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Author Archives: Rick Howard

Bermuda

Bermuda is one of the hottest destinations mainlanders are heading to these days. The island has always had its allure, but as the cruise lines have set special itineraries to this beautiful island more and more people are choosing it for their next vacation destination.

Bermuda is 21-square miles filled with natural beauty. The island has 3 regions, Central Bermuda, and the East and West Ends. Starting with the charm of the East End and St. George’s you are transported back in time with history hitting you at every turn. It is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site There is a lot to do here as you visit Tobacco Bay Beach, Tom Moore’s Jungle and the Crystal Caves of Bermuda. The Crystal Caves are an amazing natural wonder you will not want to miss. Mark Twain visited and wrote this in a letter.

“We visited a wonderful cave …“The most beautiful cave in the world, I suppose. We descended 150 steps and stood in a splendid place 250 feet long & 30 or 40 wide, with a brilliant lake of clear water under our feet and all the roof overhead splendid with shining stalactites, thousands and thousands of them as white as sugar, and thousands and thousands brown and pink and other tints.”

As you might imagine, Central Bermuda or Hamilton is where it is at for glamorous real estate, fantastic shoppes and nightlight. Front street is where you can sit at a local cafe and just soak it all in. For a little more of the natural beauty head to the Botanical Gardens.

If you are arriving by ship, you will arrive on South Shore and near the historical Royal Naval dockyard that anchors the island. Here you will see many wonderful beaches, take a shot of climbing up the historical Gibbs HIll Lighthouse and check out the island views. There is a unique charm located on South Shore as churches are colorful and quaint sightings of a little drawbridge and local dining that is sure to please.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Bermuda. There is much more to see and do on this little island that you may want to consider it as one of your next vacation destinations!

Holidays Bring Family Together

Holidays bring family together.  For some, it is the one time a year everyone comes together for a grand celebration, while for others it is a small intimate dinner sharing games and great conversation.    Regardless of the reason you come together, it is a very special time that brings special memories.

More and more families are choosing to celebrate this time at a destination other than the family homestead.  They want to be together, but want a little something different and why not travel! It provides an opportunity to relax, try new things, have someone else cook for you and most important be together in a more stress-free environment.  

So what is the perfect destination and how does someone go about planning?  There are a lot of great destinations and it does take some planning. Here are just a few starter tips to get you thinking.

Tip #1.  Plan ahead!!  I like to see families planning a year in advance so that everyone has the opportunity to budget, get the time off and explore together the ideas.

Tip#2:    Have an expert help!  Ask your professional travel planner to start working with you and your family to explore ideas, communicate with family members and put together a perfect choice!

Tip#2:   Think of your budget and what you can afford to spend on a holiday getaway – this way you won’t be put in an uncomfortable position when the planning begins.  Get the whole family involved too, even the kids, they love to plan and anticipate exciting new opportunities.

Tip #4:  Agree to not have everything your way only!  Be patient and enjoy the process. Let’s face it, when there are a lot of people involved or even just another family traveling with you there can be differences.  Let your travel planner help with this. We have great ideas that will offer everyone the opportunity to meet their desired vacation expectations.

 

As you gathering some of this information, your travel planner will be able to point you in a direction that can get you started.  Great destinations like All – Inclusive resorts in Mexico, Turks and Caicos, for example, can hit a lot of budgets and offers many different activities for the whole family.  Of course, an all-time family favorite is Walt Disney World or Disneyland. These too can satisfy a variety of budgets, keep the kids entertained and well, frankly the adults too!  One of my favorite holiday vacations is a cruise. Entertainment, great ports, great food, and a variety of staterooms to fit the budgets and best of all relaxing! It is fun to try something different.

 

This year when you gather around the family homestead for your holiday celebrations, suggest something different for next year and start planning your next holiday gathering at an exciting destination!

 

Adventures by Disney – Italy

Do you have Bucket List travel dreams? I sure do – and I was able to check a big one off my list after experiencing Italy with Adventures by Disney.

Any time you travel outside of the country, it can be a bit intimidating. Disney takes that fear away, as they meet you right outside of Customs at the airport. They even had my luggage ready for me!

