Traveling can be stressful. As a seasoned traveler myself, I know how much effort goes into trip preparation. Today, I wanted to share some tips about aspects of your vacation you may put on the back burner. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan your next vacation.
Never Underestimate Lines at the Airport
It may seem overkill to get to the airport hours ahead of takeoff but it’s essential to keep in mind. Some international travelers are waiting up to four hours to get through security. Don’t miss out on your dream vacation because the line for TSA is moving too slowly. Better to be early and bored than to miss your flight entirely. If you’re looking for a good read to pass the time waiting in the terminal, check out my blog about some of my favorite mystery novels.
Traveling expenses can add up pretty quickly. Create a travel budget that will account for essentials like food and lodging but remember to take experiences into consideration. Give yourself room to make some pre-planned “impulsive” decisions on your trip.
Invest in a Quality Suitcase.
Many travelers fall victim to the overpacking impulse. This can be a pain when you’re trying to consolidate the number of bags you’re checking at the airport. Invest in a suitcase that can compensate for any last-minute additions to your clothes for the trip and anything you decide to purchase while you’re away.
It’s always important to know some of the ground rules for where you’re traveling. You should know. What’s a big no-no? Are there any cultural differences? Is there any special clothing you need to pack? Look at the weather forecast and be prepared for different climates depending on the time of year. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of everything but it’s good to have a general knowledge of the area you’re visiting so you can ensure you have the best trip possible.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Tourist Label
Tourists tend to get a bad rep. Many people get caught up trying to avoid judgment from locals but as long as you’re being respectful, embrace your status as a traveler. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions or visit the monument already clogged up with other visitors. They’re popular for a reason!
Preparedness pays off but make sure you don’t get too caught up in the details when you’re traveling. It’s good to have a plan so you can make the most out of your time but don’t sweat it too much if things get knocked a bit off course. Wherever you’re going, enjoy your visit!
As a lifelong Kansas City native, I’m always eager to show off the sights that make this city special. Though the Midwest can sometimes be overlooked for its vacation appeal, there’s plenty of hidden treasure to explore, especially here in Missouri. Here are some of the best sights Kansas City has to offer.
The Arabia Steamboat Museum offers an in-depth look at the historic sinking of the Arabia in 1856, as well as its recovery in 1988. The Missouri River claimed hundreds of steamboats along its 2,500-mile route throughout the 1800s. When the Steamboat Arabia originally sank in 1856, it brought down 200 tons of unknown cargo. Over a century later, the recovery of the ship brought with it a modern-day treasure-hunting story. Visitors get a glimpse into the past through the Arabia’s uniquely preserved materials. From clothing to fine china to children’s toys, this museum will capture the attention of all ages. The Arabia’s preservation is still in progress, so you always have more to look forward to in future visits.
Founded in 1909, the Kansas City Zoo has reigned the wild into the city for locals and tourists alike. The Kansas City Zoo is home to over 1,700 animals. They even have cameras for a live look at the animals after zoo hours. Their website offers a sneak peek at the more than 200 species represented at the zoo so that visitors can familiarize themselves before getting to meet them in person. From Allen’s Swamp Monkey to the American alligator, the Kansas City Zoo has everything an animal lover could want.
Another must-see, especially for any baseball fan, is the Kauffman Stadium. Originally opened as the Royals Stadium in 1973, Kauffman is the sixth oldest stadium in the country. It gained its new name in 1993, in honor of the team’s former owner, Ewing M. Kauffman, and his contributions to the team. I recommend taking the chance to watch the Kansas City Royals play at home during their 50th season. Kauffman Stadium has seats that can accommodate any price range and guarantee an exciting ballgame experience for everyone. View the Royals Hall of Fame or book a stadium tour.
If you’re looking for the “billion-dollar experience” at no cost, visit the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The Money Museum shows visitors how millions of dollars are processed through the Federal Reserve Bank each day. Guests can view Harry S. Truman’s coin collection, lift a genuine gold bar, and interact with numerous digital exhibits. The Money Museum is a fun and free way to learn more about the U.S. economy.
Kansas City has something to offer for all ages and interests.
Hello! Michael Gortenburg here and greetings from Kansas City!
Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world to visit some of the most spectacular countries and their noteworthy attractions. From the bustling streets of Tel Aviv to the beaches of Cuba, I’ve seen a lot beyond the borders of Kansas City.
