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!
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!
Knowing how to travel with chronic pain is very important for me. When I began solo traveling and performing citizen science, after my children left home, one of my family’s major concerns was how I would manage my back pain while traveling solo. What would I do without help? I have had two major back surgeries, and I am fused from L2-S2 with rods and 8 pedicle screws. In other words, my spine looks like a madman’s science project! Heavy lifting is a major issue for me in all aspects, and since I do volunteer scuba diving trips, I make arrangements before I go to be sure it is understood I need assistance with the weight of the tank. In addition to my chronic back pain, I have Psoriatic Arthritis which flares up when it is most inconvenient. I have learned about taking care of myself when traveling with chronic pain, and I’m happy to share these lessons, and tell you what works for me.
- Plan to be in pain. Yes. You will be in pain, so be prepared and have pain medications or any pain management items you normally use, at your fingertips. When I fly, I always carry pain relief such as Salonpas Pain Relief Patches, muscle relaxers, and muscle relief creams like Deep Blue or Icy Hot in my purse or backpack. I also take Aleve for joint pain, I find it works best for long term relief.
- Always wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that does not restrict your body in any way since you may need to apply a patch or a cream. Loose, comfy clothes and shoes are comfortable when I stretch or sleep on a plane. I stretch every time I get up, and try to get up at least once every two hours to stretch and walk a bit.
- I always have a pillow for my neck. Adding neck pain from uncomfortable seats or planes or trains compounds any type of pain one has. My motto is suffer as little as possible!
- Add 2 or 3 days to your itinerary. I have found this to be imperative, and it is one piece of advice I absolutely urge you to follow. I know this seems excessive, but there have been times I have arrived at a location and had to rest for a day or two, and who wants to lose one second of vacation or a volunteer trip? I always build in the “days of rest” at the beginning of my trip, because chronic pain is unavoidable when you travel. Planes, luggage, airports, walking long distances, standing in lines…I need a couple of days of being on my back with muscle relaxers after a travel day. It is worth the extra cost, and if your body doesn’t need the rest, you’ve gained a couple of extra vacation days!
- Always wear compression socks or leggings on a long flight. The last thing you need to add to your pain is a blood clot!
- Always check your luggage, and when available, use carts or porters or bellboys. I know it costs more, but it is worth it if you are in pain. Lugging bags around is just about the worst thing you can do if you are hurting. I don’t ask, but I always accept offers of assistance, and I’m generous with tips.
- Sleep. Sleep is a cure for almost anything, I find. Take a muscle relaxer or pain pill and get some sleep! You’ll feel better when you wake up, I promise.
- Lastly, hydrate! Water, juice, lemonade, or tea will help to hydrate you and that is beneficial when in pain. Your muscles get tight when dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids (alcohol and soda do not add to hydration, they actually dehydrate the body. I never drink alcohol on travel days. Sorry about that!)
There you have it, Tam’s Tips for Traveling with Chronic Pain. I’m very experienced at this, and these are the tips that work best for me. So book your trip, pack up your gear and get going! You will be glad you did.
My life is a series of unexpected misadventures. I tell my friends they have to be prepared for the unexpected when they travel with me! I recently invited 3 of my closest blogger friends to my home in Cozumel, Villa Coronado. I was excited that they accepted my invitation, and I wanted everything to be perfect! We love our home on Cozumel, and we are also in love with our island, and our island restaurants. I made reservations, arranged for a tasting (#4ChicasinCozumel had an Amazing Tasting at Buccano’s at Night), and looked forward to showing Suzanne (Adventures of Empty Nesters), Sara (Travel with Sara), and Melody (Wherever I May Roam Blog) a wonderful time. However, no matter how hard I try, misadventure is always in my periphery, so it is a good thing my friends are adventurous women!
So, the first mishap was my 20 year old car (hey, it’s an island car, and awesome!). As we returned from our first evening’s dinner at Pepe’s, the car began to smoke. Melody in the back seat asked if we could smell smoke, and I said no. By the time we arrived at my house the car was smoking and hissing like crazy. We all jumped out and ran inside, I mean, what if the car was on fire? It cooled down quickly, but I called our house manager and arranged for him to come out early (people on the island get up at ungodly hours, like 430a or 5a, but not me!) to check the car. Now, this is really awful, especially for me because I am such an animal lover, but Jimmy told me he found a nest in the engine. There was a lot of laughter about it, but I did feel a twinge of guilt and texted my husband about it. He, of course, informed everyone we know, and I began to receive messages like, “I hear you are a bird murderer.”
