Venice, Italy - The Trip of a Lifetime

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 1, 2017 at 7:30 AM

tm_4717.jpg

Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

Read more

Topics: #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, travel concierge, travel consultant, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, #group travel, #girlstrip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Professionally Pack Your Suitcase Make Sure You Never Leave Something at Home Again!

Posted by Justin Murphy

July 27, 2017 at 8:30 AM

 

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So I think what most of us, travellers, stress and dread the most about our vacation is the packing, or at least for me it is. Trying to figure out how many bags to brings, how many outfits, pairs of shoes, jackets, etc. Well I'll give you one tip to right off the back: GET ORGANIZED BEFORE YOU PACK! This usually includes making a check list of everything you will need.

Here is a link for an example of a packing checklist: Packing List

  1. packing flowchart.jpgNarrow it Down. Gather all of your clothes that you need to bring, want to bring, and think you mightneed. Now cut your choices in half, and then separate what you'll definitely need from things you want to bring. Now put together different outfits and lay them out on your bed, spare bedroom, or couch, etc. Now time for the tough part, you need to make choices. Choose which outfit goes with each day. A plan saves you time later so you dont have to decide each day what you want to wear. Contrary to what you might think you don't need 3 outfits for 1 day. Now that you've narrowed down all your outfits take what you didn't choose as an outfit and put that back in your closet. (Travel Tip: Pack clothing that be used for multiple things, ex. yoga pants can double as pajama pants or a sarong can double as a  swimsuit coverup, or scarf)
  2. Drape longer pieces like pants. Fold pants in half (leg over leg) and lay flat at bottom of suitcase and line up waist lines with center of suitcase (ex. 2-3 per side) with the pant leg draped over the sides hanging out of the suitcase. (After you have put all of your rolled clothing on top of the pants inside the suitcase wrap the legs over the top of the rolled clothes to keep it tightly packed all together.)
  3. Roll don't Fold. Tighly rolling your softer, wrinkle-resistant garments, like T-shirts and cotton pants, and place them along the base of the bag. Jeans should be rolled, too. Also if your suitcase has separate pocket/storage for undergarments those should be rolled as well.
  4. Fill In With Smaller Items. Look for nooks and crannies to fill with smaller items, like bras and socks. (Travel Tip: Stuff the cups of your bras with rolled-up socks to maintain bra shape and snake belts around the perimeter of the bag.) Then cover the whole pile with a dry-cleaning bag that can double as a dirty clothes hamper while you're on vacation plus thanks to the bag’s slippery surface, clothes won’t stay in one place long enough for creases to set.
  5. Choose Shoes Wisely: As a general rule pick three pairs of shoes, like a casual sandal or loafer, sneakers, and an evening shoe –go for styles that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Wear the heaviest pair en route and pack the others along the sides of your suitcase in resealable bags. (Travel Tip: If shoes are dirty you can put in gallon ziplock bags or strech a shower cap around the bottoms to keep them together and protect them from dirtying your clothes.
  6. Pack Your JewelryAre you tired of spending tons of time untangling bracelets, necklaces, and earrings from one another after you unpack? Stow inexpensive jewelry in a seven-day plastic pillbox or a 35-millimeter film canister. Wear any fine jewelry en route to ensure it won’t get lost or stolen.
  7. Last But Certainly Not Least, Cross Pack! If traveling with another person try to cross pack between each other's suitcase putting at least 2 outfits in the other's suitcase. Also if checking bags make sure to have at least a clean pair of underwear, 1 outfit, and a swimsuit in your carry on just incase your luggage doesnt make it the same time you do to your destination.
Bonus!
Airplane Tote Packing Tips! 
  1. Laptop. A laptop computer is always a good idea to bring especially if traveling for business, just be sure you'll have a safe place to store it in your room when you get to your destination. Access to the internet in this day and age is crucial. 
  2. Small Pouch for Toiletries/Essentials: small pill case with allergy medicine, travel Advil, Chapstick, travel lotion, travel tissues, floss, etc. Just remember if bringing any liquids on board they must be less than 3 fl. oz. I carry this pouch with these contents daily. While traveling I make sure to have lotion and chapstick with me because my hands and lips get dry on long haul flights. I also MUST have headache medicine. I once had a migraine in flight and no one around me had medicine. It was absolutely AWFUL.
  3. Reading Material. All that time strapped in your seat on a flight I often like to take the opportunity to journal, read my bible, book, or magazine (Travel Tip: This time is also great to look over your printed out itinerary from VIP.) Otherwise, I'm working on my computer on the flight. If driving I don't carry these things in my tote and opt to pack them in my suitcase instead.
  4. Small wallet. My daily wallet is much bigger, but when you travel you should always try to bring less. A little pouch is all I need to hold cash and essential credit cards.
  5. Headphones & iPhone Charger. These are two essentials to all of my travels, and they MUST be in my carry-on. I've been stuck on long layovers one too many times with low battery and no charger to have learned my lesson. Also, in case I had to check luggage and it gets lost, I don't want to be without a charged phone. (Travel Tip: An old glasses case that is not being used is great for storage for earphones and chargers it also makes them easier to find and not get all tangled.)
  6. Sunglasses with a little pouch or case. Sunglasses are a must for me on any vacation, but I strongly reccomend them for all my caribbean travelers. Also bring something to clean them with.
  7. Water bottle & Snacks. Make sure it is empty until through customs and security. A water bottle is an absolute must, and it also helps to have something insulated to keep cool longer. A good example is a stainless steel and insulated, keeping water cold (if you put ice in it) for up to 24 hours and hot up to 6 hours, and snacks because traveling hangry is bad for everyone involved.
  8. Light Layers. A Light cardigan. I get cold on flights, so I always bring an extra layer. (Travel Tip: I've noticed window seats are colder than aisles.) I try not to bring a super thick layer because I don't like carrying heavy or bulky stuff through the airport. The extra layer needs to fit nicely in the tote, along with everything else, without taking up the entire tote. 
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Topics: #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, different travel styles, travel planner, travel concierge, travel consultant, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, #group travel, #girlstrip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Venice, Italy and All of Its Charm

