Tuesday, June 30, 2009

JSTD: Compare fares

Use sites like Kayak and FareCompare to see a side-by-side comparison of airline fares for your preferred routes and dates.

Jet Set Tip of the Day is sponsored by:


All dressed up and...where should I go?

Today's Annoyance: Too many breaks in my calendar
Mantra of the Day: Watch out world; I'm back on the grid!

Some people always seem to have full social calendars, whether they're in a relationship, have kids, work full-time, overtime, travel regularly for work, or whatever life throws at them. I do a fairly decent job of spending quality time with my friends but still...sometimes, I go through cycles where I'm working almost all of the time. And once I fall off the grid like that, it takes a bit of work to get back into the swing of things.

So, it's time to expand my international social calendar. Aside from the usual lunches and dinners to catch up with friends, time with that special guy in my life, and a few hours of volunteering with a couple of local charities, I'm gearing up for a bit of globe-trotting. If you're looking to do the same, here are a few resources:

Please note that some of the events listed on these sites are by invitation only and some require a costly admission fee. If you're not ready to hit the international scene quite yet, you can check out Meetup to find a group of like-minded individuals in your area.

Regarding the more exclusive (read: invitation only) events; not to worry, where there's a will...well, you know how it goes. We're too fabulous not to be included!

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]


Monday, June 29, 2009

JSTD: Is this really 5 stars?

Be wary of international hotel rankings because they're not always the same as the American equivalent. What's considered to be a 5-star hotel in one country may very well be considered a 3-star hotel in another country. Check online for photos of the hotel and customer reviews before booking.

Jet Set Tip of the Day is sponsored by:

My 1st giveaway: Sleep Scentsations Pillow Liners

Today's Annoyance: Ranting and raving by myself
Mantra of the Day: I have goodies for you!

Since I'm having so much fun blogging, I thought I'd make a party of it and start giving things away! Be sure to subscribe by e-mail or feed reader (RSS or Atom) because I have a great lineup of items to give away in the coming weeks.


Sleep Scentsations Aromatherapy Pillow Liners...Indulge your senses as you drift off to sleep
You'll receive 2 boxes of Sleep Scentsations Aromatherapy Pillow Liners (8 liners per box = 30 day supply)!

As seen on The Today Show, these scented pillow liners allow you to enjoy a relaxing scent as you fall asleep. They're reasonably priced, come in a variety of scents, and they're perfect to use at home or take with you on your next jet set adventure! (I'm guessing that these might help ease the jet lag a bit and contribute to sweet dreams. Sold!)

If you can't wait to find out if you've won the giveaway or, if you'd like to give these scented pillow liners as gifts, Sleep Scentsations is currently running a "Buy 1 get 1 FREE" promotion. Go to their website to view their selection and make a purchase.


1. You will be automatically entered into the drawing by leaving a comment below naming your favorite Sleep Scentsations pillow liners scent.
2. Contestants are allowed 1 bonus entry for posting a RELEVANT comment on any of my other blog entries. (Spam and single-word comments don't count.) You can receive a 3rd bonus entry for sending a tweet about the giveaway on Twitter. Be sure to reference my Twitter account - @avapierce - in your announcement so that you receive your bonus entry.
3. Comments left prior to today will not count as entries into the giveaway.
4. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.
5. The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced on my blog and via Twitter on July 6. The winner must contact me by e-mail (ava at avapierce dot com) within three days of the announcement to claim their prize. If the winner does not claim their prize within that time period, another name will immediately be drawn for the prize.

Have questions about the giveaway? Post a comment below or send me a message: ava at avapierce dot com. Good luck and I can't wait to read and respond to your comments!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Rest in peace, Michael Joseph Jackson

August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009


JSTD: Boutique is the way to go

If you prefer boutique hotels over the big chains, try Boutique Hotels & Resorts International and Tablet Hotels. Both are great sources to find unique and luxurious places to stay in cities around the world.


Photo Friday: Basilica di Santa Croce - Florence, Italy

Today's Annoyance: Drive-through tourists
Mantra of the Day: I am always inspired by the beauty of the Italian people and their creations.

A visit to Basilica di Santa Croce, burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Global Jet Set Media, Inc.]


Thursday, June 25, 2009

JSTD: Pre-pack to avoid overpacking

One method that I use to avoid overpacking (which I am highly prone to doing!) is to pull out my luggage one week prior to my departure. I pack as much of my belongings as I plan to take on the trip. Over the course of the week, I check my luggage a few times and usually, I take a few things out. Whatever you do, avoid last minute packing because it increases the likelihood that you'll either overpack and/or forget something important.

