She Roams About

She Roams About

wanderings and wonderings

World Vision Holiday Gift Basket Giveaway!!!

Disclosure: Post sponsored by World Vision but all opinions are my own.  I’m giving one lucky reader their very own World Vision Gift basket valued at $500!  Enter here before MIDNIGHT DECEMBER…

Disclosure: Post sponsored by World Vision but all opinions are my own. 

I’m giving one lucky reader their very own World Vision Gift basket valued at $500!  Enter here before MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 19th (Pacific Time (US & Canada)) to win.

Doing your holiday shopping and need some inspiration?  These products are gorgeous and World Vision’s Gift Catalog offers gifts that have a multiplier effect—positively impacting the giver, receiver and those in need. Consider checking them out during your holiday shopping to join World Vision’s efforts to tackle poverty and injustice around the world, helping children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential.

World Vision is a humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, visit www.worldvision.org.

When a donation is made to World Vision’s “Where Most Needed” fund, donors can choose from different items (like the below) to receive as a meaningful memento of their gift

Items included in the gift basket prize for one lucky winner:

Wraparound Ring (value $55)– A vibrant, adjustable ring with aqua and blue chalcedony stones set in metal, made by female artisans in India.

The Heaton Hope Bracelet (value $100) – This year, everyone’s favorite TV mom, Patricia Heaton, has partnered with World Vision to design the Patricia Heaton Hope Bracelet. The name was purposely chosen to encourage people to feel hopeful about our world and to give hope, through generosity, to those in need.

Vietnamese Tote(value $100) – Disabled Vietnamese women gain independence by creating these beautiful hand-embroidered purses.

African Soapstone Box(value $85) – Talented artisans bring raw stone to life with etched designs and hand dyed finishes that showcase modern African creativity and provide a sustainable way out of poverty.

Charm Necklace (value $100) – Made by a gold and silver plating specialist in India, the unique and elegant charms make this necklace a subtle statement piece

Infinity Scarf (value $75)– This fashion-forward accessory is made by artisans in India who are trained in the loom industry to attain skills and a sustainable livelihood.

Enter here to win before MIDNIGHT DECEMBER 19th (Pacific Time (US & Canada))!

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Why and How I Became a Travel Hack

I get asked all the time how I can afford to travel as much as I do.  The short answer is because much of my travel is free!  It’s true….

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I get asked all the time how I can afford to travel as much as I do.  The short answer is because much of my travel is free!  It’s true.  I do something called travel hacking.  I started researching how to be financially creative after leaving my corporate biotechnology career.  I’m a thrifty girl anyway but I had heard bits and pieces about people who were able to get free travel through credit card mileage rewards.  For awhile I’d assumed this was through spending money to earn travel miles or rewards on their card which they redeemed for flights and cars.  But after doing my research I started to learn about the value of credit card sign on bonuses as a way to REALLY rack up the miles/rewards.

So I studied as much as I could and eventually applied for my first credit card.   I managed to meet the requirements to have a card and meet this criteria for the bonus once the card was approved.  It was simple.  So simple.  And after 3 months BOOM.  I had enough miles/rewards to get a round-trip international ticket!

I was a bit stunned that it was so easy and for a long time, being the sceptic that I am, wondered what the catch was.  And guess what?  There is none.  Of course I had to be thorough about reviewing the fine print on credit card offers, which I did.  And it really didn’t take much time to do so.  So with maybe an hours worth of work on my part I became a travel hack and I haven’t looked back.

I’ll be posting soon about an upcoming Christmas holiday trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico that we were able to plan with some recent earnings.  So stay tuned.  And if you want to get started with a card I’d recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which has a great 50,000 bonus point offer at the moment.  I’m excited about sharing this little scheme with others who want to travel but have had a hard time earning enough to cover the expense of travel.  Feel free to post questions in the comments if you’re not sure about getting started.  I’ll do the best I can to answer them.

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How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards to Pay for Christmas in Cabo Flights and Car

Those who have known me for any length of time know I’m thrifty.  And travel comes at a price so I’ve learned to get financially creative over time, searching high…

Those who have known me for any length of time know I’m thrifty.  And travel comes at a price so I’ve learned to get financially creative over time, searching high and low for deals, tips and tricks.  My plan is to do a series of posts where I show you specific examples of how I’ve used travel hacking skills to pay for travel.   I hope you enjoy this first example.  I’ll certainly be enjoying it as I’m laying poolside while getting served drinks and food.

