01 Sep

Why Do I Love to Cruise?

Sometimes, people just don’t understand why I love to cruise so much. They don’t get it! Seems simple enough to me. Pack my stuff, get on a ship, unpack my stuff and kick back and relax for a week or 2. What’s not to love? If you are addicted to cruising, you probably get asked the same questions I do over and over. You got to love it!

Why don’t you just stay in a hotel? ~ I get asked this alot. In my mind you can’t even compare a hotel stay to taking a cruise. A cruise offers so much more than a hotel room! Good food, ocean breeze, great entertainment and traveling from port to port without have to pack up and move out of my cabin.

Haven’t you ever seen the movie Titanic? ~ Uh, yeah, who hasn’t? And no, I am not worried about the ship sinking.

How do you afford to cruise so often? ~ One of the best things about taking a cruise is how affordable they are. At a little over $100 a night per person, a 7 night cruise is pretty inexpensive. That cost includes all meals and snacks, accommodations and onboard entertainment. If you went to a resort and ate breakfast, lunch, dinner and a few snacks you would spend well over $100 per person per day.

Don’t you get bored on sea days? ~ Not at all! The more you cruise the more you look forward to the sea days. Sometimes I skip going ashore to enjoy more time on the ship.

Aren’t you worried about pirates? ~ You need to read less romance novels and get out more. Those swashbucklers aren’t coming after a cruise ship.

Why don’t you just fly to all the places you want to see? ~ That would get real expensive pretty quickly. And take up a lot of time hanging out at airports when you could be relaxing by the pool enroute to your next port. And going through cruise ship security is way better than going through the TSA 2 -3 times a week. No thank you!

Why do you post so many cruise pictures and articles on Facebook? ~ Cruising is the best vacation I can take and I love it. Why wouldn’t I want to share my experiences? Isn’t that the point of Facebook? Sharing what you love?

Don’t you get seasick? ~ Modern cruise ships are lots more stable than they used to be. Most of the time you can’t even tell you are at sea. For those that do get motion sickness, there is the patch, the bracelet and Dramamine that work wonders. And me personally, no I do not get seasick. The motion is like rocking in a giant cradle and lulls me to sleep!

How much weight did you gain on your last cruise? ~ LOL…..next question.

Aren’t you worried about falling overboard? ~ It is next to impossible to fall overboard. Unless you are highly intoxicated, pushed or trying really hard, it just does not happen.

Do they let you drive the boat? ~ You are kidding, right? Only authorized personnel are allowed on the bridge – like the Captain.

Aren’t you in danger of getting the Norovirus? ~ Outbreaks on cruise ships might only happen once or twice in a year. You’re in more danger of catching the Norovirus at a land based resort than you are on a cruise ship. Practicing proper hand hygiene keeps you healthier on a cruise and at home. Washy washy!

Aren’t you afraid of sailing into a hurricane? ~ Cruise lines continually monitor weather patterns where they are scheduled to cruise. If there is a threat of any major storm, they will reposition the itinerary and cruise away from the projected hurricane path. A small disappointment if your heart is set on a particular port of call, but it is still better than cancelling your vacation. I’m in wherever they take me!

Cruising is a great value for your vacation dollars. Where there is water, there is a chance to take a cruise. Oceans or rivers, cruise ships are ready to take you on an amazing adventure. Click on the button below to go to my Virtuoso website. Booking with a Virtuoso Advisor gets you extra perks when you take a cruise. Virtuoso Voyages also give you a host on board along with these extra perks. Take a look then contact me to book!

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26 Jul

Why Buy Travel Insurance?

You have decided on a cruise and you’re ready to place deposit. Congratulations! You are going to have an awesome vacation! And then your Travel Agent asks if you would like to add Travel Insurance. You’re thinking ‘Why buy Travel Insurance?’ And what is the difference between the vendor’s Travel Protection and Travel Insurance? I am going to break it all out for you, and why it is to your benefit.

First, let’s talk about the vendors Travel Protection. For the most part, this is mainly to protect your investment if you have to cancel your cruise after their cancellation penalties kick in. Depending on the cruise line, you will be able to cancel at the last minute without a penalty, but the reimbursement is typically in the form of a voucher. The voucher will only be valid with that vendor and you will have a limited time to use it. Rarely does it cover anything else.

