6 Travel Books That Are a Must Read For Any Traveler

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
By Bill Bryson

The Appalachian Trail is a goal for my daughter as she wants to hike it and I want to explore it.  One of the most interesting sites that I discovered was Camp Michaux, which is the site of a WWII POW camp.  This book inspires me to further discover the trail.

AMAZON:  The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to The World of Food and the People Who Cook
by Anthony Bourdain

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

I am a foodie and enjoy exploring native foods and recipes.  I look forward to reading about the search for the unique and attainable.  Anthony Bourdain is someone that can help guide the gastronomically curious traveler on thier journey.


In the 10 years since his classic Kitchen Confidential first alerted us to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of eating out – from Monday fish to the breadbasket conspiracy – much has changed for the subculture of chefs and cooks, for the restaurant business and for Anthony Bourdain. Medium Raw explores those changes, moving back and forth from the author’s bad old days to the present. Tracking his own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood, Bourdain takes no prisoners as he dissects what he’s seen, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food.

Beginning with a secret and highly illegal after-hours gathering of powerful chefs that he compares to a mafia summit, Bourdain pulls back the curtain, but never pulls his punches, on the modern gastronomical revolution, as only he can. Cutting right to the bone, Bourdain sets his sights on some of the biggest names in the foodie world, including David Chang, the young superstar chef who has radicalized the fine-dining landscape; the revered Alice Waters, whom he treats with unapologetic frankness; the Top Chef winners and losers; and many more.

Always he returns to the question “Why cook?” Or the more difficult “Why cook well?” Medium Raw is the deliciously funny and shockingly delectable journey to those answers, sure to delight philistines and gourmands alike.

100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do
By National Geographic

The US and Canada has an incredible number of parks and each one if more beautiful than the next.  I am always surprised as how close I am to any of these parks.  This book will help you explore from city to country.

AMAZON:  In the sequel to the best-selling 50 States, 5,000 ideas, National Geographic turns to the United States’ and Canada’s most pristine–and adventure-filled–national, state, and city parks with 5,000 ideas for the ultimate vacation. Showcasing the best experiences, both obvious and unexpected, each entry in this robust guide provides an overview of the park, detailed travel advice, fascinating facts, insider knowledge about wildlife, and expert tips for hiking, biking, camping, and exploring. From the geysers of Yellowstone National Park to the Everglades’ Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail and the stunning peaks of Banff and Jasper in Alberta, each page will fuel your wanderlust. Plus, explore the natural beauty tucked away in cities like New York’s Central Park and Boston Commons, and find bonus parks with day-trip suggestions to nearby neighbors. Top 10 lists throughout highlight best-of destinations for river trips, monuments, panoramic views, beaches, and more. This comprehensive book provides all the inspiration and information you need to plan your next park visit–and make it a memorable one.

A Woman Alone: Travel Tales From Around the Globe
edited by Faith Conlon, Ingrid Emerick and Christina Henry de Tessan

I do like traveling alone.  I don’t often do it and am planning on more.  I enjoy it because it gives me time to reconnect with myself and explore exactly what I want to explore.  A Woman Alone is about just that.

AMAZON:  The idea of a journey without companions is too daunting for most travelers. Not so for the women of this collection. These contemporary pioneers savor the ultimate freedom of solo travel. Marybeth Bond discovers the dubious pleasures of desert camel-riding when she decides to follow an ancient Indian trading route. Faith Adiele, a black Buddhist nun, enters a deserted train station at 3:00 a.m. in a Thai village controlled by armed bandits. Ena Singh negotiates with Russian police to visit the blue-domed city of Samarkand. In A Woman Alone, these women and others tell their funny, thrilling, occasionally terrifying, ultimately transformative stories of navigating some of the most unusual destinations on the globe.

Our National Monuments: America’s Hidden Gems
By Q.T. Luoung

There are so many national monuments to explore.  According to the National Park Service (nps.org)  a national park contains a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. A national monument is intended to preserve at least one nationally significant resource.  These don’t rival each other but add to the potential of discovery.

AMAZON:  With the stroke of a pen, the president of the United States can proclaim a national monument. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was enacted to provide an expedited means to protect areas of natural or cultural significance. Since then, 16 presidents have used the Act to preserve some of America’ most treasured public lands and waters. In 2017, an unprecedented executive order was issued questioning these designations by calling for the review of 27 national monuments across 11 states and two oceans, opening the threat of development to vulnerable and irreplaceable natural resources.

Our National Monuments, the first book of its kind, introduces these spectacular and unique landscapes at risk from the review. From the north woods of Maine to the cactus-filled deserts of Arizona, these national monuments include vast lands rivaling the national parks in beauty, diversity, and historical heritage. The critically important landscapes are often under the radar, with limited visitor information available, yet offer considerable opportunities for solitude and adventure compared to bustling national parks.

QT Luong – one of the most prolific photographers working in America’s public lands and author of the best-selling and acclaimed photography book about the national parks, Treasured Lands – hiked and camped in the 22 land-based national monuments under review, aiming his lens at the grand vistas, archaeological wonders, and hidden delights along the way. Accompanying the collection of 300 scenic photographs is an invaluable guide that includes maps, descriptions of the author’s wide-ranging explorations and highlights for each of the monuments. Introductory essays from leaders and activists of 27 conservation associations provide the perspective of citizens caring for each of these national treasures. A foreword by former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, as well as photographs of marine national monuments from Ansel Adams award-winning photographer Ian Shive round out this comprehensive portrayal of America’s hidden gems.

