Sanity in the Age of Cornavirus

We’ve cancelled our trips, pulled the plug on Spring Break and hunkered down at home — all about the same time our college-age kids have returned to nest. Now, to add insult to injury, our access to the gym is gone and stress is on the rise. But just because your go-to spin class is no more and boot camp is a thing of the not-so-distant past, doesn’t mean you can’t salvage your exercise routine. Online workouts and outdoor activities mean all you need is a yoga mat and a Wi-Fi signal to maintain your sanity.

Here are a few options that will keep your heart rate up, your Vitamin-D in rich supply and your outlook positive.

Online Fitness Classes — These do-at-home classes let you break a sweat in the protection of your own casa. Sessions are updated weekly and often short and sweet at a very manageable 30- minutes. Think trainers-to-the-stars like Tracy Anderson, or even live stream workouts from gyms like Planet Fitness.

Namaste-at-home — Yoga is one of the best streaming workouts available. Online options like Glo and Yogis Anonymous feature guided instruction at a variety of levels, flows and time lengths. It’s a great way to experience some of the country’s best instructors and some new styles you may have been dying to try.

Pilates and Barre in the Living Room — These full-body workouts focus on specific muscle groups and tighten those hard-to-tone places. Best of all, the online options let you tailor your workout to fit your available time, skill level and equipment options.

Peddle Power — Outdoor cycling is not only great exercise, it’s also an easy way to maintain social distancing in the process. Grab your bike, hit the nearest trail and peddle your stress away.

Walk it Off — As long as you keep at a safe distance, there’s no reason you can’t pull on your tennis shoes and pound the pavement. Download a new upbeat playlist or a podcast you’ve been dying to listen to so you’ll stay motivated and enjoy your time in the sunshine.

Dog Park Party — Grab your pooch, who undoubtably needs to get out as much as you do, and hit the dog park. Just remember to avoid times when the park is crowded and be conscious of maintaining the 10-feet distance from your fellow dog lovers.

Non-Active Pursuits — Because mental health is as important as physical health, here are a few options to help maintain sanity and fight off the boredom:

  1. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  2. Stream a program you’ve been dying to watch.
  3. Plan a trip that you’ll take when the crisis ends. Research the places you’ll go, the restaurants you’ll visit and where you’ll stay. After you’ve mapped out the fun, make a promise to yourself to go.
  4. Read a book that has a happy ending to lift your spirits.
  5. Order a decadent dessert (to-go or from a delivery service) and enjoy it without any guilt.
  6. Hit the water by taking a boat outing or a SUP adventure.
  7. Take a scavenger hunt of the coolest murals in your area. It’s also a great way to ramp up your image on the gram.
  8. Send the kids out back with popsicles and an inflatable pool for some peace and quiet. Or, if it’s still cold outside, set up a tent in the living room.
  9. Learn to make a signature drink.
  10. Take an online cooking class.

Why Fall Travel is on the Rise

Cooler temps and brilliantly-colored landscapes have travelers ready to pack their bags this fall. Many are looking to save money, avoid crowds and increase the bang for their buck. According to the Chicago Tribune, traveling between Labor Day and Thanksgiving has become increasingly popular thanks to the favorable weather and better values. In fact, it’s on the rise with Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z vacationers alike.

Fall travelers are most likely to travel domestically, often by car or on discounted airlines which report an increase in fall searches of 26% over last year. Pinterest confirms this seasonal spike with searches nearly doubling in 2019.

The Tetons in the fall. Photo by: Coffee.

While U.S. travel is preferred, you can’t rule out spots like Mexico City, Bali and Ho Chi Minh —’s top three trending destinations.

Another indicator to watch is the jump in adventure travel that’s been building throughout 2019; according to it’s up 65% this year.

While Baby Boomers and leaf-peepers continue to dominate the market segment, Millennials are also choosing autumn travel to connect with culture and enjoy new experiences, versus traditional sightseeing. On the other hand, Gen Z travelers are most often looking for a deal.

While all three age groups express an interest in immersion travel — from local cuisine to hiking, cycling to seasonal festivals — their planning habits are different. Boomers are more likely to plan far ahead while Millennials and Gen Z vacationers are more spontaneous. According to, younger travelers are driven by last-minute promotions for short 3-5 day getaways.

A quickly-planned escape is highly likely for Millennials and Gen Z vacationers since many claim their decision to travel is based on compelling advertising. Some 72% of Millennials report travel decisions were influenced by some form of advertising and a whopping 90% of Gen Z travelers claim their desire is driven by social media.

Now that the kids are back in school, family travel has dropped off — making the autumn travel landscape much less crowded. Add to that the incredible deals at many high-end destinations and the increase in availability, and you have every reason to hit the road this season.