Now let’s talk about Travel Insurance. Infinity Travelaz uses and recommends Travel Guard Insurance, so I can only speak to that company. On a personal level, I purchase it every time I travel ~ it is worth the piece of mind. On a business level, I want to recommend a plan that I know will take care of my valued customers from the time they place a deposit on their vacation until they walk in the door when they return home. There are a few key components that give me that warm fuzzy feeling of protection. Read on…

The number 1 item of importance to me is that with several of their plans, you are covered under a pre-existing medical condition waiver. What does that mean exactly? In a nutshell it means that if there is an existing medical condition at the time you book your trip and changes occur so that you are unable to travel, you can cancel and get a full reimbursement ~ in cash. There are rules to this of course: 1 ~ The traveler must be medically able to travel at the time the insurance is purchased. 2 ~ ALL non-refundable componets of your trip must be insured under the eligible policy. 3 ~ The eligible policy MUST be purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment. Not too strict and the best part is this covers you-the traveler, a traveling companion, a business partner or a family member.

Travel Guard has several different plans to fit all kinds of needs and budgets. Last minute getaway? The Pack ‘N Go plan is perfect! Planning a year in advance? Choose from eligible plans that include the pre-existing medical condition waiver like the Silver, Gold or Travel Guard Plus plans. These plans are priced by the state you reside in, your age and the cost of the vacation. Depending on the plan you choose, you will recieve different levels of Trip Cancellation, Trip Delay, Missed Connection, Baggage & Personal Effects, Baggage Delay, Accident Sickness Medical Expense, Emergency Evacuation & Repatriation of Remains, Accidental Death & Dismemberment and many other available inclusions.

The beauty of all this is that for a small investment, you will be protected in case you need to cancel due to one of the qualifying pre-existing conditions, file a claim and receive a full reimbursement. Up until my elderly mother passed away last year, I always worried when I booked a cruise. What if something happened and I had to cancel? Because I always purchase Travel Guard’s Gold Plan, I am always covered. None of us can predict the future, however protecting your investment can help with any unforseen issues that arise.

Are you a dare devil when you’re away from home? Can’t wait to try cliff diving, zip lining or ATV touring? Even hiking mountain or canyon trails can cause problems if you slip and fall. We don’t live or vacation in a bubble and we can’t skip having fun. But IF something happens and you have to seek local medical attention, you are covered. And you have 24/7 access to Travel Guard’s World Wide Service Center. Calling only one number will get you emergency assistance, medical assistance, concierge services, personal security assistance and travel assistance.

As you can see, a Travel Guard Plan is well worth thinking about over a vendor’s trip protection. And most of the time it is less expensive and it obviously covers a lot more. When you book your vacation with Infinity Travelaz, we will have a discussion about your options. And if you want more indepth information, one phone call to their Concierge Desk will ease your mind. You will spend good money for your vacation. Protect your investment so you can travel without a care in the world. That is what memories are made from!

“All great journeys begin with a dream!”

Start Your Journey Here

 

10 Jul

Travel Mistake Free

I just read a great article about the mistakes people make when traveling. I think it is worth visiting and breaking down the mistakes. Think of this as a DIY guide to traveling mistake free!

Know the Destination You Will be Visiting

Most people don’t spin the globe, blindfold themselves and pick a place to go. For the most part, we hear of a destination from friends that have visited there or we see it on TV. Shows like The Bachelor film in amazing locations that make us want to go. But what do you really know about it?

You need to do a little homework and research, even if you are going to use a travel agency. If you have no knowledge of where it is you are going, you won’t understand the nuances of the destination. If you pick the location based purely on what you see on TV, you may not have that WOW experience . It is imperative that you check things out so you know if it is a good fit for you. Then Infinity Travelaz will do the rest to ensure your vacation is amazing!

Just Because Your Neighbor Loved it……..

