Tag Archives: travel

Seeing London for the first time

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For years London had been on the top 3 destinations I have wanted to visit the most. I don’t know why, but I always suspected it would be a place I would love. I also wanted to visit on my own – not for work or while on a press trip, but with my family, which is honestly my preferred way of traveling.

So when my husband had a work trip there, we took advantage of a few extra days after to join him and see some of the best London has to offer.

Maybe it was all the British movies and shows that influenced my expectations of what London would be, but what I immediately found interesting about this great city is how incredibly diverse it is. I found it to be this wonderful melting pot of cultures and religions and ethnicities and styles and lifestyles. I soon discovered that London is a lot more colorful than I expected.

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Return to the Finger Lakes Wine Country, NY

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One of the places that I have continuously returned to over the years and still manage to find something new is at the Finger Lakes, NY.

It’s about a 5-hour drive from my New Jersey home, but a wonderful escape that feels a world away from my everyday life. My family has gone with me over the years, but I think on this last trip the area really managed to carve a special place in my kids’ heart, so much so that they didn’t want to leave.

What I have come to love about the destination is not just the beautiful outdoor experiences one can have there, but also the community. Whether I am spending time with a farmer working at a local orchard or winery, or with an artist in residence at the Corning Museum of Glass, that sense of pride and community that I feel every time I am there is the thing that makes us feel so welcomed, so at home, and so in love with this place.

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Romantic weekend getaway to the Hamptons, off-season

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While sitting here planning and booking our summer escapes, the kids summer camps and activities, and seeking out all the potential available during the summer months, it’s easy to ignore that 1) I am in desperate need of a vacation and 2) there are some really great options now.

For example, the Hamptons is a fabulous escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The warm beaches, the bars and eateries, the activities hosted all throughout this seaside community and its neighboring towns. Things tend to pick up mid-June and continue on well into September.

However, if what you are needing is something more of a quieter escape without the traffic or the crowds, the area delivers that and more during the off-season as well. It’s true that most businesses are seasonal and not open during these months, but that isn’t to say you will have nothing to do.

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Finding the best of Jerusalem

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I arrived to Jerusalem with eyes wide open with excitement for my first visit to a country I had only heard so much about.

The city itself is very segregated, divided up into 4 quarters (Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian) and I was curious about how this influenced the feel of the city. Would it be unpleasant at times? Would it feel dangerous navigating any one area as a foreigner?

I only had 4 days to spend in Jerusalem, so I made sure leave sleep for when I got home and focus on seeing and learning as much as I could in my short time there. Here are some of the best ways I was able to do that:

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The awakening that is Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine

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I woke up looking forward to my venture into Bethlehem. I had been in Jerusalem for 3 days now and after several walking tours and meetings with state officials, I was looking forward to experiencing something more.

Before visiting Jerusalem, I was very much like the average American traveler and their first time in Israel. I knew about its significance religiously and I knew a lot of the struggles politically. I also knew whatever was already shared online; that it was beautiful and exciting and a wonderful place to visit.

What I didn’t know much about was what laid on the other side, in the West Bank. In fact, what I did know was shaped by American discourse and that narrative told me that this was a place of danger. Terrorism stemmed heavily from these parts, as did the terrorists themselves. In talking to anyone at home about my visit to the West Bank their first question was, “Is it safe?”

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Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, California

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With every trip to Los Angeles, I understand more and more the allure, the affection, and why so many of my East Coast friends and family have escaped to its warmth. This latest trip was extra special because I had my husband and kids with me, something which always makes travel to anywhere more fun.

On my last visit, I was able to connect with a lot of local friends who showed me the best of their neighborhoods. I invite you to check out Los Angeles from a New Yorker’s Point of View for a list of these must-see areas.

On this trip, we had a small list of suggestions, but mainly did a lot of exploring on our own and found a few more gems in the process. Most importantly, on this trip, I got to take part in my favorite activity: hiking.

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Travel through Turkey in Photos

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I arrived to Istanbul with eyes wide open, eager to learn its history and hear the stories of those I met along the way. I found out almost immediately that the Turkish people are very aware of the preconceptions that they thought I, as an American, might have of them. They wanted to make sure that I walked away from every experience with a deeper understanding of their culture, religions, and people. This made me feel ashamed, and yet grateful for the opportunity they extended to me at every turn. What would follow then would be the welcoming of everyone I would meet, whether it was through the generosity of food or offering of cultural knowledge.

As I wondered around I found people fascinated by the fact that I was from America. I often found myself approached by teens and kids wanting to practice their English with me, locals curious about where I was from. I found this warm reception humbling. I also was embarrassed that we Americans rarely extend this kind of warmth to them in our own country.

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Letting go

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This morning I woke up at 3:30AM to drive my 19-year-old son and his girlfriend to the airport.

They were heading on their very first international trip alone, together. It’s her first time out of the country, his first time traveling abroad as an adult without us.

As I showered them with a check list of last minute items, made them confirm 4 times at least that they had their passports, gave them all the things to watch out for and be careful of, I could hear the excitement and nervousness in their voices and it made me smile.

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A trip of unforgettable firsts in Negril, Jamaica

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I have often said that over the years traveling with my family has grown to become one of my absolute favorite forms of travel because they, my children especially, take in the world in a way that I haven’t in a long time or never did. Experiencing places through their eyes or for the first time again (because it is the first time for them) reminds me of how precious these moments are. I take nothing for granted.

Our recent trip to Jamaica was a great opportunity for us to come together as a family and a fun vacation full of first-time experiences for my kids, which helped to make the trip even more special.

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Last minute NYC weekend on a budget

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This post is sponsored by OneMain Financial.

As a native New Yorker one of the things I pride myself on the most is in being able to bypass all the expensive, shining things that draw visitors to the city, but also put a burden on their budget.

So when OneMain Financial, as part of their Customer Appreciation Days, challenged me to take on two days and one night in New York City with only $200 in my pocket – including a hotel stay – I jumped at the opportunity, and ended with $20 still in my pocket, smack in the middle of holiday season too!

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