The last several weeks I have talked about different bucket list trips we have done. This week it is time to talk about a dream trip. About a month ago I was talking with a friend about bucket lists trips and we got onto the topic of golf trips. By the time we were done that evening we had come up with four different trips.
One of the trips we talked about was golfing in Mexico. The nice thing about traveling to Mexico for golf is there are a lot of courses around all inclusive resorts. If your significant other is not a golfer, they have access to beaches, spas, water sports and a ton of other activities while you are off golfing. Most of the courses have been rebuilt over the last several years recovering from hurricanes. Finally, something to remember is that the courses in Mexico are not as busy as U.S. courses so you are not as rushed moving around the course.
Another idea we came up with is a trip to play courses that have hosted PGA Majors. Aside from The Masters, most of the PGA Majors are being played on public courses. The cool thing is that you can make this trip happen all over the country. For example, you can go to California and play Pebble Beach and Tory Pines. You can head to Wisconsin and play Erin Hills, Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits. There are course up and down the East Coast such as Beth Page in New York.
My friend came up with what I think is a unique trip idea. The first half of the trip starts with a flight to Dubai. He would spend a week playing world class golf courses and eating at world class restaurants. After a week in Dubai then it is off to Europe for a week of down hill skiing in the Alps.
Finally, there is my dream golf trip. I call it Living the History of Golf. This trip involves returning to the origin of golf, Scotland. I would play as many of the British Open courses as possible.
Tell me where your Golf Bucket List Trip would take you.
Until the next adventure ……
This is about our first baseball focused trip. We had talked off and on about making a baseball focused trip. Michelle gets together with her college roommates each year, and one lives in Philadelphia, so we decided to combine our idea of a baseball focused trip with her get together in Philadelphia. We did the roommate visit over the MLB All Star Game break and saw baseball both before and after visiting with her friends. We were able to string together seeing baseball at some great stadiums.
We saw games in:
Each park has provided me with unique memories that I get to enjoy each time I go to a baseball game or somebody asks me about the trip. Each team and park has a unique place in the history of baseball and now stories are brought alive when I hear an announcer talk about that team or ball park.
What really made the trip a unique bucket list trip is the American History we experienced when not attending baseball.
What started as a common baseball bucket list trip ended as a unique trip that has become something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Until the next adventure….
According to UbanDictionay.Com bucket list is defined as
“A list of things you'd like to do before you die, like visiting the Grand Canyon, falling in love or falling into the Grand Canyon.”
Here at Travel There and Back we talk a lot about the fact that we want every trip you go on with us to be a bucket list trip by the time you return. For us that means you are coming back with memories and experiences that will be part of your stories and memories for a life time. You should not come home needing a vacation from your vacation, but rather enthused, excited and already planning the next adventure.
This week I am starting a series of posts on some of the bucket list trips we have been on, the ones we are actively planning and the ones that are still on the list to schedule. There are also some fantastic stories from some of our clients that I hope to share.
This post will be published on Wednesday, August 30th so I will start with the bucket list trip we are starting a little over 24 hours after this post goes live. Both Michelle and I are baseball fans. I grew up a Milwaukee Brewers fan and Michelle is a lifelong Cubs fan. Any time we are in a city with a major league baseball team we make it a point to get to a game if possible. Well, this Labor Day weekend we are flying to Milwaukee and Chicago specifically to watch baseball.
We start the weekend in Miller Park to see the Brewers play the Nationals. It will be sort of a home coming for us as we lived in Milwaukee while Miller Park was being built and attended games at both County Stadium and Miller Park. Then Saturday it is down to Chicago to see the White Sox’s take on the Tampa Bay Rays. We will be rooting for Tampa Bay as we have friends from there and the White Sox’s have been the “hated rival” for as long as we can each remember. Then Sunday afternoon will be a first for us as we watch the Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves from the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Michelle had the opportunity to watch Game 5 of the World Series at a bar just down the street from the field, but it will be a first time inside the stadium for either of us.
This will be at trip that we will talk about and share with people for years to come and will be one of our special bucket list trips. Leave a comment below telling us about a bucket list trip you have been on or want to go on.
