Venues- Antigua



By Kris Costa


Antigua and its parishes are home to some of the world’s most magnificent beaches! White sand, crystal blue water, and picturesque sunsets abound on this beautiful island. But that’s not all.

Antigua has something for everyone. A popular cruise ship destination, the port city of St. John will not disappoint, as it offers brand name shopping on Market Street as well as island original creations on the streets which extend past this port street center. The bustling duty free port is known for glistening jewelry, fabulous beach attire and colorful island creations. Additionally, Antigua boasts many historical landmarks and local points of interest. A quick drive through the local parishes will quickly endear a feeling of belonging as one can see children walking from school, local businesses in action, and even a game or two of soccer amidst the islands sugar cane plantations.

Hotels are plentiful along Antigua’s gorgeous coastlines and range from quiet and personal to teeming with activity. If your choice is to spoil yourself with activity based accommodations, water sports or sailing, Antigua has it. If your whim is more in line with complete relaxation amongst beautiful flora and romantic charming moonlit dinner, Antigua has that too. Whatever your preference, Antigua’s enticing turquoise waters will beckon your every call. All is yours on this fantastic island which offers many activities in an unpretentious atmosphere. Never obtrusive, simply available to tend to your every need, Antigua’s most endearing resource is its people. Charming, accommodating, playful, polite, seeing them is like coming home. On an island where there is virtually nothing left to wish for, Antigua’s friendly people top off the most wonderful of experiences. You will arrive a stranger and leave with friends, and you will always remember their smiles.

A r t w o r k , c u l t u r e , m u s i c, entertainment, restaurants, even a casino make this island a superb choice for every vacation taste. For those of you who just cannot bear to depart this lovely island, there are still a varied amounts of land acquisition opportunities. Hmmmm, now there’s a thought.

No stranger to the pallet, Antigua local cuisine is mouthwatering. Typical local dishes include salt fish, eggplant, local lobster, a variety of vegetables, seasoned rice scalloped potatoes and plantains. Antiguan butter bread is a main staple, with its soft buttery flavor. The bread pudding is not to be missed for dessert!

There is nothing quite like an outdoor massage while the trade winds blow, and Antigua’s hotels will pamper you at your whim. At their organically appointed spas, some even constructed in Gauguin cottages on stilts and draped with crisp white curtains blowing in the breeze, Antigua spas take indulgence to a new level. Of course, Antiguans are just as happy to bring comfy tables, linens and oils to your room terrace to provide your spa service as you listen to the waves break on powdery shores.

Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, is 27 miles off Antigua’s North Coast. This coral fringed island is renowned for its tranquility, crystalline waters, deserted beaches and lobster. Easily accessible from Antigua aboard the Barbuda Express ferry, or an any other number of boating options, Barbuda can also be reached in less than 10 minutes via VC Bird international airport.

Article continues…. Pgs. 15-16


VENUES-Austria-Zell am See, Salzburg, and Innsbruck

AUSTRIA-Zell am See, Salzburg, and Innsbruck

By Micha Wilhoite


Where do I even begin with Austria? Just to preface this article and provide clarity to those who may not have had the most extensive geographical education (sadly, many of us Americans fall into that category), no, I am not talking about the place that says “Goodday Mate” and, “Let’s put a little shrimp on the Barbie.” There are NO kangaroos in Austria. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sound of Music, Edelweiss, German speaking, the alps, Yodeling, Lederhosen, and Dirndls (traditional Austrian dress). There you go,that’s Austria.

Growing up, I spent every other summer in Austria with my family at my grandparent’s house in a cute little ski town called Zell am See. For me, Austria is a home away from homes. That is why it is difficult for me to keep my recollections concise. I went back again recently with my husband, so I will write about the places in Austria we visited during that trip, Zell am See, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. True to the Sound of Music song, “These are a Few of my Favorite Things” about Austria:

Zell am See, Austria literally means city on the lake. It truly is a small town surrounding a lake at the base of a mountain called the Schmittenhöhe, on the eastern edge of the Kitzbühel Alps. There are many charming bed and breakfast type guest homes throughout Zell am See ( it is a very popular tourist destination), but we make my grandparents’ former homestead “Haus Otto” our temporary home. “Haus Otto” is nestled near the bottom of the Schmittenhöhe about a 20-minute walk uphill from the lake and town center. This guest home is the perfect winter ski lodge. Guests can ski down to take the lift to the top of the Schmittenhöhe, ski or snowboard the beautiful slopes to their hearts content, then ski right back to the front door of “Haus Otto” at the end of the day.

