One week ago I stepped off of our Windstar Cruises Dreams of Tahiti cruise, and I’m still smiling. Throughout the week I’ve been reflecting on my journey, wondering how I can possibly sum it up for you. A voyage like no other, it’s challenging to put the experience into words, but I’ll do my best. As such, here are 5 things I loved about my cruise on Windstar's Wind Spirit.
1. Ship Size
In the cruise industry, “bigger and better” has become the trend. The bigger ships allow for more bells and whistles, beckoning to guests to experience new and improved features. However, bigger isn’t always better. Big ships may offer more fun activities, but their size prevents them from approaching many smaller ports. The bigger ships also pull larger crowds on the pool deck (there’s only so much space on the top decks!) and more guests at check in, on tenders, etc. Therefore, don’t assume bigger is better. Be sure to weigh the features for the trade-offs they provide.
Gone are the days of American Express Traveler’s Cheques and having to find a convenient place to cash them when you run out of money in a foreign country (thank goodness)! Today, there are more ways than ever to make sure you always have that foreign cash handy when exploring the world. But…not all Euros or Caribbean dollars are created equal! Here is a short guide to obtaining and dealing with foreign currency on your next vacation
For those of us who love solitude and escape, avoiding the crowds is an essential part of enjoying our travels. The best-known places are always going to draw lots of people, and usually with good reason. So how can we see the sights without feeling like we’re stuck in a herd of sheep? I take great pride in carefully scheduling a great travel plan…designed to minimize crowds and time in line and maximize your enjoyment.Here are my top ten tips for avoiding the worst of the vacation crowds:
As travelers, it's easy to get in a rut, or stuck in one particular way of thinking. As we face a new year of adventure, let's vow to look at the way we travel and make a few resolutions. Let's all say this together! We resolve to...
...be a better global ambassador exhibiting the best aspects of America.
...take any and all vacation time we've earned...and steal whatever extra days off we can.
When it comes to taking a cruise on river or ocean, it’s pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities, and the opportunity to explore interesting ports.
But each one comes with its own unique perks, and depending on your specific needs for your next trip, you might find that one is a slightly better fit than the other. So what are the major differences?
The big difference can be summed up in one word: intimacy. River cruises tend to be much smaller (190 max vs. up to 6,200 on the largest ocean cruises), and as a result, you’re much more likely to be interacting with other passengers and crew members.
Have you ever considered taking it on the road over the holidays? No? Maybe you should give it a try!
Below are five of my favorite reasons reasons why a holiday AWAY makes perfect sense:
1. Use Fewer Vacation Days
Extending a holiday that most people already have off minimizes the amount of time needed away from work. You get more bang for your buck and save those vacation days for later!
Talk of Real ID has been floating around for years now. "It's coming. Be ready". Then the date gets moved back and we all push it out of our minds. However, the new deadline is approaching so today I want to make sure YOU are ready for this transition.
What IS Real ID? Real ID is a form of ID that has a minimum set of standards for issuance. The U.S. is creating this ID as a way to have consistent levels of security required for entering federal buildings, including airports. Real ID is an added level of security to your driver's license.
I am a Disney Fan through and through. As a Southern California girl, I grew up regularly visiting Mickey and his pals at Disneyland. However, I've also had my fair share of (a dozen!) trips to Walt Disney World in Florida. Inevitably, people ask me which one I like better, and my answer is always the same, "Each one is special in it's own way, and I can't pick a favorite. They fill different roles. Disneyland is great for a long weekend getaway, and Disney World is a full on vacation."
Disneyland will always hold a special place in my heart, as it brings up the nostalgia of not only my own childhood, but of the fact that it was Walt's baby. His personal touches are throughout the park, with many original, innovative attractions still operating today. It's an easy resort to navigate, with the two parks set directly across from one another, and easy 1 minute walk between them. Even Downtown Disney is just right outside the gates.
Cruising is a wonderful way to see a variety of places without having to pack and unpack or worry about where to find your next meal. It's also great for extended family groups, as you may each do what you'd like during the day, then come back together for dinner in the evening and share about your adventures of the day.
I've been seeing a surge in cruise requests for spring break and next summer, and have loved surprising my clients with a little cruise hack I know of. It saves money and gives families more space to spread out. Today, I want to tell you about it, as it really highlights my point of why you need to plan your vacation early (and use a travel agent-me!)
Last week I took my first vacation to a Sandals Resort, in beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica. While I was excited to experience the Sandals brand firsthand, I was also a bit nervous. After all, I'm not usually a "sit on the beach and relax" kind of gal. However, I also knew that there is much more to these all-inclusive resorts than the beach and pools, so I went in to the trip determined to experience as much as possible. Below is my numerical review of our stay:
100 acres to explore - the largest Sandals property.
95 hours in Jamaica - 4 nights total.