Until the next adventure:
One of the benefits of working with a travel consultant is that consultant can help you to keep that budget in check with whatever type of travel you are interested in. Of course, that means being open to the consultant’s advice on the realities of what your budget will get you. It is a challenge to expect everything at a 5 star level with a 2 star budget. A good travel consultant will ask lots of questions and work with you to find your priorities to know what areas it is worth spending a little more to make that vacation a once in a life time experience and what areas you can save money because it isn’t as important to you for the overall trip experience. Many clients like to pay for as many of the expenses as possible before even leaving on the trip. This is another great way to stay within your budget. This is where all-inclusive resorts and cruises, especially river cruises, and packaged adventures make for a great option. A Travel consultant can include your flights, lodging, some or most meals, transfers and “excursions” or activities all together in your package price that you pay for before you leave. Then you take your spending money, for souvenirs, gratuities and other meals. This helps to keep your expenses in check and in line with your budget.
When to travel depends a lot on where you are going. Summer tends to be an expensive time to travel, in general, because that is when a lot of people are able to take their trips. But, even in the summer, there are deals to be fund, if you are flexible on where you are going. Europe in the fall and winter can offer you great deals. Your tradeoff is the weather will be colder, but the prices will be better and the crowds will be smaller. If you have a specific destination in mind and are flexible with your dates, then a travel consultant can help you find the dates that provide you with the best value. If you have specific dates you need to travel during, but are flexible as to your destination, then a travel consultant can help you find the destinations offering you the best value for those dates. The key is being flexible. The more flexible you are, the more opportunities there are for finding travel ta a good value.
Travel Agents are your vacation advocates and they can take the stress out of travel. They typically have access to deals that are not available online, so can save you money. You don’t have to spend the hours on research and the time to arrange the travel, hotel, meals and activities. Agents can help wade through the many choices out there to find the vacation that suits you and what you like. Then, they are there to handle any issues that may arise. You can spend time at the pool or the beach, while your agent makes the calls and advocates on your behalf.
Travel agents are able to offer advice and expertise that you cannot get online. An agent can guide travelers through foreign travel and share tips to make your vacation go more smoothly. For example, the cheapest air fare on line may have a connection that is too short to accommodate the time to go through customs when coming back into the States from a foreign country. Your travel advocate pays attention to those type of details to save you headaches down the road. They understand the fine print and can help prevent those unexpected bad surprises. Agents also have contacts and can often get extras or special requests for clients through their vendor contacts.
Travel agents ask lots of questions. Personally, I love fulfilling bucket list trips. To know what is bucket list for the individual, I ask lots of questions. That way I can match up the client with the right destination, or right river cruise, or right resort. Ideally, I try to provide something special, or extra, that ties into that person’s interests and likes.
Travel agents personally travel a lot, and attend travel workshops and seminars throughout the year to be able to provide expert service. Most agents will specialize in a particular area or type of travel or part of the world. It is much more effective to become an expert on a smaller portion of the world, rather than the whole world. For example, rather than doing all cruises, I focus on River Cruises and small ship cruising.
Travel agents use the internet and the phone and write lots of emails. We research before the trip. We call ahead to the resort to make sure the resort is aware of allergies. We email with numerous vendors to find the best offer for the client. If a problem arises during the trip, the agent is the one on the phone getting it taken care of, so the client can enjoy the beach, or the pool or the slopes while the agent works on their behalf.
I love that I can talk and research travel and have it be called work!
The adventure continues.......
Rome is called The Eternal City for good reason. As you move around the city you will find examples of history from before the time of Christ, through the Middle Ages, into World War Two and of course today. The history is so vast, over such a long period of time, I found it difficult to get an impression of the city as a whole. I kept focusing on what I was seeing right in front of me.
We arrived in Rome by driving from Tuscany and the first task was to fill the car with gas and drop it off at the rental agency by the central train station. It was an adventure in and of itself that I will talk about in a post on driving in Italy. It was then off to find our apartment for the week. When we originally chose the apartment and made the reservation, it was because it was close to Vatican City, we just didn’t realize how close. Each morning started with a 5-block walk to St. Peter’s Square and the day ended by walking back past St. Peter’s Basilica lit up in all its glory.