One of my favorite trips was the one I took to Greece. Not only does the country have beautiful views, but Greece is rich in culture and history. If you find yourself going there anytime soon, here are a few places you should consider going to on your visit.
Cities and Islands
If you love seeing the remains of history and incredible art, Athens should be a no-brainer on your itinerary. Visit the Acropolis to see the most important landmark in the country and the New Acropolis Museum, which is the largest modern structure built so close to an ancient spot. The Acropolis is home to the remains of several ancient buildings including the Parthenon, the Old Temple of Athena, and the Theatre of Dionysus Eleutherius.
If you’re looking to let loose on vacation, look no further than Mykonos. Mykonos is a Greek Island known for its vibrant nightlife. You probably hear “Mykonos” and think of white buildings with beautiful blue accents, but it’s so much more than that. Whether you’re looking for wine tasting, a boat ride around the island, or nightclubs, you won’t be disappointed with what you can find there.
From ruins to islands, the sightseeing in Greece is second to none. The country has so many beautiful views that you can’t find here in the United States.
Greece has a rich culture, history, and most importantly, cuisine. Using wheat, olive oil, and wine, in combination with other specialty vegetables and proteins, cheeses and herbs, Greek culinary traditions will blow you away. I would definitely recommend trying Greek Baklava, a layered dessert made from filo dough and filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey. The dish has taken a variety of forms throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but there’s nothing quite like it in Greece, where they make it with 33 layers of dough.
If you like wine or olive oil, Greece is the perfect place to try both. Look for bountiful vineyards and groves for distinctly Greek wines and olive oil made from freshly picked olives. Did you know that Greek olive oil is considered to be a superfood? Studies have shown that it can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, fight cancer, and so much more.
These are just a few things to enjoy on your next trip to Greece. It is so important for us to experience and immerse ourselves in other cultures, and expand what we know about history, food, and people. Travelling is good for the soul and I wish you the best of luck as you explore the world.
Do you have any travel tips for Greece? Let me know in the comments below!
Today, I wanted to share my take on one of the many places that I’ve been fortunate to visit within the last couple of years: Croatia. It is a place that many people in the United States might not know much about – as it doesn’t get a lot of attention in movies, TV shows or other forms of media. Yet, it is a place that I consider to be one of the best destinations for those who like to explore.
When most Americans think of traveling to Europe, they think of the usual tourist destinations like London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. And while these typical locations are certainly worthy of praise, frequent travelers might want to consider trying something new and venturing further east to Croatia.
With a population of only four million, Croatia is located in Southeastern Europe, far from the typical European tourist destinations, in an area known as the Balkan States. This “out of the way” placement has allowed Croatia to quietly develop into a unique destination of its own, without being overrun with tourists.
The country is set along the Adriatic Sea (a part of the Mediterranean) and has many charming towns and natural landscapes. Whether you’re looking to hike lush forests and trails that provide you with unmatched views, or if you would rather be sitting seaside basking in the sun – there’s something for everyone.
As opposed to a sprawling metropolis like Paris, Croatia’s biggest draws are its relatively small coastal towns. Perhaps the most popular of these is Split – a beautiful seaside city with a large port where cruises will often stop for a day. Split, like many places in Eastern Europe, has a sort of “old world” feel to it. The town is surrounded by white stone walls, and the orange tiled roofing of almost all of its buildings give the area a distinct Mediterranean quality.
Other worthwhile places to check out if you’re in the area include: Rovinj, Zadar, and Rab. You’ll notice that these types of towns have a consistent feel to them; however, they are uniquely Croatian.
I would recommend enjoying these towns during the sunny and breezy summer months. Croatia stays fairly sunny year-round – but it can get a little chilly during the winter. However, Kansas City gets far colder!
Living the Best Life
As I mentioned before, there is a sort of old-world appeal to Croatia and when you visit, you will learn to appreciate its slower paced lifestyle. Almost all of the areas I visited are very walkable or accessible by mass transportation, so traffic is not really an issue. There weren’t any booming car stereos, fast food chains or a Super Walmart.
Many Croatians enjoy a calmer, more peaceful approach to life. Many work in artisanal shops, walk from place to place and have a more modest view of things than many of us here at home.
As for food, Croatian cuisine is delicious. Their seafood is incredibly good, and their desserts are even better. I enjoyed several different types of desert pastries, cakes and other sweets. Amazingly, Croatians remain very healthy despite all of the tempting food – it must be the frequent walking.
