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Isn’t it time to do something just for you? How long have you been saying you want to go to Italy?

Come let us spoil you on our week long, all-inclusive foodie tour in Tuscany. Meet are amazing producers, enjoy rare and authentic experiences, get your hands in the dough with our cooking lessons, feel connected with others and find yourself again.

Flash Sale – $800 off our all-inclusive, super yummy small group tour to Tuscany. Take advantage of our two last minute cancellations and book now. September 21-28, 2018.

Contact us for details and availability: andi@onceinalifetimetravel.com

We have teamed up with Olivelle to offer you a truely once in a lifetime Italian food tour. Our small-group, fully escorted week-long experience is a collection of exclusive out-of-the ordinary excursions and experiences, designed for those who want to immerse in the real culture and traditions of Tuscany. This itinerary is a custom designed package with beautiful activities and excursions planned, but also with enough flexibility to allow us spontaneity and relaxation. We will guide you through a unique journey and culinary adventure, meeting passionate locals who will introduce you to the most genuine Italian experience. Our small group consists of no more than 12 guests, ensuring privacy and intimacy, with all guided tours, excursions, and activities included, as well as all meals, transfers, transportation and accommodations throughout the trip.

Day 1: The Experience begins! Arrival in Chianti, Relax and Bread Making Culinary Workshop
Benvenuti in Chianti! We will pick you up in Florence and we will head to the beautiful Chianti region, checking in at your beautiful farmhouse. Here, you will meet your hosts and you will get familiar to your new home for the week, with time for relaxation and to enjoy the magic beauty of our land.

Starting from the late afternoon we will start a delicious and fun bread making culinary workshop with Beppe at your villa, learning the magic art of making delicious bread, focaccia and pizza. Beppe “Il Panaio” is our trusted baker and bread expert; together with him, you will first learn about the different kind of flours and the characteristics of the ancient grains. You will then enjoy a bread making demonstration, where you will get to see how delicious bread, pizza and focaccia are made. A welcome culinary feast served at the farmhouse will complete the course.

Day 2: Wood workshop + Chianti Classico Winery + Janet and Stefano’s Olive Oil Experience

Our day will begin with a visit to a fascinating wood-turning workshop. Here, you will meet a “modern day Geppetto” named Giorgio, a local artisan who set up a beautiful shop in the Chianti to custom make his unique creations using local olive wood as his medium. Bowls, boards, small objects, and everything and anything that Giorgio can dream up will be brought to life through his skillful demonstration as he shows us his mastery of various machines and materials.

Afterwards, we will amble onto one of the most historic wineries in the Chianti Classico area. A private tour of this stunning Estate and wine tasting will be followed by a delightful and delicious lunch on the property.

After lunch, we will have time for a well-deserved “siesta” time and relaxation at home.
From the late afternoon, we will visit a unique olive farm run by Janet & Stefano, a wonderful couple who has been always committed at producing and sharing the culture about excellent extra virgin olive oil. You will first receive an interesting explanation about olive oil production, learning many curiosities about this fundamental element in Tuscan and Italian cuisine. You will then move into their kitchen, experiencing an unforgettable dinner experience focused on the culture of the olive oil and on the importance of gathering and cooking together. Being at Janet and Stefano’s table is like entering another world: they will let you live a unique culinary experience, sharing their deep knowledge about ancient Tuscan traditions, recipes, and legends.

Day 3: Cashmere and “Under the Tuscan Sun” Lunch Experience + Siena

Our day will begin with a visit to a unique Cashmere goat farm in Chianti, where you will learn everything you wanted to know about cashmere but did not know enough to ask! The habits of cashmere goats, their names, how they are raised, how their lovely fiber it is harvested and how it is processed into a finished garment. For those who love animals and incredibly soft and pure cashmere, this is going to be an amazing experience. We will have a guided tour of the farm, followed by a perfect “Under the Tuscan Sun” light lunch experience.

After lunch we will head to the stunning town of Siena, enjoying a real espresso in the stunning Piazza del Campo and tasting the “Senesi” delicious traditional sweets of this town, we will also have the possibility to admire the majestic beauty of the Duomo and to learn interesting stories about the famous Palio, a charming tradition from Siena that goes back to the Middle Ages. As an alternative option, we will be able to admire the stunning beauty of the Medieval fortified village of Monteriggioni. Dinner at the farmhouse with Tuscan specialties.

