing, reading, hot tubbing, tequila, overeating, meals with interesting strangers, Elton John covers, sunsets, morning walks around the ship, bad karaoke, eating dessert first, people watching, and everything in between. I appreciated it all and I am thankful for the experience.

BabyMoons

The idea of a “babymoon” is a fairly recent trend where couples treat themselves to a getaway before their bundle of joy arrives and life as they know it is changed forever.  It’s a time to celebrate the new chapter of life that is upon them, and also to indulge in all of the things that are soon to become obsolete.  Namely sleep, relaxation, and long uninterrupted delicious meals. When I first heard of it a few years back, I was under the impression that the couple went after the baby was born.  Kind of like a Honeymoon occurs after the wedding. Obviously, that sounds all kinds of impractical and doesn’t really lend itself to any type of relaxation.  However, I am totally onboard and in favor of a pre-baby vacation.    Heck, any reason we can create to justify a celebration that involves optimum pampering and luxury is a win/win for all involved. 

I recently had the opportunity to plan a Babymoon for a client I know very well.  My sister. She and her husband decided they were going to head to Vegas for a weekend of pre-baby fun.  I don’t know that Vegas is at the top of anyones radar when talking about a great place to getaway for someone who can’t drink, can’t party, and shouldn’t be caught dead in a miniskirt.  But that’s the great thing about these types of vacations… there aren’t any rules to them and you can pretty much make anything work.  For them, they wanted a place that was driving distance from home and where they could stay in an amazing hotel room, eat great food, go to a show, and be in bed by 10pm in a room with blackout curtains so they could start banking as much sleep as possible.  You can do all that in Vegas, and it happened to be a totally different experience then the Vegas of their pre-baby years.  Aside from Sin City though, I have a few thoughts on what type of trips would make amazing Babymoons…

Soothing Spa Babymoon

Staying at a relaxing spa resort gets right to the pampering aspect, which I believe you should be taking full advantage of.  Many spas will have relaxing pre-natal massage choices available, which work wonders at soothing away all those extra aches and pains.  

Bed and Breakfast Babymoon

You can really capitalize on finding a unique and romantic getaway by staying at a bed and breakfast, which offer a totally different experience than what you will find at large resorts. There are places all across America that would be ideal, and so regardless of the destination and season, you are sure to be able to create a tailor-made experience for the two of you.

Beach Lover’s Babymoon

It doesn’t get much better than reclining on a beach under a nice shade umbrella, and relaxing to the sounds of the waves.  You have fresh air, the warm sun, and a nice virgin Pina Colada to complete things.

One with Nature Babymoon

A nice romantic mountain resort or something smack in the middle of nature gives you the opportunity to foster your deeper connection and appreciation for the natural beauty surrounding you. There is something very soothing about being surrounded by lots of trees and greenery, and being lulled by the sounds of nature.

If you or someone you know is expecting a new bundle in the near future, I would be happy to help you plan your next hoorah before your new arrival gets here.  Chances are you have a lot of other more pressing things on your mind to deal with, and time is of the essence!

 

Friend-cation

For years we talked about doing a trip together. And for years that is all that came out of it…a lot of talk. I have had the same group of amazing friends for over 20 years and we have stayed close and have continued to see our friendship grow and blossom as we navigate different stages of life and become the people we never even dreamed about when we were simply a group of high school kids that found each other and decided to call ourselves BFF’s.

But now that it actually is going to be Best Friends FOREVER, carving out quality friend time isn’t as easy as it was when you are in high school and college and your friend time is generously handed to you.  People have really busy lives. They have families.  They have careers.  And not just any career, my friends happen to have top of the industry, globe-trotting, world-changing careers. So much so that when calendars get pulled out to try and see when it might be possible for 8 different people to have time to all come together and just be, it seemed easier to try and invite the president on this vacation. 

But we made it happen. We invited husbands that our now forever part of our squad whether they like it or not, rented a beautiful house in Mexico right on the beach, and packed our bags to start off the New Year together and officially put the fun in dysFUNctional in a way only we can accomplish. And all I can tell you is that it was SOOOO worth it. 

I know a lot of people in this stage of life have so many legitimate reasons why a vacation like this sounds nearly impossible. But I just want to encourage you that it can work. It can work with kids.. and layoffs.. and breakups.. and different personalities.. and drama.. and crazy work schedules.. and a vegetarian, gluten-free friend who does all the grocery shopping for your trip. 

It will be full of laughter, and eating amazing food til you want to explode, and people not following the itinerary and it not being the end of the world, and ocean breezes during a beautiful sunset, and conversations about how life is really going, and fighting during game night, and learning how to say “cheers” in four different languages, and planning to work out more than you actually do, and letting your guard down in a way you can only do around family, and priceless memories you will cherish forever. 

All of this is possible. I just experienced it.

Where to ring in the New Year

A friend of mine has this tradition of never ringing in the New Year in her home city.  I love it.  Traveling for this holiday in particular is great because it gives you the chance to usher in the New Year in a unique and exciting location, and if you want, shed your winter coat for some beach gear and make everyone at home jealous as you spend the first day of 2015 basking in the sunshine.  I’ve been researching some possible trips for either this year or next and so I figured I would share a couple of my most promising finds with you. If I am not able to go, perhaps I could live vicariously through your travels!

Sydney Australia:

I kind of like the idea of being among the first people on the planet to celebrate the New Year. Sydney already happens to be one of my favorite cities to visit, but a celebration down under also allows you to attend one of the largest parties in the world that happens along the waterfront and lasts all day and into the night, including two firework shows.  Also, January is summertime in Australia so you also have the chance to enjoy some beautiful weather and explore the city during one of the best times of year to visit.  

Bahamas:

Any trip that includes relaxing beach days is a plus in my book.  Celebrating the New Year in the Caribbean is a win/win on many levels and allows for a more casual celebration style that is intrinsic to the nature of Bahamas.  Bahamians have their own version of Mardi Gras, which is known as Junkanoo.  This conventional Bahamian style of celebration highlights their New Year’s Eve and includes people of all ages eating, drinking, dancing, cheering, and celebrating.  There are also many performances and a procession in which mostly everyone participates.  This totally sounds like my type of party.

Valpraiso, Chile:

This seems to be the biggest New Years Eve show in Latin America, and after doing a little research, it definitely seems like a celebration I need to experience at least once in my lifetime.  The festivities begin on the 28th, so be prepared to power up for this one. They also have many great customs they ring in the New Year with. Women looking to be lucky in love will be donning yellow underwear.  If you see Chileans lugging along an empty suitcase around their neighborhood, they do so hoping to travel in the year to come.  And if you do nothing else, make sure you eat 12 grapes at midnight, as this apparently increases the chances of affluence during the year.  

 

Is there somewhere special you are going to spend this New Years, or any amazing places you’ve rung in the New Year in years past?