So for family travel with less flexible dates I like to pick travel dates when the school calendar comes out.  We planned out our family vacation schedule for the year when the new calendar school was posted.  We’d decided we wanted sunshine over the winter holidays as a break from Seattle cold and gray.

Awhile back I earned 50K Chase Ultimate Rewards for just signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I’ve earned a little over the same amount since applying because I put everything possible on credit and pay it off every month.  That means everything such as childcare, utilities, dining, food, gas, etc.   EVERYTHING.  I rarely use cash, usually only when traveling internationally when buying street food or souvenirs from merchants who don’t accept cards.  The Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you 2 points per dollar spent on all travel and dining and we had plenty of expenses in those categories from past travel.  It gives me such delight to have past travel help fund future travel.

After selecting dates for our escape to the sunshine holiday trip I watched for to all travel deals to sunny places for the next several weeks.  An amazing and unexpected deal hit for Cabo San Lucas at the end of year holidays! I looked for availabiliy for our travel dates and it looked like a real possibility.  So I took at peek at whether there were enough points to cover one or more of the flights.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed by converting points earned to a dollar amount if you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website OR transferred to a number of participating airlines.  They can also be cashed in for purchasing gift cards, getting cold hard cash back or for Amazon.com purchases.  The great thing about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is that you can redeem rewards earned on it for travel for 25% more than the standard point value redemption!

This is a pretty sweet deal and meant that for our Cabo trip all of our flights were covered.  Every time I score free travel I feel like I’ve beat the system!  The feeling never gets old.  It’s like lining up the pieces of the puzzle and suddenly everything comes together.  I imagine it’s like what those who play crossword puzzles feel when they finish the puzzle.  It’s a rush.  The total cost of the flights was $1774.83 but we used a little over 100K points to cover the majority of the cost. We did have to spend around $100 to cover the remaining cost but round trip non-stop flights for the 3 of us for $100 was a BARGAIN.  And remember that those 50K free bonus points we got just for signing up with the card covered half of this and points we earned through regular spending covered the rest.  I used another relatively small chunk of points to cover most of our rental car cost of $130.76 so the cost of the rental car for us for the week was only $25!  Here’s what the redemptions looked like:


So that’s how we managed to get air and car for our upcoming Cabo trip for about $125!

 

And of course we’ll be earning loads of new points when we pay for accommodations in Cabo.  Future travel planning shall be taking place again soon so if you haven’t done so yet be sure to subscribe to follow along future adventures at She Roams About!

 

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Incredible Cyber Monday Travel Gear Deals

Check out these sweet Cyber Monday deals on travel gear!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more information.

Have you shopped?  Dropped?  Well hang on for a little while longer.  We have a few more hours of Cyber Monday yet and I’ve rounded up some sweet deals on great travel gear to help get you though your holiday travels or package up for gifts for the travelers on your list.  These and many great deals are still available on Amazon.   So head on over and check them out now before the deals disappear.  Happy shopping!

Anker Quick Charge 3.0 39W Dual USB Wall Charger

I’m the first to admit that I have power issues.  I am hard on my electronics when on the road and always run down my cell, camera, bluetooth headset, etc when wandering about.  There two chargers will keep the busiest road warrior powered up.

Anker PowerCore 5000, Ultra-Compact 5000mAh External Battery

(2Pack) Universal Waterproof Case, Maxboost Cellphone Dry Bag Pouch
Traveling solo and want to keep your cell out of harms way?  These waterproof dry bag pouches are great and what a steal for two!  Great stocking stuffer option!

KINGSO Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Sports Water
There’s no getting around the need for hydration.  These attractive vacuum insulated flasks will keep your drinkies cold and attractive.  Easy clean to boot!

Therm-a-Rest Airhead Pillow, Amethyst
Therm-a-rest is a leader in comfort products and this travel pillow is no exception.  Arrive at your destination well-rested and ready to explore.  Can’t beat he price!

Youphoria 20×40-Inch Towel, Gray/Pink
When traveling in Bali I could not have lived without my quick dry travel towel.   These can be quite pricy but Amazon has a great deal at the moment.  These are great compact towels for the backpacker on your list.