Day 4: Discover San Gimignano + Vernaccia di San Gimignano + Silversmith Workshop

We will begin our day visiting a boutique wine producer of organic Vernaccia di San Gimignano (the most famous Tuscan white wine with DOCG certification). Here, we will enjoy a guided tour of the farm and homemade light lunch in a characteristic Tuscan peasant museum of art and traditions. On our way to the winery, we will briefly stop for a morning walk and a coffee in the lovely village of San Donato in Poggio, a hidden gem of incredible beauty. After lunch, you will enjoy a relaxing walk in the medieval village of San Gimignano which is famous for its multiple medieval towers. After we arrive, you can drift off with plenty of free time to enjoy the traditional shops and taste the “best ice-cream in the world”. We will also visit an interesting silver workshop there, where Matteo, a young and talented silversmith, will show us how he can transform shapeless silver in marvelous objects. Late afternoon: time for relaxation at home. Dinner at a local trattoria nearby.

Day 5: Culinary Course with Chef Veronica + Discover Terracotta from Impruneta + Polenta Party

We will experience a unique cooking course with Chef Veronica, a talented and passionate Tuscan chef who offers unique culinary experiences in her charming culinary studio in Impruneta. During the cooking course, you will be guided through the preparation of the entire meal, from antipasto to dolce, in a magical atmosphere where every detail is carefully studied and thought. At the end of the culinary course, guests will receive a beautiful bread warmer in terracotta, the traditional pottery from this unique village.

After lunch, we will visit a fascinating terracotta workshop in Impruneta, seeing how artisans shape beautiful jars and pots. Terracotta (Terra = clay, Cotta = baked, burnt) from Impruneta is now famous worldwide, and it is an ancient tradition that belongs to this village from the Middle Ages. Dinner at the farmhouse with polenta party.

Day 6: Professional Extra Virgin Olive Experience + Goat Cheese Farm

Our journey will begin with a relaxing walk in a picturesque village in Chianti, learning about the history and origin of this land. We will then visit an artisanal oil mill, where you will discover all the secrets about high quality extra virgin olive oil. A personalized tour of the oil mill will be followed by a professionally certified extra virgin olive oil tasting. Not only will you be tasting some of the most highly rated olive oils in the world, you will also learn about the best uses and food pairings that showcase each and every ingredient.

After lunch, we will visit an organic goat farm and cheese producer. We will meet the owner and his staff of adorable goats who will tour us through their organic farm. Our generous host will demonstrate and share the wisdom (and humor) of organic production as we taste freshly made goat cheese and watch the baby goats play hide and seek with one another.

We will enjoy dinner in a gourmet restaurant nearby, a real taste experience.

Day 7: Truffle Experience + Florentine Steak night

Our last journey will begin with a unique truffle hunting in the forest with trained dogs and with an experienced local truffle hunter, who will tell you interesting legends and curiosities about this precious gift of the nature. The experience will start in the fields and will end up in their kitchen, understanding all the secrets and best culinary recipes with fresh white truffles, from antipasto to dolce. At the end of the truffle experience, you will even receive a certificate as real “Truffle Ambassador.”

Afternoon: time for relaxation at home, with free time to enjoy the peaceful and charming beauty of the surrounding landscape.

We will have our last celebratory culinary feast with strictly Tuscan dinner experience, trying the real and famous Florentine Steak, a must-try of the Tuscan cuisine and lots of other Tuscan specialties.

Buon appetito!

Day 8: Departure to your next destination, a presto and cheers to a wonderful time together!

Call or write us today for more info and availability.

406.570.9393

andi@onceinalifetimetravel.com

The post Flash Sale for Tuscany Food Tour September 21 through 28 appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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This month we are launching our new Italian themed subscription boxes called Andiamo (meaning: let’s go) and we couldn’t be more excited to share this with everyone! Our passion is to keep everyone dreaming of Italy, and these boxes are a great compliment to times when travel isn’t possible. Life gets complicated and travel plans are often put on hold but our dreams don’t need to be.

I started my custom travel planning company, Once in a Lifetime Travel, in 2006 to help others discover the joy of Italy. In 2015 I launched my small group tours for women (and I’ve never laughed harder in my life). My dream for the future? To help girls travel who might never have had the chance.

But what to do when one can’t hop on a plane?

How could I help bring Italy home?

Andiamo was born because Italy is more than just the physical trip. Italy is the experiences, the people, and the way all of our senses are captivated. It is that feeling of community, the slower pace and the quiet enjoyment of the little things.

Andiamo brings Italy home through Italian themed box items but also through our online community and interactive videos. You get to meet me, get to know my producers and artists, and connect with other Italiophiles.

No plane ticket required.

There are three subscription choices, something for everyone and the boxes are delivered every other month. This month our theme is In the Kitchen and orders are being taken through the end of June. Come visit our site here.

Andiamo!

The post The Andiamo Story | A girl, a Dream, and an Italian Obsession appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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A few months ago I came across an article cautioning travelers to stay away from several iconic locations in Italy this year. The double edge sword of travel. A place that stirs your soul can’t stay a hidden gem indefinitely. What do you do when the balance is lost. The very reasons you treasured a location becomes threatened by the crowds that have felt the pull as well.

