Category

Family Travel

RV Vacations are Popular in 2020 – EZTravelPad Can Help

By | Adventure, Family Travel, Sightseeing | No Comments

Rent a Motorhome and Find Your Own Way in your RV

It’s true – this is the year for the RV vacation. RVing has always been a popular option for American families, but this year especially, with Covid-19 raging and social distancing required, camping in the great outdoors is hugely popular.

RV sales have been through the roof, but that might be more of a commitment than you are willing to make right now. Fortunately there is an option. A trusted and reliable RV rental company such as CruiseAmerica can make the process simple, safe and a great value.

From less than $100 per day for the more compact variety, to a bit over $300 per night for the larger model that sleeps 7 can make for a terrific value (seasonal pricing does apply) – plus you can take along the family pets!

Whether you escape to a park not far from home, or take to the road of a long trip exploring some of the US National Parks, this could be a great option for your family.

See this blog post direct from CruiseAmerica for some additional info – and remember –

“Your friends….in the travel business” are here to help. When you think vacation, think EZTravelPad

Europe THIS Fall? Maybe?

By | Adventure, Europe, Family Travel, Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Romance, Sightseeing | No Comments

Europe This Year? It May Be Awesome!

During this global pandemic especially, but really anytime- trusting experts to rely on vetted in-destination experts may be the key to most fully enjoying your experience.

Over the years I have built a reputation on knowing the destinations that I help people experience. Some of that is a result of direct, on the ground time spent in various destinations and resorts throughout the Caribbean – or on a variety of cruise ships both large and small….but I can’t go or know everywhere, and the other part of the equation that you may not realize is that I spend a significant amount of time at conferences networking with the top experts in destination to better understand what they offer, and who they are.

Going wide-open at a conference for 3 days can be fun, but it’s also hard work – and I do that to prepare to be able to better guide you when you want to experience a destination that I am less familiar with.

One of those destination experts is Titanium Tours specializing in Spain, Portugal and France. They may not be “the cheapest”, but I am not here to guide you to the cheapest experience possible – I am here to guide you to the BEST experience that you will long remember fondly. For that type of experience, Titanium is one of the best!

Below are some ideas from Titanium Tours – ideas that may inspire you to get a trip plan started – and maybe as soon as this fall, the best time of the year to go!

When to Go?

September – November are great months for travel to Spain, Portugal or France. The weather is still beautiful and autumn seasonal activities abound. According to the news coming from each country, we are confident that tourism will resume by then. As you can see above September and October are great months for travel in a typical year.

Furthermore, you can now find good fall airfares going to any of our airports. For example IND – BCN for well under $1000 ($600-700)  with one connection!

What to Book?

The beauty of custom independent tours and partnering with a company like Titanium Tours is that they can guide you to areas where COVID-19 is not present or has had little impact. They can help us help you to pick boutique hotels, less crowded routes, private experiences, etc where you will feel safe while traveling abroad. Their 3 countries in which they specialize have been impacted very differently and different areas of each country have been affected very differently. They can guide you to create an itinerary that’s both exciting and safe.

For instance, Portugal has had significantly less cases than France and Spain. If you want off the beaten path experiences, they can for example, take you 90 minutes north of Lisbon to our Castles and Wild Horses experience.

In France, you can avoid crowded areas to visit the Hill Top Villages of Luberon in Provence and go truffle hunting. Winter truffles are more aromatic and their season starts in November.

In Southern Spain, where COVID-19 has also had a much smaller impact, you can go to the private workshop of a silk shawl craftsman who’s family has been embroidering silk shawls, most typical in this region, for generations. Not only will you observe an artist at work, but you can even try your hand at it.

Or perhaps this is the year to go admire the beauty of the Azores….

The point is simply this – there is a big wonderful word of experience and the tourism industry is eager to help you discover them. In Europe it’s not all about cafes and museums – there are wonderful experiences to enjoy and still be safely guided!

EZTravelPad is here to guide you to the best tour operators with the best guides – who will help you have the best experience possible – custom designed for YOU!

We’re here to help when you are ready. Contact us today for more info

 

 

A Day on Waiheke Island – Wine Tasting & More

By | Adventure, Dining, Family Travel, Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Romance | No Comments

Waiheke Island in New Zealand is a Wine Lover’s Paradise

 

A day on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island is as relaxing as it is beautiful. The gorgeous scenery, combined with a diverse amount of vineyards and dining options along with the welcoming residents combine for a fantastic day trip  from Auckland via ferry, or opt to stay for a few days because 1 day just might not be enough!