We were whisked away to our 5-star hotel, The Gran Melia in Rome, where we met our 2 Adventure Guides. Every Adventures by Disney Tour includes 2 Adventures Guides – a local expert, and an American guide. Together they make the entire experience seamless.

Our tour started right away, with special backstage passes at the Coliseum. We were allowed onto the actual stage where the gladiators fought. It was incredible!

All along the way, you are given backstage, front-of-the-line, VIP passes everywhere you go. The highlight of Rome for me was getting a special after-hours, private tour of the Vatican Museum, which concluded with a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. And Shhhhhh don’t tell anyone, but they even let us take pictures (normally this is forbidden!).

After Rome, we took off for Tuscany, which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Don’t get freaked out by being on a bus – it is an AWESOME bus, and the Guides do a great job of keeping everyone entertained on the longer stretches. Although, there are hardly any long rides. Everything is always broken up with more Adventures. For example, on our drive to Tuscany, we stopped for lunch at the medieval town of Orvietto and had a beautiful lunch on the top of the countryside.

Checking in to our Tuscan Hotel was a dream. They had a private courtyard waiting for us, with delicious food and prosecco. We all nibbled on cheese and enjoyed our wine while our Adventure Guides got us checked in to the hotel.

The highlight of my entire Tuscan Adventure was the day spent at Sara’s Farm. We received a special tour, met some of Sara’s lovely family members, enjoyed a private pasta-making class with Sara, and wined and dined outdoors while enjoying a delicious lunch and wine tasting, all while overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany. It was just delightful!

Venice began with a Gondola ride, which was made even more special with the addition of a singer and accordion player, who were right in my Gondola. It was so beautiful!

If you want to feel completely immersed in the culture, and experience everything like a VIP rock star – Adventures by Disney is the best!

My Last Minute Adventure

We all have bucket lists right? Or at least we have some grand ideas of things we want to do in our heads but yet to write them down. I have a little bit of both! I have my list of things I would like to do by myself, another list of things to do with my husband and then there is the list of things to do with friends. Regardless of the list, there is one item I have on all of them and I was able to check one of those off this month! What is it? Well, my dream has always been to have the resources enough to at the drop of a hat ( or within days) to say I want to go ……. And then just do it! Yep – last minute travel to somewhere!

Last week I checked off that by planning a very very last minute trip to Jamaica with a friend, who too is a travel planner with our company. We have traveled many times together and we just know what we both like to do, what we like to eat, when to work and when to relax. You might say we are perfect travel companions in that respect. Our trip came up because I have been caring for my dear mom whose terminally ill and is at home. We don’t have a large family as it is just my brother and myself along with our dad. My brother is out of state but has come in to help as much as he can, but for the most part, I am the closest caregiver. My Aunt wanted to visit from another state and help out so I could get some rest time so when my friend asked if I could get away it seemed like a perfect time. 4 nights in the Caribbean fit the bill.

Last minute travel proved to be exhilarating! That may seem like an odd way to put it, but it was! From the moment we said let’s do it and got the ok from our spouses, we searched the resort and booked it, checked out flights and booked those, finished up some household chores, and packed a carry-on of only the essentials and took off! 3 days and we were off! We selected an All- Inclusive, Sandals, Royal Caribbean, as our destination because we didn’t want to worry about where to dine, and what to do. It was all there! Now typically, Sandals isn’t a “girlfriend” getaway, as it is for couples, but we wanted to see it and made it work. With free wi-fi, we were able to keep up with our work and stay in contact with my parents.

Packing for this trip was the easiest thing I ever did. It maybe took me 30 minutes! I threw in a few bathing suits since that would be the main activity, a few sundresses, two pairs of shoes, minimum makeup and toiletries, and my computer! That was it. I was sooo proud of myself for having done that as everyone laughs at me because I typically need one suitcase for my shoes and jewels! So since packing was so easy – so was unpacking when I got home!

