Travel Planning for 2016

so where in the world….


vintage suitcaseare we going this year?

As I’ve hinted, if all goes as planned 2016 is going to be a big travel year for us. Because we almost always use Frequent Flyer miles for longer distance travel, we have to be flexible and keep an eye on mileage program promotions and limitations. In the past few years we’ve usually taken one big (international) trip per year, but we had some miles and certificates that were set to expire in a few months, so if all goes as planned, we will take two overseas trips this year. We also have a couple of smaller getaways planned.

Let’s go in chronological order…

Rocky Mountain High

skiing colorado

last time I was on skis…2012. You know it was a cold day if I can tolerate wearing the neck gaiter.

Yep, we’re going skiing for a few days, for the first time in 4 years. Needless to say we’re both a bit creaky and will probably be sticking to the easier runs. This time we’re going on our own, and jeune homme will be staying at home with a caregiver. It’s a bit sad for us, as he used to love the skiing and snow (and the ride on the airplane) but the last ski trip we took with him was less a vacation and more a mental and physical endurance test as he was in the throes of some serious aggression and behavior issues. We decided at that point that the only way we’d be able to travel with him in the future would be to hire a full-time helper to come along, and haven’t been able to work that out so far. There are so few activities we can enjoy with him, and we’d hoped this would be one, but maybe someday in the future….

In the meantime, we are looking forward to being able to set our own schedule, ski as much or little as we like, and enjoy a leisurely aprés-ski libation by the fire pit. (My second favorite part of the day. My very favorite is that first run of the day, before the slopes are crowded, and there’s still some fresh “corduroy” to carve. 😉 )

road trip: long weekend in Vegas

Bellagio fountains Las Vegas

It’s becoming our anniversary tradition. Las Vegas has always been more le Monsieur’s thing than mine, but I must admit it’s growing on me; the amazing restaurants with terrace views like this don’t hurt…

I see London, I see France…

London Thames

Louve from Musee d'Orsay

When we began planning this year’s Europe trip, we were dismayed to find that flights available with mileage awards during the period we wanted to travel (late Spring) were almost completely unavailable. By the time we were able to snag the LA-to-London leg, we were looking at early July travel. So we decided to work the trip around being in Paris for quatorze julliet, which should be fun. We’ll be a few days in London, a few days touring around Normandy (hopefully including some brocante shopping with Sharon of My French Country Home), and then a few days in Paris. This will also be the first time we’re in Paris during les soldesso I’ll definitely report on that.

Something new…

Tokyo lights

I’ve wanted to visit Japan ever since I was a young child, and had this beautifully illustrated book of Japanese children’s stories. I love Japanese art, architecture and especially the traditional gardens. So in order to use some FF miles before they were devalued, we’ve booked ourselves a few days’ travel in the fall to Tokyo, and hopefully Kyoto (by train) too. I especially want to see the famous bamboo forest. BIL and SIL, who we visited in 2014 in Thailand while they were working on their boat are now back at sea, and may head that way with the boat and meet us.

Will you be traveling in 2016? Where in the world are you going?


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  1. Sue K.
    January 25, 2016 / 4:50 am

    What exciting news about the Rocky Mountains (one of my favorites) and Paris, London and Japan! We plan to visit Norway (land of my ancestors) for the first time with my cousin and her husband. And then we will travel with a group of longtime friends to Ireland and northern England later this year. And also we will take the train to one of my most adored places: Chicago, a very energetic city where it is easy to walk everywhere.

  2. January 25, 2016 / 4:59 am

    That sounds like a brilliant year of travelling. Always something on the horizon to look forward to.

    Normally we take a vacation at a resort somewhere hot at this time of the year. Lucky for us the weather hasn’t been too cold so I’m not terribly missing the fact that we aren’t able to go this year. We are tentatively planning to visit Africa if all the stars aline for my 50th which is this year.


  3. Pink Azalea
    January 25, 2016 / 5:19 am

    What great travel you have planned. We have a new grandson coming in February so we’ll be sticking close to home. My husband has his annual ski trip to CO (I’m a complete klutz on skis) with his old friend. Finally in May we are going to Greece for two weeks and I am going to review all your travel posts to get ready, especially the luggage suggestions. After Greece, who knows…

    • Melissa
      January 28, 2016 / 2:03 am

      Hey, small world, we will also be in Greece in May, well island of Santorini to be exact.
      If you see a shortish lady with a silver streak in the front of her shoulder length hair, Greek dancing or saying “Yamis,” then you can either join in or run the other way…..
      I try to get a trip in to somewhere in Greece every year now, this year we may also be going back to Corfu in September.
      I love the Greeks, I feel so at home there, such lovely people. Maybe it has to do with growing up in New Jersey around Greek, Italian, Polish and Irish, very open loving friendly people. Is the one thing I miss living here, so I get my fix going to Greece yearly:)


  4. Trick a
    January 25, 2016 / 5:31 am

    Off to London in April to visit daughter no. 1, then on to Italy for the first time! At some point, we will be going to Norway to visit with daughter no.2. I, also, will be reviewing all of your travel and packing posts! I so hope to go back to Paris, maybe next year.

  5. susanburpee
    January 25, 2016 / 6:03 am

    Oh, I do hope you enjoy all your trips, Sue. We’ll probably go skiing for a few days in February. Although it will be cross-country skiing and not downhill. We threw out our downhill boots and skis a few weeks ago. They hadn’t been used in ten years, and we just made the decision. Hubby is a great downhill skier, but hates the crowds. And I was a late learner…starting after Stu and I met, in my late twenties, and have never felt at home on downhill skis. Too much of a chicken, I guess. There’s nothing better than a crisp, sunny winter’s day, though. I hope you have a great time. Especially that second fav part!

  6. Rhonda
    January 25, 2016 / 6:05 am

    We just took the trip of a lifetime to Rome, my first time in Europe! 2016 travel will involved college tours: the Ann Arbor/Chicago trip is already booked.

    I’m curious about your strategy for frequent flier miles. I’ve been collecting advice from experienced travelers. I’m a newcomer to this world. We had an Amazon card for years, which I used exclusively until the travel rules changed. Amazon is still a good deal for hotels, with a $25 gift card costing 1875 points. I then got a Capital One Venture Card with double points on every purchase. We don’t fly enough to rack up frequent flier miles on any airline.

    Any advice is helpful.

    • une femme
      January 25, 2016 / 6:57 am

      Rhonda, we mostly use Visa or Mastercards that are tied to a particular airline. We use them for everything: groceries, utilities, vet bills…and of course pay balances in full every month. One thing that le Monsieur has figured out is that some cards give you double miles for certain types of purchases, and some give you big mileage bonuses for signing up. So we tend to “churn” our credit cards (cancelling old ones and signing up for new ones) when the mileage bonuses make the effort worthwhile. There are a lot of blogs and websites out there dedicated to mileage programs, and that’s where we’ve picked up a lot of these tips.

  7. January 25, 2016 / 6:14 am


    Have you see my post today on The Vivienne Files? About a couple who decide to use their miles to take a trip? Who are going to Tokyo?

    I swear, some days I feel like we were separated at birth…

    big hug,

    • une femme
      January 25, 2016 / 6:58 am

      Oh, too funny! We do often seem to be on the same wavelength, don’t we? 🙂 I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your trip there!

  8. Jo
    January 25, 2016 / 6:29 am

    I ordered the Emme bag after your review and took it on a cruise 2 weeks ago. It was great! It held everything that I needed and could hang on the door in the bathroom, handy but out of the way! Happy traveling to you!

    • une femme
      January 25, 2016 / 6:51 am

      Hi Jo, I’m so glad to hear that! I love my Emme bag and wouldn’t travel without it!

  9. January 25, 2016 / 6:57 am

    Wow! that’s quite a packed year – so fun – send my love to London – my hometown! great travel essentials!

  10. Cher
    January 25, 2016 / 6:58 am

    Just a little public service announcement regarding the macro pac designer travel,coat you’re showing. I have this coat in black/gold and it is really pretty! I get tons of compliments on it. But, be aware that it’s water resistant capability is good for a light mist only and there is zero warmth provided. You will need a good umbrella for rain and tons of warm layering underneath if you are planning to wear this in inclement weather. That said, I love wearing it , but learned the hard and very cold way how it must be worn with additional clothing to be effective. Your travel plans sound great and I feel your pain regarding travel miles. It’s getting harder all the time to use those miles!! And definitely the early bird gets the deals.

  11. Suzan
    January 25, 2016 / 7:04 am

    I too always do my overseas travel with mileage. Now you have made me nervous about an airline devaluing its miles. Please tell me it’s not the American or United programs….? Thank you, and happy travels. Your year ahead sounds great!

    • une femme
      January 25, 2016 / 7:08 am

      Suzan, yes, unfortunately American is one of them. As long as you book a trip by mid-March you can still use the current value, even if you’re not traveling for several months.

