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Sandos Caracol and a Wedding to Remember


Imagine your dream wedding being in a beautiful beach side resort where you have friends and family with you for a week to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.  That is exactly what happened to Jessica and Frank.  They had been to Mexico before and decided that was where they wanted to have their dream wedding.

Jessica and I spent time discussing what was important to them for their wedding.  We went over numerous resorts, amenities, prices, wedding packages and location to find the perfect spot.  Since the wedding guests were each paying their own way, it was important that we found a resort that could accommodate most budgets but still be beautiful and provide the most wonderful wedding.  The wedding was to be casual and FUN for everyone invited.  They made their decision and chose Sandos Caracol as their wedding destination.

Sandos Caracol is a beautiful eco-resort in the Mayan Riviera south of Cancun and 15 minutes from Playa Del Carmen.  They are a family resort but do have an adults only area for those who wish a little more quiet time.  The resort staff was incredibly helpful and worked with us to make the wedding week both memorable and personal.  One of the most amazing things I love about the Caracol is the amount of indigenous wildlife that can be seen all around the resort.  There are carefully laid out walkways through the resort area where you can experience the beauty of the natural cenotes and mangroves.  Who wouldn’t like to have more to your wedding week than just a beautiful wedding?

Jessica and Frank chose to have their wedding on the beach.  Jessica chose a simple yet elegant dress and the bridesmaids work Mexican dresses in a variety of colors and sandals.  The gentlemen wore crisp white shirts with khaki pants and sneakers.

Did I mention that FUN was what this couple wanted?  Well, they found it.  The girls took a day to themselves by taking a trip over to Isla Mujeres and the boys spent a day fishing for the pre-wedding parties.  Everyone had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed being able to spend time together during the days leading up to the big event.  Jessica told me that was one of the best parts of the whole wedding, the ability that they had to spend days not hours celebrating with their guests.

The wedding took place on the beach in the late afternoon.  Afterwards, the new bride and groom as well as their guests were led to a private deck where they had the reception and dinner.  The fun didn’t stop with the pre-wedding festivities as you can see here.

Bride and Attendants

Of course, a destination wedding is not complete without the dancing after the incredible private dinner and reception.

The Bride and Groom's first dance.

Everyone enjoying the dancing

It was a PARTY!!

I was honored to be able to help Jessica and Frank make their dream wedding a reality.  They had guests arrive from all over the US and were happy that it turned into such an incredible experience for everyone.  Below is a quote that Jessica sent to my website after her return.

“Thank you for THE MOST amazing time of my entire life! All of my friends and family had the best experience at Sandos Caracol!  Their beach was the best beach I’ve ever stayed at. They were very accomodating and quick! I’d have to say my favorite parts were the beach, all of the animals and their activities crew(they were constantly getting some sort of fun time started!)  Everything went smoothly and beautifully! There is absolutely no way I could have ever achieved a wedding this memorable and extravagant in Dallas!! I will always recommend destination weddings now:) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jessica F. 

If you are thinking of having a destination wedding, one of the main objectives for you is to learn what type of wedding you desire.  While Jessica and Frank chose a more relaxed, casual wedding, you can get any type of wedding you desire from the casual to the more formal traditional.  You can always find more information on destination weddings on my website  or by emailing me.  I would love to help you plan the perfect wedding.

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Destinations, Travel, Uncategorized, Weddings, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Travel Safety – Common Sense Tips You Can Use


I thought it was time to revisit the subject of travel safety since it often comes up with my clients.  This past week I had a call from clients who are taking their first trip out of the US next month and our conversation has prompted me to share with you a few of the tips and guidelines that will help you enjoy the most from your travel plans.

Before You Go

1.  Make sure you have  your passport!  This may sound silly to some but I have had someone wait until the last moment to apply for their passport and then had to move mountains to get it in time or have had someone call me a week before their trip and say they just realized their passport was not valid.  If you are traveling outside the US you will need a valid passport and it is never too early to apply for one.

2.  Make 2 copies of your travel documents.  This includes: passport, itinerary, airline tickets and confirmations, hotel reservation confirmations, any other confirmations you have received regarding your trip.  Place one copy in your carry on bag (if your luggage is lost or delayed, you still have your copy).

3.  Give the second copy of your travel documents and a list of phone numbers to someone at home in case of emergency.  This can be a friend or relative but it needs to be someone you can reach if you need them.  This might seem like overkill but if you ever need help you need someone with your information readily available.