We took advantage of the entertainment provided by Sandals, which was excellent! There was something going on every night and since there are a few Sandals properties in the Montego Bay area, you have privileges to utilize all the amenities at each of them so that made it more fun. Our room was in the most perfect location. Just about 20 steps out our patio door was a beautiful pool right on the beach. We had the best of both worlds. I felt a little guilty but I hogged the float for the entire 4 days! I only got off to go running to the bathroom, because our favorite person to see was Clarissa who just handed us our tropical delights right in the pool! Can I say amazing! Our food was prepared and brought to us if we didn’t want to head to the restaurant, and there was such a variety that we felt like we were also on a culinary journey.

I have also always wanted to crash a wedding, and even though we didn’t officially “crash” a wedding, we did stroll by several that took place at the resort while we were there. It was hard to resist photobombing, but we remained respectful!! LOL. Destination weddings are very popular and Sandals does know how to make them special. In fact, romance is a fragrance that is all over a Sandals property. Candlelight dinners, photo shoot opportunities, couples celebrating makes for the perfect backdrop. So you see when I say we made it work, we simply enjoyed the resort and meeting all the people. Relaxation was our motive!!

I am so looking forward to doing this again someday. It was one of the best getaways I have ever been on and yes it was so exhilarating!

Ready for your long flight?

Traveling internationally can be somewhat intimidating if you haven’t done it often. And even if you have you still need to be prepared. I have traveled flights from 2- 17 hours and as I write, I am waiting to board an 18 minute flight! What? Yep! They just announced it will be 18 minutes. I think I could have driven there faster!

The first thing I do when traveling internationally is to check out the planes and if I am not able to afford the upgraded seats I try to select a flight that has seating with just two seats on the side. The price of this flight may be slightly more, but it is worth the money. It is always more comfortable and getting up and down is much easier. Just have to keep in mind that planes can change, but typically, they stick with the same seat configuration.

Getting ready for the flight I always have some tried and trues in my carry on “personal” bag, which is usually a tote or backpack and some hints for inflight as well.

  • My own technology! Pack your own device with movies already downloaded just in case your seat TV is out of order! Nothing can be more disappointing. Include your own earbuds and extra external battery. Some flights do have plugs, but not all work!
  • Neck pillow, eye mask and blanket. These are often provided on most international flights, however, having my own I have found I have even used it at my destination to catch up on some sleep or if my flight has a long connection or delay I have it with me.
  • Bring some healthy snacks. Again, you will receive snacks, but not always healthy. Stay away from carbs that will add further fatigue to your vacation.
  • Take the time to rest. Even if you don’t fall completely asleep, close your eyes and rest.
  • Get up! Take a short stroll around the cabin to keep your blood flowing.
  • Pack personal items such as toothbrush and other items to stay refreshed. Sometimes a change of clothing is needed as well for a longer flight.

These are just a few things to keep in mind to get you started. Check with your Travel Planner for some more ideas to make traveling long distances a breeze!

3 Travel Tips to prepare you for your International Vacation

You never know when the opportunity to sneak away to an exotic island, visit Europe or maybe another great location on your bucket list. We have had many clients over the years be surprised by a relative that wants the whole family on a vacation or they may have just won an incentive trip from their company and they have to get their ducks in a row so panic sets in. What do I need? Where do I get it? How long will it take? These are all great questions and important to make sure you are all set and ready to go. I have 3 things I have found for our family that has prepared us for any such occasion to get out of town!

  • Passports: Passports are needed anytime you travel outside of the country. They are not needed for domestic travel, however, having them as your identification is not a bad idea. Purchasing them even if you don’t have a trip scheduled is a great idea! Passports can be costly, approx. $150.00 per person. So this is a great item to budget out. The entire family doesn’t need to get them at the same time. You can get one a month or every few months. Passports for Newborn to 15 years of age are good for 5 years and 16 or older are good for 10 years. You will want to take this into consideration and plan the times for renewal as well. Visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html for all the specific legal information regarding passports
  • Credit Cards: You may not be thinking of it now, but one snag when traveling abroad and wanting to purchase items on your credit card is a foreign transaction fee. This is typically 3% of the purchase price. There are some travel credit cards that waive this fee, which can be helpful if you are traveling where you intend to use your card often for dining, tours, souvenirs, etc. There is a lot more to think about with Travel Cards and I ran across a great article that will be helpful to you. The key is that this item too, takes time to get so planning ahead will relieve the stress! Check out this article for more in-depth details. https://creditcards.usnews.com/travel
  • Cell Phone Coverage: A simple call to your cell phone provider at any time to discuss international plans or plans just to use when you travel will have you ready to go. It is not just your calling that you should be concerned with, but text and especially data. If you are not in wi-fi, your apps and data can really add up. Check out this article in Smart Traveler for an in-depth look at phone plans and considerations. https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/30/best-international-phone-plans/

These are 3 simple things that can be done ahead of time and at any time to get you prepared for travel anywhere!

