After Obama lifted the Cuba travel ban in 2014, Trump has reversed it. It’ll take some time, but this means that US citizens won’t be able to visit Cuba as freely as we’ve been able to the last couple years. You can still go there but only through a people-to-people exchange (licensed tour group) and it’s expected airlines will reduce their routes to Cuba.
Floating Luxury Hotel
Ritz-Carlton just announced plans for three luxury yachts, translating the same service you can expect at their hotels to the sea. The yachts will be smaller than other cruise ships, with a maximum capacity of 298 passengers. You can expect great amenities and rather than big entertainment, they’ll have smaller, intimate acts. As for ports, they plan to stay longer in each destination, sometimes with ships leaving late at night or the next morning. The first yacht will debut late 2019.
Machu Picchu Mucho Rules
Starting July 1st, Peru will be requiring tourists to purchase tickets for 1 of 2 time windows and entering the site with official tour guides. This is to preserve the space and will keep visitors on specific paths.
Baby Gets Free Travel FOR LIFE
A baby born midair was gifted a lifetime of free travel by the airline. The baby was born midflight in Saudi Arabia on Jet Airways. This is not the first time a baby has been born on a plane but usually they just give money or miles, not a whole LIFETIME.
Wyndham and Caesar’s Have Teamed Up
Wyndham Hotels and Caesar’s Palace have teamed up which means you can redeem Wyndham points for stays in Vegas. It’s not just Caesar’s – all their properties including Bally’s, Flamingo and Planet Hollywood are included. You’ll also be able to get your status matched between the two chains.
Travel Deal of the Week: Not a deal this week, but a recommendation to go to Cuba ASAP (as in next week). Sounds like the new ban won’t take effect for roughly 90 days.
Midtown Manhattan is so much more than Times Square. It’s got lots of museums and tons of food options. Here’s my guide for the perfect (fully packed!) day in Midtown.
Grand Central Terminal
Start your day at Grand Central. It’s a gorgeous building that has been open since 1913 with 750,000 visitors passing through each day. Start in the Main Concourse and watch the commuters pass by before venturing to find some breakfast.
After you’ve eaten, head back to the Main Concourse and grab the audio tour for $9. You can do it in as little as 30 minutes and gives an interesting history as well as architectural details you might normally miss.
Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA) is an awesome art museum. It’s got famous artists like Warhol and Monet. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop. Admission is $25
For lunch, check out The Little Beet for healthy options or City Kitchen for an upscale food court with lobster rolls, sushi and gourmet doughnuts for dessert. Be warned though that midtown lunch places can have lines out the door between 12-2pm.
Radio City Tour
A tour of Radio City is a must. It’s a stunning theater and so cool to stand onstage. See where the animals live during the Christmas show. Meet a Rockette (and get a photo!). Tours run daily and are $26.95 each. Advance reservations are recommended.
Happy Hour (with views!)
Have happy hour at the rooftop of La Quinta. It’s got great views and is a hidden gem. There are deals everyday from 4-7pm and might be the cheapest drinks you’ll ever find in Manhattan.
For dinner, you have to go to Carmine’s. Everything is served family style and is absolutely incredible. So grab a bunch of friends or prepare for a lot of leftovers. If you’re not too full, order the Titanic. Like the name suggests, it’s pretty epic.
After dinner, see a show. I may be biased, but you can’t come to New York without seeing a Broadway show. With 41 theaters, there are so many options and even if you think you’re not into theater, give it a try. Here’s my guide to getting tickets here.
After the show, head to Times Square. It’s best at night so you can really admire all the lights and the people watching should be pretty good. But don’t spend too long, it’s a bit overrated.
The Tony Awards were this past Sunday and Dear Evan Hansen took home the top honor of Best Musical (as well as Leading Actor and a few other awards). Hello, Dolly and Bette Midler also won big. Check out my guide to getting tickets here.
The International Olympic Committee just voted Paris to host the summer Olympics in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028. 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the last time Paris hosted the Olympics. 2028 will be when Trump is for sure out of the White House (assuming he would win 2020 and be in office in 2024).
British Airways massive meltdown has a massive paycheck
Last month, British Airways had a massive IT failure, which caused flights out of London airports to be cancelled for a few days. Now it’s coming out that it cost the company over $100 million and counting. Ouch.
Southwest revolutionizing the de-planing process
Southwest is experimenting with using two doors for passengers exiting its planes. The idea is that it will get passengers off the planes faster. It’s currently being tested out in Sacramento and San Jose. My only question is when this will be available on all flights.
