November 24, 2015

Tuesday Travel Tip ~ Avoiding the Stress of Holiday Travel

This is a redux of the same post I do during Thanksgiving week every can't hurt to be reminded once again of ways to avoid the stress of holiday travel!

Will you be joining the millions of other Americans flying over the holidays?

This infographic is from 2012 - for forecasted statistics for 2015 go here.
Navigating airports, security lines and flying can be stressful any time, but dealing with all that on the busiest weekend of the year can turn into a nightmare very easily.  Here are a few survival tactics to alleviate as much stress as possible:


Plan ahead:
  • Consider booking your flights in and out of smaller airports. The security lines will be shorter and air traffic control queues will be less of a problem.
  • Book your flight first thing in the morning. Air traffic won't have had a chance to back up and flights are more likely to be delayed later in the day.
  • Try to book direct flights even if it costs a little more.

  • Do not check your bags if there is any way at all you can avoid it. Send gifts ahead. Ship your bags via a company such as Luggage Free.

  • If you are driving to the airport, keep in mind parking lots may be full. Check out your parking options before you drive to the airport.

  • Consider paying a little more for faster access through security. Many airlines offer priority lines if you pay an additional fee. If you are ever going to pay extra for this type of service, the holidays would be the time to do it.

  • Check the weather in both your departure and arrival locations. If the weather is questionable be prepared to make alternative arrangements. The airline may let you change your flights for free before you leave home if there is impending bad weather.

  • Bookmark on your phone or laptop so you will have the information handy if you need it.

  • Install an app such as FlightAware on your phone or request text updates on your specific flight to stay on top of any gate changes or delays. 

Day of Travel:
  • Get to the airport VERY early. It's taken me my whole life to learn this lesson and, once I did, it was a game changer. Nobody likes to spend their day at an airport but it's even worse to be standing in a security line watching the minutes tick by just knowing you are going to miss your plane. Arrive several hours early - if you breeze through security, consider yourself lucky and go grab something to eat, sit down and read a book or magazine.

  • Print your Boarding Passes at home (ideally 24 hours before you are traveling). I am always amazed that people don't do this - it's so simple to print your boarding pass ahead of time and eliminates one entire line at the airport.

  • Dress and pack your carry-on bags with airport security mind. Be ready with your plastic bags and containers under 3 ounces.  Wear shoes that are easy to take on and off. Don't wear a lot of jewelry and accessories that may need to be removed when going through the scanners.

  • Pack snacks for the airport and plane (just no liquids). Airlines rarely serve food any more and even if they do, if you are in a long delay situation, that bag of chips will not last you all day. Protein bars, apples and nuts are all things that are easy to toss in your carry-on just in case.

  • If your flight is canceled or it looks like you may miss a connection, call the airline from your cell phone rather than waiting in line at the customer service center (or call while waiting in line and deal with whoever you reach first).

  • Patience, Patience, Patience - A good attitude even in the craziest situation will help reduce your stress level considerably.
That's a lot of information - I hope it helps! Do you have any other strategies for reducing stress while flying during busy times?? If so, I would love to hear them. I won't be traveling this Thanksgiving or Christmas - MY number one strategy for travel over the holidays is to invite everyone to my house!!

November 19, 2015

Tossed But Not Sunk...Paris, Me and A Beautiful Left Bank Apartment

Fluctuat Nec Mergitur is Latin for "Tossed But Not Sunk" and the motto of Paris...So appropriate for this week and I can relate completely.

I want to thank everyone for all of your heartfelt comments and emails regarding my post about my sister on Monday. I am crawling through this journey of grief, knowing that eventually it will get easier, but that I also will never truly recover from this loss. It is my hope to return to blogging on a regular schedule eventually but, in the meantime, I hope you will all bear with me while I go at my own pace. 

While dealing with my own grieving, I also have been overcome with sadness for the events that took place last week in Paris, my favorite city in the world. Knowing so acutely the pain of losing someone close to me made my heart break even more for the families of all the victims of the attacks on Paris. 
 I had scheduled this post for October 26th - I was away on vacation and had scheduled several blog posts in advance. Our vacation ended abruptly when we learned of my sister's accident and headed to North Carolina. After that, I just couldn't bring myself to go about blogging as usual so I canceled the posts I had scheduled.

The world can sometimes be incredibly scary, but as I know all too well, terrible things can happen at any time and in any place. We need to live our lives to the fullest and enjoy every moment we can...if that means visiting Paris, then by all means go! So in honor of the beautiful city of Paris, I hope you enjoy this gorgeous rental apartment on the Left Bank...

In searching for Paris apartment rentals for a client, I came across this gorgeous gem of an apartment in the heart of the Left Bank of Paris. It is situated ideally between Boulevard Saint Germain and the Luxembourg Gardens, just steps from the beautiful St.Sulpice church. Isn't it très joli?