The Cinque Terre is one of those places for me. My first visit, I rolled into town with a back pack and simply asked around until I found a place to stay. I watched the World Cup on a giant TV the locals had pulled out into the street. As the years have passed, I’ve brought my family, my friends, my clients and my children here.

Recent years have brought someone else. The cruise boats with their crushing crowds.

Should travelers avoid the Cinque Terre

Do you skip the Cinque Terre this year as the article suggested? Or do you find another way?

I hate being a quitter. Instead a focus on work-arounds for my clients. Getting to enjoy an area while finding options to reduce the negative aspects of the crowds through timing, alternative routes and locations.

I would like to introduce another option, a little town called Levanto that is up the coast and only minutes from the Cinque Terre. Close enough yet just far enough too. Who better to show you why we should not give up on the Cinque Terre than someone who is living their dream.

Please welcome Paula and Villa Valentina from Levanto.

There’s no doubt about it, the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) located directly on the Mediterranean Sea in northeast Italy are a gem.  This area was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997 and designation as a protected marine area and a parco nazionale (national park) soon followed.

The Cinque Terre villages are on the bucket list of most every traveler “in the know” making their way to Italy.  Word of mouth and social media (in particular, Instagram) have made the area boom in popularity.  And there’s no denying why… the photogenic pastel-colored villages clinging to the cliffs above the transparent Mediterranean Sea, not to mention the terraced vineyards perched on crumbling cliffs, are a spectacular sight to behold.

Unfortunately, fame is a double-edged sword.  What were once quiet streets now fill during the day with groups of tourists doing their best to keep up with the fast clip of their flag-waving guides.  Local town halls in the Cinque Terre have come to the realization that this sort of mass tourism is doing no favors for our area and have begun to enact measures to encourage slow-paced, sustainable tourism (and discourage large, guided groups on whirlwind day trips).  On a positive note, with minimal effort and a little help from us, your itinerary can be adjusted in order to discover the true essence and beauty of the Cinque Terre… well away from the crowds.

My story is like one of many here in the Cinque Terre. I’m an American expat that was swept off her feet 22 years ago by a handsome and charming local while I was on vacation here. Just one year after we met, I gave up my executive life in San Francisco and moved to the small fishing village of Monterosso in the Cinque Terre— never say never! I began my new life with my husband Angelo, a fisherman in a never-ending line of fishermen from Monterosso (going back at least 10 generations). For the past 21 years I’ve immersed myself in everything Cinque Terre, working in different aspects of the hospitality industry while raising our daughter, Valentina. Angelo and I have witnessed firsthand the growth, and change, of tourism in our beloved Cinque Terre.

Villa Valentina, Levanto

In 2014 we decided to take a leap and create something unique to the area by opening our very own luxury boutique hotel, called Villa Valentina, located in nearby Levanto. With its beautiful beaches, flat terrain and relaxed atmosphere, Levanto has the best of both worlds: the old-world charm and authenticity of a small Italian town, super close proximity to the Cinque Terre (it’s just four minutes by train from Monterosso, making it easy to hop over in the day or evening), and an oasis of tranquillity well away from the crowds and tour groups.

With Villa Valentina, Angelo and I combined the best of both of our heritages: my American attention to detail and the finer things in life and his warm, rustic and oh-so-Italian conviviality—simply put, all the 5-star comforts with the charm of Italian hospitality.

At Villa Valentina, it’s all about the details.  Every single detail of our hospitality and accommodation has been pondered and carefully chosen: from the comfiest of beds (seriously!), luxury linens and down pillows to our soon-to-be-famous locally sourced gourmet-style breakfast.

At Villa Valentina, no detail is ever too small.  We pride ourselves on offering amenities that will make you feel like you’re staying in a home away from home. Our consistent #1 rating on TripAdvisor is something we are very proud of.

When you stay with us at Villa Valentina, we want you to feel like you are visiting friends or family in Italy.  We are so fortunate to live here and we LOVE sharing our villa and area with others.

We go out of our way to ensure that you experience only the best of our area, from the Cinque Terre and beyond.  We lend our bicycles so you can explore not only Levanto like a local, but also the charming neighboring villages of Bonassola and Framura.  We have created a detailed Insider Guide (PDF file) for our guests so they can best organize their time with us, even before they arrive.  We team with likeminded locals (like Amy at Cinque Terre Insider) to get our guests off the beaten path and fully immersed in this glorious landscape— together we will help you experience the Cinque Terre as a local would.

