Top things to do with 5 days in Dublin

DublinIn April we got some pretty great tickets to Dublin using Scott’s Cheap Flights.  We ended up with less than 400.00 per person round trip out of Durango, Co.  If you knew SW Colorado you know how great that price is.  It cost up to that much to go to North Carolina from where we are.  So for under 400.00 per ticket for Dublin we were out the door.

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I just happened to have some Radisson and SPG points from staying with them throughout the year.  Therefore with cheap airfare and hotel points for our trip it was a quick jaunt across the pond.

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Radisson Traditional and Lovely

So, what do you do with 5 days in Dublin to make the most out of it.  Travel with T loves to book quick day trips from a city home base, especially if I am short on time.

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Hop on and Off stop

Dublin hop on and off the great Big Red Bus lets you stop at any of the choices it has on the tours.  The driver gives you a little on board spiel on the site and it’s history.  Its truly a cool way to experience the sights and sounds of a city.  You can book this aspect a head of time to make the most of your time with Travel with T.

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Fresh Seafood anyone?

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Cliffs of Moher what a bucket list item!   If you have not been, it should be on your list of things to see.  The beauty, peace, and tranquility of the place cannot even begin to be described in words.  This was definitely the highlight of our trip.  Day trips are easy to set up and leave from the city center.

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Cliffs of Moher are absolutely amazing

Traditional Music Pub Crawl!  OK so for my birthday we did a Pub-crawl and it was fantastic!  Now this is not your ordinary pub-crawl where you just kind of booze it up along the route. (nothing wrong with that) This featured traditional Irish music with top notch musicians.  You went from small pub to small pub and enjoyed the history of the countries music.  In the end after the crawl, we decided to hang out with the musicians at an out of the way pub.  Here we discovered many other from music scene freely playing the traditional sounds of Ireland.   What a fantastic evening!!!

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Historic Pub

We did all of these using my destination expertise of course.   I booked each one through one of the companies I can use as a Travel Advisor and I was not disappointed.  We packed a lot into our days could not see everything but it ended up a fantastic birthday trip.

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Guinness a must for Travel with T

I traveled with my normal Samsonite Omni, which is just a little larger than a carry on but not so big I am struggling to move it though the airport.   I also loved this Women’s Polo Neck Stretchable Elasticity Long Sleeve Sweater Jumper it reminded me of cable knit style sweater I got from Amazon.  I just love it and it was great for the Irish weather in April.

I am wearing it here not a great shot but you can see my Jack Bauer Messenger Bag too.  Its great for my camera gear and everything I want to carry.  I call it that but it is really  a s-zone Vintage Canvas Genuine Leather Trim DSLR SLR Camera Shoulder Messenger Bag. 

Cable Knit and Jack Bauer

This post contains references to products from that we have used. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.  As always if you would like help planning your trip for 5 days in Dublin or anywhere else I would love to help.  Click the form below and fill out your information.   If you have a chance check out my 5 days in Dublin on Youtube.

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#CandlesforB

 

Finding Luxury on Princess Cruises

Emerald PrincessSo if you have popped in because the Luxury Minimalist tag caught your eye read on.  I call my travel style Luxury Minimalist.  I like a little bit of Luxury and a little bit of price.  So I find that while cruising on Princess Cruise line.

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Now if you follow me at all you know my favorite way to travel is River Cruising but I do enjoy an Ocean Cruise too.  Ocean Cruising is the perfect style of travel for me.  I love to see several different places on one trip.  Ocean Cruising offers it up on a silver platter with Princess Cruises.

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So why is Princess Cruises so appealing to the Luxury Minimalist?   First off they offer a on-board credit for Military service.  So my husband the “Gunny” being a retired USMC we usually come away with 100.00 right off the bat.  We usually can be found using it in the Casino or the Spa.

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Princess also offers 100.00 onboard credit for cruising 7 days as a stockholder.  Which can be quite a little perk if you travel on any of the CCL brands including Holland American, Princess, and Carnival Cruises.

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The Luxury Minimalist in me loves the little extra service that Princess seems to provide.  Booking a balcony cabin or a mini-suite is a little piece of heaven as you sail through Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Ultimate ALASKA.

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Princess treats you just a bit above some of the other lines we have experienced.  I am all about being pampered in the SPA.  Which just so happens to be one of my favorite onboard activities.

