Tag: Travel

Life

6 Months of Silence

One of the largest points of self realization that I have come to accept is that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. What sometimes seems like a minor side project, or a great idea, turns into a time suck that eventually falls by the wayside to be abandoned when priorities change.

At the end of the day, I am not a full time blogger.  Hell, I am not even a part time blogger.  Yes, I have a blog, but not always the time to update it.  Just look at some of my past blog posts.  I was gangbusters for a good 6 months, maybe even 8 months.  Then I had to find a real job in my career field. Read more “6 Months of Silence”

Life

Photo Tour of Boston’s Fenway Park

Boston is one of our country’s oldest and most storied cities and there is never a shortage of things to do, see or experience while visiting Boston.

One of the things that you MUST do while visiting Boston, (and this goes without saying for pretty much any sports fan) is visit Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox.  For me, it was the opportunity to cross an item off my bucket list. Read more “Photo Tour of Boston’s Fenway Park”

Life

10 Epic Days.

What do you get when you combine the most beautiful beaches in the world with 62 of your best rum-indulging friends?

A 10 day party of epic proportions.

If you haven’t been following along with our Twitter or Facebook feeds, you (somehow) missed that Team Cocktail and JustinHamlin.com teamed up (ok, i paid and went along, just like everyone else) for an amazing 7 day cruise of the south Caribbean, filled with amazing excursions, impromptu parties and some of the best friends you will ever meet. Read more “10 Epic Days.”

Life

How I Saw the Boston Freedom Trail for Free

I wouldn’t normally consider myself a budget traveler as I do enjoy the luxurious side of travel, but when an opportunity comes up for a great deal, far be it for me to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Upon spending time in Boston, MA for work lately, i quickly became familiar with the Boston Freedom Trail.  There are advertisements for walking tours, bus tours and even themed tours.  With this much advertising, I knew this was something I wanted to experience. Read more “How I Saw the Boston Freedom Trail for Free”

Life

Sand Between Our Toes

As I sit here and finally put together one more dedication (read: plea) with regards to our entry into the Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger contest, I really am excited at the possibility of being selected for this wonderful vacation, but also very much reminded of how much we really need a belated honeymoon.

I have been positioning this as a belated honeymoon for Juliet and I, however, without completely realizing the timing of it all, if we are selected, it will fall right around our 1 year wedding anniversary.  September 24th, 2011 will mark 1 year since we were married on Huntington Beach in California.

To think we were married right around 1 year ago is almost mind boggling, until we consider what has happened in the past 12 months:

  • August 2010, Justin took a new job after 8+ years with old company
  • September 2010, Married in HB, CA
  • January 2011, quick flight to Rochester NY for Juliet’s interview
  • January 2011, 3 days later, Juliet accepted a job offer in NY
  • January 2011, Justin quit his (new) job
  • February 2011, moved into corporate housing in NY for 6 months
  • February 2011, Juliet experiences her first time living where it snows
  • March 2011, Justin flew back to CA and drove from CA to NY
  • April 2011, Our good friend Sean came to visit
  • May 2011, Justin starts his job hunt
  • June 2011, Justin is still job hunting
  • July 2011, Juliet heads back to CA to coordinate packing of CA house
  • July 2011/August 2011, move into our new apartment in NY
  • August 2011, spent unpacking
  • Oh yeah, Justin still job hunting
All of that in the past 12 months.  Nowhere in there was a honeymoon for us at all.  Unfortunately, was just not something we were able to work into our wedding budget and our work timelines. It has been quite the past year.
So by the time this is posted and the time you read this, we will be on the last day of voting for the Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger Resort 2 Romance contest, and we could really use (and would really appreciate) your support.
August 17th is the last day to vote, so hop on over to Facebook, Like the Marriott Resorts page, click on Resort 2 Romance and then scroll to the bottom, find JUSTIN H and click VOTE! (then go ahead and share this with all of your friends)

 

Thank you for all of your support, and if we win, we guarantee we will be doing something cool as a ‘thank you’ to all of our supporters.

 

Cheers!

 

Life

A Belated Honeymoon Wish

As anyone who frequents the blog (both of you!) might know, Juliet and I were married in September, 2010 in Huntington Beach, California.  Since then, life has been a roller coaster, complete with a move to New York, an Epic Road Trip, quitting my job and loads of other adventures.