Our hospitality doesn’t stop at the gate of our villa grounds: Angelo himself takes our guests on VIP boat tours (an exclusive offering for Villa Valentina guests) of the lesser known, unspoilt areas of our breathtaking coastline.  In our opinion, you haven’t fully experienced our area until you’ve seen it by sea. Who better to take you than Angelo, a 10th generation fisherman, who knows these waters like the back of his hand?  The sea is Angelo’s passion and his home away from home and he loves nothing more than sharing it with our guests.  If you’re wanting to experience our area through the eyes and perspective of a local, this is a great way to do it.

The moral of the story?  Don’t be put off by potential crowds in the Cinque Terre; with a little effort and a hand from us you can get away from the bustle and into your own slice of Italian paradise. For those wanting to discover the Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera, Villa Valentina is the perfect and premier choice in which to base your stay.  Vi aspettiamo! 

Pop by to say ciao to Villa Valentina on Facebook or Instagram. A presto!

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2018

The post Dreamy Travel in Levanto at Villa Valentina near Cinque Terre appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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Ciao tutti! It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. Don’t worry, things are going great. Incredible even. Think dreams coming true, as in I’m having trouble sleeping at night. I have never felt more inspired, more energized and ready to take on the world.

So I wanted to thank everyone. My cheerleaders, my amazing clients who often become friends, my family and my friend families.

I also want to share all this energy that I’ve got oozing out of me. I want to send out my encouragement, push you along no matter where you are at in your dreams. Travel dreams, business dreams, family dreams.

Today, a client of mine responded to a story I send out via email and I read my own words again like I was seeing them for the first time. I wanted to share this with you.

Here’s to life; crazy, wild, unexpected and beautifully messy.

Are you feeling a little more comfy with your dreams? You two should be starting to feel like good friends instead of distant acquaintances.

I want to share a personal story about my daughter.

She is a freshman in high school this year (how did that happen). When she was little we traveled everywhere together, of course it was easier then because it was just the two of us. I took her to Italy for extended trips when she was two and four. I had lots of people, friends even, tell me I was stupid and wasting my money. She’d never remember. It’s impossible to do alone.

I hate being told I can’t.

So we did.

Fast forward to a recent Facebook LIVE session where she was asked about her travel memories.

I don’t really remember traveling, not anything specific. But sometimes there is a smell or a taste, like when mom cooks her pasta, and all these feelings rush through me. I always want to see new things and explore. I love adventure and I know I can do things on my own.

(I love being right)

Travel is crucial for all of us. Travel is not frivolous. We need to be open-minded, conscious, curious explorers. We all need to experience the world around us, whether is in the next town or the next country. Travel is the key to strength, courage and compassion.

A presto,

Andi

The post Travel Inspires Conscious and Curious Explorers appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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Still struggling to find the perfect flight to Italy or another location in Europe? We now offer bundled booking options to Italy and beyond that just might save you a chunk of change.  Call 406-570-9393 or email andi@onceinalifetimetravel.com for a quote.

Airline tickets.  Hands down the most agonizing, frustrating and stress inducing piece of planning a trip to Italy.  I wish I could lay out a specific formula that would guarantee the best rates for the perfect dates.  Sadly, nothing like this exists.  Not even close.  What I can offer are my go to sites, some proven and researched facts, how to balance cost versus risk, and my two cents.  This is a long post, stick with it to the end.  I’ve got a strategy that can save you hundreds.

First, don’t become obsessed with finding the absolute cheapest fare.

Your goal is to find a balance between a good price and optimal travel dates.  It will do no good waiting endlessly for a fare price reduction as your favorite hotels book up their best and cheapest rooms.  I would rather pay a few hundred dollars more for my plane ticket knowing that I was able to get into my first choice accommodation and build an itinerary that I want.  Time is also money.  The perfect itinerary is priceless.

How and Where to Search for Flights to Europe

When I have my approximate dates I start by first doing a general search on a big site.  My favorites are Skyscanner and Kayak. This gives me an idea of what is out there and what airlines are players.  Then I go directly to the airlines’ websites to compare prices but even more importantly compare length of flights and layovers.  On my most recent search, I found a great price on my ideal dates….with a 34 hour return flight.  No thanks.  But when I went to the carrier’s direct site I found more options for approximately the same price.  Another reason I like to buy direct from the carrier is the assistance that can be given for any issues that come up with missed flights or travel trouble.  I have experienced the unfortunate frustration of trying to get help from a big search site with zero results.

Details to Keep in Mind for Flights

Connections.  Those on the East Coast can board their planes with ease and enjoy direct flights to most locations.  I will try to contain my jealousy.  The rest of us have to worry about connections, and if you are like me and live in a rural area connections become a REALLY big deal.  The key here is timing and location.  Don’t be tempted by the siren’s call of a brief layover.  That 45 minutes will cost you an entire travel day if missed.  I make sure I have at least 90 minutes at my layovers.  More if possible when flying into Heathrow in London where you also have to go through customs.  My priority is getting to Europe as soon as I can.  Delays within the States can cost me my flight across the ocean and the loss of a full day because those are more infrequent, whereas a delay in Europe isn’t the end of the world.

