My husband and I checking off three bucket list destinations this summer: Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. We will spend two glorious weeks in Asia paying only $95 per person for all flights and hotel stays. Granted, once we get there we will still have to pay for food and activities, but our final bill will be drastically lower than the out of pocket dollar cost we would have paid without points. I know that the points game can be confusing, especially when you factor in credit card bonuses, so I wanted to share a few tips on how we made this trip happen so that you can do the same!
South Africa has long been at the top of my bucket list. Whether you dream of seeing the “big five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, & leopard), basking on the beach with penguins gazing at the mountains surrounding the water, sipping wine at one of the many vineyards within an hour of Cape Town, or simply exploring the rich culture of the city – South Africa has something to lure in every traveler.
The scenery, wildlife, vineyards, and beautiful city of Cape Town are a feast for the eyes. Below are ten photographs that will ignite your wanderlust for this majestic country.
It’s impossible to have a bad trip to the magical island of Santorini.
Even if all you do is sit cliffside and soak in the views, you’ll have an amazing trip. Just being there, Santorini is breathtaking and will most certainly capture your heart. (You can find out why it’s my favorite place in the world here).
That said, there is plenty to do in Santorini. Here are some ways to make any trip to Santorini unforgettable.
Located in southwest Guatemala, Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America. It’s surrounded by mountainous volcanoes, which give the lakeside towns breathtaking views of the countryside. Many compare Lake Atitlán to Lake Como in northern Italy. Looking at side by side pictures of the two, you can see why.
I’ve mentioned before that visiting a wine region is the best way to see Europe. Not only will you experience amazing wine and food, but staying in a countryside wine town will also give you a true taste of the country’s culture and history.
While there are hundreds of European wine regions to visit and even more beautiful towns, below I’ve picked four towns in the top four wine-producing countries in Europe that are sure to capture any wine lover’s heart.
One of the most striking characteristics of the wine villages in Burgundy is that practically every other building in town is a domaine or a vigneron -- a winery in U.S. terms. In Meursault, where I stayed, there are over 50 wine producers in the tiny village alone. When you add to that all of the wineries from the neighboring villages, the choice of where to visit can be overwhelming.
My family and I visited in early March, which is considered the “off season” in Burgundy. Some wineries were not open when we visited. However, the silver lining to traveling then was that most of our winery visits ended up being private tours. Having the winemaker give you a tour and tasting of his or her domaine is an incredible experience.
The wineries that I am highlighting below are all smaller, mostly family domaines in the Côte de Beaune, one of the five wine growing areas in Burgundy. While we did drop by a few of the larger wineries, I highly recommend the small wineries as they give a more personal and rewarding tour and tasting experience.
Below are my personal favorite winery visits from my time in Burgundy.
Imagine five days of crystal clear blue waters, dinners on the beach with a drink in hand, nightly entertainment, fitness classes, water sports, room service – the list goes on and on. Now, imagine all of this without paying a dime.
Staying at a top-rated all-inclusive beach resort for free may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t.
Cappadocia is a fairytale region in central Turkey that dates back to the sixth century BC. It is so unique that people liken the topography of the region to that of another planet.
Many people have never heard of Cappadocia and even I had almost forgotten this magical place existed. My husband and I almost added on a few days in Cappadocia to our honeymoon itinerary, but regrettably missed out.
The extraordinary landscape was formed through volcanic eruptions and erosion. The cavern architecture dates back to the fourth century AD. Not only are there ancient houses, businesses, and now hotels carved into the sides of the rock, but there are also entire cities underground. The ancient city of Derinkuyu, the largest excavated underground city in Turkey, is eleven stories deep and connects to other underground cities through a network of tunnels. The city could accommodate up to 50,000 people – talk about a good place to hide!
Imagine biking smack in the middle of fields upon fields of vineyards. In the distance lies a picture-perfect fairytale town with a church steeple perched high above the houses. The path behind you leads to an equally charming town taken from the pages of a storybook. The hillside on your right is filled with the grand cru vines, which bear some of the most expensive grapes in the world. To your left are the village grapes that create surprisingly different wines as you move from one village's plot to the next.
Asheville, North Carolina is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway. Some people call this unique city the Austin of the east coast. Like Austin, Asheville is full of great food, drinks, music, and art. However, though I’m a proud Texan, I’d give Asheville an edge over Austin due to its gorgeous scenery.