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Your entertainment on-board is included from Vegas style shows, to Comedy, to game shows where the talent are your fellow passengers.  I feel the return on your dollar is very good.

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You are able to see many different places on the same cruise.  This is one of my favorite aspects.    I love getting out and seeing things.  Enjoying everything the destination has to offer.   So being able to visit and see different Islands or even countries highly appeals to my wanderlust.

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Can I say PACKING AND UNPACKING ONLY ONCE!  You never have to worry about getting back to the hotel for your next city or country.  You unpack and you are settled until you depart for home.  This is one of my favorite things.  The fashionista in me lets me take a little more luggage then I do for something like Europe.  For Europe I always tend to pack a little lighter but I mix and match a lot of items.  If I am on the move I don’t want to have to haul around too much luggage.  I liked the Samsonite Omni I picked up on Amazon for easy travel when I am in Europe or for an extra piece when cruising.   For the Ocean Cruise I don’t have to worry about a thing because I unpack only once.

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The cabin steward is a luxury in itself.  They visit you twice a day taking care of your room, ice for your drinks and anything you may need in your stateroom while you are aboard.  Would you like robes for your time on-board ask your room steward.  When they arrive in the evening for turn down they arrive with lovely little chocolates that are left on your bed.

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So for a little luxury on your vacation a cruise is one of the nicest adventure at sea you can take.  Princess works for me but it could be Celebrity, Seabourn, Cunard or Holland American for you.

Some of the things I took on my cruise that I really loved Dream Pairs Women’s Open Peep Platform Summer Sandal.  If you happened to catch my voice performance on ship I had these on.  Comfortable and I loved them.  So many complements.  For one evening dinner I wore Urban K Women’s Racer Back Jumpsuit.  This is definitely a keeper and can travel well.  You can mix and match it with anything.  So if you would like to try a cruise I would love to help you book it.  Just use the form to contact me below.   You can also support my blog by purchasing the items I have tried.   (If you like them)  This post contains references to products we have used. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

Take a look at our You Tube Channel for additional information just click on our link.  Travel with T on You Tube

It’s Valentines Day are you empty handed? You may need Romance Travel

Valentines Day has arrived and you are looking at the last remnants of cards, and chocolates available in the stores.  The shelf’s are bare.  There are only tired picked over items.  It’s the same old gimmicky items available every year.   Why not give a gift and experience that will last a lifetime and is filled with meaning?  Romance Travel if it is not on your radar it should be.

Why not reignite the passion for your relationship in a whole new way?  Why not experience romance in a whole new way on Valentines Day? Why not discover the Romance of Travel?

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As I have traveled the world with the love of my life, one thing I notice is travel always brings us closer.  In a distant city we laughing, sharing, and just enjoying each other.  We look up and we are lost.  We laugh as we try to find directions in a language we don’t understand.  It is not only entertaining but brings a story to your life.  A story you will have and can share.  A story of Romance.   This is what Romance Travel is all about.   It’s a memory you will take with you and share forever.    To travel together is definitely to live a very special existence.  Traveling together is an amazing journey of romance.

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There is an incredible joy when you experience the first Christmas Market in Europe.  The sweet aromas of fresh baked delicacies is wonderful shared with your love.  The brisk air as you walk through the legendary cities in search of your next hot drink to erase the chill in the air.  These are moments that inspire romance and create closeness.  This is what it is when you enjoy Romance Travel.

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To watch the sunset on a Luxury River Cruise along the Mekong Delta as you sip on a wonderful concoction the bartender has delivered to your chase lounge.  These are times that shared with your loved one that are irreplaceable.  This is what it is to discover Romance Travel.

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To drift by castles as you cruise along the Rhine with a glass of wine in one hand and your partners hand in another.  This is traveling as a couple.  This is a journey that you share together.   This is your time.  This is your Valentines Day Gift to each other.

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This is what romance is made of the experiences you create together.  I find couples who travel together often happier.  I think that has to do with taking time out for just you both.  Enjoying each other as you learn about a new culture.   Or just relaxing in the sands of the Caribbean enjoying a cocktail.   There is nothing like travel for romance.  There is nothing like the joy of creating memories with the one you love.  There is nothing like Romance Travel.