Our week in Rome included several pre-arranged tours:
While we could have done each of these on our own, the tour guides took care of the logistics and provided more information then we could have found on our own. We also skipped the long lines and saved ourselves a lot of time. They were worth the money and would highly recommend something similar if you are going to Rome.
When not on a tour we were walking all over town. We made it to The Pantheon, The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and more churches then I can name, as well as Trastevere and the Jewish neighborhoods. Each location gave its own unique impression. One interesting fact we learned is that there is no fixed schedule for the busses in Rome. You know when they leave their starting point, but after that they arrive at a given stop when they arrive. The traffic in Rome and the number of people trying to use the bus makes it impossible to keep to a schedule.
Rome is a unique city and unlike any other large city I have been to. I am sure that I will be writing more about the experience in the future. Until then the adventure continues
Until next time…..
After our few days in Venice it was time to pick up the rental car from the airport and drive to the Tuscany region of Italy for a week of exploring. At least for me, Tuscany is what I see in my mind when I think of the Italian country side. There are rolling hills to the hazy horizon and beyond. You see vineyards on the upper hillsides and fields of grain in the valleys. In between there are olive groves, small clumps of forest, and little towns that were old in the 1400’s.
During our entire time in Italy the daytime highs were in the mid to upper 90’s and one small rain shower late in our week in Rome. That is unusual for June in Italy. Normal high temperatures for Tuscany in June is the low to mid 70’s. Last year we were told that June was rainy and cold. There are two things you can do when it is that hot in Tuscany. First, fill your water bottle at any public fountain which can be found just about anywhere. They provide fresh, cold and great tasting water from the Dolomites in northern Italy. The second thing to do is stop at the local Gelato shop and enjoy a couple scoops each afternoon. The subject of Gelato could take a month of blog posts all by itself. Let’s just say if you have had Gelato in Italy you don’t need the blog posts and if you haven’t then you need to make it your personal mission in life to find a way to get some.
In Tuscany, we spent time visiting Siena and Assisi on different days. Yes, that is the same Assisi as St. Francis of Assisi. We spent a day eating our way through Florence. We had truffles and cheese. We sampled meats, espresso, and wine. We learned about olive oil, balsamic vinegar and local desserts. Of course, there was gelato. We spent a day driving between Pienza, Monticchiello, Montepulciano, and Montalcino. Each town showed you another piece of Italian history and lifestyle. It Montalcino we discovered Brunello wine and that is definitely a blog article I need to write. We spent a day at the villa enjoying the pool and listening to the quiet of the region. Except for a few restaurants with WiFi, we spent the week in Tuscany off the grid. There is something refreshing and relaxing about spending a week without cell phones, internet or TV.
Finally, our week in Tuscany came to an end and it was time to head to Rome. On the drive though there was time to stop in Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio. Civita is unique in that the only way to get into town is to park and walk across a pedestrian bridge passing over the local valley. Of course, there was also gelato.
Until next time …..
Our adventure to Italy has come to an end and we have returned home. It was an amazing trip. As usual, I have learned several things about travel and vacationing. I had fully intended to write and post several blog articles during the trip. As you can tell that didn’t happen. I do have ideas for a bunch of articles and I will be working on them over the next several months. On future trips, if I intend to write, I need to set aside specific blocks of time to focus on the writing, just like I set aside time to do specific sightseeing. I also intended to Tweet about our adventures during the trip. A couple things kept me from Tweeting. First, unlike here in the US, I only had internet access where I was able to connect to a wireless network, which was at restaurants and in our apartments. Second, and more importantly, thinking about Tweeting took me out of the moment of the experience. The primary focus of this trip was a high school graduation trip for my son so experiencing Italy with him was the priority. While Michelle did post some pictures to our FaceBook Page (http://www.facebook.com/travelthereandback) I am working on organizing more pictures for galleries on the web site. They will be published over the next couple of weeks.
For those interested, future blog articles based on this Italy trip include: