Yapa Now Travel

Art, Music and Mojitos – Part 1

Just Arrived

I had an opportunity to attend the Fort Worth, Texas annual Main Street Arts Festival on Saturday.  Yep, that’s me wearing a sweater.  I know it was at least 70 degrees but it was chilly for me.  I did manage to lose it later on and enjoy the beautiful Spring day in Texas.

It’s been many years since I’ve had the chance to attend this festival and I cannot believe how much it has grown.  What was once a great little festival for many local artists and craftsmen has now become the largest in the Southwest and the best in Texas featuring artists from all over the nation.  By noon on Saturday the crowds were almost impassible in some of the areas.  Here is a look down Main Street.

A Look Down Main

Upper Main

This festival is so much fun!  It is equally as fun for the kids as it is for the retirees.  Did I mention how fun it was?  Just check out these kiddos!

Check out the face paint!

The three stages set at various points through the 9 block area hosted live music with enough variety to capture audiences of all ages.  The performing arts stage even had everything from jazz to Cirque Zuma Zuma.

Great music everywhere we turned!

You can check out a couple of videos here on our Youtube channel.

It was sometimes hard to get motivated into walking back into the crowds to view the artists booth when the bands just played one great song after another.  While standing in the area of this stage, we saw that local restaurants had set up shop all around the plaza area.  The variety of restaurants featured was surprising since they were selling “street food” type servings.

My favorite shot taken at the festival was of this darling family.   As we were walking by them, the mom was trying to share a crawfish (mud bug) with little one.  He had a terrible look on his face that was clearly saying “Unh uh, no way!”  I asked if they minded if I took a picture of them for this post and the second I raised the camera the little one was all smiles and quite the ham!

Cutest Family at the Festival

Did I mention Mojitos in the title?  Of course I did!  My adoring husband said “Look honey, it’s a Mojito booth!”  He would never let me miss out on a yummy, fresh concoction on a warm day.

Mojito Mamma!

All in all, this was a fabulous day trip to the historic city of Fort Worth and I can’t wait to share with you my two new favorite artists.  I had the opportunity to visit with each of them for a while even with the crazy crowds.  Check out Part 2 of this series to meet them yourself.

Happy Travels,


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Was that a Vacation?

There is a myth that travel agents vacation all the time and get to travel for free.  Really?  Somehow I must have missed the boat on that one.  The reality is that most of us do travel more than the average person but not always for pure enjoyment and rarely is anything free.  I can’t remember a vacation that didn’t turn out to be a working vacation in the end.  Even if I plan a weekend getaway or have every intention of relaxing and enjoying my surroundings, it just never turns out that way.

Fam Trips are trips we have the pleasure of being invited to by resorts, tourism boards, cruise lines or any number of other sponsored groups.  While they are often offered with free room and maybe a discount on air, they are not “vacations”.  FAM stands for Familiarization.  Let’s say I just booked a large wedding in Mexico at a 4 or 5 star resort or maybe I just completed the training to become an expert in the brand.  The resort sends me an invitation to come to Mexico to their resort and experience it first hand.  This is great, right?  When I arrive, I am shown to my room and given my itinerary.  Yes, I said itinerary for my 4 days.  You didn’t think they wanted me to come here to pamper me and treat me like a queen, did you?  Now, let’s say that this resort also has 2 sister properties within the area.  My itinerary is to take an escorted walk around the entire complex, sample the food, check out the different rooms, check out the spa, etc.  Now on day two, I get to catch a transfer early that morning to go visit one of the sister properties.  Same as the day before but with a different resort.  Back to the resort late afternoon for some free time before dinner.  I am able to take an excursion of my choice on day three in the morning, then off to the third resort for the afternoon and dinner.  Back to the resort in time for a cocktail and bed since I am flying back home the next day.  That was fun, wasn’t it?  Well, in all actuality, it IS fun for me.  My husband isn’t too crazy about me calling them vacations but I love it.  I love being able to share with you what a resort, destination or area is like from first hand experience.  Many of my recommendations come from these “vacations” because I know what the service is like, what the staff is like and have first hand knowledge of the resort.

Cruises – To obtain and maintain certification with the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) you must take “x” number of cruises of varying length as well as continuing education.  Of course, unlike a FAM trip, you are booked as a regular passenger.  This could be great, if I could just leave my “travel agent” brain at home and not drag it along with me.  I look at every thing, place and meal as something that I need to share with someone interested in a cruise.  We do get offered “seminars at sea” which are educational cruises and very much the same as FAM trips but onboard a cruise ship.