What's your jet set rank?

Today's Annoyance: Life without aspiration
Mantra of the Day: I always find a way to reach my goals.

I'm all about goal-setting. I like to declare a very specific goal with a deadline and if you haven't figured it out, I'm very competitive (with myself, mostly) and I tend to reach my goals. So, let's set a goal together.

Here are my newly-established levels of Jet Set Achievement:

(a) Silver Wings (Newbie) - You've been thinking about traveling for years but you haven't taken the plunge. Or, you rarely travel and when you do, it's usually a day trip in the car or a relatively short domestic trip by plane.

(b) Bronze Wings (Casual Traveler) - You travel a couple of times each year, usually for business, family events, to visit friends, or an annual week-long vacation.

(c) Gold Wings (Expert) - You take at least one month-long vacation abroad each year as well as several business and personal jaunts (sometimes just to go shopping!).

(d) Platinum Wings (Global Jet Setting Fanatic) - Have passport and credit card at the ready; will travel anywhere, any time!! You travel for months on end and have had to replace your passport because you ran out of pages to stamp.

(e) Consummate Jet Setter - You either have shared or full ownership of a private plane and you're usually en route to one of your fabulous homes or some swanky jet set destination when your friends try to reach you. You have arrived.

So, here's the challenge. Find out where you are and where you want to go, literally and figuratively. Maybe your goal includes seeing all seven continents. Or, maybe you plan to see the Seven Wonders of the World. Whatever your goal is, there's no time like the present to get started! I'd say that I currently rank at the Gold level and I'm feverishly working to reach Platinum level by next year.

What's your jet set rank and where are you headed to next?

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

JSTD: The perfect accessory

When traveling, scarves are a girl's best friend. They're easy to pack and they can dress up an outfit. Plus, you can always find fantastic scarves in your destination city which makes them a neat item to collect.


Appreciating local culture

Today's Annoyance: People who eat at chain restaurants when they travel
Mantra of the Day: When in Rome, don't go to McDonalds!

A couple of my favorite things to do when I travel to a new city are trying the local cuisine and attending cultural events. First off, I am a confessed foodie (however, not to the extent that I'll eat bugs or anything!). What really blows my skirt up is when I see tourists flocking to fast food restaurants from their home country. So like, what's the point in traveling? If they're parents traveling with kids, they're basically hostages and I can almost see it. I guess I'm just amazed at how many people travel like lemmings.

These same people are probably being herded around on a tour with dozens of other tourists, going to same old points of interests. (Ew!) I'm not saying that people shouldn't see Gaudi's Sagrada Familiar in Barcelona, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the pyramids in Egypt, or the Great Wall in China. Definitely go. But, to truly embrace the culture, talk to the locals and ask for places off the beaten path. Find out what their local leisure time activities are. I have found some of the best restaurants and some of the most interesting places and activities by doing this.

A cool site to check out for good restaurants and interesting things to do is Things You Should Do. While you're there, you can check out my article on things to do in Monaco.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

JSTD: Finding assistance abroad

Before you depart, store the contact information for the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your destination city. They're available 24 hours a day, in case of an emergency.


Your jet set pet can fly!

Today's Annoyance: The phrase "pet parent"
Mantra of the Day: Any (future) pet of mine should travel as well as I do.

Beginning next month, pet lovers in DC, New York, Illinois, Colorado and Southern California will be able to fly their dogs and cats on Pet Airways. The Florida-based company is the first to offer exclusive air travel dedicated to pets.

On Pet Airways, up to 50 animals - no, excuse me, "Pawsengers" - travel in a climate-controlled cabin with a trained pet attendant who checks on them every 15 minutes. The seats have been removed from the planes to accommodate the pet carriers. Owners are not allowed to travel with their pets but they can use the airline's tracking tool at any time to check their pet's flight status.

For those of you who don't live in one of the initial flight cities, not to worry. The company plans to add more cities soon. They're already accepting reservations and introductory rates are only $149 each way.

Although I don't have a pet, this seems really neat. I wonder if there'll be any luggage, pee or fat taxes added to the fare. Or, how about a frequent flyer program? I'm also curious to see how soon, if ever, other airlines will improve their pet travel services.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Pet Airways]

Monday, June 22, 2009

JSTD: Interior luggage tag

As an extra precaution, write your name, cell phone number, e-mail address, city of origin, and your destination city on index cards and place one in each piece of your luggage. Although you probably have luggage tags with your contact details, sometimes they're torn off in transit. If your bag gets lost, this added protection will help to ensure that it you get it back.