Ultimately, I rank Croatia as one of my favorite places to visit. It is such a unique experience for anyone coming from the United States, and its distinct culture allow Croatia to remain a place that is truly its own. It is certainly worth a visit from any traveler.
Michael Gortenburg here and greetings from Kansas City!
As you may have guessed from some of my earlier posts, I am an avid traveler. I always take advantage of any chance that I can to get away and experience another place or culture. I think it is good for the soul, and it provides fun and eye-opening experiences.
Today, I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned in my travels to the ancient land of Israel – a place that I find to be as beautiful as it is fascinating, and a place that I hold dear in my heart. To someone who has never been there, maybe this post will inspire you to see it for yourself!
The Foundation of History
Israel is a land that is rich in history, and it is apparent from the moment you set foot on its ancient city streets and its gorgeous countryside. Although the current state of Israel was not established until 1948, the land has been settled since the earliest days of humankind and has served as the center of history’s most significant moments.
Every building seems to tell a story and the country is filled with historic sites to visit. History buffs are sure to enjoy this aspect of Israel. One of my personal favorites is the city of Jaffa – the oldest port city in the world. It is a charming coastal city with its own distinct architecture style and beautiful beige buildings that evoke its Mediterranean feel.
Of course, if history is what you’re looking for, it is hard to find a more significant city in Israel – perhaps the world – than Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is a central holy site for some of the world’s major religions and draws millions of visitors from across the world for its rich historical and cultural offerings.
If you find yourself in Jerusalem, there are plenty of historic places to visit: The Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount, the Tower of David and more. One could spend days in this city alone – but the nation of Israel offers so much more!
Outside of the historical sites of Israel – there are also plenty of places visitors should be sure to check out once they visit. The city of Haifa comes to mind, with its impeccably manicured terraces and world-famous Baha’i Gardens. Haifa is built along a hillside so visitors in the gardens are treated with breathtaking panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the rest of the city below, complete with a central staircase that leads wanderers down to the shore. Haifa is easily one of the most scenic and well-planned cities that I’ve been lucky to come across in my travels.
Another international destination is the city of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv could be compared to Miami for its warm temperature and similar design of seaside towers, glistening in the sun as beachgoers relax on its sandy shores.
Tel Aviv is more of a secular city – drawing millions of tourists every year to its party and cultural scene. There are many clubs, beachfront restaurants and bars for partiers of any kind. But if you’re more of a relaxed type, you could also visit its many museums, gardens and markets. A personal favorite of mine would be the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
And while Tel Aviv is a huge draw for fun, it is also an economic powerhouse for Israel and a technology hub for the world. Tel Aviv has its own “Silicon Valley” of sorts and is home to some of the most advanced technology companies in the world, like RAD. It also houses pharmaceutical giants like Teva and has a vibrant startup scene. Many groundbreaking companies focused on AI/Machine Learning and software are based in Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas.
A Journey You’ll Remember
Whether you’re interested in making a trip for its religious or historical significance, or whether you’re more curious about its party and vacation scene – Israel has a lot to offer. It is one of the few countries in the region that is readily available for tourists to enjoy and you will never run out of things to see and do.
I would highly recommend anyone thinking of going to take the opportunity and visit Israel. It is certainly a place like no other and a memory that you will never forget.
It never ceases to amaze me just how dramatically technology
can change the way we live our lives. When the personal computer was
introduced, it took a couple of years for use to become mainstream – but now
you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t use a computer throughout
Now with the smart phone and constant access to the
internet, we have more options available to us than ever before and entire
industries are being revolutionized – including the travel industry.
For those who might not know, Airbnb is a platform that
allows users to host/rent rooms with a simple tap of the finger. Hosts prepare
a room in their home or property and place an ad on the platform which then
allows guests to browse and secure dates for the room as needed. Airbnb rooms
essentially function as a less expensive hotel room – or even an apartment for
The great thing about Airbnb is that it gives shared control
of the stay to the host and guest, without corporate policies getting in the
way of a mutually beneficial deal. And Airbnb rooms can be found all over the
world – opening up new traveling options that would otherwise be impossible.
Today, I’d like to share some quick tips for using Airbnb to
maximize your traveling plans.