The Art Of Travel
By Alain de Botton

Why travel?  Here it all is in one beautiful book.

AMAZON:  Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.

Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a “refreshing and profoundly readable” book (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Don’t leave home without it.

Great 2023 Reads for Summer Travels and Beyond



I’m a huge fan of reading.  I try to read 60-70 books a year with my favorite genres being Sci-Fi and Fantasy, although I do enjoy branching out into other genres like Historical Non-Fiction. I am searching for some new books to read and anxiously awaiting the sequels to a couple of my favorite series.

I am a fan of Jodi Taylor and Naomi Novak.  Jodi Taylor is an English fantasy writer that send historians into the past with almost near disastrous yet hysterical results.  The characters of St. Mary’s  “investigate major historical events in contemporary time” and just don’t call it time travel.  The 14th installment of The Chronicles of St. Mary’s is due in June.  Naomi Novak is an award-winning American author known for her fantasy and speculative fantasy writing.  I have several of her books and am looking forward to finishing the Scolomance theory where magic is deadly and high school graduation is not guaranteed.

Here are a few on my reading list.  Enjoy!

Lives of the Wives by Carmela Ciuraru

AMAZON:  LIVES OF THE WIVES is a witty, provocative look inside the tumultuous marriages of five writers, illuminating the creative process as well as the role of money, power, and fame in these complex and fascinating relationships.

“With an ego the size of a small nation, the literary lion is powerful on the page, but a helpless kitten in daily life—dependent on his wife to fold an umbrella, answer the phone, or lick a stamp.”

The history of wives is largely one of silence, resilience, and forbearance. Toss in celebrity, male privilege, ruthless ambition, narcissism, misogyny, infidelity, alcoholism, and a mood disorder or two, and it’s easy to understand why the marriages of so many famous writers have been stormy, short-lived, and mutually destructive. “It’s been my experience,” as the critic and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick once wrote, “that nobody holds a man’s brutality to his wife against him.” Literary wives are a unique breed, requiring a particular kind of fortitude.

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman by [Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson]


Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman

AMAZON:  From his breakout role in Die Hard to his outstanding, multifaceted performances in the Harry Potter films, Galaxy QuestRobin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and more, Alan Rickman cemented his legacy as a world-class actor. His air of dignity, his sonorous voice, and the knowing wit he brought to each role continue to captivate audiences today.

But Rickman’s ability to breathe life into projects wasn’t confined to just his performances. As you’ll find, Rickman’s diaries detail the extraordinary and the ordinary, flitting between worldly and witty and gossipy, while remaining utterly candid throughout. He takes us inside his home, on trips with friends across the globe, and on the sets of films and plays ranging from Sense and Sensibility, to Noël Coward’s Private Lives, to the final film he directed, A Little Chaos.

Running from 1993 to his death in 2016, the diaries provide singular insight into Rickman’s public and private life. Reading them is like listening to Rickman chatting to a close companion. Meet Rickman the consummate professional actor, but also the friend, the traveler, the fan, the director, the enthusiast; in short, the man beyond the icon.

A Deadly Education: A Novel (The Scholomance)
The Last Graduate: A Novel (The Scholomance)
The Golden Enclaves: A Novel (The Scholomance)
The Scholomance (3 book series) by Naomi Novak


The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out. Not even the richest enclaver would tempt fate that way. But it’s all we dream about: the hideously slim chance we’ll survive to make it out the gates and improbably find ourselves with a life ahead of us, a life outside the Scholomance halls.

And now the impossible dream has come true. I’m out, we’re all out—and I didn’t even have to turn into a monstrous dark witch to make it happen. So much for my great-grandmother’s prophecy of doom and destruction. I didn’t kill enclavers, I saved them. Me and Orion and our allies. Our graduation plan worked to perfection: We saved everyone and made the world safe for all wizards and brought peace and harmony to all the enclaves everywhere.

Ha, only joking! Actually, it’s gone all wrong. Someone else has picked up the project of destroying enclaves in my stead, and probably everyone we saved is about to get killed in the brewing enclave war. And the first thing I’ve got to do now, having miraculously gotten out of the Scholomance, is turn straight around and find a way back in.

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

AMAZON:  William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.

But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?

An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little WomenHello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.

The Good, The Bad and The History (Chronicles of St. Mary's Book 14) by [Jodi Taylor]
The Good, The Bad and The History (Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 14) by Jodi Taylor

AMAZON:  Max needs to get away – fast – and a Brilliant Idea soon leads her to a full-scale uprising in twentieth-century China. If she can come by a historical treasure or two in the process, even better. That is, if she makes it out alive.

Then there’s the small matter of Insight – the sinister organisation from the future hell bent on changing History for their own dark ends. Having successfully infiltrated their ranks, Max is perfectly placed to stop them. But she knows her cover will soon be blown – because it’s already happened.

Can Max take down Insight before they come after her? The circle is closing, and only one can survive…

The Wife Upstairs: A Novel
The Wife Upstairs: A Novel by Rachel Hawkins

AMAZON:  Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

Radiant Sin: A Darkly Hot Modern Retelling of Apollo and Cassandra (Dark Olympus Book 4)


Radiant Sin: A Darkly Hot Modern Retelling of Apollo and Cassandra (Dark Olympus Book 4) by Katee Robert

AMAZON: As a disgraced member of a fallen house, Cassandra Gataki has seen firsthand what comes from trusting the venomous Thirteen. But when the maddeningly gorgeous and kind Apollo asks her to go undercover as his plus-one at a week-long party hosted by a dangerous new power player…Cassandra reluctantly agrees to have his back.