While “Haus Otto” is the perfect ski lodge in the winter, it is also the perfect location for avid hikers in the summer. It is almost a sin not to hike while in Zell am See Austria, and just as guests can ski the Schmittenhöhe and Kitzsteinhorn (the glacier) to their hearts content in the winter, so can they hike these beautifully looming mountains in the summer. Hikers can begin on the hiking trail to the Schmittenhöhe right from the front door of “Haus Otto.” From there, hikers will walk through dense forests, vast cow fields, blueberry fields, and sometimes snow at the peak. The hike to the peak of the
Schmittenhöhe take between 4-5 hours (depending on how fast you hike), and to the middle station it takes about 2 hours.

The hiking is certainly beautiful in Zell am See, but you will work up a big appetite while trekking the looming mountains. That’s ok because in Austria they normally have at least one Alm or food lodge at the
top of the mountain (and sometimes at the middle station as well). It is at these alms that food is the most satisfying. The alms serve real traditional Austrian “hiker’s food.”

Two of my favorite Austrian dishes are found normally only after a long hike. The more popular of the two,“Kaisersmarren” is a scrambled up pancake-like dish with raisins, powdered sugar, and plum sauce or apple sauce served on the side. My favorite and the less popular of the two (and harder to find unless you have hiked a mountain) “Germknödel,” is a yeast dough dumpling filled with plum and topped with melted butter, sugar, and poppy seeds. Perhaps it is an acquired taste, but that’s okay because the Alm’s normally have the more traditional Austrian foods like sausages, pork, “Wiener Schnitzel,” potatoes, and bread.


Amongst my favorite activities in Austria is something the Austrians refer to as “Tree Walking.”……
Read the rest of the article on pgs.13-15

-Micha Wilhoite

MCW-Grand Hotel
Micha Wilhoite has her bachelor’s of science in Marketing. Because of her European roots, she spent every other summer traveling though Europe with her family. She is a traveling enthusiast.

Venues-Milan, Italy

Venues-Milan COVER

Venues- Milan, Italy.

by Micha Wilhoite

Milan, Italy, otherwise known as the fashion capital of the world. Many fashion lovers dream of Milan and the treasures they will find there amongst the famous shopping plaza Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The truth is, treasures will be found in Milan, fashion will be found, Italian architecture will be found, the adventure of being in the hustle and bustle of the city will be found, a blend of modern design and historical familiarity will be found, and yes even some really, really good cappuccinos will be found.

Picture this, a busy city. One minute you are riding a crowded tram trying to navigate through heavy traffic It stops for a brief second and you must hurry to get out at your stop or you miss the opportunity. You make your way through the rest of the city by foot, walking fast as is the flow of the city, and try to avoid being hit by a Vespa that’s zooming through busy traffic You dodge the Vespa, turning into a narrow alleyway, and suddenly it’s like you are in a different place at a different time. The atmosphere becomes serene as you look around at the beautiful, looming, traditional,Italian style architecture. The traffic noises become more distant and almost soothing. The sun shines in over the top of the buildings to illuminate the alleyway, birds chirp, and suddenly it hits you, you are in Italy! Charming, romantic, passionate Italy.

At first glance Milan is modern and industrial, but as you make your way through the city to the Galleria, you find that Milan keeps much of its historical charm intact. The famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the cathedral “Duomo” are prime examples of historical Italian architecture within the modern industrialism.