4.  Leave your expensive jewelry at home!  You do not want to mark yourself as affluent when you are traveling.  Expensive watches, rings, bracelets even rings and earrings can temp the pickpocket or thief.  It is much better to be under-dressed than to set yourself up as a potential target.

5.  Register with STEP.  This is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program provided by the Bureau of Consular Affairs with the US State Department.  This basically registers you and your travel plans with them so that if you need them or someone needs to reach you because of an emergency at home in the US or if there is a disaster in the area in which you are traveling, the consulate knows where you are or are supposed to be.  It is free to register and is something I not only recommend but do myself.

6.  Use covered luggage tags.  You know the ones I mean?  The tags have a flap over them or have to be slid out of the packet to read the information.  This is just so that your personal information such as address, etc. is not visible at first glance to anyone close to your bags.

7.  Do NOT broadcast your upcoming trip on your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter pages.  Sharing the fact that you will be in Costa Rica for two weeks is not something you want everyone on the web to know.  I know how much you want to tell people but do it in a private email or over the phone, don’t broadcast it.  It’s like saying “Hey, I’m gone for two weeks, come rob my house!”  When you get home you will enjoy sharing the stories and photos much more anyway.

8.  Get travelers checks!  You do not want to travel with a large sum of cash.  Sure, having cash you can convert to currency of the country you are in is very handy but carrying large sums of cash is just asking for trouble.

9.  DO purchase travel insurance.  It is best to pay the small extra fee to get the “cancel for any reason” insurance.  You never know…

10.  Do I really need to mention drugs?  Ok, so I did.  Do NOT try to carry illegal drugs with you on a trip and do NOT try to buy them at your destination.  On another note, some drugs legal in the US are illegal in other countries.  Remember when a famous actor got caught in Australia (I think it was) with Human Growth Hormone?  You can check the with your travel agent or do a little research on you own.  Just know before you go.

Now That You Have Arrived

Most of the following tips are the same whether you are traveling here within the US or to another country.

1.  If you booked with a travel agent, you should have your transportation all lined out with a reputable company.  If you didn’t and need to find transportation at the airport, look for a well marked cab or other service.  I know the guy in the ugly green car said he was cheap but really… are you sure he’s a legitimate cab driver?  The best way to go is to have your transportation lined up before you arrive.  Most resorts offer transportation either by their own vans or by a reputable company.

2.  Once you arrive at your hotel and check into your room, if you found yourself unable to leave your valuable or expensive looking jewelry (not always the same thing) at home, please leave it in the hotel safe.  I promise you are only going to impress the wrong people by wearing it.  In a tropical destination, why not purchase some of the cute shell or beaded jewelry and wear that instead?  Ladies, we do not have to sacrifice our well being just to “look the part”.

3.  When you venture outside your hotel or resort, DO stick to known safe areas where tourists go if you are not familiar with the area, other cultures or countries.  As you would in any city in America, do NOT wander down alleys or dimly lit streets where there is not a lot of people.

4.  Do not carry a large sum of cash.  Remember the travelers checks? Only cash them as you need them.  They are much safer than cash.  Also, in many places you can access ATM machines if necessary.  I remember needing one once in Mexico.  My bank account looked much healthier in Pesos!   If you do have a lot of cash on you, please don’t pull it out in front of people.  You are potentially putting yourself in harms way.  Keep your cash and credit cards in different pockets or better yet, divide cash between the two of you so if you should get hit by a pick pocket, you will not lose everything.

5.  Men – Do NOT carry your wallet in your back pocket.  I know you’ve heard this but it’s true!  Back pockets are much easier to pick than front.  Ladies – if you must carry a purse, try carrying one that has a strap that will go across your body.  This is much harder to snag than a purse carried on a shoulder or over an arm.

6.  Always act like you know where you are going and what you are doing.  This is another one that may sound silly but if you look lost and look like you don’t know what you are doing, you appear to be a tourist and therefore a target.  If you are lost, look for someone in authority or worst case a shop keeper.  Just keep your head about you.

7.  Beware of strangers who try to sell you things or offer to show you around.  There are plenty of places to shop for great bargains and there are numerous reputable tour guides everywhere you could possibly want to go.  Sure, saving 30 bucks would be great but not if you got robbed or taken advantage of.  I’m not saying don’t talk to anyone. I love engaging with locals and other travelers.  Meeting and getting to know people is one of the best parts of travel.  I’m just telling you to be aware of the potential for scams.

