Category Archives: Travel

We Are Yogis. How I Learned to Go Beyond My Comfort Zone and Speak the Language of Union

I’m late and I’m lost. Not completely, but its 9:53 and I can’t find the correct street. I ask a man for directions, which is so not like me. As an avid traveler, my rule of thumb is to find anything and everything on my own, no matter how long it takes, but under the current circumstance, I succumb to breaking it. With French instructions and a hand gesture, he directs me left. Gauche. I make a mental note to remember this for class, if I find the studio in time.

I rush to the corner and turn left. One more turn and I’m home free! My mind is jumbled and I’m too disoriented to decide if my next turn is right or left, so I go with my gut. I should know by now that 98% of the time going the opposite way of my directional gut is the better move. And sure enough, half a block down, it’s clear I am going the wrong way. It’s 9:57. I spin around and run to the other side of the street. People around me are walking with purpose, probably to work, but I’m too late to observe anything more than their clothing. It’s August in Paris and everyone is donning jackets and scarves. It is a chilly 65ish degrees and flat-out cold for a Miamian like myself. Despite the temperature, I am sweating and nervous.

Read More at Yoga International

Prepare for Poland

Poland is a triumphant nation with a tragic history, and now it is aggressively pressing its way into the forefront of the travel industry. Many travelers, mostly European, have been quietly perusing Poland for years, but only recently is it introducing itself to the West as a must-see. And for good reason! Vast green hills peppered with livestock, colorful religious altars adorning local roads, and small but vibrant cities bursting with energy combine to form one of the most complicated countries on the European continent.

Before making a reservation and heading across the pond, consider the key points below and prepare for a journey that will leave you wanting more.

Read more at TourMatters

Stay Healthy in Miami

Going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to abandon your active lifestyle. In Miami, it is easier than you probably think. Below are several ideas to ensure a healthy vacation here in Miami.

If you want to maintain your exercise routine:

Rent bikes from your hotel or from the city bike share program, DecoBike. Ride along the promenade from Miami Beach to South Pointe Park. Want to try something different? Rollerblades are still a completely acceptable form of transportation. Rent them from South Beach or Bayside with Bike n Roll Miami, and wallow in your 90s nostalgia.

Jogging on the beach is never a bad idea. Especially if you join the iconic Raven’s Run, a free running club led by the famous Raven. A Miami local, he has successfully run 8 miles on the beach every single day for the past 40 years. If you prefer to run solo, head to the boardwalk that starts on 23rd Street.

Kitesurfing is a popular pastime down here, especially in the Keys. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far. Key Biscayne is known for its plethora of kite surf instructors, so book your lesson and hit the water. If possible, stick around until the sun goes down. This island is known for its incredibly colorful sunsets.

Miami’s proximity to the Caribbean means ocean waves are few and far between. That’s why Miamian’s prefer paddle boards to surfboards. Paddle under the sun through the bay from Sunset Harbour Marina, or wait until dusk and join one of Miami Beach Paddle Board’s Neon Tours. Explore the Sunset Island channels on boards equipped with LED neon lights.

If yoga is your thing, you are in luck. Free and donation-based classes are offered all throughout the city, and most take advantage of our wonderful weather and gorgeous vistas. Practice in front of the ocean at sunrise or sunset at 3rd Street Beach, hosting classes every day at 7am and 5pm. Sleep in a little bit and meander over to the Mondrian Hotel on Sunday mornings at 10am to get your vinyasa on in front of the bay, overlooking Miami’s impressive downtown skyline. In contrast, practice with a view of Miami Beach at Bayfront Park, offering free yoga classes every Monday and Wednesday at 6pm and Saturday at 9am.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Travel Hacks for Miami Visitors

Miami is bustling, international, energetic and colorful. There aren’t too many rules here. Understanding the culture will help you blend in. Here are some tips to ensure you enjoy your trip to the max!

Transportation
Getting around by trolley is free, but the bus is exact change only. Have it out and ready.

Timing
Speaking of which, the bus is rarely on time. Don’t panic, it will arrive eventually.

Life is Sloooow
It’s hot and tropical, making the culture laid back and slow. Remember this when dining out, shopping or using public transportation.

Dining Out
Many restaurants will not present you your check until it is specifically asked for.

Paying Your Bill
When you do receive your bill, always check for included gratuity.

Personal Space
Is non-existent. The little old lady behind you isn’t trying to steal anything from your purse, she is just trying to get closer to the front of the line.

Social Norms
Miamians will not apologize profusely for accidentally brushing your arm while walking down Lincoln Road. They won’t expect you to either. Live and let live.

Safety in the Street
Like any city, biking is a popular way to commute. Be aware of tourists on bikes, as most are too engaged in the scenery to notice pedestrians.
(Insert photo of bikers)

Street Dress Code
Miami is the city of ‘yes.’ Anything goes. Don’t, however, feel the need to wear your thong bikini while jogging. Very few can pull that off.

Beach Dress Code
Topless bathing is accepted everywhere. Whether or not it is actually legal is a different story. If you want to go full out in your birthday suit, head to Haulover, just north of Bal Harbour.

Language
This isn’t the USA you’re used to elsewhere. It is an extension of South America. If you order your cafecito at a local Cuban coffee shop, don’t assume the employees speak english.

