Category Archives: travel

Celebration: Red, White and Blue

Before we know it, flags will be waving, fireworks bursting and John Philip Sousa tunes blaring. While some people relish in family holiday traditions, there are celebrations happening across the country for the patriotic enthusiast who’s looking for a larger July 4 celebration. Below are a list of the top places to enjoy all things red, white and blue this Independence Day.

Washington, D.C.

It doesn’t get more patriotic than spending Independence Day in our nation’s capital. Not only is D.C. a mecca for all things American history, but there is a pretty fantastic firework show to boot. Take a seat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or a grassy spot on the National Mall to see the show.

New York City

You’re sure to never be bored in the City that Never Sleeps. Whether you take a day trip around the harbor to visit Lady Liberty and Ellis Island or spend the day perusing the newest exhibits at The Met, you have to make sure to catch the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show. Recognized as the nation’s largest celebration of Independence Day, this 25-minute spectacle of pyrotechnics is a must see – even at the Big Apple’s high standards.


As one of our country’s oldest cities, Boston is keen on its Fourth of July celebrations. The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is accompanied not only by the renowned Boston Pops orchestra but also real cannon fire. You can have a great view of all of the festivities from anywhere along the 3-mile stretch of the esplanade along the Charles River.


Where better to enjoy some good ole fashioned patriotism than in America’s birthplace? Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed), so you won’t be without a surplus of American pride and joy. Join in on the Philly fun by attending their eight-day festival that culminates with one of the largest free outdoor concerts in the country and a grand fireworks show that lights up the sky over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  

Wherever you decide to spend your holiday weekend, make sure to celebrate the Fourth in a safe, patriotic way!

Beat the Heat with Summer Style

I can be daunting to look at the forecast only to see high temps creeping towards triple digits. In order to tackle the summer heat and keep your cool, just follow these few simple tips.

Sunglasses, SPF and Hats – Oh My!

It’s pretty obvious as to how an itchy, uncomfortable sunburn can ruin an outfit. Protect your skin, and sanity for that matter, with continual application of a sunscreen (SPF 50 research says). To keep your outfit stylish and your face safe, you can always opt for a floppy hat. Also, if the eyes are the window to the soul, think of your sunglasses as black-out curtains, protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Keep it Cotton (or other natural fibers)

Wearing breathable fabrics like cotton or linen is a sure-fire way to keep your internal body temperature in check. These breathable fabrics are key in making sure that you can enjoy the outdoors without compromising your comfort.

Opt for Lighter Colors

We all know that wearing all-black is a slimming option, but in terms of keeping cool, it’s best to leave the darker hues for winter. Go with lighter colors because they reflect the heat instead of absorb it. Besides, who wants to be drab when white or a bright color can lighten your mood and the feeling of stifling heat?

The Looser, the Better

Flowy clothes don’t cling to your body, allowing air to circulate to your skin. While the common misconception may be that to stay cool you need to shed as many clothes as possible, you’ll feel more comfortable and be more protected from the heat and sun in non-clingy skirts, tops, dresses and pants. 

Vaccinated for Vacation?

Going on vacation across the world can be very rewarding, but there are a few steps of preparation you have to take to protect yourself from coming home with a harmful disease or illness.

First, you should make sure you are up-to-date on all of your general vaccinations and any medical conditions you have are controlled (such as asthma).

General travel vaccinations include Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever. Whether you need all of these vaccinations or just a few depends on which countries you are visiting, what activities you will be participating in (indoor or outdoor) and the time of year (is it mosquito season).

To see which vaccines you need before your vacation or trip, check with your doctor and go online to the CDC website. Taking these precautions will help you have a great time on your trip and prevent you from obtaining any unnecessary diseases. Bon voyage!

Tips for Working While Traveling

As our workplaces become more and more dependent on technology, our business contacts increasingly expect us to always be productive no matter the circumstance – even while 30,000 feet in the air. Thanks to technology, we can continually be connected at the touch of a few buttons. There are almost always inconveniences that occur when working remotely, however. From my experience, I have gained some insight on how to increase productivity despite these inconveniences.

