What is a Captivated Traveler

I am a Captivated Traveler.  Yes, I do love to travel, however it takes more than that to be captivated. What I am truly passionate about, what draws me in, what captivates my soul, is to explore new things, new places, new views, new people and cultures. I love experiences, discovering what makes each place unique and places that are completely unknown or diverse to me.

Not only have I had the chance in my life to travel around many countries (and all of the US) but I’m lucky enough to have held a career that afforded me the extensive travel throughout my life. The majority of that travel has been solo which can be both incredibly exciting and slightly terrifying. Yet, sometime between camping in the Yukon to staying in a rural village in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest to finding myself standing all alone in the Forbidden Temple in Beijing, I learned a thing or two about myself including why I love to travel and explore.

I love traveling because it displaces you. You experience wonder, discovery, reverence, disquiet. You learn things about yourself, about others and about the world you may never have known existed. It opens you up, ignites new lights for seeing and experiencing the world through a new lens.

Whether it is overseas, driving cross country, daytripping every weekend, visiting local farms and breweries, spelunking local caves or floating a cenote. There is always a new adventure around the corner. Elevated experiences are all around us.  All you have to do is reach out and embrace them.

It’s about those wild unimaginable moments that just happen at impromptu and make you question whether or not you are dreaming and leave you captivated.

What I Miss About Travel

Quarantine grounded most of us. But for those whose lives (and livelihoods) depend on getting on an airplane, it has been particularly hard. For us, it’s one thing to not be traveling, but to not be able to take care of business has taken a frustrating toll.

While we all spend hours around the clock reminiscing about the way things were, there are a few things above others that I miss the most about traveling.

The Food –– The thing I find myself daydreaming about the most while in quarantine is the food. In good places, you can try something new every day, but in the best ones, you can try several new things every day right on the street. While I’m throwing together meals from what I have left in my pantry, I’m daydreaming about tacos con lengua in Mexico City, crepes slathered in Nutella in Paris, green papaya salads in Bangkok or a saucy Francesinha Sandwich in Portugal.

The Flexibility –– I almost always travel alone, so one of my favorite things about being abroad is having no social obligations. I don’t have to go to a job (though I do frequently have to work), and I can’t be swayed to meet my friends for dinner or beers or to attend their various events and performances. If I want to stay up late and sleep in? I can. I can go to the airport to catch a flight, ditch it, and end up buying a ticket somewhere else. I can get off a train early because I liked something I saw out the window. When you’re alone far from everything familiar, you can be precisely as flexible as you like.

Arriving Somewhere Brand New –– But of all of it, all the miles and years and passport stamps, the thing that makes me secretly smile to myself more than anything else is the thud of the plane landing. For me, that’s when all of the anticipations I’ve built up for my trip are crystallized, and I’m suddenly more excited than I can bear. And of all the little signs that signal to my nomad brain “you have arrived”, none is more potent than the audible ping of the seatbelt sign turning off after your plane has taxied to the arrival gate.

Exploring a new country and culture … is the best way to satisfy my need to learn and be challenged.

I deeply miss that human connection that invariably comes with travel.

Travel offers a break from the monotony of daily routines and often pulls people out of their comfort zone to the point that they often try new or unusual activities they wouldn’t be inclined to try from … their home base.

Travel becomes not just the way we derive satisfaction, but the lens through which others see us and, ultimately, how we see ourselves.

To reignite a sense of hope and freedom, start designing your first post-quarantine trip today and be ready when health officials determine it’s safe to travel again. Research shows that the anticipation of a vacation brings more satisfaction than the actual vacation itself, so men and women can derive some gratification during quarantine simply by looking forward to their next planned trip.

There may be no substitute for travel that feels as deeply enriching and satisfying, especially for those of us who use it to maintain excitement, manage anxiety, connect with others and stay challenged and engaged. But this time in lockdown has helped some travelers gain a new perspective. This is a great time to take advantage of that and start planning.