8.  Most of all, be aware of your surroundings.  We sometimes get complacent with our surroundings especially when we are in a beautiful location where everything appears to be perfect.  You cannot afford to become complacent.  Watch things and people around you and pay attention to the little things.  Ask yourself this, would I go here or do this if I were in NYC or Atlanta or Dallas or LA?  If you would not, don’t do it where you are either.

I would love to hear any other suggestions for travel safety.  Please drop us a line below and share.

I believe strongly that a well-informed traveler is a happy traveler.  Be careful, be safe and

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Blog, Destinations, insurance, Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

All-inclusive vs. European Plan – Which resort is right for you?


My job as a travel agent is to match my clients desires with the perfect vacation experience.  This week, I would like to give you the ins-and-outs of all inclusive (AI) resorts versus the European plan (EP) resorts to help you decide which type of resort fits your vacations needs.  Many of my clients assume they want an all-inclusive resort but when we start discussing their vacation needs they find that they are not a great fit.

The All Inclusive

All-inclusive is just what it’s name implies.  The per night charge includes all food and beverages, including alcohol, all taxes and gratuities and numerous restaurants and bars.  Many of the resorts also include extra amenities such as limited water sports or other activities not available at EP resorts.  This type of resort is perfect for those travelers who just want to get away and don’t have any plans of venturing off the resort frequently for excursions in the surrounding area.  If you are looking for a great place to hang out, relax and are not too adventurous at heart, the AI’s would be a perfect fit.  Here is a quick list of the pros:

  1. Fixed price – You do not have to wonder how much cash you need.  Everything is included with the exception of any money you will want to spend on souvenirs or excursions.  If you will be partaking of the alcoholic drinks at the rate of several a day, this could be a good option.  Drink prices can range anywhere from a few dollars to the $20 dollar range in some areas.
  2. Size – These resorts have everything you could want in a vacation destination.  They offer numerous options for dining, activities, pools, spas, etc.  There are AI’s designed for every type of vacationer.  If you want luxury, they have it.  If you want a party atmosphere, there is one for that.  Adult-only… that too.
  3. Total relaxation – Room service, swim up bars, beach loungers, casual to fine dining.  The resorts will take care of everything for you.  All you need to do is relax and enjoy the vacation.

A quick list of the cons:

  1. Price per night – The cost of an all inclusive resort is generally higher than it’s counterpart.  If you will not be spending all of your time at the resort it may not be the best option for you.
  2. Resort size – Generally, the AI’s are the largest of the resorts.  This means more people and sometimes that relates to less one-on-one service unless you are willing to pay the upgrade price for the luxury service.

The European Plan Resort

The term “European plan” simply means, pay as you go.  You pay a per night rate for the resort like you would any other hotel.  Your meals, drinks and other amenities are not included in your room rate.  You may wonder why you would ever want to choose an EP over an AI.  If you want everything in one place, you wouldn’t want to make that choice but if you only want a great place to stay while you explore the area and all it has to offer then the EP is a perfect choice.

The pros:

  1. Unique Resorts – Many of the boutique hotels and smaller quaint resorts are based on the EP model.  I particularly love the boutique hotels because they are unique and often very quaint and full of charm unlike the overly large AI resorts.
  2. Freedom – I’ve seen clients get into the habit of feeling like they have to rush back to the resort for meals and such to make sure they get their moneys worth.  If you have chosen a resort or hotel with the EP, you are free to explore local restaurants, shops and excursions that you might otherwise miss out on.  Treating your resort as a place of rest and relaxation after a day of exploring is a real treat.
  3. Price – The price per night is often substantially less than that of the AI.  This allows you to feel like you have saved a few dollars that can be spent on more adventurous outings.

The cons:

  1. Price – You will be on your own for meals and drinks.  If you are on a tight budget and want to know exactly how much you will be spending, this type of plan is not for you.
  2. Size – If you are looking for a great resort with tons of amenities and activities, this is probably not a good fit.  The EP’s do not often offer the multitude of restaurants, bars and activities of most AI’s.

When asked about my preference by clients, I try to steer them not to my preferences but to what it is they are looking for in a vacation.  I will say that though I have enjoyed both immensely, I often prefer to book an EP resort because I rarely stay on the resort.  I am an adventurer at heart and love to explore the surrounding area.  Talking to the locals is an excellent way to find the best food in an area as well as the best places to explore and shop.