The Galleria itself houses numerous high-end designer shops as well as infamous cafés and restaurants. As a lover of fashion, I made this vast plaza a top priority during my stay in Milan. I was not let down, the atmosphere and architecture in themselves are worth seeing. The galleria is one of the world’s oldest shopping centers, it was built between 1865 and 1877. The atmosphere within the structure is romantic, charming, and historical (with a contradictory modern vibe). The structure itself is made up of two glass arcades that intersects into an octagon, topped with a glass dome and cast iron roof. This central covering to the Galleria covers the streets that connect two other historical structures- The Piazza del Duoma and Piazza Della Scala.

Read the rest of the article along with facts, tips, and a snapshot of Micha’s trip details (on pages 13-15 of the Independence Issue) here.

Micha Wilhoite

Micha Wilhoite grew up traveling throughout Europe. She is a travel enthusiast and enjoys sharing some of her travel experiences in our “Venues” column.

Author Micha Wilhoite enjoying authentic Italian Tiramisu in Milan, Italy
Author Micha Wilhoite enjoying authentic Italian Tiramisu in Milan, Italy

Excercise/Nutrition on The Road

Dianne Bailey pic
Vacation! Time to experience adventure, relaxation and just get away from the “same ol, same ol.” Believe it or not, it is a good idea to take a break from your exercise routine, as well. And when you travel, I want you to take advantage of the area’s cuisine. However, I don’t want you to come back from your trip regretting the extra 5-10 pounds that seemingly jumped onto your body while you were enjoying yourself! So let’s talk about strategies for your exercise and eating while you are on vacation.

First, the exercise you do depends on the vacation location and the activities you are planning. If you are planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, I think you have the exercise part covered!! The same is true if you are planning a skiing trip to Colorado. If you are considering a cruise, however, you might need to plan some exercise beyond just walking to the deck and finding a good chair to claim for your sunning time! And, unfortunately, walking from one store to the next in a port city doesn’t really count as exercise, either. Bummer, I know. Most cruises do offer exercise classes as well as having a small gym available. My advice for vacation is to take a class that you have never done before. Let your guard down and experience something new. Your body will appreciate the movement, and your mind will be challenged. And remember, you will most likely never see any of these people ever again, so you don’t need to feel self-conscious! If you are not on a cruise, you can seek out a local gym that provides a “day pass” and you can do the same thing. Try it. You might actually find a new passion. The key is to get some kind of concentrated movement into each day of vacation.

Now to address the food issue: vacations put lots of different challenges in your path when it comes to eating well. If you are staying in a condo that has a kitchen, you have more control than if you have to eat in a restaurant for every meal. Either way, though, the “2/3 rule” is a way to approach vacation eating: choose one meal each day that will be your “adventure meal,” and eat clean the other 2 meals. This gives you the opportunity to try out the local cuisine and splurge a little bit without going overboard. You will have more energy for your activities during the day because you won’t be so bogged down by eating heavy foods for every meal. And do your best to eat small portions frequently for the 2/3’s time with as many vegetables as you can. Remember, you still get to indulge for one meal each day!

Obviously, this is focused on fun, vacation-type traveling. You have to approach your meals and your exercise differently if you are a frequent business traveler. If you would like some tips on meal planning for business travel and some simple ideas for working out without having to go to that dirty little room that most hotels called their “fitness center,” send me an email with the subject line “Business Travel” to and I will help your next trip be a little healthier.
-Diane Bailey
Dianne has been providing professional weight management and sports conditioning training for individuals since 2002 and opened The Conditioning Classroom, a private personal training studio, in 2006. She earned the prestigious designation of Certified Strength Conditioning Specialist from the National Sports Conditioning Association in 2007. Dianne is dedicated to helping others learn to truly live as opposed to simply existing. From self-defense classes which teach living as an acute response to helping create the right exercise and nutrition plan so that life becomes chronically enjoyable, Dianne and the trainers at The Conditioning Classroom have helped countless numbers of individuals become vibrantly alive!

Email your fitness questions to Dianne at:

Travel Tips for Beautiful Hair

Pages from TravelHair-Aronica-Vol1Issue6-BreakAway-2014.05FINAL-COVER Photo
Here are a few tips and tricks to help make your vacation more beautiful and less stressful:

Did you know your products can do double duty for you? Take Unite Eurotherapy’s Moisture and Shine leave-in moisturizer for example. You know to use it wet before styling your hair, but you can also use it to tame your fly-aways. Place a pea-sized amount of the product in your hands, rub them together, and run your fingers through the crown of your hair, focusing on your most fly away-prone areas. End result: quick and easy fix without having to bring multiple products with you.

