TRAVEL TIP: When Good Weather Goes Bad

Even a seasoned travel pro like myself can have an off holiday. Here’s an example of how to make a vacation that seems doomed become one of the best trips you’ve ever had.
My husband and I were finally on our honeymoon. It had taken over a year to make our schedules and plan work. We were going to New Zealand! He’d always wanted to go- I’d been and absolutely loved it there.
I planned everything- swimming with dolphins in the wild (none of that trained-dolphin stuff for me!), we were going kayaking at night by tiki torch; each day was doing some amazing outdoor thingy. Then the weather struck. New Zealand is green for a reason after all! Each day it rained. Hard. It was enough to bum out anyone. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Here’s what we did.

We chucked the entire schedule, hopped in our rented car and started driving. When we came to a town that looked cute, we went looking for a lodge or B&B. As it turned out, some of those B&Bs had patrons coming… the next day, so if we were willing to be out by such-n-such a time, the proprietors would give us a deal. Double win!

Next, we spent more time going to local museums, and enjoying more than one ‘cuppa’ local tea, and local foods. My only regret is that by chucking said plans, my darling hubby never got to see the amazing caves and the glow worms that call them home, on the south island- the one “in-door” (technically, it’s not outdoors!)

In the end, we went to places literally off the beaten path. In fact, we drove on a number of dirt roads. We met some locals we’ll not soon forget too. And we witnessed the most beautiful rainbow ever! (this photo doesn’t do it justice.  As for the glow worms- well, we’ll have to check them out the next time.
So remember, if your weather turns sour* make the most of it.

*of course if its hazardous weather, such as a typhoon (in the far Pacific), or hurricane (in the Atlantic), that’s a different story. Be sure to check with your local travel agent, or hotel on cancellations, and evacuation plans. I’ll post more on this subject at a later date.

Travel Hot-Spot: Costa Rica

If you're like me you like to be a step ahead of the pack when it comes to travel destinations. There's no cooler feeling that saying "oh I was there in 1999" when all of the travel magazines are suddenly touting the latest hot-spot. 

Enter Costa Rica. This beautiful country in Central America has been off the travel world's radar for years simply because it had the misfortune of being a neighbor to some countries that the United States had issues with like (i.e. Nicaragua).

Well I am happy to say Costa Rica has managed to become a darling of the travel industry in recently years! And why not? The weather is great (except for monsoon season), the people couldn't be lovelier, and the dollar currently goes a long way (I was able to have an excellent 3 course meal, plus wine, or beer for less than $10, Amercian).

My trip there was amazing. I have visited each coast, but personally find the west coast to be more enchanting (and less populated). I recommend Punta Leona. The food is wonderful- especially the local exotic fruit. My not-to-miss list continues below.

If you go:
  • Try the local fruit (starfruit my favorite. Mui yummy! Ate it every day)
  • Visit the volcano area Arenal and enjoy the hotsprings that surround it 
  • If you are a meat eater- try a steak. I had the best steak of my life there. 
  • Have an adventure (mine was "canopying" over the forest)
  • Feed the gigantic crocodiles that live in the rivers along the highway (if you dare!)  
photo courtesy of

Avoid those hefty exchange rate fees

A sure-fire way to avoid those hefty exchange rate fees
It hardly seems to make sense. Standing in line at a foreign airport to exchange American currency for local notes. On top of your wait, you’ll probably pay a hefty fee for the exchange service and of course any coins you have on you now become worthless since exchange desks won’t honor them. Once you’ve completed your transaction, you’re finally free to begin your trip…that is until you run out of cash and have to go through the entire process again…but I have a trick that works every time.

Use your ATM card to extract cash. Your ATM card probably has the Visa or Master Card logo which can be used at most money machines. Be sure to look on the back of your card for the correct system (e.g. Cirrus system).

On a recent trip to Australia, this is how I paid for everything and in the end, my bill showed no sign of a fee for this service!

Please keep in mind each creditor is different, so you will want to call them before you try this. If going out of the country, you’ll need to call them anyway, so they don’t think your card is being used fraudulently.

Fire in the Sky

I just realized I didn't post this picture. I was driving in the Nevada desert with my sister last week and to our suprise we saw this in the sky. You can imagine how shocked we were. What was it? We found out later that Venderberg Airforce base was testing out Missiles. WOW! So much for downsizing our weapons.

Mark Ruffalo outside my window

I walked across the street to the store awhile ago and noticed on-coming traffic. Then I noticed the cars were not moving on this otherwise busy thoroughfare. Then I realized they were all cars from the 60's. Then I notice the SFPD, the movie crew...then I spot the actor Mark Ruffalo.

