Rocking Horse Ranch – October 28-30, 2016

It is that time of year again!  We are gathering up our blue jeans and our boots and headed for some later fall fun at the Rocking Horse Ranch. This is a perfect time to unwind before the holidays! The crisp fall air. A bounty of the Hudson celebration. Horseback riding on the trails, an indoor water park, and so much more awaits you on October 28th for two nights and three all-inclusive days! Continue reading “Rocking Horse Ranch – October 28-30, 2016”

Canceled Beaches Turks & Caicos – August 2015

NOTICE:  Due to some emergency surgery and a prolonged recovery, this trip will be canceled. Sorry! (5/29/15)

 

For the 15th year, Single Parent Travel is returning to Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa from August 15 to 22, 2015! This will be out 15th trip to Beaches Turks and Caicos and it is guaranteed not to disappoint. Your vacation is ALL INCLUSIVE–leave the wallet at home and enjoy the sun, sand and surf. With the addition of the exclusive Italian Village (all suite and all concierge) and the Key West Village there is something for everyone and a total of 20 restaurants–too many to sample them all, we are only there a week!

Of course we will have some SPT surprises along the way including a private welcoming reception, group activities and more!

Your week in paradise (based on the rooms we have blocked) will range from $5522 for a deluxe room. Pricing is for a parent and a child. Please call for pricing for more than one child or additional room categories. Airfare and insurance are optional.

For more details and pricing, please download our flier  (PDF) or give me a call at 888-277-8543!

To reserve your spot and guarantee your price, a $400 per room deposit is all it takes. It is fully refundable until June 15, 2015 when the balance is due. For anyone that has been to a Sandals or Beaches resort before, we can arrange for your Signature Guest discount on top of these prices. Just ask us and we can check into it for you!

And here is the warning—do not wait to hold your space. The resort WILL sell out. The Italian and Key West Village rooms will sell out faster. Your deposit is fully refundable for any reason up to June 15, 2015. And as long as there is space, we can change room categories at no charge. But by having the deposit down, you are assured that you will have your first choice of room!

Single Parent Travel has a unique relationship with Beaches and we are guaranteed to have the lowest prices available. For ease in reading the flier, we round up to the next dollar. We also monitor the pricing throughout the year and if there is a sale or a special promotion that applies to your trip, we will cancel it and re-book it on your behalf.

I hope you can join us this year!

Scandinavian Vacation – June 16-23, 2015

Europe’s most breathtaking scenery, the Midnight Sun, some of her most brilliant and exotic cities, internationally renowned cuisine, and world class Jazz – that’s Scandinavia!! Unimaginably beautiful!

Copenhagen, city of Hans Christian Andersen, the glorious Tivoli Gardens in-town amusement park, the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen Harbor, an endless choice of museums, restaurants, bars and entertainment of every sort!

.Stockholm CityStockholm, city of Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, one of Europe’s most enchanting cities, the world-famous Vasa Museum, breathtaking Gamla Stan (Old Town), and the city that revived the art of Jazz Music for the world to enjoy anew!

You cruise the Stockholm Archipelago, with endless stunning island landscapes dotting the Baltic Sea en route to beautiful Finland, where you arrive the next morning.

Helsinki, your final stop, where fun on the Tram mixes with seeing all the sights of this enigmatic city, Finlandia Hall and one of Europe’s most stunning concert venues, the island fortress of Suomenlinaa in Helsinki Harbor, and a magnificent setting on the Baltic make this an unforgettable place to bid farewell to beautiful Scandinavia!

For more details and complete itinerary, please download our flier.

COST: $2399 per person which includes airfare* from NYC

DEPOSITS/CANCELLATION: $500 pp deposit required. $250 cancellation fee; 50% at 90 days, 75% 89-31 days, 100% within 30 days.

ADDITIONAL COSTS: Insurance, personal items, meals and sightseeing not included in itinerary.

