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Ski Resorts for Beginners

18 Feb

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A couple weeks ago someone I know went on a ski vacation in Colorado at a resort called Steamboat Ski & Resort.  I had never really wanted to go on a ski vacation before, but, after seeing his pictures, I have been doing some research on where the best ski resorts are for beginners like me.   This research is in hopes that next winter Matt and I will be able to take a true ski vacation.

Below I have listed some of the ski resorts that I found that are said to be good for beginners
.   Now, I will fully admit that I have not done thorough research just yet, but I thought I would put out the list on CourtneyMara.com and next year do some follow-up research.  So, without further ado, below is a list of ski resorts that I found through research I conducted through Google that are said to be good for beginners.  Please let me know in the comments section if you are familiar with any of these destinations!

CALIFORNIA

Alpine Meadows

Heavenly Mountain Resort

Northstar-at-Tahoe

Squaw Valley

CANADA 

Mont Sainte Anne

COLORADO:

Aspen

Breckenridge

Copper Mountain

Keystone Ski Resort

Steamboat Ski Resort

Telluride

IDAHO

Sun Valley

MAINE

Sunday River

NEVADA

Diamond Peak

OREGON

Timberline Lodge

UTAH

Brian Head

Brighton

Deer Valley

Powder Mountain

Solitude

Wolf Creek

VERMONT

Stratton Mountain Ski Resort

Mount Snow

 

Do you have a recommendation for a great ski resort for beginners?    Please share your tips on CourtneyMara.com!

Travel Tip #2: Credit Card

28 Dec

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If you like to travel abroad, I highly recommend getting a travel credit card that does not have any foreign transaction fees.   This is so important for trips abroad because foreign transaction fees add up!  FoxBusiness.com states that “the average foreign transaction fee is 3% for banks and 1% for credit unions, according to the Pew Safe Credit Cards Project.”  If you are spending $3000 on a trip abroad, those fees could add up to $90 if using a bank card.   Let’s say you do two trips abroad every year for 10 years, that figure adds up to $1,800 that you will have spent on foreign transaction fees.  You could instead save that money with a no foreign transaction fee credit card.  I LOVE Bank of America’s travel rewards card because there are no annual fees.  You can find a list of other credit cards that do not have foreign transaction fees on Huffington Post’s website (click here).

Happy Travels!

Travel Tip #1: How I Avoid Jet Lag

22 Dec

Sleeping on plane from Italy

Hopefully I don’t jinx myself by saying this, but I rarely, if ever, get jet lag. The way I get around it is by traveling with a watch (I never use my U.S. cell phone – or even turn it on – while I am traveling abroad) and I always set it as soon as I get on the plane to the time of the country that I am visiting. I then do NOT think or discuss what time it is in my home country. I change my sleep and eating times to the country I am visiting starting on the plane. And, I make sure to bring sleep medicine so that I can more easily change my sleep habits.

For example, on the way to Italy, Matt and I had a red eye. I made us sleep as soon as we got on the plane so that we would be wide awake for Italy. On our flights home (three to be exact), the flights started at 7 am in Italy and had us home around 10pm in DC. I tried to have us stay awake for as much of the flights as possible so we would be tired when we got to DC and went straight to bed. Neither of us had any trouble with jet leg in Italy or upon return from Italy.

Hopefully this helps someone who has issues with jet lag! What other solutions do you have for jet lag?

Sample Packing List

15 Dec

Because I think this could help others who, like myself, take forever to pack, the following was my packing list for my one-week trip to Italy in November:

  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 going out jeans, 1 casual jean)
  • 1 black pants
  • 1 casual dress
  • 1 black work out pants
  • 2 workout shirts
  • 2 black shirts
  • 1 black cardigan
  • 4 sweaters (thin, not thick)
  • 2 sets of pajamas
  • Black boots
  • Nice winter boots
  • Sneakers
  • The appropriate amount of intimates

Miscellaneous items:

  • 1 book and multiple magazines
  • Pens (super helpful for customs forms)
  • Makeup (concealer, blush, mascara, lip stick, and gloss)
  • Glasses with case
  • Contacts, solution, and case
  • Travel size shampoo, conditioner and body wash (this ended up not being necessary since we had these at each of the hotels)
  • Ipod with sports armband
  • Phone and charger (although I don’t use this abroad)
  • Head phones
  • Camera with camera charger and plenty of space on the memory card
  • Passport and visa, if needed
  • Money and credit cards
  • Tooth brush and travel-sized tooth paste

