Friday, December 27, 2019


Have you been to Michigan lately? Especially in the summer, there's a lot going on, but you can also enjoy all seasons. Listen to how you can visit on your time and your pace, plus learn some travel tips for independent women. 

Check out this travel for women episode!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Munich, Germany

 Show Notes Independent Travel Dr. Mary Travelbest: Munich, Germany

In this episode: FAQ what makes someone a good travel companion?  Destination: Munich Germany, My mistakes: Fashion Fo-Pahs and travel advice for avoiding extra fees for carry-on baggage.

FAQ: In your experience, what makes someone a good travel companion?

Answer: My best travel companions have a sense of humor when things don’t go the way we planned, or we lose our way. Being resilient and making do with the circumstances goes a long way when with another person on the road. Patience and curiosity are two great qualities to carry along, too.

Today’s Independent Destination- Munich, Germany

For the Tourist: Two favorite memories of Munich are Oktoberfest (mid Sept-Mid Oct) and Dachau.
The Fest is also called:  Wisen, pronounced “Vizen “ after Therese, one of the originals from a wedding party feast two centuries ago.

Yes, the fest is now 204 years old, and only features beer from Munich. There are 14 very large tents. The most famous one is Schottenhamel because it’s where the mayor taps the first keg and the biggest one is Hofbräu-Festhalle which seats almost 11,000 people.
If the season is not Oktoberfest, you still can visit the Hofbrau House in Munich.

Dachau is a concentration camp about 20 minutes from Munich, where 40,000 people were killed in WW2. Never forget the past kept ringing through my head and heart as I walked through this former prison for unfortunate people from a war torn country.

Off the Beaten Path: Not far from Munich is an area of hills and mountains known as The Black Forest, for its dense evergreen forests and picture-like villages, maybe similar to the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. It’s known for spas and cuckoo clocks. In the center of the towns, you may be able to sit and have a drink and do some people watching and just enjoy the setting. Stuttgart and Freiburg are nearby, and you’ll see Gothic architecture and vineyards. A friend that I met in New Zealand, named Ulrich Gembardt, who worked as a reporter for the BBC in  Germany, took me around the area, exploring the Black Forest, where he had a second home. I found the area to be especially delightful and not so well known in the USA. Visit if you can.

Today’s Mistakes

Two fashion errors today to report. The first was wearing brand new blue jeans in the pouring rain. My waist, backside and legs turned all blue.
That was a poor plan and took several days to get my skin normal. Wash your new jeans before you go in the rain and become a blue person.
And don’t do what I did and wear new hiking boots on a long trip. Be sure you break them in for at least several weeks before you leave town.

Today’s Travel Advice

Airlines want to charge you for extras these day. Here’s a tip for you to avoid extra charges at the gate. If the airline makes you shrink down to only one bag, and you’re carrying two, stuff one bag into the other one. If you need to, you can remove the items from the smaller bag and place them in the larger one. Put things in your pockets if you need to, or add another layer of clothing to your outfit and then re-organize once you get on the plane.
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Houston, Texas

Show Notes Dr. Mary Travelbest: Houston

In this episode: Eating Vegan on the road, Destination: Houston, Mistake is getting pick pocketed, and tips are things to carry in your car if on a road trip.

FAQ- Can I eat vegan or vegetarian while on the road?
Yes, you can and it’s getting easier to do that. Try planning ahead to see what places are vegan. You can always find the staples of Beans and Rice, even when you’re not on the road. Falafel. Eat breakfast, wherever you start out. Carry your own food. Be sure to have protein, including nuts.
I’m not a vegan, but I know that it’s a very healthy lifestyle, so I’ll be more conscious of others who are.

Today’s Independent Destination- Houston

Touristy:  Yes, it’s a Huge city, and the locals like that it’s been “underrated” for many years.
And Texas is a huge state, so consider that everything is BIG here.
What’s there to do? Music is big, think Beyonce. Literature is big, think  Larry McMurtry,
Shopping- the Galleria with 400+ stores, including 60 local ones.
Oil is big in Texas. The Bush family lives here, right?
Steaks-I’m sure they are Texas sized, too.
Johnson Space Center-NASA-held the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

It’s a sports town, NBA Houston Rockets

Off the beaten path: One of our best men from our wedding, Pico Mina, held his wedding here. Some great memories of a horse driven carriage and a lovely bride, Catherine. …Pappadeaux Restaurant chain was founded here. Great seafood and more.

Another time in Houston was not by choice. I was stranded overnight at the airport due to bad weather. I found a local guy named Howard, who was in my same predicament and spent the night at his place, not a romantic event, just two travelers who would return to the airport the next day and try to get away. That story did not work out, as I never did get to my destination. But that will be for another day!