Travel Deal of the Week: The play Oslo took home the Tony Award for Best Play. In its honor, travel from SFO to Oslo, Norway for $578 roundtrip and see the real city.
ICYMI, the Tony Awards were this past Sunday. They’re a celebration of the past year’s Broadway shows and a celebration of all things Broadway. It’s also a huge marketing tool for all shows – whether they win or not. Here’s how you can see this year’s top shows:
Check out the Tony performance by Ben Platt (who also won Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical) here.
If you can wait, you can buy tickets on the website. A new block starting in January 2018 was just released so that will be your best bet.
If you can’t wait, try the digital lottery. It opens online at 12:01am on the date of the performance (except Saturday evenings) and closes at 10am for matinees and 3pm for evening performances. You can buy up to 2 tickets for $40 each.
Or you can try for standing room but you will need to arrive before the box office opens because lines do start the night before (yep, people sleep out on the street for tickets). You can get up to 2 tickets for $42 each.
Dear Evan Hansen also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Book.
Your best bet is to buy tickets between July 2nd and July 16th. Thanks to the Tony Awards, the show extended an additional two weeks. So you can easily buy tickets to any of the performances during those dates.
If you’re looking for cheap tickets, enter the digital lottery the date before the desired performance. The lottery is drawn at 10am the day before and winners can buy up to 2 tickets for $39 each.
On TodayTix, tickets are currently on sale for $59 each and up. Use referral code ‘AOOSA’ for $10 off your order.
TDF: Oslo is often on the website TDF for $41 tickets. (TDF or the Theatre Development Fund is a nonprofit that gives ticket discounts to its members. For $34 a year, you can become a member too. AND you don’t even have to be a theater person to join – you can be a student, teacher, recent grad, retiree, or FREELANCER. Here’s the full list.)
TKTS: It’s sometimes at the booth and is worth checking out.
Oslo also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
Watch the Tony performance of David Hyde Pierce here.
Even better, watch Bette Midley’s acceptance speech for Best Leading Actress in a Musical here.
This is probably the hardest ticket to get right now because Bette Midler. If you absolutely must see her, there is currently some good availability at the end of the year.
If you don’t mind standing, you can do standing room for $47 each for up to 2 tickets. As far as I know, people aren’t lining up the night before so as long as you arrive a little before the box office opens, you should be OK.
If you don’t mind seeing Donna Murphy (who is sharing the role with Bette Midler), you can get tickets much easier. TodayTix has tickets available starting at $39 through August. Use referral code ‘AOOSA’ for $10 off your order.
Hello, Dolly! also won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Best Costume Design.
Rush: You can purchase up to 2 tickets for $38 each. Arrive before the box office opens (I recommend an hour early because there are lines). Once rush tickets run out, standing room tickets are available for $32 each. The show is only 100 minutes so it’s not a bad option.
TodayTix: It’s not always on the app, but the show is currently on sale for a few dates in June and July starting at $117. Use referral code ‘AOOSA’ for $10 off your order.
Come From Away was nominated for Best Musical and won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.
The world’s best airport is about to get an amusement park. Singapore’s Changi Airport just announced a plan for a canopy park with bouncing nets, a tube slide, maze and waterfall. It already has tons of amenities, ranking in the best airport in the world.
Trump launching budget-friendly hotel brand
If you’re boycotting Trump products, take note. Trump is launching a budget three-star hotel brand under the name American Idea. They’ll be found in smaller cities and the plan is to retrofit existing properties.
If you’re coming to NYC anytime soon and have any interest in seeing a Broadway show, you’ve got to check out the Tony Awards. It’s a great chance to see what shows might interest you and even better, what you need to buy a ticket to NOW before it becomes the next Hamilton.
Whether you know the name Chihuly or not, you’ve probably seen his glass sculptures on display somewhere, whether a chandelier hanging in a lobby or his glass blown flowers coating the ceiling at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He’s actually been on my radar for a few years. Just last month I checked out the Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg, Florida.
So when I saw Chihuly’s works were coming to the New York Botanical Garden through October, I had to go. And it’s an absolute must if you’re in NYC.
New York Botanical Garden
The NYBG is actually located in the Bronx, accessible via Metro North from Grand Central or a subway ride + a walk. The garden itself is gorgeous and HUGE. I barely even scratched the surface as I was on a time crunch so I focused only on the Chihuly pieces. It can be done in an hour but at least a half day is preferable. There are restaurants and food trucks (or you are permitted to bring your own food on the grounds) so you really can spend the whole day there.