* To take advantage of air inclusive pricing, the air portion is non-refundable and must be paid at the time of the deposit and will be subject to any rules and regulations of the airline in terms of cancellation.

 

Prague: Bike and Boat July 22-29, 2015

The “Golden City” and the Rivers Moldova and Elbe. The Czech Republic, the small country in the heart of Europe, impresses with its original river landscapes, picturesque villages and romantic castles, whose history and architecture can often be traced back to the Middle Ages.

Prague, known also as “the Golden City” and “the City of a Hundred Spires”, is both point of departure and final destination for this beautiful bike and barge tour along the Upper Moldova, in Czech called Vltava, and the huge Elbe River – when the bridges of the Vltava River are ablaze with sunlight and the spires of the castle sparkle in the light, then it becomes obvious that Prague has its nickname “Golden City” with good reason! Multifaceted and unique, modern and at the same time aware of tradition – discover one of Europe’s most beautiful metropolis with its Old Town listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

FLORENTINA aussen (Nymburk)The MS FLORENTINA moors close to the Charles Bridge and is therefore an ideal springboard for exploring this gorgeous city – the marvelously restored Market Place, the busy Wencelslas Square or the Jewish quarter are waiting for you. And you will not be missing out on good food – beer and roast pork with dumplings, just to name one of the many specialties – when you are on the move with your bike do not miss to have a break and quench your thirst with a original Czech amber nectar.

And all along the way, we will have plenty of organized and impromptu SPT gatherings, events, and fun!

For complete details and itinerary, please download our flier!

COST: $1999 per person

DEPOSITS/CANCELLATION: $500 pp deposit required. $250 cancellation fee; 50% at 90 days, 75% 89-31 days, 100% within 30 days.

ADDITIONAL COSTS: Airfare, insurance, personal items, meals and sightseeing not included in itinerary.

White Water Rafting – June 2015

This summer, Single Parent Travel will venture out west to take in the glory that is Moab, Utah and the Colorado River with a 3 night rafting trip from June 23 to 26.

Surrounded by an immense red rock playground, Moab, Utah is the perfect setting for a kid-friendly family outing–and Western River Expedition’s Southwest Sampler provides just the right amount of adventure for the whole gang. You’ll get a taste of the “best of the Southwest” on this 4-day, 3-night getaway. First, you’ll spend 2 relaxing nights in luxurious comfort at the Gonzo Inn – the perfect location adjacent to shopping, restaurants, a city walking path, and only one block from the Moab Adventure Center. You’ll explore the wonders of Arches National Park and experience one of Moab, Utah’s most renowned adventures – an off-road Hummer Safari. Top it all off with 2 days of Colorado River rafting plus one night of all-inclusive beach camping and star gazing and you’ll return with endless stories and unforgettable memories.

To view the complete itinerary and see more details, please download this PDF flier.

And of course, we have added in some special SPT goodies as well–we are working on those details now!

AIRLINE INFO: Currently there are no scheduled commercial flights into Moab. The airport authority is negotiating at the present time and people in the area are hopeful. The nearest airport is Grand Junction and a 90 minute shuttle will be required. The cost of the shuttle is $200 per direction, but the cost per person will likely be reduced as more guests are added.

HOTEL INFO: The rate to stay at the Gonzo Inn for an additional night after the rafting trip is $250 per night and is inclusive of all taxes and fees. Lower priced accommodations are available as well in motel-type properties.

COST: $1350 for an adult and a child (5-17)

ADDITIONAL COSTS: Airfare, transfer, insurance, additional hotel nights, personal expenses. Due to airline scheduling from many cities, an additional night may be required at the end of the adventure.

 

My Medifast Update #2 – Down 32

OK, I promised to not be one of those nudges and update on my progress all the time–it’s been almost 2 months since the last update and I am beyond thrilled with the results. So far, I have lost 32 pounds and I can see all sorts of changes.