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So with Valentines day around the corner why not give the gift of romance?  Why not share a getaway with your love?  You don’t need to show up empty handed.  Experience a night in Paris, an evening in Vienna, a cruise on the Danube, or an all inclusive getaway to the Caribbean.

I would love to help you find your couple experience.  Your own experience to share and make memories to last a lifetime.  Your own Romance travel.  Go on celebrate you!  Celebrate Valentines Day with a gift of Romance Travel.

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I would love to help you experience those special moments with your Amor di tu vida contact me below.  If you care to see my Meaningful Travel you tube video just click the link.

What is the best way to see Vietnam and Cambodia?

What is the best way to see Vietnam and Cambodia?  When you think about Vietnam and Cambodia what pops into your mind?

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Do you imagine gliding along the Mekong Delta sipping on a Mai-tai as you watch a family washing their cow on the bank of the river?  Do you picture looking out from your open air panoramic window that takes up the whole wall of your suite?  What about having morning coffee as you watch Buddhist monks gathering along the bank to watch you as get ready to step off your boat?  Do you imagine evening dinner dining on local regional specialties that are not only there to entice your eyes but delight your palate.  These are indeed some of the things we experienced on our Luxury River Cruise along Mekong Delta.

Floating Markets

To experience Vietnam and Cambodia there is no better way than a Luxury River Cruise.

Life on the Delta

 

A journey along the Mekong Delta is a fascinating immersion in ancient traditions, cultures and history.   As you glide down the Mekong you are witness to centuries old traditions and culture that will create memories and experiences you are not likely to forget.  You will be immersed in iconic scenery as you view life along the delta, from silk towns, fishing villages, floating markets, to monasteries.  The crown jewel on your luxury river cruise if you choose to go from Vietnam Cambodia (which I recommend) is Cambodia’s Ankor Watt.  This is truly a trip of a lifetime.

View from our stateroom

The truth is most will not imagine visiting Vietnam and Cambodia on luxury river cruise but there is no better way to immerse yourself in the culture and experiences of life on the Delta.  Its where you can visit a local family and be invited to share what life is like as they invite you into their home.  Visit the floating markets and spend time with a local fisherman as he shares his family’s life on the delta.

Mekong Viewing

As you pull up towards the embankment you realize you are not pulling up to a dock you are docking on the bank.  You step off into a small village of silk weavers and your visit helps to support and maintain an art that is not only beautiful but not easily learned.  To experience these opportunities it would take months of journeying through the country.  With a river cruise the work has all been done for you.  You unpack once your luxury hotel travels with you and you make new friends along the way.

 

Blessed in Ankor Watt

To truly visit a place is to experience it’s people and a river cruise allows you just that opportunity.  What about a chance of a life stop in one of the small local villages to spend time helping to teach English in Cambodia?  Truly unique and so very rewarding these are the experiences that build memories that last a lifetime.  These are the experiences you can live on a River Cruise.

Cooking Cambodian Style

So if you are looking for a little adventure with a little bit of luxury included a River Cruise along the Mekong Delta might just be what you are looking for.

The Monkey’s of Ankor Watt

If you would like any information about booking a Luxury River Cruise in Asia or any of the other amazing destinations please contact me and I would love to help you.  I am a River Cruise Travel Agent Specialist.

 

 

Are there benefits to Group Travel

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Rome Touring is Amazing Photo Credit Travel with T

In the world of the internet there is one word that can become very apparent early on and it is “Rabbit Hole”.  The task of even planning a trip or multicountry trip can become not only daunting but increasingly frustrating.  This is where group travel or touring might appeal.   The changes in tours and or groups have changed with the times and if you think slow well put your tennis shoes on and lets go for a ride.  Group Travel and Tours can be a fantastic way to see an area with as little effort as possible and you meet great people along the way who you may develop life long friendships with.  Group travel might not be for everyone but for those that are interested there definitely is a lot of bang for your buck.  Someone has done everything for you and you never needed to jump down that “Rabbit Hole”.

 

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Lines are non existent in group touring Rome Photo Credit Travel with T

In group touring the planning is done for you and the only thing you need to do is show up (with tennis shoes), choose your extras which could be an extra event not included with the tour (most are amazing), and plan your free time.   Hotels, transfers, entrance fees to destinations, sightseeing and travel is all included.   No need for the stress of trying to figure out logistics as most of it is taken care of by your travel agent and the tour company.

