Tag Archive | "travel"

Google Earth AirBnB travel vacation safety

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Using Google Street View Find the Perfect Vacation Rental, Hotel, or Hostel

Posted on 13 July 2017 by Leslie Lello

Have you ventured into using AirBnB (or other vacation rental by owner) for travel or are you still unsure about whether it is safe and reliable?

One of the things holding people back is that sometimes the images are not professional and therefore they wonder if they are getting the full story about where the rental is located.

This can happen with all sorts of lodging operations. Even chain hotels use special lenses to make the rooms look bigger and strategically frame the exterior to flatter the hotel.

This happened to me about a year ago when I went on Bookings.com and rented a room for a stay in Hamilton Ontario.

Not only was the person not there when I arrived (after 7 hours of driving) but there were also bars on all the windows. It was not a great neighborhood. I took off quickly and eventually got my money back (with struggle… bookings.com was not great about this) but the important thing is that I learned a lot from the experience.

I was reminded of this 2 months ago when a friend asked me about staying in vacation rentals in New York. She wanted to save money and asked about a particular AirBnB in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan.

I told her that I only know New York, but that she could check out the neighborhood using Google Earth to get clues as to where she would be staying.

I told her to ask these questions when looking at the vacation rental’s neighborhood with Google Earth:

  • What the parking would be like?
  • How comfortable would she be coming back from New York City with her two kids and walking through this neighborhood?
  • Is there a place to grab breakfast or dinner or a snack?
  • What is the quality of businesses around? Are they Starbucks or are the money lenders?
  • Are the streets clean?
  • Is there greenery?
  • Do the building exteriors look new?

Is there a line where the neighborhood seems to go from good to bad? (In many urban areas, sometimes one block will make all the difference. However, sometimes the best deals are right on that line.)

Watch this video to see an example of using Google Earth to asses the neighborhood of a vacation rental, hotel, motel or hostel you are considering for your next vacation:

 

Side note, so far I have found AirBnB hosts to be exceptional clear and honest in their descriptions of the interior space and exterior neighborhood. This is just an added precaution.

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Soccer Game at New-To-Me Yankee Stadium

Posted on 02 June 2016 by Leslie Lello

TravelBetterPodcasts.com at Yankee Stadium, New York City

TravelBetterPodcasts.com at Yankee Stadium, New York City

When my friend said he had an extra ticket to an NYCFC soccer game at Yankee Stadium, I was elated. Not only have I not seen my friend for a couple years, but I haven’t been anywhere near the South Bronx since the old Yankee Stadium was in use.

I debated trying to get a tour of the new stadium, but then I learned from thwir website that I will actually get to see more things if I go when it is not baseball season.

So instead, I got to the South Bronx  just early enough to meet my friend at a nearby bar called The Dugout before the game.

The video below is from our walk leaving the stadium.

https://youtu.be/POdhdDNhFMY

A quick note about transportation to Yankee Stadium

If you’re coming from New Jersey and you’re not driving to the stadium, it can be rather challenging to get to Yankee Stadium in an easy way. What I discovered on this outing was that I could  get home from the stasium by takung Metro-North from Yankee Stadium to Grand Central in Midtown Manhattan and then it is an easy walk to Port Authority or Penn Station.

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Success on Google as A Local Guide in 1 Week!

Posted on 31 May 2016 by Leslie Lello

A little over one week ago Google asked me to be one of their local guides.

When I got to 1000 views, they sent me a congratulations email!

Since then, my photos from a number of different landmarks and locations have gotten over 2000 views.

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1000+ Views on Google Maps!

I am really happy about that and just wanted to share!

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Adventures in Sensory Deprivation: Your Guide To Flotation Tank Experiences

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Leslie Lello

Yesterday I posted a video stating that I had just had one of my best floatation tank experiences in a space called Art of Floating in Bloomberg, Pennsylvania, but I never got into what exactly floating is.

For those of you who are spa fanatics (like me), you will probably love floating as a nice alternative to the traditional spa experience.

Essentially, you get into a tank filled with water that has been mixed to hold as much Epsom Salt as possible. This makes your body effortlessly float.

The temperature of the air and the water matches the temperature of your body/skin so after a little while in the tank you don’t really feel the water or the air, and it is soundless and pitch black in there so you don’t see or hear anything either.

