Welcome to "Travels With the Diva", a newsletter for women who love to travel!

In this issue, we'll talk about escaping the cold - it's the first day of winter, and I'm ready to go someplace warm!

I'll also tell you a little bit about Great Women's Vacations and TripDiva Travel, and give you a chance to participate in the website by adding your travel stories or trip reviews.

Are You Ready to Escape Winter?

Winter, technically, has only just begun. But here in the midwest, we've already been inundated with snow. I'm looking for a January getaway!

What happened to global warming?

I'll tell you: Evil Penguins!!

My sister bought these penguins last year about this time. They're adorable - I love the jingle bells at the neck! OK, so they say, "Let it Snow" - I just thought they were cute.

She put them on the front porch - and we had the second-snowiest winter ever!

This year, she put them out the day after Thanksgiving - and it's snowed every other day since.

We've already had more snow this December than we had all of last December - and did I mention that last year was the second snowiest winter ever?!?!?

I'm not looking forward to the next few months.

Definitely....a January getaway is in order.

Travel News and Updates

2009 will be the Year of the Travel Deal

According to Yahoo News, 2009 will offer some of the best travel deals in ages. Hotels, resorts and airlines are hurting, so they're offering rock-bottom prices to attract visitors.

Gas prices are down, so a short getaway is more affordable.

And the dollar is getting stronger in Europe, so it may be time to think about a trip to Paris or London.

This article has more info: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20081215/ap_tr_ge/travel_trend_year_ahead;_ylt=Am40g1obhT14hhuCrSkPIyk8sM0F

Speaking of Paris, their Vélib’ bike system offers bikes you can borrow at various locations around the city. It's a great way to get around - and sample the local chocolates! This article describes a DIY chocolate tour that uses the bikes to get from one shop to the next - working off the calories as you go! http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/travel/14journeys.html?ref=travel

Deals from American Express

If you have an American Express card, you can get deals from several vacation providers and cruise lines.

Uniworld Grand River Cruises and Silversea Cruises are offering $100 Shipboard credits for booking with an AMEX card. Viking River Cruises will give you $250 Shipboard credit for China cruises in 2009.

Funjet Vacations has Exclusive travel offers for American Express(R) Cardmembers! There are spa and dining credits or room upgrades on trips to Mexico and the Caribbean, just in time for a winter getaway!

Some of these deals can be combined with early booking discounts, too - check with the supplier to be sure.

If you don't already have an AMEX card, this is a good reason to get one. Their Blue Sky card offers travel rewards for every dollar charged to the card. Say good-bye to travel reward restrictions with Blue Sky from American Express®.

Contact me for more information on any of these offers.

River Cruises with an Emphasis on Food and Wine

Uniworld Grand River Cruises has introduced its Epicurean Adventure Program, new for 2009.

Wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and special onshore excursions have been added to 10 of their itineraries, in Germany, Austria, and France. Another good reason to tour Europe by small ship!

Avalon Waterways, a division of Globus Tours, has snagged Public Television's Burt Wolf to be the host on 3 different sailings during 2009.

Mr. Wolf will be aboard a sailing of Tulips and Windmills in late March, Rhine River Cruise in late April, and Cruising Though France in late May. Each trip will include special tastings of local wines, cheeses, beers, and chocolates, as well as Mr. Wolf's perspectives on the history and culture of the area.

Again, you can contact me for more information. I'd be happy to help with the cruises.

Write a Review or Tell us Your Story and get a T-shirt!

Have a great travel story, or know of a good restaurant somewhere that you want to tell everyone about?

Send it to us using our contact me page.

You can tell us about a great experience, funny story, fascinating destination, or whatever you want to share.

Tell us about your last trip - where did you go, what did you do, what was great about it, what would you avoid next time?

If your story or review is published, we'll send you a TripDiva T-shirt or mug with the Hula Girl logo.

This doesn't have to be professional quality writing - just share your experiences! We want to hear them!

Until next time - Happy Travels!

About TripDiva Travel

TripDiva Travel is a home-based travel agency, associated with Dugan's Travels (a nation-wide group of over 500 agents). TripDiva specializes in great vacations for women (hence the website domain, www.great-womens-vacations.com).

Some of the vacations we talk about are for women only; most are not (so if you see something you would like to explore with your husband or significant other, you can do that, too).

But women's vacations tend to be a bit different than most couples or family vacations. They're a bit "smaller" in scale, allowing for interaction and connections with your fellow travelers and companions. It can be hard to get to know people on a large cruise ship; there are just so many of them! On a small ship cruise, there are no more than 200 people on board and you can make many new friends, or have a nice conversation with your travel companions without shouting over the crowds!

The vacations we look for are focused on experiences, not destinations (although there are a lot of great destinations, too). Would you like to learn to paint or speak Italian, join a cooking class or just learn to enjoy fine wine, take a tour that lets you get close and interact with the locals instead of just passing by an historical site while riding a bus? Those are great women's vacations.

At www.great-womens-vacations.com (or www.tripdivatravel.com - it will get you to the same place), we try to give you the tools to find great vacation experiences and contact information to book your trip. We will be adding a booking engine (via Travelocity), so you can book air and hotels, if needed; or you can simply contact us and we'll help you arrange your trip.


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