Ava's Faves: Herve L. Leroux

Today's Annoyance: Bumps and bulges
Mantra of the Day: I will some day own an entire season's collection of Herve L. Leroux dresses.

Formerly and famously designing under the name "Herve Leger", Monsieur Leroux continues to amaze with his ultra feminine and super chic designs. I personally don't care what name he goes by, he is simply wonderful. I'll let his work speak for itself.

[IMAGES: Courtesy of BCBGMAXAZRIA, C.O.C.A Style, Getty Images]


Sunday, June 21, 2009

In honor of fathers around the globe...

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Holiday Joy]


Friday, June 19, 2009

JSTD: Melatonin

I never travel without melatonin. It's a hormone secreted by the brain that helps to regulate sleep and wake cycles. You can buy it over the counter at your local market or drugstore. Although it does not help you fall asleep, the use of melatonin before bedtime is said to help reset the biological clock and relieve symptoms of jet lag.


Who's your pick for the most interesting woman in the world?

Today's Annoyance: That there are so few truly interesting people
Mantra of the Day: I seek to be more interesting each day than the day before.

I have to admit that I totally love the Dos Equis beer commercials featuring the "most interesting man in the world".

I recently read an interesting blog post that asked who readers would nominate as the most interesting man in the world. The nominees included Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Chuck Norris, Gore Vidal, Vincent Cassell and Stephen Hawking, among others. I chimed in and added Sir Richard Branson to the list.

The post got me to thinking. Who is the most interesting woman in the world? My first thought was Oprah Winfrey. I also considered: Chu Lam Yiu, Catherine Colonna de Stigliano, Christiane Amanpour and of course, Martha Stewart.

Who would you nominate as the most interesting woman in the world?

[VIDEO: Courtesy of ThePinkCouture/Euro RSCG Worldwide]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

JSTD: Befriend the concierge

Want to find out what's hot and happening in the local area? It's a hotel concierge's job to know anything and everything that's going on. They are used to working with the rich and famous who expect them to make the impossible possible. They will undoubtedly know about everything from the current art exhibits, best Lebanese restaurant, cool nightclubs, safest places to hang out for people traveling solo, best jazz lounge, and how to get tickets to sold-out events.


Ammo-inspired accessories

Today's Annoyance: Violence
Mantra of the Day: I will not use weapons; I'll just wear them for effect.

Here's one way to let people know you're a woman not to be messed with - wear accessories made from or made to look like weaponry.

And, of course, no one can upstage Madonna, who wore these statement-making Chanel shoes to a New York film premiere last fall:

[IMAGES: Courtesy of Astali/Refinery29, my7475.com, PopCrunch]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

JSTD: Jet lag advisor

British Airways offers a "Jet Lag Advisor" that calculates when you should seek out or avoid light in order to adjust your body clock to the time in your destination. Cool, huh?

Ava's Faves: Sun City, South Africa

Today's Annoyance: People who rely solely on mass-market news
Mantra of the Day: My own palace will resemble the Palace of the Lost City.

Anyone who tells you that there isn't magic and luxury in Africa has lied to you. For some strange reason (the media, perhaps?), some of our less-than-adventurous comrades still believe that the entire African continent is nothing more than a barren wasteland with rampant crime and wild animals running amok. These folks are sorely missing out on so many wonderful people, cultures, food and amazing experiences.

South Africa is a great country to begin your African adventures. I have been there a couple of times and I have enjoyed Johannesburg, Cape Town and Sun City. (Durban is the next South African city on my list.) Each place offers its own wonders.

In Sun City, I chose to stay at the Palace of the Lost City. Oh...my...goodness! Just look at it:

This resort is totally amazing! It's no surprise that it's one of the leading hotels in the world. The attention to detail. The exquisite design featuring sculptures, waterfalls, lakes and pools. The fantastic service. Great restaurants. The breathtaking views from the hotel rooms. Plus, you have quick and easy access to all of the other amenities in Sun City which include casinos, a movie theater, a golf course, an arcade, concerts, dance productions and other entertainment, a crocodile farm, a lion farm, the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, hot air balloon rides, and more.

One could say that it's no different than visiting any popular Westernized city but Sun City has its own special flavor. Don't let the modern flair hold you back from appreciating this gem that's only a 2-hour drive or a quick plane ride from Jo'burg. If you've been there, let me know what you think.

