Service And Love


Every Memorial Day we focus on remembering those who have died in the service.  They are the men and women who fought valiantly on the battlefield to protect the freedom we hold dear, and the liberties we enjoy every day.  This time, like no other, it has been more poignant to me.   Maybe it is because there has been so much pain, suffering, and loss for the past year, that recently hearing the saddest story recounted of a fallen soldier, even though I did not know him, caused tears to well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks.  This loss occurred some years ago but it is still being felt by loved ones and close friends, as it was related by a personal friend, who choked up as he told of their last encounter before deployment.  The mere lad, then 19 years old, would serve and ultimately die for his adopted country before reaching his 20th birthday.  

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

I am also reminded of another person who gave His life willingly for mine. He knew there was no possibility of escaping the threat of death or of returning to His home without injury.  He had to die.   Driven by love, He selflessly laid down His life, and paid the price for all humanity.  He was young too, 33 ½ years old.  What amazing love and saving grace.  Because of love, He gave His life for mine.  

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Community Peeps, what pastime do you enjoy on Memorial Day?  Do you enjoy the parade, outdoors, bar-be-cue, cook-out, a day at the beach or park? Whatever you choose to do, remember the fallen – gone too soon. In my past travels, I have found unique ways to pay my respect. I have visited places like: Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, Arlington National Cemetery, statues, and other significant sites that honor their memory. If you have a unique way of showing your respect, tell us how by sharing in the box below. 

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

All We Want This Christmas


This post is coming right off the cuff. Nothing fancy, no preparation, no particular plan, no rhyme, or reason. I only want to wish my followers, readers, and visitors to my website the absolute best for the holiday season. I hope your celebration whether virtual or in person, at home or work, be one that you enjoy. Like everything else this year, we have to make the best of it. 

In my house we are celebrating virtually. From Barbados to England to the United States (somebody please say THANK YOU Zoom 😂). Since we cannot be physically with each other as in former times, we are all still excited to see the faces and smiles, hear the voices and peals of laughter from those that will be joining in the virtual meeting on Christmas day. I think I can speak for my family when I say, “that is all we want this Christmas.”

Community Peeps, how about you? It is my truest desire to wish you and yours the best for the season and beyond. As usual, I invite you to share how you plan to celebrate the Christmas holiday in this extraordinary year. Write your comment in the box below

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Food – Choice or Chore


Countries that bank on tourism as a part of their economy, usually have a supporting gastronomy culture that peaks the interest of every tourist they attract.  Restaurants, food shops and entrepreneurial vendors abound to feed the weary traveler.  Besides exploring national sites and attractions, what to eat at the end of the day, in my opinion, is still the most pondered thought or question as you travel, whether in a group, or by yourself.  Vacationers from all walks of life want to know the answer to that question as they anticipate sinking their teeth into the delectable cuisines of their host country.  The more prolific the gastronomy culture the wider the variety of dishes offered.  A customized itinerary would not get into the meat and potatoes (no pun intended) of where one should dine or the foods one should try.  That is usually left to the discretion of the traveler.  However, itinerary planners like myself often recommend that clients have realistic expectations at their destination and be aware of the average price range of restaurants that will appeal to their dietary needs, and of course, suit their budget.

If you have chosen an all-inclusive resort where your meals from breakfast to dinner are prepared, or an ocean cruise where you can gorge throughout the day, then you need not worry about meal plans.  However, if you are traveling with your family, friends or solo, and your accommodation allows free access to their kitchen, you may want to seize the opportunity and utilize the resources to your advantage.  If you plan carefully, you will quickly realize how much better and healthier your dining choices can be for you and your family

Before leaving on a trip, you should actively research your meal options.  Know the ubiquitous and exotic foods of your place.  Learn the ingredients used to make the dish you might want to try especially if you have culinary objections, diet or religious restrictions.  The internet, guidebooks, restaurant’s and diner’s reviews are good places to start your search.  Social media is another excellent medium to source food information and can tell you what is: the latest rave, best and worse comments, photos, and how-to demonstrations.  Even if you are not a foodie-traveler, it is still wise to prep for a palatable experience before you begin your journey.  Hungry anyone?