TESSAN Universal Travel Plug Adapter USA to The most of Europe Travel Prong Adapter Plug Kit for the most of Europe(Type C) – 3 Pack

Are you lucky enough to be heading EU this soon?  This multi-pack is a steal and will help you power up all your addictive gadgets while on the road.  Also a great stocking stuffer!

Scratch the World® – scratch off your map of the world travel poster! – detailed cartography – Large Size 33¼ x 23½ inches
Looking for a unique gift for a friend or family member who’s been bitten by the travel bug.  This would make a fun and unique gift and inspire them to knock more countries off their bucket list.  It’s going on my holiday wish list!

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Planning Our Vancouver Thanksgiving Getaway

Tomorrow we’ll be taking off to spend some time in Vancouver.  I’m hoping for a better trip than last time when Jonah and I got caught in a blizzard on…

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Tomorrow we’ll be taking off to spend some time in Vancouver.  I’m hoping for a better trip than last time when Jonah and I got caught in a blizzard on the drive north as Brian was flying into Vancouver from a business trip.  Driving in near white out conditions on icy roads was no joke.  It was STRESSFUL and Jonah was terrified.

I researched accommodations a couple of months ago when we first decided we were taking these vacation days.  You can read more about maximizing how many vacation days we could use in my older post here.  We’ll be going for 5 nights and staying in an AirBnB the Kitsilano (aka Kits) Beach neighborhood, a great neighborhood which we’ve come to really like over the years.  Our travel time won’t eat up too much of that since we’re driving only a couple hours each way and we’ve all got Nexus passes so we can zip across the border.

I’ll attempt to walk you through step by step as I plan out the details of our trip.  I wrote a bit about some of the tools I use when trip planning here.  Now let’s get down to business.   I’m doing some last minute planning because I’ve had a lot on my plate.  My goals is to make a rough plan of activities during the days we’re in town.  I know I’d like to do some Christmas shopping and we’ve decided we’d like to have a nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner at a favorite Indian restaurant of ours in the city, Vij’s.  They don’t take reservations so we’ll just hope for the best and if necessary be flexible.

So we’ll leave tomorrow and settle in to our rental, do some grocery shopping and possibly grab dinner out, even though we’ll have a kitchen in our AirBnB.  We’ll likely leave by noon on our return so we’ll not plan any activities for those travel days.  That leaves 4 full days for activities.

Facebook Events

A quick browse Facebook Events brought up several fun Christmas market options in the area over those days.  I was thrilled to see that Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios show is playing when we’re in town.  We’re big fans and haven’t seen this one yet.  Jonah saw his first Cirque show, Luzia, early in the year and really loved it so it’d be great to enjoy another with him.  I found matinée tix at 40% off.  Boom.  Done.

TripAdvisor

I looked at all attractions and things to do on TripAdvisor and mapped them out.  Almost everything that looks good for us is on the west side of Vancouver including the Museum of Anthropology, Granville Island, the Vancouver aquarium, the Bill Reid Gallery, Science World, Stanley Park, shopping areas, one of which includes a funky gem and mineral store I think Jonah will love, and various points of interest such as totem poles, murals and large street art sculptures.

Weather and Scheduling

I checked the hours of the museum, aquarium and the science center and all are open 7 days a week.  I checked the weather forecast, which calls for rain all of our days and one day that will be slightly warmer than the others.   The warmer day will be for outdoor parks, points of interest, and outdoor shopping.  We can do Granville Island and Science World one day.  We’ll do the Cirque show one afternoon.  So here’s how those have all shaped up on the schedule-

Tuesday Travel day

Wednesday  Vancouver Aquarium, Brockton Point totem pole, Stanley Park

Thursday Brunch, stroll and shop in Kits Beach and then Cirque show in afternoon followed by dinner at Vij’s Indian for nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner

Friday Science world and Granville Island

Saturday Museum of Anthropology, Robson Street shopping,  art gallery and points of interest

Sunday Travel day, brunch at Medina cafe and then hit the road

So there you have it.  We have a road map for our days with room for spontaneity.  And I’ve also come to understand the value  in remaining flexible to allow for flux in energy, moods, etc.   I’m sure I’ll post about our trip so stay tuned.  Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, at home or wherever your travels take you.

