travel planner

How to build a muli-stop vacation: Think of the big picture

The trips I plan often involve multiple stops and destinations.

International Women's Day

It’s International Women’s Day Today, and I felt like it would be an awesome time to honor and highlight some of the beautiful women I met in the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago.

Some of the very best memories of my time in the Dominican Republic was the opportunity to spend time with these ladies. This is the group from RePapel that we spent the day making paper with. They are so full of life and love, and it shined through like you wouldn’t believe.

At the beginning of our time together, they each shared their story. Every one of them started with “I have this many kids, and this many grandkids." It was not lost on me how dedicated these women were to their families, and how each and every decision and sacrifice they made was for them.

5 Original Day Trips from Florence

Florence has it all. There is something for everyone in the historic city where churches brush up against modern malls and restaurants. The beauty is not only encased within the walls of the city; By spreading out just a few hours in many directions, you can be led to lush, culturally vibrant experiences that will enhance your understanding of the beautiful culture. These top five Florence day-trips will add the perfect extra excitement to your Italian vacation.

The 5 Hottest Destinations of 2016

Happy 2016!!!

There are so many amazing places out there for us to experience, picking one can sometimes be the hardest part. But there are certain destinations that make my “Hottest Destinations” list this year because they are an incredible place to go NOW. I’d love to share them with you.

The Must-See Destination of 2016: CUBA

Planning a Trip to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of my favorite places. In fact, it was the first place I traveled when I retired as an athlete and wanted to escape to a place where I could just reconnect with myself, think about my life and the direction it was going, and experience what this “pura vida” was all about. I did all that and then some. Costa Rica truly is a destination that speaks to your soul and makes it sing.

How to Vacation with Two Different Travel Styles

I remember about 5 years back when I first traveled internationally with one of my dearest friends on the planet. I had already been friends with her for over 15 years, so surely we have had plenty of time to know each other’s personalities and likes. But traveling with someone is different. 

Why wasn’t she in more of a hurry to get down to breakfast before it was over?

When was she going to realize that my internal itinerary that had outwardly been expressed as “no real plans” was being thrown off? 

How come she wanted to spend SO MANY HOURS inside a museum?

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!

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!

Not just a travel agent

For the last few days I’ve been in Charlotte, North Carolina at a conference with fellow Travel Professionals. We stayed at the beautiful Ballantyne Hotel, and for two days I immersed myself in learning and growing and basically figuring out how I can be better at what I do and service my clients to the best of my ability.

In today’s day and age, being a traditional “Travel Agent” can seem pretty obsolete.  No longer is that the vehicle people must go through if they want to take a vacation or book an airline ticket, as it was in years past.  In fact, if you ask me what it is I do, I won’t even use that moniker, even though it would probably be what most people would associate with my profession. I call myself a Travel Professional and what I do is use my expertise to create unique and custom travel experiences.  Within that, you get a travel planner, advisor, and concierge all rolled up into one.  And yes, I actually book the travel, as a travel agent would.  But if all I did was book travel, I would basically be a mini-expedia, with .00000000001% of the budget and no cool commercials to let anyone know I exist.  There really wouldn't be a point.

Creating custom vacation experiences that focus on the individual and their unique desires takes a personal touch.  A search engine isn’t going to do a great job at finding the best place to stay for you, the most interesting adventures that fits the nature of your trip, and the amazing off-the-beaten path excursions that you are looking for. And believe me… the internet certainly won’t care that much if you enjoy yourself and have the time of your life. I do that.

So, yes I book travel just like a travel agent. Just like any other website on the internet that will let you make a reservation on your own. However, that is not all I do. I create travel experiences designed specifically for you because I do my best to understand exactly what it is that you are looking for, and then deliver that. It’s all of my expertise shared with people who trust me with their valuable leisure time and believe that I will work on your behalf and do my absolute best to ensure they have the most amazing experiences, in a way that makes it as easy and stress free as possible. When was the last time Expedia promised you that?

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?

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!

 

Travel More

The key to fulfilling any New Year’s resolution is to plan ahead and make sure that it’s aligned with your personal goals… not just haphazardly write a bunch of recycled stuff down on New Year’s Eve on a whim. I believe that most resolutions have the best intentions, but they are usually missing a very important ingredient: a plan of action.