Why “undertourism” is on the rise

As the middle class grows in emerging markets, worldwide tourism continues to expand. So much so that many “bucket list” destinations are experiencing record numbers of visitors. That overcrowding not only impacts travelers’ chances to view the local landscape, it’s also taking its toll on the populations and natural resources of key must-see sites.

Cami Minaret in Kazakhstan. Photo By: Konevi

In the 1950s the tourism industry reported about 25 million arrivals across the globe. By 2018 that number had jumped to 1.4 billion, and according to the World Tourism Organization it will by upwards of 1.8 billion within a decade.

In the U.S., 60 percent of travelers claim overcrowding will significantly impact the destinations they chose within five to 10 years according to The New York Times. If that’s the case, just how can concerned tourists still experience the world without being part of the problem?

Here are five ways to fight “overtourism“:

  1. Instead of must-see sites, opt for less visited places. Still equally as interesting, lesser-known neighborhoods, restaurants and attractions offer the same cultural experiences without all the crowds.
  2. Travel during the quieter shoulder-seasons when smaller numbers mean greater access and better prices.
  3. Support visitor quotas in overcrowded cities and fragile ecosystems. By limiting the number of visitors, favorites like National Parks can preserve what was so great about them to begin with.
  4. Ask the board of tourism about positive-redirection options. By offering suggestions of lesser-known points of interest, they can control overcrowding in major hotspots and expand cultural experiences.
  5. Get on board with “first-chance” tourism destinations. By visiting destinations which are off the beaten path, travelers can disperse the number of visitors to a country while experiencing a rare travel gem before everyone else does.

Beyond avoiding the crowds, undertourism offers travelers authentic experiences, cheaper prices and a more relaxed vacation. However, the benefits to the destinations are even greater — from easing the pressures on natural resources to protecting the area’s cultural identity. Undertourism — it’s a win-win for all.

The Palace That Love Built

The legendary Pink Palace.

Today I found myself in the backyard painting studio of one of my favorite artists, Lynne Polley of Polley Creates It’s always a good day when I get to sit amidst the canvases and the creeping bougainvilleas and discuss creative ways to see the world. This latest project found us talking travel with Elizabeth Schneider-Peele, a concierge travel specialist with Global Medallion. I’ll be writing video scripts for her ultra high-end Florida tours. During the course of our discussion, Elizabeth asked me to name some of my favorite ‘secret’ Florida destinations or tell a little-known story of the state’s past — basically the stuff only us locals would know. Well, that got me to thinking about a tale I’d heard a long time ago and a special place known as the “Pink Palace.”

The Don Cesar is a luxury hotel on the sands of St. Pete Beach. It’s revered for white-glove service, pristine beaches and an iconic salmon-colored facade; but what many don’t know is the story behind the pretty exterior, a haunting legend of love and loss.

It began in the early 1920s when a young man named Thomas Rowe met a Spanish opera star named Lucinda while studying in England. The pair fell quickly in love and would dash off for clandestine meetings at a secret fountain known only to the two of them. To disguise their tryst, the couple referred to each other as Maritana and Don Cesar, the names of the lead characters in the opera she was starring in the night they met. But when Lucinda’s parents discovered the relationship, they whisked the girl back to Spain and Thomas was forced to return to America heartbroken. His letters would come back unopened, and in the end the only communication he would ever receive was a news clipping of her death accompanied by a note which simply read: “My beloved Don Cesar.”

In 1925 Thomas made his way to Florida and began what would be his life’s work, the “Pink Palace.” A tribute to Lucinda, the Don CeSar features a lobby courtyard and fountain which are exact replicas of the spot where the couple had met in London. The towering Spanish castle on the sea was Thomas’ eternal testament to his lost love.

Since his passing, staff and guests of the hotel have reported seeing a gentleman in an old-fashioned Panama hat and a white summer suit strolling the grounds. However, whenever he is approached, he quickly disappears. There are reports of mysterious knockings on the doors of the fifth floor where Thomas once lived, doors swinging open by themselves whenever a staff member approaches with a heavy load (a tribute to Thomas’ legendary hospitality) and even sightings of a young couple dressed in a white suit and a traditional Spanish peasant dress.

I can’t say if the stories are true, but I’d like to believe they are. I guess it really doesn’t matter. The Pink Palace remains one of Florida’s true treasures: a pampered playground that has hosted everyone from Presidents to gangsters to stars of the silver screen. In the end our continued infatuation with this tribute to old-world glamour and timeless luxury isn’t so hard to understand — after all, she was and is…a labor of love.