Stay at This Hotel, Adopt Your New Family Pet

I've always been a animal advocate and love to see good news stories about them instead of hearing about constant animal rights mistreatment. So let's do it!

If you stay at this hotel and fall in love with the dog in the lobby, you can take him home!! Yes, it's true. In partnership with Animal Samaritans, a no-kill shelter in the Palm Springs Valley, the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, CA, regularly features pets who are awaiting their forever homes through their Adopt-a-Pet program.

The shelter dogs are treated the same as any other four-legged guest at this pet friendly hotel: they sleep in Westin Heavenly® dog beds and can order off the Patio Pooch Menu where dog delectables include raw food, chicken casseroles, and peanut butter and banana cookies.

Plus, this unique hotel has more permanent resident animals including a terrarium, a koi pond and 2 tortoises, along with 2 Flemish giant rabbits, birds and even a bee apiary. Such a great way to encourage kids to love animals!

For more information or to make your reservation, visit: Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa and be sure to check out these exotic animal vacations: Safari in South Africa and Take a Visit to Africa Without Leaving Home!




      

Best American Summer Road Trips

When it comes to summer, there's really nothing better than a road trip, don't you agree? It doesn't matter if it involves grabbing some friends, jumping in the car and travelling only an hour, or takes a little more planning for a longer vacation with your family, a road trip is an economical way to explore! So get out your atlas (and if you don't have one, check out the links below), it's time for your American summer road trip!

California Route 1
With it's abundant natural beauty, this scenic drive along California's coast from Cambria to Carmel is a photographers' dream. Here you can see sea lions, crashing waves, steep cliffs and the majestic redwood forests.

Going-to-the-Sun Road
If you're looking for waterfalls, mountains and crystal clear lakes, this 50-mile stretch in Montana will give you that. The best time to go? Well, in fact, summer is the only time you can drive this road as it's closed due to snow from late fall until late spring.

Oahu
This has to be one of my favorite drives on the island. After leaving the big city of Honolulu, take Highway 61 north and turn off at Nuuanu Pali Drive. This old, tree-covered, windy route offers a glimpse into Hawaii's roads of the past, just beautiful! When you come out on the other side, you'll join back onto Pali Highway (61).

Bryce Canyon National Park
The rusty, orange-colored rocks at Red Canyon, State Route 12 in Utah, look like something from another planet, while Anasazi State Park offers visitors the chance to learn about the indigenous people of the area.

Blue Ridge Parkway
While this route is more than 450 miles long, it encompasses 2 popular attractions: the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, and Shenandoah in Virginia. Think craft fairs, waterwheels, country-style stores and down home cooking.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Near Traverse City in northern Michigan, this popular 7.5-mile drive takes visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where the towering dunes can reach 450 feet!

Massachusetts Route 6A
Talk about an iconic drive! This 62-mile long stretch goes from Sandwich to Barnstable, and then the Cape Cod National Seashore to the tip at Provincetown. And, if you've missed anything along the way, you can catch it on the way back!

Lakeshore Drive
The 16-mile drive along Lake Michigan will take you past beaches, boaters and parkland, plus you'll get a skyline view of Chicago.



     

5 Ways to Prepare Your Phone for Travel

Pauline Former recently conducted an interview with travel tech expert, Angel Castellanos, on how to prepare your cell phone for your upcoming vacation or time abroad. Here's a summary of what she learned. Take a look at 5 Ways to Prepare Your Phone for Travel:

 1. Ensure that your cell phone's operating system is up-to-date. Why? Because you don't want a lengthy update to happen while you're abroad. It's time consuming and could cost a fortune if you don't have Wi-Fi only enabled. It's also a good idea to make sure your apps are up-to-date, and to install any updates for these as well.

2. Use the security systems on your phone. All of them. Why? Because you just never know. Enable the passcode, use the touch ID security fingerprint feature and install a locating app such as Find My Phone.