Cookies.  Be conscious of your searches.  Don’t think the industry isn’t above making a little more money on your specific needs.  I have witnessed first hand ‘sudden’ increases in prices on the same flights on repeat searches.  Erase your cookies or use a different source when you are ready to purchase.

When to Book your Flight

Most of the experts report that tickets to Europe should be purchased between 5-10 months before departure.  I personally like to book 8-10 months ahead.  Regardless of HOW far ahead you book, there are certain times of the week you should purchase.  Research shows Tuesday and Wednesday as the best days to buy.  I like Tuesdays.  Insiders claim that in addition to this, you should avoid the first few days, the very middle days and the last days of the month.  When looking at WHICH days of travel, try to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Be mindful of holidays in both countries.

My Secret Tactic to Save Money on Flights

Our exciting update with this trick, we now have access to the below bundling saving trick.  Call us at 406-570-9393 directly or email us for a quote, I have personally tested this out and the savings is real. My clients have enjoyed the best prices available anywhere.

Another good trick is so simple that I initially thought there must be a catch. Get on the phone with a real live, flesh and blood representative at a major company like Expedia or Travelocity and now at  Once in a Lifetime Travel.  Imagine that.  Talk to a person. Give them your dates and ask if there is any savings if you combine a hotel or rental car.  If you know the hotel you want to stay in have the name handy and see if they can book you there.  Get ready to watch the prices melt.

If your ideal hotel is not an option or isn’t giving you much savings don’t worry.  Ask them what is the bare bottom best price.  Crazy as it may sound, you don’t have to stay in the hotel with the best combo deal. Verify with the agent, but generally you are not committed to the accommodation or the rental car.  This seems silly, but you may save money by booking a hotel you will never set foot in.  For example, a client and her family booked a package with flights and hotels (which were horribly located) saving a few hundred dollars per person than if she had booked online or through the airlines directly.  I helped get her a great central hotel and everyone is happy.

Reward Travel for Flights

For anyone trying to use their reward points and miles, good luck.  All airlines have black out dates and limited seats on each flight.  I have heard that booking a year out is the best way to get the dates you want to fly.  I have found a wonderful resource called Book My Award where all they deal with is rewards travel.  They work nothing short of miracles here.

Set Up Travel Alerts for Flights You are Interested In

Every website has the ability to sign up for travel alerts.  I have several and I receive email notices when the fare drops or a special is posted.  I find this is a handy way to keep track of any price trends.

Good luck, take a deep breath and let me know what works for you!

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2018

The post Finding the best flight to Italy | or Anywhere in Europe appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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Real ID Act

Half of the states and territories in the US will require a passport for domestic travel. This is called the Real ID Act and states were given until January 22, 2018 to comply. That’s right. Your driver’s license may not be good enough any more for a quick trip to Vegas. These states (mine included) do not issue compliant state identification and were given the above extension to get their act together. At this writing, things are a bit up in the air and unclear.

People have been advised to secure their passports in the event the Real ID Act is followed to the letter. Of course, this is easier said than done. Unlike a state ID or driver’s license, a passport costs a pretty penny. 11000 of them in fact. Our family is going one passport at a time, and this will end up costing us $550.

This act does bring about a few questions. How can this be imposed broadly on the public when there is a high financial cost for each citizen. Domestic travel is an entirely different issue than international escapades. While no one was particularly excited about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that was put into action in 2008, this effected a much smaller population of Americans. Remember, that’s when everyone needed a passport to visit places like Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas and college kids couldn’t jump across the border to drink and go dancing as easily.

Not everyone can afford $110. I can only imagine how many families will be grounded due to financial burden. What happens then, when there is a emergency out of state.

The below states are current and on the naughty list as of this publishing.

States that may need a passport for domestic travel

Arkansas

Arizona

Colorado

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Louisiana

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

North Dakota

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Tennessee

Virginia

Washington

Maine

Utah

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2018

The post The Real ID Act | Is Your State Compliant appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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We’ve updated our information for 2018 to give you everything you need to know for getting passport ready for Italy. There are loads of changes, so buckle up as we help you get passport ready for Italy.

Still have more questions? Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help make your dreams come true.

Passport Requirements for Italy

You will need only your passport to enter most European countries, although some countries (especially outside of Western Europe) will require you to have a visa, as well. There are rumors that the EU will require visas for American travelers in the future, but at this time there is nothing in the works.

Best Time to Apply for an American Passport

Well, honestly…NOW. This year is going to be a crazy one and the State Department is predicting about 20 million renewals. There are two reasons for this.