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Rome an amazing place to go touring photo credit Travel with T

Transportation is completely taken care of from picking you up at the airport to the various modes that might occur throughout your trip.  In Venice for instance you may be taken to a loading area by a coach bus and then transferred on to a more common form of transport in Venice some type of water craft.  Changing cities?  No problem it’s all handled by the tour company

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The Coliseum  Photo Credit Travel with T

Every detail to make your life a little easier is organized for you.  You only have to show up and meet your group at the designated meeting point.  Usually a casual dinner at the hotel restaurant where everyone get’s to meet and you are introduced to your tour guide.

 

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Quaint Lunch in Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

 

Food and Beverage most of your breakfast are included and you usually will have several dinners that will also be part of your package.  If you are changing cities throughout the tour it’s common to have one dinner in each city.   You are also able to often purchase extra excursions which are almost always incredible.  Highly recommended as most are designed specifically to highlight the tour.  My own opinion is they are the highlight.

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Italy Photo Travel with T

Now some of the con’s of group travel are you are with a group.  This can range from a small to a large group and usually it’s a pretty mixed bag of goods.   You will have older and younger in the group and usually from all over.  You travel with your group which might not appeal to some.  The places you see such as museums you may not have as long as you like in the area.   You get to see a lot in a short amount of time which does not always appeal to everyone.

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Assisi Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

Tours given in English of course will have Americans, Canadians, and Australians or any of the other English speaking countries.  You will spend quite a lot of time with your group as you go through the different tours and enjoy dinner and this is an aspect many may enjoy.   You share an experience with others that may never be forgotten and some have gone on to be great friends after.  Even touring again together.

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Forum Rome Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

 

All and all group travel is definitely more advantages then disadvantages.   It will not appeal to everyone but it is a great way to see the world and experience it with other’s which is really what life is all about.   So if you have never tried it give it a try and you open up  a wonderful land of possibilities.

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Coliseum Rome Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

Travel with T usually has a group going somewhere every year.  So if you follow me and would like to Travel with T let me know.  I would love to experience our next destination discovery together.

TravelwithTtoday.com

River Cruising the Art of Luxury

River Cruising

River Cruising

River Cruising and the Art of Luxury

Picture gliding down an ancient river with a gentle breeze just sweeping across face as you sit sipping a glass of wine from the local region you are visiting.   You’re escorted down the river with picturesque countryside and you never worry about unpacking and packing, you never worry how you are going to get from one destination to the next, you never worry about paying for anything on board, you never worry about making a bed, or even what you are going to eat.  

 

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You dine on regional specialties and traditional fare that is not only delicious but a feast for the eyes as well.  All the while in casual comfort.

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A casual yet refined style of travel known as river cruising is blooming into a new style of travel for most.   The value for the lifestyle is enough to make the luxury minimalist drool a little.   Try pricing out everything you do and see on a river cruise individually and your head will spin as the dollar signs start to rise.   It appears almost exponentially as you start adding things like transfers, comfortable hotels, and exquisite meals.   Yes, I guess you could go really budget and stay in a hostel but why?

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Travel is meant to be a journey, not rushed, not hurried but a wonderful journey into life.   It is not only the destination you discover but the culture and the people.  It’s meant to be smooth, it’s meant to be lived.  It’s meant to be EXPERIENCED.  I captured these moments with my love Nikon 3300 SR I can’t tell you how many times I have dropped it and it still works amazing.

 

 

 

 

The only thing I regret is I hadn’t discovered it sooner.  For those with a passion to travel and experience river cruising provides a wonderful venue for you.  Your back drop is the world and your mode of transport is a vessel that glides along the most beautiful rivers.   If you are lucky to choose the correct line you may be presented with a panoramic view and more than likely you will settle for no less later on.  Yet for the budget minded you can also experience everything a river cruise has to offer in a room with slightly different set up that still will provide you all the experience and wonder you desire.

