Guest Blog Post: Incompatible Travel Styles? 5 Tips from a Couples Therapist for a Great Trip!

We are proud to feature a post from Diane Spear, LCSW, a Huffington Post quoted relationship expert who owns a private practice in the Union Square/East Village area of Manhattan, New York City. She specializes in anxiety, depression, couples, and parenting treatment, and has been helping people find the joy in everyday life since 1995. She is accepting new patients.

You’ve hired Fifth Meridian Travel to plan an unforgettable travel experience for you, but what do you do if you and your travel partner have incompatible travel styles and ideas for vacations? Does that mean a tension-filled travel experience is in your future? Or that you can’t possibly travel together? Or, if you’re a couple, that your relationship is doomed?
No!!! If you and your travel partner have compatible travel styles and ideas for vacations, you’re lucky! If not, keep reading. Union Square/East Village (NYC) couples therapist Diane Spear has five great tips that can improve your travel experience, whether you’re friends who travel together or a couple.

Dealing with Incompatible Travel Styles
Discuss your trip preferences and expectations ahead of time.
Is your goal to pack in as much activity as possible? Or the ultimate in relaxation? Would you rather go broad, or go deep (many cities for a day or two per, or one or two places in depth)?
Do you prefer organized tours, or seeing things on your own with a guidebook or app? Or wandering and discovering things by chance? Do you like to set an alarm and start the day early, with a quick shower and coffee and out the door? Or do you like to sleep in, followed by a leisurely start?
Do you like to drive places, take public transportation, or walk? Are you fit and looking for a physical challenge? Do you have physical limitations to consider in setting your activity level?
Do you like to go to museums? Or spend your time outside?
Do you like to splurge? Or do you value frugality? Or do you have certain things you’re willing to splurge on, and others where frugality reigns?
Do you like warm-weather getaways in winter, or do you love snow skiing vacations? Do you live for the beach or sailing vacations? Or do you want to explore the world’s great golf courses?
So many questions! But these and other differences, preferences, and expectations are all things to discuss long before you begin planning your trip, and perhaps even before deciding to travel together.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong, best or worst, just differences.
Your preference is not better than your partner’s, any more than your partner’s is better than yours. Assigning a different value to yours and your partner’s is a recipe for dissatisfaction. They are just differences.
This can be difficult for some people to remember. Of course, any reasonable person would see it my way, would want what I want, you may think. Problem is, your partner probably feels the same way about his or her preferences. They are just your preferences, nothing more.

Communicate directly and logically. Take breaks to “cool off” if the discussion becomes heated, and come back to it when you’re both calm.
There’s no point in continuing to discuss things once things become heated, because when someone is angry, you can think of that person (including yourself) as being temporarily insane.Nothing productive will come from trying to reason with someone who’s temporarily unable, by virtue of anger, to be reasonable.
Decide to come back to it later, when you’ve both returned to a logical, rational frame of mind. That may be in an hour or a couple of days.
Two friends who travel together frequently have made a deal when they get on each other’s nerves during a trip: when they have a disagreement, they look for a bar, have a drink and some laughs, and remind themselves of the importance of their friendship, which is much more valuable to them than whatever silly disagreement they’re having.

Compromise, compromise, compromise. Then compromise some more!
There are many ways to compromise. We’ll do things your way this time, and my way the next. If this is really important to you, and I really don’t care, we’ll do what you want, and you’ll do the same when something’s really important to me.
Let’s try to do some of what we both enjoy. We'll put things in rank order, and maybe the thing that we do together is a 4 for you and a 5 for me. And if the higher-ranked choices for each of us are things the other person really doesn’t want to do, we do those things separately, whether that’s separate trips or separate activities on a trip we take together.
One man is a talented skier who learned in the Alps starting at age two, and his wife didn’t ski till age 35 and doesn’t really enjoy it and the apres ski scene. They have learned over the years that when he wants to ski, he should do that vacation with skiing friends, and their vacations together are things that they both enjoy. This decision came after several trips together in which she went along with his wishes without stating that she didn’t enjoy the trip, but resented him. When they discussed it, they found the more enjoyable alternative, which involves the following point.

Keep in mind that, whatever your relationship, you aren’t joined at the hip.
That means that if you like to set an alarm and get out early, and your travel partner likes to sleep in and move slowly, you can do that and agree to meet up when your partner is ready for activity. If your partner likes to take cabs and you like to walk, you can each do your preference and meet at the destination, or decide to take turns.
You’re a museum bug, and your partner likes long bike rides? You spend a day touring museums, and your partner rents a bike to ride singly or with a group in the countryside. You meet up afterward and talk about your experiences of the day over drinks and dinner. Win-win!

