Travel Swellness: 2020 Travel Predictions

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Where do you see your travel taking you this year and in the decade ahead of us? Has what drives your decisions changed over the years? The experts at Booking.com have examined research and their insights from travel reviews and these are five trends they’ve identified that will impact how and where we travel in the years to come that I found most intriguing

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Let’s take it slow.

Rather than FOMO and racing through to fit in as much as possible, we’ll be going at a slower pace. Nearly half of travelers will be taking a slower mode of transportation as a means to reduce environmental impact and an even greater number will be opting for a longer route to experience the actual journey itself. This means methods such as bikes, trams, boats and even our own two feet will be more popular means of transportation.

Kinda sorta like when I run in the mornings to explore a city. Or take in the sights as I run a marathon (like I did recently in Istanbul, let me tell you, that was a slow pace, haha). And earlier in 2019, driving for many hours in Alberta was one of my all-time favourite trips and the drive wasn’t just about getting from point A to B, but was a defining element of the trip. How can you beat singing your favourite songs in the car as you enjoy the mountain views and brilliant glacial lakes around you? With the occasional mountain goat, bear or deer sighting, too!

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Let’s hear it for “second city” travel.

More travelers will choose second city travel, that is lesser known destinations, so as to reduce over tourism and reduce the impact on the environment. More than half of the travelers they spoke to would be interested in an app that suggested a destination where tourism would benefit the community.

Is taking the road less traveled of interest to you? I love the idea of this, especially having often been overwhelmed by crowd of people at popular sights recently, like at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. I think further to reducing over tourism and being kind to the environment, I think many people, myself included, like the feeling of discovery. Exploring that little gem that not everyone has been to.

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Pets are a top priority.

Pet-centric travel is set to explode. More and more travelers are taking their pets into consideration when it comes to their vacations. 34 percent will choose their holiday based on whether or not they can take their pets with them, in fact. And, good news, the number of pet-friendly accommodations on Booking.com continues to rise.

I travel semi-regularly with my dog, Billie Jean, and I can tell you she plays a big role in my travel decisions. We spent August in Brooklyn last year and also did a road trip to the Drake Motor Inn, and being able to travel with her simply makes life better. In fact, I was recently considering a trip in the next few months, but given that the accommodations are not dog-friendly, I doubt I will go on this trip.

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Snag that coveted reservation.

Culinary goals will be key in travel decisions. Booking a table at the hugely popular restaurant for an unforgettable dining experience is a trend that speaks to me. Just a few weeks ago, in advance of my trip to Thailand, my friend and I obsessed about where to book dinner and selected Michelin-starred restaurant Gaa as a decadent treat. And we were crushed to learn that Jay Fai was closed the days we were hoping to go early in the morning to get our name on the walk-in list. Several years ago, another friend and I diligently worked on getting a reservation at David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, clicking for a spot the second the reservations opened up and finally scored two seats at a late time. If Booking.com is correct that food-motivated travel is on the rise, this means I’ll have more competition when it comes to getting that coveted reservation, doh!

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Going the “all-amusive” route.

With limited time when it comes to vacations, more and more people are looking for vacations that can deliver all of the experiences and attractions they’re interested in. 57 percent would rather go on one long trip that offers all of the activities they’re into close together. Booking.com predicts will have the travel industry curating itineraries, deals and routes that encompass a healthy range of interests. This more time-efficient way to travel makes sense to me; I look to plan well-rounded trips when I’m setting an itinerary for myself, with time for culture, fitness, R&R and food (OK, food takes a higher priority for me, but I do like my travel to include everything! Unless it’s got a baby elephant, then all I need is to cuddle with a baby elephant and that is everything).

Do you have travel plans for 2020 yet? Where are you off to?

1 Comment January 2, 2020

Healthy Swellness: 2019 Year in Review

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What a year!

I realized sometime late this fall what a wonderful year I’d had so far (and it only got better from there). And I was surprised. The past several years have often wrapped up with a feeling of heaviness as time flies by and a feeling that I’ve just gone through the motions of living. While I still stress and have anxieties about work and finances and exactly where the heck my life is heading, this year I feel I was able to just trust the process a bit more, and in the meanwhile incredible opportunities and experiences filled my year and, yes, I’ll say it, fed my soul.

What I’ll take away from this year:

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New and old friendships that mean the world to me. I read some quote recently about how you don’t lose friends, but  we only learn who the true ones are. I have some friends from childhood, some friendships have developed over the past decade and, thanks to my work and regularly meeting people on press trips, new budding friendships, and I try not to take any of them for granted. If I say, “Let’s grab a drink!” I mean it and want to follow through with meeting up. This year, I was smarter about how I spent my days and who I chose to invest my time with, rather than making plans out of feeling obligated, and am happier for it. I’ve been friends with Jennifer (her site is Travel & Style) for more than a decade but we only more recently started again spending more time together; this is a photo from our trip to Arlington, VA, this year; I’ll be blogging about that soon!

