Help! I Need Travel Ideas for the New Year

The Open Suitcase needs travel ideas for the new year. Where’d you go in 2016? What did you love? Or hate? Leave your suggestions for places to visit, foods to eat, and things to do, or not do, in the comments section for a chance to win some travel inspiration.

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The calendar flips in a few days and I need travel ideas for the new year. It’s how I survive winter.

I’m inviting you to play a round of show and tell. Continue reading

Visiting Grand Rapids: Beer, Art, Beer, Repeat

Tell people you’re visiting Grand Rapids and you’re likely to get a confused look. This city of 200,000, located in Western Michigan, is still an under the radar travel destination, but it won’t be for long. It’s easy to navigate, features a premier art destination, and has a lively craft beer scene. It’s easy to sample during a quick weekend getaway, but, once you get a taste, you’ll want to return for a second helping.

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The dominant sculpture in the garden is American Horse by Nina Akamu. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

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Nun for a Weekend: Quebec City’s Le Monastere des Augustines

Looking for a hotel in Quebec City for a weekend getaway? Traditional options abound but if you want a unique experience, consider a stay at Le Monastere des Augustines, a renovated historical monastery with a wellness mission. I embraced its quiet elegance, artfully designed to soothe the mind and ignite the soul.

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The renovation of Le Monastere thoughtfully combined the old with the new. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

Fear of the Unknown

I didn’t know what to expect when I checked into a monastery for a weekend getaway in Quebec City. Would a gaggle of nuns circle me in the lobby and start singing, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Cathy?” as in the Sound of Music. Or, worse, would I be stripped naked and escorted to my room in a shameful walk of atonement like Cersei in Game of Thrones? Continue reading

Hudson Valley Spotlight: Kingston, New York

Al Smith Election Poster Hudson Valley Kingston brick wallTurn a corner in Kingston and you’ll find a surprise. For example, walking down Fair Street, I saw a campaign poster for Al Smith, Prohibition opponent, and 4-time governor of New York State. It was unusual because Mr. Smith died in 1944. Was this an omen? Will the Republican Party try to posthumously nominate Richard Nixon? The one thing to remember about surprises is that they come at you in two ways – good and bad. Continue reading

Simple Moves to Make Travel Easier

Cullen Family Carousel Detroit RiverfrontI really shouldn’t be permitted to travel, based on the number of really stupid things I’ve done on the road. On past trips, I have shown up at the wrong hotel and tried to check in for a flight that wasn’t mine. I have gotten on trains heading away from my destination rather than towards it. And when it comes to driving and one-way streets…let’s just say, I can U-turn VERY quickly.

But recently, two things went right. Very right. And they shouldn’t have, considering it was the weekend of the lunar eclipse. Continue reading