When we’re unable to travel, it’s so easy to romanticize it. We remember all the gorgeous vistas and stunning sunsets and not so much the rainstorms and missed connections. While I would never trade a day I’ve spent on the road for anything, it’s good to remember, especially now, that traveling is not always sunny skies and rainbows. However, I do miss it and cannot wait til international travel opens up again.

What do you miss about travel?

Vegas is Reopening

Las Vegas had a bustling reopening weekend, returning after more than two months of shutdown.

Caesar is sporting a gold mask at the entrance to his namesake casino and there’s a giant hand-washing station on the casino floor at the Bellagio.

Attractions and hotels were much busier than expected, motivating several local resort companies to speed up their plans to open more of their properties in the coming weeks.

Several casino resorts decided to waive parking fees, and some have promised not to bring the fees back for at least a year.

Several resorts have also invested in goodie bags for overnight guests.

At Bellagio, for example, each stay includes a bag with two casino-branded face masks, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and two metal tools that look like giant keys. The tools are designed to enable guests to pull open doors and push elevator buttons without touching exposed surfaces.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas also furnished hotel guests with takeaway bags which included masks, sanitizer and other swag.

There are also several specials and discounts being offered for the time being. Station Casinos has announced a discount of up to 25 percent off regular room rates on a 2-night minimum stay with a $50 food and beverage credit. JSX, a hop-on jet service based in Dallas, promoted a new package with private jet service to Las Vegas, a king-bed suite at Wynn Las Vegas, and a dining credit for $50 to select restaurants inside the casino.

Want to know what to expect before you book? Here’s an idea of what you’ll find:

1. Gambling: In the casino equivalent of blocking middle seats on a plane, you’ll find fewer chairs at the blackjack, roulette and poker tables and fewer places to stand around the craps table. The new limits per table: three players at blackjack, four at roulette and poker and six at craps. Dealers and other employees are required to wear masks or face shields, per gaming authority reopening regulations. Masks are mostly optional but strongly encouraged for guests. MGM Resorts has gone so far as to install plexiglass partitions at its tables, and, in some cases, bar-top video poker machines.

Caesars requires that gamblers wear masks at table games.  Every other slot machine is turned off and missing a chair in the name of social distancing. Casino capacity is initially limited to 50% under new state gaming regulations. There are signs posted everywhere as reminders about safety protocols, and MGM has new hand-cleaning stations at Bellagio and New York-New York.

2. Hotel check-in: You’ll have your temperature checked before you get in line under reopening requirements imposed by gaming authorities. Hotels are using a variety of methods, including contactless and infrared thermometers. New York-New York has EMTs stationed at the check-in line. However at Caesars Palace, you walk through a machine resembling a metal detector that captures your temperature from three different positions. 

3. Hotel choices: Your favorite hotel might not be open. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, which operate the most casino-hotels on the Strip, each has only a few of its hotels open as they slowly ramp up after the 2½-month shutdown. Caesars reopened Caesars Palace, Flamingo and Harrah’s. It has not announced reopening dates for its other casino hotels, which include Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Bally’s and the Linq. MGM Resorts debuted with Bellagio, New York-New York and MGM Grand, though only at 30% to 35% capacity for hotel guests and plans to reopen Excalibur on Thursday.

Still closed: Aria, the Mirage, Park MGM, Mandalay Bay, Luxor and others. Hotels are taking a similar phased approach with their restaurants, and many are still closed. 

4. Buffets: The all-you-can eat extravaganzas, a Vegas staple, have not reopened, and it’s unclear what they will be like when they do.

5. Things to do: Hotel pools are open to reduced capacity, and a few attractions, including the High Roller observation wheel, Bellagio fountains and New York-New York roller coaster, have resumed. Las Vegas’ marquee attractions, including its signature shows, night clubs and raucous adult-only pool parties, have not as gathering in groups is still prohibited.

