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Flying Southwest Airlines December 2020

When I first booked Southwest Airlines for a recent trip, I felt confident. Throughout the Covid crisis, Southwest has been rated as one of the top airlines handling the pandemic.

When Southwest recently announced that they would no longer be keeping middle seats empty, I was pretty bummed. But, Southwest flies direct from my city to Orlando, and I’ve always been a fan of the airline’s no-change fee policy, so we kept our flights and crossed our fingers.

Now that I’ve flown Southwest, I can happily report that the airline is still doing an amazing job, and my experience was wonderful. I would give the overall experience a 9/10, only because they are not keeping middle seats open.

The boarding process was very organized. Instead of lining up in the typical groups of A1-A60, then the B’s and C’s, they called each group by 10 passengers at a time. This allowed for much easier boarding, as you don’t have a huge line pushing behind you. They don’t call the next group until the prior group is settled on the plane.

The plane is cleaned and sterilized between each flight, and it was spotless! I’ve never seen a plane so clean before.

We lucked out with the middle seat issue I was concerned about. Both of our flights had few enough passengers that we were able to sit in our own row.

Masks are required the entire time you are on the flight. We chose to wear N95 masks, and I noticed many passengers wearing N95 masks and face shields. In fact, I did not see anyone try to remove their masks. All of the passengers on both flights were very polite.

Being on a shorter flight, there was no beverage or food service. Halfway through the flight, they did come down the aisle offering ice water or small snack packs. That was it. You were allowed to bring on your own food and drinks, but you cannot drink alcohol that you bring on yourself.

The deplaning process was pretty typical, but I did notice fewer passengers stood up immediately to try to grab their luggage. Passengers would wait until it was less crowded.

Overall, it was a great experience. I would fly Southwest again.

Travel News: Airlines Remove Change Fees

One of the biggest announcements in the travel industry over the last week has been the four largest airlines removing change fees. This is in addition to many other regional airlines that have already reduced or removed change fees over the past several months.

For years, the only airline known for never charging change fees was Southwest Airlines.

Recently, due to the Covid crisis, JetBlue announced they would remove change fees through February 28, 2021.

But the four largest airlines were still not willing to waive their change fees – until now!

On August 30, United Airlines announced that they are eliminating change fees on all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, effectively immediately. In addition, travelers will not be limited in the number of times they change their flights.

Delta is also ditching change fees. On August 31, on the heels of United’s elimination of change fees, Delta announced that they too would be making travel with them more flexible and allowing travelers to change and cancel their travel plans with no extra fees.

American Airlines also announced on August 31 that they are making it more flexible to travel with them by dropping change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international flying, effective immediately.

Alaska Airlines also joined the no-change-fee club. The airline announced on September 1 that they were eliminating change fees permanently on all domestic and international tickets.

This is all very good news for travelers! As a reminder, every airline has certain rules and policies around the change fees, so make sure you check with each airline for all of the fine print.

Book Future Travel with Peace of Mind

The Travel Industry is slowly starting to reopen. Many Caribbean islands are welcoming back travelers, airlines are starting to offer more flights, and domestic travel is at an all-time high!

Now is a great time to book future travel, as many cruise lines, all-inclusive resorts, and tour operators are offering amazing deals for travel in 2021, all with very flexible change and cancellation policies.

Take a look at how some of our favorite suppliers are protecting your future travel plans to offer complete peace of mind when booking your next vacation. Contact your Must Love Travel Planner for complete booking details.

Cruising

All of the major cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival, Viking, AmaWaterways, and more…) have announced Flexible Booking and Cancellation Policies. This allows you to book your future cruise now, with the ability to move your sail date, sometimes as close as 15 days prior to sailing.

All-Inclusive Resorts

Many of our favorite All-Inclusive Resort brands have announced flexible “Peace of Mind” policies, along with detailed Cleaning Standards for current and future vacation dates.​ ​Some of our favorite brands are Karisma Resorts, who will allow you to change travel dates or cancel up to 48 hours before arrival (*new bookings). and AMResorts, who have implemented an impressive CleanComplete Verification 360-Degree Safety & Hygiene Protocols, elevating their standards of quality and cleanliness. 