Coffee
A cafecito, or cortado, is espresso with tons of sugar. A cafe con leche is espresso with tons of milk. A cortadito is a mix of the two.

Weather
Rain showers generally last 10-20 minutes. If you are on the beach and the sky opens up, stick it out. By the time you pack up and leave, it will be over.

Locals
Most locals are not rampant partiers. Ask promotors for nightclub advice. Ask locals for directions. Ask other tourists what night is best at Mangos. Ask locals about the city’s greatest happy hours.

Parking
Parking tickets are given out like candy. You won’t beat the system. If you didn’t pay for your spot, chances are it’s illegal. Avoid the headache and park in a lot.

The Sun
Experience sunrise on the beach with free yoga. Enjoy sunset on the bay with half-priced drinks.
(INSERT photo of sunset over downtown miami)

Taxis
If you are in a taxi in South Beach, direct the driver to a street west of Collins Ave. You might have to deal with more stops signs, but the difference in traffic will be worth your while. If you don’t have cash, ask if the driver accepts credit cards before getting in.

Bike-share
Better yet, rent a DecoBike using your credit card. Ask a local for help.

Alcohol
Alcohol is available for purchase almost everywhere, including Walgreens, CVS, Whole Foods and Publix (pronounced with a short ‘u’, like the Irish bar, followed by “licks”.)

Cuisine
Miami’s food scene is so much more than fried plantains and medianoches. From Peruvian to Italian, the city is bursting with great restaurants. Don’t limit yourself!
(Photo of ceviche)

Kodak Moments
Most importantly, always have your camera ready. From breathtaking sunsets to drag shows at brunch, you never know what you are going to see in this vibrant city!

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Travel Temptations? Keep Fit on the Road

Fresh Italian pasta? Baguettes et chocolat? Barbeque wars here in the USA? Culinary adventures are a major (if not the) highlight of the best destinations. When you’re out on the road, is it possible to eat what you want and still button your pants?

While I am a full advocate of letting go of your restrictions and immersing yourself completely into the country and culture in which you are traveling, it can be hard on your health and your waistline. You can take care of yourself while still indulging in the local cuisine with a few mindful choices.

Go for active intensity.

Tours are often categorized according to level of physical activity. If you want to maintain your usual active lifestyle, or you want to balance your (over)eating with activity, choose a fast-paced tour. Look for itineraries that include a lot of walking, hiking, and extra options, such as biking excursions. Operators like Overseas Adventure Travel, AmaWaterways (partnering with Backroads), and Go Ahead Tours design their tours with a moderate amount of daily activity, with options to always do more.

Location can play a big factor as well. Local tours of ancient, Mediterranean cities are guaranteed to include a lot of walking, as buses cannot get to the center of these cities anyway. South American nature treks are sure to include a high level of physical activity. You might find that tours of modern cities, like many here in the USA, are bus-based. Insight Vacations’ or Road Scholar’s slower-paced programs, or Collette’s National Park’s tour, are a few examples.

Take the stairs.

In hotels, airports, even tourist attractions, if you have the option to take the stairs, do it. Avoid skytrains and motorized walking paths in airports if you have time before your connecting flight. Use these ride-along options only when you are dragging heavy luggage—or when you’ve got the 30th floor master suite penthouse!

Make it a point to stretch.

Bus tours involve a lot of sitting. It can be easy to settle in next to the window with your book and camera for hours without movement. Set your watch to beep every hour, or better yet every half hour, and remind yourself to move. Neck rolls, ankle rolls, a quick stretch of your arms and legs, and an easy torso twist will help keep your blood moving and your joints free.

And take every opportunity to get off the bus. Even if you have absolutely no interest in the photo stop, even if you have no desire to use the restrooms, just get up and off the bus. Walk in circles around the parking lot if you have to. Your body and your mind need it.

Drink water.

It’s hard to drink enough water on tour when you spend hours on the bus and even more hours meandering through foreign lands. Toilets may not be very accessible or comfortable. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. New food and spices, an excess of alcohol, air pollution, extremes in climate, and traveling on planes are all dehydrating. Drinking 2-3 liters of water a day will help keep your system clear. Find out if your driver sells it on the bus, ask about the safety of the tap water where you are staying, and stock up on bottles of water when in doubt.

Choose your vice.

Food and wine cruises, like Tauck’s A Taste of France, mean that on tour you are going to eat. A lot. You are going to try foods your body isn’t used to eating every day. If you really want to keep control of your diet, choose one thing to indulge in and cut another. For example, if you’re going to have dessert, pass on the bread. If you want wine, opt out of the cheese plate. Making the choice to indulge in one thing will ease the pain of foregoing another.

Follow the Leader!

As a yoga instructor, I bring my mat everywhere I go and practice for at least 10 minutes each morning to stay energized and feel fit. I encourage my guests to incorporate movement into their mornings, whether it be a quick run, walk, or simple stretch, before starting their touring day.

After long transfers on the bus, I also remind travelers to take a walk around the city or a nearby park to loosen the joints. If you work with a trainer or take classes at home, ask for some on-the-road exercises that you can do in your hotel room or the fitness center. Most hotels also have walking or running routes that they recommend for guests.

In short: Finding the balance between indulgence and activity will help you enjoy your tour more. It will make your adjustment to “the real world” easier when you get back home, too!

Read more at TourMatters