Thursday, December 30, 2010

Collette launches Family Vacations division

Collette Vacations is launching Collette Family Vacations - nine new, specially-crafted itineraries that bring travelers of all ages together to experience destinations ranging from U.S. National Parks to Kenya and Canada and even the Galapagos.

Launching Collette Family Vacations is a natural extension of what the company is all about. Collette is in its third generation of Sullivan family ownership.

Kid friendly
Collette's foray into the multigenerational travel market has been carefully planned and based on trends including an increased focus on family. These 9 highly inclusive, value-packed vacations combine more that 90 years of Collette experience with a fresh approach to family travel. Some brand promises include:
Substantially discounted rates for children (14 and under).
Child rates apply even with only one accompanying adult in each room.
Family friendly hotels and activities.
Itineraries designed to keep all generations engaged.

While Family Vacations is its own distinct brand within the Collette family of brands, the great advantage is that travelers can utilize such shared services as:
Complimentary roundtrip home to airport transfer service on all air-inclusive tours
Industry-leading No Worries Cancellation Waiver
Guaranteed departure dates

From the cultural treasures of London and Paris to the plains of Africa, on constant remains - spending time together as a family. It is the most important gift we can give.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Discover the ruins of Caesarea

Just north of Tel Aviv, the ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea are one of the top things to see outside of Jerusalem. Paul was imprisoned here before being sent to Rome for trial. Watch the video here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First Jerusalem Marathon Slated for March 2011

After hosting an annual half marathon for nearly twenty years, Jerusalem is finally hosting its own full marathon next year, scheduled to take place March 25, 2011.

The Jerusalem International Marathon will offer both amateur and professional runners the unique experience of running through a landscape rich in history and heritage, with breathtaking views and inspirational scenery.

Participants will be able to choose between three marathon routes - a full, half or quarter marathon - starting at the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Building and finishing at Sacher Park. All the routes take the runners through downtown Jerusalem and the Old City, passing by the Sultan's Pool, Jaffa Gate and Zion's Gate, the Jerusalem Theater, the President's Residence and stunning views of the
Old and New City from the Sherover Promenade. Those running the full marathon will also run past Ammunition Hill, Mount Scopus and Augustus Victoria.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Carmel Market in Tel Aviv

I didn't make it to this market, but I did get to the market in Jerusalem during my trip to Israel. What a great authentic experience.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The video series continues with a visit to the port city of Jaffa, which has been incorporated into Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dead Sea Video

Our friends at Performance Media Group have put together a series of videos about Israel that we'll post over the next few days. Here's video number one from the Dead Sea - yeah, we were there ourselves two years ago.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Faith-Based Travel

Globus was one of the first travel suppliers to offer tours specifically designed for faith-based travelers. We talked with Julie Petschler about their most popular tours and what's new for 2011.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jungle Island

Ever wonder what happened to those bright pink flamingos that were part of the opening of “Miami Vice?” Those and many other exotic creatures can be found at Jungle Island, just a five-minute drive from Miami Beach or from the Port of Miami.

Not just a zoo, Jungle Island offers an interactive experience with the chance to touch, hold and feed many of the animals. Dozens of colorful birds, many of which are happy to repeat phrases for you, line the walkways. For 25 cents, you can get a handful of food and let them eat right out of your hand.

Strolling staffers carry pythons, lemurs and other animals. The display housing the 900-lb liger (cross between a lion and a tiger) was under construction so I didn’t get the chance to see one of the site’s main attractions, but I was very entertained by the high-flying and very loud white-handed gibbons.

Jungle Island offers three shows that both entertain and educate. Winged Wonders features many birds of the air, including an Andean Condor, the largest flying bird on earth. Tale of the Tiger highlights the world’s rarest cats. The show I saw featured lemurs, a giant turtle and South African penguins among others.

The kid-friendly attraction has a playground and a private beach with waterslides and swim zone.

Jungle Island offers a free shuttle to hotels in Miami Beach, making it a perfect excursion for beachgoers. Its close proximity to the port also makes it easy to visit either before or after a cruise.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Downtown Miami to South Beach - 30 mins., $2

Want to save yourself the cost of a cab ride to Miami Beach or South Beach? Don’t be afraid to take advantage of Miami’s public transportation options.