  12. Kelly
    January 25, 2016 / 7:06 am

    2016 is a big travel year for us too (2015 was a big year for me for work travel, 2016 hopefully just leisure!) We went to London the first week of January – a delayed anniversary trip (our anniversary was October but my work travel prevented a trip at that time). I’m hoping to go to Portugal in September with my college roommates, and then husband and I are going on a 10 day Asian cruise with extra days in Singapore at the beginning and Hong Kong at the end – I’ve already copied your SEAsia packing ideas to my Powerpoint vacation ideas file!

    Probably some other long weekends, family visits, and no clue about work yet…..

  13. Sharon
    January 25, 2016 / 7:15 am

    Ireland for us. And although I’m determined to carry on, we will have a mix of city and rural days so need hiking shoes or boots as well as the nicer stuff. Plus it’s cool there in June (at least to me) so I’m a bit unsure on clothes weight and will need to layer of course.

  14. January 25, 2016 / 7:34 am

    Oaxaca with Maman in February, Ireland and Paris in September and Puerto Vallarta with Monsieur for Christmas. I like the summer here. I am hoping to do carryon for Europe so I’ll probably get some packing cubes. Great to plan!

  15. Leslie K
    January 25, 2016 / 8:21 am

    What a great year you have planned! This year we’re going to Spain and Portugal for three weeks. You’ve inspired me to try traveling with just a carryon. We’ll see how that works out!

    I’ve found that when you buy your tickets with miles the best options are 330 days out. That strategy assumes you know where you want to go almost a year in advance but also gives you more time to plan, which for me, is half the fun.

  16. Chris
    January 25, 2016 / 8:22 am

    We’re planning a July trip to London with some side trips out in the countryside. Do any of you have a London hotel recommendation that’s convenient and affordable. I’ll build my wardrobe around Eileen Fisher essentials, thanks to your excellent posts!


    • Kelly
      January 25, 2016 / 12:05 pm

      We like to rent an apartment (I love having a refrigerator and washing machine!) and used Ivy Lettings to find a place for our January stay in London. We had a very cute apartment in Pimlico (5 minute walk from the Tube station) and it was a great price!

    • Val
      January 25, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      I love The Penn Club which is very close to the British Museum and central to several tube stations. (Easy ride to Russel Sq station from Heathrow, even with a check-in sized bag) It’s a Quaker hotel (you needn’t be Quaker) with amazing ambience and a reasonable prices. And I always meet the most interesting people there. I discovered it when my daughter was living in London, and have been back several times. I wouldn’t stay anywhere else in London.

      • Pamela
        January 27, 2016 / 3:47 am

        Thank you Val for your recommendation of the Penn Club in London. Sounds wonderful. Will remember it for our next visit there. We prefer to stay in places with character rather than cookie cutter hotels with no sense of place. Best wishes, Pamela

    • Melissa
      January 28, 2016 / 2:15 am

      Hi Chris,

      If you plan on doing any theatre, you can also book theatre and hotel in one package and find some deals.

      I used them once for London to see Phantom of the Opera, I loved it so much that when I met my husband I went back with him through a deal also. He loved it the whole long weekend in fact, so much so he was hoping the company I worked with could move us there, hahaha.
      I need to recommend that show, it has everything, romance, fighting, scary, fun, it is everything in one, perhaps a reason it has been running so long. Anyway, just try to book near the front and center, pay the extra bit, it is worth it. (I won’t tell you why it would spoil the fun)

      Good luck.

  17. January 25, 2016 / 8:24 am

    Those look like great trips! Bravo about skiing. We haven’t done it in years. Your travel essentials are spot-on perfect. It looks like most came out of my wardrobe. I’ll pop over to shop the few that aren’t. Have a great day Susan.

  18. Sandra
    January 25, 2016 / 9:23 am

    The amazing thing about France is that anytime is a great time to visit! We’re off to France, too, in April for 6 weeks: 3 weeks in Paris, 2 weeks in the countryside (probably Annecy, Lyon, the Drome and the Auvergne) with a side trip to Budapest and Vienna. We recently relocated from NY to Chicago and are so enjoying this city that we decided not to leave for the winter!

    One strategy that we’ve used over the years with our FF miles is to fly into a nearby country to France then take the train to Paris. It’s easier to find seats to Brussels or Geneva. Also, if you have patience, check back nightly at midnight, that’s when seats are released for people who were holding FF seats and have not finalized their reservations.

  19. PresDuLac
    January 25, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Great trips! Isn’t planning half of the fun? I love all of your travel/packing tips and fashion inspiration.
    I’ll be solo in Paris for 2 weeks this spring but will forego my fall trip this year and instead take Amtrak from Chicago to New Orleans in December (we have a bedroom on the train). We want to see the city decked out for Christmas and go to a traditional Reveillon dinner, then we’ll head out on a 5 day cruise and take the train back. There are always a few, if not more, trips to Chicago from West Michigan via Amtrak.