Review the Listing Carefully
It goes without saying that you should take a careful look
at any listing before booking. Some hosts will have “creative” ads to entice
guests, and while they may have the best intentions, you want to ensure that
the place fits your expectations on your trip.
For example, sometimes a room may be described as “cozy” but
should really say “small.” Or if a listing says “private” but doesn’t indicate
a separate room – there may just be a curtain blocking your bed from view of three
other people in a shared room.
Make sure to look at the photos that are posted. Does the
room look clean? Does it show all of the things listed in the ad? A picture is
worth a thousand words.
Most Airbnb hosts are honest enough with their listings (they
want good reviews after all), but it’s always best to really look over the ad
to avoid any disappointment. Speaking of reviews, read them. Reviews will also
give insight into the listing as well as the host. If a host has dozens of
positive reviews claiming that the spot is a good deal, is clean, is
convenient, etc. – then it’s a safe bet that you will enjoy your stay there.
Like all things, learning how to spot a good deal on Airbnb
can take some time and experience. The higher the price for your stay, the
nicer the place will be – but you can find some really good deals on a room
that fits both your expectations and budget with a little investigating.
Booking for Deals
When you are booking Airbnb rooms, it’s important to
understand and anticipate any fluctuations that may affect pricing. For
example, if the place you’re traveling to has a tourist season, the prices
might be higher during a time when more people are booking Airbnb stays.
Naturally, hosts don’t want to lose out on any opportunities
so keep this in mind when booking your stay. One way to grab the best deals and
the best rooms is by booking weeks in advance. One of the benefits to Airbnb is
being able to seamlessly secure a stay, but you will get better deals and
better rooms by taking the time to book early.
Depending on how long you will be in the area, you may want
to book for extended stays (a couple of weeks or even months.) Airbnb and even
hosts will factor in discounts for extended stays – saving you hundreds of
dollars that you would have otherwise paid for the spot.
When you do book a room –MAKE SURE YOU BOOK
THROUGH TO THE NEXT DAY!
Airbnb calculates the last day as move-out day, so book
through to the day you want to leave.
Contacting Hosts & Support
Airbnb has a phenomenal customer support team who are
available at all hours in case there is an issue with your stay. If you are
unhappy with your room or if you cannot contact the host – the Airbnb support
team will work tirelessly to address your concerns.
They are also known to offer you discounts or comped
services if things don’t work out with your experience. For example, if a host
accepts your booking but does not coordinate with you for your arrival, you may
want to contact Airbnb support as they can offer you hundreds of dollars in
credit toward another room. That means you will get a much nicer stay for the
Also, it is always a good idea to contact hosts prior to
your stay. Some hosts leave their listings in auto-accept, but may never check
their app – meaning they might not know that you’re arriving! To avoid any
issues with your trip, just contact the host through the Airbnb platform before
your stay and sure up everything.
Airbnb’s are a great experience and a great deal for anyone
looking to travel on a budget or for people who want to avoid stuffy hotels. A
lot of Airbnb rooms are really nice places with even nicer hosts who will
entertain you and give you a glimpse into the life of a local.
When you use Airbnb, make sure that you are respectful and
treat the room as if it were your own. There is a review system after all,
which could determine your opportunities later on. And make sure to leave an
honest review of your stay – it keeps the platform accurate and hosts always
appreciate good feedback and credibility.
Hopefully you can use these tips on your next trip if you’re
interested in using Airbnb.
I have always enjoyed
traveling, and I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful
places in the world.
One such place would
undoubtedly be Mexico.
As you may have read in my previous post about traveling, there are some benefits to doing the touristy things
when you travel; things like seeing the famous sites, going to museums, etc.
But then there are times to
go rogue and truly become immersed in this foreign and wonderful place that you
find yourself in. There are times to avoid the popular destinations to get a
full perspective. Well, if you find yourself in Mexico – my advice is to do
just that (within reason).
The Beauty of the Desert
Mexico is a fairly large
country with a wide range of scenic coastal towns, bustling metropolises, dense
forests and of course – grand deserts.
Cancun may be the best bet
for spring-breakers and MTV, and Mexico City is a great place for food and
culture. Yet there is something special about the isolated and calming nature
of the Mexican desert.
Located in the state of Chihuahua,
the Chihuahuan Desert is an almost spiritual place. It’s the single largest
desert in North America and spans well into the United States and is home to
many mountain ranges.