I started with the Haupt Conservatory. Chihuly’s Citron Sun greets you before you even enter the conservatory. The bright neon green glass swiggles stand out against the white-and-glass building. Even with other tourists around, you can get some great shots and views of the work.
Once inside, you go from work to work with great directional signage leading you from one work to another. You can expect glass flowers in water, water droplets splashing from the gardens, and even glass leaves that blend in with their natural surroundings.
In addition to Chihuly’s well known styles, the exhibit includes the new Koda studies using colored panels which create gorgeous reflections in the water, and a neon work I can’t wait to go back and see at night.
Next up is Red Reeds. My photos don’t do the work justice as the red pops so much, plus it was tough to get a photo without a tourist in it. The press photo from NYBG is below so you can really see the beauty of it.
Native Plant Garden
You’ll first find a boat filled with colorful glass orbs. Further along the water you’ll find two different colored panels which gave me one of my favorite shots of the day. The whole area is incredibly calming with small waterfalls and green everywhere.
The blue Sapphire Star is next, on its own in a grassy area. It’s an incredible work that reminisces of a bright blue eye.
Mertz Library Art Gallery
Outside, you’ve got a great old vs. new with Blue Polyvitro Crystals in the fountain next to weather faded sculptures. Inside you’ll find Chihuly’s early work, drawings and a film.
I went in expecting to a see a couple of Chihuly’s works and was blown away with how they seemed to pop up everywhere. It’s an incredible exhibit by day and special nighttime events throughout this summer show the works lit up at night. It’s definitely a must see and I can’t wait to go back to check out the rest of the New York Botanical Gardens.
CHIHULY is running now through October 29th at the New York Botanical Gardens. Admission is $23 on weekdays and $28 on weekdays. The grounds are free on Wednesdays but you can pay $13 for access to the Conservatory.
British Airways faced an IT issue last weekend, causing all flights from Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday to be cancelled. They’re blaming it on a power outage. It’s back up and running but the airline is still facing problems due to the cancellations.
JetBlue is going paperless
JetBlue is the first airline to start using biometric boarding passes, using facial recognition software. The passenger will just need to step up to a camera and your photo will be connected to your passport, visa and immigration photos in the US Customs and Border Patrol systems. Which means you can travel internationally as well. Game changer.
No Excuses to Get Your Sweat On
Hilton just introduced ‘Five Feet to Fitness’ in two of its properties (with plans to expand). They’ve brought the gym to your room with an exercise bike, weights and 200 guided workouts from a touch screen. So there’s no excuse to skipping the gym on your trip.
Covfefe is the hottest new travel destination
Well, not exactly. The internet exploded when Donald Trump made a typo in a late night tweet. He posted the word ‘covfefe’ instead of a word we don’t exactly know. The internet exploded with jokes including Conde Nast Traveler which made the word into a hot new destination.
Travel Deal of the Week: Flights to Europe keep dropping their prices and this one is $55 ONE WAY on WOW Airlines from LAX, MIA or SFO. Check it out!
Touring is one of the best ways to make money in theater. Your per diem is nontaxed money in addition to your salary which you can use any way you want, which means you can bank the extra each week. Here are my tips for maximizing your per diem so you can add to your salary each week:
Get a roommate
Hotels on tour are already pretty cheap with the group rate. But if you get a roommate and split the cost, the room is even cheaper and can save you $350 that week. If you’re not a fan of the double beds, consider getting a 2 bedroom in extended stay accommodations like a Residence Inn or the Oakwood in LA. The room rate might be more expensive but if you compare it to the studio rate, it might actually work out to be less and you’ll still have your privacy.
Stay in the Cheapest Option
Obviously, choosing the cheapest option is your best bet to save you money. If you’re on a Production Tiered tour and the options are around the same price, it might seem like either option is good EXCEPT when you consider the Housing Cap (which is paid out every 13 weeks). The cheapest option is this case will actually save you even MORE when you add in each night you stay there.
In some cities, tours have a hard time finding affordable options. So try AirBnb or even other hotels and you might find a great deal. AirBnb has so many options and if you really want to save money, considering sharing a room or getting your own room instead of the whole place to yourself. My friend paid off her mortgage by sharing rooms for $40/night.
Stay with Friends and Family
This is really the cheapest way to save money. Even if you have to travel 30 minutes, your rental car will still be cheaper than a whole week in a hotel.
Always get your points
ALWAYS add your rewards points. Even if your hotel is paid for by the company. This will come in handy when you want to take your own trips or even if you want to redeem points for a closer hotel, etc. plus you’ll gain status very quick which means upgrades and free things like bottled water and snacks. Don’t forget to add your frequent flier miles to your flights too!