1-2 -3 Travel with Me!

Have you ever been on vacation and thought, wow I think so and so would love this place! Or you have spent all your vacation time traveling to family and friends and just wish you could for once go somewhere other than the homestead? Not that you don’t like home, just that you might want to see some more of the world. Well, you can. Next time you are together with family or with a group of friends, suggest you take a trip together. Multi- family travel has become more and more popular as it gives everyone a chance to get away, but still enjoy being together.

Here are some tips that will help you and your travel professional pull it all together.

  1. Have an idea of everyone’s budget. The budgets can vary on location, however, there are many locations that will allow families to stay in different room types, or have different package ad ons that will fit their budget. Be willing to give a little. You may prefer the Cadilac when others are good with the Chevy. Your travel professional can work on finding a location that will work for everyone but you may have to compromise a little to get everyone there.
  2. Plan ahead. Working on plans for next year’s vacation is best. Even though your travel professional can put together travel close in to your travel date, when working with multiple families, it is better to plan ahead to explore the best deals, give families on different budgets to pay for the trip and plan the details of the trip.
  3. Designate a point person. This person will be the main person speaking to the travel professional, however, it is always important that the travel professional touch base with each family. This will allow that family to convey some of their particular needs making it a smoother process. Let’s face it – the telephone game is often reality.
  4. Plan time for your family. Even though you travel as a group – planning time apart from the whole group will be important to keep the peace! I often suggest not staying in one accommodation, like a large house where everyone fits! It is not always cheaper, and if there are any little differences it can make for a long vacation. Having several accommodations can help get you the alone time needed.
  5. Have realistic expectations. This may go without saying, but have the frank conversations before you travel. Discuss, things like the number of activities you would like to do together, dining likes and dislikes, bedtime and wake time. Don’t catch yourself at 7PM with a group of 20 people saying where should we eat?

Traveling together can be so much fun! There is always something to do something with – guys don’t have to shop against their will and girls don’t have to watch a sports game on the big jumbo tron if they don’t want! There are so many places to go and see – why not do it together!

Paradise couldn’t be better–Sandals and Beaches All Inclusive Getaways!

Gorgeous white sand beaches, savory dining experiences, opulent accommodations, unlimited refreshing beverages, exciting watersport and more!  Sandals are adult only resorts while Beaches are for families.

Sandals and Beaches is a privately owned and their resorts are hand-picked by the owner Gordan  Stewart. Their own In-House design team is responsible for every aspect of the design incorporating some of the most cutting-edge design developments.  They work with local experts selecting a theme for all of the Landscapes and gardens that reflect the local attributes, they have custom-designed dive boats, and some of the most extravagant and creatively designed suites in the Caribbean!

Sandals and Beaches offer more quality inclusions than any other all-inclusive destination.  Award-winning service, the most pristine beaches, unlimited scuba diving, quality land sports, state of the art fitness centers, unlimited golf at select locations, free weddings, more unique suites, more discovery dining, more entertainment and more island adventures.  Exclusive to Beaches resorts, Sesame Street Characters, Very Important Kids Camps, X=Box and Kinect and water parks.

Everyone loves unique dining experiences and Sandals and Beaches resorts have it all.  Menus are well thought out including regional Italian specialties, Signature dishes, and wonderful themed buffet experiences.  Premium Liquor and Fine wine are a trademark, ranging from Appleton rums at all resorts and Beringer Stone Cellars top quality pouring wines.  Not to mention their authentic beer selections from around the world.

Sandals and Beaches are also one of the top Destination Wedding locations in the world!  Their exclusive WeddingMoon packages are– Your Wedding and Your style. Such things as special suites, romantic private dining, Red Lane Spa’s and Snap Shots photography make your wedding perfect!  Your Wedding Designer will work closely with you and your travel agent to ensure you have everything you need to make this one of the most memorable days of your lives.