What I like most about the desert is how remote it feels. No people hustling around, no Kansas City traffic, no rush – just the soothing sound of the wind.
As I mentioned, if you really
want to see Mexico for what it is – you have to stray away from the tourist
zones and check into some of the lively small towns and villages that dot the
This is where you’ll see just
how different life is in other parts of the world. The days and nights pass more
slowly and people seem to be more relaxed, almost happier. You feel completely
disconnected from the world for just a little while and content with a simpler
kind of life.
It’s a sort of therapeutic
One city that I would
recommend visiting is Guanajuato. It’s a very vibrant medium-sized city with
multi-colored rows of buildings, cobble stone streets and a town center where
city dwellers exchange goods at a market. There also happens to be a very
interesting “Museum of Mummies.”
South of the Border
By far one of my favorite
aspects of our southern neighbor is the different expectations that they have
of businesses and services. It is eye opening and interesting to see how
different the world operates in their day-to-day.
In some rural parts of
Mexico, it’s not uncommon for businesses to close up shop for a couple of hours
in the middle of the day; “siesta.” This is one of those aspects of their
culture that I wish I could bring back to Kansas City, and I don’t think I’m
alone on that.
It’s also not uncommon for
prices to change depending on the mood of the shopkeeper and whether or not
they can be talked down. Although you won’t need to necessarily talk down too
many shopkeepers because the American dollar can go a long way down there.
See It for Yourself
There are so many differences
between the U.S. and Mexico that you have to see it for yourself to truly
understand the difference in feeling.
Mexico is a wonderful country
that offers a lot in the sense of adventure, natural beauty and fun. My advice
if you go is to take your time, enjoy the slower pace and really enjoy the
Over the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to travel to
many different extraordinary destinations. From the lesser known coastal towns
of the Balkans to the ancient cities of the Middle East – I’ve seen a lot
outside of Kansas City.
One of the most distinct places that immediately comes to mind has to be Italy. With the ruins of the Colosseum and the timeless cathedrals, Italy can be described as truly atmospheric. And while sites like the Vatican and the Trevi Fountain are packed with tourists, they are absolutely mandatory for visitors…at least once.
Second-to-None Cuisine and Sightseeing
After sightseeing and observing the differences in cultures, trying new foods has to be one of my favorite things about traveling – and what is Italy known for if not their beloved food? It’s a cuisine that has been carefully perfected and preserved over centuries. Their attention and attitudes toward quality is astounding and drastically different than typical restaurants that you would find in Kansas City, or the U.S. in general. It’s a quality that Italian chefs take great pride in.
The first thing you’ll notice about authentic Italian cuisine is
that it isn’t all pizzas and pastas. Sure, those are classic staples, but
Italian dishes outside of the states consist of vegetables, rice, and seafood.
The carb-heavy American approach to Italian food is far from a true representation
of the Mediterranean peninsula.
Also, in Italy, less is more. They focus on quality, taste and
nourishment as opposed to how much they can put onto a plate. There’s a reason
why the Italian island of Sardinia is included in the areas labeled as “Blue Zones,” where
people live far longer and healthier lives.
In addition to the variety of foods, Italy is incredibly diverse from region to region. There’s an ocean of difference between the rolling green hills of Tuscany’s wine country and the sun-kissed villages along the Amalfi coast. Milan is often regarded as the fashion capital of the world. Florence is known for its rich history and artists. Venice, of course, is a town largely built on sunken streets and this time of year is filled with tourists who line up to travel the canals by gondola.
No matter where you go in Italy, it’s fascinating to see how a relatively small country can be so unique from town to town.
Hold the Phone
Finally, one last note for those thinking of visiting Italy:
Like with all traveling, what is it that we remember most? It’s
not the hotels, the photos on our phones or the t-shirts from famous hotspots.
It’s the raw experiences and memories. Italy is a beautiful place with many
things to see and do. My advice to anyone thinking of visiting is to take your
time and avoid the luring “comforts” of modern traveling.
I enjoy nice hotels and attractions as much as the next person,
but they can detract from the experience if you’re not careful.
It’s okay to go without Wi-Fi for just a moment, to get out and
enjoy the many offerings of one of Europe’s most historic places. Don’t just
try to cram in all of the tourist attractions and destination. Maybe take a walk
off of the beaten path or two.
The whole idea is to see and do things that take you out of your
average day and the mindset of passive consumption.