Dry shampoo is another great product with dual use. You’ve worked hard all day while lying on the beach to achieve that perfect tousled look. Only problem is, all that fun in the sun has left it oily, flat, and lifeless. You quickly grab your Unite Eurotherapy 7 Seconds Refresher dry shampoo to counteract the oiliness, but did you know you can add instant volume and lift with your favorite product as well? Just spray the product at your roots like usual, but this time flip your head upside down and ruffle your hair at the roots with your fingers as you apply heat from a blow dryer. Flip your head back up, give it a shake, and your hair will be fresh, voluminous, and ready for the night!

When traveling out of the country, make sure to keep in mind that the electrical current to your hot tools may be less stable than here in the States. Be sure to test your curling and flat irons on a piece of tissue before applying to your locks to ensure they aren’t running too hot. Even with a power converter, the incoming current may be too high, causing your tools to produce too much heat and potentially damage your hair.

You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again, SPF is key to maintaining that healthy, young, beautiful glow. Look for sunscreens that cover the entire spectrum and include both UVA and UVB protection. If you have sensitive skin and are prone to blemishes, choose an SPF that is fragrance free and organic. Eminence Organics includes a variety of SPF options in their boutique line from Hungary. We are loving the Sun Defense Minerals powder SPF from Eminence. It comes in all shades from translucent to bronzer, has an SPF of 30, and won’t clog your pores, even with the most sensitive of skin.

All that vacation fun, air travel, and sun exposure can wreak havoc on your skin and call for some serious detox. Drinking plenty of water and eating fruits and vegetables can help to revive your summertime glow with vitamins and natural antioxidants, while switching from a retinol-based exfoliant to one containing an AHA or BHA base is the perfect way to still receive all the benefits of exfoliation while being gentler on your skin. We also recommend a customized facial every 4 to 6 weeks year-round. This is a great way to stay on top of, and more importantly be able to address and correct, any skin concerns you may be having. Eminence Organics offers a complete line of facial treatments ranging from firming and tightening to brightening and moisturizing with easy at-home skin care regimens.
-Andre Aronica
Aronica,Andre (1)
Andre Aronica is the owner of “Dre’s Hair Salon &Spa”(Scottsdale, AZ). Andre has over 25 years of experience behind the chair and a portfolio backed by numerous celebrity clientele. Andre has driven his salon to be one of the industry’s leaders. Visit his salon’s website.

Know Your Rights-Travel Legal Issues

Know Your Rights-Travel Legal Issues

Roman Numeral Books


“When in Rome, do as the Romans.”

Traveling for business or pleasure can be very exciting but it does carry with it certain legal considerations.

First, driving in other jurisdictions mean having to obey different laws. The top speed limits on interstate highways can vary from state to state from 65 mph to 80 mph. Violating the limit can lead to civil or criminal citations and even arrest. For a time, Montana had no speed limit, one had to drive at a reasonable and prudent rate. In Germany, certain parts of the autobahn have no speed limit while other parts do. Other countries have speed limits on motor-ways, but they are not enforced, yet, in other countries, speeding can result in very high fines and summary license suspensions, impounding of the car and even arrests.

There are many other traffic laws to keep in mind whether one is in the US or abroad from the use of turn signals to paying for driving on toll roads. Driving under the influence laws can vary in severity from state to state or country to country.

A few countries still insist on driving on the left-hand side, which presents certain dangers to those of us used to right-hand side driving. Everything you do is mirror image to what you are used to. Add the issue of navigation, and suddenly the trip can become stressful. But, of course, it is also part of the adventure!