  20. Kathleen
    January 25, 2016 / 10:41 am

    Since I retired, I can’t stay put! My friends say they have to make an appointment to see me since I’m never here. We are doing New Zealand this year, as well as some closer-to-home trips such as Yellowstone and New York City. The French family is coming here to visit this year, so no European trip for us. I highly recommend retirement.

  21. January 25, 2016 / 11:08 am

    How terribly exciting!! What a lovely destinations. I hope you will have so much pleasure, you deserve it.
    Amsterdam is not in your travel… oh well, that was to be expected haha.

  22. January 25, 2016 / 11:38 am

    Hi Susan, so glad to see that Normandy is still included in your plans for this year! I’m looking forward to welcoming you both here and showing you around

  23. Maryann
    January 25, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    Your plans sound wonderful. I am going to Italy and doing a tour of Eastern Europe with a few day in Paris and London in May & June. In December I am going to Germany for the Christmas markets. For local travel I plan to visiting my sister in Hobart.

    • Mairead
      January 26, 2016 / 4:52 am

      I went to Germany for the Christmas markets a few years ago and it was the best trip i ever took. Absolutely beautiful! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did….

  24. January 25, 2016 / 4:18 pm

    You are blessed to be able to travel so much …but I always look forward to experiencing your trip with you! Of course, I look forward to your Room with a View!

  25. Katie
    January 25, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    With retirement came a month long international trip a year > Italy, France, Turkey, Greece. Last year we rented an apartment in Covent Garden, London for a week and then spent three weeks in Ireland. This year we will continue on the Celtic path; – renting that same London apartment and then traveling through Scotland via scenic trains, ferries and a gondola before plopping ourselves in York. Here in the Pacific NW the landscapes are varied, and we regularly spend time on the Oregon coast, in the San Juan islands, the Olympic &/or Cascade mountains, and down in Portland. “As you age, live life to the fullest. Travel to exotic places, eat good food, walk in the park, read lots of books, and under no circumstances eat egg-white omelets.” —Nora Ephron

  26. January 25, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    I think you will love Japan! It was amazing. This year I have a meeting at Lake Maggiore, and I always tie that trip to a vacation, I’m thinking Scotland. I’m also probably going to Vienna, for work. I may try to fit in a quick trip to Salzburg. I put my Flickr address in the log in, my pictures of Japan are there.

  27. Jill Ann
    January 25, 2016 / 6:25 pm

    What a lot of lovely trips everyone has planned! I have a few myself coming up…going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (attending my first-ever ball!), then to Nashville, tagging along on my hubs’ business trip. Probably our last spring break as a family, to San Francisco & Sonoma (oldest child is graduating college & going on to grad school, will not have the same break as younger child next year ). Then tentatively another business/pleasure trip in May, to London and maybe Portugal, where I’ve never been. And a quick trip to Detroit to visit friends and family!

    After last year’s 2 week European trip, much of it by train, I decided I needed a new, more functional suitcase. I can’t do carryon for two weeks, especially in cold weather! But wanted a bigger bag that I could still wheel down the aisle of a train without too much struggle. Got a Briggs & Riley medium sized expandable spinner, will see if that does the trick!

    Aren’t we all lucky to be able to do this? I’m recognizing that this particular post is really pretty 1%-ish…..

    • Melissa
      January 28, 2016 / 2:51 am

      Hi Jill Ann,

      Portugal is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! The food is wonderful, so fresh fish, amazing, the tile work, the buildings, the music, the fish market, the cinnamon cookies.
      I am not sure about the resort or beach areas, I have only been to Lisbon, but if you go there forget and I mean forget anything pretty for shoe wear. I had my most comfortable boots with me, no heel, and I was crying almost nightly, bought another pair, still didn’t help.
      I have walked all over Europe and I tell ya the cobblestone streets there make Rome look like a princess walk. Sneakers very cushiony good support or hiking shoes, many of the cobble stones are also missing so be very very careful when walking and it is a city full of hills (like mountains). Also, be careful if you get on the tram, even when you are with a man the thieves will find a way to separate you both and steal from you, this is also warned on many sites, even the locals will warn you before you get on the tram.
      But oh my what a beautiful city, I would go back in a heartbeat but with some kind of ortho cushion shoes….

