Monthly Archives: December 2016

My 2016 Travel Year in Review

2016 was a year of twists and turns, yet the milestones were just as great. I had a lot of firsts this year: new states, new countries, and new bylines. I had some setbacks – changes in relationships, work scenarios, and just time beginning to creep up on me – but thankfully nothing major going wrong. Here is my three best moments from this year.

What I accomplished:


Taking my first cruise. While I’m sad to learn that Fathom Travel will be ceasing its cruises, I’m also grateful that I was able to go on one of their social impact cruises to the Dominican Republic in May. I hung out with travel influencers and other passengers (who I still keep in touch with). Excursions brought us into communities where we got to learn about micro-businesses and help out with their projects. I also purchased products such as notecards made from re-purposed scrap paper and chocolate bars from a women-owned cooperative.


Checking off new cities. I’ll probably still keep using this example, but it’s still a valid one. 2016 had me on the road a lot; I estimate on and off over 10 months. That’s a record. I’ve been lucky to visit five new states – Ohio, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Minnesota – and four new countries – Dominican Republic, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Also I got to revisit six states I’ve already been to (New Hampshire, Texas, Rhode Island, California, Virginia, and Pennsylvania) plus two countries (Mexico and Jamaica). In each location, I got to try new foods, witness amazing festivals and events, and just wander around different neighborhoods and attractions.


Being exposed to new scenarios. At times, my work trips can schedule situations that either I do or don’t (want to) do. I’m not an athletic person, so I tend to shy away from choosing or having to participate in certain adventure activities (such as being a poor swimmer). However, my trip to Utah’s Red Rock Country put me in a situation where I had to do it. During our trip to Goblin Valley State Park, we were led by our guide Chris from Get In the Wild to go rappelling down a 90-foot high section called Goblins Lair. I was seriously freaking out – bawling like a baby and probably stalling my drop by 10 minutes – but with some encouragement (as in, you have to do this), I made it down just fine. I wasn’t my best self during the experience, but I’m glad to have done it.

Now here’s what need I work on:

Blogging more. I’ve been behind on posting here more, and I don’t like it. I had been putting a lot of energy toward getting publishing, but I want to commit more time to posting about work trips, topics that are on my mind. I kick myself a bit because there were a lot of good moments this year, but hopefully I can still post about them. So expect a lot of catching up.

Getting fit. I had some health concerns this year (nothing serious/crucial, thankfully) but my goal for 2017 is to build up my stamina. One thing, among many, that travel has taught me is that you have to adapt to your surroundings – particularly with getting around. Going up stairs, to walking many blocks, to hopping up and off subways or buses. My pace might be getting slower, but there are still places I want to get to. So more exercise for me.

I’m sure more “must dos” will come up. But tell me what’s your travel goal for 2017?

City Wine Tours Promotion on NYC Offerings


Photos via City Wine Tours

If you know a person who loves wine and exploring New York City, here’s a gift idea that might cater to their palette. Recently, City Wine Tours reached out to me about their two tour offerings in West Village and SoHo. Each walking tour is led by a wine ambassador, who takes attendees to two high-end restaurants in each respective neighborhood for sit-down tastings of pre-selected wines and appetizer pairings.

After sampling various pre-chosen bottles, the group goes on to a wine store for a 101 lesson on buying wine. The tours run on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and usually max out at about 10 attendees.


City Wine Tours has also created a special discount code that gives you a nice incentive that you raise a glass to (or even treat yourself to). Apply the code MicheleNY10 for $10 off a CWT gift card or ticket now through December 31, 2016 upon booking. You can book directly through their website. City Wine Tours also offers similar tours in Boston, but this promotion is for Manhattan tours only.

Editor’s Note: I have a business agreement with City Wine Tours, where I would receive payment for confirmed bookings. Also, I’m always on the lookout for new places and resources for expanding my wine knowledge.

8 Holiday Gift Ideas for Female Travelers


Flickr Creative Commons photo / nathanmac87

Have a gal pal or relative who loves to travel on your holiday shopping list? Get her a gift that helps her along her journey.