On a recent visit to New Zealand we had the good fortune to experience a full day on the island. The day trip was booked with a reliable tour operator that we use for many clients in many destinations. The portal offers terrific access to all sorts of the best day tours & activities across the globe including this one.

Upon departure from Auckland’s main ferry terminal the 45 minute trip across the Hauraki Gulf can be a bit chilly and breezy so determining whether to opt for the very comfortable accommodation in the climate controlled main decks or enjoying the view from the top deck exposed to the elements is a decision to consider from the outset. We opted for the breeze (and breezy it was!). But it greatly enhances the arrival in Matiatia Bay.

Starting out from the ferry terminal it takes just a minute to disembark, then a couple more to find your group for the tour (unless opting for a completely private tour) then you are off to a terrific tour of some of the islands top vineyards for tastings and more.

Our group started out at Stonyridge Vineyards for a brief overview and history of the property courtesy of some of the staff as well as wine tastings along the way.

then is was on to a delightful lunch that far exceeded our expectations outdoors near the olive tree plantation.

Quiche, excellent cheeses & guacamole & homemade chips, more wine….(not pictured – we were hungry)

The exterior at Stonyridge Vineyard

As one of the first vineyards on the island it certainly set some of the standards and some high bars, which we were soon to find out would be exceeded!

After Stonyridge we enjoyed some additional tastings at a nearby olive orchard which featured not only some nice olive oils, but additionally some chutneys and other delights were available for sampling and purchase.

But it was wine that we came for!

So on to Casita Miro

To say that this place was memorable is such an understatement. It is quite obviously a labor of love created and curated by the owners Barnett & Cat Bond. Cat focuses on the award winning restaurant

 

 

While Barnett focuses on the wine. A quick overview of the vineyards and brief history of the property….

 

quickly led to tastings of some of the best wines that we experienced in destination – especially the Madame Rouge, which is both outstanding and unforgettable! (and that’s not easy for me to say, as someone who does not generally care for sweet wines)

 

The Spanish influences and Gaudi inspirations are everywhere beginning with the unmistakably Gaudi-esque retaining wall that greets you upon arrival, throughout the property and on to the tasting bar pictured below…

The visit to Casita Miro was excellent, and if ever I get the opportunity to return for a special dining experience this one is near the top to the to-do list for New Zealand, but as they say on television commercials all too often….but wait, there’s more!

The most talked about and highly regarded vineyards on Waiheke Island has to be Mudbrick.

It was recommended and name dropped by everyone who I spoke to regarding putting this New Zealand experience together, and it did not disappoint.

Well, to be honest there was a bit of disappointment involved, but the lovely staff at Mudbrick had nothing to do with it – it was the weather…gloomy, overcast, hazy, chilly & cool meant that spending an extra couple of hours on the patio to enjoy the sunset was not going to be terrific this day, but maybe next time because if it were clear I can only imagine that the view of the sunset across the bay with Auckland in the distance would be amazing!

Still, the overall ambiance is a cut above.

Mudbrick is not only a terrific place for a small group tour or Cellar Door tasting, and of course an excellent choice for a memorable lunch or special occasion dinner, but as well is a top choice for events such a weddings or corporate events.

Strolling the gardens….

Dining al fresco….

Enjoying a libation….

Mudbrick is a cut above. Next time it will be enjoyed “on the fly” after checking the accuweather forecast!

In the end though, Waiheke is not only about vineyards and wine tastings (although I would be equally happy with a few days here as a few days in Napa & Sonoma), there is more to the destination.

A chill little laid back beach town is how I would describe the primary community of Oneroa. A bit of shopping, a stroll along the beach,

along with hiking, biking, paddleboarding, horseback riding, zip lining & more can help you unwind in this pristine little gem.

When it’s time to talk about incorporating a stop at Waiheke Island into your larger adventure to New Zealand then get with “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for the help you deserve.

We specialize in unforgettable leisure vacations and we are here to help.

Email [email protected] for more

Great deal for Christmas Vacation 2019!