Half of the states and territories in the US will require a passport for domestic travel. This is called the Real ID Act and states were given until January 22, 2018 to comply. That’s right. Your driver’s license may not be good enough any more for a quick trip to Vegas. These states (mine included) do not issue compliant state identification and were given the above extension to get their act together. At this writing, things are a bit up in the air and unclear. Click HERE to see if your state is on the naughty list.

Secondly, there were a record number of passports issued in 2006-2007 in response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative put into action in 2008. That’s when everyone needed a passport to visit places like Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas (which is an embarrassing story I may never share with any of my followers). Guess when these are all set to expire. Yep. This year.

Timelines have changed and instead of needing 4-6 weeks for your passport, you should anticipate 6-8. November is the best month to apply (actually from Oct-Dec you will do well). For those that missed the window, make sure you take care of things before March. This is the absolute, hands-down worst month to apply.

You can expedite your passport for an extra fee and get yours back to you in about 2 weeks. Form and details HERE.

United States Passport Fees

Passport Books, required for international travel, are $110.

Passport Cards, for domestic use only, are $30.

Save yourself some trouble and just get both for $140

Expediting is usually an additional $60

The 6-month Rule

Your passport must be valid for six months AFTER you return home. This is no longer a should do but a must. Record numbers of travelers were refused entry back into the states that didn’t follow this rule. Unfortunately, you can leave the country without a problem but getting back in becomes a bugger. That’s no way to end a vacation of a lifetime.

How to Apply for Your Passport for the First Time

All first time passport applications are only accepted in person, you can not apply on-line or via mail. You will need to bring valid proof of identity if two forms and and they are strict about this.

You must submit one of the following. Your evidence must be an original or certified copy. Photocopies and notarized copies are not acceptable.

  • Fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired)
  • U.S. birth certificate that meets the following requirements:
    • Issued by the city, county, or state of birth
    • Lists your full name, date of birth, and place of birth
    • Lists your parent(s)’ full names
    • Has the date filed with registrar’s office (must be within one year of birth)
    • Has the registrar’s signature
    • Has the seal of the issuing authority
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship

You must also present one of the following identification documents.

  • In-state, fully-valid driver’s license
  • Fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired)
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state or federal)
  • U.S. military ID or military dependent ID
  • Valid foreign passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular Identification, commonly used by the parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant)

They will also require the ever attractive passport photo. These can be done at some application offices but I always bring mine with me and ready to go.  Photos can be taken at AAA offices, most drug stores and large warehouse stores. The photo requirements are strict and if not followed can result in a delay in processing. See the guidelines below and consider yourself warned.

  • Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
  • Size of photo
    • 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
    • Size of head must be between 1 -1 3/8 inches (25 – 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
  • Recent, taken in the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • No glasses
    • If you cannot remove your glasses for medical reasons, please include a signed note from your doctor with your application.
  • Background must be plain white or off-white
  • Head must be directly facing the camera with your full face in view
  • Taken with a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • In color
  • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
  • No hats or head coverings, unless you wear it daily for religious purposes. Your full face must be visible and your head covering cannot cast shadows on your face.
  • No headphones or wireless hands-free devices.

Renewing your Passport or Making a Name Change

For simple renewals or name changes that do not need to be expedited you can send your application via mail. The link HERE will help you determine which form you need, as the documents for a simple application or renewal are much different from the ones for a name change or minor.

Passport Applications for Minors

In addition to the above requirements for a first time passport application, minors under 16 require documentation that lists the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child applying for a passport.  The following may be used to show parental relationship:

  • U.S. birth certificate (also evidence of U.S. citizenship)
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (also evidence of U.S. citizenship)
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Adoption decree
  • Divorce/Custody decree

Both parents/guardians must authorize the issuance of the child’s passport. The best way to do this is for both parents/guardians to go with the child in person to apply for the passport. For situations where one parent can’t be located or only one parent has sole custody, additional paperwork is requested. For full details on minor applications click HERE.

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2018

The post Getting Passport Ready for Italy appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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Dr. Seuss, who has shared many words of wisdom with the world, said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Books are a wonderful instrument for knowledge, perspective, and inspiration. Words penned on a page by someone with a unique experience and perspective can spark a passion in your heart and a thirst for more knowledge. Reading is often an effective channel to inspire travel. And as the new year begins and your travel goals and resolutions start to form, reading travel books can be a great way to give you that extra push in the right direction. Here are 7 of the best travel books that should make it on your reading list.

1 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

This book follows the story of a shepherd boy who courageously follows his heart to travel the world to find treasure. Somewhere along the way of his search, he discovers himself and learns valuable life lessons. It is an inspirational story that will encourage you to chase your own dreams and discover what the world has to offer.