From the Hyatt Regency, I made it to Miami Beach in about 30 minutes for just $2.

The first thing to take advantage of is the Metromover – an elevated rail service that serves downtown Miami from Omni to Brickell at no charge. I hopped on at the Knight Center and got off at the Omni Center, which is a transfer point for the bus and rail system.

At least three bus lines (C, M, S) go from Omni Center over the MacArthur Causeway to Miami Beach. The cost of a one-way fare is just $2. From hotel door to the bus stop one block from the sandy beach took just 30 minutes.

I went during the day. If you’re going for the South Beach nightlife, double-check the hours of operation.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Norwegian Epic

Traveling with family….flying solo – don’t worry the Norwegian Epic has something for everyone.

Since lots of ships are family friendly, let’s start with what the Epic offers for single travelers. Unlike most ships or tours that require a single supplement, the Epic features 128 studio suites designed specifically for those traveling by themselves – or as we found during our tour – mother/daughter, friends, anyone who might want a room to themselves.

The rooms are just 100 square feet, but feature a double bed, sliding door closets and bathroom. All of the studios are “inside” cabins, but they feature a large window that looks out into the hallway, so you don’t feel claustrophobic. Ninety of these cabins are connecting cabins allowing mother/daughter type travelers to be together while maintaining separate sleeping quarters.

Another advantage of the single studios – access to an exclusive lounge area stocked with snacks and games.

The Epic staff boasted that the ship has the largest suites and villas complex at sea. These larger rooms come with butler service and access to a special pool area and fitness room.

When it comes to family fun, the Epic has three waterslides, several pools and its kids area. Kids are divided into three age groups and given appropriate activities. There’s also a bowling alley, rock-climbing and rappelling walls and billiard tables.

When you get hungry from all of the onboard activities – and I haven’t even mentioned the Blue Man Group performances in the theater – there are dozens of dining options. Eleven are included in the base fare, including the Manhattan Room where I had the opportunity to enjoy lobster bisque and a steak for lunch.

Ten specialty restaurants are available for $10-25 extra.

The Epic is currently sailing in the Caribbean, alternating 7-day Eastern and Western itineraries that can be combined into a 14-day sailing. From May-October 2011, the ship will reposition to the Mediterranean for 7-day sailings out of Barcelona.

While experienced cruisers should enjoy this ship, the Epic is a great option for first timers looking to experience the fun and excitement at sea.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Little Bighorn Battlefield (Custer's Last Stand)

Something about the sight of hundreds of white gravestones dotting the rolling, hilly landscape helps bring history alive. A visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield is memorable and much more educational than reading about “Custer’s Last Stand” in a history book.

Start at the visitor center where one of several park rangers will recount the events of the weeks, days and hours leading up to this historical battle. Each have a flair for storytelling. Some paint a bloody picture of the events (it was a battle after all that claimed hundreds of lives).

As you gaze out at the landscape, it’s easy to envision where the U.S. troops led by Gen. Custer were stationed and how they were split up. Standing at the top of the hill, near the black-faced tombstone marking the spot Custer fell, it’s easy to see how the native Americans could advance through the ravines and hillsides, remaining unseen in the tall grasslands.

The park staff attempts to present a balanced account of the battle, reminding visitors of the pride the native Americans had in their land and how they acted in defense of their homeland. It’s also pointed out that because the native Americans won the battle (and handily so), it may very well have been the reason they lost the “war.”

If you want a piece of American history to come to life, visit the Little Bighorn Battlefied.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bighorn Canyon

Add another destination to the places I want to take a vacation. This one would have never made my list without a short teaser visit earlier this month.

Usually my travel wish list consists of islands with beaches and light blue water or exotic overseas locales. This respite from the hustle and bustle of life is in the middle of Montana.

I'm talking about Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

My "tease" of a visit came at the Yellowtail Dam near Ft. Smith, Montana. The dam was constructed in the 1960s and created a 71-mile reservoir that extends south into Wyoming. The dam itself is impressive - 525 feet high and 1450 wide, damming the Bighorn River.

