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Airplane Gadget I Will Not Buy

The B-Tourist, currently in the design phase.

The B-Tourist, currently in the design phase.

It’s possible I missed out on some amazing conversation/opportunity/life-changing event by not chatting it up with people around me on airplanes. But I figure my odds of that happening are about .05%, while my odds of some chatterbox boring the eyes out of my skull stand at 99.95%. So I maintain an avoid-talk-at-all-costs policy when I’m flying. The only exception is within five minutes of landing because there is a definite end to the conversation.

Generally, just reading my iPad is enough to ward off any attempts to engage me. When I really need to avoid conversation, like with scuzzy people with outstretched hands on the subways, I employ the “I don’t speak English” excuse.

I can’t think of any scenario where I would carry on this item, the B-Tourist. Made of a stretchy fabric that you loop around the seat back in front of you and your headrest, it allows you to create a bizarre cocoon-like environment. A selling point is the side pocket where you can store your phone, earbuds or snacks.

But let’s discuss a few logistical considerations. How do your seat mates get past this thing – by doing the limbo? How do flight attendants serve a drink to the guy with the window seat? And what about the poor fella sitting in front of you? His head is gonna spring right back into his lap if he tries to lean back on the headrest.

It’s not yet available for purchase but has been designed by Gal Bulka and Idan Noyberg. Until then, you could create a reasonable facsimile with a plus-sized tube top from Wal-Mart. Or not.

Findable, Foldable Luggage: Lipault Suitcase


Foldable luggage. Just like adding wheels to suitcases, I’m wondering — what took so long? Why did we spend years walking lopsided while lugging those heavy-even-when-empty Samsonite monsters?

When we were looking at a new home to move into, there was one big consideration when considering space. Where would all the suitcases and travel-related paraphernalia go?

UnknownWe found ample room in the 4th floor furnace area, which the HVAC guy was audibly displeased about and grunted his way around to check the unit. So it’s not ideal. And if you live in a smaller space or don’t want to devote a major percentage of your storage space to housing suitcases, you’ll want to check out the line of foldable luggage from Lipault, one of France’s leading luggage brands.

The collection has a variety of pieces, including satchels, duffles and business bags. I have the 22” wheeled carry-on, which holds just as much as my regular suitcase. But when it’s not in use, it folds down to just 4” wide so I can easily slide it under my bed or along the side of a closet.

The other benefit is the bright color. While I love my black Tumi suitcase, I have to resort to attaching various eye-catching accessories to it so I know it’s mine when it’s winding its way slowly along the baggage carousel. I have accidentally grabbed other people’s bags before I saw the yellow polka-dotted ribbon that identifies mine.

With the bright teal-colored Lipault suitcase, there’s no danger of that. I’ll be able to spot it from across the terminal. And I imagine that would also deter possible luggage thieves, as it’s so easily spottable.

So the French seem to bake better bread, raise children better, not get fat better and now they’ve done luggage better? I’m not ready to concede on all points, but this suitcase? Well, it’s a keeper.

On sale now for $129.99 in teal, purple, navy, tangerine and espresso.

Yoga and Wellness Retreats



Yes, these retreats really are called Yoga for Bad People

Yes, these retreats really are called Yoga for Bad People

Yoga for Bad People

Praia Do Rosa, Brazil; March 9-16 and 16-23, 2015

This company with the fun name has a unique mission: to lead weeklong wellness retreats around the world that encourage quiet time — and infuse them with physical activity and nightlife. The programs include vinyasa-style classes set to music that ranges from Outkast to Zeppelin, daily meditations, and other activities depending on the location. In Mexico, the retreat is at Playa Loma Bonita Villas where activities include surfing, horseback riding, stand up paddle boarding and nightlife. The Brazil retreats are held at Pousada Casa Do Ceo, where you can also take a samba lesson, hang-glide or go horseback riding. Rates, which include accommodations and all meals in Mexico and most meals in Brazil, start at $1,700 for shared accommodations.


Yoga on the deck at Anamaya

Yoga on the deck at Anamaya

Anamaya Resort Yoga & Adventure Retreats

Montezuma, Costa Rica; Ongoing

Taking a deep breath during yoga is more relaxing and healing when you can enjoy the ocean views and warm sea breezes from one of two yoga shalas at Anamaya Resort. You’ll feel even more cleansed as you indulge in gourmet organic food in a toxin-free environment in this remote rainforest setting. When you’re not in the downward dog or warrior pose, wander over to the three-tiered waterfall with natural pools to swim and dive, have a treatment at the spa, take a healthy cooking class, go horseback riding or journey to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches at Montezuma and Santa Teresa. Rates start at $795 for a week in shared accommodations.



