How to enjoy holiday light displays with the kids.

How to enjoy the holiday light displays with the kids  

 

It is that time of year when the holiday light displays are in full swing, and traveling to get to them is part of the journey.  When I say journey, I am talking about not only packing the kids up in the car to get to the display but keep them occupied while waiting in line.  Whether it is a drive through light display or walk through display, the lines can be long.  Little kids just don’t have the patience or the attention span to wait.  So how do you keep the occupied and interested?

Read the rest of this article over on the Pittsburgh Moms Blog….CLICK HERE

 

 

 

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Halloween FUN in Williamsburg, VA

Halloween time in Williamsburg, we love it! 

 

Williamsburg, Virginia is one of my favorite places on earth to visit.  My family has been going there practically every year since I was a baby.  So when my family gets the chance, we take a long weekend and head down.  We try to go in the fall because with the changing of the leaves and the cooler weather it is a lot more enjoyable. 

 

For our trip this year we opted to get the Fall Bounce pass that would allow us to get into Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Garden for an unlimited number of times over a seven-day period.  We decided to do Colonial Williamsburg on Friday and Busch Gardens on Saturday.  Maximizing our time at Busch Gardens was our concern as there had been this constant mist that was making everything wet on Friday.

 

Read the rest of this article over on the Pittsburgh Moms Blog….CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Best Beaches on the Amalfi Coast

The amount of inquiries to Italy last year to my travel agency increased dramatically. With many of the inquiries that come in, people want to see the iconic Amalfi Coast. Picturesque colorful towns, perched on the cliff side with beautiful sunsets. The beaches have beautiful sunsets and crystal clear water. The only problem is the beaches aren’t like what you get here in the states. The beaches on the Amalfi Coast are a mixture of sand and rock, and are much smaller. You can definitely get a good tan during certain times of the year. 

Before I get into which beaches are the best in the Amalfi coast, I want to make sure you know what the best times of year it is to go. Despite what some people think, it does get cold in Italy. People start to go to Italy the end of March, beginning of April. Around this time of year the temperature averages 50 degrees. In the September and October, the temperature averages between 65 and 75 degrees. If you plan on going swimming during any of these months, please keep in the mind the temperature. 

Here are some of the best beaches along the Amalfi Coast:

  • Spiaggia of Marina Grande in Amalfi – this beach has a central location so it can be very busy from June to September. It is very beautiful beach but due to the docks close by large number of visitors come via boat.
  • Marina Grande in Positano – this beach has the picture-perfect background of Positano. It is a smaller beach but just as perfect to spend a few hours in the sun and enjoy a cool drink.
  • Gavitella Beach in Priaiano – this is one of the smallest beaches on the Amalfi Coast coming in at only 30 meters long. It is mostly a pebble beach so don’t forget your sandals. You also have to take the stairs down to the beach which can be daunting. Once at the bottom the reward is magnificent views of Positano, the island of Li Galli and Capri! This is also one of the best beaches to view the sunset. 
  • Cavallow Morto or Cala Bellavaia of Maiori – if you are staying in Maiori you are already looking for seclusion and relaxation. If you are looking for white sandy beach, crystal clear and deep blue sea waters then this is the beach is a must. The only thing is that this beach is only accessible by boat so make sure to talk to a local fisherman to get you there.
  • Marina Piccola Beach in Sorrento – Even though Sorrento is not known for its’ beaches, there is small beach area that would be nice to spend a few hours. Next to Sorrento Port and Villa Comunale there is a small strip of volcanic sand. This stretch is occupied by both private clubs and a public area where you can enjoy crystal clear waters.  

When thinking of Italy make sure to consider the time of year you are going as it may ruin your plans to go to the beach. Call a Life is Better Traveling travel agent to help you plan so we can make sure it is the best Italy Trip for you.

Remember, Life is Better Traveling!

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Are you hungry? Why you should take a food tour…

 One of the best ways to really get to know a city and the sights is through a food tour. You are not only walking around the city to get to the various eateries but you are seeing the sights along the way. You might walk right past the Trevi Fountain on the way to get Gelato, or you may walk down the Champs Elysées to taste some caramels. My most favorite time is when we walk through the most hidden streets or canals of a city that I would have not seen if I hadn’t taken a food tour. Popping into a hot chocolate store in Budapest on a cold, rainy day. What a pleasant surprise. 