 

 

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Solo Women Travelers’ Tips for Avoiding Street Harassment and Sexual Assault

When the subject of my solo travels comes up with other women I inevitably hear something along the lines of “You’re so brave.  I could never do that.”  There’s no…

Untitled design-3When the subject of my solo travels comes up with other women I inevitably hear something along the lines of “You’re so brave.  I could never do that.”  There’s no doubt it  takes all kinds of courage to travel.  But I suspect that one of the primary deterrents to women setting out in the world solo is the fear for personal safety.

With the #metoo movement unfolding after the revelations of misconduct in Hollywood it’s clear why many women don’t feel safe enough to adventure on their own.  It’s not moving through the world alone that’s the main issue.  It’s the fact that you’re not really ever alone but must always be on guard.  This nagging fear of getting attacked puts a damper on everyday life and is sharpened by the natural fear and uncertainty that comes from being in a foreign place with different cultural norms.  All that heightened awareness of how vulnerable we are and need for hyper-vigilance is one price we have to pay for bopping around the planet solo.  It’s not right.  It’s unfair.  But it’s reality.

So what do us brave women do to stay safe when traveling?  I’m part of online community of women who travel solo and the topic of personal safety while on the road comes up  more frequently than any other.  I wish I could say there wasn’t any sharing of personal accounts of sexual assaults or unwanted attention during their travels.   There are many.  And I have several firsthand experiences of harrassment on the road.   Here are some practical suggestions for addressing personal safety that this group of women travelers came up with during a recent discussion.

Preventing Unwanted Attention

Some strategies for avoiding being harrassed that came out of the discussion were ignoring, exuding confidence, avoiding eye contact, pretending to talk on the phone, wearing headphones with sound off so still aware, walking with resting bitch face, moving away and dressing modestly and in accordance with cultural norms of country being visited.  Someone suggested acting crazy and make bizarre sounds and movements.  Also suggested were avoiding drinking and other activities that increase vulnerability to attack.   I would just add to this that researching the area you’re visiting to learn about areas to avoid and local cultural dress have been very helpful for me.  I have also used traveler forums such as TripAdvisor and Thorn Tree to keep current on safety considerations.   The US Department of State has current country warnings and regional safety information and considerations.

Tools for Staying Safe

Several members suggested getting self defense training prior to traveling, carrying personal safety items such as pepper spray, (or hairspray if illegal), weapons such as a taser or knife and even more high tech options such as a personal alarm.  There may be some challenges to bringing or acquiring many of these while traveling but they are recommendations for consideration should circumstances allow.

What to do if Harassed or Attacked

If you are harassed or assaulted you should head toward secure places like banks, shout, make a scene, take a photo of the perpetrator if possible, call local law enforcement, file a police report and contact your embassy.

I appreciated these suggestions for avoiding harassment and assault and staying safe as we wander the world.  Traveling has made me a more confident woman.  It’s with this confidence that I claim my right to discover more of the world and all it has to offer, despite the danger that comes with fully engaging with new surroundings.  I encourage all women to venture out.  Keep your wits about you and follow that gut.   Safe travels ladies!

 

 

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Gift Guide for Travel Bugs On Your List

Well the Christmas trees, advent calendars and wrapping paper have hit the shelves. I even saw the Santa’s village set up and huge Christmas decorations dangling from above in the…

just sold-2.pngWell the Christmas trees, advent calendars and wrapping paper have hit the shelves. I even saw the Santa’s village set up and huge Christmas decorations dangling from above in the mall this past weekend.  Thanksgiving is around the corner and several times this past week people have mentioned their plans for Black Friday to me. There’s no avoiding the fact that the clock has started ticking for preparing for the big day.    I’ve been peeking around at gifts for travelers and there’s some really fun and practical goodies.  Here are a few here to get the wheels churning as you built that gift list.  Enjoy!

PLANNING AND INSPIRATION

After Christmas breaks the bank it’s hard to fathom saving for future adventures.   But the newest book by Chris Gullibeau  Side Hustle helps break down concrete steps for having a side hustle that helps fund wandering.   It’s a great read.

I received the Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders

for my birthday and have been enjoying it in bits every evening before bed, sharing some parts with my son.  Not your everyday travel book, it’s chock full of mysterious, overlooked places.  It’s densely packed with photos, descriptions, charts and maps of places around the globe and is just as appealing to the armchair traveler as the adventurous traveler.  This is my favorite type of travel inspiration book.  I highly recommend it for the travel bugs on your list this year.

