Here are 5 fabulous reasons to take a Viking River Cruise! Of course, I cannot imagine a reason not to take a Viking River Cruise because there are no negatives. My travel buddy, Suzanne, of Adventures of Empty Nesters, and I loved it! [Read more…] about 5 Fabulous Reasons to Take a Viking River Cruise!
I have always wanted to take a Viking River Cruise, so I was thrilled when my blogger friend, Suzanne Stavert of Adventures of Empty Nesters, and I were invited to sail! I chose the ship and itinerary, Elegant Elbe, and prepared for an exciting and fun trip! I was not disappointed! And best of all, I learned so much along the way, and for me, that is one of the best things about travel.
The Elbe River is not as famous as the Rhine or the Danube, but I loved the itinerary which took us from Berlin, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic. I hadn’t been to Europe for 10 years, and it was so wonderful to experience places I had never been before. Our exploration of the cities of Germany and Czech Republic, all behind the Iron Curtain of the Cold War, was nothing short of a revelation. It was my first real look at how people lived in places controlled by the Soviet Union. Of course, the trip was full of beauty and wonder, too, incredible countryside, castles, palaces, vineyards and ancient town squares. However, a funny thing happened on this trip, we didn’t sail at all.
Yes, I know, it’s a river cruise, but the drought in Europe had lowered the Elbe River to a point where we could not sail. There was much disappointment, but Viking handled the situation with seamless hospitality. After staying a couple of nights in Berlin, we went to the Viking ship, the Beyla, docked in Wittenberg, Germany. I was bowled over by the elegance of the streamlined luxury ship. It was truly, truly a beautiful ship. Suzanne and I were fortunate to have tours of the bridge and the kitchens, and they were so clean, so perfectly appointed, it was amazing. Our stateroom had a balcony and was absolutely gorgeous! The dining room, lounges and bar were spotless and very luxurious. The food was delicious. We met so many new people, most of whom were dedicated Viking passengers, having sailed with Viking at least once, and most had gone on more than one trip. That is certainly a testimonial to the excellence of Viking Cruises.
After two nights on the Beyla, we switched to her sister ship, in Dresden, the Astrild. Actually, it wasn’t like changing boats at all, the ships were exactly the same, and Viking handled everything smoothly. The crew was different of course, but both crews were absolutely fantastic. Our program director, Benne Bennison, remained for the entire trip, and she was absolutely professional and very enjoyable to travel with. She did an amazing job with ninety people who were disappointed not to sail! After three nights on the Astrild, we went to Prague and a hotel there.
Comfortable Viking coaches took us to all the sights that had been originally planned, and so we had a fantastic time on our non-cruise cruise! I do hope to take a Viking Cruise that actually sails at some point, but hats off to Viking Cruises for making this trip absolutely wonderful! I cannot think of a single thing that wasn’t perfect. Every passenger enjoyed the trip, and planned to take another Viking Cruise. Thank you, thank you Viking River Cruises, for a marvelous experience! Take a Viking Cruise, y’all, and #traveltamstyle!
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Your sunscreen is contributing to the death of our coral reefs if you are using sunscreens with Benzophenone-3 AKA Oxybenzone. Almost all “name brand” sunscreens (the usual suspects) include this chemical. It is great at reducing UV exposure, but it is classified by the FDA to be an eye irritant and slightly hazardous for skin contact! Yep, your sunscreen is hazardous to your skin because of the chemicals in it. (www.spectrumchemical.com)
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC), says that 97 percent of Americans have this chemical circulating in their bodies. 97%! Benzophenone-3, or Oxybenzone, is also listed as a direct cause of coral bleaching. Do you really want that chemical on your skin and IN your body? Or on your child or baby? I hope the answer to that is a resounding NO. Check the labels, folks! Avobenzone is used in replace of Oxybenzone, but don’t be fooled, it is still a benzophenone. They often use different names and slightly different benzophenones to make you think the sunscreen doesn’t have it. Homosalate is another common sunscreen ingredient that, for health reasons, is limited to less than 10% in a formula by the FDA. Why? Because it bio-accumulates in the body faster than it can be eliminated and is considered a hormone disrupter. That’s what we all need, a hormone disrupter! Check the ingredients of your sunscreen. Stream2Sea has a card you can print out at https://stream2sea.com/ingredients-to-avoid. Almost all of the “name” sunscreens are filled with chemicals.