Another great reason to take a food tour is you may not be familiar with the cuisine in the area. I didn’t know that in Romania they served smoked lard. This is something that I would never have tried here in the states, but over there they serve it with lunch followed by a shot of Pálinka, which is a traditional fruit brandy in Eastern Europe. I was pleasantly surprised by both flavors, favoring the Pálinka over the smoked lard. 

So when you are traveling to your next destination, consider stepping out on a food tour. Get to know the sights while getting to know the local cuisine. Here are some of the most delicious food tours around the world. #1 being one of the tours that our Life is Better Traveling clients say they have loved doing. 

  1. Cooking Class and Lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Local Market Tour from Florencepick fresh ingredients at a local market and learn to cook authentic Italian food. (My clients rave about this tour!)
  2.  New Orleans Cooking Class – get to know a local chef and learn how to make some of Louisiana’s most famous soul food. 
  3.  Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District – visit eateries favored by Romans in the Prati neighborhood. 
  4.  Paris Secret Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre – enjoy a variety of French favorites in one of Paris’ most charming neighborhoods.
  5.  Little Havana Food and Walking Tour in Miami – one of the best ways to enjoy this historic neighborhood and sample a taste of Cuban fare.
  6.  Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour – explore the city’s culture through tapas and wine on this guided tour.
  7.  Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Tour of Melbourne – dine on gourmet cuisine as you ride through Melbourne on a vintage 1948 tramcar.
  8.  Tapas and Wine Experience Small-Group Walking Tour – discover Catalonian food traditions in Barcelona while exploring on foot with a guide.
  9. Brussels Chocolate Walking Tour and Workshop – see some of the city landmarks on the way to a chocolate workshop led by a master chocolatier. 
  10. Tokyo by Night: Japanese Food Tour – accompany a local guide through one of Tokyo’s most well-known areas for yakitori.

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Our Lady of Paris is also known as this cathedral in Paris

If you keep up with the news you had seen that last week one of the most iconic cathedrals in Paris succumbed to a major fire, Notre-Dame de Paris or Our Lady of Paris. This medieval cathedral begun construction in 1160 and was mostly completed by 1260. For almost 500 years continual modifications were done, but during the French Revolution much of these modifications were either damaged or destroyed. Then in the 19th Century Napoleon I had his coronation in the cathedral, and the popular book The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was released. Seeing renewed interest in the cathedral, new projects including cleaning the facade from centuries of soot of grime gave a new look to Our Lady of Paris. 

12 million people visit this cathedral every year, making it the most visited monument in Paris. People come to see the arches and buttresses of the nave, the 19th century spire, the gargoyles, and the illustration of the Last Judgement all around the outside. Once inside the cathedral, seeing the North Rose Window depicting scenes from the life is Christ is breath-taking. The massive organ originally built in 1403 but was replaced in 1730 with a much larger organ, is one of the largest organs in Europe with more than 8,000 pipes. Bells, crypts, and galleries filled with priceless materials are also things people flock this beautiful building.   

On April 15th, 2019 many people watched in horror on various news outlets as a huge fire consumed the roof of the cathedral. Watching and waiting to hear what had been damaged made many people feel like they were on pins and needles. The thought of this iconic structure and all its priceless relics being destroyed was heart-breaking. 

After a few hours, the fire-fighters finally got the fire under control before determining that if the fire had continued just a few more minutes and the worst may have happened. A week later we are finding out that most of the facade, towers, walls, buttresses, the pipe organ, and stained-glass windows remained untouched. It was also determined that many statues and relics had been removed for cleaning purposes while construction workers worked in the area where the fire started. Sections of the stone ceiling had collapsed when the iconic spire came down.

It is amazing that this structure that has been around for almost 900 years had to go through this massive fire. However, I was thankful to hear that much of this iconic, well-known cathedral will be fine. Rebuilding will be the next step, with many billionaires already pouring in pledges of hundreds of millions of Euros to restore it.  With each end comes a new beginning, so I hope this Lady of Paris has a bigger and brighter spire ahead. 

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs.

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Want to really immerse yourself in the culture? Try this….

Catacombs…

When visiting Europe, most people tell me they want to visit famous paintings and sculptures in museums and galleries, 500-year old churches and basilicas, taste wine from some of the most respected vineyards, and enjoy new spices and food. Yes, Europe is spectacular and has all these wonderful things. No matter how many times I visit Europe, I always see something amazing and learn about a new culture. One cultural difference that I have always found fascinating were how Europeans treated their dead. Burying them in vast chambers called Catacombs. 