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I am happier when I am focused and present.  With friends here at home, it’s about carving out time in my schedule so we can catch up properly. Making time for the people that matter to me. Putting down my phone (Must I post this photo or that photo in real time? No!). When away from home, it’s about letting go of the need to fit in a million things into my day so I can focus on and enjoy what’s in front of me. I had the most rewarding opportunities this year on some longer travels; I drove my myself (a huge feat in itself for me–as someone who gets really anxious getting lost) through the mountains in Alberta over the course of about two weeks namely in Jasper, Banff, Kananaskis and Calgary(the photo above is at Drumheller, just outside of Calgary). While I’d been nervous about so many hours solo in a car, it was truly a trip of a lifetime and singing out loud with jaw-dropping scenery all around me, every day I felt like my heart was going to explode with happiness.

In August, I spent most of the month pet-sitting in Brooklyn and having the amazing wealth of time to poke around that incredible city made me love New York City even more than I already did because I was able to just be there without stressing about running to this shop and to go see that sight. As someone who tends to be more cautious and practical by nature, I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of doing this month in NYC (initially I was super worried about both my cat and dog, managing juggling work from afar and a million other little stresses and I went back and forth for several weeks about whether I could pull off a month away from home). In the fall, with an invite to run the Istanbul Marathon, I ended up staying for several more days after the race than I’d felt comfortable with initially (due to the flight option for my return home, I was there for a full 10 days) and that ended up truly being a gift. Wandering Istanbul and visiting the stunning mosques without the pressure of having to fit in everything I wanted to soak up in a short amount of time was something I know I am very lucky to be able to do. I was able to just soak up the incredible city I was in. And this month, just when I was ready to wrap up an already incredible year with a great trip to the Dominican Republic, I was invited to Thailand and spent an exceptional two weeks (including a few days of personal vacation time) poking around Bangkok, Phuket, Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai. And while the trip started off terribly with my phone going missing upon landing in Bangkok, that upsetting incident just forced me to remember that material things can’t replace the exceptional experiences I had in store, ones I will remember the rest of my life. Like when a baby elephant sat on my lap.

 

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I am stronger than I realize. From making it through some terrible work situations to running a fantastic race where I almost made my Boston Qualifying time, and running a terrible race in Istanbul (it was just two weeks after running Detroit), I realized this year I am more resilient and determined than I give myself credit for. I’ve been told I am hard on myself (but aren’t we all?) and this year I tried to be kinder to myself. It worked sometimes, and of course, I have highs and lows, but overall I think I managed to feel more at ease with me, imperfections and all. Do I wish I were a stronger runner or have accomplished more in my career? Always. But I feel like I’m in a better place to actually make that happen. For many years, I’ve felt incapable of actually doing things, paralyzed by fears and anxiety, but I’m back to being in a head space where I can put plans into action.

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I should do more things that scare me. That drive in Alberta, in many areas where there was no data or GPS reception? I was nervous about it. More terrifying was when I got completely lost during a solo hike on that same trip. Thankfully I found my way (and the lesson from the hike is that I shouldn’t do not frequently used trail solo going forward). This year also brought me to the French Alps, and I ended up paragliding many, many feet up in the air even though I wasn’t quite sure it was something I was comfortable with (long story, but I had somehow confused what paragliding was when I agreed to it and somewhat before I knew it, was harnessed in and in the air!) and it was one of the best adventures I’ve experienced. To be honest, mountain biking in the Alps was much scarier for me. It’s the second time I’ve done it and I go very slowly and the chances of crashing seem so high! But perhaps the most terrifying thing I did was white water rafting in Arizona. My jaw hurt from clenching my teeth so hard. The idea of being tossed out of the raft and having to float and then having to try to get back on the boat all the while potentially hitting rocks, that’s not something I was comfortable with. None of that happened, though; all of these scary things, I forced myself to be brave and nothing bad happened. I need to continue to work on not letting fear hold me back.

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I’ll be going to boyband concerts for years to come. OK, this is not something I realized just this year. I’ve known this a long time, but ultimately, the lesson is to do what makes you happy. If that’s seeing NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys over and over, well, go ahead. Do your thing. I recall mentioning to a friend once that I felt guilty for shopping for myself during Christmas, and she didn’t understand. “You work hard, why feel guilty about buying something for yourself?” she said. And yet this treat-yoself guilt still seems to be ingrained in me but I’m trying to let go of it. This year, I was blessed with seeing NKOTB once, and BSB twice and did I mention I met Howie? So whether it’s cutting out of work to fit in a workout or spending a lot of money on a concert I’ve already seen, I’m worth it. You’re worth it, whatever it is that makes you happy. In my opinion, boyband concerts totally count as self-care.

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Photo credit for this shot of me with Howie goes to Toybox, where the after-party was held; I’m forever grateful the photographer captured this!