Scheduled Vacations – Yes, I do schedule a real vacation from time to time.  Whether it is a weekend road trip (love ’em)  or a week long stay in a new and exciting destination or anything in between, I always wind up thinking about you, my clients and readers.  Would you enjoy this restaurant, this view, this B&B?  “Wait Honey, I need to get a picture of that before you put your fork in it!”  or “Stop!!!  I need a picture of that for the blog.”   See what I mean?  It always turns out to be a work in progress.

The beauty is:  I love my work!  I am addicted.  My soul is restless for adventure, for travel, for new experiences.  My grandmother used to say I had “itchy feet”.  This is why the travel industry was such a perfect fit for me when I was blessed with the opportunity to change careers.  I have always dreamed of travel and it thrills my heart to know that I am helping people to realize their dreams of travel if even only for a vacation.

Happy Travels,


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Make Mine a Cosmos Tour

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Avalon Waterways river cruises which is a part Globus Family of Brands.  Since it is technically still “National Plan A Vacation Week”   I wanted to share with you the Cosmos brand by Globus.   Cosmos is value escorted vacations in the US, Africa and Europe.  This year marks the 50th anniversary and to celebrate they will be sharing incredibly sweet deals off and on throughout the year.  Don’t you love their logo?  I’m all about turning travel dreams into reality!!

Cosmos offers the budget minded traveler extremely affordable tour packages to some of the world’s most amazing places.  With 8 different travel packages under $1,000 and each of them are minimum of 8 days, you can see how affordable they are.  We’re not talking out of the way places no one wants to see either.  Check these out:  Greek Odyssey 8 days; British Panorama 9 days; Cairo, Alexandria and the Mediterranean 8 days; Jewels of Morocco 10 days.

Each of these tours are expertly guided by folks who have an in-depth knowledge of the area, destinations, history and people of the tour.  Many of them have been with this company for years and absolutely love what they do.

Delphi - Greece

Sphinx - Pyramid

Cosmos has 4 distinct travel styles.  They are:

Regional Discoveries – If there is a particular region you would love to explore, these trips are ideal for you.  Expert tour guides will share in-depth knowledge of the area and its history with you.

Panoramas (my favorite) – These are whirlwind tours expertly guided that give you an opportunity to experience multiple cities and countries in a single adventure.  These are fast-paced, jam packed adventures so if you are wanting to see and do as much as possible this is the way to go.

Escapes – Vacations of a week or less that really let you spend leisure time as well as exploration time.  By traveling on the weekends, you are able to get a comprehensive trip with plenty of leisure time to explore on your own.

Rail Journeys – Yes!  These are magnificent tours conducted by rail.  Imagine yourself traveling the way we all did once, in the luxury of a rail car.  This is not the rickety old train from the old west but sleek modern luxury coaches.

Cosmos even caters to the single traveler.  Their “guaranteed share” reservations will put two (same gender) people together in twin rooms which keeps you from paying single rates.  Also, if there is not another single they will absorb the rate increase and you still only pay the double rate.  Not a lot of companies are willing to do that which is another reason I LOVE the Globus lines.

Another thing I find extremely agreeable about them is that all of the sightseeing and highlights are included in the price.  You can opt in for additional excursions at your own cost but so much is already offered you may not feel the need to add additional excursions onto your free time.  Here’s a little secret I learned from one of the tour guides I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with.  They (the tour guides) call it the “Happy Line”.  Part of the exceptional deal you get when booking a tour through this group is that they have negotiated short-cuts to the front of the line for the tour group.  If you have ever stood in line waiting to go through an exhibit you know what I mean.  You don’t pay extra for this.  It’s all included.  They have also negotiated things like being able to actually go “inside” the coliseum in Rome and not just stand outside taking photos.  Imagine how awesome it is to have photo-ops that most people don’t have access to.  Again, it is all part of what you pay for at these amazing prices.

What else is included?  Let’s talk food.  Many of your meals are included in the vacation price but not all.  This means that you actually are able to step out and partake of the incredible culinary adventure around you.  Street food?  You bet!  I wouldn’t miss it.  Your guide knows the areas intimately and can steer you to whatever your heart desires.  They know the best places to shop, eat, people watch, photograph and anything else you have on your mind.  The hotels are included and are each exceptional.   Remember, Cosmos is part of the Globus Family and has received huge benefits from the incredible presence the brand has made in the marketplace.

