Matt outside Rudesheim, Germany before boarding his river cruise with AmaWaterways.
I'm traveling around Europe right now and wanted to take a moment to tell you what a wonderful time I'm having exploring Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and so many small picturesque towns around Europe. Click here to see some photos.
I wish more people took the time to travel internationally. Did you know that only 42% of Americans have a passport? I want to change that. From now until the end of January if you book a new international vacation package with me, I'll pay for your passport fees. Already have a passport? Then I'll pay for your Global entry which includes TSA pre-check! This means you'll get through TSA and customs lines in the US faster.
Not sure where to go? Join me on one of the below trips.
Playa del Carmen
Italy, Croatia & Montenegro Cruise
If those dates don't work for you, click here for more inspiration.
The holidays are coming up. Rather than spending money on material gifts, let me help you plan an unforgettable experience with memories that will last a lifetime.
Ask me for more details about how to get me to pay for your passport or Global Entry.
In a teenager’s mind, there’s nothing worse than spending a vacation with the family. To them, a trip with the ‘lame’ parents and ‘bratty’ little brother is filled with confined spaces, no personal freedom and limited interaction with other teens. Cruising just might change their minds.
Cruise lines have been working overtime to please teens, creating “cool” areas, shore excursions, spa programs and more geared especially for the teen set. Why go to such great lengths? Because one disgruntled teen can ruin the entire trip. And parents can’t relax unless they know everyone in their brood is in a good mood, which makes cruises the ideal choice.
Below you’ll find a list of cruise lines and what they offer for teens. Armed with this information, you’ll have the upper hand in convincing your teen that a week with the fam island-hopping in the Caribbean or cruising past glaciers in Alaska won’t be so bad. One word of warning: some of these cruise lines offer so many options for your kids, you may barely see them for the entire vacation. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?
Royal Caribbean International
When you cruise with Royal Caribbean, you’re not just going on a vacation, you’re embarking on an adventure! Onboard the most innovative ships at sea, your entire family will love racing up the rock-climbing wall, catching a wave on the FlowRider® surf simulator or learn how to sky-dive on the RipCord® by iFLY®. Adventure Ocean groups give teens the freedom to come and go as they please for sports, themed parties, movie nights and more. Teens can also meet and relax in the laid-back lounges and dance late into the night at teen-only nightclubs.
Celebrity’s Camp at Sea is designed to make sure children of all ages enjoy the cruise as much as you do. The program is powered by partnerships with cool companies like Lonely Planet™, The Frost Science Museum and Xbox, resulting in hundreds of programs divided into four categories: Art, Recreation, Culinary and S.T.E.M. The cruise line also offers special teen-focused spa services, such as peroxide-free laser teeth whitening, mani-pedis and deep-cleansing facials and hair treatments.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising is all about flexibility and freedom. Your teens can eat where they want (with 13+ restaurants to choose from), when they want, and with whom they want (hopefully that includes you). Other highlights for teens include Entourage, a special space for teens filled with video games, movies and music; and wild themed parties like College Night, White Hot Party and Glow.
From special onboard guests with cruise partner Animal Planet™—such as Puppies in the Piazza on Alaska cruises, and Parrots in the Piazza in the Caribbean—to being in the audience, or even on stage, during The Voice of the Ocean music competition, teens will find numerous Instagrammable moments on board. Plus, at the teens-only Beach House, they’ll enjoy late-night movies, hip hop dance classes and video game tournaments.
Ready to feast on the latest culinary delights? There’s no better place to taste delicious dishes, learn quick cooking tips from pros and rub elbows with celebrity chefs than at international food festivals. Here are the most exciting epicurean events that will allow you to eat your way around the world.
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
In March, this festival unveils a mouth-watering program of more than 250 events bringing food and wine to the streets of Melbourne over a two-week period. One of its most iconic events is the ‘world’s longest lunch,’ where some 900 diners enjoy a three-course alfresco lunch seated at a snaking 1312-foot-long table, the location of which changes each year. While the cuisine is traditional Australian (think surf ‘n’ turf, not Vegemite), the festival has introduced a special focus on heritage and long-lost culinary skills such as preserving, pickling and smoking.
Montreal Beer Festival
The Montreal Beer Festival is the largest of its kind in Canada, attracting over 80,000 thirsty revelers every June for five days of brewery tastings, beer and cheese workshops, flavor contests, food-beer pairing seminars, musical entertainment and plenty more. Welcoming everyone from curious novices and self-confessed epicureans to the finest beer connoisseurs on the planet, the Mondial de la bière has long been championing the reinstatement of beer’s noble status. There are also food booths offering hearty fare such as boar, ostrich and smoked meats.
Taste of London
Held in Regents Park every June, the Taste of London is a four-day celebration of food and drink. This is where London’s top restaurants – such as Yauatcha, Theo Randall and The Modern Pantry – serve sample-sized dishes with award-winning chefs revealing their tricks of the trade. You can also take part in wine tutorials and cooking classes, and watch chefs wield their knives in the cookery theater. Expect an eclectic array of cuisines, which make this a diverse and multi-cultural event, representing foods from around the world.
Fete de la Crevette (Honfleur, France)
The largest seafood festival in France, the Fete de la Crevette is a two-day event with nautical-themed concerts and gatherings of historical old sea vessels near the mouth of the Seine. Indulge on shrimps, especially the little grey shrimp, or ‘petite grise’, a local specialty, plus a variety of seafood including all manner of unusual subterranean dwellers such as sea spiders. There’s even a shrimp-peeling competition for the nimble fingered.