I have a couple of recommendations for safe, non toxic sunscreens for you to purchase, both well rated by the EWG. A super great source is the SkinStore, they have organic, chemical free, cruelty free and lots more! Safer for you and your children, and safer for the environment!
- KISS MY FACE organics. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) gives KISS MY FACE organics a high rating for sun protection and health. I have used KISS MY FACE quite often, and have found it to be an excellent product. It comes in sprays and lotions and is mineral based. I highly recommend it! You can find it at Amazon. https://amzn.to/2KC6G30
- STREAM2SEA products are also highly rated, and their website is full of great information. (https://stream2sea.com) They are chemical free and mineral based.
For more tips on how to help the Ocean environment and animals, my book, ALL FISH FACES, has plenty of tips and information for you and your kids, or grandkids!
Here are 5 Types of Trips to spark your wanderlust this summer! When you know that you want to travel, you start to get excited about where you’re going to go, but you don’t always know exactly what you want to do. It’s a big world, with so much to see and do, so how are you supposed to choose? You know that you can’t do it all at once, Instead, you need to focus on just one idea at a time. If your budget permits and you’ve got the time, you can always add on more stops, right? So, what will it be? Let’s look at the options!
- City Lights
First of all, you’ve always got the option of jetting off on a weekend away to a big city. If you’re someone who loves to explore, take in the beauty of a new location, and just enjoy being somewhere completely different than what you’re used to, then it’s safe to say that being in a city will definitely work. Who doesn’t love the excitement of the big city lights?
- Country Life
Sometimes, you just want to be able to enjoy a slower pace and ensure that you can get away from your busy schedule for a while. And that’s where the country comes in. Whether it’s heading out to somewhere local or going off to the French countryside where you can see fields for miles and can wake up with the birds, you know the country is always relaxing.
- Sailing Away
From the country to the coast, another option is to hit the seas. And if you can get a yacht charter and hop around from island to island, what more could you want? If you know you want incredible weather, a slow pace of life, and to take in a range of different locations on sunny, lazy days, take a yacht charter this summer!
4. Cultural Explosion
Or maybe you want to escape the ordinary and head somewhere completely different? When you know that you want to push your comfort zone, a cultural explosion is exactly what you need. And I do not mean heading off to a different European city. Oh no, you’re going to want to hop over to Bali or visit Sri Lanka or Thailand or Africa, and really take in a different way of life.
- Unadulterated Bliss
And finally, there’s also the option of going for what most of us will call our guilty pleasures – the secluded getaway. Because lying on a beach or being pampered in a spa resort really is one of the most relaxing and de-stressing travel experiences around!
So…what are YOU going to do???
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Another fantastic Solo Trip with Ray of Hope Expeditions and Dr Andrea Marshall, Queen of Mantas!
I love to travel solo, but traveling solo doesn’t have to mean traveling alone! When I travel solo I never feel “lonely” because there are so many new people to watch, to meet, and to talk to. My volunteer/citizen science adventures have introduced me to people who share my passion. As a result, I have friends all over the world! I was the oldest volunteer on my All Out Africa volunteer trip to Mozambique in 2012, but I remain in touch with, and have seen, my fellow volunteers because we bonded during our shared experience. I have friends I met on other trips who are older than I am. Meeting and working with people who share your passions is exhilarating no matter what your age, nationality, or religion. Doing citizen science with Ray of Hope Expeditions makes me feel good about myself, knowing I am trying to make a difference.