In June I had the joy of spending 10 nights in Iceland, Norway, Scotland on the Norwegian Star. It was my first time cruising Norwegian so it was exciting to experience a new cruise line. One of the reasons I hadn't tried the line before was that I'd heard very mixed reviews when first starting my business. However, since this particular itinerary was very appealing and fit within our busy summer plans, we decided to give it a go. Below you will find my honest review of our adventure:
Our news feeds are filled with stories of flights cancellations, delays, and lost baggage right now, Having just returned from Europe with some rather "adventurous" flights of our own, I'm glad I could experience travel firsthand to see what the conditions are really like. Based on my experiences, I wanted to share 5 insights with you on how to best prepare for travel right now. I definitely think it's still worthwhile to get out there, but adjusting expectations and planning appropriately are an essential part of it.
Prepare to be Entertained
Pack something to watch. Most flights will have in-flight movies, but your choices will be limited. You might want to bring your own tablet, or laptop loaded with a few movies that you know you will enjoy. Movies that you love and want to watch again or new movies that you have been dying to see — or both.
Pack something to read. Here again is where a tablet, or even your phone or laptop, shines! Make sure you have downloaded some books to read. I recommend more than one book, just in case you get bored of one, or finish it!
The world is full of wonderful destinations, many of which require a substantial plane flight to get to! Those long haul flights can feel a bit daunting, but with the right planning they can be not just tolerated, but enjoyed. It's important to be prepared to be comfortable, healthy, entertained and rested. Today, I'll share with you my hints and tips for the first two categories, then finish up the list in part 2.
Prepare to be Comfortable
New York Times writer Susan Heller famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
Even when we have great intentions, it’s easy to overload our suitcases. We wind up dragging a lot of stuff around. There’s more to keep track of; it winds up being a lot of physical and mental clutter. And, of course, we wind up paying a ton of extra fees for the additional weight and luggage.
I like to think of efficient packing as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need, you’re freed up to not have to lug around a bunch of extra weight, and you can put that saved money towards a special souvenir, a nice dinner out, or another awesome experience.
I love all things Disney, and souvenirs are no exception! Just the mention of the word and I envision myself browsing gift shops looking for the perfect item to bring home. However, while many trinkets call my name, I buy very few things at the parks. Instead, my favorite souvenirs are free ... or should I say, included.
You see, my favorite Disney souvenirs are character photos.
One very magical aspect of our trips to Disney is saying hello to Mickey and his pals. Over the years, we have met hundreds of friends, in many variations of costumes. In the process, we have created precious memories with conversations had, the antics that took place, and the mishaps that occurred. (Yes, Donald, we know you didn't mean to poke MJ in the eye!)
It's National Travel Agent Day! For me, that means many emails from various suppliers, expressing gratitude for the work that I do. I am thankful to be part of such a dynamic industry, doing a job that I love and look forward to daily. I truly believe I have the best career in the world. However, as I reflect on my business, I realize that many people still don't really understand my role as a travel planner. As such, here are 5 things your travel agent wants you to know.
1. My Services are Complimentary Yes, free. No charges, no service fees, no hidden costs. I have tried and tried again to make this known, telling anyone who will listen, posting it on social media, etc. Yet, not a week goes by when someone doesn't comment that they thought I charge a fee. Or, sometimes I'm in dialogue with a potential client and she asks me when I will be sending my bill. Friends, suppliers pay me to help you. I don't charge a cent.
While I have been privileged to explore many places, there is much more of the world that my heart longs to see. I venture to say I'm not alone. Most people I know have a list of places they'd like to visit, and experiences they'd like to have, but they aren't quite sure how to afford it. Today, I'd like to encourage you that it may be more doable than you think, by offering 10 simple ways to save for vacation. These aren't magic money makers, but a way of looking at your life and refocusing your priorities.
People could easily look at me and say, "Of course you can travel a lot, that's your JOB!" While that is true, it still requires resources, and a focused effort on my part to save what we need. My husband has a fabulous job, and I contribute with my business. However, we live in San Jose, which Business Insider calculated to be the 6th most expensive place to live in the world. Therefore, while we are financially stable by all definitions, we don't have excess cash to throw around. We make choices in our everyday lives which allow us to take some incredible trips. By sharing some of my strategies with you, I hope you'll be encouraged that you, too, can save up for that dream trip.
Let's face it: as parents of little ones, a vacation sounds completely magical. An opportunity to get away from the normal routine and escape the responsibilities of home for a few days would be delightful. The thought of it is enough to carry us through those sleepless nights or toddler tantrum episodes. That is, the THEORY of family travel sounds wonderful. Reality, however, may seem a bit daunting. After all, there's so much gear. And unpredictable schedules. And eating habits. And mood swings. Need I go on?
Today, I'd like to encourage you that enjoyable vacations ARE possible for parents with little ones. All it takes is some good decision making and adequate planning. To help set you in the right direction, I have a few helpful hints and tips to share.
Without further ado...how to travel with little ones and LIKE it:
Location, Location, Location
Yes, I recommend you choose one, and only one. (Two at the most, if you are feeling ambitious!) With so much gear to haul, and settling in to occur, you don't want to spend multiple days packing and unpacking. That's more time spent working and less time enjoying your destination.
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.