Competitours: Adventure Travel for Real People

Long before I adopted the phrase “value luxury” I intuitively knew what it meant. It sums up my travel ethos completely – learning when to splurge and when to save – and over the years I’ve refined it a bit more by saying it’s luxury for real people, not people with private yachts and celebrity friends. Travelers define luxury in different ways. For some, it’s a hotel room with a view and for others, it’s dinner at a Michelin-star restaurant. For some, it’s a trip to a hard to get to country and for others, it’s lying on a beach and reading a good book. For some, it’s a cruise and for others, it’s getting to one more country on an itinerary. What’s important to one traveler is not the same as what’s important to another. That’s why it’s often […]

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Your Guide (and Lots of Tips) for Halloween Horror Nights 2018

This annual event has grown from three nights and one haunted house in 1991 (it was originally called Fright Nights and was renamed the following year) to this 28th-year event with 10 houses, five scare zones, and one production show over 36 nights. The houses and scare zones are a combination of original content specifically developed for Halloween Horror Nights 2018 and characters and stories from familiar movies, televisions shows, and pop culture. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, many of the themes will be familiar to you, if you’re not, you may want to watch a few movies to get in the mood. The following is my take and recommendations on what to see, how to see it, and some tips to enjoy Halloween Horror Nights 2018 (HHN28). Before You Go There are 10 haunted houses at […]

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23 Spectacular Places to Watch Sunrise

After traveling in Norway on our Into the Midnight Sun cruise itinerary, I’ve grown an appreciation for sunrise. We spent the better part of a week where the time between sunset and sunrise was only about an hour, so it was easy to watch the sun come up. But what about when watching a sunrise is a little more difficult? Here are some creative places around the world where watching the sunrise can be a romantic, inspiring, and enjoyable experience. Pawleys Island, South Carolina – The beach houses and historic inns on Pawleys Island offer a feeling of home while still providing a nod to generations of island tradition. Arrogantly shabby properties provide both character and comfort, and the natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere of the island are a great combination to watch the sun come up. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Downtown Napa

Located on the banks of the Napa River, downtown Napa has evolved from a small, sleepy town into a vibrant community full of upscale hotels, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants to meet every palate preference. There are downtown parks, outdoor art installations and art walks, markets full of local fare, and some of the friendliest Californians you’ll ever run into. And they do it all with a casual flair that feels down-home rather than pretentious. I spent some time in downtown Napa with some gal pals, soaking up some of the best it had to offer and had such a great time that I never wanted to leave. In fact, I’ve decided to plan a return trip, this time taking Tony along, as I know it’s the type of getaway he enjoys. I think you’ll enjoy it too! Note: This trip […]

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The Bikini Has a Birthday

July is a month of birthdays:  Canada (July 1st), the United States (July 4th), me (July 31st), and on July 5th, 2018, the bikini turns 72 years old. For most women, the selection of the perfect bikini begins well before its time to hit the beach during vacation, and it may very well be the first to-do item on a vacation preparation list.  For many women, there is no greater vacation angst than finding the right swimsuit – bikini or otherwise. Archaeologists date the existence of a scanty swimsuit back to 1600 BC., but the modern world was shocked with the debut of this new swimsuit in 1946. Designers Jacques Heim and Louis Reard are credited with changing the landscape of the beach forever. They were competitors – Heim selling the world’s smallest swimsuit at a beach shop in , […]

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Adventure Cruise: Discover Pure Panama with UnCruise Adventures

Last fall we sailed on UnCruise Adventures’ Safari Voyager on their Pure Panama: Cultures, Coasts, and Canal itinerary. It was our first small ship adventure cruise and we’re excited to review the ship and itinerary, as well as share our tips and with you. Cruise information is historically the most searched for information on our site during the month of June, so we expect that this information is hitting you right at the time you’re making your plans and reservations for your cruise. Discover Pure Panama with us. And UnCruise Adventures. Is an adventure cruise right for you? Like all vacations, the decision to take an adventure cruise is a big one – you’ll want to research thoroughly to see if the experience and itinerary fit your cruise style. We think the following are important considerations in deciding if an adventure […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Opryland, Tennessee

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to check off a visit to a new state, so heading off to was something I was looking forward to. We packed our bags, grabbed a guidebook, and headed off for a long weekend at Opryland. Opryland once referred to the Opryland USA, a theme park beloved by locals, some of whom claim to this day that it is their all-time favorite. The theme park closed in 1997 and was demolished. Today the phrase Opryland refers to the larger geographical area that includes the Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the Opry Mills shopping mall, and the Grand Ole Opry House. Our weekend at Opryland was a feast of music, food, and drink with a little relaxation thrown in. We had such a great time that we never wanted to leave. This is part […]

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18 Off the Beaten Path Places to Find Great Barbecue

As summer approaches, my mind turns to barbecue. For me, the thought of great barbecue brings to mind a plate of beef or pork that’s been slow cooked all day with a dry rub, then mounded on my plate with a spicy tomato-based sauce on the side. A few side dishes round out the meal, maybe corn on the cob, green beans, cole slaw, or a macaroni salad. Add is some iced tea or a cold beer and I’m in barbecue heaven. But the history and evolution of barbecue is far more complicated and includes techniques like smoking, roasting, baking, braising, and grilling beef, pork, chicken, or lamb. Seasonings may be as simple as salt and pepper or a more complicated blend or herbs and spices to make a dry rub. Sauces further define the type of barbecue, with fans […]

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You’ll Never Want to Leave: Universal Orlando Resort

When I think about traveling in March and April, I immediately think of Spring Break and family travel. For many families in traditional school environments, school breaks are the only time the family can get away. While I generally tend to avoid travel during school breaks and the summer, there are occasions when there simply are no other choices. If you’re braving the crowds for your family vacation, we recommend spending time at Universal Orlando Resort. With two theme parks, one water park, CityWalk entertainment district, and on-site hotels that provide numerous park perks, once you check in you’ll never have to leave. And you’ll never want to leave either. This is another edition or our monthly themed feature talking about places we’ve stayed and never wanted to leave. This post, along with all the others in the series, may […]

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It’s a Whole New World

Welcome – I’m glad you’re here! Last week I celebrated my 12-year anniversary of blogging. Today, I’m excited to roll out the new look here on Traveling with MJ. It’s been a long time since I’ve changed the theme and narrowed in on the focus of the site, and it was long past due. Here are some of the changes, new features you’ll find here, along with some tips to help navigate the site: I deleted close to 1,200 old posts that date back to 2006. It was tough letting go of those old archives, but the reality was that they weren’t serving anyone. My writing style and focus have evolved over the years and many of those posts don’t represent my focus any longer; they don’t represent my best work and don’t serve you – so they’re gone. Some […]

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