Walt Disney World

The Walt Disney World Resort has offered incredibly flexible change and cancellation policies to existing reservations. For existing and new bookings, you have until 7 days prior to arrival to change your dates without penalty.

When the Theme Parks and Resorts reopened in July, Disney implemented a thorough checklist of new policies and procedures to keep guests safe. As the Resorts and Theme Parks have now been open for a few months, it’s clear Disney has been doing a great job of keeping their guests safe and happy, and with plenty of Disney Magic.

Key West Florida Video! Celebrity Infinity Cruise

 

During our agency event aboard the Celebrity Infinity our very first port of call was Key West Florida! For many of our team including myself this was our first time ever in Key West! To say that we enjoyed the town would be an understatement! We absolutely LOVED IT! Many of us all began talking that night once back on the ship about how we want to plan a full Florida Keys vacation to be able to experience even more of what this wonderful and vibrant town has to offer!

 

The vibe in the air is so laid back. The streets of Key west are full of history, story and breathtaking sights! From the colorful pastel buildings to the shadows of the palm trees – everything is so picture perfect!

 

 

 

For a group of us our day began with an Incredible breakfast at Blue Heaven! This eclectic joint is a local favorite and the atmosphere was perfect to get us in that Key West state of mind. After breakfast we set out to start exploring. We first made our way to a Key West icon – the southernmost point! We invented our own pro tip for getting a picture with the southernmost point! There is always a massive line to take a picture with the southernmost point. The line can get well up to over a half an hour wait! We discovered if you sit on the wall in front of the southernmost point and wait until people are in-between going up for a picture, you can snap a perfect selfie with the point in the background!

 

 

 

 

After grabbing out selfies we made our way to Duval Street and took in many of the shops and sights there was to see! We then made our way to schooner wharf where we met up with a large group of our team to enjoy drinks and live entertainment on the marina. I loved the atmosphere here and getting to see the beautiful crystal blue water and gorgeous boats in dock.

 

 

For lunch a group of us went to Conch Republic Seafood Company. I order the Gulf Red Shrimp and and it was absolutely incredible! I had never before had Gulf Red Shrimp. I taste more like lobster meat than it does shrimp. SO GOOD!

 

 

A group of us then set out to continue exploring the town. We enjoyed checkin out more iconic locations such as Sloppy Joe’s Bar and Margaritaville. We also enjoyed doing one of the hop-on-hop-off trolly tours. This was a great way to get around the town and get to see all the locations that we wanted to check out. During your ride on the trolly tour your host also gives you information and facts about the town of Key West. It was a great way to learn about the history of all the sights we were gettin to tour!

 

 

 

You can watch highlights from our Key West day in our new YouTube video:

 

Contact our team at Must Love Travel to plan your next adventure!

Returning to a Favorite… St. Clair Brown Winery

St. Clair Brown is an urban winery and brewery in the city of Napa. You’ll find tables and chairs located outside its quaint greenhouse and in the gardens itself. You can sample brews or wine, along with some tasty treats made from locally sourced ingredients and the on-site garden.


We were first introduced to St. Clair Brown a couple years ago during a small group tour to boutique wineries. We fell in love with atmosphere, the dedication to local ingredients, and the fact that the owners themselves were the ones to conduct our tasting. Having some time on a recent trip we decided to visit our favorite once again.
We were nervous to go back, because you know how sometimes, you remember things differently than they actually were. You have those rose colored glasses and then you go back and you can’t remember why you liked that place? I’m happy to report that was ABSOLUTELY NOT the case with St. Clair Brown. It was just as unassuming, friendly and tasty as we remembered. The staff greeted us warmly, inviting us to grab a seat wherever we wanted in the garden. Locals were perched around the area reading books, relaxing with friends, their dogs at their feet…always a good sign in my book!
We already knew we liked the wine, so we decided to try the beer flight this time. To accompany the 3 beers you see in the picture we ordered hummus and crackers. Again, remember that things are locally sourced and the chef puts her own spin on things. For instance, instead of using chickpeas for the hummus, she was using peanuts as a base, with lemon flavored olive oil from a local supplier. The first thing that hit your tongue and made it water was the flavor of the lemon and the finish was excellent.