Behind the dam is the Bighorn Lake, winding those 71 miles through towering steep-sided canyons to desert shrubland. No roads connect the northern and southern entrances to the area, so you'll need a boat to traverse this area of tranquility.

While you're cruising, keep your eyes open for buffalo, wild horses, bighorn sheep and more than 200 species of birds.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pictograph Caves State Park

Just a 20-minute drive outside of Billings are some caves where pictographs from 2,200 years ago are located.

A scenic two lane drive along sandstone cliffs dead-ends at the caves where a visitor center has been constructed recently. A short trail takes you to threecaves. Don't let the word "caves" fool you. You don't have to go spelunking or even bring a flashlight to see the pictographs, although binoculars are highly recommended.
In addition to exploring a bit of history, you'll feel like your on a wild adventure due to the "Beward of Rattlesnakes" signs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pompey's Pillar

As Lewis and Clark explored the west in the early 1800s in an effort to map a route to the Pacific Ocean, they discovered a vast, wild landscape.

On July 25, 1806, William Clark left his own mark on that landscape. As he traversed present day Montana, he came across a massive sandstone outcrop rising 150 feet above a two-acre base on the banks of the Yellowstone River.

Clark noted hundreds of markings, petroglyphs and inscriptions in the sandstone and quickly added his own signature to the collection. He named the rock Pompy’s Tower in honor of the nickname he had given to Sacagawea’s son. The rock was renamed Pompey’s Pillar in 1814 when Lewis and Clark’s journals were published. Today, Clark’s signature remains frozen in time encased behind glass - the only remaining on-site physical evidence of Lewis and Clark's epic journey.

Pompey’s Pillar is now a national monument located about an hour outside of Billings in the eastern half of Montana. A new visitor’s center features displays about the Lewis and Clark expedition, the lives of native Americans in the area and a short movie.

From the visitor center, it’s a short walk to the rock itself. A staircase leads to two stops. The first is a platform where you can view Clark’s signature as well as other names carved into the stone from the 1800s. From there, you can continue to ascend to the top of the pillar and enjoy a panoramic view of the area, including the Yellowstone River.

View our photos of Pompey’s Pillar on our Facebook page.

Mexico changes currency policies

New regulations in Mexico affecting U.S. travelers start this week. Hotel front desks and currency exchange booths are now able to change only a maximum of $1,500 cash per person per month into Mexican pesos (before, there was no limit). Also, businesses will be limited to accepting $100 cash per transaction (though there's no limit on the number of transactions per customer), and some establishments will be prohibited from accepting (or may now choose not to accept) U.S. currency at all. Major travel suppliers now recommends that U.S. travelers use credit cards, travelers checks, or ATM cards (to withdraw money in pesos). They also say that some U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico have had trouble using American passports with fraying or peeling corners, so check the condition of your passports and get replacements if needed as you plan travel to Mexico.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ozark Caverns

During our stay at Lake of the Ozarks, we took a couple of hours to vist Ozark Caverns, which is adjacent to Lake of the Ozarks State Park near Osage Beach. For us, it was about a 30-minute drive.

The one-hour tour takes you on a 1/4-mile trail into and back out of the cavern. At the end, you are about 100 feet underground.

One of the most impressive sights inside the cavern is near the entrance, a formation called "Angel Showers", a steady stream of water coming down from the ceiling as if from a shower head and into a basin at the bottom.

We saw a handful of bats sleeping on the ceiling and were also fortunate to spot a blind salamander in one of the underground streams.

Be sure to spend some time studying the exhibits in the nature center either before or after the tour, and don't forget to look out the door near the front desk. A crowd of at least 20 hummingbirds was fluttering around two feeders.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lake of the Ozarks - Lakeview Resort

I recently returned from a fun family reunion at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. As I had researched places to stay that offered the amenities we were looking for, I found a gem in Lakeview Resort near Sunrise Beach.

Our group of 30+ rented five units, including two four-bedroom condos, two three-bedroom units and a studio. All of the units were superbly furnished and really met our needs.

