Friday, December 28, 2007

Eileen's Monthly Blog...

As the New Year approaches, I would like to wish everyone a very happy, healthy one.

Once the holidays are over and the winter is upon us,we tend to dream about a nice vacation to take place some time during the year.I will be returning to work next week getting my students ready for their summer journey to Sail Caribbean in Tortola.

It has dawned on my that as this new year approaches and plans are being made, we should all take a look a tour passports to be sure they are updated. Planning the trip is fun and exciting, but finding out at the last moment that your passport is outdated, can be a horror.So, make it a rule that when you are planning a trip out of the country, you make checking the passport apriority. Also, check to be sure there are no visas necessary for your travel. Applying early for either of these will make your life much easier when the time comes to travel. Remember, everyone needs a passport to travel outside the USA.

Happy New Year

Eileen Rothschild is a veteran travel agent located outside of Orlando, Florida. She is the Travel Coordinator for Sail Caribbean and Lori's mom.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Home for the Holidays

When you travel as much as I do... staying home becomes a luxury. I'm enjoying Christmas break in Germantown, Maryland with my family. My sister and her family (hubby and two children) are here with us from Greensboro, NC. It's chill and relaxed. It is so relaxed that I found it hard to actually sit and write a blog about travel. How do you write about travel when you are not traveling? The closest thing to a travel tip that I came up with this week is that you can have anything you buy from Nordstroms shipped for free to your home! Imagine that, you go out to Nordies to spend your xmas cash.. and you do not even have to worry about fitting it in your suitcase! You ask them to ship it... and DONE... for free. Ok, Ok... its a stretch.

With all of this time off, I have been doing a lot of reading... mostly travel mags. It made me think about all the travel there is to do in 2008. So, I decided to update my top 10 list of dreamy travel destinations....
  • Brazil - I really want to explore the favelas of Rio... I can just smell the feijoida now.
  • Mali ... specifically Timbuktu. One of the most influential cities on the face of the earth
  • St. Moritz - I'll probably kill myself skiing... but, I bet I would look fabulous on those slopes
  • Bali - to overnight at the Bambu Indah... a hotel made entirely out of bamboo
  • Kenya - safari yes... but I also want to stay at the Il Ngwesi... a lodge built and managed by the local Laikipiak Masai tribe - simply beautiful people
  • Barcelona - still one of my "must see" cities... I would also love to take a cooking class there
  • Northern India - I have not picked a city yet... there are so many. I just want to go to a village market at 5am to pick the best part of the daily slaughtered goat and cook it over an open fire and get drunk with the locals.
  • Peru - Machu Picchu - this should be on your list... the closest thing to heaven in my opinion
  • Madagascar - island life in Africa... where there is a lizard that can sit on the tip of your finger and the local crafts are amazingly beautiful
  • New Orleans - still one of my favorite places in the world and it needs our tourism money! I would love to dedicate a weekend to build a house and maybe make a nice gumbo with my N'awlins friends. Mardi Gras is comin'...

I also wanted to make my New Years resolution for 2008... my resolution is to be a responsible traveler. I want to engage myself in social tourism... I want to meet people and engage myself in their culture. I want to find and buy local crafts... no tourist shops for me. I will also make sure to leave a light footprint... practice green travel. I encourage you to all do the same. This world is shrinking which gives us the opportunity to meet each other and interact in new ways. It is also our responsibility to protect it. Let's do it together.

It is nice to be home for a bit. To not be living out of a suitcase. Its also nice to dream about the world outside, the year ahead and the many days of exploring to plan. So, I'll relax now... drink my coffee and maybe take advantage of that free shipping at Nordstroms and get a new suitcase.

Enjoy your families and get out and travel in '08.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Traveling to New York with a Toddler

This weekend was our annual Holiday weekend in New York City. I grew up on Long Island and the tradition in my family was to go into the city on black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) to start our Christmas shopping. Most of our shopping took place in Chinatown where we stocked up on knock-off bags, cheap trinkets, cool toys and Chinese slippers. So, I wanted to bring that tradition to my family... not the black Friday part... mainly to introduce my daughter to the magic of New York City especially in December.