The beer options did not disappoint. Typically my husband is not a stout fan if we’re in the States because of the heaviness of it. That was the whole point of the stout brewed here though…it was the taste without the full stomach feeling that you just ate a loaf of bread. As we tested our beers we chatted with staff and asked about their upcoming releases. This winery was where we finally found a California Chardonnay that we liked and we were disappointed to learn they were sold out of it.

Their upcoming releases intrigued us so much we decided it was time to join their Wine Club. We had pondered it a couple years ago, but never made the move to do it. Now was the time, and we celebrated with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc…a free one, as a Wine Club Member benefit.
If you’re in the area of Napa, you HAVE to stop by this winery. It’s worth your time, trust me, we wiled away a couple hours here just relaxing and enjoying watching the Wine Train go by.

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Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com
(321) 323 – 9835

Traveling with Friends or Family

Let’s go on a vacation together! Sounds great when you are all sitting around dreaming of nice sandy beaches, or the romance of Europe, but what happens when you start diving into the planning and organizing, second thoughts? I hope not! Traveling with family and friends can be just as much fun as it sounds like from the get go. The key is to go into it with realistic expectations. Traveling alone can eliminate some of the tension maybe, but traveling with a group can add great memories and perspective to the trip.

When you are dreaming about the trip with your friends or family, start off with some key “need to know” items.

  1. Time of year and Length of stay. It is important before you talk to your travel planner to have your group decide on 3 dates that will work for everyone. Decide how long you can be gone and be assured everyone can get off work for that time frame. If you are just traveling as couples and leaving the children with babysitters, check to make sure the babysitters are available those dates as well.
  2. Budget: Talk about what everyone is willing to spend for the trip. Consider, location, airfare, tours or excursions and misc. Costs. If you need help with a budget range you can discuss this with your travel planner.
  3. Location: Have an idea of where you would like to go or even a set of choices. This way your planner can give you direction on resorts, cruises or activities that would best fit your group.
  4. Discuss expectations on the trip: Take time to layout the “ground rules” so to speak. Do you plan on doing everything together? Have just dinners together or excursions? Do some want to do excursions while others want to just relax? It is always best to have a variety of together time and alone time so that everyone can be on vacation. We all vacation differently and with busy lives and vacation expectations can vary. Your travel planner can help plan a variety of schedules. The worst thing to hear is, “where do you want to eat?” “I don’t know where do you want to eat?” Have a general plan.
  5. Be flexible. Best laid plans may encounter some bumps. Be willing to talk through it and come to a quick consensus.

Friends and Family can travel together just about anywhere in the world! There are great locations near to home and even abroad that will give you experiences of a lifetime. Lean on your travel planner for the best ideas and the voice of organization when planning these types of trips. They have navigated through all aspects and will be the neutral voice throughout the entire process.

A Quick Trip to Napa….Thoughts on Making the Most out of the Least Amount of Time