Here are four sustenance means to choose from:

Dinner2

Fine Dining

Restaurants ($$, $$$) –  These fancy kitchens are run by talented trained chefs in the art of cookery.  Exquisite menu offerings oftentimes highlight items that challenges the English speaker’s ability to enunciate.  Plates of food look like they have been manipulated by a food design artist instead of cooked and tussled in a skillet or frying pan by a sous chef.  Dainty drops of green, red, yellow or orange spot the plate or maybe a lone streak of sauce stretch across an oversized plate, that at the center, sits the lone morsel.

Dinner1

Fine Dining

Depending on your deep pockets and thrill-seeking taste buds, you may choose to feast at a Michelin-star rated food establishment.  If so inclined, other eateries operated and/or owned by restauranteurs the likes of Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck are worth visiting, even if only for the bragging rights.  Restaurants worth their salt in food preparation, presentation, and ambience seek to win you over with quality versus quantity.  You may walk away still hungry and lighter on the pocketbook, but who’s complaining?  It’s all about the experience and memory created.  You can talk about it for a long time, or write your own review on your blog page, etc.

Choosing to break bread nightly at a classy restaurant while on an extended holiday is not a sustainable option.  Apart from a few of us, it may turn out to be an extravagance you cannot afford.  At the end of the day, the choice would still be yours.

Fast food –  As a tourist, you might like the casual dining alternative of the more well-known places like the golden arches, the colonel, or some other easily recognizable western fast-food chain.  Moreover, others may be averse to trying new foods and finding familiar tasting foods may bring them a measure of homey comfort.  They crave a familiar taste and texture.  That being the case, some fast-food chains in foreign countries accommodate side orders that appeals to their nationals.  Nothing off-putting.  Examples: In Venezuela, McDonalds serves arepas as a side order in their meal; and in Canada the widely loved poutine.  This western franchise has connected with its base, all the while wooing the international clientele that is familiar with its staple fare and everybody is happy.

Street food – A vendor cart, food truck, or person with a coal-pot stand qualify for this category.  They set up anywhere and offer quick and easy, no-frills dining that complement the tourist on the go.  Not much expectation for a satisfying meal.  Just a stop-gap measure until a better meal can be obtained later in the day or evening.  These kinds of meals are never satisfying and certainly not a sought-after replacement to the daily meal because of its nutritional value or the lack thereof.

DIY Dining – This is my favorite and highly recommended option.  Food is a choice and not a chore.  Managing your own catering can be a pleasurable activity all by itself.  Seeking out places to shop for your food, challenging yourself to purchasing items within a fixed budget, getting creative with the menu and interacting with the people you meet in the markets and supermarkets are all positive benefits to your vacation.  When you cook for yourself/family you have no worries, no complaints (hopefully) and practically no downside other than the time you take to prepare and clean up after each meal.  Total prep, cook and clean up, if you are smart about it can be limited to less than an hour of your vacation time, two days in a week.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It is possible to eat an appetizing, healthy meal whilst on vacation, and save enough money to splurge on other things.  Planning is the key to solving those issues.  Here are some additional tips to help you:

  1. Research your location and know what fruits and vegetables are in season.
  2. Plan menus that are affordable, quick and easy to prepare in 30 – 40  minutes tops.
  3. Shop for your groceries.  Fresh is best.
  4. Cook meals in one pot and enough to last for two to three days.

If you follow this plan, you may be able to afford at least one or two nights of fine dining at a restaurant of your choosing.  You might ask, “What’s the point of a vacation if I can’t get away from the kitchen?”  My answer to that is simple.  You can pay attention now or pay expensively later; after all, the dining choice is yours.

