Tag: Tips & Tricks

Create the perfect itinerary

Create the perfect itinerary

Whenever we travel for more than 2 or 3 days at a time, we always create an Itinerary. This idea came about mostly because our trips (especially road trips) can often include more than 3 different locations, over more than a week, and sometimes spanning most of the State.

Our Itineraries have since evolved into something of a legend and now include everything from travel timeframes, accommodation, pit-stops and of course, food and wine – essential for any luxury travel!

So, here are some sure-fire tips to help you create your own legendary itineraries. It’s also a great keep-sake. We keep all of ours in a big box with postcards, tickets, concert lanyards, restaurant business cards, and any other special mementoes we may have picked up on our travels, to help remind us of all the fabulous things we have experienced.

Start with the basics
Where are you going? How long will it take to get there? How many stops do you need to make along the way? Use websites such as www.whereis.com to help you map your journey in advance and local tourist information sites to give you prior knowledge of a good pub or café you may be able to use as a pit-stop.

Where to lay your head
This is important! Travelling is tiresome, so make sure  you have somewhere nice at the end of a long journey to rest and recoup before starting the next leg. A place with a spa is always a good idea (and a necessity for KAM) as your body can be stiff and sore after driving all day or sitting on a long flight.

Do your research
When trying to decide on what to do, where to eat or a place to have a nice glass of wine, there is nothing better than a good testimonial. www.tripadvisor.com is my go-to-guide for everything, before deciding on anything. Good reviews are the best way to establish whether it is worthy of your itinerary or not. We have pretty high standards so only the best of reviews will confirm a spot on the list.

Call Ahead 
Quite often, you could be going to a place that a lot of other people are visiting at the same time. The vineyards during concert season is a prime example of this and you need to book any restaurant at least a month in advance. If you secure all your bookings and reservations before you leave, you will know exactly what to pack for where you are going and wont have to ring around or wait in line for a table. Trust me – this will be a big help!

Surprise! Surprise!
A trip is a great way to surprise a loved one. Think about the things they like to do and research something suitable in the local area. It can be as simple as arranging a favourite bottle of wine to be available upon arrival at the hotel or as lavish as a sunset sailing cruise. We aim to surprise each other each time we travel and it always adds an extra sparkle to the excitement of the trip.

Get lost!
Always having a GPS device on hand is important (and has saved us a number of times from very lonely dirt tracks!) However, talking to each other is just as valuable. Schedule a time within your itinerary to be free from devices. Leave phones and tablets at the hotel and take a walk on the beach or share a bottle of wine in a deep leather couch at a dimly lit bar. ‘Screen-time Free-Time’ should always be considered in any itinerary.

This is a guaranteed guide to a successful itinerary and if you consider these points when designing it, I promise you will have an amazing trip and create memories, like ours, that will last a lifetime. We would love to hear about some of your Itineraries. Please leave a comment on the Post or send us an email at t.duchess@hotmail.com

5 Good Bubbly’s for $15

5 Good Bubbly’s for $15

A Bubbly Sunday Experiment

I am not sure whether living on the same block as a bottle shop is a godsend or a problem. Either way, it makes a bad day a bit easier when you simply have to walk next door to make yourself feel better – albeit until tomorrow. Whilst we are lovers of fine wine, there is always those days when you just need a good drop of bubbly to put a little fizz back into your day.

So purely in the name of research, we toddled off next door and brought them out of bubbly, in order to give you the best 5 Bubbly’s for under $15. Paired with a nice Mezze plate, we sat on the balcony in the sun, enjoying a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, the hard work just simply has to be done!

At $15 or less, all 5 of these lovely wines, will definitely cheer you up after a bad day at the office or make a Sunday afternoon with friends a bit of an occasion. Don’t get me wrong… I love the finer things in life! But sometimes the finer things don’t have to cost the earth. Let me prove it to you!

And while we did rate these bubbles from 1 to 5 (number 1 being our favourite of course!), do understand that there was half a point between each, so not a big difference in the love-factor overall.