This allows you to lose a sense of your physical body in space (except for occasionally brushing up against the wall of the tank).

The benefits of this kind of experience are numerous, ranging from pain management to right brain/left brain balancing to improved athletic performance.

I find the floatation tank to be the ideal way to meditate because there are very little distractions that typically come up and you don’t have your eye on the clock because the floatation location will let you know when your session is complete.

You can float away in  both body and mind!

Here are the 5 locations have been to so far and what I liked and what I thought could use some improvement about each location.

Q Flatiron Infinity Float (New York, NY)

This was a fantastic first floating experience! They were thorough about telling me exactly what I needed to do before I got into the floatation tank. I loved how spacious it was and wish they had one more so that I could bring someone with me next time and we could float at the same time. When I left Q Flatiron after my float, I felt like I was Neo from The Matrix, walking amidst all of the hustle and bustle on the streets of Manhattan, but felt so balanced and calm that I could easily dodge the mayhem in the same way Neo dodges bullets at the end of the first movie!

 

Serene Dreams (Kearney, NJ)

The actual experience at Serene Dreams was really nice. They had a great locker room and spacious floating rooms. The pods they use are very nice and spacious.

The next day I had a terrible headache and I am not sure why but I was told that they use chlorine in the water which to me sort of defeats the purpose. Epsom Salt (magnesium) has a number of health benefits, but if you are also absorbing chlorine during your float I don’t think that is very good. They told me at Serene Dreams that the State of New Jersey considers this location a pool and therefore requires chlorine. That’s a shame. FYI, every floatation tank I have seen in every facility I have visited is cleaned after each client’s float with a very thorough and precise filtering process and all floatation facilities require visitors to shower before they float to keep the water clean. Chlorine is unnecessary.

Mountain Float Spa (New Paltz, New York)

Maybe my experience was unusual because I visited this location in winter on a day that was not so busy, but I found myself cold in this location. The room where the pod was located was cold, my feet were cold before and after the float and I was cold floating in the tank because the air was cold in the tank, which made the hour rather uncomfortable instead of meditative.  The relaxation room (after the float) was nice and I spent some time reading before getting on the road.  The people were nice.

Requiescent Float Center (Ballston Spa, New York… Near Saratoga Springs which is north of Albany)

These floatation tanks were a work of art! They were clearly homemade which added to the charm. The one I was in was huge! I can’t say for sure how big it was, but it was twice the size of many of the floatation tanks I had been in so far. Also, the ceiling was very high in the tank. I don’t mind low ceilings in the floatation tanks, but people with claustrophobia might and I have one relative who does not like some tanks because they look like coffins. These tanks did not look like coffins. They offered plenty of room. I also liked that I walked into the shower and then went through the shower directly into the tank. It is a smart set up.

Art of Floating (Bloomsburg, PA)

This was my favorite location for a number of reasons. This is a large but quiet facility with a simple set up that is also beautiful. The tank is compact but I don’t mind (some people might) but it was in a very beautiful room. The relaxation space (where you go after floating) was large and offered a number of rooms to stay in after your float. There was also a sitting space outside on the porch. The people are very nice and helpful.

 


For more information about the benefits of floating, please watch this great documentary: Floatation Nation


PS: If you have been keeping up with my videos, I just want to let you know that video 4 has nothing to do with traveling, so I didn’t post it here, but if you want to take a look it should be up soon at https://youtu.be/WltQ_Q1eFpk

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Video 1: Beginning Road Trip

Posted on 24 May 2016 by Leslie Lello

When I am traveling, I am aways thinking about blogging my discoveries but I struggle with finding the time to post.

I am hoping that short video recaps make things better.

It is part of a 30 days of video challenge by Blossom Benedict (#RightVoiceForYou, #30dayvideochallenge).

I can’t promise I will make it past day 1, but at least I do have day one for you today.  🙂

https://youtu.be/vnb36n2CPBk

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How to Plan a Staycation: My staycation to the paterson museum

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TBP 0022 How to Plan A Staycation That is Awesome!

Posted on 26 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

 

How to Plan a Staycation: My staycation to the paterson museum

How to Plan a Staycation: My staycation to the paterson museum

VACATION IS A STATE OF MIND.

This has always been my philosophy.

It’s just that it is so easy to stay stressed when in a home environment that most people find it hard to reach that state.