  28. Jill Ann
    January 25, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    Btw I borrowed packing cubes from a friend for the Europe trip last fall, as I wasn’t sure I’d like them. They worked so well I bought a set. Also ordered the Emme bag, as my hang-up toiletry bag wasn’t working as well as I had hoped. Will be trying that out on the next trip.

  29. January 25, 2016 / 6:30 pm

    Hi Sue,

    Very long-time daily reader of your blog—I love it!—first time commenter. Like Martina, I think you will love Japan. I’m from the states but moved here to Tokyo four months ago and will be here two years for my husband’s job. I had been here as a tourist in 1987, so I expected to like it, but didn’t expect to love it so much! There is everything in the world in Tokyo.

    We spent five days over Christmas in Kyoto, traveling with our two small dogs, and it was wonderful. So beautiful, even in December. The fall should be glorious—September, October and November were beautiful here. Summer is stiflingly hot so avoiding that time of year is a good plan.

    ALL of your travel plans sound fabulous but I had to chime in on your trip to Japan! And I do really love your blog!

  30. January 25, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    Wow, what a lucky bunch we are here, in the community of readers you’ve built around your lovely blog! As you know, I’m in Rome right now visiting my daughter, and I’ll be back here in the fall with my husband for a longer stay. Really hoping to include a week or so in France then (after all these years of annual visits, it would feel odd not to get there) and to see more of Italy. Japan is on my list as well, but Paul’s already been (for work), so I don’t know when it will move up to the top — meanwhile, I’ll be happily following your trip. What an exciting year you two have planned! (I’m sorry to hear about your jeune homme missing the ski trip — I do remember how much he used to enjoy it. At least, you have solid care for him while you’re away, and you two get a chance to really refresh).

  31. Susan
    January 26, 2016 / 1:25 am

    Local trips, off to Sydney in April for the Opera on Sydney Harbour. Hubby and I will drive over to Melbourne for a few days. Hopefully, a trip to visit my sister in New Hampshire later this year, if I can organize some respite care for my 88 year old mother who lives alone and needs a fair bit of help – namely, me. I would dearly love to visit Jerusalem again, but I do worry a bit about the security as things have changed since my last trip there in 1978 when I lived on a kibbutz for a while. I have plenty of frequent flier points, but QANTAS seats are very, very limited, especially for business class (I cannot handle 13 – 14 hours in an economy seat. Enough of my moaning – do have a wonderful time with your travels.

  32. Kellee
    January 26, 2016 / 5:37 am

    What a wonderful year ahead for you! We are going to Europe this summer (great deal with our Delta pts! 60K roundtrip on Virgin Atlantic to LHR). So, London, Berlin (my FAV!!), Prague and Budapest. A trip to San Diego to see my niece graduate and a trip to Texas to visit my daughter. Hoping to cram in a trip to Ecuador this year, but my husband is not so keen on more $$$ on travel.

    Have a great time all of you on all your adventures!

  33. January 27, 2016 / 2:09 am

    Back to Indianapolis to visit friends, plus some other US town, depending on flight deals available.
    Munich for the marathon in October, Luxembourg for the half marathon in May. Maybe a daytrip to Paris? Early summer vacation at the Belgium coast?

  34. Melissa
    January 28, 2016 / 3:16 am

    Wow ladies, and I thought I was lucky! Sounds great all these travels. I keep mine to Europe since I now live here is very cheap to travel locally. (I have a relationship with Ryan air….)
    Here goes my travels booked thus far:
    Santorini Greece 2 weeks in May
    Andalusia Spain 6 days Sevilla, 10 days Benalmádena area in July
    Maybe Corfu in September 1 week

    I go sunny places, living in the Northeast almost all my life and now in NL, I need the sun and the ocean.

    My tip I travel carry on only and then my carry on becomes check in on the way home cause I pack a folding bag that becomes my carry on for on the way home. (hey a girl has gotta travel light so on the way home she has space for her shopping….)
    All though freaking Ryan Air while finally allowing a purse of certain size plus carry on they now have some priority crap and if you don’t pay for that your carry on becomes check in. They are cheap but they are really rotten, is like a cattle shoot, but a girl has gotta do what she has gotta do to see the world.

    oh that comment, “I see London I see France,” reminded me if you are out at night in London you will for sure see some underpants, unfortunately they don’t cover much.
    What has become of the youth now a days. I had a very nice looking man just watching me once in London, smiling, I think he was so happy just to see a lady covered up a bit, like my skirt went at least half way to the knee, it must have shocked him.
    Anywho enough of my rant, it triggered a crazy memory….

    Enjoy your trips Susan and yep love travel posts:)

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