When we look back on our wedding, we have nothing but fond memories.  The only thing we would do differently (if given the chance to do it all over again) is to embark on a honeymoon after the wedding.

But good news, you can help us go on one!

(and I don’t mean by paying for it!)

Recently, our friend Ryan of Rum Shop Ryan fame won a Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger contest and spent 5 days on St. Kitts, exploring, drinking and occasionally, blogging.  It was from Ryan’s blog that I found out about a great contest that is a follow up to the wildly successful Beach Blogger contest, this one dubbed “Resort to Romance”.  A contest to sponsor a few bloggers/Marriott fans/travel lovers for a romantic getaway in the Caribbean.

Well, Juliet and I have entered in hopes of winning a great getaway as a belated honeymoon for us to one of the Marriott Resorts amazing Mexican and Caribbean Resorts!  One of the main criteria for judging is the amount of votes received, and currently we are up against 72 other couples.

If you could spare a few moments to “Like” the Marriott Resorts Caribbean and Mexico Facebook Page, and then click on our link to vote for us in their Resort to Romance contest section, we would greatly appreciate it, as the voting for this first round goes through July 31st!

You can vote once per day, so if possible, please send out a vote each day from here through the 31st!

Thanks again for all of your support and hopefully Juliet and I will be the next Marriott Resorts Beach Bloggers!

Cheers!

 

Life

June 28: Choose Your Own Adventure

I would venture to guess that one of the main forms of marketing that everybody from small restaurants to national tourism boards love to leverage are appearances on cable television shows.  Speaking from personal experience, seeing shows such as Diner’s, Drive-in’s & Dives, House Hunters International, Drinking Made Easy, No Reservations and Mancations make me add new places to my list of places to visit every single time I see one of the shows.

For many people, this is their primary source of research for their upcoming vacations.  Shows that focus on certain states or counties, or even dedicate entire shows to eating or drinking in specific locales are what drive vacationers to plan their trips around and to these destinations.

However, for so many of the people who will read this, including myself, one of two things happens whenever we go on vacation:

  1. We will take a vacation to a certain destination, fit everything we can into the trip and consider that location as DONE.
  2. We will visit the destination and spend the time we have dedicated to one attraction or activity, and proclaim as we leave that “I must go back” in order to experience everything else.

I cannot even begin to count the amount of places that I have visited, some as many as 5 or 6 times, and still want to revisit them, if not for the sheer purpose of experiencing even more than I already had.

What this has resulted in for me is scattered experiences for my vacations.  To propose a solution for this, I believe it is time to introduce another travel game:

Choose Your Own Adventure

Preparation

Pick your travel buddies. Watch some TV or do some online research.  All depends on the House Rules.

House Rules

You can set a pre-determined theme or pre-determined destination, complete with research, or you can decide to choose the destination and the theme when you arrive at the airport.  Any mixture of this game along with First Flight or Spin The Globe is acceptable.

The Game

Once the destination has been determined, pick your theme.  Some suggestions are:

  • Microbreweries (or just Beer)
  • Diners, Drive-ins & Dives
  • National Parks
  • Monuments
  • Casinos
  • Pubs
  • Seafood

Then your trip has an underlying theme, such as hunting down every microbrewery within a 50 mile radius, or hitting every single restaurant from a No Reservations episode or Diners Drive-Ins & Dives season.

The joy in the simplicity is that instead of doing 15 different things around a city or destination, you are completely and wholly tackling an entire category.  By the time you head for home, you can call yourself the not-so-resident experts on that category.

So….

Beer Trip Boston 2011 Anyone? Who is in?

Day 28. Way 28. Stop running around. Choose your own adventure.

Has anyone ever done a themed trip?

Our last was a “Wine Weekend” in El Dorado County, CA.

Share your stories, photos and recommendations in the comments below!

Life

June 25: Map Your Escape Route

Throughout this month of directives on how to get busy living your life, I have focused on a lot of spontaneous travel related items, such as playing a few travel games, to getting lost.

Today, I will take a look at the safer side of travel, and how you can use that to help get the blood pumping, the excitement level up and motivated to make things happen.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now – Alan Lakein

Maybe you are the type of person that does not embrace spontaneity. Maybe you don’t have deep pockets (I know I don’t) but still love to travel.  If travel hacking isn’t your thing and you just want to book a trip the old fashioned way, then here are a few tips for you to help make the planning phase a little easier, and a little more exciting:

Choosing a Destination

When choosing a destination for a large trip, a lot of factors come into the equation, such as time of year, season, length of time for vacation as well as money.  While I am a believer that all travel can be had inexpensively, I wouldn’t try and plan a beachfront villa in Bora Bora when you only have a 4 day vacation and $2,000.  Moral of the story, be realistic here.