Earlier this month I was off on another adventure with Andrea, this time to the Revillagigedos Archipelago. Where on earth is that, you may ask. It is very remote and takes at least a day to get there from Los Cabos. One is completely unplugged as there are no signals. This location is very special. It is 540 miles off the Baja peninsula, and is often called Mexico’s Galapagos. These uninhabited rocks, so far from the Mexican mainland, are among the most unbelievable dive spots in the world. It has one of the largest populations of sharks, manta rays, and includes groups of tuna, humpback whales, all kinds of cool fish, and turtles. This is the third time I have visited these islands, and though I have taken identification photos in this location for scientists, this is the first time I was on an actual scientific expedition.
Strangely enough, I became sea sick on the crossing, which is very unusual for me. I always take a couple of Dramamine and never have a problem. This time was quite different! I have to say, I have a lot of sympathy now for people who get seasick! What a horrible feeling. I spent the first 20 hours of the trip in bed, sleeping and eating saltines.
Once at the dive sites the water was calmer, and my sickness went away (until the next time we traveled which was every day or night!). Diving with mantas is always a magical experience no matter where you are, but the giant mantas at these islands are different. They want to interact with divers, and they want to feel the bubbles from our regulators on their bellies! There are plenty of sharks, dolphins, fish and even tuna in these waters. I was excited to get under the waves and take photos!
And this was just the beginning of the trip! Stay tuned for more fish, shark, dolphin and manta action!
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Did you know that 14 of the most badass adventurers on Instagram are midlife women? It’s true! Talk about inspiration! Here are women who will show you how to get out of your comfort zone and find excitement.
Points and Travel
Dr Cacinda Maloney’s blog and instagram show her love of culture, adventure, and smart luxury. Points and Travel dot com reveals that “PointsandTravel is not your ordinary travel and lifestyle blog. We are a travel resource of content related to destinations about adventure, culture, and smart luxury travel–maximizing dollars for the greatest luxurious experiences.” Her Instagram is full of a myriad of awesome photos depicting different cultures, fantastic views, and adventures in so many exotic locations your head will spin! She is definitely a woman to listen to, she knows what she is doing and can inspire you to do the same! @pointsandtravel
A Taste of Travel
Aussie Jenny Freedman loves traveling on or near water, finding cool markets to stroll through, and iconic food. Her Instagram is filled with beautiful photographs of beaches, kayaks, and coastal towns galore! On A Taste of Travel Blog dot com Jenny says, “I love a bit of luxury but often I prefer to stay at a cute 3 Star boutique hotel and splurge on a fabulous meal. Food is important in my travels and restaurants play a big part when visiting a city.” Jenny’s destinations closely resemble anyone’s Bucket List, and she is happily out and about, spending the kid’s inheritance. @atasteoftravel
Traveling with MJ
Mary Jo Manzanares’ instagram feed is nothing short of heavenly. She is a lover of color, it can be in nature, cooking, or in an animal, but color and a heart opening experience is what she offers. “MJ, is a traveler, travel writer, podcaster, and publisher. When she’s not on a trip, she’s planning or researching the next one and has a bag always packed, ready for the next great adventure. Her travel ethos is Value Luxury – that sweet spot where experience and price intersect to create WOW.” Mary Jo absolutely creates a feeling of WOW on her blog Traveling with MJ dot com and her instagram, @travelingwithMJ
@SuzanneStavert makes the Empty Nest look inviting, and even romantic! She and her husband Craig take full advantage of having no more children at home. Her feed is colorful and varied, from luxury hotels and beautiful locations to photos of incredible food, her family, and even her dog. She started Adventures of Empty Nesters dot com in 2014 to celebrate becoming an empty nester, and to share her adventures, expertise and enthusiasm. Her instagram and blog are filled with fun, great trips, fabulous food, and lifestyle tips. Be sure to follow her adventures!