They are making the new Zodiac killer "Chronicles" movie in my hood! Cool
(the movie, not the killer).

Louder is Better

I checked out the Oasis/Jet/Kasabian concert the other night. I guess this is as close as I'll ever get to seeing the Beatles.

It was louder that most shows. Are they trying to prove something? Liam Gallagher was the same, meaning he was yelling obscenities to the audience. That is, when he wasn't stomping offstage.

Then again, through the Manchester drawl, it was hard to make out a word, so it is possible, I suppose, that he was spouting off the ingredients for chicken soup. (long pause) ....Nah.

Anyway, Jet is a fantastic band. So is Kasabian.


Seriously. Stop reading blogs and go volunteer somewhere, such as the American Red Cross. So many have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and can use your help. So don't just sit there. Do something to help your fellow Americans.
You know you'd want help if you were in trouble.


Summertime & the living is easy....

Ahhh! Summer in San Francisco. Know what that means? Fog.

Then again, we do have nice days, like when I took this picture. I was driving over the Bay Bridge and had the top down on my car. You should have seen the people looking at me trying to snap a shot of the bridge with my cell phone. Musta thought I was nuts.


Hello from Sunny Southern California.
No gear to talk about today. I'm on vacation.
That doesn't mean I'm not looking for great
finds out there. What are YOU digging
these days?

TSA Approved locks

Most locks on the market are not TSA-recognized. This list is updated periodically to provide the latest information on brands that are TSA-accepted and recognized.

Brand Name:
• Aegis Brands Travel Sentry locks
• American Tourister Accessories
• Atlantic Luggage
• Austin House Travel Essentials
• Baggage Travel Locks by Capstone Industries
• Briggs & Riley Luggage
• Brinks Travel Sentry locks
• Brookstone Easy Check
• Delsey Luggage
• Eagle Creek Travel Safe
• EasyGo Travel Sentry locks
• eBags Travel Sentry locks
• Franzus Travel Smart
• Kenneth Cole Luggage
• Lewis N Clark Travel Sentry locks
• Lockage Travel Sentry Luggage
• LockMagellan's Travel Sentry locks
• Master Lock Travel Sentry locks
• Pacsafe by Outpac Travel Sentry locks
• Pelilocks for Pelican cases
• Prestolock SearchAlert
• Restoration Hardware Travel Sentry locks
• Ricardo Beverly Hills Luggage
• Royal Traveller by Samsonite Accessories
• Samsonite Accessories
• Samsonite Luggage
• Sharper Image Travel Sentry locks
• Sunco Luggage
• Target Embark Travel Sentry locks
• Tumi Luggage
• Voltage Valet Travel Sentry locks

A Quiet Moment Alone in Tokyo

Recalling a favorite trip:

Winter 2002. It was morning in Tokyo and I was still jet-lagged. My crew and I had come to capture the sights and sounds of the city. They gave us 4 days, so you can imagine, we covered only the tiniest little bit of the big picture!

So there I was, wide awake just as the sun came up. When I went to pull the curtains back, I was shocked to see a beautiful snow cover over Toyko. I grabbed my things and made a dart for the temple I saw in the distance.

Upon arrival, I found the temple in a beautiful park. As I sat there, Tokyo business people and students hurried on their way on foot or by bicycle, as what I guessed were European businessmen as jet-lagged as I was, enjoying the park for all its beauty.

What struck me was the quiet in this bustling city teaming with people. Only the aforementioned people making any noise as they walked along the pathway.

A giant Japanese crow- the kind you've heard about- landed on the bench just beside me. I can tell you they are indeed HUGE- bigger than you would think. I sat there as he flew away, listening to the monks chant in the temple behind me. A peak experience for sure.

Changes at TSA

As of Thursday, April 14, TSA screeners will now be enforcing this rule at security checkpoints. Lighters will no longer be allowed in carry-on luggage or on the person. As always, ALL lighters are banned from checked baggage for safety reasons.
TSA strongly recommends that you double-check your baggage and pockets for lighters before arriving at the airport. Because of federal laws and operational considerations, TSA cannot return any prohibited items voluntarily abandoned at the checkpoint.

A visit to the G4 Studios

Last week, on a whim, I took a trip to see my friends down at G4. For those of you wondering, yes, there is still a fair number of Tech TV'ers working there.

In all I counted about 20 TTVers...and that was at 6 PM.

Any questions?

How to get into that fancy airport lounge.