Medicine bag:

  • Sleeping medicine (I like ZQuil)
  • Vitamins
  • Emergen C
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Advil
  • Advil cold & sinus (in case you get a cold)
  • Nasal spray (this helps if you end up getting a cold – use it on the plane so you don’t get a headache)

All of these items fit into my carry on luggage so I did not need to check baggage.  Below is a picture of Matt with our luggage (we each had one  rolling carry on and a backpack/purse).

Italy luggage

What do you recommend packing?

Jamaica DOs by Claudette

9 Apr

Here are some DOs for Jamaica travelers:

  •  Take only a red plate cab.  They are licensed to drive on the road.
  • If you want to go shopping, change your US dollars for Jamaican money. Hotels will change the money for you, but you can get more for your US dollar at a place called a Cambio. You can ask to see if the hotel has a shuttle to take you to a Cambio where you would get more for your dollar (e.g., 1 US dollar in Jamaica is worth from 82.00 to 83.00 or 84.00  Jamaican dollars depending on where you go).  You can also change your cash at the airport in Jamaica when you arrive.
  • DO go to Margueritaville Sports Bar & Grill and enjoy a lovely glass of margarita
  • DO go to Half Moon Shopping Center or other duty free shops where you get can get some of the best coffee in the world, “Blue Mountain Coffee,” perfumes, souvenirs and boutique clothing.
  • DO try our jelly coconut water
  • DO try our jerk chicken or jerk pork (very tasty; finger licking good)
  • DO try our curry goat with white rice
  • DO go see Rose Hall Great House (It’s a museum that has existed since the 18th century)
  • If you rent a car, DO remember to drive on the left.
  • DO learn a little patois (a dialect that everyone speaks).
  • If you rent a car, make sure your insurance company will cover you driving in Jamaica.
  • People will come up to you to try to sell you crafts or other stuff.   If you are not interested, just say no thank you.

Jamaica is really a beautiful place.  And, as a final note, DO stay at an all inclusive resort.

Samantha Brown at the Travel Expo

18 Mar

I met the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown at the Travel & Adventure Show
in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2012. She is a personable entertainer. She signed autographs, took pictures and spoke individually to her fans. When I had the chance to meet her, I asked her about honeymoon destinations. She helped reaffirm Matt and I’s decision to go to South Africa for our honeymoon. When I asked her about honeymoon spots and told her that we were thinking of South Africa, she said that she had wanted to go to South Africa on her honeymoon, but they went to Key West instead. She indicated that we made a good decision. Patricia Schultz (author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”) also said during her speech that if there is only one thing you do in life, you need to go on a African safari (she said it a lot more eloquently). Yesterday was a very productive day for Matt and I – South Africa, here we come (in 1 1/2 years…)! 🙂

Travel & Adventure Show

12 Mar

The Travel & Adventure Show is in Washington, DC, THIS weekend, March 17-18, 2012.  There is to be presentations by  Samantha Brown, Patricia Schultz (Author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Dies”), and other travel authors and agents; exhibitors featuring many countries and experiences; culinary and dance shows; giveaways, door prizes, and travel specials; and other adventure activities (e.g., rock climbing, scuba diving and more).

If interested in attending, TravelZoo has a deal until Thursday, March 15, for admission for 2 persons for only $9.  Click here for the deal.

Top 15 destinations “on the rise”

2 Feb

Great post by Niyaz Shaikh about the “Top 15 destinations ‘on the rise.'” Thank you to Niyaz for letting me re-post this!  For more post by Niyaz Shaikh click here.

Niyaz Shaikh

Now that we are nearly at the end of the first month of 2012, it’s time to consider new places to explore this year, which is why online travel consultant TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) has offered a list of its top 15 destinations on the rise. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn’s atmospheric Old Town is an enthralling hodgepodge of medieval streets and spires. It’s a small city, and the tourist areas are safe and easily explored on foot. Buy a Tallinn Card if intending to use buses, trolleys or trams. For a look into Tallinn’s past, visit Rocca-al-Mare Open Air Museum’s typical rural Estonian taverns, windmills and watermills, see the onion-domed 1900 cathedral or join the bustle in historic Town Hall Square. St. Olav’s spire was once the tallest in the world.

