I am uncertain how many of you are aware that my ultimate concierge and I are world travelers.
I have not written about our exciting adventures because it is difficult to capture, in words, the personalities of cities and countries around the world.
An Authority on the Art of Travel
On the other hand, I am able to use words to guide you through packing and unpacking, choosing a travel agent and guide, and protecting your passport, credit cards, and personal papers. In addition, I would love to share my knowledge about the importance of calling your bank before you depart, advice on how to keep costs down on your cell phone bill, how to acquire travel and medical insurance and which prescription drugs you should carry. I consider myself a professional traveler.
Experience is the best teacher and I have traveled to over sixty countries around the world.
As many of you gear up for summer travel as a family, couple, or independently, knowing the ropes from a professional traveler like myself will help prepare you for your journey.
To give you confidence that I am a true authority on the art of travel, I want to give you some background on the diversity of my trips, with who other but my sidekick, my ultimate concierge, Sheldon Good.
Our Diverse Travel History
We’ve ridden camels in the Sahara Desert in Morocco and traveled by ship to Antarctica, the land of glaciers and penguins.
We explored Machu Picchu, high in the Andes, in Peru and learned about Darwin’s theory of evolution in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
We’ve experienced the old and the new China and were enthralled with its ancient history.
Japan was unique for its tea service, landscape, Sushi, Kabuki and Geisha Theatre, and of course, pearls.
The Serengeti Plain in Tanzania, East Africa, known for the annual migration, was extraordinary, and in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, the lifestyle was an emotional experience as we mixed with the rich and poor.
In Botswana, we settled in at Camp Abu, where we ventured out on daily Safari on our own elephant and mahout (an elephant trainer), instead of a four-wheel jeep.
On another occasion, we visited the most glamorous city in the world, Paris.
We’ve gone on several trips with the World Affairs Council to the mysterious old world cities of the Middle East; Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cutter, Amman, Lebanon, Abba Dubai, Kuwait, Jordon, and Israel.
The List Goes On
Our travels have taken us to the romantic Palace of Versailles, where we heard stories of Marie Antoinette, then into Normandy to visit Monet’s Garden, one of my favorite spots in the world. We then made our way to Normandy Beach, where we lit candles in the American cemetery, which we brought from home in honor of those who fought and died to save our country.
We’ve cried in Poland when we walked the grounds of the Auschwitz Concentration camp.
In London, we were thrilled to go back in time and watch a Shakespearean Play at the outdoor Globe theatre.
In Moscow, Russia, we were awestruck as we stared at the colorful Saint Basel and danced to the music of ‘Moscow Nights’ at midnight on the grounds of Lenin Square.
Days later, in Saint Petersburg, we sat in a gorgeous small theatre in the Armitage captured by a performance of Swan Lake.
Vietnam and Cambodia were two of my favorite adventures, and Anger Wat should go down as one of the wonders of the world.
I loved Nepal and its garden-like layered mountains, and Tiger Tops was a place we hunted the Bengal Tiger on elephants.
India was beautiful; I loved its foods.
In Israel, we placed a small piece of paper with wishes between the cracks of The Wailing Wall and visited the extraordinary Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and listened to every word delivered by our grandson at his Bar Mitzvah, all in the Old City of Jerusalem.
We traveled to the West Bank of Ramallah and visited with the second in command of the PLO. Months later, I got lost in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
More International Travels
We’ve golfed in Ireland and Scotland with friends and immediate family, looked for deals throughout the old market in Turkey, and saw the Square in Venice, which had as many pigeons as it did people.
My ultimate concierge and I have been to the old East and West Germany and the Check Point Charlie before it came down. We visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy, as well as fishing villages and hamlets to include, Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Pablo Picasso, all along the Mediterranean Sea.
We’ve experienced the mountains, the home of Renoir, The Leger Museum and Saint Paul D’ Vence, where famous art graces the walls, which were given in payment for a meal.
America the Beautiful
And in our beautiful United States of America, we’ve immersed ourselves in theatre in New York, heard the musician Pete Fountain blowing his horn at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, driven down Melrose Street and Rodeo Drive in LA, visited Harvard and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, and even eaten lobsters and saw the White Mountains in Maine.
In Memphis, it was all about Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and in Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry. In Austin, Texas, we stopped by The Lyndon Johnson Library, and in California, the Nixon and Reagan Libraries.
And in my beautiful Chicago, Wrigley Field, Millennium Park, The Art Institute, and Gibson’s are all high on my list of frequently traveled places.
And darlings, I could go on and on. I am one lucky traveler and I feel it from the tip of my nose to the tips of my toes. And the best, if possible, is yet to come.
Tips Before Leaving On Your Own Trip
- Before you hire a travel agent, ask him or her if she has ‘actually’ traveled to the countries or cities you are interested in visiting. Do not hire an agent whose knowledge is computer generated. Trust her to find your guide.
- Visit a travel doctor. It is important that your inoculations are up to date and that you have what is needed for the country you are visiting. These doctors are located in the hospital and also have private practices. Make sure you ask the travel doctor when you are making an appointment, whether they will have you fill out a medical history. If they do not, find another doctor. A travel doctor prevented me from taking a shot that could have killed me because he insisted on having my full medical history.
- Make copies of your passport, your credit cards, and your driver’s license, just in case.
- Tell your internist you are traveling. They will provide you with an antibiotic, just in case.
- Take out medical and travel insurance. Your travel agent can guide you. It is worth the cost, just in case.
- Leave your itinerary with family.
- Program your cell phone for low-cost phone calls, texts, and emails. Otherwise, your bills will be high. Call 611.
- Call your bank and credit card company and inform them when and where you will be traveling.
- There are credit cards that offer five-star benefits. We use Chase Preferred.
- If you have a pet, do for your pet what you would do for your child.
- Visit your dry cleaner to purchase a dress and shirt length plastic garment bags and hangers with white cardboard covers. You will also need large and small zip lock bags.
- Pack all types of undies in large ziplock bags. When you arrive at your hotel place the bags in your drawer with everything inside. Use as needed.
- All outfits are on hangers covered with a plastic bag. For example: a pair of slacks folded over the hanger, a T-Shirt folded over the slacks, or a blouse hung, a scarf folded over the T-shirt or a special sweater that goes with the outfit, and if I am going to wear a baseball cap with the outfit, I slide the cap where the opening is through the top of the hanger. Do this with all your outfits.
- At the hotel, take each outfit out of your suitcase and hang them in the closet. Take off the plastic covers.
- I pack my shoes in clear plastic baggies so I can see them. When I arrive at the hotel, I leave them in the plastic in my closet.
- You have compartmentalized your clothing and confined them in plastic, which makes packing, unpacking, and even repacking, a joy instead of a nightmare.
- Always pack a magnified travel mirror.
- I have used the same see-through lingerie bag with several compartments, some large and some medium size, for years. All the sections zip. I hang it up in the bathroom to visualize my make-up. I prefer not use cloth make-up bags because I do not want to have to dig around in them. They ruin manicures.
- I pack all expensive items and all drugs in my carry on. That includes jewelry, belts, handbags, my laptops and copies of our passports and all the other necessary papers I mentioned above.
- I was told by an insurance claims adjuster that the biggest and most frequent claims on home owner’s insurance policies are the robbery of expensive items from suitcases. So please beware.
After years of travel, one thing remains constant. Upon our return from every trip, we look at one another and say, “God Bless America.”
P.S. In the coming weeks, I will dig up some of my favorite travel tales to reshare with you. Stay tuned!
Bon Voyage, darlings!
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