This Adventure Fund Bank helps wanderers keep their eye on the prize at an affordable price!

And while you’re saving for that next vacation why not at least enjoy a little whiskey as you browse those travel guides?  How great is this Globe Style Whiskey Decanter?

TECHNOLOGY

There are so many great technology gifts out there at this day and age.   Here are just a few I’ve come across recently that captured my eye recently.

The vintage styled Instax Mini Classic Instant Film Camera.  It surprised me that it has a macro mode and high performance flash.  And the kit comes with 4 pcs color close up filter lens (Blue, Green, Red, Orange).   It’s got a selfie mirror and it comes with a fitted case with a removable strap.  Bonus points for the 60 Page Retro Album, Lucite Frame + 5 colored plastic frames it comes with.   It would make a great gift with a fun retro vibe that appeals to all ages. 

TheTOPHOME Cord Organizer Headset is one of those simple yet practical doodads that makes life easier.  Why struggle to untangle the dang headset one more time?  This would make a great stocking stuffer!

I’m always looking for ways to condense my technology bag when on the road.  When traveling there are inevitably too few power outlets and I end up rescue breathing life into my devices which is impractical and inefficient.   This AGPtek Portable Power Strip universal socket has 4 USB ports with input voltage range of 100v to 240v so it’s perfect for international travel.  The wraparound power cord design makes for easy storage and it’s convenience for business trips and vacations.

PACKING
I love lists.  And I’ve been a big fan of this packing list, and all of the great checklists this company produces for a while.  In fact I’m pretty sure my first Pack This Checklist pad came as a Christmas gift to me many years ago.  It’s a simple solution to making sure you’ve not forgotten anything.  When traveling with my family I make one for each person to make packing a breeze.  The back sizes of these sheets are blank so they’re a great place to make sublists of which particular items in each category to bring.

Anyone who knows me knows I despise clutter.  And there’s nothing more crazy making when traveling than not being able to keep my things organized.  This is especially true of my makeup and toiletries.  Often there’s little sink counter space in places I stay, or none sometimes in hostels.  This Zoevan Waterproof Cosmetic Bag/Bucket is a sanity saver.  It’s super cute to boot.

And last but not least in my gift list for your globetrotting friends and family is this great Compact Pocket Picnic/Beach Blanket  This is another great stocking stuffer option!

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The Roaming Gal’s Guide to Staying Healthy and Comfortable on the Road

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more information. As I gear up for some end-of-year family travel I thought I’d share some of my…

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more information.

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As I gear up for some end-of-year family travel I thought I’d share some of my favorite products for staying healthy and comfortable when on the road.

We’ll be getting a little sunshine down in Mexico over the holidays.  Gone are my younger days of suntanning with baby oil on my skin and Sun-In in my hair.  Sun protection is now something I’m more mindful of  and let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger so averting wrinkles is additional incentive.  Several years ago my dermatologist told me La Roche-Posay Anthelios was the best sunscreen.  I trusted her expertise on the subject so I started using it and have never looked back.  We have spent a lot of time in France and it’s available in all the pharmacies over there but I’ve never seen it stocked in brick and mortar stores in the states so I’ve always gotten mine online when stateside.

Another favorite of mine for the skin is the amazingly simple but luxurious Evian Spray 

I know it’s just fancy water but I cannot stress how amazing this stuff feels when your skin is dehydrated or if you’re in a hot environment.  It’s the finest mist ever.   I’m serious.   It’s the bomb.  Get it and I guarantee you’ll be happy you did.

Jet lag is one of the biggest drags of being on the road, and even worse after returning home.   When I have a short amount of time at my destination I always want to hit the ground running.  These 1Above Anti Jet Lag Flight Drink Tablets are an easy solution to jet lag woes. Nobody wants to be slowed down while on the road so stock up now.

I’m prone to ear pressure issues during landing.   You can imagine how happy I was when EarPlanes came onto the market.  There’s no more unhappiness for this girl when my flight is descending.  I believe there’s a younger children’s version of these.

In-flight comfort is a priority for me.  I’m prone to neck pain so finding a neck pillow that keeps me comfy is serious business.  In addition to being made with memory foam to keep my neck supported during flights this one also has a handy snap that makes it easy to clip onto the outside of my carry-on so I save valuable packing space inside of my bag.