Taste of Beverly Hills
A relative newcomer to the festival scene, Taste of Beverly Hills is nonetheless an epicurean spectacular worth celebrating. Set on the famous Wilshire Boulevard behind the Beverly Hilton, the five-day event includes cooking demos with world-famous chefs and wine seminars with some of the best vintners in the state. Previous festivals have provided a showcase for celebrity chefs and restaurateurs including Wolfgang Puck, Curtis Stone, Top Chef winner, Michael Voltaggio; French chef Ludo Lefebvre; and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of the trendy LA restaurant Animal.
Richard Branson is moving into the cruise space with the all new Virgin Voyages. The first ship (Scarlet Lady) will launch next year and will be notably different than your typical cruise line. It will also include some firsts at sea.
Firsts at Sea
I'm sure there will be more exciting changes along the way as Virgin tries to shake up the cruise industry. Reply to this email with your questions and to find out how to be one of the first to board Scarlet Lady.
Click here for a preview of Scarlet Lady.
Top 3 Reasons to Book a Fall Wine Cruise
1. See Europe’s breathtaking landscapes illuminated in vibrant autumn colors
2. Visit renowned sites and wineries as the locals do, amid less crowds
3. Save on airfare, as prices are typically reduced for fall
Journey through highly-acclaimed European wine regions, from Austria’s UNESCO-designated Wachau Valley to Germany’s Rheingau and Moselle regions to France’s celebrated Bordeaux region and beyond.
Expert Wine Hosts:
Be accompanied throughout your cruise by a dedicated Wine Host from a North American winery who leads tastings, visits to private cellars and historic vineyards, and a carefully-curated food and wine pairing dinner.
Click here to learn more about river cruising and contact me to help you find the perfect river cruise for you..
Along the River!
Join me this fall on an exciting European river cruise.
We'll visit France, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland all while traveling on the Rhine river. You'll visit castles, wineries, and explore small picturesque towns you never thought you'd experience.
Why River Cruise?
River cruising allows you to immerse yourself in the destination and culture on a comfortable floating hotel. No need to pack and un-pack to get to each destination. Let the destination come to you.
Top 3 Reasons to Book a Fall Cruise
Click here for more details.
Last month, I had the honor of leading 130 people on a Celebrity Cruise to Alaska. Alaska had been on my bucket list for several years and it did not disappoint. The incredible views from the cruise ship were worth it alone. From glaciers, to waterfalls, to wildlife; we saw it all. Then, we got off the ship and saw even more.
Click here for a taste of the experience we had. I have to say, pictures really don't do it justice. The enormous landscape that Alaska offers must be seen in person.
Jason exploring Osaka April, 2017
Often times we get stuck in the busy game of life. A whole year passes us by and we barely notice. Don't let this happen to you. It's important to take time away from the day to day to getaway, reflect, and have fun!
You don't have to go far if long-distance travel makes you nervous. If Italy or Japan are too far for comfort. California Wine Country and Las Vegasare great places to explore near the west coast. If you're on the east coast and love whisky, theKentucky Bourbon Trail might be up your alley. You might also consider a River Cruise on the Mississippi or even a Caribbean cruise out of Florida. Your options are limitless!
I've helped travelers plan hundreds of trips over the years and make memories all over the world.Click here for some of my favorite itineraries. I hope it inspires you to enrich your life with experiences this year and years to come.
I recently signed up for 23andMe to learn more about my ancestry and genetic makeup. I knew I had Spanish ancestry (turns out I'm 24% Spanish). I also learned that I'm 10% Italian and 11% French/German. This inspired me to go back to my roots and beyond.
I haven't been to Barcelona and Rome in over a decade and am looking forward to exploring these beautiful cities all over again. Plus, I'll be visiting places in Italy and France I've never been. In fact, everywhere else in the itinerary is new to me.
Click here to learn more about this exciting itinerary with Azamara Cruises and the exclusive perks you'll get by joining me.
There's a lot to remember before heading out on your next adventure. That's why I always use a checklist to remind myself of all the things I need to pack before I head out.
Click here for a handy packing list.
After all the packing is done and just before I leave home, I double check to make sure I have these 3 things on me. Without these 3 items, I may not even make it to my destination in the worst case scenario and at a minimum my travels will be very difficult. If all I have are these 3 items, I'll be able to get by and can always purchase anything else I need.
#1 Don't forget your passport
If you're traveling internationally, you won't even make it on the plane without your passport. If somehow you slip through all the checks and make it to your destination, you'll be on the next flight back home as soon as you land. I've seen it happen a number of times. The traveler has to go back home to get their passport. Their travel plans are delayed plus they incur stiff fees from the airline to re-book their air.
Bonus Tip: Make sure your passport doesn't expire until 6 months after the date you return home or they might not let you abroad.
#2 Don't forget your money/credit card
I was pick pocketed while traveling once. They took my wallet with all my money and credit cards. They were so good I didn't even realize it until the next day. Worst part? I was only half-way through my month long journey. I begged my parents to send money via Western Union at each new city I went to so I didn't have to come home early. Thankfully they agreed, but it was quite the process. The time difference between me and them was about 10 hours which made communication difficult. I wasn't sure how much money I needed for the rest of the trip and typos in my name made it difficult to collect the cash.
#3 Don't forget your phone
With the shift from paper to digital almost 100% complete, your most important travel information is now on your phone. Plus your family and friends often expect to hear from you frequently while you travel to make sure you're ok. We've grown so dependent on our smart phones, it's hard to travel without them. To top it off, many of us no longer use a physical camera. It's now just an app on our phone. Can you imagine traveling to all these beautiful sites and not being able to take pictures of any of your food!
So before you leave for your next trip, double-check and make sure you didn't forget your passport, money, and phone.
Sharing my travel experiences and insights