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From the Castles of Europe to the exotic venues of Asia you will not be disappointed.  If there is a navigable waterway there is likely a river cruise company that will carry you on your journey.  Gone is the hustle and bustle of the larger lines here you find the destination is the experience.  Everything glides along in a river pace.  Not to be confused with nothing to do and boring because as I mentioned earlier the destination is the discovery and the experience.   You are free to relax and enjoy on your own or join the group as they go out and explore each new stop.  Discover River Cruising and the Art of Luxury you will not be disappointed.dsc_0289

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Contact Travel with T @ TravelwithTtoday.com to discover your next destination discovery

An Amazing Journey Europe’s Christmas Markets

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Christmas Markets

The air is crisp and the scents of spice and roasted chestnuts are in the air as you walk through the village inspired Christmas scenes.   As you glance around you notice Christmas lights fill the streets with a soft warm glow where bobbles, bows, candy and special treasures await. It’s an old world style atmosphere, markets are often at the center of town squares  beneath the spires of the local parish church steeples.   Laughter and music fills the air as shoppers pass by snuggled in their winter coats.    There is just something about Europe’s Christmas Markets that I don’t feel we have quite captured in the United States.  Perhaps it’s the community aspect, the gathering together sipping mulled wine as you let go the stress of the day. Perhaps it’s people coming together and catching up as they experience the warmth of Gluhwein and nibble on delectable pastries.  Europe’s Christmas Markets are simply Magical.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets

It’s the start of Holiday Season as during the first weekend of Advent Christmas Markets begin to pop up throughout Europe.  This annual tradition has been bringing happiness to locals and visitors alike for centuries.  It’s almost like you have been transported back in time to a place of happy memories and the warmth of the season.    Christmas carols surround you as you experience your first glance of the sparkle of snowflakes as they gently fall around the merchants selling their wares.  Many of these markets can take over blocks and blocks and are filled with everything Christmas.

 

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Christmas Market

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Germany’s Christmas Markets

Your taste buds will be filled with sweet, spice, and nutty flavors.  The food of the Christmas markets change with the village or city and sausage rules and changes according to region.  Gluhwein which is a mulled style of spice wine also changes with region, hot coco, and even non alcoholic versions are available for those who don’t imbibe.  Every market also provides a mug for your journey.  You can choose to turn it in after your visit for a deposit refund or take it with you as a souvenir.  These make great little keepsakes and or gifts.

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Christmas Market Food

The Markets are filled with everything from food to trinkets.  Many favorites are the classic wooden Christmas ornaments.  Lace and varieties of Christmas ornaments are also available and many of the items in the markets are hand crafted from local artisans.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets these are a bucket list item

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Europe’s Christmas Markets

Bundle up though as winter is starting to set in and you will appreciate the warmth of the heat lamps that surround some of the merchants.  If you forget something don’t worry you will find many selections of hats, mittens, scarves, and socks.  I recommend a couple of cups of the local Gluhwein to spice up and warm up the day or evening.  It will slowly melt away any breath of cold that sweeps the area.

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Travel with T at the Christmas Markets in Europe

If you are a lover of all things Christmas I can’t recommend these enough.  Once you go every year you will have a longing to re experience the magic again and again.  Christmas in Europe is a memory maker.  Experiences are to me more precious then things so go out and experience and build your memories.  Better yet make it a River Cruise where you can see and experience these treasures as you glide along one of Europe’s historic waterways.

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Half Timbered house of Germany’s Christmas Markets

Book your Christmas Market visit or River Cruise with Travel with T

www.travelwithttoday.com

What is Meaningful Travel “The Pilgrimage”

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Catholic Italy Pilgrimage Photo Credit Travel with T

Travel is trending and seems on everyone’s list be it a bucket list.  It may be a vacation, a weekend, or an ongoing adventure, travel is everywhere.   People are looking at fulfilling dreams, and creating memories.  There is a shift to experience now.  It has been building lately and you see it everywhere.  An example is the Tiny house where people live in a small little place in order that they may have a larger life.  To experience is to live!   Travel is on the minds and thoughts of many.  Yet, there is something else out there in the travel world. Many are now just discovering the concept of meaningful travel.  For centuries it was “The Pilgrimage”.

 

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Assisi Catholic Italy Pilgrimage Photo Credit Travel with T

 

The pilgrimage is a way of travel in that you make religious journey.  It can be local to a place that is sacred, holy and or prayerful.  It could also be a longer journey to a destination that is farther.  The purpose and meaning of a pilgrimage are different for each.  Some go to ask for heavenly aid.  Some go to become closer and to know God better, and some to venerate or give thanks.  My journeys this year are filled with aspects of each .