Accepting your travel partner as he or she is leads to a much more satisfying experience than trying to force him or her to do things your way, to be a clone of you. Thoughtful communication and compromise from the beginning, focusing on the points of agreement, and working through the bumps and disagreements along the way can bypass your incompatible travel styles and lead to the wonderfully memorable travel experiences that define the Fifth Meridian travel experience.

Tips & Tricks to Better Enjoy the Beach

Here’s a list of twelve tips, tricks, things to do and bring to the beach this summer to help you have fun, keep the sun at bay, and most of all, relax and enjoy!

  1. Sunscreen. Plain and simple. No one wants to have his or her relaxing day at the beach ruined by massive sunburn. And make sure to reapply regularly, especially if you're going the water!
  2. A book to read. Crossword to ponder over. Sudoku puzzle to complete. A good way to unwind and enjoy the beach is to just sit back and do one of your favorite activities—reading or puzzles—whilst in a scenic area like the beach! This is great because you can lounge in your chair in the shade or lie on your stomach in the sun—tanning and reading at once!
  3. A spare towel or beach blanket. You’re going to want to dry off with something that isn’t covered in sand. And if you drove to the beach, you also might want something to sit on for that drive back.
  4. Snacks! Even if you’re not spending the whole day at the beach, you’re bound to get a little hungry! Make sure to pack a cooler full of snacks, and mix it up! A variety of chips, granola bars, and veggies make for a good beachside mix. And don’t forget to bring drinks too, if you know what I mean.
  5. Beach toys. If you have kids, these next couple might apply to you. When you pack your bag, it’s always a good idea to bring a Frisbee or a beach ball of some sort to keep the kids busy and for them to throw around while you do your own relaxation routine.
  6. Bags. A couple of spare Ziploc bags or jars can’t hurt, either. Surely your little ones will want to collect every seashell they see and it bring it home. They would literally bring the whole beach home with them if they could! Just don’t forget to rinse them off if you plan on keeping them, you don’t want that sea scent to linger.
  7. A spare pair of sunglasses might be a good thing to bring along too. You never know if a big wave will knock you over and if your precious shades will be lost in the ocean forever. And if you wear prescription glasses, try using a cheap pair of regular sunglasses in the water, if you can see, just in case.
  8. Headgear. Aside from the sunscreen, another cool way to beat the heat is to wear a hat or bandana. For the ladies, a sunhat is both stylish and provides you with a little bit of extra shade. For the men, you can’t go wrong with a ball cap, especially if it’s made of lightweight sport material.
  9. Phone case. Everyone takes pictures nowadays. For most of us, we don’t want the extra hassle of lugging a camera about. So if you plan on using your phone to capture all those wave-worthy moments, think about investing in a waterproof phone case. Seriously, two things that simply do not mix are smartphones and saltwater. Another important consideration is protecting your phone from the sun. A few hours of direct sunlight can deplete even the most robust battery, but there is a convenient and ingenious solution
  10. Potable water. Speaking of water…remember to drink lots of it! This can’t be stressed enough. Even if you hang out in the shade for the whole day, the heat will still take its toll on you. And if you decide to enjoy other drinks too, then really remember to stay hydrated.
  11. Chairs and umbrellas. Sure, towels are great to lie on, but if you want to sit in the shade and cool down a bit, definitely make sure you don't forget to pack these two essentials. If you really want to step up shade game, consider getting one of these. (Fun fact: The word "umbrella" is derived from the Latin words meaning "little shade". True story!) 
  12. Cash. Even though you’re at the beach to release some stress, calm down, and catch some rays it’s still a good idea to have some cash handy. Sure, you’ll bring your own cooler with food and drinks, but you may get hungry for some stuff you just don’t have. And if you have kids: ice cream. And even if there are no kids around, who says adults can’t enjoy a summer ice cream cone?
A little bit bit of shade can provide a lot of relief from the mid-day sun. 

A little bit bit of shade can provide a lot of relief from the mid-day sun. 

Whether you prefer the East Coast or the West, a travel specialist at Fifth Meridian Travel will arrange a beachside getaway to suite your needs and budget. Here are two of our favorite summertime destinations!    


The Setai, Miami Beach
Luxurious rooms allow you to stay cool and comfortable for your time indoors, while your beach time can be enjoyed watching the sunset or lounging in a magnificent pool. From now through December 17, 2017, book with Fifth Meridian Travel to receive a complimentary fourth night, among many other amenities!


Ventana Inn & Spa
For something a little more relaxing, check out this hotel’s soothing spa that will surely enhance your stay. With world-famous Californian views, you don’t even need to leave your room in order to relax and enjoy the vacation you deserve.
Don’t forget to contact Fifth Meridian Travel for all of your travel and hotel needs! We offer unbeatable pricing, exclusive amenities, and hands on service you won’t get anywhere else!