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Family Travel, Mexico | No Comments

Looking for a DEAL for a Great Beach Resort during the Christmas Holiday?

 

 

 

If you want to make your 2019 Christmas Vacation unforgettable this year – and you are interested in a great beach resort….

If you are ok leaving from O’Hare in Chicago….(for best pricing)

and

If you have some flexibility “just in case” (see more on that below) then the value is outstanding!

Check out what the view from the beach will look like….

 

..and the spa!

.

 

Why “just in case”?

Well, it’s slated to open in early December 2019 but sometimes delays happen….and if so then you could potentially be redirected to another great resort in the area instead (but there’s more to explain and it’s not bad news…) .

It’s kind of a secret…and there’s a lot more to explain, but if something like $1990 per person incl flights for a week at a fantastic 5 Star All-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya during the holidays sounds appealing then let me know asap at this link with possible dates of travel and I can elaborate on details!

Of course anytime you want to talk about other vacations ideas you can always trust “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for the best advice – and best price!

Cruising into or out of Venice as a Port

By | Cruise, Europe, Family Travel, Romance, Sightseeing | No Comments

Venice, Italy – A lovely city to start or end your cruise vacation

There are not many things more enchanting than arriving to your Venice hotel in a water taxi.

Words and photos are not entirely capable of describing the emotions that you experience- the sounds, the sights, the sunshine on your face – the anticipation of visiting such an iconic destination.

Hotels-

Of course there are dozens and dozens of terrific hotels with varying levels of service. We chose the lovely Hotel Danieli located just steps from The Bridge of Sighs leading to Doges Palace and Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Plaza) – terrific service and as convenient as it gets.

Venice is a city built on 118 islands (some small and others tiny) connected by hundreds of bridges that make up the city. The history of Venice dates back around 1600 years so as you might imagine there are some amazing examples of many different types or architectural influences including Gothic, Byzantine, Islamic & more.  Below is but 1 of many gorgeous buildings

If you are a lover of any style of art and craftmanship then a visit to Murano is a must-do. Murano is a small island about 15 minutes boat ride from Venice. Complimentary tours are available and you will not see a better array of glassworks than you will here. The island is home to hundreds of glassblowers who have different specialties. The glassblowing demonstration is amazing

but what is more amazing is the showroom which consists of room upon room with unbelievable displays of artistic genius ranging from chandeliers to wine glasses and every type of glassware in between

St Marks’s Square & Basilica along with the Doges Palace are also must-see

Water Taxis and Gondolas

Of course no trip to Venice would be complete without spending some time on the water. Whether touring by water taxi…

or enjoying a gondola ride complete with serenade…

 

these are the memories that you will carry with you for many years to come (and of course taking a few photos helps too)!

Shopping

There are more shops that you can ever hope to get to even if staying for weeks – and cafes & restaurants are also in no short supply so save up some energy for that!

After a few hours of touring and shopping then a Spritz or 2 in a cafe is not to be missed

 

In short – Venice is simply magical and unforgettable.

When it’s time for your trip to Venice (or other bucket list destination) then you know you can turn to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for expert guidance and the best values to be found.

2 Days in Barcelona Pre-cruise

By | Cruise, Europe, Family Travel | No Comments

Barcelona – easily one of the most enjoyable cities on earth

La Ramblas – the tourism hub of Barcelona

 

There are many reasons why Barcelona is generally regarded as one of the Top 5 cities to visit in Europe….

I’m not gonna lie, flying all night then arriving in a foreign country, checking into a hotel for a quick change then off to a e-bike tour on virtually no sleep is a bit aggressive, but I’m glad we did it (not sure my wife feels the same lol). It’s either go tour and be active or go to sleep and lose several hours of exploring time. We chose to see all we could in the short time we had there

e-bike tour booked through Viator – 12 participants – a good time all around

We covered alot of ground on those bikes – From landmarks to archaeological excavations to parks to the beach and more

Interestingly the beach area in Barcelona is relatively new, and a key component of the revitalization of the city. Investments into re-imagining the city as a tourist destination rather than an industrial powerhouse led to the 1992 Summer Olympics being held in the city and they haven’t looked back – now Barcelona is widely regarded as one of the top cities in the world for tourists

 

After some sightseeing on the e-bikes then it was time to sample some tapas from one of the more famous tapas restaurants – Els Quatre Gats (4 cats) which is widely known as one of Pablo Picasso’s favorite bars

 

But on to other things….

