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Nobody has time to get sick. After years of practice, I have tried and true methods to nip a potential cold in the bud.  The trick is to catch the illness before it blooms into a full fledged snot fest. The moment I feel the signs- body ache, sniffle, scratchy throat- I have a variety of potions that I start swigging, spraying and shooting up my nasal passages. 1. Barlean's Olive Leaf Complex Throat Spray Schpritz this broad spectrum...

We decided to go to Sweden by default. In late September, I still had not planned anything for winter break. A swift online search revealed that all of the predictable spots-skiing in Colorado, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico-had been already booked by parents more conscientious than me. So, I looked at less popular vacation options. Flights to Scandinavia on SAS were reasonable and activities abundant.  Off we went. The first thing that blew me away about Stockholm was the...

A cruise can be an incredible family vacation. The appeal of visiting multiple destinations and unpacking just once is undeniable. But, for many, the mega ship cocktail -endless crowds, bland buffets, forgettable port towns, pools that could double as water parks— is not. That’s why the river boat business is booming, especially in Western Europe. Smaller ships that traverse inland waterways offer access to historic towns, superior cuisine and a setting conducive to bonding with fellow...

Tulum? Maui? Tokyo? This was my hot list a few weeks ago when I blinked and realized that winter break was breathing down my neck. And, I had planned zilch. Within an hour, I discovered that “sure thing” destinations -ski resorts with perma-powder, foolproof beach getaways (Hawaii, Mexico, St Bart’s) and most things international. were off the table. Even with connections, flights were ridiculously expensive. Award seats nonexistent, leaving stragglers like me in the...

Travel is a learning experience. To illuminate this point, I create worksheets for my children to fill out prior to most trips. The sheets entail research--what is special about this place? What are some cultural differences? What type of food is eaten here? What can we expect to see and do in this place? What are five things you want to do at this destination? Then, they present their findings to us. The worksheet project engages kids...

If you are a food lover, you know about Commander's Palace, the home of haute Creole cuisine in New Orleans' Garden District. A new book about Miss Ella Brennan, the 90 year old proprietress and icon of the American Food Movement is out (penned by her daughter Ti Martin) and it's a fascinating read.  The book traces the culinary icon's life from managing her brother’s dive bar on Bourbon Street in the 1940s to helming one of the...

While j’adore Paris, a recent trip there felt triste, the militia -like police presence, endless sirens and parfum of fear sucking the romantic spirit from the city. Plus, I couldn’t shake the anxiety that a terrorist attack was very much in the realm of possibility during my visit. It made me think— The City of Light no longer felt like Europe’s ne plus ultra getaway. Could Amsterdam snatch the reins from Paris? [caption id="attachment_20513" align="alignnone" width="768"]...

After conducting a few interviews this week, I had an epiphany: I've been wasting a lot of money on travel. It's not that I had crap experiences. Au contraire. It's that I haven't been doing enough homework on how to best use awards dollars to offset the hard costs of travel. Brian Kelly, the miles maestro behind The Points Guy, reminded me that earning miles is not limited to butt-in-seat airline travel. A flexible-use credit...

How to eat your way around St. Louis Chef Rick Lewis of Southern and Mike "Pappy" Emerson of Pappy's Smokehouse, both located in St. Louis, talk about their restaurants' specialties. (Amy Tara Koch / Chicago Tribune) Amy Tara Koch for the Chicago Tribune Some cities reveal their charm effortlessly. Walk out of a hotel room in London or New York, and you can easily stroll into a compelling neighborhood, its curated boutiques and trendy cafes smacking of local verve. Other cities...

The most difficult thing about becoming a parent is watching the concept of free time evaporate. In the old days,  “getting ready” was part of the fun of going out. Two luxurious hours could easily be invested in outfit selection and grooming. Your chart-topping responsibility along with your career and social life was looking good and having fun. Then came kids. Just like many other things in life, the simple pleasure of limitless free time...