My personal favorite is the Personal Butler Services offered with some of the top-tier categories.  This is an only Sandals, Butlers trained by the guild of professional English Butlers. Your Butler wants you to expect the unexpected – prepared to be wowed with this awesome experience.  

Make your next vacation a Sandals or Beaches vacation!  There are many destinations in the Caribbean. Rooms sell out fast so plan ahead.  Call Your Must Love Travel Planner today!

How Can I Get the Least Expensive Airfare?

That is a loaded question! Everyone thinks they have the latest tips and tricks to purchasing airfare and although there may be some trends airfare is a line item on your budget that needs a healthy amount to cover you for your vacation.

As travel planners, we are familiar with the standard air prices from some of the most traveled cities and can give you a good idea of what you should budget for airfare for your next trip. There are a few tips that do help such as purchasing airfare around the 50 days prior to departure time, planning to travel the middle of the week and sometimes purchasing airfare on Tuesdays around 3 or after that may hold true to getting you a great price.

Here are a few guidelines that we have found helpful when looking for airfare for our clients.

  1. Know your airlines. Which airlines depart for airports that you frequent. By watching these airlines you can follow their trends.
  2. Don’t use sites that search several airlines at a time. There are airlines that do not post their flights on these sites and therefore you may not find the best price.
  3. Watch when you compare pricing for the ancillary charges such as seat costs, and bags. You may land on an airline site, such as Spirit whose airline charge usually will produce lower rates, but then after adding ancillary charges, your price may be higher or very similar to other airlines that may be providing more, such as larger seat sizes and refreshments.
  4. Consider the flight you are taking. If it is a flight longer than a few hours, you should consider the comfort of your seat. It may be worth the extra $50.00 to have a comfortable seat.
  5. Time of departure, arrival and layovers all need to be taken in consideration. Often the early morning departures are the lower fares. That may look good on paper, but considering that you need to be at the airport 2 hours prior for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights, these early morning departures saving money may end up exhausting you – and if you travel with children – do I need to say more? Not only are you departing and arriving early, you then face waiting around for your hotel room to open. This can be several hours and you could have slept a little longer in the morning and arrived right when the room is open!
  6. A basic budget for most domestic departures can be $250.00 – $350.00 per person. Of course, there are some less and some more, but this is a great place to start. Signing up with airline programs also allow you to watch fares. Frontier is a great one. They often send out notices of significantly discounted rates – the key is be ready to buy – they go fast! One additional item — make sure you have a place to go before you purchase air as you won’t want your hotel sold out either!

These are not all tried and true but may answer some of your questions. The bottom line, traveling by air gets you to where you need to go, but needs to be considered in your vacation budget in order to plan the rest of your vacation fun!

Vegas with Your Family?

Destination Vegas

Vegas is one of those places the invokes many feelings, thoughts, concerns, and fun! Vegas lights, Vegas casinos, Vegas shows, one has to admit Vegas goes big!

I just returned from Vegas with my family. I have three “newly” adult children and we wanted to experience some of the things we could do by staying in Vegas and not having to rough it so to speak.

The highlight of our trip was by far visiting the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. No one could put in words or even take a picture that could adequately describe their experience standing in the edge of this amazing natural wonder. We decided to rent a car and drive ourselves rather than taking one of the bus tours. It turned out to be a great decision for us. We were in our own time. The drive was very easy, clearly marked, and great roads.

Our first stop in the drive was the Hoover Dam. The power source for many states. You can choose to just drive over or you can walk. We chose both! There are tours to visit the inner workings and learn all about the dam or you can just take it in yourself.

Hopping back in the car and heading to the west rim we drive across the barren land. Even though there was nothing green in sight we could not help but express it as beautiful. At one point we drove through an area that was filled with odd-looking trees! We find out they were called Joshua Trees. You could see them for miles!