And it is also easy to blow off local adventures because there’s no excessive driving or flying. Because most staycations are only one day with flexible commitments (no car or hotel reservation), one can get to Saturday morning having expected to visit a local park that is an hour away and instead choose to stay in and sleep or do chores because it seems more pressing.

But as we get into one of the most busy seasons of the year, it can become difficult to carve out some travel time.

Mini-Vacations, Local Vacations and Staycations are the way to go when you don’t have a lot of time or resources.

Today’s podcast (TBP 0022)  is about how to plan a staycation that is awesome!

PS: The information on the show I mention can be found here.

 

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Salem Massachusetts Visitors Center United States Government Shutdown on Tourism

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Travel Better (or Worse) With The United States Government Shut Down

Posted on 15 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

Salem Massachusetts Visitors Center United States Government Shutdown on Tourism

I’d say travel is worse with the government shutdown, but here are some ideas to consider.

I was in Salem this past weekend and while one would think that that would have nothing to do with the federal government, the visitor’s center was not open.

Thank goodness for the volunteers standing outside of the visitor’s center, or we might have had to figure things out on our own, which is very doable in most tourist attractions.

But it’s unfortunate that all this has to happen.

Like I have mentioned in other posts, this is Salem’s busiest time, so they weren’t going to let a shutdown effect business. And it was very busy there, so I don’t think it’s making a lot of people hesitate to take excursions. It just might take a little bit more planning before heading out the door.

The upside to all of this? I’m sure there are locations that have really slowed down (like Washington DC), so if you like having cities all to yourself and can deal with the way the shutdown might make things a slight bit more inconvenient (or closed), then this might be the perfect time for you to take a trip.

Here’s a post from Hosteling International about the topic. It’s very good and some of the places that are on their list surprised me. Why would Disney World have anything to do with a government shut down? Probably for the same reason Salem does, but I doubt that Space Mountain is closed or that Mickey has locked himself in his cottage.

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TBP 20 Salem Massachusetts Halloween October Samhain

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TBP 0020 Salem Massachusetts – It’s October and I’ve Gone A-Witching

Posted on 12 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

TBP 20 Salem Massachusetts Halloween October Samhain
October and Autumn always makes me think about Salem, Massachusetts.

Salem is very special to me.  It is a place where I find what I am looking for.

There is definitely a special energy there. It’s a different vibe than Sedona and probably has more to do to the people that are drawn there then the energy of the land, which is where Sedona’s special energy is based.

History of Salem, Massachusetts:

Salem is well known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  Several witches were cruelly hanged during the hysterical witch hunts in the Americas. Today, Salem has a large witch population – those that practice the Wiccan religion. I think like minded people like to gather here because of like minded people, and that it is a way of honoring those that were sent to trial and to their death unfairly.

Visiting Salem, Massachusetts:

It’s awesome to go to Salem in October. It is a festive town all year round but especially in October.

If you’re looking for a haunted house or the typical Halloween spooky/scary stuff, I guess you can go to Salem to find it, but that’s kind of cheesy to me and a bit of a waste of time and energy because you can find spooky/scary anywhere in October.

The difference with Salem is that it is the real deal.  Why not honor the celebration of Samhain and respect the religious culture of this town?  It is a different way to experience and understand Halloween, and it is a great trip to make for those who simply like the travel and tourism side of it.

Samhain Vs. Halloween:

Samhain is the Wiccan new year, and is considered the time when the veil between the living and the dead is lifted so that better communication can occur with those on the other side.

It is a great time to honor loved ones that have crossed over, very similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico. I do this honoring of my ancestors on my own with a silent supper. But going to Salem is a great way to enjoy the celebration of the holiday and honor ancestors because they have a public Silent Supper which, though I have not attended it in the past, I bet is quite a powerful experience (and a great meal!)

This year (2013), Silent Supper/Dumb Supper in Salem is October 27th, 2013. Again, I’ve never participated in this one, but it will probably be awesome and a beautiful way to honor loved ones: http://www.festivalofthedead.com/dumbsupper.html

Side note:  The honoring of the dead is about love, not fear. It bums me out that they make it all spooky scary, but that sells tickets and is what most people associate with this time of year. Wiccans honor the earth, which is about abundance and love, not fear.

A lot of the links I have listed below imply the spooky/scary elements that are associated with Halloween. While I understand why that is done, I feel that it misses the opportunity to show people that this could be a completely new, unusual and more fulfilling way of experiencing this time of year.

