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Travel Blogging Tips from TBEX and The Roaming Gnome

The Travelocity Roaming Gnome attended his second annual TBEX Travel Blogger Exchange conference in Toronto, Canada this weekend.  As I watched him work the room it made me realize, travel bloggers can learn a lot from the Roaming Gnome. Here are my six travel blogging tips from spending three whole days at TBEX with the gnome, the myth, the legend.
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How to Plan the Perfect Summer Picnic in Dallas, Texas

I’m a sucker for a good summer picnic, especially an urban picnic in the heart of a city. Here’s my guide to the perfect urban picnic in Dallas, Texas.

Step 1: Load up your basket.  Preparing for your picnic is as easy as making a stop at the Dallas Farmers Market where farmers come from miles around to proudly present the fruits of their labor. Essentials for my picnic — a little wine, a little fresh fruit, some meat and cheese.  Be sure to visit The Old World Sausage Company and the Cheese Peddlers in Shed 2.

Step 2: Stake out your spot at Klyde Warren Park, a five-acre grassy park built over an eight-lane freeway. It’s only been on the Dallas scene for less than a year, and locals are already flocking to it’s wide open space and grassy green parks. Blanket. check. snacks, check. Now bring on the sun.

Step 3: Finish your day with a moment of zen in the garden at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Here, the Nasher family has put their extensive art collection on exhibit for all of Dallas to enjoy. It’s the quietest moment you will find in the center of a big city – a  true sanctuary.

The Guide:

Dallas Farmer’s Market
1010 S Pearl Expy  Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 939-2808

Old World Sausage Company (in Dallas Farmers Market)
1010 S Pearl Expy  Dallas, TX 75201
(214)760-9000

Klyde Warren Park 
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway Dallas, TX 75201
(214)716-4500

Nasher Sculpture Center 
2001 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 242-5100

Five Perks of All-Inclusive Hotels

While all-inclusive hotels are not for every traveler, when it comes to convenience and great value, the pros far out-weigh the cons!  And with many all-inclusive hoteliers pushing the limits of luxury and creativity, the appeal of these  properties is wider than ever.  Here are five perks of all-inclusive vacations.

1 Less planning, more relaxing
Much of the stress that comes from a vacation is tied to the planning of it. Where should we go for dinner? Which activities will the whole family enjoy? Can we afford extra excursions?  With an all-inclusive, much of the planning process is done for you, giving you the chance to relax and focus on making memories with your family or friends.  For the ultimate in relaxation, try Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages & Spa.  The all-inclusive rate includes all meals, anytime snacks, gourmet dining, brand drinks, airport transfers, fitness center, water sports, scuba diving, childcare, video game center, entertainment, and all taxes and gratuities.

photo courtesy of Beaches Turks and Caicos
photo courtesy of Beaches Turks and Caicos

2 Easy to budget with one bill
Vacation spending can really add up. A four-course meal here, a snorkeling excursion there.  Before you know it your credit card has racked up thousands of dollars in charges and sometimes even international transaction fees. At an all-inclusive you can keep track of everything on one bill and stash your credit card away.  Try the Now Amber Resort and Spa All Inclusive in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. Here guests enjoy Unlimited-Luxury service including full breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day, theme parties and entertainment, unlimited international and domestic premium brand alcoholic beverages, 24-hour room service, and live nightly entertainment.  No restaurant reservations are required, no wristbands required and all taxes and gratuities are included.

Photo Credit:  Now Amber Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive
Now Amber Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive

3 Ideal for families – Kids stay, play, eat free
Family-focused all-inclusive hotels are a dream for Mom and Dad. Many of them offer a full schedule of free activities for the kids, kid-friendly performances and menus.  With the cost of airline tickets getting more expensive every year, families are being asked to pay more for vacations than ever so any budget break is a welcome one.  Often kids even stay for free.  A great option for families is the Iberostar Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The property, accommodations and services are all geared towards families — Lucy’s Kids Club, separate kids swimming pool and water park, suite accommodations for whole family, breakfast/lunch/dinner included as well as all sporting activities.

Photo Courtesy:  Iberostar Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Photo Courtesy: Iberostar Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

4 Party-friendly
Looking for a great bachelor or bachelorette destination? All-inclusives are easy to plan, easy to budget and there are many all-inclusives geared towards party-goers with great perks like top shelf alcohol, swim-up bars, nightclubs.  The Hard Rock Hotel All-Inclusive Cancun is a good bachelor/bacheloretet pick!  The all-inclusive package offers top shelf liquor, all meals, numerous bars, clubs, entertainment and a 24/7 party atmosphere. Perfect!

Photo Credit: Hard Rock Hotel Cancun
Photo Credit: Hard Rock Hotel Cancun

5 All-inclusives are becoming more luxurious and creative than ever
Forward thinking hoteliers are re-inventing the all-inclusive experience with details that appeal to a traveler who might have previously avoided all-inclusives — Things like your own personal butler, extracurriculars like unlimited Scuba and exclusive private islands!  The Secrets Wild Orchid All-Inclusive in Montego Bay, Jamaica has an “Unlimited Luxury” program with includes gourmet meals, luxury accommodations and unique activities like Euro bungee, cooking classes, dance classes, a batting cage and bike tours.

For up to 50% off your summer all-inclusive vacation hit Travelocity’s Memorial Day Vacation Sale!

VIDEO: Travelocity Takes a Spin on Disney’s Test Track

Earlier this year, Disney and Chevrolet teamed up to re-invent Epcot’s Test Track attraction — the longest and fastest attraction in Walt Disney history!  On my latest visit to Walt Disney World, I felt the need for speed, and decided to take a spin.  Maybe you can’t tell from the video, but I was flying at speeds of 65 miles per hour!  Using Disney’s Fastpass (don’t go to Disney without one!) I was able to skip the long lines and get right to the high-octane fun.  Add Test Track to the list of attractions that both parents and kids can enjoy.  It’s educational, innovative with just the right amount of adrenaline-pumping action.

Disney’s New Fantasyland: Top 4 Most Enchanting Experiences

The last time  I took a vacation to Walt Disney World, fanny packs and slouch socks ruled the world.  But a lot has changed since then, and I recently got a chance to see first-hand what twenty years of innovation has done to Walt Disney World.  Suffice to say, I was wowed!

My first stop was the newly re-imagined New Fantasyland, the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history.  I felt like a kid again, flying high on Dumbo, going under the sea singing my favorite hits from The Little Mermaid (of which I knew every…single…word) and escaping to Beast’s castle where five star dining meets five star fantasy.  Here’s a little taste of my four most enchanting moments at New Fantasyland.