Saying so long to the past decade…

With this also being the end of a decade, with such a positive 2019, I feel optimistic as to what the next decade holds. I spent the last 10 years rebuilding my life from what felt like scratch. I had to start the decade with the end of a long-term relationship, then had a few extremely difficult few years where my biggest accomplishment was simply making it out alive (2014-2016 were years I’d rather forget but I try to look at them now as having made me stronger). This decade, I lost my amazing cat Kobe; he was the first pet I had has an adult and he saw me through so many significant moments and that was a crushing loss in 2018. But it’s also the decade I adopted my very first dog, Billie Jean, who makes my heart grow bigger every day.

I’m looking forward to a brand new year and a brand new decade. Here’s to making it an exceptional one!

K xo

 

Leave a Comment December 31, 2019

Travel Swellness: New York Citypass

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As a longtime fan of Citypass (I’ve used it a couple of times in Chicago, and once in Toronto), I was happy to receive the New York edition from Citypass for this August. which I spent in Brooklyn with Billie Jean.

If you’re unfamiliar with Citypass, here’s how it works: For each city (Citypass is available in 14 cities), they’ve rounded up a group of the top sights to see. If you were to add up all of the admission prices for these attractions and compare it to the cost of the Citypass, there’s a significant savings. So the pass makes a lot of sense if your travel plans include seeing many of the sights included in the pass for your city. The New York Citypass costs $183.99, which is a savings of 44 percent on the six sights and attractions included.

The New York Citypass includes:

  1. Empire State Building
  2. American Museum of Natural History
  3. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  4. Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR the Guggenheim Museum
  5. Ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  6. 9/11 Memorial Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

How I used the New York Citypass:

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The Empire State Building. I actually am not sure if I have ever been up the Empire State Building… possibly once when I was a kid. Since that was a long time ago, I was keen on visiting this iconic building once again. I lucked out with beautiful weather the afternoon I visited, and it wasn’t too crowded. The displays they have along the way as you make your way to the observation deck are fun, too: the pics of celebs who’ve visited, the King Kong photo opp, the example of the old elevator (what beautiful art deco details!).

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The Met. I’ve been very interested in revisiting the Met as I haven’t been in several years. And I was even more stoked to visit because the Met Camp exhibit was still on while I was there. This was such an incredible exhibit (I loved how the over the top outfits were displayed), but it was overwhelmingly crowded, so much so we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked at it. Also, a bit of a fail: I didn’t realize my ticket to the Met included also visiting the Cloisters. I visited the Cloisters a few days later and paid the $25 admission. In any case, you should definitely make the effort to take the subway uptown to the Cloisters. It’s been on my wish list for several years, but I never have enough time in New York to carve out the time to go there, but I finally did and it feels like a wonderful castle perched the top of a hill in a quiet park. You won’t believe you’re still in Manhattan when you’re there!

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Top of the Rock. So  you have to choose between the Guggenheim and Top of the Rock on the Citypass. The Guggenheim was what I chose initially to visit, as I was last at the Guggenheim more than five years ago. But I’ve also never been to Top of the Rock, and I knew the views from Top of the Rock are great (as my friend Jenn pointed out, the view from Top of the Rock is better in that you get to view the pretty Empire State Building from it). So I had decided I’d just use the Citypass on the Guggenheim, and pay to go to Top of the Rock. Then I did some recon and I saw that the Guggenheim is pay what you wish on Saturdays from 5-8 p.m., whereas the Top of the Rock costs $38. So up to the Top of the Rock I went, and it was fantastic. It was a windy, cloudy day, unfortunately but we still enjoyed our visit; the view looking uptown with Central Park stretching out before you is breathtaking. As for my plans to go to the Guggenheim on a Sunday, they never panned out, as I think I got too lazy to head there from Brooklyn on Saturday evenings.

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Circle Line Cruises. I chose the Circle Line Cruises over the Statue of Liberty (since the cruise would bring me by the statue anyhow) and I’m so happy because the night of the cruise there was an incredible sunset with the sky unbelievably vivid pinks and oranges and purples. It was phenomenal to be out on the water at sunset. I highly recommend this but be prepared to stand if you want to be outside (there are limited seats on the upper deck).

What I didn’t get to use the Citypass for:

I’d decided to put the American Museum of Natural History as low priority on my itinerary. I had planned to visit since I have never been, but then a friend pointed out it’d be very crowded with kids. I think I have romanticized notions of this museum from movies filmed in NYC, and in my head I hadn’t pictured it chaotic and filled with little ones. I would like to go visit on another trip to NYC, though.

I did plan to go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but somehow my time in New York flew by quickly and the one day I was in the area, I had timed my day poorly and ran out of time.

Why pick up a Citypass for your next trip?

Citypass offers great value if you’re able to fit in many or all of the sights, or if you’re a first time visitor to a city and love seeing all of the main sights when you’re traveling. Another benefit of having it? Citypass holders typically have quicker access to the sights (that said, I found that the signage is often unclear, so a few times I did end up waiting in the same line as everyone else).

Citypass is also offered in other cities I enjoy (such as Philly, Boston and San Fran) and others I haven’t had a chance to explore ever such as Denver and Orlando, so I’ll have to make sure to pick up a pass the next time I’m in these cities!

What are some of the ways you find savings when you travel?

 

Leave a Comment November 26, 2019

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