While gift guides might feature items that seem out of your price range or too high tech or fancy, there are tried and true gifts that can suit any female traveler. They’re even safe bets if you don’t know where she’s heading next. As a help, I put together a number of gift ideas involving general products that can be bought through multiple vendors and easy to find in-store or online. Here are eight recommendations to get you started.

Portable battery chargers
A traveler’s phone is her personal assistant, her Gal Friday. It’s her go-to for getting directions, picture taking, private messaging, calendar scheduling, or acting an overall point of contact. And the more she uses her phone, the more the battery decreases. Plus, finding an accessible plug can sometimes be a journey in itself. So, it’s a godsend to have a readily charger on hand to plug in your phone and keep on going.

File hosting services/external hard drives
Back again to our phones, travelers often like to take photos, but eventually they run out of space. Or even the memory card on our digital camera has its limits. Thanks to online storage sites like Dropbox, users can file their pictures away and avoid having to delete them. Basic level accounts are free (I know so for Dropbox) but if you need more space, you have to pay. So having a paid subscription can be a load off your traveler’s mind. If your gift recipient is a bit tech savvy, an external hard drive is also a good way to have your friend’s back when she’s backing up her photos (forgive the bad humor).

Outlet adapters
Outside of the United States, electrical outlets take on a different meaning. Particularly in how they’re fitted. If you don’t know already, voltage overseas can vary. So, unless you/your traveling friend already knows this, plugs that can be easily fit into a wall socket here might not do so in Europe, Asia, or the South Pacific. The solution: outlet adapters. A decade ago, I bought a multi-pack of adapters from TravelSmart that still works well. I just take out which one(s) I would need for my destination.

Gift cards at major retailers
Yes, gift cards can seem kind of lame, but they are a big help in providing funds for  what a traveler needs or wants. And you’ll know it’s one gift that’s not going to waste. Outdoorsy girls might shop at REI or Patagonia, so perhaps she can get some new gear. If she’s always picking up a guidebook or loves reading travel memoirs, Barnes & Noble or Amazon is a sure thing. And if beauty buys are essential, Sephora has a nice selection of travel-sized products.

Magazine/newspaper subscriptions
Travelers like to keep up with what’s going on the world. So buy them a yearlong subscription to their favorite publication or perhaps one they might enjoy reading. While print has gotten some hard knocks, a number of travel magazines – AFAR, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, and Food & Wine – are still rolling off the presses. Publications are also building up their online presence, so a web subscription (think The New York Times or Boston Globe) could come in handy. Even periodicals like Food & Wine and Bon Appetit are delving more into travel-related topics.

Anti-theft devices
Of course, a traveler’s parents will worry about her safety. So give her a token that will give you – and her – piece of mind. In terms of availability and selection, the market in anti-theft products is definitely on the rise. For starters, you can find pickpocket proof clothing, security padlocks and bags that can be worn across your front. Ask her what might like most (you might find a money belt to be helpful; she may not) and then go with her decision. Try PacSafe for bags and Clothing Arts or The Clever Travel Companion for garments.

Her favorite (and TSA friendly) snacks
Buying food at the airport is expensive (we’re talking $4 for a yogurt). And now, we’re feeling additional wallet pain on board our flights, as included meals are changing over to ones we have to pay for! However, we can still bring a few pre-packaged snacks — even through airport security — to tie us over. If your friend is a fan of nutrition bars, perhaps get her a box or two of her faves to munch on. Candy is cool too. And a bag of specialty pretzels or chips will go quickly.

Girlie products
We ladies know that during certain times of month we have to prepare for a special visitor. Our choice of products in this area has become quite “advanced,” so to speak. They’re definitely beyond what you’ll find in the drugstore aisle. Aside from traditional pads and tampon packs, what’s trending (and working) are menstrual cups and period-centered undergarments like THINK and PantyProp. Though I have to admit that this kind of gift is probably best exchanged between serious BFs.

Let us know what you’re giving to the travelers in your life.