Coming in at Number 5 is the Jacobs Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2015. This beautiful and quite serious drop from a very affordable vineyard is a great “bad day wine”. It’s boldness lets you sink into it and relax after a hard day and would be great paired with some hot and spicy Thai food! This is a great Hump Day drop when you can’t be bothered to cook and get take-out and watch The Bachelor, laughing at all the silly girls!

Number 4 on our list is one of our all-time favourites! Henkell Trocken Sparkling Wine can be found in our fridge on any given day of the week and the lady at our local bottle shop even quietly lets us know when it’s going in special so we can buy up in bulk! Henkell is a zesty, fun, lively bubbly with an everlasting citrus flavour that is just too easy to drink! Really… A bloody nice wine!!!

Our Number 3 is one of the prettiest wines I have ever seen. The Yellowglen Vintage 2015 Bella Pink Moscato is decorated with beautiful packaging and makes it perfect for drinks with the girls on a Friday afternoon. This lovely wine is like a super-sweet nectar that tickles the end of your nose as you sip and is good old plain fun! If I have a night at home alone, you will find me on the couch with a bottle of Yellowglen Pink Moscato and a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel topping. Paired with a great girly movie and Mr. George Clooney, it feels like a naughty night in. But don’t tell KAM!

Number 2 was a bit of a surprise package! Living with an Italian, I have enjoyed my fair-share of Prosecco’s, but the Porta Dante Prosecco in my opinion is one of the best (and one of the most inexpensive). This lovely wine is smooth, sophisticated, and gentle – just like a good Italian should be! I could easily sip a Sunday away with a bottle of this lovely bubbly with KAM. Although I do wonder…. Are two Italians too much to handle at the same time?!

And finally our favourite! As we were conducting this experiment we tried not to taint the results, however with a bottle of Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon in the mix, it was hard not to be bias. The Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon is pure sunshine in a glass and makes all your bad days disappear like the fizz that escapes from the bottle as you open it. This beautiful bubbly is summer at its best and showcases the Hunter Valley Semillon’s with class, style and grace. Happy songs start to play in my head as I sip a glass of this spectacular wine and I remember all of the beautiful meals KAM and I have shared with a bottle of Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon on the side. This wine is simply the best money can buy at around $15 and in my opinion is worth much more – but don’t tell Bimbadgen I said that or they might up the price!

So there you have it! This list proves that for under $15 you can enjoy a little luxury at any time of the week without breaking the budget! But don’t take our word for it… Try them for yourselves. After all, life would be boring without a little experimentation, right?!

The long road in DJ mode!

The long road in DJ mode!

Following on from the 10 commandments of a Co-Pilot, in this story I will be focussing on a very important aspect of any road trip – ‘Music’. Whenever The Duchess takes the wheel, a friend of mine, DJ Mezzanine kicks into gear to keep us going with songs for the long road ahead. So in true road trip style, may I introduce DJ Mezzanine, who will be keep you entertained and give you a great list of tunes (and a little bit of crazy!) to help pass the time on the endless roads that lay ahead.

DJ Mezzanine’s Top 10 Driving Songs

 Hey Hey Everybody how are y’all doing out there? This is DJ Mezzanine taking you to the next level in dance, music and a whole lotta thumping sounds to get you grooving in the car. I’ve been asked to dissect and rate the very best top ten driving songs to sing with your driving partner and ensure high energy and smooth sailing in the vehicle.

 1. This band is a favourite of this DJ and I’ve been lucky enough to see them live 4 times, they have many songs that I could’ve picked for this list however their first and best will get you jumping and pumping to start the drive. “Hello” – Cat Empire 

2. Ok OK, now we are rocking it out, I like to slip in an oldie but one that always demands people on the dance floor. “Bust a Move” – Tone Loc

3. Keeping the beat high and going to the next level we slip on some music that will please the harsher of critics. I’m actually going to double this one up, two pronged, take your choice, both songs get this DJ blasting out the sounds. New York” or “Girl on Fire” – Aleisha Keys

4. Time now to spin the wheel and bring in some recent music, if you not singing yet this one will grab your tongue and lead you to the dance floor. “Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5

5. We are now riding into the middle of the song list and I’m starting to sweat this up, a perfect time to slip in a cheeky song we all know and love with a bit of spice. “Let’s Talk about Sex” – Salt n Pepper

