Monthly Archives: September 2019

Sicily tour Day 1, arrival Palermo

Upon arrival in Palermo we were met by Giorgio, our guide for the next 12 days.  After checking into our hotel and freshening up we enjoyed a walking tour of Palermo. The hotel was an 18th century cloister, then a bank and now a hotel. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable and situated in the heart of the old city.

The town is located along a beautiful bay on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Founded by the Phoenicians in the eighth and seventh centuries BC, it was conquered by the Arabs in 831, and a period of immense prosperity began.We were enchanted by Palermo’s wide boulevards, traditional Sicilian Old Quarter, baroque palaces and the twelfth-century Cathedral of Palermo.

Georgio took us for a stroll through cobblestone streets, past colourful shops, narrow alleyways and to the square where there were magnificent fountains.










This evening we enjoyed a welcome dinner at Bisso Bistrot. The food was amazing and service excellent!



After dinner we took a stroll to see the opera house and did a little purse shopping along the way and enjoyed a tasty canoli for dessert..




25Sep19 Number of steps taken today 12,363

Over night: Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa, Palermo

What to pack in a carry-on bag

by Debbie Ross, founder of the Womens Travel Network 

There’s an art to packing a carry-on bag. Wise travelers must balance the requirements of airlines and airport security, make sure important items are easily accessible, and remember all the little things that will keep them comfortable in flight.

Lets start with a few frequently asked questions about what things are allowed on an airplane.

How much liquid can you take on a plane?
The liquids restrictions have been in place for many years now, but there’s still some confusion about what those restrictions are. The basic carry-on liquids allowances are:
You are permitted to bring liquids in containers of 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less, and all containers must fit in a one quart (about one liter) clear zip-top bag. A 5 ounce container will not be allowed, even if it only has 1 ounce of liquid in it.
There are several items that you might not think about that are considered liquids, like peanut butter, liquid makeup, snow globes, etc. You ARE allowed to bring an empty water bottle through security and fill it up on the other side.

Can you take a razor through security?
Since razors are sharp objects, they can cause confusion about whether or not you can pack them in your carry-on. Straight razors and blades for safety razors are not allowed in carry-on luggage, but disposable razors and electric razors are permitted.

Can you take food on an airplane?
In general, food is allowed in your carry-on. However, it must meet the liquids restrictions. Foods that spread, like peanut butter, are considered liquid, so you would only be allowed to have 3.4 ounces (100ml) of peanut butter, and the container must fit in your liquids bag. Food or beverages in frozen form are allowed, but only if they are completely frozen when you go through the TSA security check. This may vary in other countries.

Can you bring a lighter on a plane?
You can take a lighter on an airplane in your carry-on, but usually only one is permitted. It’s also worth noting that lighters can only be in your checked luggage if they have no fuel in them.

Can you bring e-cigarettes or vaping devices on a plane?
Yes, you can take e-cigarettes or a vaping device on a plane. In fact, TSA requires you to pack your e-cigarette/vaping device in carry-on, not checked luggage. The liquid you need for it must also fit within the liquid allowances.

Can you pack hair straighteners/flat irons, curling iron, or hair dryers in your carry-on?
If you want these items you can pack that in your carry-on luggage. I recommend not packing the hair straightener while it’s still hot, but if you must because of timing, wrap it in a small towel so the hot plates don’t burn anything in your bag.

Keep ID and money in your carry-on bag

This might be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Always keep all of your identification in your carry-on. Even if you’re flying internationally so you have your passport with you, don’t pack your driver’s license in your checked bag. Losing any kind of ID is not fun, and if the airline misplaces your luggage, you might never see it again.
Money, credit cards, jewelry, or anything else of monetary value should never be packed in your checked bag. Again, if your luggage gets lost, so will your money. Not only that, but unfortunately there are a few dishonest people out there, and you don’t want to take even a tiny chance that someone will go through your bag and steal something.

Take medications in your carry-on bag

Do you have any essential medications that you take on a regular basis? Don’t just pack what you need for your flight  in your carry-on, put it all in there. If you only have a day’s worth of medicine, and your luggage gets lost for three days, you could be in big trouble for a couple days.
If your medication is liquid or you need to carry needles, get a letter from your doctor. This should help you avoid problems taking restricted items on the plane in your carry-on bag.

Bring electronics and fragile items in your carry-on bag

Baggage handlers are not known for being gentle with luggage. Even aside from that, an airplane is a moving vehicle and there’s always the possibility of turbulence. Electronics and other fragile items could easily break during any part of the travel process, from the moment you hand over your bag until it finally arrives on the luggage carousel.
Laptops also have lithium batteries, which are generally not allowed in checked luggage due to fire risk. Another good reason to keep laptops in your carry on baggage.
Electronics have the added risk of being stolen. Just like your money or jewelry, you don’t want to take the chance that someone will go through your bag and steal your iPod, laptop or camera.

If you have anything sentimental, this should also be packed in your carry-on. Fragile or not, you wouldn’t want it to get lost because chances are no amount of money can replace something that has sentimental value.