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Catholic Italy Photo Credit Travel with T

 

I feel as though it might be a lost art and this is at a true detriment to our souls.   To begin a journey that is a pilgrimage it to step outside a comfort zone of your life.   It could mean stepping outside of one’s self in the aspect of prayer.  Or perhaps in the aspect of comfort, it can even be stepping outside of your comfort area with Christ.   Taking him out of the corner of your life you have placed him and bringing him to the forefront.  It is not comfortable but the gifts are immense. To experience a pilgrimage is to experience LIFE.

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The Holy Stairs Rome Photo Credit Travel with T

 

When we lose the aspect of pilgrimage we lose a great gift that countless Christians before us have given us.  Since the death of Christ, Christians have been making pilgrimages to holy places.  It has been part of who we are.  Yet I somehow feel we have somewhat lost it.  It makes me sad.  So I am using this Jubilee Year of Mercy to revive a little of that pilgrimage spirit.  What a great invitation and perfect time to experience it.

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The Holy Doors in the Year of Mercy Photo Credit Travel with T

 

The Dynamic Catholic describes it like this “The Year of Mercy is an invitation—an invitation to love, kindness, and unbounded generosity. Pope Francis is offering you the opportunity to encounter the incredible mercy of God. Encountering mercy means encountering God. It can transform your life, your relationships, your work, and your ability to embrace and experience all of life.”

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Seek him who seeks you  Photo Credit Travel with T

 

My first pilgrimage this year was to experience Grand Catholic Italy.  I was able to experience not only the “Holy Doors” in Rome but throughout Italy.  I was able to see and walk in places millions of Christians have before me.  I was able to witness the resting places of great saints who have gone before me.  I was able to witness my own faith in the pilgrimage journey in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

During a Jubilee year for the church the Holy Doors are open.  This only happens in increments of 25 to 50 years and for most a once in a lifetime journey.  It is a complete gift we have been given.  I notice though many do not quite understand what is open for us during this year.  It’s perhaps been set aside and filed away.  My prayer is many will discover what this means and they too make a pilgrimage.

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In Silence there is often beauty Photo Credit Travel with T

 

 

I encourage you to blow open the windows of your comfortable life and seek him who seeks you.  Go on a journey, experience a pilgrimage!  Perhaps, like me you will discover meaningful travel and it will change your life.

“The Holy Doors” a different style of Travel

The Holy Doors a different style of Travel

The timing is not perfect but I finally sit down to write this while sitting in the airport.  I am waiting on my next flight and my reflection is a little different here.   The airport is busy and loud and not a great time for a personal reflection.  There are so many thoughts coming and I am sorting them within the noisiness of the world.   It seems in my life most of the time that noisiness never ceases.   So it is in this moment I choose to tell of my journey.

It’s a different story and not my normal travel writing yet I feel it’s important.  So for those who care to join me this story will tell of a different journey a true pilgrimage and a journey more of self.

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Holy Doors of Mercy Rome Photo Credit Travel with T

My journey to the Holy Doors had been planned and scheduled as soon as the Jubilee Year had been announced.  It was going to be a “Year of Mercy”.   The announcement for me was inspiring and I so needed it and it drew me in.  There was a pulling towards it.   That strong tug and pull towards “A Year of Mercy”.   It was as if I needed a year of mercy to allow me to reflect on the past two years.   To find some type of sanity in this crazy thing that had become my life.  So different from my perfect little life I had before.   The messiness bleeds into everything now and it is part of who I am.  So in this year, in this Jubilee Year I received from the Lord what I needed.  I needed mercy, I needed time, I needed to hear the doors were open and all I had to do was walk across the threshold.  The call was there.  Thank God I was listening.

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Eucharistic Miracle Photo Credit Travel with T

It was like I needed to hear the words come, come to me I am here and I am waiting for YOU.   No not in the way many think about the concept of mercy but it was clear to me.  It was just like the words spoken to the Samaritan woman “If you knew the gift of God”.  I needed to re-discover the gift.  I needed to rediscover my faith in the aspect of loss.  So a pilgrimage during the year of Mercy was what I needed.

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Photo Credit Travel with T

 

As soon as the Jubilee Year was proclaimed I immediately started making plans for the journey.   I gathered together a group and I was set to make a pilgrimage.  It always seems that my own personality and nature does not wait around.   I move and go forward no matter what I just keep moving forward. I have always been  that way and this was no different. Not a lot of time to think about it just plan and get myself there.