New York is expensive for families any time of the year, but in December everything skyrockets! Especially rack rates at hotels. Ugg... I think the Holiday Inn's rates sit at around $400 per night ... and I think its about 30 minutes out of the city! So, what is a young family to do? I say rent an apartment! Sounds that it would be even more money... but its not! This is one of my favorite travel secrets! Especially for parents with young children! Now that I have your attention... here's how you do it! Search online for NY apartment rentals on Google or check on under rentals in the New York area. Then, pick the apartment based on your needs. There are studios, one bedrooms, two bedrooms... all the way up to fabulous penthouses (but these are more expensive than staying at the Ritz ...) This year we chose a two bedroom apartment in the Theater District. It has a small kitchen, a small bathroom with a tub and two very cozy bedrooms off. Are you ready for the price? $300 per night! BAM!

We arrived in NY on Friday night and settled into the apartment. As I put our two year old down for the night (in her own room), my husband ran across the street to the Food Emporium and picked up some groceries and wine. We then ordered dinner from Carmines (ummm... Italian) and watched a movie. We wanted to keep our Friday night low key because we had a big day planned for Saturday. The next morning, we woke up and had some cereal and coffee (which would have cost well over $30 for room service at a hotel!) and got ready for our day. There is a subway station on the corner of 8th and 50th and we jumped on the C train and headed uptown to the Children's Museum of Manhattan. This is a great choice for parents with little ones. The museum is 4 floors packed with fun things for them to do. Eva loved crawling under play sheep, driving a play school bus, fire truck and taxi... and we all enjoyed storytime where an author came in and read his new book! Here's something that could only happen in NY... while we were in the museum, Eva decided to play with a beautiful blonde girl. She was cute and her mom looked really familiar. I then realized that it was Jennifer Gardner and the pretty little girl was her daughter, Violet. Ok, so... this is New York and I am used to seeing famous people here... but this was different. You see, Jennifer and I gave birth to our daughters the same day! OK... well, not so amazing to you... but, I always check on Violet in the rags just to compare her to Eva... how tall she is... did she get her teeth... etc. So, to see the two little girls in front of me playing was one word... SURREAL. I actually introduced myself to Jennifer and she was very nice and totally "normal" which is always really nice to know. Only in NY...

After the museum, we took Eva out for a little culture. PIZZA.. and like a good Italian, she loved it. Good girl. We then jumped back on the subway and headed back downtown to Lincoln Center and walked over to 5th Avenue. We loved walking through the chaos of FAO Schwartz and peeping into the Holiday windows at Saks. We then wandered over to see the tree at Rockefeller... with about 5 million of our closest friends! It was insane. So, be prepared!

After we snapped some pictures, we went to the safety and warmth of a nearby Pret a Manger for a hot chocolate before making our way back to the apartment to get ready for dinner. We met Samantha and Kevin out at a Mexican restaurant called Zarela's on the east side. Again, another great experience on the subway! Don't be afraid of using the subway with your kids!! The subway is really cheap and still the best way to get around NYC! AND... they will love it!

Today we are visiting a friend in Edgewater, New Jersey for a playdate before we make our way back to Maryland. Don't worry... I had a bagel with a shmear and three black and whites delivered to the apartment this morning. I was NOT going home without having all of the best flavors of New York.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hitting the Road Again

Hey there... and sorry for being MIA. That Disney trip was EXHAUSTING!! Eva had a blast! We all did. The first morning we were there... she woke up at 5am saying "Mickey Moush"... soooo cute! We hit all of the parks and just had a great time! I highly reccomend booking one of the new Disney Villas! We stayed in one at the Boardwalk Resort and it was FAB! We loved having a fully equipped kitchen, the ability to have an adjoining room for the nanny and every room comes with a pack-n-play!! No schlepping your own!! Minnie certianly knows what it is like to travel with kids! Samantha and the crew were already there shooting the Disney Holiday special that is scheduled to air on Dec 11th at 8pm! Be sure to look for Eva's debut! She is sitting on my hubby's shoulders watching the lighting of the tree at Epcot!
Anyway, enough plugging! Tomorrow we are hitting the road again! Peter and I are taking Eva up to New York for the weekend to have some holiday fun in Manhattan. It is magical in Manhattan this time of year... but, the hotel rates are out of control! Here's a tip if you want to do Manhattan in style without spending a fortune on a hotel room! Rent an apartment! Thats right!! You can rent a fully furnished apartment in Manhattan for less than half of what you would pay for a hotel room! This year we are renting one in Midtown... last year we were down on Union Square! The apartment last year was $500 for the weekend... and this year we are paying $600! Quite the bargain!Being that the apartment has a full kitchen, we are bringing groceries so that we do not have to spend a lot on food! Of course, we will have pizza... a black and white cookie... some bagels... some good Italian and maybe Chinese... but, hey... we'll have cereal for breakfast and use the extra $10 on another pair of shoes on 5th Ave!