Pack toiletries and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag

Even if you’ve decided to bring larger bottles of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc., it’s still a good idea to pack an approved bag of liquids for your carry on along with your toothbrush. One change of clothes could come in handy as well. If your checked luggage gets lost, at least you’ll something to change into when you arrive, and you’ll be able to brush your teeth and take a shower. You might still have to go buy a few things if your luggage doesn’t turn up within a day, but at least you won’t need to rush to find a store right away.

Bring things to make yourself feel comfortable

Flights can be really boring, even if you have someone to talk to. Having some music to listen to and a book or a kindle to read will help the time pass. If you travel with a laptop or an iPad, make sure you have some movies loaded up to watch on the plane.
Take some snacks with you, whether it’s something from home or you pick up something at the airport. Many airlines don’t give you food on domestic flights anymore  and even on flights where they do feed you it might be a while after take off before they do. Having something to snack on that you know you like will help get you through the flight. And buy a bottle of water once you get through security.
I always bring some tissues with me. The air on airplanes is incredibly dry and can irritate your nose. Plus bathroom travel hassles can start with your flight if they run out of toilet paper. I try not to bring too many “just in case” things when I travel, but tissues are always a good idea.

As much as I love traveling carry-on only, I understand that it’s not always practical, and it might not be comfortable for everyone. But there are some essential items you should always pack in your carry-on bag. Unfortunately your checked luggage could get lost or mishandled, and your things could break or never be seen again. You also want to make sure your flight experience is as enjoyable as possible, and having things like snacks and entertainment in your carry-on bag will help. Before you get on that flight, check the airline’s carry-on luggage size and weight allowance and then use this list to pack your carry-on bag.



Travel less like a tourist and more like a local

by Debbie Ross, founder of the Womens Travel Network

It’s great to see the major tourist attractions while on vacation, but take some time to do it like a local. Follow these tips and get a  more authentic experience and deeper appreciation for the culture of the place you are visiting.

  1. Learn the customs before you go. If shaking hands is not acceptable then don’t reach out your hand when greeting a local.  If it’s bowing that’s acceptable this is what you should do. 
  2. Dress the part. You don’t need to go all out but keep your attire relatively similar to the norm.  If the locals don’t bear their shoulders you shouldn’t either.
  3. Use a small notebook as your guide book. Write down top places to visit including the address and directions Or put it in you smart phone by creating a personalize google maps.  It’s more discreet than a traditional guide book or map.
  4. Talk to the locals. Strike up a conversation in a restaurant, coffee shop or pub. Find out  their favourite restaurants, places and activities.
  5. Check social media for hot spots. Search your destination on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp or Travel Blogs. You will find what expats and bloggers are up to, top restaurants and sightseeing so you can add it to your itinerary.

How to stay healthy on a plane

Flying can take a big toll on our physical well-being, sometimes causing travelers to get sick by the time they get to their destination. Not a pleasant side effect.

Contaminated surfaces such as table trays, arm rests, and more are the culprits. they are prime breeding grounds for all kinds of viruses and bacteria. But that doesn’t mean you have to travel in a hazmat suit. Here are some tips to help ensure you arrive at your destination happy and healthy:

Strengthen your immune system.
During the days leading up to your trip, be sure to eat healthy (fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein), exercise, and consider taking a daily multivitamin. A healthy lifestyle = a stronger immune system. You’ll also want to take time to relax before you travel and get plenty of sleep the night before your flight.

Disinfect your surroundings.
If you were to only pack one or two items in your carry on, let it be antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. Some airplanes only have an hour at most to clean up in-between flights, which means there are a lot of areas that aren’t wiped down. Ideally, you’ll want to wipe anything you’ll touch, such as the armrest, window shade, overhead bin, and tray table. If you really want to prevent the spread of germs, consider bringing a disposable mat for the tray table.

Practice good hygiene habits.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your arm when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands thoroughly throughout the trip, and especially after touching anything that’s frequently used, such as a door handle. Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, be sure to take a shower as soon as possible to clean the germs off your body.

Eat and drink with caution.
While you should always eat healthy foods such as nuts, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, and caffeine, there are some lesser-known facts about food served on airplanes. According to a test from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, 12 percent of commercial airlines tested positive for a type of bacteria that strongly indicates E. coli—so eat with caution, or bring your own snacks and meals on the plane with you. You should also think twice about ordering coffee or tea—many airlines don’t heat the water to temperatures that can kill bacteria, and passengers have been known to get sick from a seemingly innocent cup of coffee or tea.

Be sure to drink from a clean straw to avoid contact with surfaces that may be unclean and cover food and drinks with a clean napkin to prevent airborne illnesses from contaminating them.

And of course, drink plenty of water!

Get moving.
To prevent blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), try to stretch or take walks to the bathroom. Or, try contracting your calf muscles and tapping your feet; doing so will get your lower body moving and blood pumping.

Avoid the seat back pockets at ALL costs.
You don’t want to know what kinds of items flight attendants find in those pockets behind airplane seats (think dirty diapers and used tissues and vomit bags—ick!). So avoid putting anything in these areas.