travel tips or obsession?

I knew this would happen eventually.
After 377 posts on this blog, the day had to come where I would talk, or ramble on about my deepest desire and passion on the planet. Let you, my readers and friends into my inner most thoughts. Something I dream about almost ALL the time; summer, winter…maybe it’s more of an obsession…with the Caribbean!
Now, I’ve been extremely good these last couple of years and tried my very hardest not to let it consume me on a daily basis and tried to give my all to my former job, my blogging/crafting journey this last year and then of course, our move from Colorado to NJ in August. But I can’t take it! I have to talk about it! Watching yet another snowstorm and preparing for subzero windchills this week, I am past my limit.
The good thing that comes with this post or rant is that I actually have some good tips for you! Not only have I spent hundreds of hours daydreaming online, perusing Caribbean villa websites and searching for that perfect travel deal, but in my last position as an Events Planner/Executive Assistant, I got to work in the field. I would spend a good portion of my day booking travel for the Sales and Executive teams, combing the internet to find the best (and almost always inevitably, last minute) deals.
So, bear with me as I throw open the shades to my somewhat obsessive need to talk about travel today!
A bit of my traveling history; while I am not a professional traveler, I certainly can boast of being “seasoned” at an early age. Our parents gave my sister and I what I would consider the best gift a parent could give; (other than love, duh!) a chance to become cultured and educated. I am certainly not downplaying those who can’t afford it, but I can say without a single doubt, that the travel experiences I had growing up have absolutely shaped me into the person I am today. What an international trip can do for a child is priceless!
Uh oh, I just skipped ahead and started choosing which photos I want to put in this post today and my heart started flip flopping at the sight of the turquoise waters and white beaches. See what I mean? I’m obsessed!
Ok, sorry, back to writing.
Although I would love to get more Visa stamps in my passport, I can still say I have been fortunate enough to travel to places as far away as Russia, Finland and France. However, as much as I loved my visits overseas, nothing has touched me quite as much as my very first sight of that water…you know, THAT water. The Caribbean ocean is unlike anything I have ever seen. I’d have to say my love affair started during a cruise vacation. While we had a hectic day of travel to an international port and a late boarding onto the ship, the next morning waking up and peering through that pitifully small porthole, I saw it. “That” water. We were docked in Tortola, an amazing British Virgin Island.
The rest, I say is history. Since then, I’ve been lucky to find a husband equally pleased with my Caribbean obsession and we’ve been able to travel several times. But now, here I am, after being sooooo good for sooooo long, in this darn long winter, I can’t take it! Gotta start planning our next trip!
So, after seriously hundreds of hours searching the internet for good deals, easy to use websites, and different or unique options, here are some of my favorites.

-Kayak.com is my number one for flight and hotel searches. I love the options tools where you can use the sliders on the left side for specific flight times which comes in most handy for business travel. http://www.kayak.com/

-AirBNB is a newbie to my repertoire. I used this only once in my personal travels and I had one of my favorite travel experiences. This is THE place to book your accommodations. While they have the usual hotel and resort choices, have you ever thought about booking a tree house or an igloo for your next vaca? I LOVE to daydream on this site! People rent out anything from a boat to an entire castle on here. I highly recommend adding the “unique” factor to your next trip. For my experience, we actually rented a charming waterfront guest cottage on a farm…get this…in downtown Miami! So you see, there are tons of incredible places to book on here, making your typical holiday into something extra memorable! https://www.airbnb.com/

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-Saand.com – Ok, this one I have not used except for countless hours of pure daydreaming. 🙂 It’s my favorite site because the photos have always been very high quality and the site is very easy to maneuver. Now, they only feature rental villas in the Caribbean, Latin America and Hawaii, but the assortment is quite wonderful. Ranging from the most lavish home at 20K + per night to a simple beachfront rental for a honeymoon, this site has it all. Unfortunately, I have been on here so many times, I have many of the villa names memorized… 🙂 Since my most recent obsession has been to travel to the Bahamas, this site has tons of Bahamas rentals specifically. But hey, give it a whirl. http://www.saand.com/

Other notable sites dealing specifically with Caribbean travel that I’ve had luck with are;
http://www.destinationstjohn.com/
http://www.islandhideaways.com/
(good for international island hopping)
http://www.vrbo.com/
(good for pretty much anywhere in the world)

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And of course, be sure to research your destination on TripAdvisor to read the latest reviews on anything from restaurants and hotels, to boat rental companies and even the local zoo. I almost always do a quick search on here and read up as much as I can about where I am thinking about staying before I book. http://www.tripadvisor.com/

I hope I’ve inspired you to get out there and do some traveling. I can’t wait to get back out there and see more of this beautiful planet God has given us. 🙂
If you are looking for the best in Caribbean resorts, I can help you with that, too. I prefer to do my own cooking, so I usually look for villas, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t searched every darn website from here to Timbuktoo for the best resorts to stay at. And if you live in the Caribbean and need someone to “test out” your hotel or inn, I’m available. 😉
Have any good tips for me? I’m always adding to my favorites! What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?

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