Yoga at the Westin Verasa Napa

Yoga at the Westin Verasa Napa

The Westin Verasa Napa Girls Getaway Weekend

Napa, California; March 5-8, 2014

Wine has long been touted for its health benefits, including helping the heart. So a weekend devoted to wine, women and wellness seems like a natural fit — and what better place to host this perfect girlfriends’ getaway than Napa Valley? The weekend starts off in grand style with a four-course dinner at the Michelin Star restaurant La Toque, with wine pairings featuring wines produced by female winemakers. Get a jump on the day Friday morning, March 6, with a walk or run around downtown Napa with the Westin Verasa Napa’s running concierge or take a yoga class. Later in the day enjoy wine tasting and an evening wine tasting reception. Check out a makeup demo presented by 29 Cosmetics, attend a cleansing workshop, or just enjoy the heated saltwater pool. Room rates start at $159; activities start at $5.

A version of this article appears in the Holiday issue of Travelgirl magazine

2 Florida Favs: Sandpearl and Longboat Key

A night view of the pool at Sandpearl Resort. Guests often linger around a firepit on the beach where they can enjoy making S'mores.

A night view of the pool at Sandpearl Resort. Guests often linger around a fire pit on the beach where they can enjoy making S’mores.

Sandpearl Resort is a four-diamond luxury resort in Clearwater Beach with gorgeous wide beaches, a lovely spa and a warm welcome accompanied by a glass of Champagne at check-in.

Guests can enjoy lounging in Adirondack chairs and making S’mores over the fire pit.

Close by is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where we met Winter, whose story inspired the Dolphin Tale movies.

We explored the town of Clearwater on two wheels when we set off on the 7.5-mile Segway Adventure along the boardwalk, over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway.

The relaxation room at the  spa at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, where I enjoyed an excellent massage.

The relaxation room at the spa at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, where I enjoyed an excellent massage.

I hadn’t picked up a tennis racquet since the 20th century, but the pros at The Resort at Longboat Key Club near Sarasota, Florida had me back in the swing of things in no time. Healthy travel is a particular focus at this four-diamond resort, which offers wellness packages that include a nutritional consultation, health-focused meals, spa treatments, and classes outdoors and in the newly renovated Mind & Motion Studio.

Guests can also enjoy exercising while playing any of the 45 holes of championship golf, strolling along the beach, or exploring the many shops and restaurants of charming nearby St. Armands Circle in Sarasota.

Invite Us to the Instagram Party!


We’re the kind of people who show up pretty much on time for a party. And even though my husband often says, “Let’s stay just a little while,” we are usually making one last toast with the host and among the last to leave.

When it comes to new social media, however, I’m generally a little late. I kinda kept waiting for this “Twitter” thing to disappear so I wouldn’t have to add yet another method of writing to my increasing portfolio. But I finally caved in, took two young women in my husband’s office to lunch and asked for a tutorial over chicken curry sandwiches.

Travelgirl in new to Instagram. Please follow us!

Travelgirl is new to Instagram. Please follow us!

That’s been a few years now and I love sharing my life and travel trips in less than 140 characters, and am thrilled when I’m retweeted and followed. A major coup was when Taye Diggs followed me. But then I read that he follows close to 50,000 people so I’m not so special after all.

But the comedian Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) did retweet me once and I forever count that as a coup.

Now, it’s time to Instagram. Yes, I know I’m late but I hope I can still join the fun. I’ve been on it a while but not really active. I’ve been the one standing in the corner picking all the cashews out of the nut bowl, while everyone else has been connecting, sharing, filtering, cropping, commenting and having all the fun.

I just started officially handling all the social media for Travelgirl magazine too, and we didn’t even have an Instagram account. We do now but we need more followers.

So I’m asking to jump into the party. Follow us and we’ll follow you back, and let the fun begin!

Instagram @JanSchroder

Twitter @GirlontheGoJan

Instagram and Twitter @Travelgirlmag

Next up? Pinterest, of course!



On Top of the World in Montana


My beloved cabin at the Ranch at Rock Creek. My front yard was the bubbling creek while deer roamed through the backyard.