The very first catacombs were a system of underground tombs in Rome where the bodies of the apostles Peter and Paul were said to have been buried. Since Rome originally created these tombs, cities thereafter also called their catacombs, Roman Catacombs. It wasn’t until after the early 1800’s that each city started to name their own catacombs including the city of Paris, which infamously holds the remains of close to 2 million people. 

My first time going to visit a catacomb was to the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in Sicily. I wasn’t sure what to expect from these 400-year old catacombs. Quite frankly, I thought I was going to walk into a dark, chilly, and smelly underground chamber of bones. I was quite surprised. These catacombs were well lit with natural light from the outside and lights inside. There was a nice walkway with railings for support. Some of the dead were dressed in their burial clothes, while others were just bones. It was quite surreal to be walking around all these bones. At the same time, I felt a sense of togetherness. A culture that was keeping all their dead together, and were allowed to visit to see them whenever they wanted. 

This experience has taught me to open my eyes to new adventures. What I see on the television or through pictures is not the same as what it is really like when you are there in person. I am sure that not everyone enjoys going through catacombs, but for me it was an experience that I will never forget. I learned about another culture’s view of the death. I learned that it was not as scary as I thought it would be and that despite many catacombs being depicted as dark, chilly underground layers, it was quite nicely displayed. 

Various European Cities are well-known for their catacombs. Besides the most well-known ones in Rome and Paris, there are some in London, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Ukraine, Malta, Finland and Greece. There is even a catacomb here in the US at the St. Patrick Old Cathedral located in New York City. 

I get a lot of requests where people want to immerse themselves into the culture of the country they are going to visit. I recommend that one way you can do this is to go visit the catacombs in that region. This will really give you a good glimpse into how that particular culture views deaths and takes care of their dead. 

Some recommend tours in Europe:

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs.

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Kids Table Talk-Secret Places in Universal

We talk about all the amazing rides at Universal Studios. Make sure to find out about one of our favorite “secret” places to go at Universal.

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0-4QtTKkk8&feature=youtu.be

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The #1 Visited Cathedral in Ireland!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

In just a few short months I will be taking a group of people through the Irish Countryside visiting castles, libraries, museums, ruins, and of course distilleries. Many times when people call me about putting together a trip to Ireland they want me to include Blarney Castle but one of the most iconic churches is never on the list. Is it forgotten or just off the beaten path? 

 St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in all of Ireland. This majestic cathedral has been witness to nearly 800 years of Irish history. Is St. Patrick’s Cathedral related to St. Patrick? Not so much a relation but it is believed that the church was founded on the site where St. Patrick baptized converts.  If you visit the church you can not only feel the presence of what happened on this spot, but enjoy exquisite stained-glass windows, marble statues, and medieval tiling.

 Besides this spot being a spot for literary pilgrims, the author of “Gulliver’s Travels,” Jonathan Swift once served as dean here and is now buried within its gray stone walls. If you decide to visit the castle and do an independent tour a guided tour, make sure to stop by to see all this amazing cathedral has to offer. You might want to make sure you opt in for the skip-the-line access to get into the cathedral. 

 

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Travelers can explore independently or take part in guided tours, which take place several times daily from Monday to Saturday.
  • The cathedral is wheelchair accessible.
  • The Dublin Pass includes cathedral entry.
  • Take time to stroll through the adjacent St. Patrick’s Park, a grassy square with perfectly framed views of the cathedral.

 How to Get There

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is located in the heart of Dublin city center, within easy strolling distance of several other big-name attractions, including Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle. Ride the Luas Green Line tram to the terminus, St. Stephen’s Green; St. Patrick’s is about a 10-minute walk from there. Dublin Bus run several routes (49, 54a, 56a, 77a, and 151) to the cathedral.

Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:30am-5pm. Mar-Oct: open Saturday from 9am-6pm, Sunday 9am-10:30am, 12:30pm-2:30pm, 4:30pm-6pm. Nov-Feb: open Saturday from 9am-5pm, Sunday 9am-10:30am, 12:30pm-2:30pm

Admission: Adults: €6.50

 Some information provided by Viator.com

As always, Life is Better Traveling!

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

TableTalk : Disney’s Bounceback Offer!

Our fifth table talk is about Disney’s Bounce Back Offer. You want to make sure you listen to this one as you can save thousands of dollars while on your next Disney Vacation with what we talk about.

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.

