Amazon Fresh for Travelers

I’m tired of coming home from a trip and immediately heading to the grocery store. It’s no fun when you have jet lag and so many other things to do. Actually, I have never found grocery shopping fun, even when I’m well-rested. I started seeing Amazon Fresh trucks driving around Los Angeles and then noticed some of my neighbors getting their groceries delivered, but it wasn’t until a friend posted about her experience that I decided to give it a go.

amazon fresh groceries for busy travelers

Now I’m halfway through a trial of Amazon’s latest offering, Amazon Fresh. It’s basically a grocery delivery service. You shop for your groceries online, pick a delivery date/time, and voila… groceries appear on your doorstep. This is particularly exciting because I’m someone who has always disliked grocery shopping and making multiple weekly trips to the store.

After the trial period ends, my credit card will be billed $299 each year for the service. This comes out to about $4.30 per week to not have to regularly step foot in a grocery store. If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, it’ll be prorated as part of the Fresh upgrade. When you have a full life like me – work, family, travel, and blogging – this is a reasonable time-saver.

I’m headed out of town shortly, but I’m already in the process of building my grocery list that I’ll schedule to be delivered the day I get home. No more exhausted runs to the grocery store the minute I step foot off the airplane. :)

Here are a few things I’ve noticed about using Amazon Fresh over the past 2-3 weeks:

  • The iPhone app is okay, but I find it’s much easier to order from the computer browser.
  • While they have a large grocery selection (and growing), don’t expect them to have absolutely every brand you prefer.Sometimes they don’t have all the ingredients I need for a recipe, but at least I can easily delete the rest of the items in my virtual cart which were bought exclusively for the dish.
  • I love that they’ve partnered with some local shops and restaurants. I’m looking forward to adding cheeses from the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop for my next party!
  • On that note, the wine selection is still limited. Beer too.
  • You can add a tip to your order, but not required.
  • Their customer service is top notch. They did have a fluke ordering issue that was entirely their fault (on my first order!), but they rocked and made everything more than right.
  • I have yet to see same-day delivery available in my area for what I’ve ordered. I typically have to sign up for next day delivery or even schedule it for 2 days later, depending on the availability of what’s in my cart.
  • I’ll still be going to Trader Joe’s for a few of my favorite things.
  • Between orders, I’m stuck with the Amazon Fresh bags and coolers. They take up a lot of space in our small Los Angeles apartment.
  • The produce is as fresh as the stuff I’d pick out in the grocery store.

Overall, I love it! If you’ve tried it, leave your two cents….

I’m not being paid or compensated to write about Amazon Fresh. I am trying out the service and find it very useful, so I thought I’d share the gem.

6 Things to Know About Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

We knew we wanted one last family trip before our toddler turned the magical age of two and we’d have to shell out the cash for an extra plane ticket. As we typically do when we’re planning a trip, we looked at a map and threw around ideas: Fiji? Tahiti? Hawaii? Costa Rica? No. Four nights seemed too short to travel the distance. Besides, did I mention the toddler? We needed close, easy, and all-inclusive to counteract the stress of work and everyday life.

Los Cabos, Mexico? Bingo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once we nailed down the destination, I did my usual searching through travel review sites like TripAdvisor and Oyster. It didn’t take long to decide on the family-friendly Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, the first-ever all-inclusive Hyatt hotel.

It was a quick shuttle ride from the airport, and once we arrived, all our worries melted away. If you’re considering a stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos or have already booked a vacation, here are a few things you should consider:

1. A swim-up suite might be worth the extra money.

swimup suite hyatt ziva los cabosThe view from our Swim-Up Suite

It was worth every penny for our family. We knew our son would be too young for the kids club and we’d be stuck in the room at naptime each afternoon, so we splurged on a swim-up suite. Instead of being confined to the room, we’d put him to sleep in the crib and hang out on lounge chairs or take a dip in the pool… literally feet away from the room and within earshot.