Get a travel credit card
There are so many options when it comes to travel credit cards but the one thing that they have in common is extra points when you pay for hotels, flights and even gas stations. If you’re pretty loyal, a specific hotel or airline is a good bet otherwise the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire are good general travel cards and come with great perks as well.
Go to the Grocery Store
Food is the #2 expense to your per diem. If you want to save money (and your waistline), consider taking a trip to the grocery store the first day you arrive in each city. You’ll save a lot of money if you can get creative with the microwave or even just for snacks. If you’re a big drinker, consider getting your booze here rather than the hotel bar. Trader Joe’s is one of my favorites as all locations are consistent and their frozen products are easy and delicious.
Don’t go to the bar
This might be one of the hardest things to do on the road as theater people, especially stagehands. But how many times have you gone out and ordered rounds of shots for everyone and ended up with a $100 bill at the end of the night? You can be just as social grabbing your alcohol from the 7-11 and drink in the hotel lobby as you are at the bar and it will save you a lot of money.
Don’t forget to budget!
I have been a huge culprit of being a little irresponsible with my cash and avoiding a budget but it can save you a lot if you keep a budget and watch where your money is going.
Invest the rest
The best way to maximize your money is to invest it. If you have extra per diem, this is the perfect time to invest or even better, add to your retirement account. You’ll be grateful for it later.
Disney’s Hall of Presidents might be making a change due to our current president. Despite many petitions, Bob Iger has confirmed that Trump’s bust will be included but it’s unclear whether he’ll have a speaking role, like Obama did. Instead, the attraction might be going back to the old format where only Abraham Lincoln speaks.
Trader Joe’s has a major cult following and I’m definitely one of them. I became a fan of them in college due to their cheap prices BUT it has also come in handy on the road where I can stock up on frozen foods to heat up in my hotel room. I have been known to arrive in a new city and head to Trader Joe’s right away. Here are some of my faves:
They’ve got a huge selection of frozen meals that you can easily heat up in your hotel microwave. Cult faves include their guilt free Mac and cheese and Indian food.
Trader Joe’s makes amazing Indian food. So much so that I rarely ever order Indian because I can get it cheaper at Trader Joe’s. I love their Paneer Tikka Masala for a vegetarian option but it’s all good. The Naan doesn’t have microwave instructions but I’ve made it work in a pinch if I really need it to go with my meal.
If you’re a fan of smoothies, they have a great frozen fruit selection to throw in yours. I like the Very Cherry blend.
Trader Joe’s has an amazing cheese spread and I have been known to make a cheese & charcuterie plate for dinner. My favorite is the Unexpected Cheddar (which was just voted Favorite Cheese in TJ’s Annual Customer Choice Awards) but I don’t know that I’ve ever had a bad cheese from TJ’s.
Hard Boiled Eggs
TJ’s sells a bag of pre-hard boiled eggs. This is a great item for a grab and go breakfast.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
These are O.M.G. delicious. I’m a sucker for peanut butter AND dark chocolate plus the upgrade on Reese’s isn’t terrible. You can either get them in the plastic containers or a smaller “snack” pack which is usually around the registers.
Dried Fruit & Nuts
I’m obsessed with TJ’s Dried Fruit. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also so much cheaper than you can get anywhere else. I’m obsessed with their Dried Mango – it’s only $2.99 compared to $6.99 most other places.
I have to include TJ’s Soy Chorizo just because it’s one of their most amazing products and even meat lovers have enjoyed my creations with this product. Now I’ve never used it in the microwave but am considering an experimentation. My usually go-to requires a hot plate so is best for an extended-stay style hotel.
On the Shelves
It’s no secret that Coconut Oil is trending (or even past trending) right now. But that’s because it’s an incredibly versatile product and therefore is a fantastic product to travel with. Not only can you use it in cooking (replacing olive oil, butter, you name it), you can also use it as a moisturizer, makeup remover, lip balm, you name it.
I also love to carry ghee as an alternative to coconut oil for cooking. Since it’s basically unrefrigerated butter, it tastes amazing on bread and is perfect for my go to breakfast of eggs on avocado toast.
In addition to their standard Raw Honey, TJ’s carries a local raw honey which is supposed to help with allergies. For the first year of traveling, I constantly had allergies due to exposure to new plants and flowers. Local raw honey is a great product to pick up to prevent allergies.
TJ’s has a great selection of protein bars. I love Larabars and Epic Bars for a Paleo-friendly dose of protein but they’ve also got GoMacro Bars (peanut butter chocolate chip is my fave). These are great to have on hand when you’re traveling.