Today’s Mistake-
My friend Becky wanted me to share her story. She told me about getting robbed right after she got to Europe, because she was a little jetlagged and not herself. Her friend had her wallet in a purse, zipped, and inside the jacket, closed. They were on the subway, and it was crowded, but the friend did not even know they were picked. That’s a good pickpocket, because they never saw it happen. Don’t get robbed. Stay on top of your surroundings. The end of the story was that they got their wallets back, minus the cash. They did have to cancel their credit cards, but the bank was very supportive and helpful, even giving them some personal support and advice for the future.

Today’s Travel Advice- Are you going on a road trip? Consider these things….
Things to keep in your car:
Spare tire with jack, charger for your phone, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water, blanket, registration and proof of insurance, jacket, wine opener, raincoat or poncho, reflectors, and remember that if you bring it, you likely won’t need it. But if you forget it, you will certainly need it!
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Independent Travel Show Notes: Michigan

Welcome to Dr. Mary Travelbest’s Independent Travel Guide. This is for women who travel, who want to travel, and especially for those who want to travel independently.

In this episode: FAQ When is the best time to plan a trip? Destination: Michigan, Mistake: spinning around off the highway on ice, and tip on making copies of your passport.

FAQ- When is the best time to plan a trip?
I like to plan my trip on the way home from the last one. It just makes sense when you can do that. You’ve got that last bit of energy and excitement from where you’ve just been. Take a few minutes to put together a plan, and then start researching why you’d want to go there and when. From there, it’s up to you on getting the plan moving forward. You don’t always need someone to plan with you. You can just plan your own trip, you  know! It will be fun once you get going and start believing that you’re really going.

Today’s Independent Destination- Michigan

Lake Michigan is a paradise, especially in the summer.
Places to remember forever, like the dunes, sand dunes, sailing and Macinac Island.
You can visit the island, stay at the Victorian Grand Hotel, like from the movie, Somewhere in Time and imagine you are on the front porch with Christopher Reeve.
The island has only 500 residents year round, but plenty of travelers in the summer. Almost no cars on the island, which is mostly a nature preserve.

 the motor city has a lot of great things to explore. I remember visiting the Renaissance Center   when it first opened. Seven interconnected buildings. Free tours most days. GM is headquartered here.

It’s motor city, where cars are really the stars. The auto shows are exceptional. It’s also Motown City, with great music. Last year, I went through Detroit’s airport and found it to be really easy to get around, too. Walking through the tunnels was a very colorful experience. Murals moved and so did I!
Windsor, Canada is right across the border, and yes you can cross easily, for free.
Skiing is great in Michigan if you happen to be there in winter, but be sure you’re protected from the elements.
Fall colors are so special here, with plenty of views.
Living in Chicago, I visited Michigan often. It’s not too far of a drive, and the people in Michigan are really very lovely to know. There’s a lot to do from Manistee in the north, to Grand Rapids, down further south.
Traverse City, one of the most resort-like towns is great to vacation in the summer. I’ve been there in the winter, too, and it’s much different. The skiing is not too bad at Iron Mountain, in the UP.
If in Flint, don’t drink the water.
U of M Ann Arbor has some great football games, or just visit the university and say “GO BLUE”

Today’s Mistake-

We got stuck in the middle of the road in Indiana in a snowstorm, twisted around and helpless. It was scary as we did not know how we would get out. I think we eventually got a tow and then stayed in a lousy motel that night nearby.
Thanksgiving Vacation. Listening to “miracles” song by Jefferson Starship
Maribeth Meersman, Maureen Dowdle and right off highway 70.
It was a miracle that we were safe and drove out of there. Don’t drive on ice.

Today’s Travel Advice-

Make copies of your travel documents, especially your passport and your credit cards. What would happen if you lose these? So don’t make the mistake of being lost with no resources. Leave one set of copies home and bring the other one with you, as a picture on your phone.

Leave a Review:
Did you like this episode? Please leave an honest with your feedback! Also, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get notified when a new episode gets released. I appreciate your listening to this week’s show. And tune in next week for another great show.
Connect with Mary Beth:

Paris, France

Walk through Paris, France like you live there. Share a few moments on the tourist path, but also get on the off the beaten path and find some discoveries of your own. I guide you along the way, and even share my mistakes with you. Learn from me before you leave for your trip. You'll be safer and healthier while you travel independently.

Check out this travel for women episode!

Vancouver, Canada

Have you traveled to Vancouver, Canada on the West Coast, just a bit north of Washington State? You can learn about how to go there independently here.  Go off the beaten path and find your way. I'll also share tips for finding a clean public restroom, share my mistakes and give some tips of travel in San Francisco.