I hope this helps you in choosing the right type of resort for your vacation or getaway.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or help you need in choosing.

Happy travels,

Edwina

edwina@yapanow.com

Categories: all-inclusive, Luxury, Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: | 35 Comments

Yapa Now’s Favorite Travel Must-Haves – 2011 In Review


Throughout 2011, I had the opportunity to discover many new must-haves that I have added to my list of travel essentials.  Let me preface the list by saying these are personal choices and not information gathered from Top Ten lists.  I have personally used, read or worn everything on this list.  These are in no certain order as favorites or such as a top ten.  These are all things that I am currently using and take with me when I leave home.

1.   IPad2   I have been a laptop gal for over 13 years now.  It was a necessity for me if I were travelling or working from home which I did a lot.  Last year, we broke down and bought an IPad2.  Wow!  What an amazing treat it has been.  I bought the one with 3G so I have more options than with WiFi alone.  (I’m also a Blackberry gal and have not switched to the IPhone so I had no idea, really, what it was all about.) I have loaded Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Foursquare and a few other apps that allow me to work just like I do from my laptop.  Another app, Docs to Go, lets me sync Office documents to my IPad so I can work with them there.  I also purchased a keyboard so I can type email, blog posts or anything else fairly easily.  I now have the option of leaving my laptop at home and still feel like I am able to work.  The IPad fits easily into a large purse or a backpack and with a good case it is very sturdy.  I also love that you go to “Maps” and get a blinking blue dot where you are in relation to where you are going.  It (the blue dot) moves as you do.  Oh, the joys of gps!  There are other notepads out there that are probably perfect for you to use while travelling but like I said, I am only writing about products that I know and use and I don’t think I could live without it now.

 

2.   Claude Bouchard Books!  Who travels without a good book?  I love having a good book to rely on for airport delays, road trips, beach side reading and dozing off to sleep the first night in a new place.  I discovered a new (to me) author this past year and dearly LOVE his work.  His name is Claude Bouchard and he writes mystery/crime type novels that are true page turners.  The depth of the characters is so strong that you feel like you really know them and miss them after the book is finished.  I have read all five books in the series starting with the first, Vigilante, and am not-so-patiently waiting for the next one.  Hint, hint, Claude!  I highly, highly recommend giving these books a try.  What I love the most about them is that I purchased and downloaded them to my IPad.  How very cool is that?!?  They are available in paperback, or e-reader (Kindle, Amazon, Apple and others).  You can also find Claude via Twitter @ceebee308  He is a fun guy to follow.  You can find his books at his website here.  Be sure you read them in order.  Start with Vigilante and you will be hooked!

From Claude Bouchard – “Summer of 96 in Montreal and a killer known as the Vigilante is on a spree, his victims, those who engage in criminal activities. Following 16 murders in 6 months, Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal’s Special Homicide Task Force is without clue or lead until an electronic message is received from the assassin himself. Failure in tracing the origin of the email leads McCall to request the assistance of CSS Inc., a security firm specializing in computer and communication networks and headed by EVP and COO, Chris Barry. As murders and emails continue, the two men join forces to bring the killer to justice. But whose justice will prevail? Theirs, or the Vigilante’s?”

3.  Survival Straps – Have you every needed a rope or string of any kind and didn’t have one?  Did you ever have need of a leash for a stray animal or forget to bring something to tie down your Christmas tree? Imagine having your bumper knocked loose on a road trip by some crazy driver in a parking lot or having the zipper break on your suitcase while in a place unfamiliar to you.  Enter the Survival Strap.  This company has created an awesome product that you can wear as a bracelet or anklet and take it apart if you need it.  I bought one of the bracelets and just loved that I could choose my color combination.  They are made of hand woven nylon with a metal closure.  If you ever have need for a rope or tie material, you simply unravel it and voila!  Honestly, they are pretty cool looking to wear which is a big plus for me.   They have even upped the variations you can purchase by offering dog collars or leashes and accessories (key chains).  You can choose your color or colors and customize to your liking.   Check out their website to see the straps in action.  One of the most impressive things about this company is that it is totally US based.  All straps are made here in the US.  They are also huge supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project and that makes me very proud to wear one.

How adorable is this!