Soon as we turned the corner there it was!! The Grand Canyon! Ahhhh! We visited the Hualapai Indian ranch. There are about 1350 Native American Indians in this tribe in Arizona. They have created a great tourist site to view the canyon via helicopter, boat, or just walking around. The Glass skywalk was worth every penny as you venture over the canyon. We ended our day eating at Sa NYU Wa restaurant, a one of a kind Grand Canyon experience. Food was excellent!

The rear of our week was filled with shows and shopping. Blue Man Group at the Luxor never disappoints. Fun at Excalibur with the dinner show cheering for our favorite King. A slip of the hand watching the magic of Nathan Burton winner of America’s Got Talent. All of them were perfect family fun. To view all the lights we decided to not only walk the strip, but also take the Big Bus Tour. Our guide was wonderful and shared the little secrets of the strip.

We celebrated our daughter 18th birthday at a fantastic Brazilian steakhouse in our own little room. Dining at Otto in the Venetian we were treated to Opera and even chimes in a few times!

Vegas was filled with girlfriend trips, guys getaways, honeymooners, no frills weddings even at the local Taco Bell, and yes plenty of families. There are some crazies here as I may call it, but good planning can make this a very enjoyable trip.

Travel Local

Visiting family and friends can open up the door to crossing off a bucket list destination and sharing it with them as well. Last week I had the opportunity to visit my brother’s family in San Francisco, CA. This has been a destination I have wanted to visit for a long time, and since he was stationed in the Coast Guard there and being that it was my niece’s high school graduation it was perfect time to check that destination off my list!

The highlight of this trip was our day to Napa. A scheduled tour of the Silverado Vineyards, established in 1981 by Ron and Diane Miller. Diane just happened to be Walt Disney’s daughter so that was extra exciting for me as a Disney fanatic! I asked for permission to share our day with you for this week’s blog post, so here goes!

(except from their brochure)
Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wines from the historic sites of their estate. The winery borrows its name from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed and wrote over a century ago. Three generations of Millers are still “prospecting” for wine, making something beautiful from the land under their care.

The ranches themselves were first planted to vineyards by Napa pioneers between 1865 and 1895. Each ranch played an important role in establishing the reputation of its growing area; Carneros, Coombsville, Yountville, Soda Canyon and Stags Leap District. The beautiful fruit from these vineyards is the exclusive source of Silverado Vineyards’ Estate and Single Vineyard wines; the Miller’s highest expression of the Napa Valley they love and admire.

Our wine tasting tour began with a sample of a Rose that they only share on site, as we were introduced to our Host, John Marchesini. John was a wealth of information and made our tour comfortable and informative. As we walked the halls of the winery, we were introduced to Diane’s passion for posters from the early 1900’s. She loved the colorful display these posters offered and wanted them displayed for all to see. There is actually one from the more recent movie Ratatouille that is now one of only 2 in existence. As we continued we were introduced to Ron’s passion for the arts. He collected a variety of paintings, some were paintings used on trains to entice visitors to come to San Francisco.

As John opened the door to the room of wine filled barrels, we caught the scent of the wine that escapes through the barrel and that they affectionately call the “Angels Share”. It put a smile on all of our faces! John shared how the barrels are labeled, made and stored. We proceeded throughout the pressing room, which is nothing short of impressive as we learned about the very large press to create and separate the juice and then to the bottling room. The Silverado Winery bottles their own wine which is rare as it is quite the operation and the machines are expensive. Although they were not bottling that day, it was fascinating to see the different stages the machine goes through to fill and package the bottles.

Jon Emmerich, Winemaker has been with the winery for 25 years and notes, “What can we do to make the wine better? My work is to show the qualities of the estate in the wine so the wines show harmony and depth.” This was evident as we proceeded to our tasting, which was situated in the main area as we were sat near the grand fireplace at a small table overlooking the vineyards! Picture perfect. A nice welcome menu with our name a top, listed our tastings; 2016 Chardonnay Carneros, 2013 Merlot, Mt George Vineyard (limited quantities), 2013 GEO Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville, and 2011 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District. Each had a beautiful quality and it was hard to say what the favorite was. I did favor the SOLO, however. John sat with us and answered our many questions and brought over some additional wines for us white wine lovers. We enjoyed hearing how the grapes change with the weather and how each growing season presents its opportunity to continued creations of fantastic wines.

