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Category Archives: Travel Tips

Why Hawaii is the Perfect Destination! – Travel Video!

 

Our Travel Planner Annette Colburn recently visited Hawaii! I sat down with her recently via a video chat to talk all things Hawaii! Annette shared with me that the islands of Hawaii are one of her absolute favorite destinations! Through our conversation, she shared with me a few of the reasons why Hawaii is her happy place as well as why Hawaii is a perfect destination for truly everyone!

 

 

Annette shared that Hawaii is ideal for couples, families, kids, truly everyone! Everyone can find something that they enjoy! She detailed that Hawaii is filled with romance making it a great spot for couples! From renewing your vows, to your honeymoon or even a romantic getaway, Hawaii can provide the most amazing backdrop for you and your partner! Families can enjoy some relaxing time on the beach or choose to take some incredible once in a lifetime excursions to experience everything the islands have to offer!

 

 

I asked Annette what her favorite excursion was and she said she loved snorkeling and whale watching! She showed me the incredible photo she captured of a whale jumping out of the water and it is so breathtaking! Annette shared with me that she loves wildlife so seeing these beautiful creatures was a real stand out moment!

You can hear more in our new YouTube video!

 

I personally have always wanted to travel to Hawaii and now that I have heard Annette’s stories I am even more excited to one day get to experience this beautiful state!

I would like to thank our wonderful Must Love Travel Planner Annette Colburn for sharing her incredible Hawaii experiences with me! Contact our Must Love Travel team today to plan your next vacation to Hawaii or to wherever your dream destination is! We are excited to make your travel dreams a reality!

7 Things I Learned on My First Cruise! – Tips for First-Time Cruisers

 

This past November I embarked on a brand-new travel adventure, MY VERY FIRST CRUISE! Our 2018 Must Love Travel Agency Event took us aboard the beautiful Celebrity Infinity. This trip was my very first cruise that I had ever been on and it was such an amazing experience! I learned so much about so many new and exciting places that I had never been to before such as the Florida Keys and the Bahamas!  I got to enjoy fellowship and education time with my wonderful colleagues! I also came away from the trip with an in-depth knowledge of cruising!

 

 

 

Prior to this first cruise I was filled with so much excitement as well as so many questions. I didn’t know what to expect with this new mode of travel and was so curious as to how it all worked. Like with everything in life, we learn through first-hand experience! Through my experience onboard the Celebrity Infinity I came away with having all of my cruising questions answered!  Today I am excited to share with you 7 of the things I learned during my first cruise! I hope that this information and tips help you know what to expect whether you are about to embark on your first cruise or your 100th cruise!

 

  1. Get a Drink Package

Many cruise lines offer a drink package. We all had the option to add one of these drink plans on before our sailing. I opted not to get a drink package, I enjoy indulging in a drink or two but that’s about my limit. For me personally I didn’t feel that I would get my money’s worth out of having a beverage package. I was planning to just pay for any drinks I wanted outright throughout the cruise. When the day came to set sail, I was checking in at the terminal and received such a kind upgrade! The Celebrity crew member at check in saw on my license that I had recently celebrated my 21st birthday and gave me the drink package complimentary. What an amazing start to my first ever cruise! Here was where I had my first learning experience. I feel that I definitely made the most out of having a beverage package. What I was unaware of was the fact that even drinks such as iced tea, coffee, sodas and other fountain drinks are all additional charges. Having a drink package allowed me to get these beverages as well as enjoy some alcoholic beverages. In the end when you crunch the numbers having a drink package definitely will save you money in the long run. It is important to know that every cruise line is different in terms of what beverages are included free and what drinks are an up-charge. Different cruise lines offer different types of drink packages and many cruise lines even have different tiers of beverage plans. The best way to know which plan is best for you is to talk to your Must Love Travel Planner! Our team has already done the research and can offer you the best advice to save you money and maximize your vacation experience.

 

  1. Bring a Lanyard

On a cruise, you will be given your stateroom card, this card does so much more than just open your cabin door. This card is also your form of onboard payment, your ID, and it is loaded up with any credits you may have such as a beverage package. You find yourself using this little card all the time. With that in mind it is a good idea to have a lanyard with a clear pouch to house this card in. This eliminates the need to carry your wallet or bag with you throughout the ship. I saw many people on the ship who had cruise lanyards. I instantly made note that I needed to get one after seeing how useful this item was! The onboard gift shops will sell lanyards; however they are going to up-charge you quite a lot on the ship! I saw lanyards in the gift shop for around $20. That is why my best tip is to plan ahead and purchase your lanyards before you set sail. You can find generic lanyards and even some very cute and stylish lanyards on sites such as Amazon for right around $5. Trust me, this item will be super convenient!

