About Jane Wooldridge

I'm a travel fanatic (and professional travel writer/photographer) who has visited more than 100 countries -- most more than once. I haven't done it all -- I'm still trying! -- but I have wandered the world in a wide variety of styles, from 5 Stars (say, the palace hotels of Paris) to Under the Stars (camel trekking in Australia.) I'm a member of the Society of Travel Writers, co-author of "100 Best Affordable Vacations'' (National Geographic Books) and a winner of the coveted Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year award. In my current day job, I am Executive Business Editor of the Miami Herald, where I was travel editor for many years. As a Jane-of-all-trades, I also oversee the Herald's coverage of Miami's vibrant visual arts scene. Want to know more? Check out www.janewooldridge.com.

Tips for getting the 2016 vacation you want: No. 1

May, 2009: Canal barge cruise through Burgundy, France. Photos by Jane Wooldridge / ONE TIME USE ONLY.

May, 2009: Canal barge cruise through Burgundy, France. Photos by Jane Wooldridge / ONE TIME USE ONLY.

Tip 1: Update your 2016 travel datebook. 

Family wedding? Conference? Business trip? Get the dates and places onto the calendar.

Once you know when and where you’re already going, you can figure out if you want to add additional time to any of those trips, so you can leverage your travel time and airfare.

Or not. If you’re of the school that fish and family both have a three-day limit, or your annual professional conference is in West Boringsville, you can save those precious vacation days for a trip that really makes your heart sing.

 

Vacation values: Tips for getting the 2016 vacation you want

Where are you going in 2016? That question has been on the lips of nearly everyone I’ve spoken with in the past week.

For travel addicts, the reason is clear: A trip — or just the prospect of one — helps ease the difficulty of getting back to work. Even if you’re not a total travel fanatic, the idea of a great vacation can give you a little purr.

On the royal lake in Udaipur.

On the royal lake in Udaipur.

Ah, but there’s the frisson of potential discord: How do you GET a great vacation?

For the next several weeks, I’m posting a tip a day for getting a great vacation in 2016. The goal is 30 Tips, 30 Days. But I’m hoping friends and followers will kick in with more ideas beyond those already on my list, so we can keep going.

Can we make 365? Maybe. With breaks, of course, for travel.

 

Return from Antartica’s Big Ice

ushuaiaUshuaia appeared on the Beagle Channel, calm and lulling. Our trip ended where as all such trips should: late at night, in a raucous Irish bar.

It was barely fortification for the day to come. We know now why penguins don’t fly. And while that’s a bad joke, so was the two-hour wait in line for the sole person working the security computer at the Ushuaia airport and the additional two-hour line for check in at American Airlines in Buenos Aires, for which there is no excuse. If executives and board members had to suffer the long queues, insufficiently staffed counters and hard seats in coach that their customers are tortured with, American — and other companies — would clean up their act. It ought to be written into the FAA code.

If there was one rosy side to the frustration, it was the attention it diverted from parting with new friends. Most of those you meet along the way are simply bypassers, but a few strike close to your soul. We hope to see you again on the next journey into the unknown.

 

 

Sailing Antarctica’s Iceberg Alley

bergs4

One hundred feet tall, two hundred beneath the sea, the massive “cubes” that are the remnants of a massive ice shelf-turned-berg called B15 bob along the Antarctic Sound. Once 160 miles long and 40 wide, the berg has diminished over 14 years courtesy of wind and water. Remaining still are these bobbing cubes and a single impressive stretch measuring more than 10 miles long. Soon it will be even smaller yet, pierced by blue crevasses and scarred by the ravages of cold and current. How this slice has even worked its way into this narrow stretch of Iceberg Alley is a mystery. Says the captain, “It’s like trying to wallpaper your apartment through a keyhole.”

Antarctic cycle of life

We wake to a bathtub ocean beneath a Brown Bluff, a volcanic ridge sheltering a sensitive Adele penguin colony. Hundreds of Adeles zip through the water, zipping in and out of the sea like porpoises, with the same splendid grace in water that they so sorely lack on land. At the water’s edge, battalions of black and white, march to and fro, neurotically debating whether to go into the sea – necessary if they want to eat – or whether to simply keep waddling nervously along.

pengmarcha

 

Eventually, for most, hunger wins out, and they dip into the sea for a fish meal that they will ingest and then prepare as fuel for new-born chicks. Here there are many – some so new that they peck their way out of their shells as we watch. One parent closely guards the baby against a skua whose attempts to snag an egg or chick are foiled. If we have to leave, this is a splendid last stop on the White Continent.

Antarctica: Favorable winds

shadowshipThe winds have packed the ice in the Weddell Sea, making progress toward the emperor penguin colony impossible. We turn and sail instead into a gloomy afternoon. The weather turns, as it often does here, and soon we are again swimming in a vast and limpid sea beneath a clarion canopy. The orange light of the midnight sunset spills into a rosy glow. We sleep.