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Category Archives: Travel Tips

Why Choose a Guided Vacation?

Year after year, travelers are getting more and more savvy with their choice of locations and how to visit those locations. Gone are the days when you loaded up the station wagon and backed out of the driveway all loaded up with snacks, picnic lunch, the family and yes your atlas just to go visit the relatives! Now families are choosing from traveling across the country to traveling across the globe!

When I think of traveling, I want it to be as hassle free and safe as possible. Even though I am a professional travel planner, I don’t want to have to piece together every detail when traveling to a destination I have not visited before. This would take days and days of research and quite frankly you are still left with a little bit of thought, “Am I staying at the right hotel?, Am I taking the right transportation? Will I be able to get to everything I think I want to see?” Too many questions going unanswered. If I haven’t been to a location, especially international, I opt to travel on a guided tour and have loved every minute of it and felt I had the best well rounded vacation!

Guided Tours offer so much to a vacation that you will want to think twice before dismissing this option. There are several wonderful companies that we have worked with that offer some of the best itineraries and guides in the business. Here are a few reasons you will want to explore when deciding if you want a guided tour.

  • Expertise! Your tour operators have invested a lot of time, money and effort in exploring the perfect itineraries for their guests. They employ the experts who are knowledgeable in the area you are traveling as well as problem solving and making the trip extra special. The hotels are ready for you and have been tested. They work with locals to enhance the cultural experiences.
  • Budget! You may be stretching your dollars a lot further when on a guided tour because you are taking advantage of the savings your tour operator is getting by having a group travel. Hot spots tourist sites work with groups to ensure guaranteed access. Traveling alone you might just be shut out and not be able to experience the one thing you really wanted to do. Your trip is pretty much pre paid and you don’t have unexpected expenses racking up an already expensive trip.
  • Safety! Tour operators know the area! Traveling in groups is safer in general, haven’t we heard that all of our lives? It eliminates the language barriers and allows tourists opportunity to see and do much more! You can travel even as a single and not feel like this is just a vacation for one!
  • Carefree! You don’t have to worry about anything! You have peace of mind that you are going to the places you want to go, the way you should get there and everything is taken care of for you. You have time to do as much or as little as you want on most tours and someone is always available for questions and to problem solve if necessary.
  • Social! Although you are traveling with a group – most tour companies have very small groups. Small enough to get to know others and not miss anything. You do have customized tours and ones that you just join in on. You are still on YOUR vacation, but you have the benefits of experiencing it with others as well. That in and of itself is a great way to see the world. My family has met some wonderful people we now call friends!

Don’t miss it! Explore the idea of a guided tour with your travel planner and I can assure you you won’t be disappointed. You will be able to see more and do more when everything is taken care of for you. #MustLoveTravelMoments

So what does all inclusive mean?

Right now a beautiful all inclusive resort situated on the beautiful shores of a vast ocean sounds like a perfect place to be! With the “yucky” weather still lingering in the north nothing screams more than sunshine and warmth!

All inclusive resort vacations can be the perfect match for many travelers. If you are like me, once I plan my vacation I just want to enjoy it. I want it to fit the budget. Include everything I need and no surprises!

So what does all inclusive mean? For most resorts it means your package includes, your room, all you can eat dining, all you can drink beverage, and some onsite activities and entertainment. You basically can travel to these destinations with everything taken care of and few out of pocket expenses. Easy!

There are some differences throughout the all inclusive industry. Some resorts capture a niche like Sandals that includes many beach and water activities or Karisma resorts that boast gourmet dining and top shelf drinks and exclusive Canadian Beef weeks. Others you may need to upgrade to get those added to your package.

In addition room categories leverage one brand over another too. Over the water bungalows are the hottest rage right now and are exclusive to Karisma and Sandals in the major island markets. Exclusively designed suites like Casitas at El Dorado or beach front Bungalows in Sandals Antigua offer the luxury of exceptional views, privacy and restful vacations.

There are moderate all inclusive resorts that are nice on the budget and offer everything you will need to steal away for some sun and fun. You will find clean rooms, beautiful pools, great food and plenty of pool bars to try out some of your island favorites.

Day trips to local attractions and activities are typical for someone that wants to get a little more culture. You can swim with dolphins, sail away on a catamaran, Rose a camel or scuba dive! There is plenty to choose from. Cultural excision to the Mayan Ruins or museums and cities are great options too. You won’t be disappointed.

Many Weddings and Honeymoons are taken at all inclusive resorts. It has everything for everyone and creates a perfect backdrop for these special occasions. And certainly don’t forget th anniversary!! Capturing the romance is their specialty!
The ultimate in luxury for me is visiting the spa. Although this is an additional charge you can prepay services if you choose to do so. The spas located at these island resorts enhance the overall relaxing experiences of your vacation. And if you get a little sunburn you may want to stop in for a little therapy to sooth the burn!