 

  1. Optimize Device Charging

Staterooms on a Cruise Ship can be much smaller compared to a standard hotel room. This is just something to be aware of when planning. With proper planning, you will be able to maximize your space to the fullest! Something I encountered was the fact that our stateroom had just one outlet with 2 plugs. Only 2 devices could be plugged in and charging at one time. Once again this was just how it was on our particular ship. Many newer ships come equipped with more outlets and plugs. However, just because you are limited on outlets doesn’t mean you can’t still charge all your devices and gadgets, bring a charger block or a power strip. Devices such as these will allow you to plug multiple device into just one outlet. Another tip I can give is to bring a European adaptor if you have one. Our Stateroom also had a European outlet with two European plugs. This is common on Cruise Ships because they sail all over the world and have passengers from all around the world! Had I brought along a European adapter I could have gained a whole other outlet to use!

 

  1. Cell Phone Use Onboard

One of the things I was most curious about prior to my first cruise was how cell phones worked at sea! I ended up being able to use my phone during the entire duration of the cruise with these tips. I put my phone in airplane mode to make sure I would not get roaming charges. Be aware of the fact that your phone may still work out at sea but you might get hit with extremely high roaming charges. I recommend talking to your cell phone service carrier prior to your sailing to know your range. Even in airplane mode I was able to still call and text with people back on land because I enabled wifi calls and texts. This is a feature that most smart phones have that you can use wifi to call, text and even facetime! I purchased the ships wifi package in order to do this and found that the onboard wifi was very strong and I always got a great connection. If you are wanting to use your phone in port in a different country I would also recommend talking to your service provider before your sailing telling them where you are traveling so you can find out if you can get service. My cell phone company offers a great program where I can pay for an international plan per day. I was able to utilize this during our day in port in Nassau Bahamas.

 

  1. Motion Sickness

As a first-time cruiser, motion sickness was a fear in the back of my mind. I am happy to report I was absolutely fine during our sailing and never felt any motion sickness symptoms. My best advice to you if you are concerned with motion sickness is to just be prepared. I picked up motion sickness pills prior to sailing to keep with me as a precaution. I also bought a product called “Sea Bands.” These are bands that go around your wrist and apply pressure on certain pressure points that are supposed to naturally reduce the feelings of motion sickness. The first night of our sailing we were just getting out to sea and in this area the water was a bit choppier. I was noticing the motion more so choose to put these band on as a precaution. I felt great the entire night so I definitely think this product works wonderfully!

 

  1. Prepare to put Luggage out the Night Before You Disembark

The evening before you disembark you may be instructed to place your luggage outside of your stateroom to be collected by your host. They take your bags away so that the next day they can handle getting the luggage off the ship for you. Every cruise line has different procedures but this is definitely helpful. The morning you depart you don’t have to worry about maneuvering your luggage all around the ship! It is a great system; however, this is just something that you need to be aware of so you can plan ahead. Know that on your final evening of the cruise you will have to gather from your luggage any items that you need for that evening or for the next morning. I just had my backpack with me and I definitely had to do a lot of consolidating and reorganizing to get my essentials to fit in my small carry-on. I made it work but in the future I would definitely plan to bring along a packable tote bag that can be used for this exact purpose. With a packable tote, you can repack just those essentials for that night and the next day and not have to worry about not having enough bag space.

 

  1. Plan with Your Must Love Travel Planner!

My first Cruise experience definitely gave me the cruising bug! I saw that there is so much to do and see during a cruise vacation! You are onboard a floating luxury hotel that is whisking you away to new and exciting destinations! A cruise is multiple vacations inside a vacation! You can make your cruise relaxing, adventurous or a perfect mixture of both! There are so many options to choose from when it comes to activities to experience on the ship, to excursions you can take in port! With this in mind it is important to go into your cruise vacation with a plan and a knowledge of all of your choices so that you can guarantee you won’t miss out on anything that you really want to do. This prior research will allow you to make the most out of your vacation! The best way to do this is by contacting your Must Love Travel Planner! Our team can use their knowledge and experience to give you recommendations and tips that will enable you to get the most from your vacation! Your job is to relax and enjoy while we do the work part for you!

 

Hear more in our new YouTube Video:

 

I hope these 7 things I learned on my first cruise will answer some of your questions about cruising. I highly recommend planning a cruise vacation. I am already counting down the days until I get to set sail again! If you still have questions about a cruise, know that your Must Love Travel Planner will be your advocate and answer any questions you may have! As always, our team at Must Love Travel is happy to help you plan your next vacation! Happy Cruising!

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#3:   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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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

 

 

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