La Sagrada Familia

If there is one thing that Barcelona is know for (besides tapas) it’s Antoni Gaudi’s masterpience – La Sagrada Familia

Construction continues at La Sagrada Familia

Imagine a work so vast that the architect knew, at less than 30 years of age, that construction would last well beyond his death. While this looks massive now, it will eventually soar to a much taller height and a much broader footprint when complete

Construction began in 1882 – they are hopeful of completion by 2026 (in honor of the 100th year anniversary of Gaudi’s death)

The inside is an homage to nature as much as it is to Jesus and to fully understand I recommend a good guide – it’s so worth the extra $$ and photos just do not do justice to this masterpiece

We booked a 3 hours guided tour of La Sagrada Familia in conjunction with a tour of the Hospital Sant Pau. Initially I was indifferent to the tour starting at some hospital, eventhough I was understanding that for there to be a tour it must be something worth seeing. That said, I was blown away. Not only was this once public hospital a masterpiece of efficiency it was also architecturally amazing and beautiful.

our Context Tours guide Zaida was both charming and an expert in the Catalan culture

Once again photos are difficult capture the overall feel but imagine that this is just one of the many separate buildings serving patients with varying illnesses

and here is a model of the fully functional hospital where the main building served as an admittance and admin building then patients were transferred to the appropriate wing via underground tunnels that were well lit from skylights strategically placed throughout the gardens filled with healing herbs and aromatic plants.

So what else does Barcelona offer?

Well…the $15.50 EU bottles of Cava at the cafe across the street from the hotel were pretty great….

and there is SO much more to relate!

For help planning your next great getaway – be it Barcelona or anywhere else amazing please consider turning to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad where we leverage relationships on a daily basis to help insure that you have the time of your life on each and every vacation

 

US National Parks Like You Have Never Experienced Before!

By | Adventure, Blog, Family Travel, Uncategorized | No Comments

You don’t have to Leave the US to Experience Volcanoes and Waterfalls

Imagine cruising through some of the most pristine scenery that the American West has to offer, the US National Parks and Monuments, and doing so in a style you have never even before imagined – with a group of friends – or with your entire family – riding in style with a professional driver in a tricked out vehicle called a Limo Liner.

It’s a very comfortable vehicle with leather sofas, large windows, comfort controls and also features

  • In transit WiFi
  • In transit Television

It’s an all-inclusive ride for almost a week checking out the best of the west (that’s right – a hospitality chef will be serving guests throughout the day with included wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea, seasonal fresh fruits, snacks & much more)

Tour options include

  • Badlands and Wind Cave
  • Yellowstone and Grand Teton
  • Crater Lake and Redwoods
  • Salt Lake City, Moab, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Las Vegas

and several other options as well…

Of course you won’t spend the night on the Limo Liner – you will be sleeping in comfortable hotels, lodges & resorts along the way

Why in the world would you drive yourself when you can enjoy the luxury and safety of such a journey?

For much more info and to get your adventure started reach out to “Your friends….in the travel business” contact EZTravelPad today!

Paris- I Can’t Wait!

By | Europe, Family Travel, Romance | No Comments

Paris in the Spring

I don’t know how many times have I heard how wonderful Paris is in the spring…and NOW we can get there from Indy non-stop starting THIS spring at a very reasonable rate (think from around $1600+ pp for a few nights incl flights + hotel!)

Sure – figure on spending a few $$ on some amazing food & wine + tours (explaining the food and wine) but leaving home in the late afternoon and arriving in one of the world’s greatest citiesthe early(-ish) morning just in time for a full day in the city + a few more…Yes!!

Rest assured that  “Your friends….in the travel business”  at EZTravelPad are checking out the options so you can have the time of your life…no matter how much time you have!

Imagine touring the Louvre with a small group (no more than 6 people) and your Docent is this young lady…

 

Time to go!

Actually – if you can’t wait until spring and you want to join Michelle and I there for Thanksgiving come help us explore!

We’ll be experiencing things so YOU get the best advice possible!

When you are ready reach out to us

Why Kauai?