It’s difficult not to have a delightful visit to Asheville, but here are my top tips for making the most out of your visit:
I just returned from a fabulous week in the Burgundy wine region with my husband and parents. We ate delicious three-course meals for lunch and dinner (plus tons of cheese & baguettes!), explored centuries-old wine caves, biked through the vineyards from one tiny town to the next, and drank glasses upon glasses of the best wine in the world.
We stayed in the most amazing VRBO house rental in the village of Meursault. We were surrounded by vineyards on all sides, had a huge patio with a hot tub overlooking the vines, and could stroll into town in minutes. It was perfect.
While I am sorting through the unforgettable memories we made, here is a little glimpse into some of my favorite moments and the quaint French town that captured my heart.
La Rioja is a breathtaking wine region situated in the Cantabria Mountains of northern Spain. It's best known for spectacular red wines, though amazing white wines are also produced there. La Rioja has a unique mix of history and modernity. You can visit a family winery that has been producing wine for hundreds of years in the caves of the walled city of Laguardia, or visit modern wineries with extraordinary displays of architecture and state-of-the-art wine-making processes.
With an abundance of great choices, it can be overwhelming to decide which wineries to visit. In order to have an authentic and unforgettable experience in the region, here is a quick guide to my top winery picks in La Rioja.
Houston is my hometown. It’s where I was born and raised. I love it with all my heart. The city is a giant melting pot and has one of the most vibrant arts and culture scenes in the country. The theatre district rivals New York City and there are more museums than you can imagine. The food is unparalleled. From globally acclaimed restaurants to authentic Tex-Mex, from food trucks to Chinatown – Houston will not leave you hungry.
The fourth largest city in the U.S., there is always an exciting event going on. Bot nothing brings the city to life more than the annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. To a native Houstonian, there are few phrases that incite excitement quite like, “HOU-STON. ARE. YOU. READY. TO. ROD-E-OOOOO” echoing through Reliant Stadium.
No questions asked, the rodeo is the best way to experience Houston. Here’s why:
What makes a destination romantic? A place with uncanny natural beauty? A place where you can escape the hustle of life and slow down? A place where you can find isolation from crowds? A place where you can savor a delicious meal under the moonlight?
These three European lakes may not have the reputation for romance like the famous cities of Paris and Venice, but it’s impossible to visit any of these destinations without falling in love.
You’ve probably seen Portugal popping up as a top travel destination. Travel & Leisure named the country the “destination of the year” in 2016. The Huffington Post coined Portugal as the “new Iceland” and said it’s “the country everybody will be visiting in 2017.”
Breathtaking. Gorgeous. Unforgettable.
It’s impossible to find the right combination of words to describe the appeal of Portugal.
The people are incredibly welcoming and just about everyone speaks English. And with Portugal being one of the closest European countries to the United States, it’s hard to find a reason not to visit.
While each of these deserves its own highlight, here is a taste of five places that will make you want to book your plane ticket immediately:
My husband, a self-proclaimed foodie, calls San Sebastian his favorite European city. Situated at the northeast edge of the Basque region in Spain, the Basque influence on the city makes San Sebastian a unique gem in Europe. The culture has an interesting mix of both Spanish and Basque traditions.
The appeal of the city is expansive, but it may be most well-known for its food. Below are five reasons why San Sebastian is a food lover’s paradise.
While the South has been having spurts of warmth this winter, most people across the country are still bundled up and dreaming of the first signs of spring. If you’re wanderlusting of some place warm and beautiful to visit this spring, Savannah, Georgia should be at the top of your list.
Savannah is your quintessential Southern city with a small town feel. You won’t see skyscrapers, but you can walk almost anywhere. Romantic Spanish moss drapes the tree lined streets and parks are as numerous as the cute shops and cafes downtown.
There are only days left in 2016. As I look forward to my adventures in 2017, I am also savoring some of my favorite memories from this past year. That's the best part about travel. Though your trip ends, you get to keep the memories forever. For 2016, my favorite travel memory came about from a last minute decision to take a slight detour with our rental car and travel off the beaten path.
Imagine a tiny walled medieval town set on a quaint river where wine flows like water, and there are no cars in sight.
Have you ever heard of the Azores islands?
An off the beaten path destination, the Azores are still a relatively hidden gem, but travelers from all over the world are beginning to take note. And with landscapes like these, it's easy to see why.