You know those fancy airport lounges that you have to be either a celebrity, or millionaire to get in to? Well, there are other ways for the average joe, like me, to get into those exclusive clubs, and to paraphrase Groucho Marx... that's exactly where I need to be! Here are three ways:

(A) Pay the hefty price of hundreds of dollars per year, in addition to having enough frequent flier miles to qualify.

(B) Sneak in, pretending to be someone important and 'how dare the lady at the desk not remember him coming through an hour ago'. Yes, Mr. you-know-who-you-are. I am calling YOU out!

(C) Consdier taking out a platinum American Express card. Yes, they too have a yearly fee, but if you need one of those big credit cards (they begin limits at $25K), then you may as well make your money work for you. Those cards (the PLATINUM ONLY) are universally accepted at the airports many clubs. Once you are inside, free food, beverages and wifi await.

Matches? We Don't Need to Stinkin' Matches!

As of this spring, matches are not permitted on your person, OR IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE due to safety regulations, but up to four books of matches are allowed in your carry-on baggage or on your person. For safety reasons, strike anywhere matches are prohibited at all times from carry-on and checked baggage.

Do not pack wrapped gifts and do not bring wrapped gifts to the checkpoint. Wrap on arrival or ship your gifts prior to your departure. TSA may have to unwrap packages for security reasons


I've been thinking about that trip I made to France a couple of years ago. I was there to cover some events in the Southern coast for TechTV. Nice and Canne to be exact.

Its true what they say: Nice is nice!

Stayed at the Negresco- the hotel The Beatles used while they were here in the 60s. The place probably hasn't been renovated since that time, and you know what- that was OK. It added to the charm of the pale. The ambiance was not meant to be terribly contemporary. Plus- we were right across the street from the beach. I could see Monaco from my room.

The money rates were good, as was the food, naturally. For kicks we had sushi one night. Yes, French sushi. Sounds funny until you think about the wine that was paired with it.

The Quiet Side of Maui

A single little word says it all. Hana. If you've been, you know the magic this little village offers. If you do not, might I suggest a road trip when you are on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

A warning though: the many jokes and chuckles about getting ill on the "road to Hana" are all that ... and then some. This winding road is not for the weak: if the sheer drop-off just feet from your passenger seat doesn't take your breath then the car sickness just might. I suspect there is an ancient Hawaiian god who is responsible for making "haoles*" sick. Nevertheless, if you can stomach it, the entire event is worth it.

Hana is tucked away on the far side of Maui. It can take most of the day to get there. You'll find nothing more than a tiny store, a church, a few small homes and the Hotel Hana (which is more like a nice motel than a hotel) ... AND THAT VIEW.

Deals are best in the winter and spring. Get on the hotels mailing list and book directly through them for the best deals.

Muchas Gracias!

What a sweet "plug" form this Travel Gear fan from abroad via his own travel blog blog! Muchas gracias, mi amigo! Check it out here.

Looking for innovative gadgets and devices to ease the shocks from a trip? Este mes de enero, ya sea que esté volando entre las nubes, conduciendo por una solitaria y larga carretera o navegando uno de los siete mares, la serie Todo para su viaje presenta lo más novedoso y lo mejor en tecnología para ayudar al viajero a disfrutar al máximo cada
aventura. This January, whether you're flying through the clouds, driving on a lonely, long road and navigating one of the seven seas,all for your travel series presents the latest and best technology to help the traveler to enjoy the most of every adventure. Los presentadores, Chris Murphy y Kris Kosach, echan un vistazo a los equipos ya los accesorios más modernos y sofisticados en el mercado. The presenters, Chris Murphy and Kris Kosach, take a look at the teams and the most modern and sophisticated on the market. Jet-skis, motos eléctricas y cámaras digitales son sólo algunos de los artefactos que se ven mientras el televidente experimenta lo más excitante del mundo
del deporte de aventura. Jet-skis, electric motorbikes and digital cameras are just some of the artifacts that viewers see as the most exciting experiences in the world of adventure sports.

I Thought it was Funny.

The following entry originally appeared on my personal website.

January, 2002.

Maybe it was the 18 hour trip from San Francisco to Toyko that is responsible for my crew not appreciating my joke. When we arrived in Toyko, all the signs were in Japanese (duh!) Well, despite the obvious, someone in the crowd has to point this out, and that makes sense- it is decidedly jarring at first.

The thing is- no one got my joke when I said "hey look- they translated the digital clock into English." [enter sound of crickets cherping]. I mean come on people! That IS good comedy!

Truth is, I think we were all tired, so either (A) its wasn't as funny as I thought (but I still think its pretty clever) or (B) these guys actually thought I was serious for a second.