The condos are the newer units and are definitely a bit nicer, although that's not to take anything away from the other more traditional units on the property. The three-bedroom units were in upgraded mobile homes that featured a very large kitchen, as well as a living room facing the lake. One night we crowded all 30+ of us in for a family dinner and got by just fine.

The condos were excellent. Both of our units featured two levels with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor, and a separate bedroom, bathroom and loft area upstairs.

Our condo had a large granite-covered kitchen table with six chairs. There were also three bar stools that could fit along the kitchen counter. The living room had two leather couches, a round table with four stools tucked underneath it (perfect for playing games), and a flatscreen TV.

The master bedroom had a king-size bed. Another bedroom on the main floor had a queen bed, while the third had two twins (perfect for kids). That room as well as the master also had TVs. The upstairs room had another queen bed.

The living room and master bedroom featured a two-story ceiling and both had sliding glass doors to the balcony. The large balcony featured a cushioned swing big enough for 2-3 adults, a table and chairs, and a charcoal grill.

Since my boys are early risers, and our bodies were still used to Eastern time rather than Central time, we were up in time for the 6:15 a.m. sunrise every day. It was beautiful to sit on the cushioned swing and watch the big orange ball rise quickly over the lake in the cool of the morning.

Resort Amenities

The resort has plenty to keep you busy.

There are three pools. The one in front of the condos is saltwater and ranges from 3 1/2 - 5 feet deep. The other outdoor pool has two separate sections separated by a water-level wall. One section is perfect for toddlers - barely a foot deep. The other section starts very shallow and goes to about 7 feet deep - great for bigger kids and adults. That pool is next to an arcade and fitness room and right next to a Pavilion, which can be rented and reserved for group functions.

There's also an indoor pool that has a deep end that's 9 ft.

Stroll to the end of the complex and you'll pass two playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, and a combined tennis/basketball court. Past all of those areas, you'll reach Pebble Beach. We went down there twice to swim in the bath-water warm lake. (Note: Bring water shoes. They may call it "pebble" beach, but it's basically a bunch of rocks that hurt like the dickens.

A lot of people just swam off the docks.

You can rent watercraft at Bikini Pier located at the resort. They have various sizes of boats, as well as jet skis.

I thought the $45 rate for an hour on a jet ski (before noon) was quite reasonable, so I gave that a try for the first time in my life. What a rush! It took 10-15 minutes of being cautious to get a feel for what I was doing, but after that I felt pretty comfortable at about 25 mph. Not quite the 40-60 mph capacity of the jet skis, but fun enough for me.

Getting There

Getting to Lake of the Ozarks was easy. It took about 7 1/2 hours from Indianapolis (434 miles from our door on the NE side to the resort, according to our GPS).

Warning: Don't let your GPS or even Google Maps lead you to the wrong place. Both of those had a Lakeview Street, but not Lakeview Resort Blvd., which is the actual address of the resort.

Your best bet is to locate Bikini Pier on Google Maps and enter that as your destination.

We shot straight across I-70 about an hour or a little more past St. Louis then headed south on US 54 at the Kingdom City exit. US 54 is a four-lane highway the entire way to Lake of the Ozarks, and the speed limit is 70 much of the way.

For more photos of Lakeview Resort, check out the album on our Facebook page -

Friday, July 16, 2010

Globus unveils 2011 religious vacations

Globus, one of the world's most respected tour operators and one of the first operators to embrace religious travel, has unveiled its 2011 religious vacation packages.

The company's 10-day Journey To The Holy Land tour is one of its most popular offerings. In 2011, Globus will add a 12-day tour that combines Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Globus is one of Harmony Travel's preferred suppliers. Contact us for more information about a faith-based vacation that will fit your needs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Get a jump on jet lag

I'm one of the lucky ones. Usually a quick nap in my new location and I'm good to go - no jet lag for me. Others of course have more of a problem adjusting to a shift in time zones.

While there are plenty of theories out there, here's some solid advice from the New England Journal of Medicine.

Get as much daylight as you can to help reset your body's clock when you change several time zones after a long flight. When traveling to a later time zone, soak up as much light as possible late in the day. When traveling to earlier time zones, exposure to light in the early morning will help.

