November is One of Our Favorite Travel Months

We have taken the opportunity to travel many times during the month of November. We choose November for several reasons, including the fact that the weather is usually mild, the scenery in the northern hemisphere can be quite stunning, and it is often considered to be a “bumper” month when there are less travelers. It is also a time when we usually take a couple of weeks to travel, which allows us to see a little more of the places that we’re visiting. Here are some of our favorite memories of traveling during the month of November.

Downtown Stratford-upon-Avon
Eiffel Tower in Autumn

Paris, London, and Stratford-upon-Avon – On our first trip to Europe, we flew into Paris where we spent several days, then took the Chunnel to London. After a few days in London, we took a train to Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick before heading to Manchester for a couple of days. Finally, it was back to London to catch our flight home. We had an absolutely wonderful time, but we have learned a lot more about how to travel since that trip.

Seville Cathedral
Fortress Walls at Alhambra in Granada, Spain

Southern Spain – Spending two weeks in Southern Spain was another amazing experience where we fully immersed ourselves into the country and the culture. We spent time in Granada, Seville, and Gibraltar, but perhaps our tour of Morocco was a highlight of the trip. We found time to relax as well as explore, making it a perfect vacation as well as travel experience.

Sunset in Cabo San Lucas
The Arch at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico

Cabo San Lucas in Mexico – We have been to Cabo more than once during November as the weather starts getting cold in Colorado at that time of year. Spending time at the beach is always a welcome diversion and we love walking along the beach, enjoying restaurants at the marina, and just sitting by the pool.

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
Cologne, Germany

Germany and Austria – During our time in Frankfurt, we had just gotten fully acclimated and were taking trips every weekend. During the month of November, we visited Cologne, Hochheim, Würzburg, and also took a train to Vienna, Austria. Obviously, it is so much easier to travel when based directly in Europe as opposed to having to take a flight from the United States.

Colorful Dancers in Panama City
Views of Panama City

Panama City, Panama – We saw so many animals during our trip to Panama that was certainly a unique experience. Considering that it can be rainy in Panama at that time of year, we were fortunate enough to have good weather as we took tours that took us from coast to coast. We would definitely consider returning to see more of this fascinating country.

Walking the Side Streets of Old Town Alexandria
Cobblestone Streets

Old Town Alexandria in Virginia – You don’t have to leave the country to see interesting places and spending time in Old Town Alexandria was certainly a nice place to get away. Not only is it historic and beautiful, especially in autumn, but it also reminded us of growing up on the east coast of the United States.

Two Reclining Buddhas in Laos (They are Farther Apart then It Looks)
Halong Bay in Vietnam

Vietnam and Laos – Our most recent excursion in the month of November was to spend two weeks in Hanoi where we were able to see so many wonderful places. From a few days in Vientiane, Laos or taking a cruise in Halong Bay, the trip was certainly one of the best that we have enjoyed. It was somewhat of a spontaneous decision to visit Vietnam and the people that we met there hold a special place in our hearts.

All Inclusive – Do You Get Your Money’s Worth?

Many resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and other beach destinations tend to require that you purchase all-inclusive packages that cover all of your meals and drinks for the entirety of your stay. While there are plenty of reasons that all-inclusive resorts are nice, we tend to think that it really favors the resort more than the people who stay there. A lot of it depends on your vacation style and whether the resort offers all of the variety that you are looking for.

Resorts Along the Beach

Generally speaking, we prefer not to do all-inclusive plans for several reasons:

  1. We like to eat where the locals eat and not just sit at the resort all day and all night, so we feel like we’re throwing money away if we leave the resort to enjoy a local restaurant.
  2. We’re not big eaters.  Under normal circumstances, we’ll split meals or even just share appetizers rather than sitting down and eating an entire meal to ourselves. That means that giant buffets or full course dinners are overkill for what we’ll end up eating.
  3. It’s just the two of us so even if though we don’t track everything that we’re spending on a trip, we have a budget and pay attention to the prices that we’re paying for meals.
  4. You feel the pressure to get your money’s worth, so you end up eating and drinking more than you should or would normally do.  The last thing you want to do while you’re sitting at the beach is to put on a few pounds.
  5. The only activities included in the ones that we have seen are non-motorized activities, which generally aren’t expensive anyway. We tend to find the more interesting things that we want to do are not part of the all-inclusive package that the resort offers.

Sitting on the Beach

With all that said, we’ve done all-inclusive plans a couple of times.  When we went to the Dominican Republic, we didn’t have a choice, all of the resorts that we looked at were all-inclusive.  On the flip side, there really weren’t any local restaurants near the resort at Punta Cana, so staying at the resort was perfectly fine.  The other thing that is nice about the all-inclusive plans is the alcohol.  When we’re on vacation and don’t have to drive anyplace, we’re going to have a good time and part of that is having a few drinks, so not having to worry about that expense is kind of nice.  Again, though, we don’t want to over-drink, so it is a balancing act of not feeling like you have to have one more because “you’ve already paid for it”.  The other time we did the all-inclusive was actually the last time we went to Cabo a few years ago.  We did three days of all-inclusive and four days on our own.  That allowed us to go to the theme nights, eat and drink at the resort for a few days and then let us hit the restaurants on the beach and in town for the rest of the trip.

Dos Mai Tai’s at the Pool Bar

Regardless of what you think of all-inclusive resorts, chances are you’ll end up staying at one during one of your trips. If you have to stay at an all-inclusive resort, try to take advantage of the amenities without overindulging unnecessarily. The prices of all-inclusive resorts tend to be fairly expensive, but don’t assume that you won’t have other expenses or want to do things outside of the resort, so be sure to plan your budget accordingly.

Parasailing in Mexico

Autumn Apple Margarita

We enjoy drinks that represent the flavors of the season and autumn is certainly one of our favorites. We had heard about a couple of variations of margaritas made with apple cider and decided to create one of our own. Steeping the apple cider with orange, cinnamon, and cloves creates an extra warmth that is enhanced by the alcohol. This recipe should probably come with a warning as it tastes so good that you won’t notice how strong the drink actually is. The cider is also delicious on its own if you don’t want the alcohol. The recipe makes a pitcher, but it can easily be paired down for individual drinks.

Pitcher of Margaritas


  •  1 cup Gold Tequila
  •  1/2 cup Apple Brandy
  •  1 gallon Apple Cider (3 cups for drink)
  •  1/2 Orange – sliced
  •  4 Cinnamon Sticks
  •  8 Cloves

Steeping the Apple Cider


Put the apple cider in a large pot.  Add the orange slices, cinnamon, cloves and heat to just a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to low. Let it heat on low for about 30 minutes, it should not boil, to allow the spices to steep throughout the apple cider. Strain the spices and fruit and let cool. For the pitcher of margaritas, combine the tequila, apple brandy, and 3 cups of the apple cider. Serve with an apple garnish.

Refreshing Taste of Autumn