I felt fairly pleased with my success. I had stripped on my pole, and then spent some time nymphing in my rather unusual outfit. Hey, it’s not what you’re thinking — I was standing in the cool, rushing waters of Rock Creek near Philipsburg, Montana, being instructed in my first-ever fly-fishing class. And my outfit? I was rubbered up in waders to keep me warm and dry. Maybe not my best look, but it worked well enough for me to cast my nymphs (wet flies) and catch two cutthroat trout, which I giggled over like a girl and promptly released.

The interior of my cabin, which had a full-size bathroom and a wood-burning stove to keep my warm during the chilly October nights.

The interior of my cabin, which had a full-size bathroom and a wood-burning stove to keep me warm during the chilly October nights.

It was my first time in Montana, and while I didn’t catch the fishing bug, I did fall in love with the all-inclusive Ranch at Rock Creek in Southwestern Montana, the only five-star ranch in the world. The realization of a dream for Jim Manley, the owner who lives in Connecticut and perused more than 500 ranches before purchasing the property in 2007, the ranch is set at the base of the John Long Mountains on 6,600 acres bordering the Deer Lodge National Forest. Read the full post »

Most Affordable Destinations for 2015


And the winner is — Dallas!  Priceline released its list of the 15 most affordable cities today, based on the average daily room rate, and this Texas city came in number one with an average daily room rate (ADR) of $86.31. My hometown continues to make the list, with an average daily room rate for Atlanta of $96.99.

Rounding out the list are:

2. Salt Lake City —  $86.31

3. Orlando, FL — $89.57

4. Charlotte, NC — $92.37

5. Phoenix, AZ  — $93.44

6. Tampa, FL —  $94.03

7. Las Vegas, NV — $96.27

8. Atlanta, GA — $96.99

9. Louisville, KY — $101.69

10.  San Antonio, TX — $102.69

11. Houston, TX — $103.72

12. Orange County, CA — $106.69

13. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN — $107.91

14. Denver, CO — $109.20

15. Portland, OR —  $109.30


Holiday Spirits


UnknownProving once again that alcohol can really be fun and flavorful comes this product from LIQS. This line of premium  cocktail shots are all made with all-natural flavors and come in four flavors:


• Tequila Cinnamon Orange

• Vodka Cucumber Lime

• Vodka Kamikaze

• Vodka Lychee Grapefruit

Buy a bundle of four three packs in a gift box for $35.96, perfect for gift giving. Oh, and Santa? You can add them to my list.


Cyber Monday Deals

The Westin Playa Bonita Panama is just one of the many properties offering great deals on Cyber Monday. Get a room here at 75% off, starting at just $55 a night.

The Westin Playa Bonita Panama is just one of the many properties offering great deals on Cyber Monday. Get a room here at 75% off, starting at just $55 a night.

Forget about returning to work after the holiday — it’s Cyber Monday and time to shop for travel.

Here are just a few sites where you can find deals. Also, be sure and check with your favorite destinations to see if they have any special offers today.

• Save up to 75% on deals in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico/Latin America and Europe;

New York Palace, The “50% off at 50th and Madison” package at The New York Palace offers 50% off Towers Corner Suites, the 1200-square-foot suites located in the property’s hotel-within-a-hotel for travel from January 1 to March 31.

Seaside Amelia Inn, Save up to 40% off., Save on cruises on several lines, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Cunard, Carnival and Holland America;

•  Biras Creek Resort on the British Virgin Islands,  is offering a special Cyber Monday discount valid for travel in Dec. 2014 and Jan. 2015 excluding Dec. 23rd to Jan. 3rd. Book 5 nights in a Garden Suite and receive your 6th and 7th nights, plus meals free. Book   between Dec. 1st and Dec. 5th.

•  CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa in Mexico:  stay April 15 through June 30, 2015 for $70/night – a 50% savings with 3-night minimum.

Sandos Hotels & Resorts, discounts of up to 47% off Sandos Hotels in Mexico. Valid for travel from January 4th until April 11th 2015;

Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts, minimum of 10% off daily room rates for properties including Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island, The Westin St. John Resort and St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico for stays until February 1, 2015 at hotels and April 15, 2015 at resorts.

If you miss Cyber Monday, here’s a deal for Wednesday:

• Save 50% off stays at Howard Johnson with its Orange Wednesday promotion;


Get Toasty Toes!


The rest of me may be shivering as winter arrives but my feet will remain so warm with these Heat Holders, thermal socks touted to keep your feet seven times warmer than cotton socks.

Something about the way they are knit with thermal pile makes these socks hold the warm air closer to your skin. Previously only available in the UK, we now can buy them stateside in a variety of colors and styles for men, women and children. Prices start at $16.