Cosmos is all about value.  I know you want the most bang-for-your-buck and if you are thinking about touring another country of even the good ol’ USA, I highly recommend you look into a Cosmos tour.  Leave me a comment or shoot me and email and I will be happy to send you an e-brochure with all of the tours, information and pricing.

Happy Travels,


Categories: Destinations, Tours, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | 3 Comments

National Plan a Vacation Week

I should mention that the following may be considered shameless self-promotion on my part!  🙂  As you already know, I’m a travel agent and I love helping folks find their perfect destination and adventure.

Next week, March 18-24, is National Plan A Vacation Week.  I know many of you are thinking “I don’t need a week to tell me to plan my vacation!” and I completely agree but for some it is a reminder that we need to think about ourselves sometimes and do something for US!  I meet too many new clients who have waited sometimes years to actually take time out of their schedules and plan a vacation.  Like I mentioned last week in “What are you waiting for?  Just GO!”, it’s never too soon to start working on those getaway plans or travel dreams.

Through our partnership with some of the leading suppliers in the travel industry, we are able to bring you some sweet deals on everything from cruises to land/air packages.  We have a new site set up for this annual occasion which you can find here.  Throughout the week, I will be updating the info, videos and deals.  There is such a wide variety, I can’t get everything in at the same time!  Many of the offerings you can book directly through the site or you can call me, email me or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook to get more information or pricing.

Remember too, I have a do-it-yourself page on the main website where you can either book through my automated site or through my Funjet page.  If you have ever thought about Europe and river cruising in particular please take a peek at our newest site for Avalon Waterways.

If you have not planned a vacation in a while or if you’ve been thinking about it, I challenge you to take the first step.  If you don’t take the time to plan a vacation or getaway, I can promise you, no one will do it for you.  Your boss wont do it, your kids wont do it, your family wont do it.  It’s up to you!  There are many, many affordable getaways whether into another country or right here in the US.  We can work with any budget you have in mind.  You are only limited by your imagination!  If you can dream it, we can find it for you!

National Plan A Vacation Week – It’s not just a vacation, it’s YOUR vacation.

Happy Travels,


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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,


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

The Truth About Travel Agents

As a travel agent, it never ceases to amaze me the misunderstanding many folks have of travel agents and the role they play in the travel business.  When I chose to change careers and use my passion for travel as a business, I heard from family and friends, who generally trust my decisions, things like, “Is there any money in that?”, “Do people still use travel agents?” and “Why would you do that when people can do it themselves?”.  I would like to start with that and share with you some of the common misconceptions and myths surrounding the travel agent.

1.  People don’t use travel agents anymore. – With the invention of the internet and the boom of online agencies, many people do plan their own travel.  For a short time, there seemed to be a swing toward the OA’s but what people found was that the customer service, one-on-one relationship and advocacy of a travel agent was missing.  The Miami Herald ran an article in December entitled Travel Agents Making a Comeback where they quoted a study by Forrester Research that found that the number of leisure travelers who enjoyed using the Web to book their vacations dropped from 53 percent in 2007 to 47 percent in 2010. In an American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) survey, 44 percent of agents said they had more clients in 2010 than they’d had the previous year.  The number of people using travel agents is expected to continue to increase due to the new regulations, fees and confusion that travelers encounter when trying to use an online agency.

2.  It costs too much to use a travel agent. – While it is true that some agents or agencies charge a fee for their services, there are many more of us who do not.  Often, you will find that agents charging fees are refunding those fees upon booking.  We are paid directly by the resorts, consolidators or tour operators in the same way the large online agencies are.  We make the commission as they do but the major difference is that should you need anything before, after or during your trip, when you call us you get a live person on the phone who knows you and will help you right then!  Do you really want to call an automated 800 number when your hotel room was released because your flight was 4 hours late?  I wouldn’t and neither should you.

3.  I can do what a travel agent does myself. – That is probably true.  If you take the time to research the flights, hotels, destinations, tours or excursions and travel information, you probably can.  The question you have to ask yourself is this.  “What is my time worth?”  You can spend valuable time searching the online sites and printing out quotes (which may be different tomorrow) and reading reviews or you can call or email your travel agent and let them do everything for you.  Travel is our life.  We eat, breathe and sleep with schedules, itineraries and locations.  We are experts and can actually help you make the most of your travel plans.  Our knowledge and access to supplier sites and other travel references can get a reliable quote to you in a short amount of time and all you had to do was shoot a quick email.