Self Defense and Weapons
Your neighbor state may have completely different self defense and weapons laws as well as most foreign countries. Check with the State’s Attorney General’s office whether you can legally bring your pepper spray, baton, knife or gun. Violating weapon laws can alter the rest of your life for the worse. Improvised weapons are often good choices in strange locales and countries. A powerful flashlight can temporarily blind an attacker and be used as an impact weapon, a rolled up copy of a big glossy magazine is an excellent impact-weapon, yet entirely legal!

Some states will recognize your states concealed weapons permits, yet you are responsible for staying within the confines of their laws. Maybe your state permits the carrying of guns into restaurants that serve alcohol and even permits moderate consumption while carrying, but that may be a felony in another state, and ignorance of the law is no defense to a criminal charge! The blade length of your knife can be illegal in a city or county but legal in the rest of state.

Laws don’t have to make sense or be easily comprehended, they just have to have been passed correctly and not having been successfully challenged as unconstitutional. You are responsible for knowing them, even if no one else does.

Drugs and Alcohol

The drinking age used to vary from state to state in the United States, and still do from country to country. Having a beer, wine or liquor with your food is par for the course in much of the world, and the drinking age is lower than in the US. If so inclined, indulging in these beverages in a responsible manner can be a very pleasant part of the trip. Be mindful that impairment can lead to being overcharged on tabs, pick pocketed, robbed or worse.

Drugs are sometimes easily accessible but often not legal. If they are illegal, penalties can vary from fines, to jail sentences or even death! That said, Washington and Colorado recently legalized the recreational recently legalized the recreational use of cannabis products. Keep in mind that surrounding states have not done so and bringing a legally purchased product from one of those states does NOT make it legal to posses or use in a different state. Even when you come home to your state, having THC in your system can subject you to DUI penalties even if you are not impaired, although this area of the law is in some state of flux.

Given the self defense purpose of this publication, being impaired by any legal substance is not helpful to the relaxed but alert state-of-mind needed for avoidance of problems or self defense claims. Any action taken while under the influence can compromise claims that the action taken was reasonable. However, if need be, have a designated driver-defender in the group that
remains unimpaired.

Some countries frown on copies of the bible, bottles of bourbon, and even driver licenses for women. If any or all of the aforementioned items are near and dear to you, avoid these places as tourist destinations. In case of any international travel, find out the location of the US embassy or consulate, and if you are arrested, insist that the embassy or consulate be notified thereof. As always, the legal view of the world is based on a “glass half empty” outlook on life.

Study up on your destination. Travel, visit important places, eat and drink the local food and beverage, and enjoy the adventure. Be polite, relaxed and alert and enjoy the trip!
-Magnus Erikkson

Magnus Eriksson is a criminal defense trial attorney based in Scottsdale, and is currently licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Arizona. Contact Magnus at:


Venues- The Royal Hideaway-Adventures in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico


I have to admit, I have inherited a bit of a travel bug. This travel bug was passed down from my grandma and my mom, who spent nearly every summer of my childhood traveling to a new destination, making sure my sisters and I were brought up with the same travel experiences. Now it’s too late; I am past the point of no return. I have become obsessed with the new cultural experiences that come with traveling.

My most recent traveling experience brought me to The Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be sent (by his work) on this all-inclusive getaway. I was thrilled when they announced we would be going to Playa del Carmen, a place I had never been and had limited prior knowledge on. The idea of experiencing a destination that is relatively unknown to me is invigorating and satisfies the small portion within my soul that is a wild adventurer.

Playa Del Carmen is about an hour from Cancun. It is located on the Caribbean Sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The community of Playa Del Carmen is a gated community within another community.
The community is home to large all-inclusive resorts, luxury vacation homes, and upscale condominiums. Playa Del Carmen is truly a traveler’s destination. Many Europeans, Americans, and Canadians frequent its shores.

Although I have been to Mexico many times (and love it), Playa del Carmen is not the typical “Mexico” I know. The quality I loved so much about Playa del Carmen is that it was the perfect blend of Mexico and tropical Caribbean. It had many charming qualities of traditional Mexican villages, food, and culture, but its Mayan and Caribbean influences along with the tropical weather and landscape made it so different than the Mexico I have experienced.