I was so glad we had the opportunity to visit Silverado Vineyards. It was a testimony to the importance they place on the people that work there, the quality of product and presentation. To be successful it these are great qualities for any company to possess. I would have expected nothing less coming from someone from the Disney family! It made for a lovely day and one that I hope you may have the opportunity to have someday!

Visit Silveradovineyards.com to watch a wonderful video, learn more about the winery and maybe even order some wine! I want to thank John Marchesini for being a wonderful Host and for indulging us with the answers to all our questions!

Vacation Days – Take them!

Every year people leave their vacation days on the books and have a million excuses why they can’t take time away. No time, kids schedules, not in the budget and on and on. Are you one of them? The people that have these excuses? I hope not but, if you are, I want to give you some reasons why you should think twice before letting those well deserved days pass you by!

You need time to rejuvenate! You work hard every day at your jobs, at home, volunteering and everything in between. Body and soul need time to rest. Shut off the distractions and noise of your surroundings.
You need to explore the world! It is healthy to see the world and experience different cultures and meet new people. In our everyday bubble we can close ourselves in and forget that there is a big world out there and unique experiences can enrich our lives.
You need time to reconnect with your loved ones. We are busy and there can be days that go by without taking the time to have fun together, dine together and just talk to one another and enjoy each other’s company. Vacations have a way of allowing us to have that time.
You earned it! You have earned whatever amount of vacation time you have received. Take it! There will always be something pressing that requires your attention, but nothing can replace the time you have to just sit back and get away from it all.

Recently, my husband and I finally took some time away. It had been close to 10 years since the two of us were able to travel together. Yes, we both have been places on our own or with friends, but not together. We always make sure we take one family vacation a year so we can all be together, but find it harder to just have the two of us travel. Our jobs and our lives are demanding. You will find as the children get older, they will need you more. My mom always told me that, and it is so true! So we bit the bullet and scheduled a short getaway. I had the opportunity to visit a new ship that was coming into commission and was allowed to bring a “plus one”. You go it, I told my husband this time he was going to be my plus one! It was only 2 nights, but it was just what the doctor ordered. We both realized that there really is a lot to talk about and we had missed having fun together and relaxing. Also, the world keeps going and was just fine when we returned. No one burned the house down!

It is not always easy to budget and plan for time away but you need to do it! Whether it be the family vacation or time away with your plus one, it is important. Make the planning by contacting your Travel Planner. They can help with the details and that will take a load off your plate and ensure the details are taken care of so when you are ready to head out you will be ready to enjoy!

What Are You Celebrating

Many families are winding down their schools years with their children graduating to their next season of life.  Whether it be graduating from Pre-K, HIgh School or College, there is no doubt a new chapter of their lives calls for celebration.

This year my youngest will graduate high school and end the chapter of childhood and join adulthood with her brother and sister as we celebrate her 18th birthday just after graduation.  It has become a family tradition to be “on vacation” when her birthday takes place and this year is no exception. With this double celebration of graduation and birthday we are headed out west to discover some of the grandeur of our United States.

What are you celebrating?  Or would the better question be, How are you celebrating?  As a travel planner for over 15 years, I can recall many stories of how my clients have celebrating the milestones in their lives.  Special trips from a favorite, bucket list destination like Europe or Hawaii, to celebrating a magical Disney vacation to Walt Disney World to visit the land of Princesses and Pirates.  For some it was to step into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and walk the streets of Diagon Alley and ride the Hogwarts Express. All of them have been memorable and have been filled with surprises.

Celebrations take planning, especially surprise celebrations.  I love those! The secret emails, texts and calls are just as exciting as the main event.  This is especially true when children are involved. The anticipation of seeing their excitement when they first meet Cinderella or Buzz Light Year can be really hard to conceal.  Not as easy to plan is for and adult surprise. There are schedules and payment to consider that make it a tad more difficult. I have to say some spouses I have worked with have been right on it!  One of my favorites, but by all means not the only one, was a surprise for a wife and mother on Mother’s Day. Gifts were hand-made, love letters to mom and wife were written, celebration dinner schedule and the perfect Walt Disney World location was decided upon.  Yes, you might guess, the background was Cinderella Castle, the location was on the beach of the Polynesian Village Resort at sunset. I was home in my office waiting for a text from “dad” on how it all went. Then it came….Perfect! Tears filled my eyes with joy knowing that I helped make that happen.