4.  Travel agents can’t get the same deals as I can find on the internet. –  This is a common myth that travel agents are not able to access the “deals” that are readily found via the online sites.  First,  when you look at that “deal” on the web you need to really look at the final total to see what may or may not be a great deal.  Often the prices you see are lead-in prices and do not include taxes, fees or transportation to and from the resort.  You often do not see the total amount until you are at the final payment screen.  On the other hand, when you receive a quote from a travel agent the total is the real total and what the entire package will cost you.  You just have to compare apples to apples.  Second, travel agents have access to those deals and often to others that are never advertised.  We are often able to get you extra amenities (yapa) added at no charge because of our relationships with our suppliers.  The bottom line for you should be value and you are more apt to find true value through your travel agent.

5.  Travel agents are all the same. – So, you have decided to book your next vacation through a travel agent but don’t personally know one.  They are all the same anyway, right?  No, not at all.  In this day and age, travel agents tend to specialize in types of travel, destinations or any variation of specialties.  There are agents who specialize in cruises only, business travel, specific countries, romance,  groups, Disney, adventure… and the list goes on.   If you are planning a romantic getaway you probably do not want a Disney specialist to find the perfect vacation spot for you.  Check with your friends or family, your Facebook contacts, Twitter or do a Google search for agents in your area.

I hope this helps to clear up some of those nasty rumors about us.  We do what we do because we love travel and because we love to help people with their travel needs.  The major difference between us and the online agencies is that we offer you a relationship that you wont find elsewhere.  We are your advocate, your planner and your research assistant.

Remember, it’s not just a vacation… it’s YOUR vacation.  Shouldn’t it be the best it can be?

Happy Travels,

Edwina Parker


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Avalon – Take Me Away

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a lunch-and-learn offering made by Globus Family Brands.  If you haven’t heard of Globus they are comprised of four unique and truly incredible products.  Globus is fully escorted tours both in the US and abroad.  Monograms is independent (non-escorted) world wide travel.  Cosmos is value escorted vacations in Europe and US.  Then, there is Avalon Waterways which is what I wanted to tell you about today.  I will write other articles going into the other brands but today I want to focus on the exceptional quality and experience of Avalon.   I’m very, very excited to be able to bring you such incredible adventures.

Avalon Waterways is river cruising at its best.  They offer river cruises in Europe, Asia, Egypt and the Galapagos Islands.  Each itinerary is incredibly well thought out and offers unique experiences.  Doesn’t this look like something you want to do?

Cruising the Rhine

There are several differences in cruising the large ocean going ships and the smaller more intimate river cruising ships.  One, of course, is the size.  On a river cruise, instead of being aboard with 5,000 or so other passengers as you would be on an ocean cruise, you are more likely to have a mere 130 to 160 passengers.

For those who don’t feel comfortable with being in the middle of the ocean, river cruising could be an excellent option.  You will have land on both sides of you throughout the trip and never leave sight of land at all.

These cruises are all-inclusive.  Yep, all-inclusive!  Some of the included features that you must pay extra for on a large ocean liner are:  shore excursions, pre or post-night hotels (included on many of the cruises), dining options and 5 course welcome and farewell dinners, (wine, beer or soft drinks) with meals, specialty coffees 24 hr., wi-fi access, outside cabins, 80% open air balconies, destination guidebook and cruise documents.  The inclusions are just part of what makes this company such an outstanding choice for cruising.

With Avalon each stop along the way is an opportunity for a shore excursion into ports that the larger ships cannot reach.  Imagine starting your voyage in Amsterdam then  stopping at several scheduled excursions in Germany and ending up in Paris by high speed train.  What about a cruise along the Nile in Africa or the Yangtze in Asia?  These cruises are more like guided tours than anything you will experience on the typical ocean voyage.

Speaking of tours, each destination has a tour guide who knows the area intimately and will show you around and acquaint you with the locality.  On each excursion, you have a headset to listen to the guide.  This is really nice because you can be up to 100 feet away and still hear them.  Ladies, this means you can shop along the way or browse things on your own and still learn everything you wanted to learn!  Now, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Chain Bridge in Budapest

I could go on and on about Avalon and all the things they offer.  This is truly a wonderful opportunity to combine the experience of cruising with luxury and sightseeing all on the same vacation.  I am just tickled to be able to share it with you.  I’m thinking that I can knock “Paris in the Spring” off my bucket list by taking one of these fabulous cruises!!