Readers, what are some of your food challenges when you travel and how do you solve them?  Would you like to make a recommendation not mentioned in the post?  I’d be happy to include it in a follow-up post.  Thanks for reading.  Hope you learned a thing or two, and I look forward to hearing from you either in one of three ways: click follow, like or comment in the box below.  Keep it real folks.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Solo Tour de France Enthusiast Has Itinerary Challenges


Pulling together a bespoke itinerary can be time consuming depending on the destination, attractions, and length of vacation.  I carefully sift through the overwhelming research information to ensure the daily plan meets the needs of my clients.   Having said that, there are very few itineraries that stump me.  Let me explain.  I have been working on a solo itinerary for a few years that is proving a bit difficult to come together.  The destination and airfare are not the problem.  The knot is in the daily activity that I want to accomplish.  I want to follow all 21 stages of the Tour de France bicycle race from start to finish.  The plan is an ambitious one and does not line up with my US$1500 budget, no matter how I try to make it work.  Therefore, I have decided to ask for your help.

The Tour de France, also called the holy grail of cycling is slated to take place on July 7 – 29.  The race route changes annually and for a frugal backpacker like me, I have found that these changes effect my plans as prices fluctuate thereby making it difficult to stay within my fixed budget, so I am willing to increase the budget to US$2000.

Every year, I get excited as I watch teams battle each other along the grueling course, strategizing and outmaneuvering each other with their cat and mouse tactics.  Team Sky, Movistar, Lotto Soudal, Mondiale, Canondale-Drapac, Tinkoff-Saxo are some of the better-known teams.  Riders like Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, Leopold Konig, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan, to name a few, rise to the occasion vying for the most coveted jersey – the yellow jersey.  There are five other jerseys contested to win.  Teams are made up of nine riders, and there are usually 20+ teams entering the 23-day cycling event.

Tour de France4_USA team

US Cyclist – Tour de France 2015 (Traveltinerary)

The commentary of the event is just as exciting.  Bob “Bobke” Roll, a former cyclist himself and my favorite commentator, explains every nuance of the teams, riders, and support personnel.  To watch the event is thrilling but to be there must be a different story.  A former work colleague who witnessed two stages of the race back in 2015 told me he was impressed with the speed of the cyclists.  He claimed the teams sped by so swiftly that spectators who had been waiting along the roads and at every vantage point, some for hours, could scarcely catch a glimpse of their favorite cyclist in the peloton before they disappeared out of sight within minutes.

Be that as it is, my adventurous nature still wants to see a portion of the race at every stage.  The race comes to an end as they bike along the Champs Élysées and circle the Arc de Triomphe.  On television the climax is spectacular, and I wouldn’t want to miss that for anything.  I have been to France a few times but would still use this opportunity to enjoy the many sites and attractions along the way.

Here are some of the decisions where I need your help:

Budget – I have already determined that this is not a US$1500.00 budget prospect.  I have increased the amount.  Is that doable or do you think it should be higher?

Transportation –  Joining the first peloton is out of the question.  What should be my means of transport?

Accommodation – At the end of each stage, teams, staff, tour operators, media, et al have first dibs at local hotels.  Airbnb, couchsurfing, hostels maybe hard acquirements given the die-hard European fans who come out to support their teams.  Accommodation cost may also be pricey depending on location.  Not a problem if I rent a RV (hee-hee, not in the budget), or if I campout in a tent.  What would you suggest?

Meals – On other trips I would manage my own cooking, however, not sure of my accommodation or routing, I may have to dine out every night.  This too could be pricey.  The much-touted French gastronomy is not a cheap option.  What do you recommend?

Route safety – Navigating the route may prove to be difficult even with a GPS.  How should I tackle this one?

Language – Even though I may be able to say a few phrases in French, I do not speak the language well enough to be understood.  To further complicate the issue, internet translations may not be accessible if I get lost high in the mountains where there is no signal (not likely but still possible), or if I need to communicate in an emergency.  Smoke signals are not an option, so tell me what you think I should do?