On one condition: when it’s all over, and Apollo has the ammunition he needs to protect Olympus, she and her sister will be allowed to leave. For good.

Apollo may be the city’s official spymaster, but it’s his ability to inspire others that keeps him at the top. Despite what the rest of Olympus says, there’s no one he trusts more than Cassandra. Yet even as their fake relationship takes a wicked turn for the scaldingly hot, a very real danger surfaces… threatening not only Cassandra and Apollo, but the very heart of Olympus itself.

Our Share of Night: A Novel by Mariana Enriquez

A young father and son set out on a road trip, devastated by the death of the wife and mother they both loved. United in grief, the pair travel to her ancestral home, where they must confront the terrifying legacy she has bequeathed: a family called the Order that commits unspeakable acts in search of immortality.

For Gaspar, the son, this maniacal cult is his destiny. As the Order tries to pull him into their evil, he and his father take flight, attempting to outrun a powerful clan that will do anything to ensure its own survival. But how far will Gaspar’s father go to protect his child? And can anyone escape their fate?

Moving back and forth in time, from London in the swinging 1960s to the brutal years of Argentina’s military dictatorship and its turbulent aftermath, Our Share of Night is a novel like no other: a family story, a ghost story, a story of the occult and the supernatural, a book about the complexities of love and longing with queer subplots and themes. This is the masterwork of one of Latin America’s most original novelists, “a mesmerizing writer,” says Dave Eggers, “who demands to be read.”

Tailored Mystery Weekend Getaways: A Lovely Mother’s/Father’s Day Surprise

I am constantly looking for new gift ideas for the SO.  Like many people, we have downsized and are fortunate not have a lot of needs (except travel, in my case).  So, what do you give someone that doesn’t need anything?  I am constantly telling family and friends I want the gift of time.  I want their time and spend it having a wonderful time.

Something that I have recently come across is called mystery travel.  Mystery travel is when you hire a company to set up your whole trip for you and doesn’t let you know until right before the trip begins.  The company considers how far you want to travel from home, how much you want to spend and what you like to do.

These companies do all the work and send you the plans around a week ahead of time and you must open it just before you leave.  The company tells you what to pack and what the weather is like.  One of the best parts is if you are not traveling in a car, they will let you know how you will be traveling and when to get to the that mode of transportation.  They will also make sure that you know what documents you need.  I love this idea.

I know someone who recently did this. He and his wife tried this based on a recommendation from one of his clients. They went through Pack Up Go. This group heralds itself as a champion of the overlooked backyard experiences whether it is by train, plane, or automobile.  Pack Up Go took into consideration their budget and how far they wanted to travel along with what their interests were. They received their envelope a week before and opened it the morning of.

Pack Up + Go

According to Pack Up Go’s website, the adventure starts with a bit of pre-planning by the traveler.  They are looking for the following information:

Answer a few quick questions about your interests and travel history on the Pack Up + Go Pre-Trip Survey.

To plan your surprise vacation, we’ll need to know:

  • Travel dates
  • Travel preferences
  • Travel history
  • Traveler interests
  • Traveler information
  • Your budget (travel + accommodations)
    • Per person for Plane Trips
    • Per hotel room for Road Trips
    • Per hotel room for Outdoor Road Trips
    • Per hotel room for Staycations

A week before your departure, you receive an email to help you prepare for your Trip.

This email contains:

  • The weather forecast for your mystery destination
  • A suggested packing list (EX: a bathing suit, hiking boots)
  • Any luggage size restrictions
  • Where to go + when (EX: O’Hare Airport, Friday at 10:30AM!)

A few days before you depart, you will receive the Surprise Trip Envelope in the mail, which you do NOT open just yet.

  • This envelope will include a curated list of recommendations based on your interests for everything from cafes to nightlife to rainy day activities, hotel directions, fun facts, and more! We promise you won’t be bored wherever you go.
  • On the day of departure, open your envelope, and Pack Up + Go! 
  • During your Surprise Vacation, you’ll have the flexibility to choose your own adventure and set your own pace for exploring your destination. If anything comes up during your Surprise Getaway, you can contact our 24/7 Traveler Support Team to help with everything you need before, during, and after your Trip.

The best part was the anticipation and the mystery.  We tried to guess where they were going because it was a 5-hour drive and the weather. We guessed Connecticut, Maryland, DC, and New York State.  We were wrong.  They ended up in Charlottesville, Virginia.  They absolutely loved the trip because it had an itinerary filled with ideas for breweries and hiking.  It was somewhere new for them.  Not only did they recommend the trip but loved the fact that they didn’t need to do any planning and it was tailor-made for them.

Even though the trip came with an itinerary, Pack Up Go provided several other options for this couple.  Charlottsville is the presidential homes  Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.  There are also wineries, Luray Caverns, fishing, museums, interactive glass art, and a lot more.  This is a beautiful area and they made the most of it.

I am looking into this as a Christmas present for the SO this year.  We like exploring and I like the idea of having someone else do the planning and see what they come up with for us.  I will have several months to dig into what he might be interested in doing so I can set this up. My kids read my blog…hint, hint.   I’ll keep you posted!

Thrillist has pulled together a comprehensive list of travel sites.

Pack Up + Go
The OG of the bunch, Pack Up + Go specializes in exploring your overlooked backyard with plane or train trips, road trips, and outdoor destinations throughout the US. During the pandemic, they also added staycations. Plane or train trips begin at $700 for three days and they recently launched their own Peace of Mind Refund Assurance insurance for more flexibility, allowing refunds up to the day of travel.