3. If you're going to use free Wi-Fi, do this first. Why? Because you need to protect your privacy and information. A VPN (virtual private network) app will block any thieves that are phishing for your personal data, as it blocks your phone from showing up on a public network. Try TunnelBear on iPhone and CyberGhost for Android.

4. Be sure to turn off your data. Why? Because if you don't, you'll be in for a nasty cell phone bill surprise when you return home. Unless you're on T-Mobile, which allows free roaming in several countries. If you're going to be on vacation abroad for a lengthy time period, considering getting a local SIM card with a data plan. Or just use the free Wi-Fi after you've blocked any would-be hackers.

5. Get these apps. Why? Because you're traveling life will be so much easier. XE Currency Convertor allows you to convert any foreign currency, any where. TripIt is an itinerary planner where you can enter all of your reservation data from separate sources, which is then magically transformed into one readable itinerary. Maps.me allows you download (and use offline) maps for specific areas you'll be visiting. And don't forget the airline app, in case there's an unexpected change with your flights.

Plus, be sure to check: 6 Practical Travel Tips and 11 Essential Items to Pack on Your Next Trip.


   

Pacific Northwest Roadtrips

As I'm lucky enough to call the beautiful Pacific Northwest my home, I love telling people about all the things to see and do in this vast area. But if you're planning a Pacific Northwest road trip, I do have a few recommendations, so let's take a look!


The Okanagan Valley
With 172 licensed wineries along its' 250-km valley, the Okanagan is BC's top grape growing region. But besides an abundance of tasting opportunities, the Okanagan offers an array of lakes, starting with the warm waters at Osoyoos and up to Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, that are perfect for enjoying water sports like boating, swimming and more. Plus, there are tons of family hotels and campgrounds to choose from. The Okanagan is also home to the popular Kettle Valley Rail Trail, which is perfect for hiking and mountain biking.

Tofino & Vancouver Island
If you're looking to have the quintessential Pacific Northwest rainforest experience, look no further than Vancouver Island. Here you can visit picturesque Tofino, a small oceanfront town with a population of under 2,000 people. You can also go whale watching or catch the waves here, or at nearby Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The area is also prized for its' fantastic storm watching opportunities in the winter season from November to February. If you travel east across Vancouver Island through Port Alberni, you'll arrive at the tiny town of Coombs in about 2.5 hours. Why Coombs? Because their famous Old Country Market has a family of goats living on its' roof. Yes, goats. And if you have any questions, you can always email a goat before you go. Yes, you can email the goats, too.

Harrison Hot Springs
Enjoy the quintessential summer experience at Harrison Hot Springs. Just 90 minutes east of Vancouver, Harrison Hot Springs is the perfect destination for the whole family to enjoy. You can go swimming and canoeing, while the kids enjoy the floating water park. If you'd like to see some local wildlife, take a tour along Harrison River. 


Squamish: Hardwired for Adventure
An hour north of Vancouver along the picturesque Sea-to-Sky Highway will bring you to Squamish, one of the adventure capital's of BC. One of the coolest ways to see the landscape is by taking a ride on the Sea-to-Sky Gondola, where once you're at the summit you can grab lunch at the lodge or really explore by hitting the hiking trails. If you want to try something you've never done, head over to the estuary where you can check out kiteboarding! If you're game, there are several school offering lessons and rentals.

Seattle
Only 3 hours south of Vancouver, Seattle is the American equivalent of Vancouver. Be sure to check out the sights from high atop the iconic Space Needle, visit Pike Place Market and the historic architecture found in the city's first neighborhood, Pioneer Square. The vibrant Chihuly Garden & Glass gallery is well worth a look, as are the Museum of Flight and taking in a Mariner's game at Safeco Field.

Be sure to check: Riding the Storm Out at Wickaninnish Inn and 5 Celebrity Owned Hotels, which includes the Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet, BC, owned by Jason Priestly of 90210 fame.