Check out this travel for women episode!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

New Orleans

Independent Travel Show Notes New Orleans

In this episode: FAQ: How do I always bring the right clothes, but not over pack? Destination: New Orleans, mistake: jumping in water that was too shallow, and tips on travel and local libraries.


FAQ- How do I bring the right clothes, but not over pack?
This is always a challenge, even when you are going to a beach. What do you do? I’ve got a plan that works for me, so here it is.
I put everything I need out on the floor, but in reach, fill my suitcase, and then dump out half of it. I want to color match, so maybe just black and white clothes will be the style. Usually just one pair of pants is all you need, and a few blouses, except for long trips. Try to bring things that work alone, like solid colors that are neutral, not always the exact outfit is needed to enjoy yourself. Do you want to be carrying around a large suitcase? I think not. So lighten it by bringing gifts for others from your hometown. Drop them off. Then you can fill your suitcase with goodies for the trip home, presents for loved ones, even you!

Today’s Independent Destination- New Orleans, Louisiana
First the touristy then off the beaten path for NOLA. Yes, you can go solo or with a friend.
Touristy: When to go? Jazz Fest in spring, Mardi Gras the start of Lent, or when you want to have a party, like my friend did for her 60th birthday.
There are some great things to do in New Orleans, a non-stop party.
French Quarter: it’s a neighborhood of glitzy and loud entertainers, some shops and bars with restaurants. Eat Cajun food. Check out the Second story cast iron balconies in colorful patterns. It’s where the history of New Orleans begins. There are quieter streets leading to the French Market, where you can find gourmet food and local crafts. Look for street performers in front of the St. Louis Cathedral.
Museums-The Air BNB where I was staying by night was a museum by day, close to the French Quarter.
Riverboats for gambling are here, too, if you like.
Music: non-stop jazz clubs throughout the city.
Beignets: They are a delicious baked treat, especially at 2am at Café du Monde.
Southern hospitality: enjoy it.

Off the Beaten Path: So watch out, keep your valuables hidden and protected.
On a more happy note, while exploring recently, I found a farmers market underneath a freeway ramp, and scored some nice treats for souvenirs, not on the main path of tourists at all. Check out the local neighborhoods for local fests and weekly markets like this.

Today’s Mistake-

I jumped into shallow water. Not just once. I did it two times several years apart.
Don’t follow my lead. Always know before you jump. The first time was outdoors in a wooded area and my friends were all jumping in, so I did also. But I did not realize that the water was so shallow, so I hurt my foot and had a hard time walking on it. Just the heel, but it took a while.
The next and last time, was while a “stunt woman” for Universal Studios. Really, it was only on the tour. But I was part of the show as a volunteer. I was to jump in the raging river and we were bank robbers or something like that. Only when I jumped in the river, it was only a few inches deep, so my leg was injured badly. I had to go to the hospital nearby and never did get further at the park. My friends had to drive home for me that day, and it was weeks before my knee was better. So don’t jump unless you know the depth.

Today’s Travel Advice- Step into a local public library. When you travel, see the public library and get a feel for what the locals do. I love seeing books, art and even music on display, the people who visiting and especially the librarians. They are just helpful people! Get to know a new library today, no matter where you are. I visited the public library twice while in Seward, Alaska to take in some local color. It’s also a museum and houses the archives of the region. I take my mom in her wheelchair to her public library in Atlanta, Georgia. She loves that she can read her favorite authors and browse for new ones.
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Friday, December 13, 2019

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Let's visit Santa Fe, New Mexico as a woman independent traveler. I just did it this month and you can, too. I'll share my travel mistakes and give you tips for travel. I also answer your questions, so go ahead and ask me.

Check out this travel for women episode!

In this episode: FAQ on how to keep food and meal costs low? The destination is Santa Fe, New Mexico, the mistake is almost causing havoc on the road, and travel advice is to travel or not on a holiday?

FAQ: Advice on how to keep food/meal costs low while traveling?

Keeping food costs low is …
Club stores: Sam’s, Costco lets you buy in bulk, so if you are in a trip where you can bulk up, do so right away. For example, you may need to get a case of bottled water, especially in a foreign country. You may find that the Club stores have really great pricing on bulk water, other beverages, and even staples like peanut butter and jelly.
We get our gas, too, and to save time, get there before it opens.

Go to the back of the grocery store first. That’s where the real deals are, not in the front. Eat a large breakfast. Or even better, get the breakfast included with the room, such as in a lot of hotel chains or BNBs. Make the big meal of the day either breakfast or lunch, and then you will not be so hungry for dinner, when the prices for a meal are normally a lot higher.

When you do eat out, you can ask for a doggie bag and get a second meal already. Most restaurants serve too much food anyway. Or share a meal with a friend.
You can purchase easy to eat items like Bananas, apples and pears for low costs. You can also ask the locals where they eat and drink. They normally know the best values and this is a more authentic experience which you will prefer.