Of course, the weather did not want to cooperate, and it was overcast. We jumped in the car so I could take them on a tour of the island, and I particularly wanted to take them to the east side (the wild side) of the island which is almost completely uninhabited and wild. Turtles nest on the beaches, there are cool blowholes throwing up geisers, and long stretches of sand to walk on. I knew they would love it! We never got there.
Halfway to the southern tip of island, Punta Sur, the car began to smoke. I knew birds could not have built a nest again so quickly, so we got out of the car. Again, it hissed and steamed, but cooled down. At this point, the sun came out, beating down on us on a black asphalt road in the middle of the jungle. It’s October, so there aren’t a lot of people on the road. For me, the unexpected is the norm, so I can’t say I was surprised at my run of bad luck, and thankfully the gals thought it was hilarious. Cars went by without stopping, though we received a few waves. Finally, a couple slowed down and came back asking if we needed help. Thank you Pete and Becky, we all piled into their tiny dune buggy-ish car and they took us to the Rasta Bar at the end of the island. As we arrived…it started to pour rain. Mucho uvioso!
We had a seat in the open bar area with the wind whipping and the rain coming in sideways. Again, the girls found it funny. Like me, they have a fun loving streak, so they laughed and took photos…for a few minutes. It is true that sometimes you have a really fun adventure when things go off the rails, and fortunately that was the case in this instance. We had to wait on a couple who were at the only dry table in the place. We ordered some goodies and drinks, and settled down to wait out the storm. The Rasta Bar is right on the beach and the waves were really pounding the shore. I’ve been to the bar a million times for a quick drink and a swing in the hammocks, but on this day it was packed! After an hour or so it started to lighten up, and we grabbed a cab to get back to the house. I’d left my keys in my car so was worried that I didn’t have a key to my house, but hey, there my baby was, on the side of the road, all windows open, the interior soaking wet, with my keys in it. Long story short, we went back to the house.
So the manager got it to a shop, and I rented a car. We went out and had a lovely dinner, which will be another blog because the food, as always, was amazing and deserves its own post. We had a lovely meal and a much calmer evening. We had so much fun together, it is always fun to be with people who “get” you, and bloggers and writers have their own set of idiosyncrasies. The next morning we were able to get out and go to the other side of the island, and it was fabulous. We stopped for a drink at Coconuts, a well known crazy bar on a cliff with a view. After exploring, we headed to the grocery and Melody, who is quite the cook, wanted to whip something up for us. She asked me, do you know how to turn on the oven? Of course, I mean it is my house, right? As if I really know how to turn on the oven. I fiddled with it, but it wasn’t heating, so I finally figured out that you have to hit the pilot light, or the starter, or whatever you call it. By the time I did that the oven was full of gas, and you guessed it, it went BOOM and I flew back several feet, landing on my back. At that point I remembered that I had done it previously. Oops. Suzanne came running, and couldn’t believe I was lying on my back in the kitchen after being blown back five or six feet. She heard the boom, and the other gals came running, so we told them what happened. Fortunately I wasn’t on fire, so no major damage, just a lot of laughter.
We got the car back, returned the rental, and continued to have a wonderful time. You know, there was something else that happened, but I can’t remember what it was. Hm. Truthfully, so many bizarre and weird things happen to me, basically due to my own unique ADHD craziness, I don’t always remember everything that goes wrong. I know I’m forgetting something, maybe the girls will remember. I’m sure it is something ridiculous, as usual. It is my theory that I was jinxed at birth with peculiarities unknown to normal people. I am a magnet for unexpected weird occurrences. One thing is undeniable, being around me is rarely dull!
PS; Oh. I went into the grocery today, lost my keys, searched the store, then went out to look in the parking lot….I had left my keys in the car, with the car running. Sigh. Sometimes it ain’t easy being me.