Traveling is something I’m grateful to have experienced from an early age with my family. People who travel come in all flavors – lovers of museums, galleries, ruins, tours, exhibits, beaches, cruises and on and on. Some people prefer a very active style with hikes, biking, rafting, etc. while others prefer laying on a beach, reading, and getting away from it all. Then there are the “do it all in two weeks” types. No style is wrong. The key is to have the type of holiday you enjoy.

My style includes a variety, but is focused on a balance of activities and relaxing. Some of my favorite travel activities include:

– Photography
– Spontaneous exploration of both big cities and small villages
– Europe is my favorite
– Road trips in the US and abroad
– Architecture
– Train travel, especially high speed trains
– Shopping in large department stores and small grocery stores and unique specialty shops
– Interacting with locals to learn about them and their point of view (and unique things to do)
– Sitting in cafes with no plans
– Finding things to do that aren’t in the touristy guide books
– Staying in great hotels as much as possible
– Unique museums
– Galleries of famous artists
– Writing about my experience and sharing with others

I’ve learned you don’t need a big vacation budget to afford things usually only available to the wealthy. I’ve learned ways to squeeze out extra money to splurge on something that makes a trip memorable. I’m not one of those people who people who say, “I don’t care about the hotel, it’s just a place to sleep and shower.” I totally disagree, and prefer to say in five star hotels all the time, but it’s not always in my budget, so I’ve come up with some clever ways to say money on some things, so I can stay in great hotels most of the time.

On my blogs, I share all my tricks and tips that allow anyone to have amazing experiences while not worrying about the budget.

My partner and I have been traveling together for 17 years at this writing (12/27/14), and we love doing things in a way that may or may not appeal to most people. We usually travel in the winter because it’s the slow season for our music licensing business. The weather isn’t the best, but it’s a great time to miss the crowds and the local folks are in a fun, holiday mood. The weather offers unique surprises, but it’s not for everyone. That said, you don’t have to travel in the winter, but it’s a good a way to save money. It’s also a way to enjoy the holidays and be among locals that are all in a great mood … because it’s the holidays!

We stay flexible and use simple ideas to save money, which allows us to splurge on luxury hotels. For example, we often stay in a cheap hotel in a small town for a few nights, and spend most of our time exploring the surrounding area by train or car. Then, when we’re in a larger city, like Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam or Berlin, we might get a suite, but save money by grabbing local take-out foods or exploring local grocery stores for new and different things to eat in our room. Why not enjoy your amazing suite and save money on the food? BTW, when calculating our travel costs, I don’t include food, because I learned long ago that no mater where you go, you have to eat, so if you eat as if you do at home, it’s not an expense. Yes, we occasionally have a meal at a nice restaurant, but about the same frequency as when we’re home. Christmas and New Years are special times to splurge, but if you think about it, you’re not having a big party, so splurge on a meal and you’ll still be money ahead.

We sometimes use American Express points for free economy flights on Delta, or use those points to partially trade for Upper Class flights on Virgin Atlantic*.

To us, it’s about balancing things out, for the sake of the budget, but also keep it real, while allowing ourselves to live the good life too.

I love sharing all my trusty tips and secrets on an ongoing basis:

– Packing, to have it all, without excess luggage to drag around.
– Get more excitement out of planning your trip.
– Planning for spontaneity.
– Getting more for your money.
– Being more like a local.
– Best suitcases.
– Phone and internet solutions.
– And a lot more.

Exciting cities in each trip:

2007 – France & Italy. Paris, Nice, Bologna, Lake Como, Milan
2010 – London, Cirencester, Paris, Honfluer, Mt. St. Michel, Biarritz, Bilbao, San Sebastian
2012 – Prague, Berlin, Stuttgart, Tubingen, Freiburg, Rottenburg, Heidelberg, Paris, Saumur
2013 – Marseille, Cassis, Avignon, Nimes, Antibs, Cannes, Aix-en-Provance, Grasse, Nice, Paris
2014 – Bordeaux, Bilbao, Elciego, Longrona, Laguardia, San Sebastian, Albi, Montauban, Sarlat, Beaune, Dijon, Paris
* “Why don’t they just fly on Virgin Atlantic every time”, you ask? At this writing (12/27/14), Delta economy flights from San Francisco to Paris is 70,000 per person and the tax is about $100, and there’s a layover in Atlanta or Minneapolis. Virgin Atlantic has one flight per day from San Francisco and is 100,000 points, BUT the tax is nearly $2000 per ticket. Sounds odd, but 4 years ago, it was only $1200 per ticket for tax, which means it was about the same cost as paying for the flights. That said, the other issue is, it depends on where you’re planning to travel. If you’re going to Europe and not the UK, it will cost more to get from London to Paris, Frankfurt or other hub in Europe. If you’re planning time in or around London, it might make sense. Here is where my handy TripPlanner is helpful. You can create different scenarios and choose what makes the most sense.


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