If you're sleepy when you arrive, take a short nap, but avoid long naps in the afternoon since they disrupt your nightly sleep and decrease your exposure to light.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Branson AirExpress coming to Indianapolis

When I first heard that the Indianapolis Airport was adding a new airline, I was excited. What new destinations would be available via nonstop flights? Would airfares fall with stiffer competition?

When I learned that the new service was from Branson AirExpress, I have to admit I was disappointed. I’ve since recovered.

Despite the fact that the addition of Branson AirExpress seems like “small” news, it really is good news for central Indiana residents. As the press release stated, thousands of Hoosiers make the 8-hour drive to Branson every year. Clearly there is demand for the tourist destination in southern Missouri, and this puts it much more easily in reach. The introductory fares are low, which hopefully will fill up the planes that will be flying four times per week.

For now, the airline also offers connecting service to Austin, Texas and Houston’s Hobby airport also for fairly low introductory fares. This is where low fares will hopefully trigger similar low fares from other airlines serving those markets.

Hoosier fliers are winners today. Let’s hope there’s more news like this to come, putting more destinations within easier reach.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jefferson Memorial Forest

Jefferson Memorial Forest is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, and it's only 15 miles from downtown Louisville.

With more than 6,000 acres of forest, there are great opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking and more.

We started our visit at the Welcome Center near the Tom Wallace Recreation Area on Mitchell Hill Road. The Welcome Center has maps and snacks. We also rented an "Eco-Adventure" kit for the kids for $5. The kit contains binoculars, a magnifying glass, specimen jar, thermometers, a workbook, guides to trees, birds and wildflowers, and more.

We used the workbook as we hiked around Tom Wallace Lake to identify some of the trees and flowers that we saw. We compared the temperature of the air, soil and water, and we used the specimen jar to briefly capture a small frog so we could examine him with our magnifying glass.

The trail ended at a playground, so the boys were able to use up more of their energy before we enjoyed a picnic lunch. We finished our half day at the park with a hike on the 1/4-mile Tulip Trail, which featured 10 trees that had been marked for identification. Our workbook gave us useful insights into each tree.

Sheraton Louisville Riverside

Sheraton has undergone a major facelift in the last couple of years, including more than $6 billion invested in 120 renovated hotels and 56 new hotels.

The Sheraton Louisville Riverside is actually located in Jeffersonville, Indiana, but it is on the riverside, and it is very convenient. It's located between the I-65 bridge to Louisville and the U.S. 31 bridge to Louisville. Either option takes you into the heart of downtown Louisville within minutes.

The Sheraton Louisville had an updated lobby with the chain's Link@Sheraton business center and the bar and grille. The hotel staff was very friendly, and as I returned from parking the car, the bellman welcomed me by name.

Our room was also updated. It featured the new white bedding and a flat screen TV. Free wireless internet was also available.

While the bedding was new, I'm not sure the bed was. Our mattress seemed to roll us into the middle. The bathroom was also a bit small, but the fixtures were nice and new.

We also took advantage of the pool during our stay. It's a great pool for families - somewhat small but depths ranging only from 3' to 4'.

If you choose not to eat at the hotel's bar and grille, there are three good options within a block - Kingfish, Buckhead Mountain Grill and Hooters.

Louisville Bats / Slugger Field

Our Friday evening was spent at Slugger Field watching the Triple-A Louisville Bats battle the Gwinnett Braves.

The Bats have been playing baseball in Louisville for a long time (many of those years as the Louisville Redbirds) and moved into the downtown ballpark in 2000. As a regular at Indianapolis' Victory Field, I have to give the nod to my hometown ballpark, but Slugger Field is still a great place to watch a ballgame.

Parking is fairly convenient. There are a couple of large lots within a couple blocks of the stadium and a lot of on-street parking. I've always had good luck finding an open parking meter (free after 6 p.m.) when going to games at Slugger Field.

Ticket prices are low, ranging from $7-$11 for adults. Kids get a $1 discount.

The food offerings are good. Louisville is Papa John's country, so my kids dragged me to the Papa John's stand for some personal pizzas. Glad I had some cash on hand - those stands don't take credit cards, although the "fixed" concession stands do.