First of all, Playa del Carmen, unlike Cabo or even Hawaii, is on the Caribbean Sea rather than the Pacific Ocean. The Caribbean Sea is nearly translucent and the water is much warmer and much
more turquoise in color than the Pacific Ocean. The turquoise waters contrast against the white sand of the beaches creating a picturesque view. Because the water is fairly docile and very clear, snorkeling is very popular there. My husband and I even went snorkeling twice while we were there! Twice is a lot for someone like me who is very apprehensive about sea animals, but the water was so lovely that I was able to get over my fear long enough to see a sea turtle, two manta rays, and many species of fish.

Another quality that distinguishes Playa del Carmen from other parts of Mexico is the history and culture of the Mayans that inhabited the area. There are many opportunities to go to some of the various Mayan ruins near Playa del Carmen We jumped at the opportunity to go on a tour of the well-known Tulum Mayan ruins. We were taken by bus to the ruins of the ancient Mayan city where our tour guide explained to us how the Mayan culture blended with the Mexican culture and how the Mayans were brilliant astronomers, architects, and engineers, but perhaps not the best at predicting the end of the world.

Playa Del Carmen has a blend of the Caribbean and Mayan culture as well as traditional Mexican culture. Our resort was a 30-minute walk to the local village where visitors can do some shopping and experience the typical Mexican village. There were many members in our group who had never traveled out of country and were very apprehensive about going into the Mexican town. These group members said that the salespeople were very aggressive, and insulting. They advised us not to look at or talk to anyone. While it is true the selling style in Mexican towns can be very aggressive, and the salespeople enjoy some banter, there are ways to make the process more enjoyable. While in town, my husband ignored the advice we received and was very polite to every sales person. He smiled, looked at them, said “No, thank you” or “Thank you,” and even did the occasional joking around with the sales-people. We did not have the same negative experience that our friends did.

My advice to anyone who is planning on traveling to Mexico is this. Understand that the Mexican sales style is somewhat aggressive; they want you to come in their stores and buy from them first. Treat the shop owners and sales people with respect. Use your please and thank you’s, say no if you need to, but be polite. Do not go alone, especially if you are a woman. The salespeople do banter and try to get under your skin as a tactic to persuade you. If it becomes more than casual banter and becomes insulting or aggressive, do not react. That is when you should ignore them and keep walking. We were able to avoid a negative experience by being understanding of the culture and utilizing the steps mentioned above.

We stayed at the luxurious Royal Hideaway Resort. The resort is large and elegant, with beautiful gardens, six pools, a pristine spa, and, of course, beachfront views. The Royal Hideaway is an all-inclusive resort, which also means all the food and beverages were included. We dined like kings and queens. Not only was breakfast delivered to our room nearly every morning, but we were able to order room service 24 hours a day, or go out to the pool/beachfront and order any drinks or food from “The Deck” or “The Grill” restaurants. Once evening came, everyone would get fancied up and go to one of the five upscale restaurants that they had made reservations for. The staff was so obliging to our group (my husband’s company), they even arranged private dining rooms for our group several nights. The meals were all four/five course meals and would take several hours to enjoy the rich flavors. The resort’s restaurants offered a variety of food from a typical Mexican/American meal out on the deck, to the five-course restaurant meals that offered high-end Italian food, Asian food, Spanish/fusion food, and an expensive steak house.

During our stay, the staff of the Royal Hideaway also arranged a dinner show at their “Club Royale” theatre located in the resort. The word around the resort was that they would be showing a “Circus Show” during dinner. My husband and I were both apprehensive of the show, growing up with dance backgrounds/influences and having friends in Cirque du Soleil and Vegas shows. However, our group all decided to go so we joined along. Like most of the evening meals, the meal at the theatre five-course meal featuring veal or salmon as the main entrée. The food was very good, but much to our surprise, the show was better. The acrobats were incredible and the entertainment staff even put on their own little comedy show (which was hilarious) after the circus acts were over. The acrobats and even the hotel entertainment staff had so much talent. It was a surprising and fun night.

