My Birthday Trip to Aspen, Colorado.

My Birthday Trip to Aspen, Colorado.

With the realities of COVID travel, I decided to travel to Colorado for my birthday celebration. It was as fulfilling as any of my international destinations, so I encourage you to try exploring within the US as much as you desire to travel internationally. Here are some highlights of my 5-day 4-night trip.

After I planned my trip, the hotel notified me that the COVID restrictions had changed for Aspen and Pitkin County not to allow indoor dining. Also, a negative COVID test was necessary before travel. I considered canceling my trip as the thought of testing, and outdoor dining in the winter was not my idea of an ideal trip, but I’m so glad I chose not to.

My stay was at St Regis Aspen, and I planned to arrive mid-afternoon as many hotels post that the room may not be ready until afternoon. My room was ready upon arrival, and my reception was as expected for a St. Regis property. A hotel representative met me at the airport who tagged the luggage to my room, so I did not struggle with luggage.

Day one was for checking in, getting set up in the room, and exploring around the hotel. I was not too fond of the first room assigned because of the obstructed view and, upon request, was moved to another room right away. The concierge recommended an excellent restaurant for dinner, and even though it was outdoor dining, it was an enjoyable experience with the heat lamps.

Day two was my birthday, and I scheduled morning snowmobiling and an afternoon dinner. Since there was also an 8 pm curfew, dinner had to be early to be back at the hotel before the deadline. The hotel arranged transportation to and from the snowmobiling location for a fee. However, it was private transportation, and the driver was accommodating with great tips and ideas. I chose to go to another county, Basalt county, to have an indoor dining experience for dinner. The hotel offered a BMW 7 series car with a 4-hour test drive window, and I took advantage of it as the restaurant was less than 30 minutes away.

On day three, I chose to go for a snowboarding lesson on Snowmass. Again, I took advantage of the car from the hotel and drove to Snow mass, which was also less than 30 minutes away. Snowmass was all that I pictured Aspen Colorado to be with snow falling, gondola rides, and ski lift experiences. The heated pool at the hotel was a great end to the day.

Day four was set aside for writing content for my blog and relaxing after snowmobiling and snowboarding lessons. It was an excellent way to relax before leaving the following day.

Overall, my trip to Aspen was an incredible experience, and my stay at St. Regis, all I expected and more. The staff was excellent, and I received complimentary champagne and truffles from the hotel to mark my birthday. The hotel also offered a breakfast credit in their modified outdoor dining space and blankets to make dining a pleasant experience.

I did not anticipate a winter vacation being so wonderful, but I encourage you to give it a try. Have you been to Aspen? Let me know if your experiences were as good as mine or ask me any questions you may have.

Carry-Ons.

Carry-Ons.

Carry-ons are usually small items you take on board that travel with you on the airplane for your convenience when traveling. With the abundance of budget carriers, regional jet flights, and airline restrictions, the carry-on is up to the interpretation of many. Check-in agents, baggage screeners, gate agents, and flight attendants are many that determine what is considered carry-on.

If you are traveling on a larger airplane, you may be permitted to take two luggage pieces with you. You should place one in an overhead bin and the other under the seat in front of you. If you are on a smaller aircraft, you are more than likely only allowed to travel with a small item such as a purse or bag. When booking your flight, the information will indicate aircraft type, and you can google it to give you an idea of the aircraft layout. Note that the airline may change aircraft type, as you are paying for transportation, not specific aircraft.

Passengers are not guaranteed carry on space. There may be designated areas that are cabin specific overhead space such as first-class or business class. However, even with this designation, personal space is not exact. There are also many times when the area located directly above your seat may be full, and you will have to find other space, often behind you, to stow your carry-on.

While carry-on limitations may be a hassle to many travelers, safety reasons dictate their necessity. It can be hazardous if a large, heavy bag falls on a passenger because a fellow traveler cannot lift it into an overhead bin. There is also the chance of carry-ons falling out of the overhead bin if not properly packed or falling during turbulence. Carry-ons can also be dangerous if there is an emergency, and people are more concerned with collecting their bags than there are with your life and the speed of getting off an airplane. Additionally, behind-the-scenes considerations such as weight and balance of the aircraft may impact how many bags and or weight are allowed in the airplane cabin.

When packing a carry-on, the passenger should consider these realities and their impact on travel and other travelers. It can be extremely frustrating to board an airplane and be held up by the passenger in front of you who has to unload necessary items from their carry-on before they can be seated. The process of boarding a flight is not only held up, but passengers following behind may become frustrated, and you are often entertainment for the people already sitting and watching you.

Flight attendants will urge you to take your seat as quickly as possible, and while they can assist you in finding space to stow your luggage, there is no obligation to lift or help you with your luggage. The gate agents can become annoyed that you are affecting their on-time departure. The pilot risks losing his departure slot because of your delay, not to mention the timing of connecting flights.