And finally I always, and I mean always, have Airborne tablets in my arsenal, especially during cold and flu season.   I keep this big bottle at home but always have some in a container in my carry on and religiously take them when flying.   

Wishing you all healthy and happy travels as we move into one of the busiest travel times of the year!

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Where to Shop, Eat and Relax in Ashland

Ashland, Oregon is a small and very charming town which is enjoyed by over 400,000 during its annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  In addition to its draw for festival season it’s an…

IMG_1628Ashland, Oregon is a small and very charming town which is enjoyed by over 400,000 during its annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  In addition to its draw for festival season it’s an exciting and fun destination worthy of a stopover for those traveling between San Francisco and Seattle.

I’ve been wanting to explore Ashland for a while so I jumped at an invitation to meet up with my girl Melanie for some girl time as the festival was finishing up for the season.  I planned to stay a few nights while Brian and Jonah held down the fort.  It’s a quick one hour shuttle flight from Seattle to nearby Medford on Alaska Air.  The town is situated near the California border on the south end of the jaw-dropingly beautiful Rogue Valley.  It’s simply stunning in fall.  The valley is punctuated by vineyards and apple, pear and peach orchards and the autumn color changes of leaves was a real treat!  In additional to enjoying the Henry IV plays I found time for shopping, enjoying the food scene and getting my relaxation on.  I’ve detailed them below and hope you have a chance to explore the area and enjoy it as much as I did.

Shopping

Oregon has no sales tax so it’s only natural that one might find some time to indulge in a little shopping while in town.  I discovered the local share bike system so I hopped on one near the cottage I was staying in at Anne Hathaway’s and went to the commercial center of town to poke around shops.  There are plenty of quaint boutiques to get your retail on.  I stumbled into Nest, the most adorable shop with a great selection of handmade pottery and wooden cutting boards.  I picked up the perfect little bowl for my stove top sea salt I use daily for cooking.  I also enjoyed The Paddington Jewel Box.

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It was in the Ashland area that Seattle hotelier Samuel Rosenburg found a pear orchard in 1910 and traded his Seattle Hotel Sorrento for it.  It went on to become the Harry and David’s we know today and factory tours are available.  See website for details.

Dining and Artisanal Delights

Since I flew in to Medford in the morning I decided for a stop at the well-known and highly-reviewed Buttercloud Bakery.  It did not disappoint. I had the most delicious biscuit with local George Farms fromage blac, housemade pepper jelly and Terrasol Organic pea shoot micro greens and avacodo.  Woah Nelly.  Yum.  Just go to experience it. You’ll be happy you did.

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Buttercloud Bakery

After a stop there I drove to the nearby Rogue Creamery where I sampled all their cheeses and then opted for their smoky blue cheese and a bit of my go to Humboldt Fog.  I also grabbed some macarena almonds and crackers right at the shop.  The staff was super helpful and friendly.  Next door was LillieBelle Farms Artisan Chocolates so that warranted a peek.  They make the chocolates right in house and it’s fun to watch and learn about the process.  I picked up some of their lavender sea salt caramels and somehow managed to ration them appropriately throughout my stay.  Dinners out included a sumptuous meal in nearby Talent and the historic New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro.

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New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro

They grow much of their produce in a garden and source their meats and dairy products.  Dinner kicked off with a sorrel soup amuse bouche, a starter of a savory sweet combination of avocados, tomatillos, black beans, chili peppers, mango and lime ice cream followed by a pork and polenta main and a dessert of ginger ice cream-filled cream puff with stewed apples and caramel for dessert. Everything was intensely delicious.  I highly recommend it!  Another dinner was enjoyed at Smithfield’s Restaurant where Melanie and I shared a few items.  First up was a salad special they had with a spring mix, goat cheese, beets and sautéed chanterelle mushrooms.  It was a nice combination of flavors and textures.  For the main course we shared a juicy char-grilled  rib eye, horseradish mash, cornmeal onion rings, smoked blue cheese butter,  and Worcestershire sauce.  It was supper yummy and between that and our starter we had no room for dessert.

Relaxation and Wellbeing

There are a number of wellbeing and relaxation options in the area.  Hot springs in the area feed the Jackson Wellsprings and Lithia Springs Resort both offer accommodations, natural hot spring mineral water for nice hot soaks and spa treatments.   We opted to visit Chozu Bath and Tea Gardens. and we enjoyed hot and cold plunges and a hot sauna before massages.  After a nice soak you can relax with a cup of tea and a steamy bowl of Udon or other yummies right on site.  And Dragon GongFu and Dobra Tea are also in the area if you need a nice spot for tea and treats.  Whatever you opt for, you’re guaranteed to walk away from your visit feeling lighter-hearted and breathing easier.

