Where to go on the Spectacular Vacation- Part I

Where to go on that spectacular vacation

So often I am asked, ‘where should I go on vacation?’

Unless we’ve been bff’s for years the standard answer is I don’t know, but let’s figure it out.

The world is a big place with thousands of opportunities exploring, learning, relaxing and just plain fun. But for each of us, fun has a different meaning.

So I will try over the next few months to help you explore your options, continent by continent, country by country, even cities.

Let’s start with something familiar, North America. You may think that North America is the USA and Canada, maybe Mexico in there as well, but try again. There are about 23 countries in North America besides some additional lands owned by European nations.

Most people love the idea of warm sands, cool waves and lots of sun, so let’s head to the Caribbean and a lot of those countries.

Below are most of the places you would want to visit. Many are easily accessible by cruise ship.

Until about 2 years ago Cuba was forbidden fruit, but today you may visit. There is a lot of history and great food in Cuba. If you choose this destination, work with a travel agent and reputable tour company. There are still lots of rules and you wouldn’t want to go it alone.

Jamaica is probably one of the most popular places to visit. It is warm year round, has nice beaches and a wide variety of all-inclusive resorts. It’s also a common port for cruise ships.

If you are a nature lover, Costa Rica may be the place for you. There are habitats, a mini version of the Amazon and lovely beaches as well.

Each country has its own unique culture and geography.

The Caribbean offers

  • Guatemala
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Nicaragua:
  • Costa Rica:
  • Panama:
  • Jamaica:
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Bahamas:
  • Belize:
  • Barbados:
  • Saint Lucia
  • St. Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Grenada:
  • Antigua & Barbuda:
  • Dominica:
  • Saint Kitts & Nevis:

 

When you are planning that spectacular Caribbean vacation consider these points:

  • Time of year- The Western Caribbean is warmer than the Eastern Caribbean, so if you are planning on a summer vacation, be prepared for 100º weather in the Western Caribbean.
  • Shopping-Expect to have many shops closed on Sunday so if you are cruising be aware and if you are flying in, consider which days you will be there.
  • Flights- Places like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica are relatively easy to get to, although there is a good chance you won’t get a direct flight. The smaller island countries can be trickier for transportation. Check which days the airlines go to the islands or if you have to get a local flight from a larger neighboring island.
  • Money- US dollars are accepted most everywhere, but check ahead just to be sure.
  • PASSPORTS- Yes, you need a passport to visit any of the Caribbean nations. Tip: Although you may be able to use just an ID and birth certificate for the cruise, if something goes wrong and you have to fly back, it will cost time and additional fees to get your passport to board the plane.

As always, plan ahead. Most people are going on vacation during the summer and holiday weeks, so the cruises and resorts book up quickly. Today you are rewarded for that early booking.

If you’d like an email of today’s tips, Like my Facebook page, Unique Travel Events or sign up for my free newsletter on www.uniquetravelevents.com

Do you have a great idea for travel preparation? I’d love to share your idea with my readers.

Lots more tips to come on the do’s and don’ts, advice from good sources and more

Remember, travel is medicine for the heart, mind and soul and your travel agent has the cure.

Email- asavitch@uniquetravelevents.com

Andrea

 

 

That Spectacular Vacation- Ready, Set, GO

Your bags are packed, the taxi’s waiting, but are you ready to go?

I’m a believer in checking and re-checking, so here are a few last minute preparation tips.

Day Before Travel

1)If you are flying, print out or download your boarding pass

2) If someone is taking you to the airport, cruiseport or train station verify what time they will arrive to pick you up.

3) Have you let the post office you know you’ll be away? If not, do it now or make sure someone is picking up your mail and newspapers. An overflowing mailbox and a stack of papers  advertise that no one is around.

4) If you are boarding pets, today is a good day to drop them off instead of stressing about it tomorrow when you are ready to leave.

5) Re-check your luggage, make sure everything is in there. Tip: Luggage tags should be on each piece but don’t put your home address or phone, use a business address instead. One less way to invite the ‘wrong’ kind of guest.

6) Let a neighbor you trust know that you will be away for a while.

Here is a link to some advice from the TSA.

Day of Travel

1) Make sure your passport/identification and boarding pass are readily available at the airport, cruiseport, etc.