2 The Beach by Alex Garland.

Following the story of backpackers on their search for paradise in an isolated beach, this book provokes thought and provides a unique perspective on traveling and the world.

3 World Walk by Steven Newman.

This book follows newspaper writer Steven Newman’s journey around the world on foot. His narrative of his adventures are entertaining, insightful, and inspiring.

4 Vagabonding by Rolf Potts.

Rolf Potts, an experienced vagabonder, shares his experiences and insights of spending 10 years on the road. Filled with valuable and practical information, this book will inspire your wanderlust.

5 The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman.

This entertaining account of Rachel Friedman’s journey of stepping out of her comfort zone and learning how to make the most of every moment reveals the value of travel. Her book will challenge you to step out on a limb and embrace adventure.

6 The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.

This book follows the journey of writer and NPR correspondent Eric Weiner as he travels to find the happiest places on earth. His search provides him with unique cultural interactions and experiences that provide insight and perspective.

7 Travel as Transformation by Gregory V. Diehl.

Gregory V. Diehl’s adventures in various settings around the world effectively reveal how travel can influence and affect your perception of yourself. His experiences show the transformational value of travel.

Although reading can never take the place of experience, these books can help inspire and motivate you to seek out adventures of your own and discover the knowledge and beauty this world has to offer. ~ Kalina Davis

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2018

The post 7 Best Travel Books appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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It’s that time again that calls for reflection of the past year and goal-setting for the coming one. There’s something about the start of a new year that fills people with motivation and determination to achieve growth and improvement. Unfortunately for many (including myself), typical resolutions such as exercise and healthy eating slip to the back burner once again by about January 7. Another category of goals that often gets neglected as that motivation wears off is travel. After the reality of a new year sets in, excuses run rampant and complacency sets in.

Maybe next year I’ll take that trip to Florence once I get that promotion at work.

The world is so unstable and unsafe right now. Maybe things will get better in a few years and then I’ll feel good about traveling.

The kids are still too young. We better wait to take that vacation until they can appreciate it.

Maybe these excuses sound familiar to you. The reality is that there will always be another excuse or reason not to go now. But you don’t have to let those excuses dictate your actions. With the right attitude and a little strategy, you can turn your travel dreams into a reality. Here are 6 ways to make your travel goals happen.

1. Change your perspective and attitude.

So much of the process of reaching goals has to do with your attitude and perspective. If you’re only focused on the negative aspects of achieving your goal, you’re not going to have any motivation to follow through. Instead of focusing on the reasons to not travel such as money, safety, life’s busyness, etc., focus on the reasons you should travel. Take a proactive stance, and come up with solutions to your excuses. Travel can teach you so much about the world and about yourself, and the value of that can’t be replaced by anything you can find in your own backyard.

2. Start a travel fund.

In order to make your travel goals a reality, you need to take action. Money is a big factor for many people, but the solution to this excuse is often to be proactive and set your priorities straight. When you designate a travel fund as part of your budget, it can help keep you accountable to your goals. Maybe this forces you to skip the daily Starbucks drink or eat out less, but if you make your travel dreams a priority, these small sacrifices will be worth it.

3. Make a game plan.

It’s important to have specific and measurable steps to take in order to reach your goal. Start by choosing the time you want to travel to your destination, and plan everything around that. This will help your plans feel real. Sit down and consider everything that needs to happen to get from Point A to Point B, and come up with specific and timely steps to take in order to get there.

4. Articulate your goals.

Don’t just keep your plans to yourself; share them with others. This will not only make your goals more tangible, but it will also help keep you accountable. If you tell your friend you’re planning to take a trip to Paris in May, it will motivate you more to follow through. And ask your friends to help keep you accountable by checking in with you in your planning progress.

5. Embrace and implement your plans into your daily life.

Once you have a plan, embrace it! Make your goals visible in your daily life. Set out a change jar in the kitchen as an additional travel fund. Put a travel to-do list on your refrigerator. Write down your weekly trip-planning goals in your calendar. Set a picture of your destination as the background on your phone and computer. Implementing your goals in this way as visible reminders will keep you motivated.

6. Research and prepare.

Spend time researching your destination. Learn about the history, culture, and popular tourist sites. This will help get you even more excited for your trip, and it is valuable preparation for your travel experience. In addition, if you want to ensure that you will make the most of your trip, consult an expert – like Once in a Lifetime Travel! Getting an experienced opinion will take a lot of stress and pressure off of your experience.

By following these simple and practical steps, you will be well on your way to turning your travel dreams into a reality. Now go travel, and travel fearless. ~ Kalina Davis

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2018

The post Resolutions to Help Make Your Travel Goals a Reality appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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The Christmas season in many European countries is a magical experience, as cities across the continent transform their squares into Christmas winter wonderlands. And Italy is no exception. People travel from all around the world to experience the food, art, and culture Italian Christmas markets have to offer. There are, of course, many wonderful Christmas markets in Italy, but a few locations outshine the rest. Here are the 12 best Christmas markets Italy has to offer.