 

 

 

Things To Do And See In Oslo

"What's your favorite country?" As someone who has lived in five countries and visited over a hundred of them, that's a question I'm frequently asked, and it's one that doesn't admit of an easy answer. So several years ago, I adopted the habit of qualifying my response to the question by narrowing its scope: I now ask my interlocutors to limit their question to a particular region of the world, rather than the entire globe. This minor re-framing of the question not only makes it easier for me to answer, but is also more interesting for the person asking it.

And when asked what my favorite Scandinavian country is, the answer is always the same: Norway. Norway's majestic coastline, welcoming people, fantastic food, and stark natural beauty possess a truly perennial appeal. And I am not alone in my enchantment with Norway, as it is consistently among the most popular Scandinavian countries for tourism and leisure travel.

From the lovely city of Bergen to the colorful Trondheim, and from the breathtaking fjiords to the pristine arctic wilderness in the stunning Svalbard Islands, Norway is a country of exceptional natural beauty and abiding charm. My most recent visit to Norway was last summer, while on a Baltic cruise that included a stop in Oslo. My husband and I spent an unforgettable day wondering the streets of this little Nordic gem, and it was evident almost immediately that my husband was just as enchanted with Oslo as I had been when I first visited the city fifteen years earlier.

Oslo's Royal Palace

Oslo's Royal Palace

There is a lot to do and see in Oslo, but a few things you should make a point of visiting are City Hall and the Royal Palace (iconic landmarks which grace ninety percent of all pictures taken in Oslo) and the impressive Vigeland Sculpture Park, where more than two-hundred sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron are on public view.

For a glimpse of what Oslo looked like a few hundred years ago, you don't have to rely on images in paintings or descriptions in novels: You can take a leisurely stroll back in time by visiting Damstredet and Telthusbakken, two narrow streets in central Oslo with small wood and brick houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. The buildings along these two streets are the oldest and the best preserved local architecture in Oslo today.

Another attraction not to be missed is the Oslo Opera House: a beautiful piece of modern architecture right by the harbor. Its slanted design allows visitors to easily walk to its roof, which offers excellent views of the city.

Oslo is a city full of idiosyncratic surprises: like this wonderfully peculiar little statue.  

Oslo is a city full of idiosyncratic surprises: like this wonderfully peculiar little statue.  

And if, like me, you're interested in ships, then you mustn't miss the Fram Museum, where you can see the strongest wooden ship ever built, The Polar Ship Fram. A true marvel of maritime engineering, The Fram still holds the records for sailing farthest north and farthest south. At the Fram Museum, you can actually go onboard the ship and see how the crew managed to stay alive in some of the harshest climates and most dangerous places on Earth. It even includes a polar simulator, so visitors can experience for themselves the frigid temperatures endured by the Fram's crew on her Arctic and Antarctic voyages. The Viking Ship Museum is also extremely interesting. Here you will find some of the world's best-preserved Viking ships and artifacts retrieved from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord.

Oslo is teeming with picturesque vistas and beautiful architecture.

Oslo is teeming with picturesque vistas and beautiful architecture.

And no trip to Oslo would be complete without paying a visit to the world-famous coffee-shop-by-day-and-cocktail-bar-by-night, Kaffefuglen. A 1960s style cafe where you can buy anything you see inside (from mugs, to flatware, to furniture!), Kaffefuglen is not just an excellent place for an afternoon pick-me-up, but also a beautiful monument to classic Scandinavian design.

Oslo has a lot to offer in the way of world-class accommodations, but for me, nothing compares to the distinctive and elegant hotel at Tjuvholmen, The Thief. Named "The Best Hotel in Northern Europe" by Condé Nast Traveler, The Thief is located right on the harbor and overlooks the Oslofjord, offering incredible waterfront views. And in the summer months, the rooftop terrace is an excellent place to enjoy a glass of wine and spectacular views of the city. Each of the one-hundred and sixteen rooms and suites at The Thief features a private French balcony, and the penthouse suite has a private rooftop terrace with sensational panoramic views.

I have no doubt that once you visit Norway and its enchanting capital city, Oslo, you will understand why it is among my favorite destinations in the world. 