  • My family crest ring may need to be re-sized
  • I am wearing some clothing that was previously too tight
  • I am feeling a lot better in general
  • My endurance is up

I am still riding the bike when I can–it’s getting cold; but I find that going faster or longer is becoming easier and easier. The days when I don’t ride the bike, I have taken to walking. Usually it is just 2 miles at a brisk pace at night after things have calmed down.  I crank up the tunes on my phone and just kick it out.  A few times I even walked with 5 pound dumb bells in my hands to exercise.  Longest bike ride was 12 miles in just under an hour, and the longest walk was 6 miles in just under 2 hours.  For that long walk, I was hanging out while my daughter was at driver’s ed and decided to take a walk partially around the airport–they have a path.

And while I abhor running, I am going to consider a 5K in the New Year.

I downloaded a free app for my phone a while ago called Map My Fitness and it keeps track of your activity–makes it really easy.

Screenshot 2013-11-26 20.08.48

I am finding that my mindset has changed. I am looking at calories on labels and thinking smart (boring) when I eat out. I still would give my left arm for a pizza, cheese steak from Philly and the eggs benedict from the local breakfast place; but I am holding out till I really hit a big milestone and will celebrate.

I do not think I am gong to hit my 6o pounds by New Years goal as I have been averaging between 3 and 4 pounds a week. So, I might get 50.  But it’s always good to have a goal to reach!  On Friday, I go in for the procedure on the little magic machine.  It is a scale and a magician that tells you all sorts of stuff just by holding onto these two metal poles–body fat, muscle, etc. And that will be 3 full months on the program.

The food and supplements are running between $85 and $120 a week, so it is not cheap. But, I have also not been shopping at the grocery nearly as often.

Maybe when May rolls around and we head up to the ranch (announcement tomorrow), I can ride the horse instead of the horse riding me!

Hopefully my next update will be around New Years and I will be down 50.  We shall see, there are a few tough weeks of food temptation in between!

If anyone is interested in the minutiae of this whole thing, I did start a blog that tracks the ups and downs a bit more frequently — My Medifast Weight Loss

My Medifast Update #1–Down 15

maleweightlossI’ll keep this short and sweet. After a month, of eating flavored cardboard described as “nutritional food” I am seeing a lot of progress. Actually the food is not all that bad. There is some that is horrible (to me) and much of it is very tolerable to the point where I do not think of it as a chore to eat. The cardboard meals are supplements with their “digestive health pills” Vitamin B-12 and some “Super Omega 3″ fish oil pills–I hate fish…good thing they are in a pill.

I bought a bike and try to ride it 5 days a week and I do not have a regimen or any specific goals other than to ride what I perceive as further, harder, or longer than the day before. If the little app on my phone is correct, I am succeeding in that.  It is amazing when you have not really ridden a bike in many years how shaky you can be. Of course you never forget how to ride one, but if I try to do a turn signal or wave a car past me, I find that I have a tough time maintaining control.  So–to hell with the cars, they can just figure it out on their own.

I have been eating my Medifast meals during the day and psychologically rewarding myself at night with the dinner of real food. I have conscientiously cut back on portions and now I try to look at the calories for my real meal–probably a smart move on my part.  Some may call it cheating, but I have gone out about weekly with friends and had some drinks and maybe a plate of wings during a football game. I can tell my stomach is smaller as I fill up faster. And after these celebratory meals (and yes, I consider them celebratory), I do try to work extra hard on the bike the following day.

So, where do I stand?  In one month I am down just over 15 pounds and my BMI has dropped 5%.  All of my numbers are going down which is good. In all, I think (can’t remember) I have lost a total of 12”.  But that is a BS number in that they measure your calves, thighs, waist, chest, biceps, and add them all up. But a loss is a loss–much like the Pittsburgh Steelers!

I still have a ways to go and if I can maintain the 15 pounds per month, I will have lost 60 pounds by New Years! Of course, at that point, I will need to put the pressure on SPT because I will need to buy new clothes! HA!