By | Adventure, Family Travel, Honeymoons and Weddings, South Pacific | No Comments

Kauai – The Garden Island

Kauai is referred to as the Garden Isle partly because it offers 3 of the 5 tropical botanical gardens in the U.S. and partly because if feels as though the entire island is a huge garden….lush, tropical and gorgeous

True, parts of the island get a tremendous amount of rainfall (the most on earth) – but other parts are much less moist and receive much sunshine as well so choosing the right area to fit your needs is a big part of crafting the best overall experience

Below is a picturesque waterfall experienced on a short hike …

 

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Kauai is a really laid back island – super friendly – a place where all of the locals seem to know each other (because there are only about 65,000 people who reside on the island…)

Cuisine can be anything from basic (food truck) to gourmet with many farm to table dining options available

Nightlife is almost non-existent so this is not a place to go party…it is a place to commune with nature, relax, disconnect…and experience some adventures

Typical resorts such as the St Regis, Marriott, Sheraton & more will pamper you in style… or out of the way resorts such as Waimea Plantation Cottages will take you back to a simpler life with few frills in 100 year old cottages originally used on the plantation and offering unmatched serenity

Landscapes are stunning…from the

Napali Coastline

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to …

The Waimea Canyon

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to the beaches around Princeville

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or even…if you can believe it…a hotel lobby!

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it’s amazing – for such a small island there really are a tremendous amount of experiences, varied landscapes, varied climate zones, etc. On an ATV excursion we went through a mountain tunnel from 1 valley to the next and in just over a minute experienced the largest rainfall differential that exists anywhere on the planet so depending on the specific location that you select your vacation could be in one of the wettest parts of the planet – or in a spot where very little rain falls…

There are numerous experiences to add into a package from the usual and traditional-

  • Luau
  • Hiking
  • Snorkeling
  • ATV Driving
  • Zip-lining

to the unusual…

  • Tubing through an ancient irrigation ditch
  • Exploring Napali coast in a raft
  • Helicopter over the Waimea Canyon

Here is a brief video depicting just a few of the adventures that can be experienced

Sure – you can do things on your own, but why?

EZTravelPad can connect you with some extra perks that you would not otherwise be entitled to, offer some complimentary advice, make your experience much easier and bring the price in at or lower than you can yourself…so reach out to us for much more info when you are ready to start planning your getaway to Kauai

Beaches Resorts Offers Sesame Street Characters & Tuck-In Service!

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Family Travel | No Comments

Sesame Street Character at Beaches Resorts Work Overtime for YOU

 

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Beaches Resorts is widely acknowledged as the leader in high quality family friendly Caribbean vacations. Why?

  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Location
  • Repeat Business

But you probably already knew that. You also probably already knew that Beaches Resorts is the family friendly compliment to the Sandals Resorts chain, which offers luxury all-inclusive vacations for adults only (a Honeymoon and Romantic getaway favorite!).

But did you know that when you take the family to Beaches for a family vacation you can arrange for –

  • Photo opps with Sesame Street characters
  • Character breakfasts
  • and perhaps coolest of all- Character Tuck-in Service

How cool would it be? How memorable for your children? How much fun can you have? Think the parents at the PTA meeting or basketball game will get a little envious when they hear about what you did for your children?

Check it out-

Let a Sesame Street® furry friend help make your child’s bedtime wishes come true, even before their head touches the pillow! In a calm, quiet environment, one of five Sesame Street® characters will join in on some relaxing stretches, a bedtime story, and a sweet lullaby before tucking your child in for the evening.

What’s Included

One-Character Tuck-In 

  • One 15-minute session with one character

  • 5″ x 7″ commemorative color photograph

  • One Sesame Street® plush toy per child

Two-Character Tuck-In

  • One 15-minute session with two character

  • Two 5″ x 7″ commemorative color photographs

  • Two Sesame Street® plush toys per child

Characters Available*

  • Elmo

  • Zoe

  • Abby Cadabby

  • Cookie Monster

  • Grover

 

You spend so much time and effort working your tail off to provide for your family, but what do you really provide? Sure- food and shelter – security – a new bike maybe – a new Wii and Game cube and Play station and …….

This year think about providing your kids with a memory they will never forget – and that they will love you for forever, then let them play on their friend’s Wii…..

At least that’s how I see it-

So when it’s time to arrange something for youself and your family (or just for yourself) – get with  EZTravelpad “Your friends….in the travel business”