Chicago Travel Show: 1 if by land and 2 if by sea

July 2011: Queen Mary 2

The Chicago Travel & Adventure show was last weekend and I found a few new travel ideas that include 1 new city and 2 new sea adventures.

  1. I was introduced to Emerald Waterway which is a UK based company that focuses on river cruises primarily European.   The ships are small offering full service and high end amenities.  I will definitely be investigating for future travel plans. 
  2. For anyone considering a trip to Patagonia there is an option to take a cruise with Skorpios in Chile with amazing views of the glaciers and fjords.   The tours are limited to travel between October through April but bookings can be made over 1 year in advance. 
  3. After a visit to the Mexico booth I have found a destination that I will be adding to my list.  The city of  San Luis Potosi might be the best kept secret in Mexico with a castle hidden in the jungle and unlimited adventure activities. 

In other news while visiting with agents from Chicago US Passport agency I was very disheartened to learn that I do not own my passport!  My most prized possession is officially the property of the United States government and must be surrendered at any time upon request of an authorized member of the State Department or the government.  Yikes!  I solemnly promise to be a loyal steward of “my” passport.  

Seek your adventure!



How to plan for any trip (Part 1)



So here I am in the final stages of getting ready for my trip in 5-6 weeks to Romania and Bulgaria.  We have already booked our international flights, local flights, all hotels, and several private day tours.  Yet somehow I feel like I am missing something?




How do you plan for a big trip?


  • Book your domestic flights minimum 57 days advance and international flights minimum 171 days advance for the best price; here is my detailed process for booking a flight then immediately after I select a seat.
  • Reserve hotels within 1-2 weeks after flights are booked.  Now keep in mind this may not be the place I end up staying at but I do want to ensure I have a place to sleep that meets most of my hotel requirements for this journey.
  • Confirm my annual travel insurance policy will be active and cover the duration of my trip.

Now for the fun of trying to short list all the amazing places I want to visit on this trip.  I love this part of travel planning when you get down to the details of roughed out daily itinerary.  There will always be more places to visit than time allows.

So let me be clear about my general approach;  I want to get a general idea of major highlights for the trip so that I can appropriately prioritize and arrange necessary transport.    I generally assume one morning event and 1 – 2 afternoon events.  I will never be militant about the schedule planning down to the minute of at 8:00 breakfast and at 8:35 leave to visit the castle.  No way dude we are on vacation after all : )  However I also don’t want to get home and a week later find out that I was 5 miles away from the most amazing historic UNESCO village.  UGH!

So the key word here folks is balance a little organized structure and plenty of time to sit in the cafe to watch the world go by.

  • Get your travel guide book of choice and start reading about where you are going.
  • Check out the country, state or city local website for major attractions or upcoming events
  • Look at tour company travel itineraries to get an idea of what might be possible in your timeline.
  • Get inspired by the UNESCO heritage list.  There are some amazing places on their list!
  • Check out National Geographic or BBC Travel
  • Get an idea of local tours on
  • Ask your friends if they have been there : )
Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria sketched out plans


Hurray you have finished the majority of your trip planning!  You have a sketched out travel itinerary and hopefully identified a place to sleep each night.   Update your calendar and set a countdown to your travel date with any of the free apps available.

In the next post we will review a detailed planning checklist for weekly count down to the travel date!

Seek your adventure!