Here are three simple ways to make sure that you are prepared for any travel situation that comes your way:

·         Pack and Plan – Looking ahead at your next business trip, plan for those situations when you are waiting to board the airplane or waiting on your hotel to be available.  During these simple gap periods, you’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish. With these gap periods in mind, package together what you think you might need for different tasks.  Will you need an iPad and a notebook on the plane? Do you need to catch up on the professional development book you’ve been needing to read? Plan ahead and pack for these small but crucial situations. 

·         Prepare for no Wi-Fi and no power – Technology glitches are bound to happen.  And if you are like me, they tend to happen when you need technology the most. Plan for these moments and save a few key documents to your desktop instead of relying on Dropbox or Google Drive. You might also find it helpful to print out a few copies of documents also, just in case you find yourself without the luxury of Wi-Fi.

·         Find ideal work and food locations – Research ahead of time nearby coffee shops and local food spots with free Wi-Fi.  It’s much easier having places already mapped out by the time you arrive with tasty snacks readily available to make your work a little more enjoyable. 

Lastly, don’t expect to get everything you need done accomplished.  Working remotely can be time consuming.  Be mindful of that, and you will already be ahead of the game when you the business trip is booked for the near future.

    – Penny Kokkinides


Next Stop: Rio de Janerio

As the 2016 Summer Olympics approach, now is a great time to learn a little more about the host city — Rio! Whether you’re traveling across the world or watching from your living room, it couldn’t hurt to learn more about the city in which the world’s biggest sporting event is taking place. Who knows, you might find your next vacation destination!

This year the Summer Olympics are taking place in Rio de Janerio. It is the second largest city in Brazil, nestled on the South Atlantic coast. It is also the first South American city to ever host the Summer Olympics, but I wouldn’t consider that their claim to fame.

Most people know Rio for their beautiful beaches, like Copacabana and Ipanema. With their pristine turquoise waters and towering mountainous backdrops, these beaches are a must-see for any traveler. Speaking of these mountainous backdrops, Rio is home to some beautiful mountain scenery, such as Sugar Loaf Mountain, which rises 396 meters at its peak and offers a bird’s-eye-view of the city and its breathtaking scenery.

Of course, you can’t talk about Rio de Janerio without mentioning Carnival. Carnival is a world-famous, five-day festival that takes place every year on the streets of Brazil, and Carnival in Rio de Janerio is known as the biggest and most famous of all the festivals. Attendees of the festival can expect a non-stop week of parades, street parties and celebrations.

Forever 21? Maybe Never 21

Stores like Forever 21 and H&M often seem to monopolize the general clothing market. With consumers buying more and more of their products, it has influenced other higher-priced clothing makers to start bringing down the quality.

Quality clothes with an affordable price is what we are all looking for. It’s time to stop having to throw away lightly worn items at a quicker pace.

A couple of stores worth considering are Misguided, Uniqlo and Modcloth.

Misguided offers clothing at an affordable price and style that will keep you coming back. The clothes are trendy and many can fit into your work/life balance! It is saucy and sassy, with touch of classy. An added benefit is that petite, plus and tall sizes are offered!

Uniqlo is an NYC gem! This fashion-forward retailer has everything you need. Work or play, you will make everyone envious and still keep your check book balanced. No more deciding between rent and fashion.

Modcloth is what you need to add some fun to your wardrobe! The blouses and skirts are worth pining after. Fun prints and pleats, this is what you have been missing. With these clothing items, you will be able to bring cheer to everyone one around you.

Next Stop: Portland


Rose City, Bridge City, Slab City, Rip City. Whatever you want to call it, Portland, Ore., is where your eyes should be drawn for your next vacation.

As you will soon see, Portland offers something for everyone:

The aspiring adventurer can get her or his kick by taking a quick drive to Multnomah Fall, where you will be greeted by a light hike and beautiful views. This should keep the restless spirit at bay for the day.

The foodie will be in heaven! Take a stroll downtown during lunch and pick whichever truck smells best. Once you have secured your treasures, go to O’Bryant Square to take in the local scene and dig in! It doesn’t end there, though. Throw a rock and you’ll hit a great restaurant. Mediterranean Exploration Company, in the pearl, has some of the most fabulous grilled octopus you will ever dare to try.

The beer connoisseur will be enlivened when she or he hits the town and is exposed to all of the local breweries PDX has to offer. There are breweries in The Pearl, Sellwood, Beaverton and every other place. You name the neighborhood and they will have at least one!