The Vacation Hunt
Founded by husband-and-wife travel enthusiasts Jeff Allen and Roshni Agarwal, Vacation Hunt plans US, European, International (with two separate categories), and all-inclusive resort trips for three to 14 days, with flat-fee base pricing ranging from $960 for domestic trips to $2,500 for European destinations. There’s also a special section for honeymoon trip planning, where even if you have a destination in mind, they’ll save you tons of time by helping to fill out your schedule.

Magical Mystery Tours
With a name as fun as the service they provide, Magical Mystery Tours began in 2009 when two friends planned a vacation for a third, and it was a hit. Now they plan domestic and international mystery trips, plus traditional trip planning (currently suspended due to the high demand for mystery trips). Trips start at $1,500 for a three-day domestic journey. You can also purchase a gift certificate, if you know someone who could use a little more spontaneity in their lives.

Black Tomato
Do you have deep pockets and a lust for adventure? On their Get Lost Tours, which begin at $30,000, Black Tomato drops you in the middle of nowhere and you have to find your way out. A wilderness survival class is given beforehand, and prior to your trip, they give you advice on how to prepare mentally and physically. Choose between polar, jungle, coastal, desert, or mountain environments or have someone choose for you.

Rustic Pathways Mystery Trips
Surprises aren’t just for grown-ups (though we could probably use them more than the kiddos). Rustic Pathways is a youth-focused travel company fostering global citizenship for middle school, high school, gap year, and college students. Sign up for their 18-day mystery trip for $7,145 plus airfare, and be sent a Patagonia duffel with clues along with a packing list a month in advance. Each day on the trip is a mystery as well, with clues to decipher as a group about the day’s itinerary.

Get it? Traveling on a “whym.” And this company really does leave it to the last minute—you’ll find out where you’re going by text two to three hours before takeoff. The itinerary is peppered with even more surprises, from sporting events to horseback riding, depending on your budget, and trip options spanning solo flights to group road trips around the US and its territories.

Blind Experiences
Looking for an impressive and sustainable luxury surprise? Depending on your preferences, this Rome-based travel company will send you everywhere from glamping in the Galapagos to a 1920s safari camp in Kenya. The company’s roots are in planning honeymoons, but itineraries can be planned for families, groups, and a new child-adult bonding “legacy” trip at places like the Treehotel in Swedish Lapland or a secret pod in the Swiss Alps. Fun for the whole family.

Travel Update: Machu Picchu is Open!

Machu Picchu closed in Peru as anti-government protests flare
USA Today


Back in December, reported that Machu Picchu was closed due to civil arrest in Peru. In a travel advisory in late December, the United States Department of State warned against visiting Peru, telling Americans to “reconsider travel” to the country and “exercise increased caution due to civil unrest.  ”The Incan city and site were closed down for the unforeseeable future.  According to the Associated Press (AP), “agreements were made between authorities, social groups and the local tourism industry” to ensure the safety of the historic site—and the transportation services that tourists use to access it.

Now, as of the February 11th, Machu Picchu’s website is open for buying tickets for the city and tickets are available for the Inca rail and Peruvian train service. As of February 15, the sites will be open. Please be aware that closures can recur.  If  you are traveling to Peru, will need to be very flexible, especially since March is the beginning of their busy tourist season.

Machu Picchu Official Statement

Cusco Ministry of culture agency and the Headquarters of the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu also in coordination with the Protected Natural Areas agency (Sernamp) announce that due to the current social situation in which our region and the country have been experienced, the imminent close of the Inka Road Network and the Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu has been ordered, from January 21, 2023, until further notice, to safeguard the safety of tourists and the general population.

Likewise, it is communicated that all the facilities will be provided to national and foreign tourists who are affected for the use of the tickets, from January 21, 2023, until one month after the conclusion of the social mobilizations or request the return of the amount of the ticket

May information through the email info@incatrailmachu.com


Good luck and stay informed!

Some New Travel Deals for February…Thinking some Valentine Fun?

It is travel planning time for me.  I love staying in January and getting organized and pulling together my plans for the next year or two (thinking about Asian with Bob in 2024).  As I am cruising around some of my favorite travel websites and some new ones, I am always looking for a good deal that will make more travel possible.  I am a huge fan of Go Today Travel, Gate 1, and Groupon.  I have used them for years and they have always worked well for me.  These sites have great package sites that get you to where you want to go and allow for more travel.  Take a look around and see what you can find!

One of my favorite travel sites which I have used a few times is Go Today Travel.  It is easy to use and usually has some great deals,  All documents are electronic and they have great customer service.  Currently, they have several and here are a few highlights!


London vacation


Athens vacation


Ireland vacation

✈ 3- or 6-Night All-Inclusive Cancún Bay Resort Stay with Air from Travel by Jen – Cancun


What You Get

View local health guidelines for travel here

How to Book

  • Each person must buy a voucher; price is based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. Additional fee to travel solo.
  • Choose your package from the drop-down menu.
  • After purchasing this deal, follow the instructions on your voucher to book your trip with Travel by Jen no later than 2/17/23.

Know Before You Go

  • Additional fees to travel solo:
    • 3-night stay: $229
    • 6-night stay: $459
  • Additional taxes & fees: Hotel transfer ($29 round-trip/person) not included.
  • A passport is required for all travel outside the U.S.
  • Passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of travel, and contain at least two blank visa pages.
  • Before international travel, always check the State Department’s website for important info on the destination and its entry/exit requirements.
  • Official language: None, but Spanish is widely spoken
  • Currency: Mexican peso

Image 1: ✈ 5-Day Iceland Vacation with Air from Gate 1 Travel

✈ 5-Day Iceland Vacation with Hotels and Air from Gate 1 Travel – Reykjavik


What You Get

View local health guidelines for travel here

How to Book

  • Each person must buy a voucher; price is based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. Additional fee to travel solo.
  • Choose your package from the drop-down menu.
  • After purchasing this deal, follow the instructions on your voucher to book your trip with Gate 1 Travel no later than 2/2/23.