Let’s say you find yourself on the West Coast in San Francisco with a little extra free time. It happened to my husband and I recently…he was traveling for business and I was able to accompany him. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves with a free afternoon and decided to take the quick drive up to Napa Valley.
Personally, we much prefer the smaller wineries to the larger names. We feel the experience is more personalized and we enjoy the atmosphere more. There is certainly nothing wrong with Mondavi Winery (they have beautiful grounds and I highly suggest a visit) or Sterling or Stag’s Leap etc. but the smaller wineries tend to cater more to you, be able to dedicate more time to your questions and overall, I guess I just find the depth of the wines we taste seem better. It’s all up to personal preference though really.
Because this was last minute, we weren’t able to make appointments for private tastings, but we had read about Michael Hill Winery and the terrific experience people had had, so we booked a tasting online. The form allowed you to specify your preferences if you had any, tell them if you had recently visited wine regions etc. I noted that one of our favorite wines right now was Sauvignon Blanc, that we loved full body reds and we were picky about our Chardonnays (we don’t prefer the typical buttery flavor of Chardonnay).
Upon arrival we were greeted and immediately offered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc each, while the staff told us about the winery and what type of options they offered for the tastings. We chose to go with a Reserve Wine tasting which paired some food with their Reserve Wines. These are wines that are only available for purchase at the winery or through their wine club. The staff invited us to walk around the vines, showing us where they had marked some good vantage points for pictures and then invited us to take a seat out at the Adirondack chairs for a view of the valley while they prepared our tasting.


We couldn’t have been happier with this choice. The staff checked on us frequently enough to be sure that we were well taken care of, but not so frequently as to be annoying. By spacing their appointments, the area was not crowded but we were able to chat with some other couples that were there.


The wines were exquisite, with a depth of flavor that you don’t always find. Knowing our feelings about Chardonnay, the staff chose one for us to try that was more acidic and preferred by Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, then we progressed into some reds. The tasting was complemented by dried tart cherries, salt and vinegar nuts and a goat’s cheese. Yum!
I highly recommend checking out this winery if you’re in the area. You can easily make an appointment online, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and you can’t go wrong with their wine.
Keep an eye out for my St. Clair Brown post, we returned to one our favorites there!

 

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Don’t Be THAT Person on the Airplane | Tips for Travel Etiquette

With Holiday Travel about to hit full swing I thought I would share some tips for travel etiquette.  Travel can be stressful for people who don’t travel frequently, especially during the busy holiday season.  For those of us that do travel often, our tempers can run high because we are impatient with others.  I hope this article will make you laugh, sigh, and provide you with a little insight into airplane etiquette.

At one point or another, you’ve probably all sat next to THAT person on the airplane. I recently had the chance to join my husband while he traveled on business and was just so overwhelmed by the amount of rudeness etc. that I just wanted to share some travel etiquette with you.
Perhaps people don’t travel often or perhaps in this day and age, they simply don’t think about their fellow passengers like they should. Let’s step outside ourselves for a moment though and think about how to be considerate when you travel.

1. When you board your aircraft…please, stow your smaller bags like purses and backpacks under the seat in front of you. Many people bring rollerboards onboard these days as carry-on and you really should be leaving the overhead bin for them. If you have an empty seat between you and someone else, don’t assume that you should just go ahead and use that tray table and area for yourself.

2. Don’t take your shoes off and keep your feet in your seat area….this isn’t your hotel room or your personal house, you are sharing with strangers that probably don’t want want your feet by them. Going along with that….don’t put your feet up on the bulkhead..again, be considerate of people around you. It’s just rude.  And PLEASE….put your shoes back on before you go the airplane lavatory….as a flight attendant friend likes to say, “That’s not apple juice on the floor!”

3. Pay attention in security screening areas….listen to what TSA is telling you. Everyone is trying to get where they are going with minimal hassle. If you’re unsure of procedure, ask before you get in line, read the website before you leave for the airport, educate yourself. Nothing is more annoying than being stuck behind the person who has the bottle of water in their bag, the change in their pocket, etc. Because they simply didn’t pay attention and now they are holding up the line.

4. Everyone will get served on the flight…for no reason should you feel it’s necessary to reach into the flight attendant’s cart and help yourself. Nor should you really feel the need to ask for 6 bags of pretzels for yourself. Seriously, I watched this happen on my flight….I was incredulous.

5. Just be polite….we all have bad days, we’re all trying to get someplace….remember to just be nice. It will make the journey go faster.

Flight resources:
Your airline’s website FAQ’s
TSA’s website
State Department’s Travel Page

I’m always happy to chat with you about travel and questions you might have so feel free to contact me at Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com or call direct at (321) 323-9835.

________________________________________________________________________________

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

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