Some of the more interesting food offerings - roasted corn on the cob and double-stacked bologna.

Like most minor league parks, it's a very intimate setting in Louisville. The lower seating bowl consists of 20 or so rows, and then there is a small upper deck.

Louisville is definitely family friendly. The right field corner features a playground and a carousel ($1).

After the third inning, ushers came through and passed out free kids activity books - a good way to keep the younger fans entertained.

Our game happened to be a quick one. Before the kids could finish their giant sno-cones, the game was in the eighth inning.

Actuallly, the game we saw will go down in the record books. Gwinnett's pitcher tossed a no-hitter - the first in stadium history.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Louisville Slugger Museum

As a life-long baseball fan, I can't believe it's taken me this long to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum. Especially since it's only a two-hour drive from Indianapolis.

The museum is part of a museum district in the historic downtown area of Louisville. Other museums nearby of note include the Science Center/IMAX, Muhammed Ali Center and Glassworks.

Located on Main Street, I found a two-hour parking meter one block away, however, there are also a couple of $5 lots and parking garages nearby.

Driving down Main St. and wondering when you'll see the museum? Just keep watch on your left for the giant baseball bat towering above the building.
Once inside the doors, the gift shop and exhibit room are off to the left, the ticket booth just past them and then another exhibit room, theater and a batting cage farther down the hall.
The cost of admission is well worth it. It's $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12, and kids 5 and under are free. (That was nice).
The price of admission includes a 30-minute tour through the middle of the factory floor. While making numerous stops with your small guided group, you'll get to see the transformation of a billet (the cylindrical piece of ash or maple) into a baseball bat. First stop - an old-fashioned lathe where it used to take more than two hours for a craftsman to shape a baseball bat.
The next stop shows the new, automated lathe that shaves it down within 30 seconds.
During our 30-minute tour, the factory churns out enough bats to give every player on your favorite team's starting lineup three bats. Overall, the factory makes more than 1.8 million bats for major and minor leaguers, and amateurs.
Throughout the tour, we had the chance to handle sample bats at nearly every stop, including the bats of great players such as Alex Rodriquez and Derek Jeter.
The tour shows them branding the Louisville Slugger logo and the player's signature into the wood, and finally, the bats getting dipped into colored finish.
It's a very interesting journey.
The exhibit hall is filled with numerous bats and artifacts from various eras. One of Joe DiMaggio's bats from his record-setting hitting streak is on display, as is the bat Hank Aaron used to hit his 500th home run. George Brett's famous "pine tar" bat is also included.
Step over to the far wall of the room and 60 feet 6 inches is marked off behind glass. A video projector of a major league pitcher plays as a 90 mph fastball shoots out into the glove of an inflatable catcher. Stand beside this exhibit and it doesn't take long to realize how hard it is to be a major league hitter. (The ball gets to the plate in less than 1/3 of a second!)
Life-size figurines of Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ted Williams also fill the exhibit room.
A separate exhibit room paid tribute to the Negro Leagues with contemporary artwork as well as artifacts. An original glove of Satchel Paige and Willie Mays were on display, as well as Roy Campanella's 1955 NL MVP award.
The movie playing during our visit was a 12-minute flick about hitting, narrated by James Earl Jones. Can't go wrong with that.
Before hitting the gift shop, our final stop was the batting cage. Anyone age 6 and older is welcome to take 10 swings for $1. I'm happy to say I connected solidly with quite a few of the 10 40 mph pitches I saw, and my son was outstanding facing some 20 mph pitches.
Allow about 2 hours to take the tour and see the exhibits.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Protect your vacation investment

Hundreds of thousands of travelers have been stranded for nearly a week as the volcanic eruption in Iceland causes the biggest disruption in airline service since the events of Sept. 11.

While many of those travelers have been forced to survive "on their own" and spend money out of their own pocket on extra hotel nights and meals in pricey European cities, those who protected their trips with an inexpensive travel insurance policy are faring much better.

Most travel insurance policies provide coverage for "trip interruption" and "trip delay," when events cause your trip to be interrupted or delayed for a certain amount of time.