Know Before You Go

  • Additional fees to travel solo:
    • Stay at Hotel Cabin or Hotel Klettur: $250
    • Stay at Centerhotel Arnarhvoll or Centerhotel Plaza: $350
    • Stay at Centerhotel Midgardur or Grandi by Center Hotels: $350
  • Additional taxes & fees: Breakfast on day 2, transfers, optional tours, and gratuities not included.
  • Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 is required in order to travel with Gate 1 Travel.
  • A passport is required for all travel outside the U.S.
  • Passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of travel, and contain at least two blank visa pages.
  • Before international travel, always check the State Department’s website for important info on the destination and its entry/exit requirements.
  • Official languages: Icelandic
  • Currency: Icelandic króna
  • Drive on the right side of the road

Image 1: ✈ 8-Day Paris and Barcelona Vacation with Air from Gate 1 Travel

✈ 8-Day Paris and Barcelona Vacation with Hotels and Air from Gate 1 Travel – France & Spain

Multiple Locations

What You Get

View local health guidelines for travel here

How to Book

  • Each person must buy a voucher; price is based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. Additional fee to travel solo.
  • Choose your package from the drop-down menu.
  • After purchasing this deal, follow the instructions on your voucher to book your trip with Gate 1 Travel no later than 2/7/23.

Know Before You Go

  • Additional fees to travel solo: $350
  • Additional taxes & fees: Transfers, optional tours, and gratuities not included.
  • Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 is required in order to travel with Gate 1 Travel.
  • A passport is required for all travel outside the U.S.
  • Passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of travel, and contain at least two blank visa pages.
  • Before international travel, always check the State Department’s website for important info on the destination and its entry/exit requirements.
  • Official language: French (Paris) and Spanish (Barcelona)
  • Currency: Euro

Beware! Here are some of the most dangerous travel destination around the World

After looking at recent events in Peru, I began a search of some other places that I should kick off my planning list.  I have working on some travel planning since I did very little the later part of 2022.  currently, the US State Department has identified Burma, China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Russia as do not travel location for US citizens.  here just a few of the places around the world that carry the moniker of most dangerous..

  • St. Louis, Missouri USA-  This city has the highest crime rate in the US
  • Port au Prince, Haiti – kidnapping, social unrest and violence sum up the dangers of this city.
  • Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands – Due to nuclear testing, these island are radioactive
  • Death Valley, USA – This is one of the hottest place on earth where a record setting 134 degrees temperature was recorded.
  • Mount Washington, USA – This is one of the most dangerous peaks due the winds and freezing temperatures
  • Mount Everest, Nepal – This mountain has claimed the lives of 310 people.
  • Snake Island, Brazil – This is the location of one of the ost venomous snakes in the world, the Golden Lancehead Vipers.  There are 5 snakes per square meter.
  • Tallinn, Estonia-The city is considered the most dangerous in Europe
  • Acapulco, Mexico- This the most dangerous cities in North America.
  • Yucatan Cenotes, Mexico-Thi si one of the most treacherous dives due to darkness, limited space, vegetation hindering movement, disorientation, lack of a clear idea of the final goal and duration of the dive, and, consequently, lack of oxygen.
  • Fagradalsfjall, Iceland- This city os the home to Iceland’s volcano and lava fields which has cause burns and toxic gas poisoning.
  • El Caminito Del Rey, Spain-These mountain trails are some of the most extreme in the world.
  • Blue Hole, Egypt- This is a vertical underwater cave approximately 120 meters and has claimed approximately 150 divers int eh last 20 years.

I was surprised at how many places are considered dangerous.  If you really want to try some of these spots, plese be careful.  Do your research and understand what you are getting into.  Sometimes there is just no turning back.


25 Most Dangerous Cities in Europe

The 17 Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations In The World


Travel Update and Alert: Machu Pichu and the Incan Trail Closing Indefinately

On January 21, 2023, The Peruvian government as indefinitely shut down Machu Pich and the Incan Trail.  The closures are due to civil unrest based on anti-government protests.  The closing to ensure the safety of tourists after 417 visitors to the ancient site were unable to get out.

On December 17, the government set up emergency trains from Machu Pichu to Cuzco where evacuees were able to leave via the airport and the Embassy.  The regular train to Machu Pichu ceased operations on December 15, 2022 due to the demonstrations.  Helicopter were also ordered to evacuate the most vulnerable.

Protest began November 2022 after then-President Pedro Castillo was impeached and imprisoned  for or trying to dissolve Congress.

Philly’s Theatre Week: A look ahead

I love the theater and it’s definitely one of my passions. It has been quite a while since I’ve gone regularly. The pandemic curbed a lot of that activity. We slowly started engaging back into the theater with a few trips to the Walnut Street Theater since I kept my season tickets there. In November of 2021, we were able to see Hamilton and then this summer we saw To Kill a Mockingbird here in Philadelphia and I saw Tina with another friend.  There were a few other shows, too.   We’re slowly getting back into full swing.

While driving into the city, the bestie began scrolling on her phone which knew this would cost me and it did. We decided at that point in time we would split a package at the Kimmel. Definitely one of the best ideas we had. We took a look at the shows and made some decisions.  Mine are Come From Away and Six.  I think I will be exchanging Come From Away for 1776.