There are many fantastic resorts to choose from and our travel planners have their favs they would love to share with you! The nice thing about these type of vacations are that you can plan ahead or even check it out last minute for a quick trip!

Helpful tips for Traveling Outside of the United States

Many clients have inquired about traveling outside of the United States and in particular to Mexico, Jamaica and other locations that have had recent travel advisories. I thought I would share some insight as to how to best know where to get your information and some best practices when traveling outside the United States.

First, let me say that no matter where you travel, even in the United States, you should take precautions to ensure safety and be discerning. When purchasing your trip, it is highly recommended to include Vacations Plans or Travel Insurance. This will protect you should you become ill or injured, and require medical treatment and/or evacuation. This is particularly important when traveling to foreign countries.

Mexico is a fabulous destination to visit, in particular the resort areas of Cancun, and Riviera Maya. These resort properties work very hard to ensure safety for their guests and employees. Recently, the travel advisory has been lifted to these areas and you can read the complete details on https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.

Just as you would view your life at home, common sense is your best protection. Follow your instincts and avoid any areas or situations that seem as though they could become dangerous.

  1. Stay in the well-known tourist areas of the cities.
  2. Know and respect the laws in the country you are visiting.
  3. Visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas, and avoid areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur.
  4. Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member back home. Contact them should you plan to deviate from it.
  5. Check with your cell phone provider prior to departure to see if your phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G/4G international networks
  6. Do not display expensive looking jewelry, large amounts of money or other valuable items
  7. Make every attempt to travel during daylight hours, and stick to main roads
  8. If traveling with children, be sure to keep an eye on them at all times, especially near water as the resorts do not offer lifeguards.

When traveling to a specific area you can stay abreast of the latest advisories by visiting the https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html and also to register your travel https://step.state.gov.
Here you will receive the most accurate and updated information and can make an educated decision about your travel arrangements. Be careful not to get caught up in the media stories and stick with this official source and work with your travel planner. As Must Love Travel Planners we keep abreast of the latest information and work with our clients to assist them in adjusting plans should it become necessary.

Are you ready to go to Hawaii?

Planning your trip to Hawaii

It will be hard to choose which of the six islands of Hawaii to visit as you can see from our series on the Hawaiian Islands. This state hosts so many wonderful wonders from breathtaking waterfalls, volcanoes, tropical delights, ocean greatness fit for watching sea life, snorkeling and surfing. It is a destination within reach. No need for passports, great weather throughout the year and plenty to do! It is a destination for families, honeymoons and romance.

So if you are like me, Hawaii is a bucket list destination for you and how are you going to plan for such a trip. You may want to visit all the islands or atleast many of them to get the full experience. Afterall, it may be your only visit to Hawaii right? Although after you visit you this may be your go to destination! As with any vacation, planning is key. You will need to plan your time off, set your budget and make a list of your must do’s. Many visitors to Hawaii set aside 7-14 days depending on how much they want to see. Your budget will need to be a healthy one as you can only arrive by land or sea. Airfare ranges between $880 – $1500 and fluctuates often. Resort costs are fairly typical, but as with any travel to islands food can be a little higher than you are used to at home.

One cost effective way to travel to Hawaii is via cruise. I say cost effective because your vacation is pretty much paid for before you leave home since your food is included in your cruise package. One of my favorite ships to sail is the Pride of America on Norwegian Cruise line. Recently renovated, the Pride of America has been sailing to Hawaii for many years. It has recently been voted the best Hawaii Itinerary. With a variety of Itineraries, you can hit most of the highlights. You can choose packages that include pre cruise land stay or just cruise only.

If you are more adventurous or a little shy of cruising and want to dive into one or more islands on your trip there are packages that will include your flights, accommodations, excursions. This way gives you the flexibility to customize where you want to be and when.

Whatever way you want to go – land or sea, you will want to work with your Must Love Travel Planner to help you create a spectacular vacation. Plan ahead. This bucket list destination is a place you will not want to miss. The history, gorgeous views, culture and volcanic wonders are calling your name! If you missed any of the island articles we have recently published, go back and check them out!

 

Traveling with Autism | Make Vacation Fun Again

Planning for a vacation is typically an exciting time for a family.  They are looking forward to time spent together at their destination, plenty of activities to experience, the food etc., and few expect any challenges to get in the way.  But for some families, vacation planning is stressful and something to be avoided all together.  Those families may not think vacationing is an option for them because someone in the family is on the Autism Spectrum and trying to plan a trip to accommodate them is overwhelming.