If you picked up a tea or coffee habit on the way, don’t worry. Now you will finally be able to have a cup of whichever beverage without hearing nagging about it not being good enough. Stumptown has a nitro-tapped cold brew to write home about. Just be careful, two cups of this essential beverage has been known to give even the most experience coffee connoisseur the jitters. With so many local coffee and tea shops around, it would be wise to stay away from the coffee giant that plagues the city, Starbucks.

For the frugal traveler here is perhaps the best perk of all: Oregon has no sales tax! Your personified wallet will be able to take a sigh of relief. You may still find that you can’t resist breaking the bank in Portland, but at least it won’t be as painful.

Vermont Vacation

Some of my favorite escapes this time of the year come when I can sneak away for a vacation in Vermont. A place where 75 percent of the state is covered in forests and billboards are illegal provides the perfect place for me to unwind.

Aside from hikers, adventure seekers and skiers, Vermont isn’t often thought of as an ideal vacation location. News flash: it absolutely is – unless you are unwilling to give up fast food. Vermont’s state capital (Montpelier) doesn’t even have a McDonald’s, and there are only 20 in the entire state.

If you’ve ever been to Portland 0r Seattle, you’ve probably been inspired by the friendly community, creative culture and abundance of fresh, organic food. Vermont is the Seattle of the Northeast. It is top ranked for happy, healthy and educated people. As of 2009, there were 543 organic farms in the state. That’s not all, though! To protect the dairy industry, it is illegal for restaurants to use margarine without stating on the menu that the margarine is artificially colored in 2 inch font. 

A must-see is Sugarbush Farms. It has beautiful grounds that are perfect from strolling and it has free cheese and syrup samples for visitors! Yum!

There are also a number of inns and hotels to stay at, but if you get the chance try to stay a night at Homestyle Hostel. It is beautifully decorated with an internal environment to match.

Have you been to Vermont? If so, tell me about some of your favorite stops in the comments!

Planning Your Next Vacation

Winter in New York is harsh, but it makes you appreciate when the weather is warmer. As winter finally starts to die down and the anticipation of spring is becoming unbearable, it is time to start planning your spring/summer vacation.

Tropical climates might be cliche for vacation, but I personally need to warm my toes in the sand and absorb some fresh vitamin D.

If you’re planning your “break-free-from-winter” trip for the spring, it is advised that you avoid Florida and Mexico. Spring breakers can quickly turn a relaxing vacation into a trip you want to repress more than they do.

Here are a few places to consider:

·         Dominican Republic

o   Beautiful beaches and a culture to match, this place is one for the bucket list! Try to pick up The Rough Guide to the Dominican Republic 3 for many useful tips.

·         Phuket, Thailand

o   Thailand is full of dream-like atmospheres that will have you reconsidering if you really need to go home.

·         Bora Bora

o   Turquoise lagoons, plush sand and swimming with sea turtles is all that needs to be said.

·         Bali

o   If you’ve ever seen Eat, Pray, Love, you are probably already dreaming about your Bali trip.

·         Tenerife, Spain

o   The largest of the Canary Islands, this place has it all. Hiking and climbing for the adventurers. Yellow and black sand beaches for the beach bums.

Snow, Snow, Go Away!

Have you ever wished you had the Fairy Godmother skills to simply make something disappear? That’s how I currently feel about snow. I would love to bippity-boppity-boop and not hear from it for the rest of the season. Over the weekend, the city got 26.8 inches of snow – just 0.1 inches shy of reaching the record accumulation!

The issues snowstorm Isaac has cause are wide-ranging, and include public transit delays and the fact that people in Queens haven’t seen the local streets in days. Folks who have a risky time getting to work should take the day off. And if you can’t make it to the nearest store or market for dinner, I recommend ordering take-out. It’s more important than ever during these times to stay safe.

However, the unwelcome white stuff has also been causing some issues around the city more serious than frigid toes and occasional shivering. Five deaths have been reported across the city due to heart attacks induced by shoveling snow. If you have to shovel snow around your home, be very careful and have someone nearby to call for help if needed.

If you’re an active, young adult who still feels invincible against the snow, the city is looking to temporarily hire people to help clear snow from city-owned properties. Perhaps you could even ask if your elderly neighbor needs help – it may save their life.