          Blue Man Group 

          Come From Away


          Moulin Rouge

          The Lion King

But, I digress. Philly theater is good. Also, we’re only 2 hours from New York City which adds another layer to our theater going.  One great way to theater in Philadelphia is through Theatre Week.  There are free performances as well as $15 and $30 tickets.  It’s a great chance to catch some great productions for a fraction of the regular cost.  Check it out!

Theatre Philadelphia

Save the Date!

The 6th Annual Philly Theatre Week

March 23 – April 2

Theatre Philadelphia hosts Philly Theatre Week: a 10-day celebration of the artists, organizations, and audiences that have made Greater Philadelphia one of the most vibrant theatre regions in the nation. Audiences will have an opportunity to try something new from our theatre community through a series of productions, readings, interactive events, and much more!

Cabaret at Bristol Riverside Theatre


Mar 21 – Apr 16 2023

Disney's Frozen Jr

Disney’s Frozen JR.

Apr 15 – May 7 2023

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Feb 14 – Mar 12 2023

Cruise Travel Updates: Covid, Testing and What’s Next

I have learned to like cruises.  My SO and I found it relaxing a great way to travel around.  One of the most harrowing part of our trip was the Covid test.  We took a month long trip to Europe and part of it was on Norwegian. We needed our vaccinations at least two weeks prior, which we had and a test that is conducted 72 hours prior to embarkation.  On the Thursday before, he went to CVS on one side of town and I went to another on the other side of town.  He received his results on Saturday and I received mine the Tuesday after we left.  Yes, you read that right.

It was nerve wracking experience.  I would call, check the text update and the portal. I was so worried that 2AM Sunday morning, I remembered that I had a Quest Lab account and logged in.  Lo and behold, there it was.  I was so relieved that I even printed it from my bed.  Throughout Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I received texts that my results were not back yet.  What if I hadn’t had another way of getting my results? What about those who didn’t ask what lab their test was go to?  Yeah, not fun.

The Covid requirements took longer to leave the cruise industry, but it looks like Covid restrictions have loosened.  Currently, most cruise line want up-to-date vaccines, since there are boosters available.  The vaccines are usually needed 15 days prior to embarkation.  Always, make sure you check the cruiseline and the country you are going to for the most current information. The Points Guy listed the cruiseline and their currents protocols as of the end of August and here they are.


Vaccine required? Yes

AmaWaterways is requiring proof of vaccination for all passengers, including children 5 and older, until further notice. Passengers will be asked to upload proof of vaccination no later than 21 days prior to beginning travel and have proof available at embarkation. An exemption process is in place that will allow a small number of Unvaccinated passengers to sail, but the line boasts vaccination rates approaching 100% in an attempt to comply with rules for all countries their ships visit. Only those who are not vaccinated will be required to provide negative results from an antigen or PCR test no more than 48 hours old.

American Cruise Lines

Vaccine required? No

American Cruise Lines does not have an across-the-board vaccine requirement for all passengers on all sailings. However, cruisers on some itineraries in specific regions or over specific time periods may be required to be vaccinated. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required.

American Queen Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

Vaccines are required for all passengers until further notice, and proof must be provided prior to boarding. Pre-cruise testing is no longer required.

Related: What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19 on your cruise

Atlas Ocean Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

COVID-19 shots are compulsory for all passengers cruising with Atlas, with proof of inoculation required before embarkation. The line doesn’t allow kids younger than 8 years old to sail, so young-child exemptions aren’t a factor. Passengers must also present negative results from a COVID-19 test taken no more than 24 hours before embarkation for antigen tests and no more than 72 hours prior for PCR.

Avalon Waterways

Vaccine required? Yes

All passengers must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to sail. Testing requirements vary by country.


Vaccine required? Sometimes

Through November 30, 2022, all passengers, ages 12 and older, must be inoculated to cruise with Azamara, and proof is required. All passengers eligible to receive boosters are also required to have at least one. Azamara does not require negative test results in order to board unless mandated by local governments in the ports where the line’s ships sail. Beginning December 1, 2022, the line will waive vaccination requirements for all passengers on Europe and Caribbean itineraries, except where required by local regulations.

Carnival Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Beginning September 6, 2022, Carnival will allow Unvaccinated passengers to sail on voyages of fewer than 16 nights without requesting exemptions. Testing requirements have also been waived for vaccinated cruisers on voyages of fewer than 16 nights. Guests who have not had their shots will still have to test prior to embarkation and show negative results no more than 72 hours old. unproctored antigen test results are now accepted for all passengers when testing is required, except on long cruises, where tests will still have to be proctored. Other exceptions to these waivers include sailings that call on or sail to/from Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Greece. Passengers on cruises of 16 nights or more who are eligible for boosters must have received them.

Celebrity Cruises

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Starting September 5, 2022, Celebrity will allow everyone to sail from most ports on most itineraries, regardless of vaccination status, as long as they meet local testing requirements. Fully vaccinated passengers no longer need to test for sailings from the U.S. that are nine nights or fewer (except those visiting Bermuda or Canada); longer sailings require tests taken within three days of departure. Unvaccinated children ages 5 and younger do not need to test on sailings from the U.S. (again, Bermuda and Canada cruises are the exceptions); on voyages from Europe, Unvaccinated passengers 12 and younger do not need to test.

Where local regulations require testing, Celebrity will simply require travelers to provide negative results from any publicly available test, including unproctored antigen tests (except on sailings that visit Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Greece or New Zealand, where proctored tests are needed).