When considering carry-on, think of what you need to have onboard with you. With the realities of baggage fees (see earlier post), you may be tempted to see carry on as just another piece of luggage. Considering carry-on facts can make for a more pleasant travel experience for you and your fellow passengers.
Have you any stories about carry-ons? I’d love to hear.

Choosing Travel Partners, Group Travel

Choosing Travel Partners, Group Travel

Before Covid, there were tons of fun awesome looking pictures of group travel and I’m sure many were tempted and inspired to put a travel group together. I spoke on an earlier blog about travel compatibility. Traveling with one person who does not have the same travel personality can be a bother. Traveling with an incompatible group is much harder.
Imagine traveling with a group and the plan is to meet at 9 am. You show up at the appointed time and wait 15 minutes before the next group member shows up. By the time the entire group is ready for the planned day, it is now 10 am or later.
You start on the planned itinerary but now one or more group members has to have coffee or breakfast. The lunch plans arranged now have to be adjusted and the destination closes at a certain time.
These are only a few of the scenarios that can go wrong on a group trip so before you plan a wonderful trip with friends or family, make sure you are all somewhat compatible. Knowing if someone cannot start their day without coffee, tea or breakfast is helpful. Knowing who is or who isn’t a morning person is helpful. Knowing who has a high energy level all day and who doesn’t is important.
Group travel often takes time and coordination just to make the travel plans, not to mention the budget that everyone has to agree to. Planning a trip that everyone is looking forward to and has paid for, and subsequently going through minor frustrations every day of the trip is so disappointing.
My advice is to take all these considerations and more into account before spending your money and time on a trip you will regret. As an experienced traveler, I know personally how group travel can fall apart. Plan carefully before you consider group travel. If planned correctly it can be a most treasured experience.
Have you had a bad experience with group travel? Would you recommend it? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Staycation tips.

Staycation tips.

Being a frequent traveler, COVID left me mentally exhausted.  I was living on an island state and Singapore, took the lockdown seriously.  The missed travel opportunities left me consumed with lockdown exhaustion, so when Singapore came up with the idea of a staycation, I was immediately on board.  Here are my five tips for making your staycation a pleasure.

1. A big bed! You’ll be spending plenty of time in bed so enjoy the pleasure of a nice large bed. The hotel will make your bed every day, and you’ll feel pampered sleeping in a freshly made bed during your stay.

2. A room with a view.  Staying in is part and parcel of the staycation so try to have a room with a view.  The higher the floor of the hotel, the more you will enjoy the view. Some hotels limit guests at the pool, gym, restaurants, and most public spaces in the hotel. While I understood this safety measure, it can restrict your hotel’s enjoyment, so having a nice view can make a big difference.

3. In-room service.  Dining out can be a big part of your travel plans, and dining in during a staycation was a guilt-free pleasure.  Even if it’s one meal a day, it can make your stay feel more like a travel experience and a way to pamper yourself.

4. A bathtub.  A bubble bath can be another indulging experience.  You will want to soak in the tub as long as you desire, so first, make sure the tub is clean.  Since you’re on a staycation, taking liquids such as bathtub cleaner with you only makes sense. Take your favorite bath oils, scents, or even floral petals like roses. The best part is you don’t have to clean the tub!

5. A night out.  Even though all restaurants are not open, some will be.  Make a reservation well in advance at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a reservation at a Michelin star restaurant that previously had a six-month waiting list. There was plenty of social distancing at the restaurant. I just told the chef my preference, let him do the cooking and deciding. It was indeed a dining-by-design experience.

Have you taken a staycation? It is well worth the splurge and can maybe relieve your travel angst.  Not to mention no airline tickets! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2021 Travel resolutions

2021 Travel resolutions

It’s a new year and time for travel resolutions. Due to COVID 19 and its impact on travel, many could not realize their 2020 travel resolutions. We’re still dealing with the COVID virus, and its implications for future travel is uncertain. If we keep this in mind when making our 2021 resolutions, we may fulfill many more of our travel hopes and dreams.

Travelers should decide if they want to travel internationally or domestically. With the COVID virus and its global impact, there is much to consider when traveling. Different countries have special restrictions based on where you are traveling from or where you have traveled previously. Traveling domestically also has parallel realities, with individual US states having unique requirements for entry or stay within the state.

Travel does not need to be expensive or exotic, nor does it have to be long-distance. Consider a staycation, where you check into a hotel and explore your city from a tourist point of view. It’s always eye-opening to see the many valuable travel ideas that are within our reach without the hassle of long-distance travel.

At the end of 2021, you should be able to measure your travel hopes and dreams to your travel realities. Before COVID 19, I would have advised focusing on a specific destination. I believe focusing on a singular goal keeps you motivated to one particular intent, and there is less chance of being tempted to switch travel ambitions. However, in today’s COVID climate, when you focus on a specific destination, your travel may not come to reality due to a particular country’s restrictions.

For 2021, let us decide to travel, regardless of the destination. Traveling has so much to offer, and if we keep an open mind about our travel plans, I believe we can accomplish so much more.

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