The Twelve Days of National #PlanForVacation Day 2019

Every year more than 52% of Americans fail to use all their time off, creating a stockpile of 705 million unused vacation days in 2018! It is a mistery to us how people can let their vacation days to go to waste. Yes, here at AAV Travel we are all about taking trips abroad. However, no trip is too small. We strongly encourage you to use your vacation days! There are so many beautiful places to see and experience everywhere.

In 2019, the US Travel Association has made it once again their mission to encourage people to plan their vacation, so fewer days go unused in the future. By celebrating January 29, 2019, as the National Plan for Vacation Day, they want to encourage Americans to take their well-deserved time off. We want to take it a step further and give you some ideas!

We want to give you ideas and encourage you to plan a vacation. That is why we decided to create the Twelve Days of National #PlanForVacation Day. For the next twelve days, we’ll be populating this blog post with one destination highlight each day.

For the First Day, leading up to January 29, we will be traveling across the globe to Australia’s Northern Territory, the South part of it to be precise!

In addition, here are three tips to help you get started with your vacation planning:

npvd_3-tips

Let us know if and how you will be using your vacation days; we’d love to hear from you!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel

Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com.

My “Daily Burn” or how to stay fit even when you travel

Everybody is busy. Oftentimes so much that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. So for once this isn’t about a destination, it is about making you feel good – always, before you travel, or during your travels.

As a business owner, single mom and frequent traveler, my days feel busy and my schedule is unpredictable. Going to a gym, or joining  a fitness class, is more of a hassle than a benefit, simply because it steals way too much of my time and I am not always sure I can make it. However, that all changed about a year ago, when I discovered Daily Burn.

dailyburn, workout, fitness, travel, on the goDaily Burn is your stream of customized workouts. I am sure you are familiar with Netflix or Hulu. This is kind of similar. You create an account, log in your basic health stats, choose a fitness level and then get to select a workout program that fits you and your personality. The beauty of it is that you can exercise at any time, wherever you want. Whether you stream it on your tv, use a tablet, or, heck, even on your phone. It is crazy convenient!
dailyburn, program, workout, fitnessYou can even take it on the road. Daily Burn streams pretty much anywhere around the globe, provided you have a good wifi connection. China and Russia are exceptions and there might be some others. Granted, you might not be up for a 50 minute workout everyday you travel, but there are always shorter workouts available. They allow you to keep your fitness level up whilst being away.

Or, let’s just say your significant other planned one of these spontaneous beach getaways and you feel your body is not quite up for the beach parade. And yes, I actually have clients that told me exactly that. There are plenty of short and very efficient programs that make you see changes in as little as three weeks provided you follow them.

In addition to your workout, Daily Burn also offers meal plans and recipes to go with your program. So if you are really serious about this, you have every tool to take it to the next level.

daily burn, workout, fitnessDaily Burn offers a free month trial before you commit. If you are busy and are looking for something that will help you keep fit, then this might just be the answer. However, these are a few things I think will influence your success:

  • Daily Burn means working out on your own. If you need a group of people to motivate you, cheer you on, or keep you accountable, you might struggle with this concept.
  • Make sure to be safe and execute the exercises properly. If in doubt, schedule an appointment with a fitness instructor so they can show you how to properly exercise.
  • Every Daily Burn exercise ends with a cool down but those are usually short. If you work your body hard, don’t forget to take some extra time and stretch.

Daily Burn has allowed me to stay healthy and fit without having to compromise my schedule or making me say “I don’t have time to work out”. I am super excited to try it on the road this summer, from Alaska to the Dominican Republic and on to Europe, I will be able to stream my program and get my workout in. It is much easier and more fun to travel when you feel healthy and fit!

Have you tried Daily Burn? How do you feel about it? I would love to hear your comments.

Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Avid daily burner and owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

dailyburn, stefanie pichonnat, aavtravel

 

What are the main reasons you travel?

All right folks, I’m sure you’ve been waiting on the answer from last weeks travel trivia question to: how cold on average does it get in the Bahamas? And the answer is…drum roll please!….70 degrees! The cold season in the Bahamas lasts from December 9 to March 19.

This week’s poll question is: what are the main reasons your travel? If you don’t see an option that best suits you, go ahead and leave a comment!

Passport Checklist for Smooth Travels

Are you ready to hit the beach for a week down south? Explore the bustling city life in Europe? Or how about walking the Great Wall of China? As a traveller, whether frequent or new, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have completed the “before you go” passport checklist–that way you won’t have any troubles at the border or with airlines and it’ll be free sailing from there.

TravelDocuments aavtravel travel

Make sure you have ALL required documents for your destination.
We strongly believe that the global traveler of today MUST have a valid passport! You might hear otherwise, and yes, there are a few exceptions, but play it safe, get a passport. They usually are valid for 10 years. For US passport information and application forms visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.

You already have a passport, that is great!

  • Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your arrival date. You can always check with the Embassy of your destination if you’d like to get more information.
  • Make sure your passport isn’t damaged! If your passport is damaged in any way, you can face delays or get denied entry at border crossings or flights. “I’m sorry, your passport is damaged, I can’t let you on this flight.” That’s not something you want to hear before heading on your vacation. Your passport is considered damaged if it:
    • has been exposed to water and humidity
    • has a tear in one or more pages
    • has unauthorized markings
    • has altered information or the photo is unrecognizable
    • has pages that have been removed/torn out
    • has been chewed by a pet
    • has come apart (the cover)

If you’re concerned about the condition of your passport and want to make sure it’s not considered damaged, you can contact the airline you’re traveling with before you leave, or contact the National Passport Information Center. 

Having the improper documents for a trip can become a real issue. A common example is a cruise. They may start and end in the USA, but sometimes they will dock in a foreign country, like Canada.  Even though you don’t plan to leave the ship, if you don’t have the proper documentation for the country, you’ll be denied entry on the cruise.

cruise passenger travel

Check the visa laws for your destination
Visa and immigration laws change all the time. Let’s say you planned and booked a trip six months to a year ahead of time. Laws may have changed since you’ve booked your trip, so it’s a good idea to check again before you leave to make sure you have the proper documentation. Let’s say you are a US citizen but your friend is from Germany. There will be different requirements as some countries have treaties with each other whilst others don’t. Visa Central is a great place to check and can also help you with visa procurement if needed.

Traveling with children
First off, if you need to apply for a passport for your child, both parents need to apply for the child’s passport. For more info click here. If you are a single parent, grand parent, friend and traveling with a minor that is not accompanied by both parents you will need a notarized Letter of Content, giving you permission to take the child with you when leaving the country.

children, beach, travelingTravel Tip: To be extra safe, scan and make a copy of your passport ID page, foreign visa (if applicable), itinerary, hotel confirmation, airline ticket, driver’s license, credit cards being used on the trip and Traveler’s Cheque serial numbers. Keep the pictures on your phone or store them online in a safe place, for example in your Dropbox.

We love Sonia’s Travel Tips and this video fits our topic perfectly!

Having a smooth trip is what everyone wants. Follow these steps and you will be enjoying your Mojito on the beach in no time!
Stephanie Jellett

This post was written by STEPHANIE JELLETT
Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanie.jellett@maine.edu

 

Discover the Beauty of Abel Tasman National Park–New Zealand

abel tasman new zealand aavtravelTurquoise blue water from Tasman Bay surrounding you, gentle waves splashing in the distance as they come up on the beaches, feeling the soft sand between your toes, a slight breeze in the air as the warm sun beats down–you’re not in Kansas any more, you’re in a paradise called Abel Tasman National Park. One of New Zealand’s finest coastal National Parks, Abel Tasman may be the smallest park but it’s a gigantic playground for adventurers and those looking to turn-off from the rest of the world and relax.

abel tasman boardwalk park new zealand aavtravelCreate your own adventure
At Able Tasman, it’s up to you to decide the adventure–whether you want to take a day trip, or use several days to explore the park. You can choose from one day pass, three day pass or five day pass. The Able Tasman Coastal Track is 32 Miles (51 Km) long and perfect for walking, but keep in mind this isn’t a circuit track and you’ll need other forms of transportation at either end of the trail. You can always switch it up and decide to sea kayak some of the trail for whole new experience! Though there are no kayak rentals on the national park, you can arrange for a rental before you enter the park. Or, you can check out the awesome full-day and half-day guided kayak tours here.

Whether you want to adventure off into the park, take a boat tour and watch the dolphins swim alongside, kayak with seals, beachcomb, explore the parks natural flora and fauna and wildlife, there’ll be something for all types of vacationers to enjoy.

kayaking abel tasman new zealand aavtravelAccommodation
At AAV Travel we really love to work with Clare & Peter at the The Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge. This luxury boutique property is a great home base for  active couples who enjoy good food and nature. Set in 50 acres of wilderness with 5km of bush tracks it doesn’t get any more luxurious close to the park. The Resurgence offers rooms at the main house, or if you love privacy, luxurious stand alone cottages. Clare & Peter offer several packages including food and activities and will go out of their way to help you create the experience perfect for you. Activity options include day trips to Abel Tasman (hiking and kayaking), hiking to nearby Mount Arthur, a visit to a winery and much more. When you get home from your explorations and are ready to relax you will find a hot tub and salt water pool, gym and yoga area. You can also get pampered with massages, reflexology, reiki, facials and aromatherapy from their on-call therapists.

resurgence lodge abel tasman new zealand

Travel Tip: Protecting your electronics on the water
Have you ever gone kayaking or boating and you wanted to bring your phone and wallet with you but you just didn’t know how to keep it dry? Have you ever taken your phone out then a wave hits your kayak and you drop your phone…and it’s gone to its watery grave? If you found yourself saying yes to these situations, or have been in similar ones, then you know you’re fed up with having to purchase new phones when something like this happens.