I’m happy to announce that we now have our new Avalon website set up where you can browse all the offerings they have, information regarding their fleet and itineraries, as well as request quotes and rates.  Check it out here.  If you have any questions or need any information, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to help you.  Also, if you have taken an Avalon Waterways cruise, I would love to hear all about it.

Happy Travels,

Edwina Parker

Categories: all-inclusive, Cruise, Cruising, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Packing Tips for the Average Traveler

One of the most frequent questions I receive is always a variation of “How do I pack less and still have enough stuff for a week in (wherever they are going)?”.  As baggage fees have skyrocketed over the past couple of years this question has become more and more important.  Let’s take a look at some tips that could help you get your baggage down to a manageable size.

1.  Leveraging Suitcase Space – I learned this little trick from my husband who served in the Marines.  He taught me to “roll” clothing items.  By laying out clothes flat then rolling them into a semi-tight roll, you shrink the size of the garment and cut down on wrinkles and creases left by folding clothes.  This works really well with most items like t-shirts, sweaters and sundresses.  If it is something you are going to pack in a suitcase, it can probably be rolled to take up less space and diminish the amount of wrinkles.  You know how when you stand up your suitcase to roll it from place to place and it scrunches all your clothes to the bottom of the bag?  If the clothes are rolled, they take up less space and can compact them into tighter packing.  When everything shifts, it will not affect the rolled garments like it does the folded ones.

2.  Heavy Item Packing –  As I mentioned above, when standing up a suitcase, everything will shift down to the bottom of the bag.  Try packing your heaviest items closest to the roller end of the bag.  I always try to pack shoes, toiletry bags, etc., towards that end of the suitcase.  When I get to the hotel and can finally lay it back down, my clothing is not scrunched up at the bottom of the bag.

3.  Lose the Shoes – I have a small confession to make, I LOVE shoes.  My closet looks like Imelda Marcos’ basement.  Up until they started charging the ridiculous baggage fees, I was very apt to have one suitcase with nothing but shoes in it with a cute pair for every outfit.  Being a frugal minded traveler, I just can’t justify that extra expense so I go by these guidelines.  Depending on the type of trip you are taking (winter, summer, beach, mountains) you can make do with no more than three pairs of shoes.  You need a comfortable pair that you can conceivably walk in all day for various types of conditions.   Look at your clothing you are taking.  What is the basic color scheme and what color shoe can you get away with for the majority of them?  If I am heading to Mexico for example, I pack one cute pair of heels that will go with several of the outfits, I wear one pair of sandals that will go with everything else  and then one pair of shoes that are comfortable that I can walk or hike in.  It’s really pretty simple if you pack for a trip in a general color scheme.  For men it is the same.

4.  Purses Galore – Ok, so I have two confessions to make.  I used to pack matching purses for each of those shoes.  Crazy, I know, but what’s a girl to do?  I now carry a large hobo bag to start the trip because I carry so much with me on the plane or in the car.  Once we have arrived at our destination and I am ready to head out and explore, I carry a small shoulder bag that I can sling over my shoulder and across my body like I mentioned in the Travel Safety Tips article.  There is also an excellent choice out there for those of us who love purses but don’t want to carry too many.  Have you seen the Miche Bag?  This is such a cool purse!  It is a blank purse with “shells” that snap on via magnets.  So, basically, you have a blank purse and in two seconds, it can be any color or pattern.  I love these things.  How often do we buy purses for one outfit and then have to change it the next day for something more practical?  Great idea by a very good company.

5.  Toiletries and Miscellaneous – When you get ready to pack for a trip, do you feel like you are taking everything but the bathroom sink?  The biggest problem I had was finding something to put it all in so that I could see what I had.  Baggies!!  Yes, one gallon baggies do an amazing job of keeping toiletries and miscellaneous “stuff” together.  I have used this trick for years because you can see through them to know what’s in the bag.  You can put liquids in one bag, brushes and combs in another and when you pack them at the bottom of the suitcase (near the rollers), you help keep your clothes from being crumpled.

6.  Carry-on Luggage – It is always best practice to be prepared.  Think of your carry on bag as the lifeline you might need if your checked luggage does not arrive at the same destination or at the same time as you.  It’s always a good idea to put your electronics in a carry on.  I know I can live with losing my clothes but losing my laptop, iPad or camera is going to make for a terrible trip.  I like to pack a simple change of clothes that I can roll up and stow away.  It’s also best if you pack any prescription medication you have to have in either your purse or your carry on.  Toiletries are something you can pick up anywhere you are going so I don’t find those necessary to pack for emergencies.  I also have a small led flashlight in my bag.   A copy of your itinerary and travel documents in your carry is also a great idea.  You should always have a copy of them when you travel in the event you lose it.

