Along the coast from SanFrancisco to Los Angeles and in-between.
Visiting California came with pure amazement. We drove route 1, Pacific Coast Highway from SanFrancisco to Los Angeles. Not a lot of green terrain to see because it had been a dry season with little rain.
An in-between stop when visiting New York to see a band we missed in Chicago 🙁
This was a lifelong dream since I started watching the Rocky films. Trust me I’ve watched them all with my grandmother and mother. Before we headed over to see “ELO” the Electric Light Orchestra I had enough time to re-enact the famous moment
Britney Spears first brought me to Las Vegas to see her Piece of Me tour, which of course she has since changed venues from Planet Hollywood and taken a break from. I did use my United Explorer Miles to get inexpensive deals on our hotel, flight expense and possibly tickets for the show during that time. Visiting Las Vegas was a pure spectacle: seeing the bright lights, open alcohol on the sidewalks of downtown and the heat, can’t forget that because it was extremely hot that it just makes you tired.
When we fist arrived I was bothered by the fact we noticed our taxi driver taking a longer route to drop us off at our hotel. My mom actually used gps to track the destination route to our hotel. We thought it was rude but found it to be beneficial seeing a thought we were getting over charged because we were unfamiliar with the area and how to get around.
It was a short-quick trip – we were just in awe in everything that surrounded us it was hard to appreciate it all. I must say the food was really good since a lot of the top chefs have restaurant there but much seemed quite high in price and I guess that is expected. We did attempt to win big at the slot machines but I’m not a gambler nor a good one at that and none of us walked away hitting the jackpot.
Second Trip Visit: 50th Birthday Celebration
Our 2nd return to Las Vegas and it was amazing, this time I had the chance to carefully plan our trip. Because, we were celebrating my mom’s 50th birthday. We experienced flying first class and greatly enjoyed our cooked meal served in the first seat of the plane behind the pilot. We visited Madame Tussauds, saw Michael Jackson’s One concert, caught the Boyz II Men concert , walked the entire strip visiting most of the interior of each hotel, and visited Freemont Street, and boy were there a lot of unsightly to see, yet an entertaining moment.
I think this was the highlight of our trip, taking a helicopter to eat lunch on top of the Grand Canyon. Such a peaceful and unreal experience. The food was quite delish and we watched the sunset as we traveled back by helicopter to near our hotel!
The only thing I wish I could have done is thought to make reservations at their Eiffel Tower, which gives you an aerial view of the city along with realizing that we could have visited California, didn’t realize it was so close. That turned out to be a 2 visit trip as well, ha.
A wonderful experience for a first time traveler overseas. I planned this trip about 3 to 4 months in advance and it did not come without difficulty coordinating travel for 3 individuals and the itinerary for about 2 weeks of separation from Chicago.
This trip was everything I had and hadn’t expected. Firstly, prior to our departure there was much preparation involved. A list of vaccination shots that are required to be taken (Hepatitis A, Tetanu, Diphtheria, Malaria pills, Tuberculosis) and we also decided to take our Flu shot, which was my first time. I’ve included a link above to one of the best sites you could reference and one that I heavily relied on to determine which vaccinations to take.
Next, where to take your vaccination? If you see a regular doctor, you can ask, however not all doctors may have the vaccinations available to give which means you may need to find an alternative.
First, I don’t recommend in Chicago at least going to the Travel Clinic. Why? Because they are super expensive and greatly over-priced and you may end up taking unnecessary vaccinations you don’t need. So finding a doctor who is very familiar with patients who travel overseas and can properly research to determine what you need to take is key.
Second, double-check your insurance. Because, depending on the vaccination they may not cover and you will have to pay out of pocket. I believe when calling the travel clinics downtown most of them only accepted cash, and no insurance could be applied. Hence why we researched heavily to find inexpensive vaccination cost. Luckily we found them to be at CVS, Target and Walgreens. You can call them or go to their website to determine which locations are providing the vaccination you need and the charge. They can do them the say day which is less painful then needing to make an appointment to see a doctor, but we had to do both.
I also recommend visiting the CDC to learn if there are any outbreaks you need to be aware of which could change the type of vaccination(s) you need.
Carry-On & Luggage Packing Checklist
Defining a packing list is very crucial, and utilizing the help of a travel coordinator who is familiar with the country. Since Madagascar was having a bubonic plague scare it was important we have all the needed shots to protect us.
Next, I consulted with Crooked Compass to coordinate much of the travel to Madagascar and Egypt but not the other two destinations. In conjunction we purchased hiking and travel books for Madagascar for the best recommendations on what to do. The others I simply relied on YouTube videos, co-workers or other travel sources from online blogs.
Since I figured we may not have a chance of visiting Africa due to cost and vacation time, I created a trip of essentially country hopping to ensure we covered some of the best places based on recommendations across travel sites, forums and other sources. Most of my travel was covered by United Explorer Miles, and I recommend doing the same otherwise for 3 people it’s a costly trip.
Visiting each country proved to be a learning experience as we had tour guides for each country except Dubai. Witnessing the extreme poverty to fancy riches – I appreciated each culture. Their customs, terrain, the mannerism of citizens, architecture and their history.