4.  Batab Products – I first became aware of Batab products when I was in Mexico on vacation several years ago.  Although I knew better, I got a pretty good sunburn on the beach one day.  My wonderful husband went over to the spa at the resort and asked what the best product was for sun care.  He brought me a bottle of Batab After Sun Lotion.  I was hooked from the first moment I smoothed it on.  My burn did not peel and I never had the rough dry skin that usually follows a burn.  The smell is slightly sweet but not at all over powering.  It makes your skin supple and soft without being greasy.  It absorbs extremely well and is just my favorite skin care product.  You can order the products online from their website.   Even if you are not a sun lover like me, your skin would thank you for using the Batab line.  This is the reason Batab makes my top faves from 2011 even though I discovered it in 2005.

5.  Personal WiFi or Hotspot – I do a lot of road trips throughout the year and more often than not, I wind up in places that do not have free internet access available.  This includes trips to see family as well as road trips exploring new and favorite destinations.  Early last year, we invested in a personal WiFi.  We are AT&T customers so that’s what we went with along with the monthly plan.  At $50 per month it is really a matter of whether or not you need internet where none exists.  With this little device, if I have AT&T service, I have a WiFi connection.  Recently on a week long road trip I found it especially nice to be able to surf the web via the IPad while on a highway virtually in the middle of no where.  I have found that it is strong enough to allow me to upload photos via the web which says a lot for me.  The best part is that you don’t even have to be geeky to figure out how to use this device.  Just turn on and connect!

Well, that’s it for my favorite 5 must-haves.  I don’t think I could live without any of them now.  They have each become things that I always have on my checklist whenever leaving home along with my luggage and passport.  What are some of your favorites?  Please share with us below in the comments section.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Evolution of Travel – Luxevo


As promised, I want to share with you the incredible travel club,  Luxēvo™, our host agency, KHM Travel Group, has put together.  KHM is the host agency I am associated with, meaning they are the travel agency I work through.  They are a very reputable company who strives to create lasting and beneficial relationships with travel suppliers, as well as being very good to their agents.  They are one of the largest and fastest growing host agencies in the country.

KHM mentioned something about this travel club thing over a year ago at a two-day training seminar but like some of the other agents, I didn’t care much for the idea.  Frankly, multi-level-marketing schemes, time shares and vacation clubs all fell into the same category for me.  DONT’S!!!  Yes, there are more scams out there than there are reputable agents, and there are a TON of us but you know I wouldn’t recommend anything to you I wouldn’t stake my reputation on.  Anyway, they mentioned they were working on something but I already had my mind made up that I didn’t like it.  Oh, how wrong I was.

When our fearless leader rolled out the introduction of  Luxēvo™ in a webinar a few weeks ago, I was incredibly surprised.  This was no time share, MLM kind of thing.  This was amazing.

Luxēvo™ is a program that actually SAVES money.  It’s a combination of travel packages (at great prices) and LuxPoints which are rewards based on the amount you spend.  You actually earn $1 for every $10 you spend on LuxCursions.  Even the best ‘cash back’ credit cards do not offer that good of a return.  With membership you also receive the  Luxēvo™  Advantage Benefit Program which offers deep discounts for dining, entertainment, shopping, theme parks and so much more (and the discounts you can take advantage of are unlimited).  You also get your own personal concierge.  It just keeps getting better.

This IS the evolution of travel… to bring the strength of mass buying power and the availability of one-of-a-kind value based discount programs together with personalized service all in one neat little package.  Wow.  I was sold!

I immediately signed up for the training and am now a Certified  Luxēvo™ Agent.  I know this is not something that is for everyone but I can honestly say that if you use the Benefit Program you will save enough to cover your membership in no time.  You will get great deals on travel all over the world, (land and cruise) and you have your own personal concierge plus the discount program!  It’s a great package.

Ok, I know the big question is “How much is it?”.

Club Membership is:

  • One-time Enrollment Fee of $150.00
  • Low Monthly Membership Fee of $25.00
  • No Annual Membership Fee
  • Discounted travel Included!
  • Earn Reward Dollars Included!
  • Advantage Benefits Program Discounts Included!
  • Personal Concierge Included!
  • Personal Certified Luxēvo Agent Included!
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
  • No contracts or term limits
Elite Club Membership is:
  • One-time Enrollment Fee of $175.00
  • Low Monthly Membership Fee of $30.00
  • No Annual Membership Fee
  • Discounted travel Included!
  • Exclusive, Elite-only LuxCursions Included!
  • Earn Reward Dollars Included!
  • Advantage Benefits Program Discounts Included!
  • Personal Concierge Included!
  • Personal Certified Luxēvo Agent Included!
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
  • No contracts or term limits

Did you see the 30 day money back policy?  You can opt out and get your money back if it’s not everything you thought it would be.