This is my favorite ‘Don’t do it!’ mistake people make. Your family or friends travel somewhere and think just because they loved it,  you will too. It does not always work that way. Vacations are not one size fits all adventures. Especially when it comes to cruising. I have a big list of ‘dont’ do what they do’ recommendations for first time cruisers that I always share when starting the planning process. We will talk about your needs and desires and then recommend the right cruise experience for YOU.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

A great game people love to play is waiting until the last minute to book a cruise because the cruise line will lower the rates to sell out the cruise. While this is sometimes true, you will NOT get the extra perks those that planned ahead get. Generally speaking I recommend my clients book a cruise about a year in advance, give or take a few months. If you do this you get the best cabin location choices, booking incentives like beverage packages or pre-paid gratuities and lower deposit amounts. Booking at the last minute gets you whatever cabin is left available with no choice of location and no ‘freebies’. In my opinion, you get the best value out of your vacation dollars  when you plan ahead.

Let’s Just Wing it!

How many times have you decided to just take off and be spontaneous? I have on road trips, but to date I have never booked a last minute vacation expecting it to be perfect. Flying to Cancun smack dab in the middle of hurricane season because you did not look at the weather will not be an enjoyable experience. Let’s face it, there are just a few things that need to be considered when taking off for a quick getaway and weather is certainly a big factor.

Value or Deal?

Travelers will spend hours and hours searching the internet for the ‘Best Deal’. Finding the week long package at a new all-inclusive resort for dirt cheap sounds amazing. Until you get there and realize they have opened only part of the resort and the rest is still under construction. Only 1 of the 3 sparkling pools is open as well as only the buffet restaurant because the specialty dining restaurants aren’t built yet. You begin to see that they embelished their advertisement to get business. This is where Infintity Travelaz will be invaluable in finding you an amazing resort for a decent price where the chances of your vacation being FANTASTIC comes into play. Trust your Travel Agent to know what is an incredible value for your travel dollars.

Know Your Logistics

When you are traveling abroad you need to consider jetlag. It is real, trust me. You leave the U.S. in the morning, fly overnight and arrive in your destination 1 or 2 days later (depending where you are traveling) at O Dark Thirty. You’re tired and want to get to your hotel and sleep. That is the #1 mistake travelers make. You need to adjust your body clock by staying awake. Freshen up, go exploring a little bit and try to keep going until night time. Go to bed early, get a good night sleep and be ready to take on the day in the morning. This will make a huge impact on how much you enjoy the first part of your vacation.

Driving in a Foreign Country

Did you know that in Europe and Australia drivers sit on the opposite side of the car and the ‘controls’ are on the wrong side for U.S. drivers. Cars are a lot smaller than what we are used to, and in my opinion they all drive crazy! Have you heard about 100 mph on the Autobahn? It’s true! My point is thinking you can just ‘go rent a car and take off’ when you are in a new country is not always that simple. Can you drive a stick shift? How about when you’re sitting on the opposite side of the car? Take this into consideration, plan ahead and maybe hire a driver to take you around. You will enjoy your vacation so much more than if you are frazzled by the car and the other drivers.

Know What to Pack…

Pack suitable to your destination and HOW you are vacationing. It is never a good idea to bring a suitcase the size of a refrigerator. You will have to pay extra to check it on your flight and it will be a nightmare to transport it to your cruise ship or resort once you reach your destination. AND you don’t need to bring everything you own with you anyway! Over packing is a huge mistake people make all the time. Are you really going to wear 10 pairs of shoes? No, you’re not. I include packing suggestions in all my document packages and always advise my clients to travel light. At some point on every vacation you will be schlepping your bags around. It will be easier to have less to worry about and for you to manuver. I have gotten really good at mixing and matching my outfits. Roll your clothes carefully ~ they won’t get too wrinkled and you can get more into a smaller piece of luggage. Infinity Travelaz has lots of GREAT ideas we share with our travelers. We want you to enjoy your time away!

Granted, none of these ‘mistakes’ are the end of the world. But, I hope you find the suggestions useful. Even seasoned travelers need a fresh perspective once in a while. Infinity Travelaz loves to travel and we are here to help.  And add a chuckle or 2 to your day.

Contact Us

26 Jun

Want to Travel for Free?

Are you asking yourself if this is for real? Would you like to travel for free? Who wouldn’t right? How can you do it? Simple ~ I will tell you how.

