Monthly Archives: May 2015

Choice Hotels’ Ultimate People Person Contest


Here’s another quirky travel contest. Choice Hotels is inviting people to apply for a newly created summer position – the Ultimate People Person.

Upon being hired, the Ultimate People Person will travel across the United States this summer, with the task of capturing and sharing the stories of thousands of people through Choice Hotels’ blog and social media channels. And, yes, the winner gets paid.

Job applications are being accepted now through May 29, 2015. More information is available through this link.

To apply, you start off by putting together a 30-second video “cover letter” and upload it on YouTube. Then do some self-promotion of your video on Facebook and Twitter, mentioning @ChoiceHotels and #choicepeopleperson.

And then, draw on your connections to help raise your profile level by endorsing your candidacy via commenting, RTing or sharing your video (It’s all about your marketing skills.) See the link for all the paperwork (screenshots, links, and three references) you have to email in.

If I didn’t already have summer plans, I would consider applying for the job. But hey Choice Hotels: need a fall/winter intern?

10 Travel Goals For Turning 40

Photo by Billie Ward via Flickr

Photo by Billie Ward via Flickr

I turn 40 this week. As this age might make you reflect a bit on life, I decided to think about some travel goals I would like to reach at some point. Or at least before I reach 50. So here’s a list of my 10 future travel goals, maybe to accomplish before I hit 50.

1) Get better at swimming. I can swim, but just not that great. Or not that far out. So I need to build up my stamina. And because I want to try snorkeling at some point.

2) Master a language. When I travel overseas, I make it a point to learn words like “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” “how much” and “where is ___.” And with my trip to Japan later this year, I would like to grasp a few phrases that I can speak as well as understand with ease.

3) Pack a carry-on at least once. With airlines charging bag fees like $25 each way, a carry-on probably could save me money and time. It also might make me better with packing and have me go directly from the plane to the airport exit.

4) Practice slow travel. Slow travel means spending more time in one place – instead of rushing around from venue to venue or city to city. I’ll probably struggle with slow travel, but some day in the future I’m going to try and focus on spending time in one area or doing or seeing one or two things daily. Or maybe three.

5) Attend one major sporting event. I was lucky to have been in Paris the night of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Italy, and, after the match was over, walked amid the parade of soccer fans along the Champs-Élysées. I would love to get to the Winter or Summer Olympics, but even going to the Super Bowl would be awesome.

6) Participate in a major cultural festival. Like sports, going to a major cultural festival like Carnevale in Venice or Rio de Janeiro or the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona would be pretty cool. I was in Barcelona for a music festival called La Merce, but there are others that are equally if not greater fun.

7) See Machu Picchu or the Galapagos. I’ve yet to get to Central or South America and if I could only visit one place/country, I could get to it either to Peru or Ecuador. For some reason, I’m captivated by the ruins of Machu Picchu and the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Maybe 2016 will bring me to one of them.

8) Improve my photography skills. Lately for photos, I’ve been using my iPhone 5S as a camera. My shots come out great, but I also want to have a camera for taking a variety of close-ups, panoramics, and nighttime images.

9) Get to all 50 states. There’s a lot to see in America. So far this year, I got to visit Montana for the first time. Next month, I’m heading to Michigan, also for the first time. Roughly, I’ve been to about 25 states and I would rush to get to Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska. Even seeing the Heartland or Southwest would be cool.

10) Learn more about food and drink. I’ve gotten over being a picky eater, and I’ll try almost any type of food now. But I like to have some culinary savvy. With eating and drinking, I know what I like, and what I don’t, but I wish I can know more about the terminology behind a dish or a cocktail. What makes the flavors work together? Usually, I say it’s good, but that’s where I reach my limit with descriptions.

What travel goals do you have before turning 40?

A Guide to Carmel-by-the Sea

DSCN4612Carmel-by-the-Sea is just one square mile but there’s a lot to do here. On a recent press trip to this bay village, I dined at fine restaurants, looked around in specialty shops, followed a wine walk, and hit the beach!

Founded as an artist’s colony, Carmel-by-the-Sea has its charm and quirks. For one thing, there are no street lights or street numbers. It’s also against the law to wear high heels in public. But this village by the bay is pretty pet-friendly and has had poets and actors like Clint Eastwood as mayor, so it evens out. photo(3) photo 1(17) photo 2(19) You can spend a day or a few days in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here is my list of what to do and see here. photo 2(18)
Head to Carmel Beach.
At the base of Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach can be a bit of a walk depending upon where you’re coming from. You head all the down the street to get to this off-white sandy beach, but the trek is worth it. I was there on a cooler day so I just dipped my feet in the water and took a good leisurely stroll. As with around town, Carmel Beach is a pet-friendly place, so you’ll run into dog owners on the sand. photo(4)
Get a permit to wear high heels.
Why no heels? This ordinance was enacted because of uneven roads and concern over possible liability lawsuits. But you can get around this ban by applying for a permit. It makes for a fun souvenir. Head to Town Hall and fill out an application from the Clerk’s office. Pull out your ID and the staff will authorize your permit and keep a record of it on file. photo 1(18)