The major exceptions to these policies are ocean crossings. Passengers booked on those sailings will need to provide proof of vaccination and show negative results from a proctored test taken no more than two days prior to embarkation day.

Celestyal Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Celestyal requires all passengers 12 and older to show that they have received a full course of inoculation via one of the WHO-approved shots. In lieu of proof of vaccination, cruisers may show a certificate of recovery not more than six months old. Booster shots are required for anyone 18 or older who had their final initial dose more than nine months prior to their sailing date. Given that Celestyal operates out of Greece, which still has stringent protocols, all passengers will be required to provide negative results from a PCR test no more than 72 hours old. They will also be required to undergo a rapid antigen test at the pier on embarkation day.

Cunard Line

Vaccine required? Yes

All Cunard passengers, regardless of age, must be fully vaccinated and provide proof before boarding. Additionally, all passengers who received their final initial dose more than 270 days prior to boarding must also have received — and show proof of — a booster shot. Pre-cruise testing has been waived for vaccinated cruisers on most itineraries. Exclusions include voyages of 16 nights or more; itineraries that the line labels as “complex”; and sailings that begin in, end in or visit Australia, Canada and other countries with testing requirements.

Disney Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

Beginning September 2, 2022, Disney Cruise Line requires all passengers 12 and older to provide proof of full inoculation as a condition of sailing. Through September 22, 2022, cruisers who have their shots will have to provide negative results from a PCR or proctored antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before embarkation; Unvaccinated guests must provide negative results from a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding and take a second test at the pier before boarding. Beginning September 23, 2022 (November 7, 2022, for Disney Magic), fully vaccinated passengers will no longer have to provide negative test results in order to sail, and passengers who don’t have their shots will no longer be required to undergo a second test at the pier.

Emerald Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

COVID-19 shots are a requirement for all travelers, regardless of age, who are cruising with Emerald. Passengers must be current, which means if they’re eligible for boosters, they must have received them. Testing will be required in line with the rules of the countries from which Emerald’s vessels depart.

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Vaccine required? Yes

Grand Circle has mandated that all passengers must be fully vaccinated as a condition of carriage. Boosters are also required. Proof must be provided, preferably in the form of an original vaccine card. Pre-cruise testing might be required, depending on your port of embarkation. (The line will send you that information prior to your sailing.)

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Until further notice, Hapag-Lloyd voyages are only available to fully vaccinated passengers 12 and older. Additionally, all eligible passengers 12 and older must have their booster shots in order to sail. Testing requirements default to the rules of the area where the embarkation port is located. The line will send passengers further details.

Holland America

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Holland America now allows Unvaccinated passengers to sail on cruises of 15 nights or fewer without filing exemption requests, and they no longer need to provide negative results from a COVID-19 test. Exceptions include long cruises and sailings that call on or sail to/from Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Greece, where vaccines and testing are likely to be necessary. Passengers on cruises of 16 nights or more who are eligible for boosters must have received them.


Vaccine required? Yes

Per Norway’s regulations, Norwegian coastal voyages do not list vaccination as a requirement for boarding. For other Hurtigruten sailings, rules vary according to departure region. To and from the United States, cruisers 5 and older must be fully vaccinated. For Galapagos sailings, all travelers 3 and older must show proof of vaccination. For all other areas, guests 12 and older must be inoculated, with passengers 5 to 11 years old showing proof of at least one shot. Passengers 18 and older who received their final vaccine dose more than 270 days prior to sailing must also show proof of a booster. Testing requirements vary by location.

Lindblad Expeditions

Vaccine required? Yes

Beginning September 1, 2022, passengers younger than 5 years old will no longer need to be vaccinated. Boosters also are no longer required for passengers of any age, except on longer voyages, including those to Antarctica. Beginning October 1, 2022, pre-cruise testing is no longer required, including at embarkation. Exceptions might apply for departures from certain destinations.

MSC Cruises

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Effective September 1, 2022, U.S. passengers sailing with MSC Cruises are no longer required to be vaccinated before sailing to the Caribbean or Bahamas. Fully vaccinated travelers will still be required to show proof of inoculation at embarkation, and those who are Unvaccinated will need to provide a negative PCR test result that’s no more than three days old. Fully vaccinated cruisers will not have to test prior to sailing. Travelers 12 and older from countries outside the U.S. will still need to be fully immunized, and all passengers 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, will still need to provide negative test results before embarking.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Vaccine required? No

In early August 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line became the first major cruise line to say it would roll back vaccine requirements. From September 3, 2022, passengers will not have to provide proof of vaccination. Those 12 and older who do provide it will be exempt from pre-cruise testing. Those who do not will need to provide proof of negative antigen or PCR test results that are no more than 72 hours old. Cruisers 11 and younger are exempt from both providing proof of vaccination and from testing. Beginning Oct. 4, 2022, the line will no longer require testing for cruisers who don’t show proof of vaccination.

Oceania Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Beginning September 3, 2022, passengers on Oceania voyages will not have to provide vaccine documentation in order to sail. Those 12 and older who do show proof will be exempt from pre-cruise testing. Those who do not will need to provide proof of negative antigen or PCR test results that are no more than 72 hours old. Children 11 and younger are exempt from both immunization and testing.

P&O Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Everyone 12 and older on all P&O Cruises sailings must show proof of full vaccination. Children 11 and younger can sail with either full vaccination or additional pre-cruise testing. Anyone 16 or older whose final dose was more than 270 days from the conclusion of their scheduled sailing must also show proof of a booster.