2. Riga, Latvia

The Latvian capital, the largest city in the Baltics, is…

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Climbing Mount Washington by Elizabeth

25 Jan

In July 2010 I made a 2 day climb along peaks of the White Mountain chain in New Hampshire. Here is the route we took and some tips we learned along the way:


1.    Parked the car at the base of the Cog RR – We took a route that would spit us out here so after parking the car we geared up and hitched a ride over to the entrance to Valley Way.
2.    Valley Way was a great trail to begin. We started our trip spotting some true New England wildlife and were steps away from a moose! Along the way we had some excellent views and were only 3.75 miles from our overnight spot.
3.    The Valley Way trail took us about 4 hours. We traveled at a moderate pace with a couple quick stops for a snack or a drink of water. To give you a good estimate of how long the trip might take you here are the details of our group:
a.    Age ranged from 21-65
b.    Backpacks weighed between 5 and 35 lbs. (Just a note, there is no reason for your bag to be this heavy for a 1 night trip! Especially if you do what we did and stayed in the hut overnight)
c.    We were all in a little better than average physical condition but had a couple injuries to baby.
4.    Stopping at the hut at the top of Mt. Madison was a great decision. It was comfortable and everyone was ready for a break. It was $90 per person per night, which seems on first glance like a lot for the type of accommodations. But, it was well worth it. We had an excellent dinner and breakfast which was included and had a fun relaxing evening with card games and chatting with other hikers.  Things to expect at the hut:
a.    There were bathrooms with toilet paper. Though packing extra napkins or toilet paper is never a bad idea.
b.    Bring a towel if you expect to shower or dry your hands.
c.    There are blankets and a small pillow on the beds, we were there in the summer and wearing long clothes to bed was enough to be warm. On this note though make sure to bring something warm to layer for the nights and early mornings, it is the top of a mountain in New Hampshire…it gets cold up there!
d.    There were hot and cold drinks for purchase and small snack such as granola bars and oatmeal.  Although you are just hiking it could be a good idea to keep a small amount of cash on you in case you run out of supplies and stop at one of these huts for a snack.
e.    If you are a light sleeper bring earplugs. The hut we were in had 2 rooms with about 50 beds in each room.
f.    The bunks are 4 beds high and do not have enough room between them to sit up on your bed. If you do not want to be at the top, or want to sleep near your group, get to the hut early to claim your spot.
g.    There were some card games at the hut. A light book or game could be good to bring but they do have a few things to entertain you in the evening.
h.    Click here to make reservations.

For more information on Guest Blogger Elizabeth see the Guest Blogger page.

Working Out On The Road

2 Jan

Working out while traveling is important in order to fight jet leg and to feel well both mentally and physically.   There is a way to work out in most every location, even on the plane.  On long flights, you could take some laps around the plane and do some stretches.  If you are strategic with utilizing your space, you can even do sit-ups.  If you are gym person and your hotel does not have a gym, check out the local gyms online.  Some gyms offer a free trial or reduced fee trials.  For example, Crunch Fitness in DC offers a free guest pass on their website.  Or, if you are staying longer in DC, Washington Sports Clubs  offer a 30 day trial membership for as low as $30.  You can save money, workout, and explore the town by running/jogging the neighborhood.  Matt and I do this every single morning when we are traveling.  We run different streets to find out where we would like to explore later on in the day.  Additionally, fitness travel is becoming more popular (Google: “fitness travel”).  You can find groups online that are traveling the world with their bikes, by running, or just by being active daily during their vacation.  Finally, you do not need to do a formal workout if you have active activities during the day.  For example, on the road I have biked the Golden Gate Bridge, jumped on large dominoes in Philadelphia, sandboarded in New Zealand, climbed a large rock in Texas, 4wheeled in Belize, swam in the ocean in Tahiti, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, golfed at the Chelsea Pier, and fished in Colorado (see photos below).  All in all, staying active during your holiday will allow for you to come home and not only feel more relaxed, but feel better about yourself and all the food you got to eat.  🙂

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