If you didn’t fall out of your seat yet, wait til you hear this.  You know that familiar television ad where a well known satellite tv provider offers you $100 for referring a friend?  We do that too.  No, this is not an MLM!!  It is a one-time referral bonus for you for each person you refer.  You do not receive any type of financial compensation for recruiting people.  It is just like the television ad, it’s an incentive for you to share something you do with people who want to travel and enjoy the same discounts you do.

Please take a moment to look over the website if you are even a little bit interested.  Just click the picture below.  There are some great videos to help explain it to you.  I truly am proud to represent Luxēvo™ as a Certified Agent.  And… Yes… I am a member!  I’m already enjoying my discounts at restaurants and movie theaters in my neighborhood, planning our first LuxCursion and you could be too.

The Evolution of Travel

Luxevo ~ The Evolution of Travel

Happy Travels,

Edwina




Categories: all-inclusive, Beaches, Cuisine, culinary, Destinations, Luxury, Tours, Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Discovering Historic Bed & Breakfast Travel


When someone mentions Bed & Breakfast, what is your first thought?  Do you immediately turn away from the thought because you opt for the luxury of a new modern hotel?  Or do you have a hard time imagining what it would be like to stay in someone’s home?  Let me share with you what I have experienced in B&B’s as well as my love for them.

History of the B & B

The Bed & Breakfast has been around in the US since early settlement days.  As settlers moved further West, families along the way would open their homes to them and provide a place to stay as well as breakfast the next morning to send them on their way.

During the depression many families opened their homes to travelers in hopes of supplementing the family income.  During the 50’s, the boom of highways throughout the US and the motels that rapidly sprang up caused a decline in the B&B or “tourist house”.

As our nation and travelers in general became fascinated with our history, many of the historic homes throughout the country have been converted into an opportunity to step back in time if even for a night.

Today’s B&B

Today’s bed and breakfast inns are often historical in nature and they are my favorite.  Turn of the century homes have been converted into guest rooms and the owners usually work hard to restore them as historically accurate as possible.  Here are a few pictures of an awesome B&B in Gonzales, Texas where we stayed a weekend.

Our room

Awaiting Breakfast

I must tell you how much I adore staying in a B&B.  For the price, which is comparable to hotel rooms, they are my first choice when available.  I am a bit of a history junkie so being in places filled with antiques, being treated like royalty, learning the history behind a town or building, is right up my alley.  It is easy to get spoiled.

Not all of them are historic homes, they come in all shapes and sizes.  In Texas we have many that are off-the-beaten-path places with cabins along a lake or somewhere else aside beautiful scenery where breakfast is brought to your cabin in the morning.  The opportunity for relaxing in nature is often just what the doctor ordered in our stress filled lives.

Whether you are looking for a quick overnight stop or a relaxing vacation, the bed and breakfast option is one you should consider.  Give it a try… you might find a whole new way to travel!

Happy travels,

Edwina Parker

Categories: Cuisine, Destinations, Luxury, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

A Weekend Along Historic Route 66


Growing up in Texas, I have been a “road-trip” kind of gal my whole life.  Unlike other states, Texas is so large and spread out that to get anywhere we would hop in the car and go.  A six or eight hour drive was nothing to us since it probably wouldn’t get us out of the state anyway.  As an adult, I have found the pure joy in road trips.  There are many things just waiting to be discovered along our roadways by the curious and adventurous at heart.

The original Route 66, aka “The Mother Road” or  “Main Street America”, is one of the first U.S. Highways and stretched across our great nation covering 2,448 miles.  The historic significance of Route 66 cannot be undermined as it gave travelers unparalleled access to the west coast for the first time.  Originally the road traveled from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Recently, my husband and I decided to take a two day road trip along historic Route 66 through Oklahoma.  Neither of us had ever traveled the road but had always wanted to and found ourselves with a free weekend to try a short trip.

There are numerous maps, websites and books out there that show you the original route.  We did our homework and found that by paying close attention it was fairly easy to find our way along the original route.  Although, it is easy to get thrown off course by the twists and turns that occur in and around the small towns.