Vaccine required? No

Ponant‘s website simply says that “when you visit certain destinations, vaccines can be recommended.” The line also says it will alert passengers to their specific requirements after they have booked a voyage. Testing information was not immediately available.

Princess Cruises

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Beginning September 6, 2022, Princess passengers on voyages of 15 nights or fewer will no longer be required to be vaccinated in order to sail. Unvaccinated cruisers will need to self-test no more than three days prior to embarkation and show proof of negative results. Travelers who show their vaccine cards will be exempt from testing. Exceptions include Panama Canal transits, ocean crossings and other specialty voyages. On sailings of 16 nights or more, passengers will need to show proof of vaccination, and proctored testing is required for all passengers, regardless of immunization status.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Vaccine required? No

Starting September 3, 2022, passengers on Regent cruises will no longer have to provide vaccine documentation in order to sail. Those 12 and older who do show proof will be exempt from pre-cruise testing. Those who do not will need to provide proof of negative antigen or PCR test results that are no more than 72 hours old. Children 11 and younger are exempt from both inoculation and testing protocols.

Royal Caribbean

Vaccine required? Sometimes

Of the major cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has issued some of the most confusing protocol changes to date. Starting September 5, 2022, all guests can sail, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated passengers can cruise with negative results from any commercially available test, including self-tests. No testing is required for vaccinated passengers on voyages of nine nights or fewer. On sailings of 10 nights or more, all travelers must provide negative results from any test taken within three days of embarkation. For all sailings, passengers 5 years and younger have no vaccine or testing requirements. (Due to local regulations, sailings that visit Australia, Bermuda, Canada and Singapore still require passengers to be vaccinated.)

Saga Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Saga requires vaccinations for all passengers unless an official medical exemption is provided and approved prior to sailing. Children are never allowed to travel with the line, which caters only to cruisers 50 and older (and travel companions who are at least 40 years old), making age-related exceptions irrelevant. For the line’s river cruises, passengers who are eligible must also show proof of a booster shot. The line will test passengers at the embarkation port, but recommend that guests test at home prior to travel.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Vaccine required? Yes

Passengers embarking on river and ocean voyages with Scenic will need to be fully immunized prior to sailing. Boosters will be required if all countries on an itinerary require them. Otherwise, passengers will be allowed to embark with only their initial doses. Proctored testing is still required in some countries and will be provided by the line pre-cruise.


Vaccine required? No

From September 6, 2022, Seabourn cruisers will only need to show vaccination proof if they want to avoid pre-cruise testing. Anyone who does not produce a vaccination card will need to show negative results from either a self-test or a proctored test taken no more than 72 hours before embarkation.


Vaccine required? No

Effective September 5, 2022, Silversea will not require shots for its passengers. Cruisers who are not fully vaccinated or who are unable to show proof of their shots at embarkation will be required to provide negative results from a proctored antigen or PCR test taken in the 72 hours prior to boarding. Fully vaccinated travelers are no longer mandated to test prior to sailing. Policy exceptions include sailings from countries that still require vaccination and testing.

Star Clippers

Vaccine required? No

Effective on Royal Clipper beginning November 5, Star Clipper November 19 and Star Flyer November 26, Star Clippers will no longer require passengers to be vaccinated in order to sail. However, cruisers who do not provide proof that they are inoculated must show negative results from a proctored antigen test no more than 48 hours old or a proctored PCR test no more than 72 hours old.


Vaccine required? Yes

Until further notice, all Tauck travelers 12 and older will have to show proof of full vaccination in order to set sail on a voyage with the brand. They must also be up to date on their shots, meaning they’ve been boosted if their final initial dose was more than 270 days prior to the voyage. In lieu of a booster, a passenger may show a certificate of recovery no more than 180 days old. Children younger than 12 who are either Unvaccinated or not boosted must submit negative PCR test results that are no more than three days old in order to board. Additional testing might be required, based on guidelines of individual countries visited.

UnCruise Adventures

Vaccine required? Yes

All UnCruise passengers are required to have all applicable doses of an approved vaccine before they can sail. Medical and religious exemptions are not allowed. Booster shots are also mandatory for all eligible passengers. Although pre-cruise testing is not required, the line recommends passengers test themselves before leaving home to avoid potentially carrying the virus on their travels.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Vaccine required? Yes

All passengers eligible to be vaccinated must be inoculated in order to cruise with Uniworld. Testing requirements are determined by the countries the ships visit; check the protocols for the places on your itinerary for the most up-to-date information.


Vaccine required? Yes

All Viking passengers, whether on a river sailing or an ocean voyage, must be fully vaccinated, and although boosters are not required by the line, they are required by some countries that its ships visit. Testing requirements vary by country and departure port; most sailings on Viking Orion out of the U.S. and Canada require testing for all passengers.

Virgin Voyages

Vaccine required? Yes

Beginning September 18, 2022, on Valiant Lady and September 21, 2022, on Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages will allow everyone to sail, regardless of vaccination status. (Virgin is a child-free line, so exemptions are not based on age.) Virgin has eliminated testing requirements for passengers who are inoculated; anyone who does not provide proof of their shots will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 72 hours before embarkation. Alternatively, Unvaccinated travelers can pay $75 to be tested at the port on the day of boarding.

Windstar Cruises

Vaccine required? Yes

Windstar is mandating shots for all passengers until further notice, with proof required before setting sail. The line notes that passengers also could be required to be boosted in certain countries. Effective September 6, 2022, Windstar is dropping its pre-cruise testing requirements, except in countries — including Canada, Greece, Australia and New Zealand — that still require tests.


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