And no. I am not going to reveal the starting weight until I am done. I am seeing progress–onward!

What’s the big deal about gambling at sea?

gamblingIf you’re looking for fun-filled vacations in the deep blue seas, then a cruise is one of the best entertainment solutions available. In addition to all of the activities and pots of call, there is so much to do on a ship; you may never want to leave.

One thing that might surprise you if you have never cruised, are that there are casinos at sea. You no longer need to go to Las Vegas to gamble.  And once you hit international waters, the casinos will open. To give you an idea of how important gambling is to the cruise lines, just look at how much space they occupy. Some of casinos are more than 10,000 sf and may have more than 200 slot machines and 50 gaming tables including craps, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and more.

If you are a gambler (or someone that wants to give it a try) you can enjoy deluxe hospitality while playing or learning your their favorite games.

If you are a novice, it pays to practice and bone up on the rules of the game before you pull out your wallet. Remember, the house ALWAYS has the advantage. And it is very easy to be caught up in the excitement, so a single parent needs to be cautious. There are many resources available on the web to explain the rules of the games and the strategies to increase your odds against the house (or so they say). There are also plenty of casino practice sites that allow you to practice prior to betting a piece of last week’s pay.

But by all means, be a responsible gambler. The cruise lines have casinos to make money—and they do. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose and you are guaranteed to have a good time. Play smart, get lucky, and you may have some spare cash to boot!

As for me? I am not a big gambler and my strategy is to play blackjack (craps is confusing to me) and when I win a hand, I put the winnings in my pocket and not on the table. The concept is sound—take their money and stash it away. My execution leaves a lot to be desired—you also need to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

Follow Along On My Journey

Weight_Loss_ScaleUsually I am a chicken and will take the easy way out. I think everyone does to a certain degree. But I am going to step out of my comfort zone here and document a significant change in my life.

Over the years, I put on the freshman 15, the sympathetic pregnancy weight, and all of the other excuses one can come up with to justify being overweight. Last week, I decided that I was going to take control and get back into shape–other than one that is round! And I am going to use the blog portion to keep myself motivated and hold myself accountable.  I suspect that many single parents are in a similar boat. And if my journey can help motivate you–then all the better!

My timing is right. I have two kids in college who are no longer here all of the time (save money on groceries) and one who is a junior in high school with a busy life of her own. I have some time on my hands, and as I get older, I realize I need to take better care of myself.  I need to be able to live long enough to be a pain in the butt to my kids!

I am not going to be obsessive and document each pound lost. I am not even going to tell you my goals…we can wait till the end and I can reveal the whole before-after thing.

What am I doing?

medifast20kdoctors_logoI have two friends here in Annapolis who recently have lost a lot of weight. One of them I see infrequently and last saw him in June. When I saw him again in early August, I literally did not recognize him. Literally! Now guys don’t talk about how much they lost and all that chit chat, but I did ask some general questions and in a nutshell, he was on the Medifast program and started to walk a lot for exercise.  Hmm.

So, I went to the Medifast center near me to talk and ended up signing up. My local center just launched an “ambassador” program where they will waive the program fee in return for me sharing my story at events they host during my time with them. I do need to buy their food for the diet, so there is a cost of about $85 a week. I figure it equals about what I would spend in the grocery in any event. I am not sure of the program fee, but I seem to recall my friend saying it was close to $1000–spread out. But you can do the program without the program fee and you can buy the food online–so there is the ability to save!

I am also serious about this. I went and bought a used bike to get me on some sort of exercise regimen. Running bores the heck out of me. Gyms intimidate me. I figured that as long as I can avoid spandex (a requirement I told the bike dealer) I would enjoy biking.  So there you have it.

Results!