Sites like Wanderfly are a godsend when it comes to the indecisive.  It is an intuitive web portal that will search for destinations based on time of year, theme, length of time and budget.  While I haven’t actually used their site to actually plan a vacation, I do use their site for idea generation.  Just one quick search will give you TONS of ideas on where to go, where to stay, things to do and so much more.

I could seriously sit here and do searches all day long.

Finding Airfare

So you have used Wanderfly to dream up some amazing destinations and have a general idea on what to expect for the price.  While Wanderfly uses Orbitz for their searches, I prefer to use Kayak and Bing Travel for my searches for 2 different reasons.

Kayak is a descendent of the old SideStep, one of the first companies to really develop a flight search aggregator.  Kayak searches all of the major airlines websites, as well as popular travel agencies such as Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline.  With tools to help you search all local airports, flexible days with a comparison matrix, Kayak is 2nd to none in the flight search business.

Bing Travel is the result of an online travel search company that Microsoft bought and integrated into their Bing search engine.  The reason I really love this site is that if you are traveling a common route (we will use LAX to JFK for example) with multiple flights per day, Bing Travel will look at the trending analysis of the flight costs, compare them against recent travel trends, previous year’s pricing and return a recommendation on wether you should purchase the tickets now because prices are set to raise, or if you should hold off, as ticket prices are set to drop.  This really is a handy tool when looking at flight costs over 3-4 months in advance.

Finding Hotels

Now you know where you are going and how you are getting there, let’s take a look at where to stay.  The real question here is if you are looking for a hotel room, or an all inclusive resort.  Kayak is my old fail safe when it comes to hotel searches, as their hotel search engine is just as powerful as their airfare search engine.  Kayak also has a section for deals and vacation packages that will help you look into package bundles and other deals that have amazing savings.

My other default is the Marriott website, as Juliet and I have been huge fans of their customer service and standards for many years now, they are our hotel membership of choice.  More times than not, while sites like Kayak are great, nothing quite beats searching right on the hotel website of your favorite brand.

For us, we can deal with a long flight, maybe a delay or two, but we will not scrimp on a bad night’s sleep or a dirty room.  Hotels are our number 1 priority when travelling, and it helps us wake up in a good mood, ready to attack the day.

Finding Adventure

Ahh, the most important part of your trip.  So you have picked your destination, your travel there and your hotel.  Great. Now let’s plan the fun stuff.  Let’s scope out where we are going to eat, where we are going to drink and where we are going to go have some amazing experiences.

TripAdvisor is a great place to start.  With recommendations based on city and location, Trip Advisor for me has constantly turned up great recommendations for sights to see, places to eat and more.

Twitter is another great tool for researching destinations, as there is always people willing to help give advice and recommendations on things to do, places to see, food to eat, drinks to… well, drink.  Recently, Juliet and I booked a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a much-needed vacation.  With a few quick searches and with the help of some Twitter friends, I got some great recommendations for smaller islands to visit, great drinks to try and restaurants to visit.  Cannot beat first hand recommendations.

The last recommendation for finding adventure at your destination is an old-fashioned Google Search.  There are blogs and websites dedicated to adventure travelers, from personal blogs to corporate guide companies and everything in between.  Chances are with a quick search you will come across a number of blogs from people who have vacationed at the same places you are headed.  Look at it this way, the most website traffic that hits my website from Google comes from people searching about road trips.  Yes, there are plenty more like me out there.

These are just a few of the tips and tricks to help make planning a vacation a little easier and a little more fun.  I spent regular amounts of time on these websites just dreaming about the vacations I would love to take, but I also visit these sites when I am ready to book my travel as well too.  Dreaming can be fun, just make sure to have a plan to turn that dream into a reality, then go ahead and plan your escape from the real world.

Day 25. Way 25. Plan a vacation. Map your escape route from reality.

What are your favorite ways to research and plan for trips? Share your stories, tips and tricks in the comments below!

Hotel Photo Credit / Beach Photo Credit / Zip Line Photo / Lego Photo Credit