When you book this suite, you gain access to Premium Level services including access to the Exclusive Premium Level Lounge with premium drinks, light snack options, and appetizers all day. While I wouldn’t normally consider this a perk worth the extra money, we had our “this is awesome and so worth it” moment when we went up for drinks on their spacious patio and nobody else was there. As any parent can attest, it’s a very good thing when your toddler can roam and run without bothering anyone. So yes, we quietly sipped margaritas and held hands while the tot tested out every single seat on the balcony. And then started over again. It was a relaxing 30 minutes. We headed back to the Lounge a few more times throughout our stay and had the same experience.

Tip: If you don’t have a swim-up suite, be warned that people head to the pools early to reserve lounge chairs for the day. You snooze, you lose.

2. Book a family photo session.

Adventure Photos has a storefront at Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos and you can make an appointment for a photo session. What’s the coolest thing about this company? Your 30-minute photo session is free and you only pay for the photos you like. At the time of our stay, photos were $15 each and you can get them in digital format with copyrights. If you end up wanting many of the shots like we did, it’s cheaper to buy a package.

adventure photos hyatt ziva los cabosA few of our favorites from the Adventure Photos session.

Tip:  Book your appointment as soon as you get to the resort because time slots fill quickly. I’d recommend not waiting until the last day for your photo session. This way, if for some reason you aren’t completely satisfied with the pictures, you can rebook before you leave.

3. They don’t have the best swimming beach – but it doesn’t matter.

The surf is way too rough.  If you spend a few minutes reading Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos reviews online, you’ll figure this out. We knew before booking, but because we planned to spend most of our time in the pool, it didn’t matter. We headed to the beach for pictures and to play in the sand. Within minutes, we were back at the pool because we couldn’t take the heat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABring your own beach toys to Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

4. Relax and enjoy the night sky on the lounge beds by the firepits.

They’re awesome and the best place at Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos to enjoy a nightcap. Enough said.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe firepits glow at night.

5. Kids will love it.

If your kids are old enough to head to the kids club, awesome. If not, depending on the age and your budget, consider that swim-up suite. For the younger crowd, there’s also a splash pad and playground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASwim-Up Suite fun for the whole family. Mom relaxes and toddler plays. 

We arranged our swim-up suite lounge chairs to make a kiddie pool and the tot had a blast with his pool toys we brought from home. Yet another reason we loved that upgrade.

6. Couples can enjoy the quieter adults-only pool.

I made a point to spend a few child-free hours at this pool while the boys napped one afternoon.

swimup suites adults only pool hyatt ziva los cabosThe Swim-Up Suites that connect to the quiet adults-only pool.

While the other pools offer ocean views and a swim-up bar, this pool is secluded and quiet. No screaming, no crying. It was heavenly. I also noticed some of the swim-up suites connect to this pool, so if you’re on a honeymoon or aren’t vacationing with kids… take note!

Bottle Whipped with Spanish Garnacha

It has been one of those days. A non-stop schedule, late lunch, no evening appetite… but a hankering for the right kind of wine. You know, something that can be sipped alone, no apps or meal necessary. Something fruity, yet not over the top. A wine with a hint of minerality and, well, dare I admit… I’m in the mood for a hint of leather. Call me a bad girl!

This wine is just what #TGIF ordered and perfect for an early evening toast to welcome the weekend. A bottle of Castillo de Monséran Garnacha from Cariñena in the heart of Aragón in Spain. I’ve been bottle whipped.

Castillo de Monseran Garnacha wine

BucketListed: La Paz, Mexico

La Paz, Mexico has been on my travel bucket list for a few years now. It’s an hour and forty minute direct flight from LAX and you don’t have to deal with the crowds and rough surf you’ll find in Los Cabos (although there is a time and place for that too… I do love Los Cabos!). I want to visit La Paz because it seems so raw, like maybe it’s a taste of the real Baja – fewer tourists and more locals – while still offering all the splendid amenities I appreciate when visiting a resort town.

 

Yeah, after seeing that video, I figured you’d be adding it to your bucket list too. It has been officially “BucketListed” by TravelPlusWine. Is “BucketListed” even a word? It is now…

Here’s what there is to do in La Paz: 

Escape the hustle and bustle of Los Cabos and swim in water so calm and clear, I imagine you’ll contemplate the meaning of heaven on earth. La Paz, Mexico is located on a bay in the Gulf of California and offers a slightly off-the-beaten path destination for adventure and relaxation seekers alike.