6. I need to take a breather after that one, oh yeah! Time to rest up as we move higher up to the second level, this song will help take the edge off. “Some Nights” – Fun

7. C’mon everybody we are almost there, stay with me, keep up I’m not leaving anyone behind today……“Brave” – Sara Bareilles

8. We are almost there people, this song brings back the memories and has a great sound that I just can’t keep quiet, and this song needs to be let out…”Thunderstruck” – ACDC

9. DJ Mezzanine is almost peaking and at these times I need inspiration, something to strive and reach out for, this song will bring the motivation we all need. “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten

10. We made it!!!! We are here; the final song is in the room. We are all on the second level for the absolute BEST driving song in the world. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen 

Thank you everybody for keeping on this journey with me, I want to share as a parting gift a couple of bench warmers who will serve a purpose if required. While driving things happen that can bring on the need for a particular song to help us along the way. When you need a good angry pump up song to shake off the demons : “Bad Habit” – Offspring

When you’re all fluffy and everything is right with the world, as you look out the windows of the car and see only marshmallows, this song is a treat. “Free Bird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd 

DJ Mezzanine signing off… see ya next time you’re ready to raise it to the next level baby!!!

10 Commandments of a Co-Pilot…

10 Commandments of a Co-Pilot…

The success of any road trip relies heavily on the co-pilot being aware, prepared and open to dealing with anything at any time. Relationships have been built or destroyed on the backbone of co-pilot skills during a road trip.

Below I have outlined 10 Commandments the co-pilot must adhere to and be willing to execute to ensure a smooth, safe and happy ending to any road trip. Be warned however, road trips can be stressful, nerve-racking and downright traumatic at times, so waiver from this list at your own peril.

  1. The co-pilot must be stocked with lollies (preferably orange snakes) and/or potato chips to ensure the driver can sustain concentration between pit stops.
  2. Always, and I stress, always have a set of headphones at the ready and untangled in case a unpredicted phone call beckons the driver. You are expected as co-pilot to plug them into the phone and hand them carefully to the driver.
  3. Have a smart phone handy with either the location of the destination on MAPS or information around potential accidents & hazards ahead. The smart phone can also be used for inspiration for conversation – I encourage you to look at American News where American Politics or ‘crimes of passion’ are blamed on a myriad of ridiculous excuses. This can provide hours of discussion.
  4. Any use of the horn by the driver MUST be supported and encouraged, followed by the comment “What was that person doing? Good job Hun”.
  5. Clever and expert overtaking must be applauded by the comment ‘nice job babe’, also dodgy or impatient overtaking can only be commented on by saying Nice job babe”.
  6. If the driver asks “Was that a speed camera we just passed?” the only correct response is “nah, that was one of those average speed cameras honey, it’s all good” with the understanding that if a fine arrives in the mail you will take the hit.
  7. Success of the road trip can rest on the shoulders of good tunes, the co-pilot must be prepared to be DJ during their stint. Some commentary between songs in a DJ voice is desirable however not essential. I suggest a pre-made CD, downloaded songs on an iPad or iPhone to maintain the rhythm of the drive.
  8. It is imperative the co-pilot constantly assesses the wellbeing of the driver. For us, a 2 hour stint behind the wheel is how we share the long drives. After the 2 hour cut-off time check in with the driver either asking for a bathroom break or in general how they are going. If you notice the car driving down a part of the freeway yet to be opened that is an indication a switch in driver is required.
  9. As the co-pilot you are never to reach and hold the bar above your left ear (otherwise known as the Holy **** Bar). At times this may be a knee-jerk reaction which is hard to control. I invite you to refrain and instead type away on your IPad or look like you are searching for something on your phone. Reassurance & confidence will serve you well.
  10. At any point, when a brilliant song comes on the stereo stretch your legs, put them up on the dashboard, close your eyes, and sit back soaking up the moment, the love and the freedom of the road.
10 Commandments of a Co-Pilot
KAM Taking Over

We have done a lot of road trips – in fact the majority of our travels are done on the road, stuck in the car together for hours on end. By following these co-pilot commandments we guarantee you will arrive safely, still in love, and more importantly – working as a team on the road.

Written by KAM for How The Duchess Does It
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