Kalin’s Chronicles: Summer’s Last Hurrah

Labor Day weekend is considered the last hurrah for summer vacations – especially for families, because the kids have to go back to school.  But it doesn’t have to be the end of beach season.  The travel industry’s name for the time after Labor Day but before Thanksgiving is called “Shoulder Season,” and it’s one of the best times to get deals to the beach.

Travelers can find deals as low as $50 per night at destinations like Myrtle Beach, which was named #1 Best U.S. Beach by Trip Advisor.   South Carolina’s most popular beach gets about 14-million visitors a year.  It’s also known as the golf capital of the U.S., with 102 golf courses and 32 miniature golf courses.  Myrtle Beach has hundreds of hotels, but I suggest staying a few miles north along Highway 17, at the less congested North Myrtle Beach.

One popular spot here is the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation.  Every suite has its own balcony with a view of the beach. Start getting into relaxation mode with a yoga session on the beach.  The hotel offers this for free on Friday mornings.  Then enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet, including omelets and waffles.

Throw on your bathing suit and straw hat and head back to the beach for sun and fun, or hit the links at the Arcadian Shores Golf Course.  At the Splash! Pool Complex, enjoy live music or participate in games like “TV Theme Songs Trivia.”  Have a lunch at Splash Cafe. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Summer’s Last Hurrah

Kalin’s Chronicles: Literary Tours

eatprayloveReading is one of my favorite things to do. And I find that if a book is turned into a movie it usually can’t live up to the way I imagined the characters in the book. However, I find it very exciting to visit a city where a book is based. And tourism boards are banking on that trend with “literary tours” that highlight the sites of popular books and movies.

One of my favorite literary tours is Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil in Savannah, Georgia. I took the tour in the 90’s a few years after the non-fiction book came out. The bus drove us by Mercer House were the real-life murder happened, to restaurants where the characters hung out, and to Club One where real-life character, The Lady Chablis, entertained us with her drag show. I even got her and other real-life characters to sign my book.

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Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

It seems that women have more rules to adhere to than men when it comes to world travel.  This can be very frustrating — especially for women from the United States.  I’m a fan of Sex in the City, but I was appalled by Samantha’s disrespecting the culture of Abu Dhabi in the Sex in City 2 movie.

So you won’t get dubbed “The Ugly American,” I’ll provide a few tips throughout the year on cultural etiquette in international destinations.  We’ll start with Japan…

I love Japanese culture – especially their emphasis on spirituality.  But I had a bit to learn about their cultural etiquette while reporting on tourism in Tokyo.  I noticed that the Japanese were always speaking to the male members of my crew instead of to me.  I was the only black member of the crew, so I thought it was my race.  But then I found that in the Japanese culture women always defer to the men in the group. It’s customary to bow when you greet people.  And if you’re doing business, you should also present your business card to the person – always with both hands. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

Kalin’s Chronicles: Spa Etiquette

MP900431114Close your eyes and say “aaahhh” — It’s Spa Week! Time to put in some serious R&R at your favorite spa. Through April 17, spas across the U.S. are offering specials on massages, mani/pedis, facials, and everything in between. So I thought I’d offer some tips on spa etiquette for first-timers, and as a refresher for spa veterans.

Spa Etiquette Tips

  • Arrive at least 20 minutes before your appointment to check-in, change, and relax.
  • Turn off your cell phone, and speak quietly to be considerate of the spa atmosphere.
  • Remove all jewelry – they’ll get in the way, and can be damaged by the oils used.
  • If you’re uncomfortable with nudity, leave your underwear on. A sheet is covering you at all times, and only the parts that are being massaged are exposed.

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Kalin’s Chronicles: Traveling with Kids

I don’t have children and hardly ever travel with them, so I’m the last person to give you tips on traveling with kids. However, 40-something Lainie Liberti has been traveling with her nearly12 -year-old son non-stop since 2009. They’ve been to nine countries so far, including all of Central America and now find themselves in their first South American country, Colombia. Here are a few of her comments on everything from bathrooms to best memories.

Bathrooms

First and foremost, carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. You’ll likely encounter a wide range of ‘bathroom’ options. In the big cities, you’ll find quite civilized potty options, but the one thing you need to get used to is throwing the paper in the bin and not the toilet.

Snack Time

Two words: Peanut butter. If you and your child like the stuff, this is the biggest lifesaver when traveling. There’s nothing more packed with protein and energy. (Photo: Lainie Liberti and her son Miro Sevin Siegel) Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Traveling with Kids