There was our families own surprise for our children.  Their first Disney Cruise, which happened to be when the Disney Channel stars were aboard.  The plan was elaborate, so well thought out that when we actually pulled into the port, we just told the kids I wanted a picture of them with the ship in the background that mommy had been on.  (They thought we were on our way to see relatives) I had set them up a bit telling them all about the Disney Channel stars sailing on Disney Cruise LIne that summer, not to mention they saw all the advertisements on TV.  So when my husband opened the back of the van, while I took their picture, and begun taking out the suitcases the kids were in disbelief. The youngest, the wise one, said are we going on the ship? Of course! It was an amazing trip filled with big surprises everyday.  Pictures taken with their favorite stars and my personal favorite, we received a note at dinner to be private guests of the characters on board before the final farewell. So cool!

Think about what you want to celebrate and let us help make it happen.  Whether a surprise or not, the planning is so much fun.

Travel Agent Appreciation Month!

We have a month!  Travel Agent Appreciation Month!  Yes, we still exist and service thousands of clients and their travel needs each and every year. When you use a Travel Agent or Travel Planner as we call them, you receive miles of value in return.  The world is big, there is a lot to see and do and each of us has their own idea of what they would like to do and how to do it to create their travel moments, but how do you sort it all out? Where to you look?  Who can you trust? Simple -contact your travel planner!

Here are just 4 or many reasons why you can appreciate a travel planner:

  1. Their time!  It takes a lot to research what is best for you.  There are no cookie cutter vacations. Your travel planner takes the time to talk with you about what you want to experience, discover your budget, and take some notes.  Then they are off to work, researching locations, promotions, and setting up quotes for you to review together. The average vacation can take up to 5 hours for this portion of your vacation depending on what you want to do and where you want to go.  Then the booking process and administrative work can add several other hours and so on. They are in the service industry so they are available for you, and many work far beyond their normal business hours to accommodate their clients needs.
  2. Their expertise!  Well, you may think we just travel the world for fun, but it is really for you.  We travel and learn at the same time. Attend conferences to learn from suppliers, visit locations to attend what the industry calls site inspections to view hotels, resorts, and ships. We may not have visited all the locations you want to go, but we know where to go and who to book your vacation with.
  3. Relationship!  You are not just a person that wants a trip — you are a client.  A person that your travel planner will get to know and you will get to know them.  They are with you for a lifetime of journeys. With social media now an everyday thing, you can connect and stay in touch in between traveling.  It is a great thing. They truly care.
  4. Advocate!  There have been times when clients can’t travel for unforeseen reasons. Best thing – you are not alone!  When you are in the midst of a crisis, the last thing you want to do is have to handle changing plans, you want to be in the moment of your crisis.  That is where your relationship with your travel planner comes in. Just a quick call will set them in motion to relieve that stress. You may be saying that won’t happen to me – but there is always a what if?  

If you have a travel planner, send them a note of appreciation!  If you don’t – let me know and I would love to talk to you and connect you with one of our expert Must Love Travel Planners so you too can experience what it is like to plan your vacations carefree!  Drop me a quick note at Laura@MLTGRP.com  and let me know you want to be connected!

River Cruising

Sail away to explore the world on a river cruise. Intimate, luxury, and adventure are just a few words that describe a journey aboard a river cruise.

River cruising is the fastest growing travel segment today. Most likely because it is a perfect way to see many iconic cities and historic locations. Unlike ocean cruising, your entire sailing is in view of beautiful scenery. Whether you are watching from your balcony or from one of the public areas aboard you will be engulfed in the
view.

Many river cruises are all inclusive in nature and some include excursions as well. They dock right in the heart of the city allowing ease to set out and explore.

If you are a first time river cruiser, the Rhine is a perfect choice! It is beautiful any time of year! Sailing through the Rhine gorge is one of the most scenic sections of the Rhine sailing past castles, churches and vineyards!

There are many wonderful River Cruise lines to choose from. You will want to talk with your Travel Planner and discuss the best options for you.

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