One of the first places we stopped was the Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK located right next door to Mamie’s General Store.  Rock Cafe was made featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  Unfortunately for us, we were not hungry when we got there so had to pass on what is said to be great home cooking.

Some of the historic buildings along Route 66 are no longer functional buildings but are historical remnants of days gone by.  This gas station was one of those buildings we found along the way.  It has long since seen a traveler stop for gas or directions but still holds historic significance on the Mother Road.

As we drove through the small towns of Oklahoma, we kept seeing murals everywhere.  They were on the welcome signs and on the sides of buildings.  Make no mistake, these small towns along Route 66, by-passed by the major thoroughfares of today, are proud of their heritage and advertise it for those who will wander off the beaten path.

Along the way are hidden gems that you will find if you are paying attention.  We came across what looked like an old gas station with glass pumps that would be any picker’s dream.  We actually made a u-turn on the highway to get a better look.  You know how sometimes you think you see something and then have to do a double-take?  That’s what happened to us.  This place is actually a garage specializing in refurbishment of classic cars, has a party room for rent up stairs and a vast assortment of memorabilia.

Gas Man

Besides all the fun things to look at, the owner, J. was incredibly nice and happy to show us around.  He told us stories about the things he had collected, showed us into the garage to look at the classic cars he had rebuilt and invited us back anytime.  It always amazes me to run across people who not only don’t act like you have invaded them but are happy and hospitable.

On Saturday, as dusk was coming on, we stopped in Weatherford, OK to spend the night.  We noticed a huge sign on our way in for Lucille’s Roadhouse.  Well, the name alone made us want to check it out and we did need something for dinner.  There was a large crowd in the parking lot which usually means good food.  When we went in we saw that we had a choice of eating in the “steakhouse” on the left or the “diner” on the right.  Tough decision, or so we thought.  It was really all about atmosphere as the menu was identical on both sides.  We chose the diner and had a wonderful time.  50’s style booths and bar make this place unforgettable and the food was just plain ‘ol good.

The next morning, we rose to rain and news reports of strong thunderstorms and snow coming right at us.  Unfortunately, it was too miserable to get out and take pictures or explore the route and also very hard to see anything so we turned south and headed home.

Someday, I would like to start at the Eastern most point of the journey and make my way down to California.  If you love road trips and looking back into our not so distant past, the journey down Route 66 is something you must try.  If even a short weekend trip as we did here or a week long excursion, you will undoubtedly find new memories among the historic past.  Need help knowing where to start?  Let me know.

Happy trails,

Edwina Parker

www.yapanow.com

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Yapa Now Travel Bucket List


I have always been an adventurous traveler.  I love exploring on my own and discovering the hidden gems found within a city or area that aren’t common touristy stops.  Friends and family have told me I am fun to travel with because of my child-like excitement when I discover something new.  Yep, that’s me, just a kid in a candy store when I travel.  Who else do you know that would get excited about singing with the guy in the subway who is trying to make a buck?  Oh yeah, I love the subway in NYC but that’s just me.  I’m easily entertained.

Much of my travel time now is spent working.  I am researching, discovering and rating areas, resorts and tour operators so that I offer comprehensive, honest advice to my customers.  I say “much of my travel time” because I cannot go anywhere that I don’t find myself wandering and seeking the new and unusual.

As a travel agent, I am somewhat surprised that until now I have not officially written down a travel bucket list.  Of course, I’ve always had a list of places and things that “must be done” in my lifetime.  While chatting with new clients one of the questions I always ask them is what and where their dream travel experience would take them.  I have recently asked myself the same question and the following is my list of the top ten.  These are not necessarily in order of preference.  Given the time and opportunity, I would jump at the chance to visit any and all of them.

1.  Mexico – Yes, there are still places in Mexico and things there that I have not experienced so it is always first in my thoughts.  Riviera Nayarit tops the list for the luxury resorts and the ruins of Teotihuacan is a very close second.  There are also the culinary tours that beckon me.  Mexico has such a diverse offering of adventures, luxury, relaxation and excitement that it can literally fill anyones wish list.

2.  Dive the Great Barrier Reef – I have a deep love for the ocean and being able to “swim like a fish”.  The beauty of the coral reef and maybe the excitement of a Minke whale trip would be awesome.  I would make this a land and sea package since there are so many unique and fascinating things to see and do in Australia.  I could go into a huge wishlist of things to do but then my list would quickly become an encyclopedia.