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Dobra Tea

 

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A Few of My Favorite Trip Planning Tips and Apps

Our family is headed down to San Francisco to celebrate Brian’s 50th birthday this weekend.  It’s quite a milestone and we intend to celebrate appropriately! I wanted to share with…

dreamingOur family is headed down to San Francisco to celebrate Brian’s 50th birthday this weekend.  It’s quite a milestone and we intend to celebrate appropriately!

I wanted to share with you some practical tips to help you get your ducks in a row before you set out.  After all, I was a girl scout.  Their motto is “Be Prepared”.  This overzealous girl scout needed a second sash for my badges!  No joke.  And don’t even get me started on how competitive I was with cookie sales.  It’s amusing to reflect back on how intense I was at that age.  I’m glad I’ve relaxed a little but make no mistake, I’m still a planner with a be prepared approach.  When we are prepared we minimize risk.  It’s a strategy that can be applied in personal life and business.  So here are a few of my recommended strategies and tools for making sure your next trip goes smoothly from wheels up to landing back home.

Check-in.  Check-in 24 hours before your fight.  Don’t wait!  Put an alert on your phone or calendar.  This seems like a no-brainer now that I’ve been traveling for so long.  But those who don’t travel often and who check-in late are more likely to get shuffled seats or worse, bumped from a flight.  Airlines overbooking flights is the norm these days so be sure to minimize risk by taking this simple approach.  And when checking in be sure to add your mileage plan details and a known traveler ID if you have one.   The struggle is real.  Avoid unnecessary travel stress and/or delays by scheduling this pre-trip task.

Seat Assignment.  Get your seat assignment as soon as possible when booking and check it intermittently prior to your trip to establish it hasn’t been changed.   During the seat selection process I recommend using Seat Guru.  It’s a fantastic tool for aiding in snagging the most comfy seat on the plane type that you’ll be traveling.  Of course there are cabin classes and premium seats well advertised but within those sections Seat Guru can offer tips, including seats to avoid.  And the gate agent can be your best friend some days.  They are an indispensable resource that can have a huge impact on your comfort during your trip.  Make sure to utilize them.  I prefer an aisle seat and am at times unable to get one during booking or seat selection changes pre-trip.   Politeness goes a long way with the gate agent and I can often get my preferred seating as other passengers with higher status get upgraded and other travelers shuffle seats with the agent’s help.

Pack well.  I have traveled frequently in life, as a kid riding the Greyhound bus to Grandma’s house, a starving student backpacker, a business traveler on an expense account, a single woman with disposable income, and now as a married women with a kiddo.   Personal circumstances paired with specific needs on the road and at destinations are all factors that play into what and how I pack.  Activities, events, weather and transportation plans must all be considered.  Planning is everything.  Despite that you’ll often find me packing last minute.  I have a system down which I’ll share in a future post so it’s a quick process.  Suffice to say, packing is like a religion for me.  It can make or break a trip.  One tool that I use for packing is the Wunderlist App  You can create templates for trip types and travelers, customize packing lists and share them with travel partners if you’re jointly packing.  It’s a simple but powerful tool that I use for my personal and business lives and I’ve come to rely on it regularly for my packing lists.

We had such a fun-filled life in San Francisco and are excited for a return, if only for the weekend this time.   So I have made some plans to see friends, have meals out, and spend some time outdoors.  I checked my trusty iPhone weather app, booked our favorite little French bistro in our old neighborhood on using the Open Table App and poked around TripAdvisor for investigating recommendations for activities near our accommodations, an AirBnB near the ‘hood where Brian lived when we first met.  I also started using the Facebook Events Calendar search to find fun events or activities that work with our schedule.  I honestly can’t fathom how long it used to take to do these things without apps at our fingertips.   Now as long as I keep my phone safe, on me, and charged (challenging some days) I’m all set.

I’m off to pack so I’ll wrap this up here and look forward to reporting back after the weekend.  Subscribe to my blog via email to get more tips and tricks for trip planning and preparation delivered right to your inbox!

 

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