As a Certified Autism Travel Professional I would like those families to know that I’m here to serve them and make vacation planning enjoyable and stress-free.  Every family deserves some time to bond, create memories and share a destination without having to worry about how a family member on the spectrum is going to cope, because the details have already been taken care of.  With one in 68 children in the US today diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it’s important to me to be able to provide a vacation experience that is memorable for those families.

I’ve been specially trained to work with these families by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and together we can make vacationing a possibility.  Each person on the Spectrum has different needs, different triggers etc.  By working with the family to learn what those are I can then work to find destinations, vendors and resources that will enable me to present options.

For instance, did you know that it’s possible to take a “practice run” through security at the airport for those that might be prone to sensory overload and where change is hard?  Alerting TSA ahead of time is also an option.  Certain companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Beaches Family Resorts are even Autism certified, making a trip with them that much easier on a family.

YOU deserve to work with a Travel Professional who understands the challenges you face and I’m here to help you.  I hope you will contact me, so we can work together to create a lifetime of memories.

 

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

 

 

Lanai- “Hawaii’s Most Enticing Island”

Lanai is just 9 short miles away from Maui, but don’t let that fool you as Lanai has its own charm and personality and happens to be the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands. If you are one of those travelers that likes a little bit of being away from it all, here is where you want to be. There are no stoplights and only two hotels.

The accommodations are nothing short of spectacular. On the south side, you can stay at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai which overlooks Hulopoe Bay. This oceanside paradise is full of colorful reef fish and hosts protected species such as green sea turtles and spinner dolphins. Of course this is the perfect place for golfing at one of the two world-ranked courses. The second Hotel is the Hotel Lanai, Hawaii’s Best Little Inn. As a historic landmark in Lanai City, it was best known as the hotel for the Dole Plantation Executives. All the rooms in this laid back hotel, feature original art by local artist Mike Carroll. It is small, with only 11 guest rooms, but very special for visitors wanting to step back in time.

There are some great activities besides golfing visitors can do on Lanai. You can visit the Lanai Adventure Center near- by the Four Seasons Hotel where you can explore. Guided UTV tours are available as well as horseback riding. At the Lanai Ocean Sports you can depart from Manele Small Boat Harbor and snorkel, whale watch, watch the sunset and dive. This makes for a great activity day if you are going to even just spend the day at Lanai.

Beaches, and dining are not forgotten on this tiny island. You will find the local mom and pop shops as well as your luxury dining at the resorts. Polihua Beach is very secluded and off the beaten path on the North Shore. From this advantage point you can see Diamond Head on Oahu island. Hulopoe Bay is named on of America’s best beaches. This is perfect for beach goers as you have a picnic area with grills and restrooms with showers.

You can plan your stay on Lanai or if you are staying on Maui head over on the Maui-Lanai Ferry which crosses over 5 times a day every day.

Tips for Wine Tastings in Napa Valley

With a growing interest in specialized trips surrounding the interests of couples finding the right Travel Consultant is a must.  You need someone that understands what you’re looking for, whether it includes volunteering your time while on vacation, cooking courses, or expanding your palates with tasting experiences, the right Consultant will be able to assist you with these needs.

If wine tasting is one of your interests, I wanted to pass along some tips that my husband and I have learned from long weekend getaways to Napa Valley.  I hope you’ll find these helpful and I look forward to helping you with an something you’ve always wanted to experience!

1. You can basically expect the winery hours to be 9 – 5pm…they are not open late into the evening.

2. Most small wineries (and these are NUMEROUS) offer tastings by appointment only.

3. If you’re driving, consider having a designated driver or being cognizant of the amount of alcohol you are imbibing on your tastings. Be sure you’ve had a good meal before your tastings, there’s NO excuse for drunk driving. You can also simply avoid this issue all together by letting me book your on a wine tour. Everything from small group to private tours are available. It all depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and the budget you have.

4. Multiple tastings can add up, so be sure to agree on a budget before you head out. The average tasting fees can run from $15 – $60 per person depending on the type of tastings (Reserve wines vs. everyday) the vintner etc.

5. If you plan on purchasing bottles, be sure that you have a way to get them safely back in your luggage. Most wineries or stores in the area will have bubble skins that you can buy or you can ask the winery about shipping rates. They can be quite reasonable, especially if you are considering the purchase of a couple bottles.

6. Many wineries will waive a tasting fee if you purchase a couple bottles or join their wine club.

7. If you don’t know a lot about wine, just be honest with them. A good winery will be more than happy to help you with explanations of what you can expect etc. and share information about their wines.

________________________________________________________________________________

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

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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