Holiday Travel Tips

Thanksgiving is over and everyone is getting ready for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and celebrations of the New Year.

While the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, Dec. 19-Dec. 25 is the busiest week.  Also take into account that the last week of the year most children in the USA are off from school and this is the time often used for family vacations.

If you are traveling in the last two weeks of the year be prepared for crowds and plan for delays, as in addition to lots of people, weather is a big factor at this time of year. Keep snacks handy, especially for children. If you are flying remember you can’t take that bottle of water through security so put in your budget costs for water and maybe meals at the airport.

Buying travel insurance is an inexpensive way to have peace of mind and if needed save often thousands of dollars. Consider the flight delay that means paying more for the kennel for your dog or meals or hotel rooms, insurance covers that and more.

Exchanging gifts is a focus at this time of year. If you are flying anywhere think about what you will be carrying with you, onboard the plane as well as what you have to check. For many airlines checking even one bag will cost $25 or more. With that in mind, consider gift cards, small gifts or just buying online and let the companies ship for you. Many companies are offering free shipping which can save you money and headaches.

If someone is coming to visit you, think about what they have to carry back with them. Good things come in small packages.

Hitting the road will have its share of bumps as well. If you are traveling to a metropolitan area, get a feel for the traffic flow before you get in the car. Plan your trip to avoid rush hours and the ‘are we there yet’ question. Sites like Traffic.com and local radio stations online can give you a good heads up on the road conditions. Also, Weather.com gives you the ability to plan for what to wear based on temperatures and road conditions.

Are you looking for a last minute deal? Don’t keep your hopes up around the holiday season. During the holiday season, any city or beach that attracts tourists will often have lodging at costs of 10%-200% higher than normal. The deals are in places where most people don’t go at this time of year. In addition, the best places book early, sometimes as much as 6 months in advance, so even if you are willing to pay the price, there may not be a choice of where to stay.

If you like peace and quiet, no crowds, change your plans to travel in January or September through early December. Even if you are taking the children on a trip, if they are young enough missing a few days of school can be offset by the learning experience of being in a new country and meeting new people. Also, your costs will be lower and you will have less stress.

We hope you will have a wonderful holiday season whether hitting the road, riding the rails, sailing the waves or flying high or enjoying the comforts of home.

 

 

 

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Bottle of Red, Bottle of White

For Billy Joel fans, you can complete the thought, it all depends on your appetite.

For baby boomers, wine was just that, red or white. But today, your grocery store offers a global collection of wines, including choices from the USA, France, Italy, Chile, South Africa, even Australia.

I’m sure we can thank classic tv chefs like Julia Child and Jacques Pepin who taught us that dinner can be more than steak and potatoes. It is only a natural extension from fine food to fine wine.

Believe it or not the USA is the 4th top wine producing country in the world. There are 4700 wineries in the USA. Most are in California, but every state has at least one. Virginia is the 5th top wine producer in the USA, with wineries throughout the state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine tasting and winery tours have become popular excursions. There are even limo companies, like Virginia Wine Tours, offering tours so you can imbibe as you please and not worry about who’s behind the wheel.

Words like Sommelier and Oenophile have crept into our vocabulary, and who hasn’t heard of Merlot. But most of us are novices, myself included. When traveling its great to try new foods and new wines.  In fact if you travel then you have the incredible opportunity of trying new cuisines and local flavors that can be the icing on the cake of a great trip.

We often hear about wine pairings. This is when expert advice is really an advantage. Let the chef and sommelier at a restaurant work their magic. There is even an organization Food and Wine Pairing which helps to educate us. Why is it important? In the scheme of things this is not life altering but when we can get the most out of an experience we should. Pairings allow us to get the best flavor from both the food and the wine.

There is a ton of information available online and in the book stores. If you want a fun and educated view of wine try Drinkthistv.com. The Wine Bible is pretty highly rated for consumers who want to learn about wine.

Enjoy your travels and treat your tastebuds to all the delicacies the world has to offer.

If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?
Cardinal Richeleu

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
The Rubiyaiyat of Omar Khayyam
translated by Edward Fitzgerald

Do you have a great wine story, a wine that you just can’t live without or a bit of education on wine? Let us know, we’ll share the knowledge and give you credit (with your permission of course) Photos and videos are welcome.

Unique Travel Events is a full service travel agency. Call us at 703-986-0934 for all your travel and vacation needs.

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