6. Some things never change: Those annoying surcharges/resort fees, which can be as high as $45 or $50 per night with tax at resorts like Caesars or Bellagio, remain. The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas even plans to raise its fees from $44.22 to $51.02 in January.

One property to keep in mind, if these fees are an issue, is the Sahara, formerly the SLS. They are waiving their $37.95 resort fee for reservations booked in June for stays through May 2021.

The upside is free drinks. You will find the cocktail servers wearing masks but free drinks still prevail on most casino floors 24 hours a day.

No, Vegas is not fully opened up. There are several resorts, attractions and restaurants still in the process of reopening. However the majority of Vegas should be open by mid-July.

As more restaurants reopen, more shopping venues relax restrictions and the return of professional sports entices bettors to return to local sports books, now may be a perfect time to book a trip to Vegas and enjoy the savings.

Just be sure to stay six feet from strangers, and to wear a mask.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is Open

Bonus: self parking fees have been waived.

The wait is over! The Cosmopolitan is now open and they have a few enticing specials you’ll want to grab before it’s too late. Über chic and sleek with a sophisticated design, this ultra modern and high-end hotel is a place to see and be seen.

Terrace One Bedroom Suite
Shower and Japanese Soaking Tub with a View

The Cosmopolitan has some of the best balcony views in town. And, while they cost more, the Wraparound Terrace Suites are panoramic and you can see all the way down or up the Strip (depending on which side of the hotel you’re on).

I absolutely LOVE this property. Unique, eclectic and artsy, luxury resort and casino. If you don’t enjoy taking in the unparalled views of the Vegas Skyline while sitting on your oversized private terrace, you can just jump into your Japanese Soaking tub and enjoy it from there.

Private Terrace and View

A must-see: The Chandelier Bar. Draped in a plethora of sparkling crystal for three levels, the bar is adorned by a few million crystals in strands that run from the ceiling to the floor, making revelers feel as if they’re wrapped in a chandelier itself. It’s ultra sexy with much to offer including different menus on each of the three tiers. The first level (Bottom of the Chandelier) is the only level open at this time. It’s a little more casino bar-like and often has live music or a DJ.

The Chandelier Lounge

Check out their offers at https://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/identity/offers

View a full list of available restaurants, pools, amenities and more: http://bit.ly/2Q95tW9

Equine Connection in Costa Rica

Don’t you just love spontaneous adventures?  Those unplanned, profound experiences that come at you out of nowhere.  Those are my favorite moments!

Last year, I originally began my journey to Costa Rica for healing.  I was amped and ready for meditating, yoga, hiking to waterfalls and just finding myself again. I was completely prepared to challenge myself and embrace the Pura Vida lifestyle Costa Rica is so well known for.  What I found was so much more than I could have imagined.

I ended up experiencing something truly life changing. I visited Horse & Soul Connections at Finca Sweet Prince, an equine guided learning and guidance counseling center.  The facilitators, Marsha and Mark Friedman, are expert psychotherapists and horse professionals, who guided us into a whole new level of connecting mind, body and soul.  The knowledge and expertise they have in their profession is remarkable and shines through in their compassion with others and willingness to make a difference in the lives of those whom visit. Their own love and understanding of horses is what creates the inter-species connection. The combination is a life changing experience.

The horses are drawn to be a part of the healing process and the one whom can truly help you heal will choose you. The horses are the teachers and healers.

Learning to let go of control was the first lesson these magnificent creatures taught me. Trust was the second. Learning to trust in them was a very powerful lesson for me, once I truly gave it. These amazing animals were there for me to lean on, to let go and to release. They sensed things instinctively within me both emotionally and physically, forming a connection that nourished, inspired and revived my soul.

It never occurred to me that a spiritual connection with horses was possible. Learning how they simply live an uncomplicated life. Their capacity to harmonize and thrive with each other and live in the moment is a tribute to the pure spirit of the animal.

A truly transcending experience.



Do you have a Pura Vida experience to share?  Please tell us about your favorite Costa Rica moment.