(all photos via Haven in Paris)

November 16, 2015

Sisters...Connected By The Heart

If any of you are lucky enough to have a big sister, you are truly blessed. I was blessed doubly with two older sisters – Pam and Patti. Many of you already know that Pam passed away on November 7th after an accident two weeks prior from which she never regained consciousness. The sadness and shock I have been dealing with for the past weeks are, without question, the most difficult things I have ever experienced. Thank you to all of you who have sent emails, texts and flowers – another blessing in my life is my wonderful friends – both in the blogging world and my “real life” (and even more so when they overlap).

The Snyder Sisters
Pam's daughter Ashley penned the lovely obituary which appeared in yesterday's Charlotte Observer, truly capturing the essence of her mother. But today I would like to share my relationship with Pam as a sister…

Circa 1967...she would probably scream at me for putting this one on the blog but it made me smile.
As she was eight years older than me, by the time I was born Pam had already dealt with losing the status of “only child” when my sister Patti was born - she welcomed me with open arms. My mom says from day one, Pam said I was “her baby”. When I was growing up, many of my life lessons were taught to me by my two older sisters – more often than not, the practical lessons came from Patti and the mischievous “how to get away with things” lessons came from Pam. For some reason, I could never do anything wrong in Pam’s eyes – she loved animals and, quite possibly, I was the first of her many pets she adored throughout her life. She left for college when I was just nine and beyond a few summers home from college, we never lived in the same town again. But every summer, I would spend at least a week with Pam wherever she lived…those are some of my best memories from my childhood.

The ONLY "selfie" I have EVER taken was quite appropriately with San Diego last May at my son's college graduation.
Somewhere along the line, the two of us grew from sisters into best friends. We talked on the phone almost daily – mostly about nothing special…our favorite books, the latest episode of Downton Abbey or our weekend plans. It was almost eerie how I would call her to tell her about my new sweater only to find out she ordered the same one the day before, or when we both discovered we were reading the same book at the same time. Although we could be quite different in personality, we were true kindred spirits. And whenever the going got rough, we were there for each other…through thick or thin. 

Throughout our busy lives, we always made time to get together a couple of times of year for girls’ trips. These are also some of my best memories of my life. I could always count on Pam to find the best restaurants, know ahead of time the best thing on the menu to order (she always did the research) and, finally, to know the life story of the waiter/waitress by the time coffee was served. We ate, shopped and talked non-stop – neither of us ever wanted those trips to end. 

Pam’s life’s work was helping people overcome addiction, and her passion was ending poverty and homelessness. Somehow Pam tackled those difficult issues head on in her work and her philanthropy, all while seeing the humanity behind faces that others may have considered lost causes. And, equally importantly, she did all this while never losing her sense of humor. To say she was a people person is an understatement – she could relate as easily to a four year old as to a 90 year old – and always on their level. This quality made her a particularly special Aunt to my three children – you could always count on Pam to be the one who made us double over laughing whenever we all got together. 

Carolina girls...Pam and Ashley at her UNC graduation
Pam’s proudest accomplishment was her daughter, Ashley. From the moment Ashley was born when I was just nineteen, I have loved her as if she was my own child. As I watched Ashley (now 33 and with a wonderful husband) handle life’s most difficult moments over the past two and a half weeks with grace, compassion and love, I love her more than ever and was the most proud I have ever been of Pam for raising such an amazing daughter.

All of us "girls" a few years back...
My husband, my sister Patti and my 88 year old mom were with us in Charlotte through these difficult days. No mother should ever have to lose a child at any age and it made me profoundly sad to witness my mother go through this. My sister Patti, ever the practical one, watched out for of all of us – buying fruit when my husband and I caught colds and bottles of wine when we needed it badly, picking up Krispy Kreme donuts for the ICU staff, calmly going for the nurses when she felt Pam needed a little extra assistance, brushing Pam’s hair, and, most of all, giving me her shoulder to cry on. And what can I even say about my husband – he took care of me without a single complaint for three months after I broke my arm and continued to take care of me while we stood by my sister’s bedside in Charlotte – he is my hero and I am so very lucky to have him as my husband.

Pam always held my hand when we crossed the street and we joked that she still grabbed for it when I was 30. I am so sad and I will miss her every day of my life, but I am grateful that I was able to hold her hand for the last two weeks of her life. 

I love you, Pam.

October 22, 2015

Just Booked...Rosewood San Miguel de Allende

It has been busy in my neck of the woods lately, working on last minute holiday plans and planning next year's adventures for my clients. Recently, I planned a trip for clients to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to celebrate New Years. There is no place better in this charming artists' village, known for its traditional Colonial architecture, to ring in 2016 than at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which is consistently ranked one of the top hotels in the world.


Insider Tip:

The rooftop bar, Luna, offers spectacular views over San Miguel de Allende; it’s especially beautiful at night, when the Parroquia Church is lit.This will be THE place to be for the NYE fireworks!


While it may seem like heresy to begin thinking about the holidays in mid-October, in my business, if you haven't planned your holiday travel yet, you may just be out of luck. If you are looking for some place warm, but that still exudes the spirit of the season, look no further than the ever so charming and elegant Rosewood San Miguel de Allende...Virtuoso VIP amenities are daily breakfast, a $100 spa credit and upgrade based on availability. 

(all photos via Rosewood San Miguel de Allende)