Here is a great New Year’s resolution that I think most people would benefit from… 

TRAVEL MORE.

TRAVEL MORE.

 

And if you have said that before and it didn’t really happen, and are saying it again and don’t have a real plan of action in place to ensure it does happen, chances are it will be one of those well-intentioned ideas that never really comes to life.  So, as we stay goodbye to 2014 and usher in the new year full of new and recycled resolutions, let’s break the “travel more” goal down into smaller steps we can follow so that we actually end up accomplishing it.  

Pick a place already:

Here…There…Anywhere. Whatever you do, just don’t develop paralysis by analysis.  There are so many amazing places you can go, so don’t stop yourself from going anywhere simply because you can’t choose somewhere. The sooner you decide where you are going, the more real it will become and the harder you will work at making it happen.  

Decide when you’re going:

This all depends on what’s important to you and what you are trying to accomplish with your traveling.  Sometimes though, you just have to be impulsive so that you can make a decision and get on with it.  Once you have a destination, there are ways to figure out when is the best time to go if you are looking for sunshine and only sunshine, when it might the low season, and when you are most likely to encounter lots and lots of tourists.  But just make sure you nail down the where and the when.

Start your research:

That’s when you contact me.  Although, it’s perfectly find if you contact me before step 1 because I have lots and lots of ideas about where you should go if you don’t happen to know. :)  But now is the time to really start to make your ideas come to life.  Figure out what this trip is going to be about… what you want to experience, and what you want to get out of it.  Here is when the trip really becomes about YOU. This will also help you solidify a budget so that you can be ready for the next step.

Understand your travel fund:

Does it need to be built or does it need to be put to the side? Are you setting aside money so that these funds are earmarked specifically for this trip or do you need to develop a plan to save and put away so that you can stash away funds specifically for this purpose.  

Book it and GO:

Life is too short.  You need to get out and see the world. You need to make things happen or else they don’t ever happen.  Don’t let this be the year when your travel resolutions fizzle… The world is full of amazing places and I want to help you experience some of them.

Where in the world...

For those of us stateside, we are smack in the middle of winter season.  All that makes me want to do is get on a plane somewhere where the sun is shining and there is a legitimate reason to wear my bathing suit.  It’s the reason why I choose to live in places where snow only exists on T.V. and anything below 60 degrees calls for over exaggerated declarations of how freeeeezing it is.  Personally, I am not one to vacation in destinations that are experiencing their cold weather season, because to me sunshine is far too important of a factor in my enjoyment. However, if you happen to be a person who likes travel for more cultural exploration, there are a lot of great deals to be found when you travel to a destination during their “low” season.  Flights are cheaper, hotels can be found for far better rates, and places are not nearly as crowded, so it’s definitely something to consider.  

Let’s take a quick look at how the rest of the world is fairing weather wise right now and how that may factor into new places you might want to explore early in 2015..

Asia:

This time of year is generally the best one to visit Southeast Asia when drier, cooler weather prevails. You will encounter high hotel costs and large crowds since the rest of the world is trying to escape the European and North American winters as well. 

Australia/New Zealand: 

The seasons in Australia and New Zealand run opposite of those in North America and Europe, so this time of year would be peak summer season. Because these are their summer months, most places will be experiencing high tourist traffic, but be pretty amazing and perfect weather-wise.

Africa:

It’s the opportune moment for a trek in the Moroccan desert, a trip across the Maghreb or for visiting countries such as Senegal or Egypt before the higher temperatures arrive. The prices at this time are affordable too. South Africa currently basks in warm temperatures with low rainfall, which sounds just about perfect to me.

Europe:

Right now Europe is full of cold places, rainy places, and places that just aren’t seeing too many hours of sunshine.  Head here if you want to go on a cultural break and visit some stunning museums or have the opportunity to eat at some amazing restaurants and have some big-city fun at a fraction of the cost.  If winter sports are your thing or you just really enjoy the beauty of winter, you can take full advantage of all the snow. 

Americas:

Central America, South America, and the Caribbean are having beautiful, sunny-but-not-too-hot weather right now, and of course Hawaii is always close to perfect no matter what time you go.  These are great times for romantic getaways to these destinations because it stays away from the rush of spring breaks and summer vacations and takes advantage of the perfect conditions.