So preparations made the journey began.    I am not sure I took a lot of time to gather my thoughts on what I would feel walking through those first doors.  I believe when I decided to go it was to bring not only myself but to bring my child through those doors.  I carried all my loss with me.   All the lost dreams I had for my child, all the lost hopes you carry for your children, and all the pain you feel.  It’s a large burden you carry at times it takes a toll. This was everything I was bringing with me.   I was going to make sure I walked through those doors with my beautiful daughter.  She would be in my thoughts, prayers and in my heart.  I was walking to the font of mercy that is waiting for all people of faith.

When you suffer a loss especially a loss of a child by suicide your life is completely and utterly changed.  It is turned upside down, inside out, and most every other direction. The path you were on before is forever altered.  Your dreams have been shattered and time is in a flux.  Its as if time is moving and stagnant at the same time.  At times it even moves ahead leaving you behind.  It’s as if you are stuck in the present and the past at the same time and each is tearing at you and pulling you back and forth.  Your life it forever altered by that one moment.

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It’s a journey you take a journey through loss, grief, hope, and most of all a journey of Mercy.  The Mercy of Christ as he walks with you on the path you have.  Most of the time you feel as if he is the only one with you.  He is the only one that understands your sorrow that sometimes is so strong it can almost suffocate you. He is the one there when people shy away because death makes them uncomfortable.  He is the one there as the words can never come for friends because they can never understand so they stay away. He is the one that is there when you blame yourself.  You know he is the one, the only one.  You  live out each day with the words “Jesus I trust in you”.

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For me in a year of mercy it was important for me to be able to experience the Holy Doors.    I needed  to come to the font of mercy.  To come to the threshold to walk through those doors and hope for healing the healing of my soul.   In the only place that can provide it the arms that have been there the whole time.  This is what the journey to the Holy Doors meant for me.  This is what I had come to understand in planning my own pilgrimage.

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Pieta Photo Credit Travel with T

What I was not prepared for was the overwhelming aspect of Rome.  I was not prepared for the first doors and what exactly was happening.   I could not quite hear the guide and was unsure of what was actually transpiring.   I was rushed and hurried and my moment of prayer was brief but pleading.  An internal pleading with God for mercy, for mercy for my own soul and that of my child.  Mercy for failing her.  It’s a concept many will not understand and is complete raw emotion.   It’s the life of the soul of a parent who has lost a child by suicide. It is like a battlefield as it is war torn and often tortured.  The mind is powerful and after you experience a death like suicide it often plays tricks on you.  The tricks are guilt, blame, and always what ifs.  They can eat your alive if you let them.

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On the outside you look fine.  Most of the time you act fine but on the inside there is an inner battle going on.   It is a battlefield of guilt, pain, loss and remorse.  There is often a wave almost at times like a tidal wave of emotion going through you.  You are often at times on the edge of sanity.

Other’s never know the battle that rages just below the surface. It’s comes and goes as you are working through the grief process each at their own pace and time.

So the pilgrimage was for me something different.   It’s a different style of travel.  Each persons journey on a pilgrimage is different.  Each in turn may experience reflections that are different.  Yet, the basis of this type of journey is a religious and prayerful journey.  It is where you search for some spiritual or moral significance.  For me this journey was about mercy and healing.  The healing of a mother, the healing of a wife, the healing of a daughter, the healing of a sister, an aunt, a friend.

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As I approached my first door there was an overwhelming sense of awe.  It was completely overwhelming in the aspect of the majesty of the church.  You realize walking through just how small you are in the whole world, and then you see the vast scale of the church.   You  discover the many different people of all nations and nationalities. They are all part of the church the world wide church.pexels-photo-93832.jpeg

 

There I was standing at the doors of Saint Peter’s Basilica and I could not focus.  It was as if all the noise the people the rush of adrenaline was completely taking over.

A moment of reflection was finally available.  I was able to take a moment and pray for all those who were journeying with me and those who asked for prayers. I stood there and prayed for myself and prayed for my child.   It was a hurried moment a rushed moment but it was there.   I will never be able to fully enter into a quiet prayer during this journey.  There would be far too many emotions and too many distractions.  I would find stolen moments of time.  It was here during these fleeting moments it was me and God.  Especially the times as I stopped along the way and lit candles for my child.  There would be moments in conversations with the good people.  Those that  journeyed with me.  The sharing of laughter, hopes, and dreams as each of us made our own pilgrimage.  For some it was a vacation, for others prayer, perhaps both to some also.  I sat with them and I learned a little about each person.   I enjoyed their stories, I prayed with them, and I laughed with them.