If you are wanting to take a cruise and have a group of friends you can round up to go with you, you could go on the cruise for free. How does this work? In the cruise industry there is a pretty standard policy with most of the major cruise lines that for every 16 people that travel together in an organized group, 1 person will get a free berth. So how can you accomplish this? You call your Travel Agent ~ Infinity Travelaz.

The basics:  The qualifying minimum is 8 cabins bought with 2 people per cabin and 1 of the 16 passengers gets to sail for free. This means the larger the group, the more people that can sail for free. 32 passengers in 16 cabins ~ 2 people can go for free. 48 passengers in 24 cabins ~ 3 people can go for free.

The meat:  Let’s say you have 50 people that all want to go on the same cruise. You have organizational skills so you decide to volunteer to be the ‘Group Leader’. You call Infinity Travelaz and we say, “Awesome! Let’s plan a night where we can get everyone together to discuss the cruise and start the ball rolling.” We will contact the cruise line and see if they can kick in some giveaway goodies and possibly get our BDM to join us for our ‘Kick-off Party’ to help enthuse and encourage people to place their deposits that night. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. You as the Pied Piper (group leader) need to keep track of who pays, when the next payment is due, obtaining their correct documentation, keeping it all in order and working along with us to ensure the best possible cruise experience for everyone.

The extras:  Back to the free berths. Most likely you as the Pied Piper should receive 1 of the free spaces, you have earned it by taking charge. So if you have 50 people that confirm with paid deposits, you will have 3 free berths. You take one and you can either select some means of awarding the other 2 freebies OR you can choose to ‘share the wealth’ with everyone and spread the savings amongst the other 49 people…everyone gets an additional little discount on their cruise cost! Outstanding! Not only that, the earlier you start the whole process, the better the on board perks you earn for your group from the cruise line. Cocktail parties, free meeting space or on board spending credits. We will work with the cruise line to determine what is available for your group and you, the Pied Piper will decide what perks you think will work best.

While there are a few more details that are involved during the process, the bottom line is with a little extra work on your part, you can take an amazing cruise vacation for FREE! Think a little further ahead and you could potentially do this every year. 9 out of 10 groups that sail together will book their next years cruise before they even leave the ship! Infinity Travelaz will even go along with you if you group is large enough, leaving you more time to have fun.

Now is the time to get started! If you or anyone you know is looking to travel with a group, Infinity Travelaz is but a phone call or email away! Our contact information is at the top of the page. Or click here to check out your cruise options.

 

16 Jun

Too Good to be True, or is it?

Let’s talk about those ‘too good to be true’ offers we all see while surfing the internet. Just 5 easy payments of $39.95, plus shipping and handling. But wait! There’s more! If you call in the next 30 minutes….. Does this happen when you’re looking for the perfect vacation? Sadly, yes, it does.

There are a lot of ‘travel websites’ out there that promise you ‘a week in sunny Mexico in an oceanfront suite at a 5 star resort with roundtrip airfare and transfers for just $599 per person.’ Does that really even make sense if you stop and think about it? The airfare alone will more than likely be $599 per person. How could any resort offer a prime location suite for $0.00 for 7 days? But, the pictures make it look so romantic… Seriously?!

The truth of it is in today’s world of so many underhanded swindlers out there, you could very well be paying money for nothing. No vacation, no 5 star resort. Here is a quote from an article I just read entitled ‘Online Travel Fraud Attacks Agents and Consumers.’ It reads “The statistics and warnings come from a report Forter recently published with the Merchant Risk Council. Forter CEO and co-founder Michael Reitblat noted that it is very easy for fraudsters to buy  a travel package and then ‘resell’ it online, effectively setting themselves up as a “fake travel agent.” You buy it, but you will never ‘get’ the vacation.

So how do you prevent this from happening? You want a good deal, but you should be very careful about who you pay your hard earned money to. What do you do? You work with a Travel Agent you know is reputable, one that comes with a referral from a trusted friend. A Travel expert that will find you a great property, with good flights, at a fair price. An agent that gives you knowledge and value for your vacation dollars. Seems logical right? You’re paying for a real vacation at a good price and you have a real person that you trust handling it all for you ~ just like your dentist, your doctor or your car mechanic.

Why, then, do so many people search and search for the rock bottom price and think they found ‘the most amazing deal!’ BUT are totally surprised when they find out they have been ripped off. It happens all too often, because there are people out there that just love sticking it to the consumer without a second thought.