1. Christmas Market in Bolzano.

Located in northern Italy and set against the Rosengarten Dolomites, this market provides the magic of an Alpine Christmas. Roasted chestnuts, handmade gifts, and local specialties are just the beginning of what this market has to offer. Additionally, this is a great destination for families, as it offers a children’s market that includes a merry-go-round, puppet theater, and miniature train. 


2. Weihnachtsmarkt Market in Florence.

This market is inspired by the traditional market located in Heidelberg, Germany. The combination of German and Italian goods and culture provides a rich and unique experience. The wooden stalls that line the streets offer delicious food and drinks, beautiful decorations, and special gifts.

Courtesy of Walks Inside Florence 3. Nativity Markets in Naples.

Nativity scenes are a big part of Christmas decorations in Italy, and this market in Naples is dedicated to handcrafted Nativity scenes of all shapes and sizes. The market also offers handcrafted wax, bronze, cork, and clay traditional and modern figurines for purchase, an opportunity for a memorable gift or souvenir.

4. Candle Market in Candelara.

This medieval town provides a noteworthy spin on the traditional Christmas market, as much of its market is inspired by candle making, the art the town was named after. During the extent of the market, candles are placed around the town, and every night, all street lights are periodically shut off, creating an enchanting atmosphere from the glow of the candlelight. The market offers a number of fun activities including candle making opportunities for children. 


5. Piazza Navona Market in Rome.

Piazza Navona is already one of the most charming squares in Rome, but the charm is increased with the addition of the magic of Christmas. Entertainment, food, and traditional Italian goods are all included in this lively square during the Christmas season.

Courtesy of Romeing 6. Christmas Market in Turin.

Christmas lights are one of the most enchanting features of the holiday season, which makes the Christmas market in Turin a smash hit, as it draws crowds for its spectacular Christmas displays created by both local and international artists. The market also offers a variety of locally and internationally made goods. It’s here you can try bicerin, a delectable drink made of espresso and hot chocolate and topped with cream.

Courtesy of Turismo Torino 7. Christmas Market in Santa Maria Maggiore of Piedmont.

If you’re looking for entertainment, look no further. Stilt-walking, bagpipes, and chainsaw carving are just a few of the features offered at this large market. In addition, unique foods, crafts, and other goods are available for purchase in the numerous stalls located in the square.

Courtesy of Lago Maggiore 8. Christmas Market in Trento.

This market has been called one of the most famous in the country, making it one you should not miss. With nativity scenes, local foods, and decorations, this market is sure to spread the Christmas spirit. The local wine is another great feature of Trento’s market.

9. Nuremberg Christmas Market in Verona.

This is another market inspired by German culture. The quaint wooden stalls offer a variety of German and local foods, decorations, and gifts. Located in the romantic city of Verona, the lights and decorations found in the market create a charming atmosphere for the Christmas season.


10. Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Market in Milan.

This Milan Christmas market is unique from others, as its Christmas celebration correlates with another special tradition, the celebration of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint. This tradition is where the phrase “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” (translating to “how beautiful, how beautiful!”) comes from, and it enriches the local Christmas celebration. Here you can enjoy a variety of art, foods, and gifts.

11. Marché Vert Noël in Aosta.

Another great location to experience an Alpine Christmas, this market offers an extensive selection of handmade goods, decorations, and accessories that will make for memorable Christmas gifts. The surrounding fir trees provide a beautiful backdrop for your Christmas shopping.

Courtesy of La Stamp 12. Campo San Polo Markets in Venice.

For more unique gifts, check out this market, which features locally made glass and lace goods from Murano and Burano. Here you can also find the well-known carnival masks that Venice has a reputation for. In addition, the market offers an ice-skating rink for its visitors to enjoy.

Courtesy of Venice Tourism

If you’re traveling to Italy during the Christmas season, take advantage of the delightful markets that are set up for the enjoyment of the holidays. And if you’re not traveling to Italy during the Christmas season, hopefully this list has inspired you to do so in the future. Buon Natale! ~ Kalina Davis.

Who we are:

Once in a Lifetime Travel is a passionately run company focused on mindful and fearless travel through authentic experiences and connections. We feature small, fully

guided group tours to Italy for women

. Our

Italian travel consultant

services feature focused itinerary reviews and detailed

Italy travel planning.

Go Travel, and Travel Fearless.

Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

©copyright 2017

The post 12 Best Christmas Markets in Italy appeared first on Italy Travel Planner | Consultant | Once In a Lifetime Travel.

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