The Dos and Don'ts of Cuba

Don't go to Cuba for the food! Everything you know about Cuban food is an American version of Cuban food. Not only is good Cuban food hard to find, sometimes food in general is hard to find. It is common for restaurants to be completely sold out of many items on the menu by about 4pm. The default meat is pork, so if you want beef you need to ask for beef. Breakfasts are bland and nothing special: you will eat eggs and toast every day and there aren't really any other options.  Don't go to Cuba to go on a shopping spree! You won't be able to buy anything because shopping doesn't really exist. The few vendors there are sell the exact same goods as the other vendors: little wooden cars, magic boxes, magnets, and other small handmade items. There is a central market called San Jose, near the…

Why You Should Travel in Times of Terrorism

The first time that I ever visited New York City was in the months following the 9/11 attacks. New York saw a huge drop in tourism, so the tourism bureau created a package called "Paint the Town Red, White and Blue." The package included train tickets from Boston, hotel and theater tickets. For Christmas 2001, my mom gave this to me as my gift. I will never forget the moment that I climbed the steps from Penn Station and saw the lights of Times Square in the distance. In that moment something forever changed inside of me and I knew that New York City was my home. I was 15 years old. Mom and I fell in love with the city and started making almost quarterly trips (though we skipped the pricy train for the $10 Chinatown bus.) Though I can't say for sure how New York tourism changed post…

Top 5 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

With all of the information available on the internet and the numerous booking sites, I always get asked why anyone would use a travel agent. So here they are, The Trip Trotter's Top 5 reasons to use a travel agent. 5. Personal Experience: We all know that photos don't tell the entire story. With over 300 agents in our New York office alone, we have personal knowledge of each property and destination. My office has on vendors coming in daily updating us on what's new and hot in the world of travel.  4. Added Value: My agency is part of several hotel programs that give our clients upgrades and amenities at hundreds of properties worldwide. At select hotels we can offer: food/beverage or spa credit, early check in/late check out, and even free breakfast (to name a few.) 3. We're a one stop shop: We handle all aspects of your trip from ground…

Packing for My First Cruise: Follow-up

This post is a follow-up to a previous post. Previously, I wrote about packing for my first cruise and how I would do it differently. For the most part, I think that I packed pretty well. The weather was unseasonably cold both in Orlando and Nassau due to the snowstorms up north. In Orlando, I found myself in pants and a sweatshirt the entire time. So what would I have done differently?       1. A lanyard for my Seapass. When on board, your Seapass is everything from your ID to your credit card and it needs to be on your person at all times. A lanyard is a great worry-free solution.      2. An extra sweater; even though the temperatures were unseasonably cold, it gets chilly outside on the boat at night      3. An extra pair of pants. See above.      4. A casual cross…

Packing for My First Cruise

I leave tomorrow for Orlando to take my first CRUISE! I could not be more excited. I never considered myself a "cruise person," but my excitement seems to differ, especially given the snow that we have here in NYC. I am cruising on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the seas, 2-night to Bahamas and I have an extra night in Orlando. I wanted to share how I am packing- and then see how it compares to how I would have packed after knowing more about cruising. I am brining: 2 dresses for dining and evening, 1 pair of black heels, a black cardigan, a night time handbag, a pair of thin black pants (I'm not really a shorts person), a t-shirt, tank top and a top, sweatshirt, sneakers and gym wear (hey- you never know), 2 day time dresses, flip flops, a pair of pajamas, undergarments, 2 swim suits and 1…
1. What is the best way to balance eating well and eating out every meal while you're on vacation? It's all about moderation and the game plan. Having a plan in place will help you stay in control of your environment. You pack for the weather, you pack for different activities and you should pack snacks to stay on a healthy track, especially since it is hard to stick to a normal eating schedule and avoid temptations when vacationing and eating out. Oranges, apples, nuts, seeds, and granola are small, easy items to take along anywhere. Grocery shop and take advantage of that mini-fridge! It is hard to avoid the great cocktails, bread basket, the amazing appetizers, the delicious entrees, sides, and dessert while eating out. I get it, I love to travel and I LOVE to eat. But, balance those meals with healthier meals. If you know you'll be…

5 Tips for Riding the NY Subway During Rush Hour

New Yorkers take their subway transit pretty seriously; home to work is complete autopilot. To an outsider, riding the subway can be a really daunting experience, especially during the morning rush hour. We're come up with some tips for riding between the weekday hours of 8-10am. 1. Stay silent Most people have not had coffee yet and are pretty cranky. The morning commute is the one time when New York is silent, and we like to keep it that way! 2. Always hold on to the pole Too often, tourists don't hold on and then fall onto a stranger when the train jerks around. If this happens, try not to have your whole group giggle. Just apologize and follow rule #1. (And remember your Purell) 3. Don't stand in the doorw You will get run over. If you must stand in the doorway, exit the train at the stop and…

5 Surefire Ways to Combat Jetlag

1. Pre-Adjust your schedule to mimic your destination I took a 9 am flight from Chicago to Shanghai. As rough as it was, I stayed up all night the night. Resist the urge to drink! I boarded the 9am flight, which was 8pm Shanghai time, completely exhausted and was able to sleep a full night. When I woke up, it was morning in Shanghai and I was fully rested.  2. Eat a clean diet Drink lots of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables for natural energy. Avoid salt and be wary of your caffeine intake. 3. Stay busy! Resist the urge to "lie down for just a few minutes" when you arrive at your hotel room to drop off your bags. Plan a really busy day that is so exciting, you will be too enthralled to be sleepy. 4. Freshen up As soon as you arrive at a…
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