FYI: The Witches Ball is on October 25th and this is one of the biggest events of the season.

Finally, Salem is a good place to go year round. Sure, Halloween/Samhain is probably the high point of the year, but don’t forget that the main focus of the people that live in this town are the seasonal changes of the earth, which are celebrated year round and give Salem a different and wonderful flavor all its own no matter what part of the year you chose to visit.

http://hauntedhappenings.org/

http://www.salemweb.com/hh/

http://salemhalloweencity.com/

http://www.festivalofthedead.com/

http://www.festivalofthedead.com/witchesball/  October 25, 2013

http://salem.org/calendar_main/festival_calendars

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60954-c4113/Salem:Massachusetts:Halloween.html

Wiki about Samhain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain

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TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

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TPB 0019 California and the Sierras – Ski and Snowboard

Posted on 05 October 2013 by Leslie Lello

TPB 0019 California and the Sierras - Ski and Snowboard

 

Today I discuss three separate areas of California where you can enjoy the slopes.

The three ski/snowboard areas I will be covering today are:

  • Big Bear/Snow Summit area near Los Angeles (also a nod to a few tinier snow hills)
  • Mammoth Mountain / June Mountain
  • Lake Tahoe – which includes 7 separate ski resorts

I’ve heard people that typically ski the Rockies refer to the snow on the California mountains as “Sierra Sludge” because it tends to get very heavy by the end of the day and there is a TON of it (usually in big piles) by the time the sun starts going down.

Coming from the East Coast, the “sludge” they are referring to is AWESOME. It took a bit of adjusting in my skiing style, but it’s wonderful compared to the East Coast hard pack.

So I hope you enjoy today’s podcast. I had audio issues on this podcast. I was so enthusiastic to start recording that I forgot to clip my mic to my shirt, so it sounds like the mic is constantly bumping into things (which is it). I apologize for this, but I liked the content and if I re-recorded it I feel like I would have just breezed over the content rather than get into the details, so I chose to post this show with the icky audio.

If you don’t want to listen because if the audio pops, you can glean what you need from the podcast notes.

Thanks!

Leslie

 

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TBP 0018 Ski Utah Powder

Posted on 28 September 2013 by Leslie Lello

Winter is on it’s way! Time to talk skiing!

SKI UTAH!

Inspired by a mega Ski Group Meet-up in New York, I decided to create a show about Utah, one of my favorite places to ski.

I got really jazzed when one of the groups was telling me about their upcoming trip to Brighton, which is one of many ski resorts located around Salt Lake City.

I have skied Utah many times. Most experiences were great but the last time resulted in an injury for the person I was with so I also became very familiar with Salt Lake City, which I also talk about on the podcast.

But most of the focus of today’s podcast is on Park City and the ski resorts that are located around Park City.

  1. Dear Valley (skiers)
  2. Park City
  3. Canyons

I talk about packing strategy, too. When you fly to Utah for the skiing, it’s good to know what NOT to bring because between equipment and bulky clothes, there’s already a ton of stuff to drag from the baggage carousel.

Finally, I also talk about some lodging strategies if you are planning to be in Park City during Sundance Film Festival, which is not only a great time to see some great flicks, but the slopes are great at that time, too.

DEALS RIGHT NOW: https://www.skiutah.com/winter/deals/showme/member/550579887.html

The ski resorts around Salt Lake City: http://www.onthesnow.com/utah/ski-resorts.html

I mentioned on the podcast a lift ticket /ski ticket deal with The Canyons. I have information on last year’s deal, and actually, several ski resorts participated. I have not seen any information on whether this deal is happening this year (2013-2014). Here is some information on last year’s deal (Look at listing number 4 on this webpage): http://www.saltlakecityonthecheap.com/free-or-cheap-ski-lift-tickets-in-utah/

Winter Activities in Park City besides skiing and snowboarding: http://www.visitparkcity.com/things-to-do/winter-activities/

 

*** Sorry no pix this week… photos are trapped on a grumpy computer other than the one I am typing on right now.  Will revise later when I have access. ***

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About

heashot_LeslieLello

Welcome and thanks for visiting!

My name is Leslie and I am the owner, publisher and media creator of Travel Better Podcasts.

A few years ago I started traveling... (Click Here For More)


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New Jersey, USA

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