Vacation Rentals : Good or Bad?

I recently had a person contact me regarding helping plan a vacation to Italy. Before wanting to work with me in planning this trip with them they had one question…”Do you book Air BnB? We want the Authentic Italian Vacation feel and we feel that staying at AirBnB places will do that for us.” 

Year after year, more and more vacation requests come in asking us if we book vacation rentals, specifically AirBnB. Even though there are many vacation rental sites, AirBnB has become synonymous with vacation rentals. With this request however, I was a bit unsure why it wouldn’t be authentic to stay in a hotel? After all, how can you get more of an authentic Italian experience then by staying in Italy itself.

I am going to be openly honest right now with spoiler alerts about vacation rentals. If you don’t want to know these spoilers because you like vacation rentals, then I recommend closing this email right now. If you are interested in finding out the truth, then let’s get started. There are many vacation rental sites out there just like AirBnB that you can book your stay for your upcoming vacation. It seems like a great deal that you can stay in a 2-bedroom apartment in New York city overlooking Time Square for $100 a night or rent out an entire Tuscan Villa for a week for just $800! 

I remember when I was little my mother always told me that if it sounded too good to be true it probably was too good to be true. Many times, these amazing deals that you find aren’t as they are advertised or marketed. Yes, you get the 2-bedroom apartment overlooking Time Square but the rooms are the size of a bathroom and over-looking means turn your head all the way to the left to see Time Square. Maybe the Tuscan Villa you rented doesn’t look like anyone has lived it in for 15 years and the beds are even older than that. If this is the type of authentic experience that you are looking for, then you won’t be disappointed. 

With so many vacation rental sites on the internet, many people will put their house, apartment, or villa up for you to rent. They go up so fast that my one concern is who is vetting these people or even going to the places. The worse part is that you won’t know for sure until you actually get to the destination if the place is going to work for you. Unfortunately, the amount of vacation rentals that go up a day is more than the company can actually verify. The best way to know if the place that you are renting is what they say it is, is by checking the verifications of the person who is renting. When someone stays at a person’s rental property they then can review the person and property on the vacation rental site. This helps give you a better understanding of who is actually legitimate and good to rent from for your stay. 

Once you have verified who you want to stay with, it is a matter of seeing availability and pricing. If the place is available then it is time to book it. This is where you need to read the fine print. Last year a friend of mine decided to rent a house at one of the Delaware beaches through one of these vacation rental sites. She picked her house, booked it, and was billed an extra $300 that was not part of the booking process. This additional $300 was “hidden fees.”  I would say they were more than “hidden,” they were really non-existent until she got her credit card statement. However, if you read the fine print it will tell you how much you will pay in additional fees to use these sites. 

Ok, now you have booked your stay and you have calmed down about the extra fees, there is still more fine print to read! Yes, there is so much paperwork involved when booking a vacation rental. Don’t forget to read what is actually included in the rental. Is Free Wi-Fi included, a cleaning fee, use of the pool if the property has one, use of anything else that the property may have you thought you could use, what time you need to be there to get the keys, and the list goes on and on. 

One of the main things in Europe when staying at a vacation rental is making sure that you are there at the exact time stated you need to be there to get the keys. The owner will only wait for a few minutes and then be gone leaving you with no place to stay for the night. Yes, this is a big compliant from vacation rental people. Many people just assume like a hotel the owner will be available for check-in when they are available to get there. This isn’t the case, so make sure to read the fine print as to what time you need to be there. 

Now that you have a bit more understanding of how vacation rentals work, and going back to my original request to book an AirBnb, Life is Better Traveling does book vacation rentals with our reputable suppliers. We do not specifically use AirBnb, which again, I know the name is synonymous with the term vacation rental. What we do for our clients however is also look to see if a nice hotel with breakfast included is cheaper than staying at a vacation rental. I have personally found for some of my clients that a 2-bedroom vacation rental is more expensive than staying at a hotel in town with breakfast included. You then also get all the amenities that a hotel provides including a check-in desk to check-in at your own convenience, a concierge, a place to store your luggage until you check-in or check-out, spa services, a gym, laundry, and the list goes on. 

If you are thinking you want to do some type of vacation rental either in Europe, the Caribbean, or here in the states make sure to contact one of our travel agents to help you find a great place with a reputable supplier. 

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

Please understand we get several requests per day for European vacations. We provide experiences for our clients that provide a lot of value. If you are looking for a budget vacation, that is NOT us.