Peace and love.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Go2Africa]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

JSTD: Mind your bags

Many people are annoyed when airline reservation clerks ask: "Have your bags been out of your sight since you packed them?" But, they're doing it for everyone's safety. NEVER let your bags out of your sight when you're in airports, even for a moment. Also to be on the safe side, when you're in a bathroom stall, don't hang anything on the door hook.


Have you gone "glamping" yet?

Today's Annoyance: Stupid media combo words
Mantra of the Day: Camping has never looked more attractive.

If you're gonna go camping, glam is definitely the way to go. I'm just not the "pitch a tent, sleep on the ground, roughing it" kind of girl. When I was a kid, I threatened to run away when my mom suggested that I join the Girl Scouts. (With all due respect to the Girl Scouts, of course.) That's simply not my thing. Picture me digging a latrine. Yeah, right.

Despite the um, less than fab name, "glamping" (aka glamorous camping) is right up my alley. I know some of you will say: "No, Ava. To truly enjoy the experience, you have to sleep under the stars and truly be one with nature!" Glamping includes all of that, with a few little amenities to make life more pleasurable as you enjoy the great outdoors. Like a spring mattress with crisp sheets and a warm blanket, electricity and a butler. Nice.

While some might see this as ultimately shallow, to me it looks like kismet at work; the attraction of opposites - the wild and the refined. Besides, you knew it had to happen at some point. How could you ever expect people who spend tens of thousands of dollars for etiquette lessons to deal with bugs, port-a-potties and leaky tents? Although I'm not a trust-fund baby, on this issue, I must side with the monied set.

To plan your next glamping excursion, check out Go Glamping and Travel + Leisure's list of the world's best tented camps. I plan to. And while you're at it, don't forget the amazing people who make your "wildlife" adventure possible.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort]


Monday, June 15, 2009

JSTD: Smart scheduling

To minimize jet lag, schedule your flight so that you reach your destination in the late afternoon or evening. Upon arrival, go to bed no earlier than you normally would and set your clock for the morning so that you don't oversleep.

Find your great cause

Today's Annoyance: Sanctimonious people
Mantra of the Day: I have much to offer the world.

What's your great cause? Is it education, the arts, women's rights, humanitarian relief, the environment or animal rights? I have several causes and charities to which I contribute my time and money. On this issue, I won't necessarily stand on my soapbox since sanctimonious people tend to frost my cookies (see Today's Annoyance). All I'm saying is that YOU ROCK and you have a lot to offer the world.

So, what're you doing? (Seriously, tell me. I'm curious and need a little bit of inspiration today.)

For those of you who are looking for a cause, check out Charity Navigator for a huge list of categorized organizations. Plus, they evaluate the charities based on financial health and efficiency.

And if the wonderful benefits from giving aren't good enough to encourage you - tax benefits from monetary donations; smiles from those you help; that warm, fuzzy feeling you get, etc. - charities are cool places to meet like-minded people who often like to travel and give cool fundraising parties. See? Karma at work. Give some, get some.


Friday, June 12, 2009

JSTD: Postcards for you

Send yourself a postcard! Naturally, you should also send them to family and friends. But, a postcard to yourself can be a great reminder of joyous jet setting adventures. Plus, you will accumulate an amazing collection of images from places you have visited over the years.


Photo Friday: Turin, Italy

Today's Annoyance: Forgetting that overcast days can be beautiful, too
Mantra of the Day: I resolve to find beauty on even the gloomiest day.

A late wintry day at Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Global Jet Set Media, Inc.]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

JSTD: Amenities

Make sure that you read up on the amenities of the hotel you are staying in. Just another way to fully enjoy your stay. Wouldn't you just to hate to find out about the spa or personal chauffeur services at check out?


Ava's Faves: Cultural Fare

Today's Annoyance: Monotony
Mantra of the Day: I am a confessed foodie.

Have you ever thought about how life would be different without chow mein, tacos, lasagna or sweet potato pie? I'm sure we could survive but boy, would that suck. I can't imagine not savoring sushi, cheese naan, barbecue, chicken yakisoba, or souvlaki. Speaking of Greek food, what about spanakopita or Greek salad? Or, how about paella, chicken kiev, quiche, blackeyed peas, or Jamaican jerk chicken?

Sampling the local cuisine is enough to make travel worth every dime!

Ok, gotta go. Hungry now.

[IMAGES: Courtesy of Epicurious]

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