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

tm_4717.jpg

Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

Read more

Topics: #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, travel concierge, travel consultant, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, #group travel, #girlstrip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Memories Fade, But A Photograph is Timeless!

Posted by Justin Murphy

July 20, 2017 at 8:35 AM

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Smart phones these days can take great photos and videos, but there are a few simple things to know to make sure your memories are captured best. Try a few little tricks, shooting great photos/video with your smartphone will be as easy as 1-2-3 and the footage will look like it was taken by a professional.  YES, you have amazing potential to capture incredible photos/videos right in the palm of your hand.
 

Ample Lighting is Crucial

Try to capture your photos in brightly lit areas to  avoid unnecessary shadows over faces and grainy/blurry areas in your picture. Most smart phones these days offer touch focusing if you find your camera/phone is focusing on the wrong area of your portrait, just tap on the screen where you'd like it to focus. Once you're finished setting the focus on the most aweinspiring aspect of your photo, your camera's automatic exposure control will have an easier time making small adjustments if lighting conditions begin to change. Now with all of the improvements to the smart phone cameras, they do most of the hard work for you.

Be Aware of Background Noise

The quality of your audio effects is just as important, if not more, than the quality of your visual effects. It’s oh so common to hear wind and other unnecessary environmental noise that will completely drown out or distort any important audio while shooting a video outside. Try to shoot your video in a quieter place or protected from wind and other audible distractions, or maybe indoors if possible with less ambient noise. If you have to video in the elements, stay close to the audio source you're recording and try to shelter the phone’s microphone (without covering it completely) with your hand or body to protect it from other sounds. You can even purchase microphone for your iphone.

Keep it Steady, Eddy

Keeping your phone or camera as steady as possible is probably the most important part of capturing a clear focused photograph or video. A selfie stick (or tripod for cameras) comes in handy and will help to keep your shots clear and steady. If handheld, try your absolute best to keep your camera as steady as possible, using both hands will help to keep it focused. The shot doesn’t have to be perfectly steady, especially with all the advancement in your cameras and smart phones, but the steadier the better.

Try to Avoid Shooting Portrait (Vertical) Video

We live in a tecnocentric world now, everything we do get's blasted all over the internet due to facebook, instagram, snapchat, and various other social media applications and nearly all of them focus with a landscape (horizontal) orientation template. Laptops, websites and social media probably won’t tell the whole story due to the automatic cropping or "drag to fit" features. Try holding your phone horizontally and you’ll get everything you need in your snapshot.


Try to Avoid Using the Zoom Feature on Your Phone

As tempting as it may be to use the zoom feature to expand your shot, try to avoid it because the lens isn’t zooming optically therefore the picture is getting bigger but the pixels are going to getting blurry (if you try to blow up a 3x5 picture into a 8x10, you will see a visible blur because the picture wasnt formatted for that dimension). Using the zoom feature only enlarges the picture digitally, causing unsightly pixels. There are multiple clip-on lens adapters that work great for wider shots and some even add great effects like fisheye, bubble, etc.


There's an APP for that

Most built-in camera apps work well, and there are plenty of downloadable apps that will take your photography skill to the next level, allowing you to tinker with color, focus, exposure, fast and slow motion, depth effect, and time-lapse images.  Ask your friends which apps they love, and try a few.  You will enjoy reliving your vacation with these tips to improve your video and photo skills. I like to use Camera+ for scenery and either FaceTune or Airbrush for portraits. (pictured below taken with iPhone 5s using Camera+ app in France)

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Have Fun With It!

The most important thing about capturing photographs is to use it to take "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve lasting memories, so have fun, explore the world and make sure to tag us when you show off your photography skills @VIPTravelExperience! The more energy you put into it, the better your photos will be. Capture as much as you can and remember to look for those special active and meaningful moments as well as those gorgeous scenic landscapes that will look great in your photos.  (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

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Topics: #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, different travel styles, travel planner, travel concierge, travel consultant, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, #group travel, #girlstrip, #reunion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer

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