The Royal Hideaway and Playa del Carmen offered so many opportunities for tours, exploration, and activities besides relaxation. The resort had hired a staff exclusively for the booking of tours and activities for guests. Not only could guests could enjoy kayaking, jet skiing, scuba, boating, and snorkeling right from the hotel’s beach, but the tour guide crew could book adventure tours, scuba, snorkeling, Mayan ruin tours, and endless other activities for the guests right from the main concierge. Besides relaxing poolside and swimming in the ocean, my husband
and I were able to see the Mayan ruins, go zip lining, jump off a cliff into the water, and snorkel. The opportunity to do and see a variety of things was just one of the many reasons why my husband and I fell in love with Playa del Carmen.

I have been blessed to have experienced so many unique and beautiful places at such a young age. I will always look back in fondness at our experience at the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen. Like all of my travel experiences, there is not just one thing about this location that will remain with me. Instead, it is the blend of knowledge gained, culture experienced, food savored, adventures sought, relationships made, and sights seen, that will live in my memory forever. I highly encourage traveling to The Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen, but I also
encourage travel anywhere. Every destination is an opportunity to grow whether it is a new city, state, or country.

-Micha Wilhoite
Micha Wilhoite is the social media and personal assistant to editor in Chief, Kris Costa. She has her bachelor’s ofscience in Marketing. Because of her European roots, she spent every other summer traveling though Europe with her family. She is a traveling enthusiast.
Contact Micha at

Personal Protection- International Travel Safety

Security concerns for international travel are really not that different than travel within the United States, or for that matter to the United States.

First, let’s look at what someone traveling here might think. Before I go too far, let me start with the fact that I am pro-gun. Imagine how scared many foreign travelers are when planning
a trip to the USA where many of us carry guns, and where we have incidents of people being shot at because of a difference of opinion. Furthermore, we have incidents of drive by shootings,
movie theater shootings, and school shootings. How could you bring your family somewhere like that? What special security concerns should you take into consideration before booking that trip?

Is it really that unsafe here? Or is it just unsafe everywhere? I, like many people, think it is unsafe everywhere, but I travel. I travel within the US and internationally as often as my
inner Sagittarius will allow. Having lived in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area in southern California, I learned many traits to keep me from getting in trouble early on. Hopefully my bad times will help you avoid some of your own.

I think basically people are people all around the world, and for the most part, they want to be left alone to live their lives. But if anyone believes that there is not real evil in the world, they are wrong! Th ere are many people who would hurt, rape, maim, or kill you just to be part of some gang or group, and many more who would do it just because they like it! Th at is what you need to be able to recognize, avoid and react to. Oft en this type of criminal/predator will conceal true intentions behind a well-rehearsed act or subterfuge. More stuff for you to learn to recognize.