Whether you’re an avid adventurer or new to water activities, obviously you’ll want to take photos or videos to capture your experience. For $30 plus shipping you can get a waterproof case from Epic Kayak that allows you to store and use your phone in the bag. The bag is waterproof up to 30 M (100 ft) and the magnetic strips won’t interfere with your phone or credit cards. If you don’t feel like spending money on a waterproof bag, you can always go the el cheapo route and use a Ziploc bag. It’ll keep 99 percent of sand and water out and you can still use your phone’s touch screen through the plastic.

Let us plan your next adventure to New Zealand! Contact us at aav-travel.com 

 

 

Where are you Most Likely to Travel This Year?

A new poll is up on the blog! Cast your vote and see which destination is more popular!

Check back every week for a new poll question.

 

A Visit to Barcelona

When my friend asked me late last year if I wanted to join her on a trip to Barcelona I did not hesitate. Not only had I been fascinated by the city I visited over 20 years ago for just one day, but also had I received more and more client requests for this area. Movies like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the fact that Barcelona is a major departure port for Mediterranean cruises has increasingly put the city on a map. Trust me, the trip and city did not disappoint!

park guell barcelona aavtravelDespite it being early spring (mid-March) the temperatures were fairly comfortable and the weather quite good. Although it is considered off-season, the city was packed with tourists from Europe, particularly lots of student groups.

Barcelona has come a long way in its recent years. It is a very creative and passionate place. Despite its multicultural appearance few English is spoken and we found ourselves in quite a few funny situations.

One of the main challenges are the streets and numbers. Once you find your path thru the maze of streets and squares, success is not guaranteed, as house number do not follow any particular rule. Sometimes number 3 is next to number 550, and some buildings have no numbers at all. We quickly learnt that the key to success was knowing your cross streets.

There are lots of things to see and do in Barcelona. The main attractions, e.g. Sagrada Familia, Balto House, Picasso museum, Guell Park can be visited in 1 to 2 days. Apart from these wonderful sites, Barcelona is famous for its phenomenal nightlife.

sagrada familia barcelona aavtravelTaking advantage of our jet lag (EST – 6 hours behind) it was easy for us to go to dinner at 9pm and then check out the different bars and locales. Some of the coolest things we did was eating Calçots at Can Xurrades and then strolling the Gracia neighborhood, famous for it bars and restaurants where you can find locals and expatriates mingle until the early morning. We also went to the Aire de Barcelona, an old restored Roman hammam (bathhouse) for a 10pm to midnight session. It was fairly strange to receive a 10pm massage and then soak in different baths until midnight. What was even weirder, is that some people came in at midnight and stayed until 2am. Another event not to miss is an evening of Flamenco, we were enchanted by the performers at Palau de Musica.

In addition to Barcelona itself there are a few easy day trips that you can do. My top would be Sitges. It is a small picturesque town along the coast which can be reached in about 30 minutes by train from Barcelona. Sitges is a very cute town with excellent shops and a very nice beachfront where you will find plenty of restaurants to sit outside and soak up the sun. Some of the best Paella is served at Cal Pinxo.
sitges barcelona aavtravelThere would be much more to tell but I think everybody should make their own experience. However, these are my main tips and conclusions:

  • Getting from the airport to town is easy and takes about 30 minutes. The cab is probably the most convenient way and at EUR 30 reasonably priced. Know where you go though as language can be an issue.
  • Cab fares are generally low and offer a great way to get around town particularly for shorter distances. The subway is EUR 2 per person/way and if you are only going 2 stops a cab for 2 is usually equal to that (EUR 4).
  • Study your map before you go and know where you want to go. It will come in handy.
  • Barcelona is generally safe, even at night. We walked around a lot, even late at night and had no issues. The only place I felt unsafe was walking the beach front between Hotel Arts and the W at night. Everybody will warn you about pick pocketing. Keep your purses close and make sure they are zipped close.
  • Try to get off the beaten tourist path. It is so worth it. Not only are you going to have much more fun (the Spanish are super friendly and fun) but you are also going to pay way less.
  • Spaniards are passionate. There is a lot of public display of affection.
  • Make friends with some English speaking locals and have them give you tips. Alberto Jimenez at the Mandarin Oriental and Jordi Baldó from the Soho Hotel both proved to be great resources.
  • Know your cross streets and do not rely on the cab driver to know your hotel and its location.
  • Try Cava. This Spanish sparkling wine is delicious, inexpensive and there are lots and lots of different brands to try.
  • It is not always easy to find “free wi-fi”. That being said, if you heavily rely on it, pick a hotel that offers wi-fi.Posted by: Stefanie Pichonnat can be reached at 812-917-2149 or stefanie@aav-travel.com