When you’ve spent enough time swimming or kayaking Balandra beach, head back to town and stroll the Malecón at sunset. It offers extraordinary bay views and you can visit a number of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes while passing beautiful sculptures. Wine lovers will want to head to Steinbeck’s at the CostaBaja Resort for dinner for multi course meal paired with carefully selected Mexican wines. Or, for a simple meal, I’m sure fish tacos are abundant in La Paz.

la paz mexico

If you’re in La Paz between December and March, you can’t leave town without signing up for a whale watching tour. We did this in Loreto and it was well worth the time and money. The blue whale, humpback whale, and whale shark all make this region their winter retreat. I’ve seen pictures of people swimming with these whales. If that’s a bit too up close and personal, maybe stand up paddleboarding is just the right amount of space between you and these gentle beasts. Same goes for visiting the sea lion colony at the point of Isla Partida.

Ok, so maybe La Paz is home to a few big(ish) waves. If that’s what you’re after, grab your surfboard head to the beaches of Pescadero and Los Cerritos near Todos Santos. Speaking of water sports, Baja California Sur is home to international fishing tournaments. You can hire a guide and boat complete with everything you need for a day of casting your line. Fresh mahi mahi for lunch, anyone?

Where to stay in La Paz:

A quick Internet search with turn up with a number of options. Here are a few to consider:

costabaja resort

Photo Credit: CostaBaja Resort & Spa

The hotel is 10 minutes south of downtown and the first five star resort in La Paz. Rooms have balconies with breathtaking views, free wifi, a coffee maker, and swanky glass-enclosed showers (hello romance!). You can also arrange to stay in condos, perhaps a good option if you’re traveling with a small group. Whenever I’m staying at a resort, I always make it a point to check out the spa and treat myself to a massage. CostaBaja’s spa offers over 60 different treatments.

seven crown malecon

Photo Credit: Seven Crown

Stay right where the action is in this contemporary hotel. Maybe indulge and get an ocean view suite so you can watch people stroll the Malecón and enjoy the evening lights from the comfort of your private balcony. Soak in the jacuzzi after a long day of exploration and adventure.

seven crown centro

Photo Credit: Seven Crown

This is Seven Crown’s newest hotel and located in the historic city center of La Paz. Some suites are fully equipped with a small lounge and kitchenette for those who prefer doing their own cooking or simply having that option. This property has a swimming pool.

  • Camping:

Budget travelers will enjoy the ‘camping on the beach in Mexico’ option. El Coyote, San Evaristo, and San Juan de la Costa are some easy-access beaches near the city where you can camp. Just do your homework because camping permits are required. Tour companies can also take you camping and provide everything you need. Forget something? Apparently you can find it in La Paz.

Getting to La Paz:

AeroMexico has a direct flight from LAX to La Paz Thursday – Sunday. The first bag checked is free, your carry-on is free, they serve meals, snacks, and no extra charge for your beer. You could have a very pleasant buzz before even landing in Mexico, courtesy of AeroMexico.

Travel deals to La Paz: 

aeromexico vacations

AeroMexico Vacations offers very reasonable Air + Hotel deals to La Paz, so it’s a great site to start your vacation research.

Have you been to La Paz, Mexico? Any tips? 

Win a trip to Taiwan

wintaiwantrip cheapoair

Who doesn’t love a free trip? I was just talking about wanting to go on a tea tasting tour of Taiwan when I saw this contest.

CheapOair, in conjunction with the Taiwan Tourism Board and China Airlines, is helping travelers make this dream trip a reality by giving away two round trip tickets, accommodations for a seven day, six night stay and a customized itinerary in Taipei.

Between November 11, 2013 and November 24, 2013, fans of CheapOair on Facebook can enter to win this enticing adventure and explore:

·         Taipei

·         Sun Moon Lake

·         Fo Guang Shan Monastery

·         Kaohsiung City

·         Kenting National Park

·         East Coast National Scenic Area

·         Taroko National Park

Good luck!

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