3.  Visit the Holy Land- I would love to take a guided tour of the Holy Land.  This is one trip I would probably not explore totally on my own.  There are just some travel experiences that are best planned by experienced tour operators and for me, this is one of them.  To be able to walk where Jesus walked and to see where the roots of Christianity began are the deciding factor for me, personally.

4.  A Castle Tour – A visit to Scotland and/or Ireland with a castle tour is definitely on the list.  Since I was a little girl, I have always been fascinated by castles and the mystery of Scotland and Ireland.  The countryside is beautiful and the people are overly friendly and expressive.  From the pubs and small country inns to the farms and cities, I can’t think of a more fun opportunity to rent a car and take off exploring.

5.  Greece – I can’t wait to plan a tour of the Grecian islands.  From Athens, to Mykonos, to Santorini, to Crete, it would be a whirlwind of beauty, history and incredible food.  Delphi, Olympus, Temple of Poseidon, the Acropolis, the list just goes on and on.

6.  Paris in Spring – Ok, I’m a true romantic and have always wanted to be in Paris in the Spring not that any other time of year would not be just as memorable.  Of course a couple of days at the Louvre and a day trip to Versailles are must-do’s among the million other things to see and do.

7.  Rio De Janeiro for Carnival – I don’t even need to explain this one.  Mardi Gras was a blast but take into account the beauty of Brazil, the beaches the unspoiled forest and then Carnival in Rio.  Wow…

8. Tahitian Islands – Home of the original cabana on the water.  There is just something about being able to see the tropical fish through your living room floor that intrigues me, not to mention having room service delivered via small boat.  The islands are so beautiful and in most cases unspoiled by commercialism.  You can easily island hop from resort to resort to make this a fantastic luxury getaway worth planning.

9.  Tuscany, Italy – I don’t know what makes this addition to the list more impressive, the art or the cuisine.  Imagine being able to see works of  da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli and Michelangelo in one of the top five rated museums.  For a food lover, the opportunity to learn to cook true Italian cuisine at one of the many cooking classes offered is reason enough to make the top ten list.

10.  Egypt – I know the travel advisories are tough right now but how can you have a top ten bucket list without Egypt?  The pyramids, cruising the Nile and even diving the Red Sea.  The opportunities for adventure are as diverse and the country itself.  I could easily spend a month long holiday just trying to fit everything in.

Thanks for taking the time to share my top ten travel bucket list with me.  I welcome your thoughts and hope that you will share some of yours with us.  You can find me on Twitter and Facebook.  Come on by and say hello.

Edwina Parker

Yapa Now Travel

Categories: culinary, Destinations, Mexico, Tours, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Leave a comment

I Can Help You Plan the Perfect Romantic Getaway


I have always loved Mexico and travel so when I chose to put my love to work and become a travel agent it was only natural that I specialize in Mexico.  Combine that with being a true romantic at heart and it became obvious to me that I should specialize in Romantic Travel with an emphasis on Mexico as the destination.

I hold expert certifications in many Mexico destinations as well as resort brands.  My expertise comes not only from my own extensive travels to Mexico and other romantic destinations but also from regularly attending seminars, certification classes and trade shows.  I also attend FAM (familiarization) trips to various destinations in order to do onsite training on different properties and locales.

I work hand in hand with my host agency, KHM Travel Group to insure my clients have the best available products and pricing.  Through this group I have attended many hands on training events and trade shows where I have been able to develop personal relationships with contacts at our travel suppliers.  These relationships further my ability to provide the expert planning you desire for your travel plans.  Most importantly, I develop personal relationships with you, my client, in order to learn everything I need to plan the perfect romantic getaway for you.  I am available by phone or email anytime.  If you need me, you can reach me.  I do not have regular office hours which means I do not “close and go home” at 5:00 pm.  Daydreaming of a romantic getaway on a Sunday afternoon?  Go ahead, shoot me an email with the best time to call you.

If you are interested in romantic travel of any type, destination wedding, honeymoon, anniversary or just time away together, please feel free to contact me and let me help you plan the perfect romantic getaway.

Edwina Parker

http://www.yapanow.com

edwina@yapanow.com

Categories: all-inclusive, Beaches, Cancun, Destinations, Luxury, Mexico, Uncategorized, Weddings, Yapa Now Travel | Leave a comment

Historical Background on Cabo San Lucas


Historical Background on Cabo San Lucas http://ht.ly/4Nlnh

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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