10 key things to consider when planning
a trip outside the U.S.A:
1. Clothing
2. Jewelry
3. Passports
4. Currency
5. Weaponry
6. Contact Information
7. Itinerary
8. Medical Emergency
9. Evasion/Escape
10. Legal
Nothing says “American” like what we wear. Many Americans wear jeans, fleece, sportswear (when not engaged in a sport), baggy or loose-fi tting clothes, team logos, and designer logos. Whenever possible, try to see how the locals dress and imitate that as close as you can. I know it is against the thought process of many Americans, but try to blend instead of standing out. For example, have clothing that will properly cover your body if you are going to a Muslim country. Don’t dress provocatively or disrespectfully, and you wont be treated with disrespect.
Jewelry should stay at home in your jewelry box or in your safe. Avoid wearing a big wedding ring, instead, buy inexpensive silver bands to wear, or leave the wedding rings at home. If you have to wear a watch, wear an inexpensive one that nobody would want to steal from you. The point is to not draw attention in the first place. Wearing lots of big expensive jewelry or watches will draw attention and increase the possibility of getting mugged or worse.
Your passport is the only way you can get into and out of most countries. Keep it on your person, preferably in a zipped pocket. Have passport photos left with a relative and have the numbers to call to get a new one in case of emergency (see contact info).
A lot of countries use the US dollar, but even if they do, you shouldn’t. Exchange as much money as you think you will spend into the local currency. Know the exchange rate and be able to use the local money (without) using your fingers for math!
Everything is a weapon if you look at it that way. Some work better than others. The best I have found is to travel with a mask, snorkel, fi ns and a dive knife! Without
that option, you have to resort to “weapons of opportunity.” I recommend acquiring the first weapon you find and improving it as you go. Things that make great weapons are all around you. Your credit card or car key make a good knife, your belt makes a good whip, and a coffee mug a great impact weapon.
You should make a copy of all phone numbers,email addresses, addresses to properties you will be staying at or visiting, US embassies or consulates, passport emergency replacement numbers, your lawyer, your doctor’s information along with any medications you are taking or allergies you have. Give a copy to each person you are traveling with and all primary contacts at home.
Much like your contact information, you should make copies of your itinerary. Each person in the group and contacts at home should have as detailed as possible an itinerary detailing where you will be and when you will be there each day and the contact information whenever available. When going on a spontaneous trip, leave a note in your room detailing your plan.
Answer these questions before the need and your results will be much better. Does your health insurance work where you are traveling to? Do they have 1st world medical care? Do they have great medical care really cheap? Do you need travel health insurance? Do you have a really good first aid kit and the training to use it? If you have a medical emergency, do you plan on taking care of it where you are or when you get home?
If the country you are traveling in suddenly becomes unsafe locally or nationally, what is your plan? Do you have a car? Could you get one? Do you need one? Could you get to the airport? What if it is closed? Could you get out on a boat? Is one (nearby)? Could you walk out? How far? Are the neighboring countries friendly? Would they be if the one you are in became unfriendly? It is important to think of the answers to these questions should your travel destination become unsafe.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you get in trouble with the law. Have the number of your lawyer and have them recommend a local legal contact as well.

When planning travel, do not plan a backpacking trip on the border of Iran or North Korea. Check with the state department on locations where travel is not recommended and then listen to those recommendations. Feel free to travel anywhere in the world, but before you go, familiarize yourself with that country’s customs and courtesies and use them when you arrive. Be a traveler and not a tourist. No one owes you anything so do not act like it! While in a foreign country or a far-away state (or any time any place) it is a good idea to have a backpack with water and/or water treatment, food, warm clothing, a first-aid kit,and maybe something for shelter. Then, no matter what happens,you won’t become part of the problem. Remember, your
mind is the most powerful security tool you have, so use it!

When in unsafe areas, be aware of your surroundings at all times without looking around. Do not make eye contact with anyone. Do not speak to anyone. If approached, shake your head side to side like saying NO, and hold up your hand like a stop sign, and walk away from the person approaching you. Likely they have some well-rehearsed subterfuge to make you feel sorry for or want to help them. Remember it is not why you are there. If they follow you, ready a weapon. If they stop you and will not let you pass, you could be in big trouble. You will have to choose between fight or flight.

Personally I prefer flight. It is not as “macho” as fight, but if you take a lesson from the animal kingdom, you will see they do too! Seldom is fighting the solution, but once it is, it is the only solution. I will repeat this because it is as accurate as a statement can be: Seldom is fighting a solution, but when it is, it is the only solution! When you have exhausted all other options and all you have left to do is fight, then fight! Fight like your life depends on it because it does! Worry about everything else after you survive.

That being said, if you are in a fight in a foreign country and survive, you most likely seriously injured the other person. Which means it might be time to leave. It might be the best time to get your stuff and get out of town. Remember, you are the stranger, and as the stranger, people will oft en side with their own, not you! People, police, judges, jailers and anyone else can
ruin your life. Do not give them the chance! So go and go now. While it is important to be aware of dangerous travel scenarios and be prepared, don’t let the possibilities discourage you from experiencing the world of travel. So remember, the world is a big beautiful place with many sights to see, so never be afraid, but always be prepared. Have a great time. Travel and make memories. Life is short, fill it up!
-Dan Ronin
Dan Ronin has trained in the martial arts for over 30 years. He is
a combat veteran who served as a Military Police Investigator in
the Army for 8 1/2 years. Dan off ers classes in Counter-Attack self
defense for open hands and weaponry, as well as disaster/emergency
preparedness. Contact Dan at or