What does Luxury travel mean to you?

I am constantly looking for ways to better understand what my clients are truly wanting from their travel experiences, and for me to have the ability to anticipate what that person is looking for.  In the realm of "luxury travel", it's evident to me that the definition of that should be a personal understanding of what the individual finds valuable.

What does luxury travel mean to you?

Is it over the top luxury in the more traditional sense, where you treat yourself to the best of the best when it comes to 5 star accommodations, indulge in the finest food and wine, and travel to your destination so that the plane itself feels like a resort?

Are you looking for more experiential luxury, so that you give up some aspects of luxury in the traditional sense in order to have more of a unique and authentic travel experience? 

Or perhaps what you are looking for is an emotional experience, and that is what correlates to luxury for you because connecting at a deeper place can make it a life changing trip.  

When I speak about understanding someone’s personally defined luxury travel experience, it is along these lines that I am trying to understand what you are after and what motivates you.  This is the thing that is slightly different for everyone and what you will not get help with when you look only to the internet to help plan your travel. 

My goal is to align specific client desires with the right locations, accommodations, and experiences.  In the end, it’s all about discovering your own brand of luxury travel and making it come to life.

If you'd like to work together to make that happen, feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation.

Virginia Wine Country

Being from California, wine country has always meant Napa/Sonoma.  Until this past week, I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know much about Virginia Wine Country… and even more surprised to experience it and realize how amazing it is!  My visit along the Monticello Wine Trail, which is compromised of about 30 wineries, is considered the birthplace of American wine and was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s version of wine making.  It afforded me some seriously jaw dropping views, with sprawling hills, amazing colonial houses, interesting historical markers, and the lingering beautiful colors of fall that make me fall in love with places that have actual seasons.

Our first stop was at Blenheim Vineyards, which is owned by Dave Matthews, the musician, who is a native from Charlotesville, VA.  This vineyard is situated on a historic estate and is fairly unassuming, at least in comparison to our next visit to Trump Winery just up the road. But then again, I would expect most things sporting the Trump moniker to be a bit flashy. The tasting room is a cozy space on the top level of a two-level rustic wood structure, with paneled glass floors that allow you to peer down into the wine production facilities below. There were only a few other people there during our tasting, and we chose to have an additional glass of wine out on the deck overlooking some gorgeous views of the winery, all while creating our own Dave Matthews playlist on the iphone… I am super cheesy like that!

Trump winery did not disappoint, with over 1300 acres of breathtaking scenery.  My favorites here were the sparkling wines, and I paired that with a delicious cheese plate because you definitely should not forget to snack while wine tasting! This winery definitely had more visitors and more of an upbeat and lively atmosphere, but it was easy to escape outside to embrace the serenity and take in all of the gorgeous views.  

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We also made a quick stop at Jefferson Vineyards right before closing and were able to taste some great wines, and pick up a few great bottles to have on hand at Thanksgiving before relaxing on the deck to watch the sunset behind the Blue Ridge mountains.

I am a huge fan of wine, and so of course I think wine tasting is an excellent activity that allows you to expand your knowledge and uncover some new favorite wines in the process.  It makes all the sense in the world to make a short trip out of it.  What better way to spend a weekend getaway then seeing the countryside, enjoying breathtaking views, and sampling some amazing new wines?!  If you live in this area or find yourself wanting to visit, do yourself a favor and experience this wine region… you won’t regret it. 

Scary.. In a good way

Life is full of transition.  You get somewhere, you stay there for a little while, and then right when you start to get comfortable, something inside of you is pushing you in a different direction.  Nudging you towards something you should be doing, even when you don't really quite understand it.  That's pretty much been my experience when it comes to my career path.  

For years I did something I loved to do and had the chance to travel the world as a professional athlete, but then it came time to transition out.  So, I took my skill set and my very unique sounding resume and made my way to Corporate America and started doing something else.  It was something I could do, but not necessarily something I loved to do.  After a while I began to feel that nudge.  It was pushing me to get uncomfortable and start doing something I wanted to do-- something I felt passionate about.  I have a love for travel, a heart for people, and a desire to help make their dreams come to life.  I figured there has to be a way to make that into a career so that's what I'm doing.  Today I announced my new career and the new path I am headed down.  It's scary.. in a good way.