See the fairy-tale Comstock Homes.
Back in the 1920s, architect Hugh Comstock designed a number of English-style country homes for people, which looked like something out of a storybook. Twenty-one of them are still around, but they’re mostly private residences. You can see them only from the outside. The bulk of them are mainly on Torres Street and Sixth Avenue and then on Ocean Avenue near Santa Fe and Saint Rita streets. These homes can be tricky to get to on your own, so you might want to see the two now being used commercially on Dolores Street instead. photo 2(21)

Take a walking tour
. Learn more about this Carmel-by-the-Sea’s history through Carmel Walks. The tour company’s guides will take you around the village and might make stops at Town Hall, one of the Comstock houses or even an alleyway where a scene from Eastwood’s “Play Misty for Me” was filmed. photo 3(15)
Go on a wine tasting walk.
Carmel-by-the-Sea’s “Wine Walk” consists of 14 tasting rooms that can be visited at your own pace. They also belong to a Wine Walk Passport program, which you can pick up a pass from the Chamber of Commerce. Tasting rooms include Wrath, whose wines come from the Santa Lucia Highlands; Scheid Vineyard, with its main location in Salinas Valley; or Figge Cellars, a boutique winery based inside an art gallery. photo 4(16)
Have dinner and drinks at Cypress Inn.
This pet-friendly boutique hotel is jointly owned by actress and resident Doris Day, so you’ll see a lot of Day’s movie memorabilia near Terry’s Restaurant and Lounge. And spot some four-legged guests. While you’re here, order a cocktail from the bar. The menu reflects Hollywood’s Golden Age — and the drinks flowing during that period. Orders include Mai Tais, Moscow Mules and Pisco Sours plus a selection of fine rum, gin, brandy, and cognac. Stay for a meal as well.

Visit Carmel Mission. This Spanish style mission church from the late 1700s is a heritage site with an active parish. You can visit the Basilica church, which is a National Historic Landmark, and the museum.

For other dining or shopping options, here are my suggestions:

photo 2(15)

Carmel Bakery. Just looking at the goodies in the display window of this quaint bakeshop makes you want to step inside this place. In business since 1906, this bakery/coffee shop offers well-sized European style pastries such as cannolis and eclairs and their best-seller chocolate macaroons. photo 1(19) Casanova Restaurant. This romantic restaurant was once a private home for Aunt Fairy Bird, who was Charlie Chaplin’s cook. Drawing from the French and Italian countryside, the menu features various croques, pasta, seafood and meat dishes plus some Belgian ones like pomme and moules frites. Take a look at the room built to house “Van Gogh’s Table.” The painter ate his daily meals at this table while living at a boarding house in Auvers Sur-Oise, France. photo 1(14)La Bicyclette Restaurant. This place uses Old World techniques to craft a daily-changing menu. Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available. Their thin crust pizzas are made in a wood-fired Mugnaini oven and the flavors blend nicely. Order the Butternut Squash one that is also graced with arugula, sage, gruyere, and speck ham. The Local Champignon gets topped with portabellas, oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, thyme and a caramelized onion puree. photo 3(16)Little Napoli. This Italian bistro has cozy quarters for serving rustic dishes such as antipasti, pizza, pasta and risotto based on the owner’s family recipes. Even the garlic bread is made from a century-old method. For starters, find lollipop twists on arancini, meatballs and fried artichokes. Consider their baked truffle gnocchi or try the “Hobo Stew.” Lunch, dinner, and children’s menus are available. photo 1(15)Trio Carmel. This specialty shop carries premium olive oils and infused olive oils with flavors such as Persian lime, blood orange, wild mushroom and sage, and garlic. Find traditional and flavored white and dark balsamics sourced from Modena, Italy as well. The shop also holds wine tastings featuring Monterey County vintners. Olive oil tastings are also offered. photo 2(22)Lula’s Chocolates. This sweet store features handmade caramels and chocolates made at its production factory in Monterey. Find toffees, buttercreams, nut clusters, sea-salted caramels, truffles, and boxes of assorted chocolates.

Disclaimer: Though I was a guest of Visit Carmel, every suggestion in this story is based on my opinion.

Budget Travel and Go RVing ‘Get AWAY to Get Closer’ Contest


Though I might not write about family travel, I definitely know that families deserve a memorable vacation. Recently I received a notice about the ‘Get AWAY to Get Closer’ contest presented by Budget Travel and Go RVing and thought it would be neat to share.

‘Get AWAY to Get Closer’ will give away the use of an RV for one week, a GoPro camera for recording your trip, $750 for spending money, and a custom itinerary put together by Budget Travel’s expert staff. You and your family also might get a plug or two on Budget Travel as your adventure will be featured in blog posts.

Now here’s what you have to do. To enter the contest, visit and submit a video of 2 minutes or less by 11:59 p.m. by May 29, 2015. In your video, share your idea of a great American RV road trip adventure and why you and your family deserve to win one. On June 8, 2015, Budget Travel will announce the top 5 video submissions and post them on their website, where the public will be able to vote for their favorite video. The entry with the most votes cast by June 29, 2015 will be chosen as the winner. Complete rules and regulations can be read here.

Follow the contest on social channels by using the #BTGetAway hashtag. Good luck.