Five Tips For Taking The Stress Out Of Planning Your Honeymoon

Ask anyone who's tried it: Planning a honeymoon can be extremely stressful, especially if you intend to begin your honeymoon directly after your wedding, which most couples do. With so many things to take into account and so many options to choose from, the task of planning your honeymoon can quickly become overwhelming, so here we offer a few simple suggestions for de-stressing the process of planning your honeymoon:

  1. Call a professional, preferably one of ours. Getting the help of a qualified, professional travel specialist is the single best thing you can do to eliminate the stress of planning your honeymoon and to ensure that all the relevant details have been considered and taken care of.  
  2.  Be flexible. If you're flexible with your travel dates, you're more likely to get the best deals on airfare and hotels. Also, consider traveling during low season or "shoulder season", which is the time between low season and high season. A lot of couples prefer to get married in the months of May, June, and July, which are in the middle of the low season for many destinations on the Gulf (or Atlantic) Coast of Mexico, and during which hotel and resort prices drop considerably. Those peak summer wedding months are also a perfect time to visit the stunning island of Mauritius (not that there's ever a bad time to visit Mauritius).  
  3. Consider an alternative airport. Sometimes switching from your home airport to one a little further away can amount to big savings, so be sure to check out airfare from a few different airports before booking your flights. And if you're driving to the airport and intend to park your car there, be sure to factor that expense into the overall budget.
  4.  Ensure passports and other travel documents are up-to-date. In the U.S., it can take the State Department up to six weeks to process your passport application, and if you're traveling outside the U.S., a valid passport number is required to book the airline ticket, so make sure that's taken care of well in advance. Your travel adviser will be able to tell you if the destination you have in mind requires a visa, and if so, she will help you obtain it, but that process, too, takes time, so make sure you file the application at least a few months before your departure date.
  5. Work as a team. Planning your honeymoon can be a great way to collaborate with your fiancé on a project and also helps ease the stress of travel-planning by reducing the workload. Making sure you set dates by which things are to be done is a great way to keep each other accountable and to ensure that everything is completed when it needs to be. And keep in mind that planning a honeymoon doesn't have to be stressful. With sufficient time, realistic expectations, and the help and guidance of a qualified travel specialist, planning your honeymoon can be an exciting and enjoyable project. Contact one of our travel specialists today to find out how we can help make your honeymoon the trip of a lifetime.        
The ruins at Tulum are just one of the many attractions near Cancun, Mexico, whose low season happens to correspond with the peak season for weddings in the U.S. (May, June, and July), making it an excellent choice as a honeymoon destination.  

The ruins at Tulum are just one of the many attractions near Cancun, Mexico, whose low season happens to correspond with the peak season for weddings in the U.S. (May, June, and July), making it an excellent choice as a honeymoon destination.  

New Year's Eve in New York City

When most people think of New York City on New Year's Eve, what comes to mind are throngs of giddy tourists, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in Times Square, enduring the cold and the crowd for the singular thrill of witnessing the iconic ball drop at the stroke of midnight. And the Times Square ball drop is an exciting thing to experience first hand, as attested by the tens of thousands of people who brave the cold and arrive many hours in advance of midnight every year just to be a part of the event and the festivities that surround it. But if what you're looking for is a relaxed New Year's Eve celebration in New York City, then Times Square is definitely not the place for you.

Thankfully, there is a much more laid back (and romantic) alternative: fireworks in Central Park. The New York Road Runners, a non-profit community running organization that is involved in the famous New York City Marathon, hosts a Midnight Run in Central Park on New Year's Eve, and those who take part in the four-mile race have the privilege of watching a celebratory fireworks display as the race begins. The countdown begins at 11:59 and at the stroke of 12:00, the race begins and so do the fireworks. The Pre-Race Festival begins at 10:00 p.m. and includes a dance party at Rumsey Playfield for the runners and their guests. The post-race party begins at 12:30 at Tavern on The Green.

For those who aren't interested in running the race, but would still like to see the fireworks, we have good news: You can watch the fireworks from the comfort, warmth, and safety of the great indoors! And not just any indoors, but Tavern on The Green. For $150.00 you can watch the fireworks, sip cocktails as the runners complete the race, and then attend the post-race party. The cost of admission includes a dinner buffet, coat and bag check, late night snacks and dessert, and five (yes, five!) hours of open bar. (On any night of the year, five hours of open bar in Manhattan for $150 is a bargain that is nothing short of magnificent.)

To sign up for the race, please visit the NYRR website. To get tickets for the Tavern on The Green Midnight Run Celebration, please visit here.

If you don't want to run in the race (can't blame you) or go to Tavern on The Green (can sort of blame you), but would still like to see the fireworks, the best spot inside Central Park from which to view them is Belvedere Castle, which is located mid-park near 79th Street. Alternatively, you can enter Central Park from either the West 67th Street or East 67th Street entrance, then make your way toward the Bandshell and a few seconds before midnight, direct your eyes to the skies. Both of the 72nd Street entrances to the park will be closed to the public on the evening of New Year's Eve, but all other public entrances to the park should remain open.

And whether you're celebrating in Times Square, Central Park, or on the other side of the world, all of us at Fifth Meridian Travel wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year's Eve and a peaceful and prosperous 2017!