I hope you have found these tips helpful.  I would love to hear your tips for packing.  I’ve learned over the years that people come up with the most ingenious ways to pack!

Happy Travels,


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

A Monkey By Any Other Name

We Have a Winner!

After an extensive search and help from many of you, our little travel mascot finally has a name.  He took his time carefully choosing since he had so many to choose from.  He wanted to be sure that the name he chose would serve him on all his future travel adventures and be something people would remember.  Some of you came up with really catchy names and great stories to go with them.  It was hard to choose.  The winning submission was from someone who was ineligible to win and because of this, we went with the second place choice to receive the vacation certificate.  That person was Carla Gardiner with the name “Maxwell Smarty Pants”.  Congratulations, Carla!

Without further ado, I introduce to you:  Napoleon Bananaparte aka Leon.

From Leon:  “Hi, everybody.  Thanks for helping me choose a great name for my new life here as the travel mascot for Yapa Now Travel.  I’m really a very good mascot and I love to travel, meet new people and experience new cultures.  I’m pretty game for anything but I don’t swim!  Have you ever seen a wet monkey?  Well, it’s not a pretty sight.  My new family tells me it’s okay, I don’t have to swim if I don’t want to.  They said I could stay dry and safe on the boat.  I just hope we get to do some zip lining or something fun like that!   I will try to keep the shenanigans down to a minimum but sometimes, I just can’t help myself.  You know how monkeys are… they’re a handful!   Thanks again for your help.   I look forward to sharing my stories with you.  Yours truly,  Leon”

He's already planning!

He was so excited last night that he could hardly contain himself.  As monkeys often do, he literally did swing from the chandeliers and bounce all throughout the house.  Monkeys are much like small children.  When they get quiet you have to go check on them.  They are either asleep or up to something.  I found him by his trunk with the iPad.  He was so intense on the map he didn’t even realize I was there.  It appears he is already checking the Trip Advisor app for his first road-trip with us.  Rumor has it that there is a place in Oklahoma where his Uncle Joe used to live that he really wants to check out.

You can tell by the smile on his face as he lay down to sleep, he is a very happy monkey indeed!

A very happy day!

 Be sure to check back in on Leon’s adventures.  He tells me he has many surprises for us and can’t wait to get on the road and in the air.
Congratulations again, Carla!  Your certificate is on the way.
Happy Travels,

Edwina and Leon

Categories: Adventures of Leon, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

When Monkeys Fly

For several weeks now, we have searched high and low for a travel mascot to join us on our journeys.  We were not overly picky.  He had to be a good traveler, first and foremost.  He would also need to be able to pack light, not mind having his picture taken (so I don’t have to), enjoy road trips as well as long flights, not be too tall or too small and very important that he did NOT need batteries (been there… done that!).   All in all, we didn’t think our list of “demands” would be too hard to fill.

Fortunately, for us, we found the perfect applicant after meeting and interviewing many would-be mascots.   He hails from the Southern Grove of Banana Kingdom.  We  were very pleased with his arrival last week and as you can see, he came fully packed and ready to take on his new role as our travel mascot.  He reminds me so much of the sock monkey my Grandmother made me when I was a child.  I used to carry him everywhere but he was retired many years ago.  Naturally this guy was ahead of the game when it came time to choose the best applicant because of the resemblance and memories alone.  It’s a good thing that he appears to be very photogenic and maybe even a bit of a ham too!


He's here!

Shortly after his arrival we became aware of a small stumbling block.  He tells us his name is too hard to pronounce and he doesn’t even know how to spell it in English.  Well, now what were we supposed to do?  We can’t just call him “Monkey” or “Mascot”.  We decided we should let all of you help us choose a name for him.  Better yet, let’s make it a contest and the winning name will get a gift certificate for a 2 night hotel stay in one of 23 destinations.  He will make the final choice after all the names are entered, of course, and we will announce the winner on our Facebook page on Friday.  Please leave us your suggestions below in the comments section or over on our Facebook page.  We will collect all the names from both sites and give them to him for final review.

Extra points go to creativity also!  Two examples are:  Napoleon Bananaparte (Leon for short) or maybe T-MO (for Travel Monkey).  So, unleash your creative juices and let’s find him an outstanding name.

Happy travels,


Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , | 34 Comments

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