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Perhaps this was what I was meant to discover on my pilgrimage through the Holy Doors.  It was his people.  Each one bringing their own losses, hopes, and dreams.  Maybe I was supposed to see his people and through my own brokenness go forth with love.  Because the healing I was searching for the mercy I was searching for comes from LOVE.  The love of humanity in all of its brokenness, and its beauty.  Everything has not been revealed yet and I continue to reflect as I continue this year of mercy.

So right now as I look back at my journey to Rome and my pilgrimage. I continue to HOPE because isn’t that what the Holy Doors represent?  Hope.  It’s the hope of every human being.  All the dreams, the successes, the failures, and the mercy the mercy which each one of us hopes to embrace.  Despite the noisiness.  Despite the abrasiveness of the world we can take a moment even if it is small and experience Christ and see HOPE.

If you would like me to help you plan your own pilgrimage I would love to help you.  Please use the form below and let me know what you are looking for.

The best time to plan your vacation

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SW Colorado Photo Credit Travel with T

I have to admit every time I see those statistics of people not using their vacation it just makes me cringe.  I actually feel the chalk board nails grinding across the board and I quiver as that feeling creeps up my spine.  I want to run out the door as if it might be catching and scream in horror.  What if I too am infected and I also waste my coveted golden vacation days.  The thought itself is enough to send me into an all out search for my next travel adventure or faith journey.

As I person who travels but also plans travel I often get the question when is the best time to plan my vacation?   My answer today!  Why?  Because why not?  If you don’t start  now when?   Will you too leave your vacation hours sitting there unused and hold on!  Stop the presses!  Or, Gasp! you may lose or for that matter waste them if you have not used them.  I cringe at the thought.

 

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Puerto Rico Photo Credit Travel with T

So the reality is if you want to take a vacation and you want to go somewhere it takes planning.  You just have to get out there and do it.  There is no time that is better than today for making those plans.  Why?  The reason is if you want to go somewhere that takes just a little planning.  Lets just say Europe as in example.  Do you need visas?   Where do you want to go?  How long can you stay?  How are you going to get there and get around?   Lots of planning but that should never stop you even if it’s seems overwhelming.  The earlier the better I say.  Also get the help of a travel planner early on they can save you a ton of time and headache and also some cash.

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It’s to your advantage say to book a cruise or a tour in advance and one of the reasons why is PAYMENTS for those who can’t spend the total right off the back and maybe don’t want to pay interest if you charged it.   For instance, most cruise lines allow you to book a year or more in advance and your small deposit holds your room until final payment date usually a few months out.  So that gives you plenty of time during the year to put money towards your vacation.  I can hear the words now, I don’t want to cruise or what if I can’t go at the time I think.    Cruise lines are incredible at that and most of them are flexible.  Even when you book a year out with them and a couple of months before something happens and you can’t go.  No worries as long as you are within 60 days out or so just move your cruise out to a more suitable time.   Especially if you purchase insurance than you really have flexibility.   The whole idea of a time share is so that you GO on vacation.  I say skip the time share and plan your vacation.   That simple..

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For those not wanting a cruise a land based vacation at an all-inclusive resort can pretty much be done the same way.  Decide where you want to go.   You place a deposit which is usually more than the cruise deposit but still not the total price of the package.   Then you can pay it as the months go by. You can also wait until final payment usually 60 days out or so and pay it off then also.  Then as the months go by you dream.    This gives you ample time to enjoy the vacation before the vacation as you dream and do some research on your choice.    Many companies that a travel agent can find you will even let you move it to a different date if you need to.

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So again why are you waiting?   Why aren’t you traveling?  Really there are no excuses you have the time, you can spread your financial obligation out with no interest for up to sometimes over a year.  There are many who get a tax refund and it’s gone on nothing a vacation will give you a lifetime of memories worth much more than a new TV.   You have vacation it has been proven to help people deal better, handle stress easier, and relax more.   So if the beach, ocean, mountains, or some far away country beckons get on it.  Time and VACATION are a wasting.

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