Green with Renvy
I love Alison Abott’s style, she is a woman after my own heart! She is a supporter of sustainability and eco-friendly ideas. Hers is a travel and lifestyle blog in all shades of GREEN. She loves eco-luxury, and her Instagram feed is full of colorful cultures, foods, and travel experiences. Alison has been in fashion and design, and turned to renovating homes with a green twist. She describes Green with Renvy dot com as follows: “an enjoyable riff on the concept of renovating your travel and lifestyle in sustainable shades of green. Reducing your carbon footprint can come in many forms, and even small steps can have a significant impact.” Enjoy her exciting Instagram feed, @GreenwithRenvy, and blog of the same name.
Travel with Sara
Sara Broers (Travel with Sara dot com) is the founder of the midwest travel chat (#MWTravel), and an advocate for traveling the midwest! Her feed is full of hidden gems you’ve never even heard of! She is also an expert on the Alabama Gulf Coast. I think her Instagram says it perfectly, she loves family, travel, beaches, cruises, mountains and Iowa. Sara’s Instagram feed is chock full of sunsets from wherever she is at the moment, landscapes, beautiful ocean vistas, and charming buildings or gardens. Sara knows that adventure is around every corner in life. @TravelwithSara
Melody Pittman and her daughter, Taylor Pittman Hardy, are the multi-generational wizards behind @wherever_i_mayroamblog. This fabulous feed is full of food, locations, cruises, and Disney! They are absolute Disney fanatics! If you like Walt Disney, this is the feed and blog for you! Nowhere is too small or obscure, they go everywhere. Melody seemingly never slows down! Wherever I May Roam Blog dot com is where you will find her online, because she is impossible to find otherwise. On Instagram and the blog, they are your resource for luxury travel, culture and eats with a side of smart spending!
Donna Meyer is right on point as far as I am concerned. Her blog, Nomad Women dot com, and her Instagram @nomadwomen focuses on mature women who travel. “If you’ve never traveled, because of fear, family, finances, whatever, I want to show you why you can and should. If you think you’re traveling days are past, I want to prove you wrong. I want to empower us all to get up, get out and see all that the world has to offer us.” Amen, sistah! My sentiments exactly. Donna’s instagram feed is eclectic, from birds to orchestras to stained glass to the Petrified Forest, Donna gets around. Follow Donna and see what this beautiful world has to offer!
Suzanne Fluhr is the lady behind the curtain on Boomeresque. She is the Boomer Queen! Her feed bounces from architecture to animals to scenery to sunsets and giant turtles! I love it. She and her husband, whom she calls Mr Excitement (that just cracks me up!), are always up to something, and the best way to follow her is on her Instagram. For tips, travels, lifestyle, and something called Zentangle (sounds much too complicated for me!) call in at Boomeresque dot com. @Boomeresque2
Janice Waugh and Tracy Nesbitt are the cutting edge of solo travel. Their blog, Solo Traveler World dot com is the end of the line for everything you need to know about traveling solo. I love the rich diversity of their @solotraveler feed on Instagram. Is there anywhere these ladies haven’t been? The feed is awesome, I especially love the photos of Janice with two Longhorns (TEXAS Longhorns), and the cross country skier Tracy. Their feed has postcard picture perfect photographs as well as Janice and Tracy on their travels. They are the source for traveling alone.
Got Luxury Travel
This instagram feed, @gotluxurytravel is the brainchild of Irene Levine and Janice Mucalov, co-editors of Getting On Travel dot com, a travel magazine for those over 50. The photographs on the feed are from all of the contributors to the magazine. Variety is the name of the game from a variety of travelers over 50, but every photo is picture perfect and screams “you have to go to ….”! The range of subjects is really and truly all over the planet. Cultures, foods, animals, people…absolutely beautiful and a must-follow.
Here are two more recent feeds that I am thoroughly enjoying and I’m sure you will too. @itsabonniething and @golearnthings. So be sure and check them out for continued adventures in midlife! (www.golearnthings.com and www.itsabonniething.com)
Oh, and don’t forget me! @travelswithtam, an empty nester always renewing, revamping and reinventing life! Get out of your comfort zone and find inspiration! Midlife and beyond belongs to us, and we need to squeeze everything we can from it! Follow me on travel adventures, dive trips, citizen science, and on seven continents!
See you on Instagram!