Blog Peeps and viewers, if you think you can help me plan my Tour de France itinerary, or you have an answer to any of the issues above, or I completely missed a pertinent aspect of the trip, then let me know by dropping a comment in the box below.  All recommendations will be considered and I will let you know if they become part of the plans for the trip.  God willing and life be spared, without question I will give a comprehensive update of the experience post-trip.

If you read this post completely, thank you.  Remember to click like, select follow, or post your comment in the box below.  Anxious to hear from you.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Speak Her Love Language When You Travel


Valentine’s Day is a couple days away and it is the time people express their undying love and devotion to each other.  Couples give gifts of: chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and other tokens that may be cherished and enjoyed for the moment or for a very long time.  Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the book “The Five Love Languages” revolutionized the way we view loving associations.   He identified: acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and quality time as motivators for building happy relationships.  A person may have one distinct language that makes them truly happy or may have a combination of these languages that makes them feel loved and appreciated.  If you know which language(s) you or your partner speaks, then you are already ahead of the game, and can daily nurture your connection for a happy relationship.

In two days you may be on your way to enjoy a romantic vacation.  Maybe you are heading to an exotic Love Language3location like Barbados, Bora Bora, Maui, Santorini, Tahiti, or some other island that wreaks romance.  You want this vacation to be indelibly written on her mind and be remembered as the best everrr for the rest of your lives.  So, I propose you spend this vacation with the girl of your dreams discovering what love language she speaks.  You can practice a motivator each day to see which one(s) she responds to the best.  Don’t know what to do?  Here are some easy suggestions to start you off.  Bear in mind, you can practice all the love languages in one day, but if you are on a five-day holiday why not assimilate one each day.

Acts of service – Plan a bespoke itinerary for each day of the vacation that says you put some thought into it.  To avoid any objections, take care of household chores that you know she may be concerned about in your absence.  Handle all the scheduling details for an evening of dinner, dance and entertainment.  As much as you can, pre-arrange to have her commitments resolved before leaving on the trip.  Consort with her work supervisors for the time off and surprise her at the job with tickets neatly tucked into a bouquet of flowers.  Last but certainly not least, select her favorite clothes, pack her bags and have them waiting by the door ready for your departure.

Gifts – After a day of exploring the island, she may feel exhausted but a gift of one or all of the items listed will surely perk her up.  You would be surprised to see how fast the exhaustion disappears into thin air: a bouquet of flowers, a box of the finest BelgiumLove Language6 chocolates, or a beautiful piece of jewelry in the signature baby-blue colored box you know she has been eyeing for a long time.  She may squeal with delight, I would, and by this reaction or even the lack there of, you may know whether you are on to discovering gifts as one of her love languages.  Giving her a gift when she least expects it may warrant a reaction that is priceless.  After all, everyone loves a good gift and if it is given in a unique way, the story will be retold for weeks, months and years to come.

Physical touch – On your down times take a leisurely stroll on the beach or along a garden path.  Walking hand in hand will speak volumes of tenderness to her mind.  A light touch on Love Language4the back or on the shoulder may be interpreted to mean, I support you, or we are  connected.  These physical touches transmit a sense of loving appreciation.  Show her you are attentive by occasionally holding her hand, recline against her shoulder, or lay your head on her lap.

Words of affirmation –  Believe it or not but this is one of the most difficult of the languages to express.  If you spout words of love too much you may run the risk of Love Language1making it sound trite.  If you express sentiment grudgingly you may come across as cold and your words forced.  Therefore, choosing your words, delivery and timing are key to making sure your person feels loved and respected.  Use a candlelight dinner in a cozy restaurant to talk of all the qualities that you find fascinating about her.  You don’t have to be untruthful, you only need to be sincere.   Let her know you appreciate the little things she may think are mundane but that means the world to you.  Let her know how well she does them and because of that you have learned to stay in your lane when it comes to certain areas where, in your book, she’s the expert.

