Pack Your Bags

If you’re like me, you start dreaming of your next vacation the second you get home from your last one.

There’s nothing wrong with a little wanderlust. And as the New Year rolls around, the endless travel possibilities of 2016 are being brought to light.

Here are just a few of The Huffington Post’s picks as the top travel destinations for 2016:

  1. Hawaii

Although this destination has always been popular, this year marks 75 years since the Pearl Harbor Attacks. This historic moment, which will be commemorated with special events, is sure to draw in a big crowd of history buffs, along with the regular wave of tourists.

  1. New Zealand

While many have only ever dreamt of visiting the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand, travelers will be thrilled to know that this trip has become much more attainable for the new year. After American Airlines announced that it will offer a non-stop flight from L.A. that will begin in June, Air New Zealand immediately lowered their prices for the same route. (I know where my next vacation will be!)

  1. Brazil

With the 2016 Olympics being hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is gearing up for a tourist-packed year. The usual American visa requirement has even been waived in preparation, which will take out some of the hassle for travelers. Bonus: the U.S. dollar has amazing buying power in Brazil!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go look at flights. Safe travels and happy New Year!

Staying Warm in New York

As a lifelong New Yorker, I can confirm the Big Apple is a wonderful place to visit any time of year. But staying warm in these winter months can be difficult. Luckily, for tourists who have been in town in recent weeks, the city has been unseasonably temperate. (We set an all-time record by hitting 68 degrees last weekend! In the middle of December!)

When the weather outside is a little more frightful, however, some people find their time in NYC a little less pleasant. With some preparation, however, conquering the elements is entirely possible. The blog New York Stay has provided “Top Ten Tips for Surviving the Big Freeze” in New York City, and the points cover some absolutely essential points, such as:

  1. Decent shoes or boots that will remain watertight. I must admit, I’ve had a chuckle or two at the expense of out-of-towners who thought they would explore the city in high heels or some other unwise shoe decision. You don’t want to be stuck in that situation.
  2. Thick socks. With all the walking that doing NYC right requires, I typically tell friends to bring thick socks anyway. But in the winter, these will be your best friend.
  3. Gloves. I recommend “tech touch” gloves, with forefingers and thumbs that will allow you to access to crucially important Google Maps on the go.
  4. A nice, soft scarf. New York is the scarf capital of the world. In addition to keeping you warm, this item will also help you blend in.
  5. Long johns or thermal underwear. Nothing can salvage your body temp like a good set of long johns. The best part – nobody can tell you’re wearing them!

If you should arrive in New York and realize you forgot to pack any of the above, I have no doubt the stores on 5th Avenue (which are so beautiful at Christmastime) will be happy to supply you with whatever you need!

Stay Safe on Vacation Rentals

In recent years, vacation rental sites such as Airbnb or TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals have grown in popularity among travelers seeking a budget-friendly, unique place to stay. While these sites do offer amazing deals and experiences, it is important to remember that there are some people out there simply looking to scam you (crazy, right?).

Fortunately, U.S. News & World Report has highlighted ways that you can stay safe when booking with vacation rental sites.

Firstly, never conduct business through an unsecure service. Make sure you are booking through the company’s official site, staying away from any hosts who suggest doing business off of the vacation rental site. If you’re asked to use an instant wire service or to send money through your bank, a red flag should definitely be raised!

If the host also has few to no reviews, you have another reason to be wary. This is when you need to do additional research. You should cross-search on other sites to ensure you are not being scammed. Some sites even offer “verified” accounts that have been checked for authenticity, offering you piece-of-mind.

In addition, it is important to review the listing’s contract agreements to identify the important terms – payment, security deposit, cancellation rules, and amenities. If contracts lack these terms, you may find yourself in a rental scam.

Lastly, if a listing has odd rules or regulations, you may want to pass. Different cities have different rental policies – some don’t even allow overnight rentals! It is up to you to do your homework to ensure the listing you are about to book is legal.

Don’t be one of the many with nightmarish tales about your unconventional vacation rental experience – instead, just be on high alert and take precautionary measures when booking. Prove to that unconvinced friend that these “sketchy” rental sites can actually offer awesome and unforgettable vacation experiences!

Spend Your Winter Vacation Soaking Up the Sun

Don’t feel like enduring the harsh winter weather this year? Here’s some good news – you don’t have to!

This year, consider joining the countless other holiday vacationers who spend their winter vacations in the sun, not bundled up in ten layers of clothing. Thanks to Condé Nast Traveler, you can choose from the most popular holiday travel destinations when planning your winter getaway.

·         Los Angeles, Calif.

o   Who doesn’t want to spend Christmas in 80-degree weather while marveling over the festive palm trees?

·         Orlando, Fla.

o   Travel to the slightly warmer climate of Southern Florida and bring out your inner thrill-seeker at one of Orlando’s famous theme parks.

·         Cancun, Mexico

o   Sun, sand, and affordable airfare. Need I say more?

·         Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

o   Relax beachside and let the stresses of the holidays float away.

·         Phoenix, Ariz.

o   With temperatures in the mid-60s, there is never a better time to enjoy a beautiful desert sunset.

There must be a good reason these destinations are at the top of the list for holiday vacationers, right? Pack your bags this winter and find out what you’re missing!