Will travel for food…

Photo via Bon Appétit

It’s no secret that I love to travel, and when I do travel somewhere, it’s usually because of the food!  I have a weakness for Spanish tapas, but I’ll eat just about anything!  A real bonus when traveling is when your hotel can also feed you well!  Bon Appétit just released their 2014 list of Food Lover’s Hotels.  Check it out here.  Now, where should we go first and who’s coming with me?

What’s your favorite foodie hotel?

International food rules even Bourdain abides by


Did anyone see the new Bourdain episode this week?  The one where he meets up with Zamir in Russia and they throw back shot after shot of vodka together?  Bourdain, who has no reservations (pun intended) about drinking may not just be obliging drinking buddy Zamir.  Turns out, it’s very bad etiquette to turn down (or mix) vodka in Russia.  Want to know other fascinating etiquette tips that will save you from awkward situations and potentially help you make friends?  Check out these 15 international travel etiquette tips from CNN, published by Budget Travel.

1.  In Thailand, don’t put food in your mouth with a fork.

2.  In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice.

3.  In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don’t eat with your left hand.

4.  At a traditional feast in Georgia, it’s rude to sip your wine.

5.  In Mexico, never eat tacos with a fork and knife.

6.  In Italy, only drink a cappuccino before noon.

7.  In Britain, always pass the port to the left — and remember the Bishop of Norwich.

8.  In France, don’t eat your bread as an appetizer before the meal.

9.  In China, don’t flip the fish.

10.  In Italy, don’t ask for parmesan for your pizza — or any other time it’s not explicitly offered.

11.  Don’t eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile.

12.  In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands.

13.  Never mix — or turn down — vodka in Russia.

14.  When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end.

15.  In Brazil, play your tokens wisely.

Read the full article here, for the insightful back story on each of these rules.



Come fly with me


I love to travel and strangely enough, in our relationship my husband is the travel planner.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend getaway or an international escapade, he always takes charge of planning the trip.  He spends countless hours researching flights, scouting hotels and reading about the destination.  I can’t complain, I’m just happy to tag along and revel in the fruits of his labor.


We’re in the early stages of planning a getaway in the fall.  I just came across an old New York Times article that measured the effect vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts.  A bunch of researchers from the Netherlands determined that “the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation.”  “Vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.”  Hmmm, it may be time to rethink my travel strategy.

In an attempt to help with the travel planning, I did a little research on when to book a flight to get the best price.

Best time to book your travel //
I found an interesting study conducted by CheapAir.com.  They examined flight booking patterns over the last year and concluded that for domestic travel, “the best time to book a flight is 54 days in advance, on average.” They “also found that booking too early or too late could cause you to pay more than you have to and that the ‘prime booking window,’ where the best fares are available, usually ranges from 29 to 104 days before departure.” 

There are some exceptions to this general rule, including international travel – it has its own set of magic numbers.  It’s recommended that you book your flight much earlier than 54 days in advance.  CheapAir.com recommends the following advance notice for common international travel destinations:

Europe: 151 days before your trip
The Caribbean: 101 days before your trip
Mexico: 89 days before your trip
Latin America: 80 days before your trip
Asia: 129 days before your trip
Africa: 166 days before your trip

Do you have any experience with this?  What secret airline tricks have you discovered?

There’s something about Italians

It’s been 6 months since my husband and I returned from our extraordinary Italian adventure; where for two glorious, carefree weeks, we casually wined and dined our way across the Tuscan countryside.  As I sit here on a Monday afternoon, I find myself reminiscing about that trip and how much fun we had pretending to “fit in” with the Italian culture and lifestyle.  Italians have an easy-going and positive outlook on how to go about daily life. They just know how to enjoy la dolce vida, the sweet life, so it’s not surprising that 46 million people, from all walks of life, travel to Italy each year.

If you’re planning a trip to the boot-shaped peninsula anytime soon, check out this Huffington Post article from February:  15 Food Reasons Italians Are Better At Life and allow me to share a few things we learned along the way:

1.  Everything simply closes in the afternoon.  We learned this the hard-way early on in our trip.  Many stores and restaurants can close anywhere between 2:00-4:00 pm so they can relax and enjoy lunch with their family.  Be sure to plan your meals accordingly.  Everyone knows a hungry woman is a grumpy woman.

2.  Wander off the beaten path.  You don’t need to go far, just a few blocks away from all the main attractions, you can easily find normal Italians going about their daily life.  Grab an espresso or a cup of gelato and stop hurrying and start relaxing.

3.  Ask for the check.  Your server is not ignoring you.  Italy is all about slow food.  When you’re ready to leave, ask for “il conto, per favore”.

4.  Order the house wine.  Actually at a few of the small, off-the-beaten path trattorias we visited, this was the only option.  House wines tend to be on the cheaper side – it’s not uncommon to see a liter of house wine for about 5 euros.  It may not be the most amazing wine you’ve ever had, but give it a shot and keep an open mind.

5. Get the museum tickets ahead of time.  While in Florence, we foolishly tried to wander in to the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David.  Reality check: the line and wait time to get in was more than 2 hours long.

6.  Dinner is late.  If you’re an urban dweller, you’re most likely used to eating late.  Dinner is typically between 7:30-10:00 pm and reservations are always a good idea.  Dress is casual, but you’ll be easily identified as a tourist if you’re wearing flip-flops.

7.  Breakfast = cappuccino and a pastry.  This is another reason Italy rules.  Sit down and eat it slowly.

8.  Pane e coperto.  In restaurants you’ll typically see this charge on your bill (bread and cover).  Bread isn’t typically served with a meal in Italy.  Bread is delivered to cater to Americans.  If you don’t eat it, you can ask for it to be taken away and you may not be charged the (pane) fee. Coperto is the “cover charge” – this is the fee to sit down at the table.  Also, sometimes a service fee (tip) is automatically included on the check.  If it is, you don’t need to tip more unless you want to.  If a service fee is not included, you can tip between 5-15%.  Italians tip much less than the American standard.

9.  Stand at the bar.  At bars and cafes, order at the bar, especially when ordering a quick shot of espresso.  You’ll be charged more to sit at a table  – and look more like a tourist too.

10.  Slow down.  Trust me, you won’t get to see everything.  A vacation in Italy should be savored.  Try to ditch your American habit of trying to rush through everything.  Slow down, savor and appreciate all the amazing sights, sounds and flavors.