Quality time – This time is probably the best love language of all.  Just my opinion, hehehe.  You can either lay on the beach, sip a mocktail, listen to the sound of the waves Love Language2lapping in the ebb and flow, feel the gentle breezes as they rustle through the palm trees, enjoy the glow of the evening’s sunset, or you can set an appointment to receive a full body massage for two and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the deep kneading that often lulls you to sleep.   No words are necessary.  Being there and quietly sharing the moment is the perfect finale to a five-day trip.

There you have it folks a romantic vacation to remember.  You have learned how to speak her love language and have fun doing it while on vacation.  Thank you for reading and viewing my site from time to time.  Feel free to add your comments in the box below.  As usual, I encourage you to follow, like, and share with your family and friends.  Happy Valentine’s y’all.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Travel Alerts


Are you wondering how you should approach your travel plans for 2018?   Are you asking yourself, how can I get out ahead of the maddening crowd and get the best deals on airfares, hotels, attractions, destinations and such like?  The answer is simple.  Sign up to receive email travel alerts.

Man travel companies for leisure and business are busy touting all the best deals, steals and to-dos for this year: cheapest destinations, best hotels, must-see attractions, most beautiful this or that, exotic places, rare finds, and the list goes on.  Now is the perfect time to sign up to receive their alerts.  In almost every case it will cost you nothing, so why not sign up, you have nothing to lose.  It is only wise for you to take full advantage of their expertise, dedication and hard work to bring you the best chances at affordable travel, and to be the first one to receive their well researched information.  Besides getting an early heads-up, when you sign up with more than one travel alert website you will be able to use their information to compare prices against airline websites and other travel search engines, you can track price changes, and recognize best times to make bookings.

A travel alert will give you the chance to act swiftly if you see a fare that falls within your projected budget, or that appeals to you and you simply cannot turn it down.  Generally, the travel industry’s recommendation to book travel are four to six weeks for domestic and eight to 12 weeks for international.  Barring those travel schedules, if you have a destination in mind, I recommend keeping a lookout as early as six months.  As it gets closer to the industry’s standard time-frame, start a daily search until you come within the ballpark of your budget.  Timing is everything.

With only your email address and a few clicks you can set up your alerts.  Here are some fare alert sites you may find useful:

airfarewatchdog

Smarter Travel

Skyscanner

Justfly

Hipmunk

Kayak

Yapta

Farecompare

Iwantthatflight

To travel 4 less you will need a great itinerary.  You have found an affordable fare and now you need help with the day-to-day plans.  No problem.  Leave it to me.  I am happy to assist you in pulling the details together.  Click on the consultation request below to get started.

A Bajan Christmas


It is too late for me to jet off to Barbados (ticket prices are a budget buster) in time for the holidays.  Below are pictures of Bajan foods I like and will miss diving into during this season.  For certain, some, if not all, will be served as part of the cuisine in every household for Christmas.  Check out the links and try some of the recipes.  You are bound to get a taste of Barbados if you do.

Pigeon Peas and Rice  and Macaroni Pie

 

 

Fish Cakes and Steamed Pudding

 

 

Black cake

 

 

Sorrel

 

 

Soca vibe  Maizie  by Calypsonian Red Plastic Bag (Stedson Wiltshire)

Besides the foods, I will miss the warm weather, the hustle and bustle of Bridgetown, watching the fashion parade in Queens Park, and listening to the Royal Barbados Police Force Band’s performance.  If you are like me and cannot make a quick getaway for the holidays, then I hope these few pictures of traditional Bajan foods at Christmas time, and the links demonstrating how to make them, as well as, listening to the local Soca vibe that is most likely being played on the airwaves there now, would be enough to encourage you to add this destination to your bucket list for 2018.  It is never too early to plan ahead.  Need help with your itinerary?  Let me know, I am here to help you.

In three days we will celebrate Christmas and I want to wish my blog community, viewership and supporters a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Itinerary Planner