Today’s Independent Destination- Santa Fe, New Mexico

Visit in fall of 2019. Heard that the airport was very small, with no real services to offer.
Movie stars were all over the city.
Walk along the river, Rio Grande
Parks in the downtown area
Restaurants galore, every kind of food you can imagine is here. So are the tourists.
I found a store called: Travel Bug- Paseo de Peralta.
I browsed all of the travel books and bought a map, because you always need maps, right?
Plaza is where the center of the city meets. Lots of souvenir shops and churches here.
Some authentic stores and art galleries: Canyon Road, Highway 285
Old Pecos Trail, Old Santa Fe Trail
Nearby Places to see? ALB is about an hour away, Turquoise Trail for tourists and you.
Balloon Celebration first weekend in October
Hot spot in the USA for retirees.

Today’s Mistake
Driving a car with a chain holding the gas tank. I could have caused a disaster.
That was a gigantic mistake for me. I filled up the tank for a long trip from Chicago to Ohio. That tank of gas must have been too much for the full car, my 65 Chevy Station Wagon that cost me $50. On the Kennedy Expressway, in the reversible lanes, my rear view mirror had sparks flying from my car. So I dragged it a while going at least 65 mph.
Well, I pulled over and no fire was there. There were 9 emergency vehicles that came to the rescue. No one was hurt. They towed my car. The gas tank was re-welded back on the car. That was the car I drove for the next year or so, but what a memory.

Today’s Travel Advice
Should you travel on the holidays or stay home? Wherever you find yourself, with the best deal for travel and a place to stay is ideal.
It’s good to avoid the crowds and rushing of the airport.

One of my travel buddy friends, Jo Balsamo Wood said this….I’ve gone on vacation over Christmas. I really enjoyed getting away from the hubbub, going to beautiful churches, seeing other traditions. Highly recommended. Unquote

Today I want to bring meaning to your travel

Connect with Mary Beth:

Friday, December 6, 2019


The Windy City may be just the place for you to visit. Have you been to the Second City yet? This is a guide for women to travel independently. So you can get going, give it a listen. Build your confidence. You are ready to begin. Also, hear my mistakes and some tips for independent travelers.

Check out this travel for women episode!

In this episode: Favorite information experts, destination Chicago, my mistake jetlag, my advice is to make your luggage sing to you, with a ribbon.

·         FAQ: What are your favorite types of people to ask local information from (like front desk clerks, Uber driver, Park Rangers, etc.)?

My favorite are uber and lyft drivers. They are usually from another country and just traveling with them makes me feel like my trip has begun, even if it’s to the airport.
Park Rangers. Love them, too. The National Parks, State Parks, they are docents, love being outdoors. Really love being with people. They are so smart, too. They seem to have all the answers. Ranger Rick, right?
Front desk clerks these days ….not as friendly as they used to be. They have a lot of other responsibilities, it seems. They are useful for hotel info, but not more than that, most of the time.
Concierge- well, it’s their job. I have had help from them in France, for example, when I could not find help, I got it from a concierge and was not even staying at that hotel.

Today’s Independent Destination- Chicago

If I had a weekend in Chicago, I would be downtown on Michigan Avenue, walking along the Lakefront, exploring the zoo, and the 95th floor of the John Hancock building at sunset on a clear day. Willis Sky deck used to be called “The Sears Tower” for as long as I had lived there and longer. That ledge looks pretty great. I’ve got to go back.

The Art Institute or the Architecture River Cruise. You have to do at least one!
Navy Pier is so fun to walk around for free. There’s also a lot of museums, Science & Industry, Field, and don’t forget the Planetarium and the Aquarium, especially if you’re really cold or really hot, and Chicago has a lot of these. Springs and fall should be experienced outdoors, walking/shopping the Miracle Mile or nearby Rush Street. Most people fly into Chicago or Midway airports and easily get downtown on public transportation.

Some of my favorites include: Half Shell for Crab, Lincoln Avenue for music
concerts at Ravinia Music Festival, going to a play or musical.
Anytime at Grant Park and a favorite holiday, the St Patrick’s Day Parade

Today’s Mistake
Getting out of the subway and being lost in a foreign country. For example, in Spain, I thought that it was daytime, even though the sky was getting darker. For some strange reason, my mind told me that it was morning. So your body clock does not always match the real time of day.

Today’s Travel Advice
Tie a colored ribbon on your suitcase handle. Not a big deal, until you get to the luggage carousel at your destination and see every bag looks like yours. That saves time and stress. Plus, it’s happy to see you, so it’s like a present to you.

Today I want to bring meaning to your travel