The program is designed to have you eat 6 meals a day, but smaller meals. Oh who are we kidding, they are nibbles. Their meals are all about 100 calories a piece and for the most part are not winning any culinary awards. They are bland, dry, and sometimes tasteless. Never get the honey mustard pretzel bites–by dog turned up his nose at them. But there is enough variety that it is tolerable once yo get used to them. For me, I find the granola-ish bars to be great. Easy to eat and easy to take with me–chocolate, cinnamon, and lemon meringue are my favorites. The chicken noodle soup is not bad. The eggs (egg whites) look funny, but toss in some peppers and you are good to go. The shakes are ok as is the macaroni and cheese.

You do need to avoid a lot of fattening oils and carbohydrates. They are good at explaining it to you as well.

And on top of the five meals per day that they provide, you eat one of your own that is considered “lean and green”–they also tell you some good suggestions. I have cheated a little here and there–glass of soda, a few Pringles, a plate of wings–hey it was football night! And they understand that and are not real jerks about it. But after a week, I was definitely more conscious of portion size and what I order when I am out.

So, without the benefit of any exercise the first week and solely following the 5:1 plan from Medifast (with a few cheats), I went in for a weekly appointment to shop for cardboard food and check the weight.

Down 9 pounds!

They say that the first month will see the most drastic drop and then it slows down as you go along. We estimate that I will be losing weight for six months to get to my goal. And then from there there is another six months of weaning off the diet and increasing the “on your own” meals. And finally after a year, they want to check you out for another year (monthly or quarterly) to make sure you are not re-gaining, etc. In the end, their product will have helped me shed the weight and their counseling and my willpower will have re-trained my brain to eat smaller and better. And my metabolism will have adjusted to survive and operate on many fewer calories.  That’s the plan anyhow.

So there you have it.  I will keep you posted periodically and if you have any questions, please ask away!

Is The Middle East Safe For Family Travel On A budget?

Traveling can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but when you are planning a trip overseas the stress increases. When you toss in a destination that might be featured on the nightly news–well, what’s a parent to do? I am a firm believer in traveling and have taken my own kids to some destinations that other might consider “dicey.”

However, I am not stupid. I do not put us in harm’s way and I travel responsibly and very aware of my surroundings. Some simple rules will go a long way to insuring a hassle-free, and most importantly a safe trip.

Don’t load yourself down with cash. Petty thieves and pickpockets are all over. Credit is your friend when traveling. Keep you wallet in your front pocket (men) or your purse slung across your chest (women) to make sure it is close to you. If you are ever bumped into or put in a situation where you are distracted, be sure to check for your belongings immediately. My kids joke with me about my nervous tick where I am always patting my pocket to make sure my wallet is there. As I said, credit cards are universally accepted and it does pay to compare credit cards to save on currency fees. You would be surprised.

Speaking of money, you also should make sure that you have enough money in your bank account. If you are the victim of a pickpocket and need cash, your bank is going to be better positioned to help you immediately than a credit card company.  One time in New Orleans I was the victim of a pickpocket in the casino. While the credit card companies needed to get police reports and forms to initiate the process; my bank just needed to be assured it was me, and I was on my way with my own cash. Don’t forget about leaving some behind!

And remember, the Middle East encompasses a lot more than the hotspots you hear on the news.  The cultures and sights are beautiful, majestic, and literally once in a lifetime experiences. While Israel and Egypt (although we might argue that is Africa) and some of the nations on the Saudi Peninsula get all the attention, you might want to consider visiting  Turkey for example. You have ancient cities filled with bustling markets, and one of the friendliest group of people in the world. Bonus points for Turkey is that they adore children and will fawn over you and be willing to show you their world. If you are there, take them up on the offer and catch a glimpse into an ancient world.

Keeping safe abroad is very easy. Remember, we have crime in our own backyards and just because we are traveling on vacation is no reason to let our guard down. You would not regularly carry thousands of dollars in your purse or wallet at home–don’t do it on the road. The dark alley in Istanbul is just as dangerous as the dark alley back home in suburban Philadelphia.  Use common sense, keep your wits about you, and enjoy  the world!