2) Bring the minimum number of credit cards. Tip: Let your credit card companies know that you are traveling to avoid the ‘frozen account due to security measures’.

3) Check your carry-on for the essentials, medications, electronics, toiletries and one change of clothes. Tip: Carry an empty water bottle that you can fill up after you get through security at the airport.

4) If you are driving to the airport, check the traffic reports. Arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight. Tip: If your boarding pass shows ‘pre-check’ you can save time at the shorter lines where you don’t need to take off shoes and such. TSAPre-check link

5) If you are sailing, have your cruise line luggage tags on the luggage. For most cruise lines your cabin should be available around 1pm. If you arrive early treat yourself to lunch onboard the ship at the buffet.

6) Make sure the appliances in your home are off. Leave a light on somewhere in the house.

7) If you are traveling outside the USA and haven’t gotten any foreign currency, get about $50 worth at the airport.

Now, go and have a great time.

If you’d like an email of today’s tips or more info, Like my Facebook page, Unique Travel Events or sign up for my free newsletter on www.uniquetravelevents.com or send an email to asavitch@uniquetravelevents.com

Do you have a great idea for travel preparation? I’d love to share your idea with my readers.

Lots more tips to come on the do’s and don’ts, advice from good sources and more

Remember, travel is medicine for the heart, mind and soul and your travel agent has the cure.

Andrea

 

There's an APP for that

We hear this all the time and the travel industry is right onboard with apps.

Google maps and other map services come standard with most smartphones but there is so much more available.

For the cruisers there is Shipmate available for both Android and iPhone. It’s a wonderful tool that allows you to search for cruises, their itineraries and excursions. But keep in mind you have to download an app for each of the cruise lines that use it which include but are not limited to, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Disney and Celebrity. In addition this one is free.

Airlines such as Delta have their own apps for tracking flights even getting your boarding pass on your phone. Ticket & Flight Airlines is a free app that connects to many of the major air carriers like, American Airlines, Jet Blue, United, KLM, Japan, US Airways and more.

Once you arrive at your destination you often are looking for specific places or just things to do. Try Movie Night Out for planning an evening including dinner.

If you are a movie buff or fan of memorable events check out It Happened Here. It’s not a free app but it offers fun spots to visit; the Corleone Mansion from the Godfather, where George Washington took his oath, a scene from Julie and Julia, just a few from the New York version. This app is only available for a few cities and you need to buy each one individually.

Theme parks like Disney, Universal and Hershey have free apps to download making it easier to plan your day.

Whatever city you are traveling in probably offers an app for public transportation and is a good idea to have at your fingertips.

Wherever you are check out museum apps, most are free and can save you time by knowing hours and exhibits.

Some basic apps for any traveler should be a currency conversion app, time converter, tip chart. Frommer’s offers a good app with all of these features, but there are many others.

Many of us who travel have smartphones and can really take advantage of free and inexpensive tools that will make the trip more exciting and less stressful.

For the luxury and exotic destination traveler The World of A&K is a good choice learning about your options.

 

 

Unique Travel Events is a full SERVICE travel agency. Contact us for your travel needs whether its across the state or across the sea.

 

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When not to use a travel agent

Using a travel agent has more benefits than most realize. The only instance when using a travel agent may not be in your best interest is when making flight reservations. Although your agent can save you time, unlike hotels, resorts, cruise lines, etc the airlines do not pay the agent (most of the time) so if the ONLY thing you want your agent to do is make a flight reservation, you’ll probably pay a little more.

Now, that extra few dollars may well be worth it, since the agent is still saving you valuable time and may be able to find a flight or fare that you can’t.

Travel agents have suffered of late with the rise of the internet. The average consumer can go online and book a cruise or a hotel. I will draw an analogy to real estate agents. You can sell your own house or search for one you want to buy, but the real estate agent does a far better job. In both cases you are dealing with professionals whose job it is to serve you and it doesn’t cost any more than doing it yourself.

Actually using a travel agent can save you money by having access to deals that you don’t. In addition a good agent has taken time to learn the products, their pros and cons and learned how best to create a vacation or travel experience that suits you.

The next time you are surfing the web for a cruise or resort and realize that you lost an entire evening with family and friends and still don’t know what to do, call me.