Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hurricane Season

Sometimes trips can be planned way out in advance, with nice hotels, and sunny beaches.

During Hurricane Season (June 1st-November 30th) unplanned trips can happen in a matter of days. Here are a couple good resources for the people along the coast.

1) Prepare - the government has a nice website, with lots of good preparation tips

2) Monitor - a great website for being informed or historical, a future servere weather condition include, National Hurricane Center, Flhurricane, and my personal favorite Stormpulse

Stormpulse's interactive website

3) Act - If you decide to "Hunker Down" or Leave, the earlier you act the better. You will avoid traffic, shortages of supplies, and more importantly the STORM!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Booking our trip to France

It hits us just as it always does... the travel itch.

We can't help it; the itch starts and we start planning our next adventure!

To start with, when we begin to plan a trip we search for travel deals. Think of it as shopping for that special item you want to take home and treasure, but this is even better since you can keep your memories from this deal forever. This time in particular, we knew we wanted to go to France during a specific time period (maximizing holiday time, minimizing vacation days, and for other plans we have already committed to) and no crazy good deals were available, so we decided to book with our airline points.

One good thing about Continental now is you can book separate legs of a trip going to a particular destination, and along the way have a "layover" in a city for a few days to see the sights all for the price of a one way trip. For example, we decided to go to Frankfurt, get on a bus (covered also by continental) to Strasbourg, tour the Alsace region, go back to Frankfurt and continue on to Marseilles, our final destination for the first portion of the trip all for 30,000 miles. Lufthansa, a star alliance member, has a great interactive destination plot to help get you started.

My husband is the the detailed thorough deal and option finder. He scoped every way to get to Europe with saver points in the time we wanted with the least amount of stops (excluding the "layovers" we wanted). Sometimes getting to Europe is good enough, as you can book EZ jet cheap. In short, there are LOTS of options, but sometimes with limitations, you have to pick the route which has the least nuances.

Meanwhile, while he was routing every way you can imagine, I heard that Borders was going out of business. I was ecstatic and sad at the same time. You see, my main role in trip planning is activity coordinator. Our favorite travel book is DK Eyewitness traveler. We like the layout, pictures and the detailed information that is high-grated by region. They also serve as great collectors items and mementos from your trips. However, they come expensive, so I rushed out to try to get some on sale. I was in luck and proudly brought home the DK France book and Rick Steves' pocket book Paris. The man with two first names is known for his knowledge of Paris, and I have learned from other trips that you want to use a small but very informative book to keep on you when you are moving from sight seeing place to place in a city.

I got home to find that my hubbie found the best route for us. We would end in Paris and have one layover home on the day we wanted. Perfect! I quickly skimmed over the various regions in the book and we consulted with some French friends of ours to sketch out our rough draft travel plan. My husband went to book the trip, and an error sign appeared. NOT GOOD. Now what, after all that searching and a HICCUP? Ring, ring....the continental travel helpline was well the least bit helpful.. just said that the seats were booked even though they showed open online . It all depends on who you get to help you on the other line. We got frustrated and my husband tried again...MIRACULOUSLY it worked!

So as of now, we are booked to go to Frankfurt with one stop, catch a bus to Alsace region to start. Then our rough draft is to catch a train to Marseilles, tour Provence, then by car tour the Pyrenees up to Bordeaux. Then go to Loire valley, St. Malo, Normandy and end with a few days in Paris. This way we can get a strong taste of the different Provences of France. All this is a little over 2 weeks. Phew! Most of our friends say we are crazy! But that is the way we like it - crazy! Stick with us and you will see how we make it work, and have a blast!

I am going to try to post once a week, so if you like this let me know and until then ...Avior!