Harmony Travel offers travel insurance from several vendors, and we typically base our recommendation to travelers on factors such as client age, length and "difficulty" of travel, travel region, amount and types of coverage provided, and more.

As a rule of thumb, the typical travel policy costs about 1/10 of the total trip cost, however, this could be lower or higher depending on the vendor and the coverage limits.

Here are some of the benefits from one of our preferred providers:

Trip Cancellation - get all of your money back if you cancel for a covered reason
(You can also purchase "Cancel For Any Reason" insurance for a bit more)

Trip Interruption - if you have to cut your trip short; benefit up to 150% of trip cost

Trip Delay - this policy pays $150 per day

Medical Expense/Emergency Evacuation - this could be as simple as falling and breaking an ankle while on a tour or as serious as suffering a heart attack while out of the country. Coverage amounts vary widely.

Baggage Loss and Delay

The policy we sell most covers unexpected situations like job loss, hurricanes, illnesses to you or family members and more. You're even covered if you have an accident on the way to the airport. We are always happy to provide a complete description of benefits in advance so you can see what is and what is not covered by the policy.

None of us expect to have to cancel our long-awaited vacations or to have a volcanic eruption, hurricane or earthquake interrupt or travel, but unfortunately the unexpected does happen.

Next time you're planning a trip, please consider the small cost of travel insurance to protect your bigger investment.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mitchell's Fish Market

I didn’t grow up as much of a fish eater, but over the last few years I’ve had the chance to enjoy a lot more seafood and have really grown to like it. Plus, a lot of it is good for you.

Recently, I had the chance to dine at Mitchell’s Fish Market in suburban Indianapolis. There are 19 locations in the United States, most of them in the Midwest. In fact, I’ve stayed near the Milwaukee location several times but had not had the opportunity to go there.

The food at Mitchell’s was outstanding. The menu changes daily based on the fresh fish that they have flown in that day, but my wife and I were both very pleased.

We started with the Chesapeake Bay crab cake and a cup of lobster bisque. The crab cake was delicious – the perfect blend of seasonings for my taste. I’ve had some crab cakes that had some strange flavors mixed in. This was great.

The lobster bisque was very creamy, and also very good.

For entrees, my wife chose the mahi mahi prepared Shanghai style. According to the menu, that’s the signature way of preparing their fish. The fish comes steamed with ginger and scallions and is served on a bed of sticky rice, spinach and rice wine soy sauce. Delicious.

I chose grilled swordfish seved Oscar style. This hearty fish came topped with crab meat and a hollandaise sauce. It was accompanied with some very nice garlic mashed potatoes and a variety of vegetables.

No meal, especially for me, is complete without dessert – preferably chocolate. Most of the desserts at Mitchells are huge, so sharing is advised. My wife and I opted for the Triple Mousse Chocolate Cake. Wow. We were not disappointed. It truly melted in our mouths, and despite the fact that we had probably had more than enough food for the night, it went down nice and easy and didn’t leave us filling overstuffed.

Overall, it was a great experience.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Princess to welcome guests on embarkation day

Princess Cruises will bring back the practice of allowing passengers to bring guests onboard with them for lunch and a ship tour on their embarkation dates. The "Bon Voyage Experience" (for a $39 charge per person) will include priority embarkation, a four-course lunch in the dining room (with wine), a guided ship tour, and a souvenir photo.

If the guest book a cruise later, the $39 will apply toward their booking. The program starts in March at the ports in Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, rolling out to New York, San Francisco and Seattle by May.

These guests will be capped at 50 per departure, their visits must be pre-booked, and they must be accompanied by a booked, sailing passenger.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Faith-based travel continues to grow

Menlo Group recently completed a study on behalf of Globus Vacations and found that 4.5 million travelers have already taken a faith-based vacation. With the Oberammergau Passion Play coming up in 2010, another 9.7 million will be added to that number this year.

If you've been thinking about taking such a trip, you won't regret it. Visiting the holy sites around the world can lead to tremendous spiritual growth and an enhanced understanding of historical events.

I don't have immediate plans for another faith-based trip, but certainly have another trip to Israel as well as visiting sites of the early church on my "to-do" list for the future.