Infinity Travelaz is an agency you can trust. We have top rated supplier partners and belong to a travel network that is amazing! Virtuoso ~ the Leader in Luxury Travel, Montrose Travel ~ an affiliate with Virtuoso Travel and one of the top five Hosting Agencies in the U.S., and Radius Travel ~ the top Corporate Travel Management company in the world. Pretty impressive line up! We are backed up by all of the amazing partners associated with our travel network which gives us an incredible foundation!

Yes we have an online presence, you have to in our technology driven world. You will find our 4 sites on the internet as well as a page or 3 on Facebook. There are other places we pop up from time to time, but the important thing to remember is this. All of our websites and social media posts ask you to contact us directly to get further information and to book your vacation. We like the personal touch of helping create your memorable vacation with you! We are the real deal! This Travel Advisory will offer you options, help you make the right decision, try to get extra perks for you and be ready to hear all about it when you return home. So, if you are ready to book……

Contact Infinity Travelaz

30 May

Cheap Airfare

Everyone is looking for cheap airfare. Right? Who wants to spend a lot of money on an airline ticket? How many times have I heard “I want the cheapest airfare!” You should be careful what you ask for…..

The 3 major U.S. carriers – American, Delta and United Airlines have rolled out ‘Basic Economy’ airfares. Yes, they are cheap. But what do you get for paying next to nothing for the airline ticket? Next to nothing. Less is more, right? Not necessarily.

You will not get a seat assignment in advance. If you are traveling with children, this can be a problem. You will not have access to the overhead compartment. If you bring an item onboard that is too large to go under the seat infront of you, they might gate check it-for the full on checked bag cost. Banking on that upgrade? Not going to happen with a Basic Economy fare, no matter what your frequent flyer status is. Have a change of plans? You will be purchasing another ticket because Basic Economy fares cannot be changed, even for a change fee. ‘Use it or lose it.’

These fares are being offered in most domestic markets and some short haul international markets. What this means is that reading the fare rules is more important now that ever before. For the consumer and Travel Advisors. If you aren’t aware of the fare rules  of the ticket you purchased, you will be in for some unpleasant surprises when you arrive at the airport.

What the airlines hope to accomplish by this is enticing their customers to purchase up to the next highest fare. Most people don’t want the ‘nickel and dime’ mentality of bare bones airlines that charge you to purchase your ticket, charge you to pick a seat, charge you to check-in online, charge you to check your luggage and charge you to have a carry on. I don’t know many people that travel without luggage or a carry on, or don’t care about which seat they get when they fly.

The moral to this story is read the small print. Don’t click the ‘Buy Now’ button unless you know exactly what you are buying. Know what is important to you when you travel and if you are traveling with children, do not assume you can fix this at the gate the day you board your flight. There are a lot more people flying these days than ever before, so it is a good idea to purchase the correct airfare to fit your needs right from the start. I go by the adage ‘better safe than sorry’.

 

13 May

I’m Back!

I’m back from a wonderful 6 day getaway cruise! We took a repositioning cruise on Island Princess from Long Beach, California to Vancouver, BC. Too bad we could not continue on to Alaska…..maybe next time. Here is my review of our cruise. (And my photobombs, I am getting pretty good at that!)

When we sailed away from Long Beach, we were on Deck 15 overlooking The Sanctuary. That is an adult only area at the back of the ship with comfy lounge chairs and servers that bring you light snacks and healthy beverages. We learned it is $40 for a full day and $20 for a half day. All the Princess ships have one.

Our first day at sea was a bit cold and windy. We were going to hang out in The Sanctuary, but it was closed……bummer. We had our only formal night during the cruise, since it was a sea day. I got to sing with the band! So cool! When you little and cute you get to do lots of fun things! I got special pictures taken in pretty decorations….so fun!! We had ROUGH seas that night. 60 mph winds with 25-30 foot swells. Like riding a crazy roller coaster!

We made it to San Francisco just fine, despite the wind. What a great day! We rented a car and drove to Santa Rosa, stopping to take pictures from the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Beautiful day for a drive in the lush wine country. When we got back to the city, we went to the top of the Coit Tower. Amazing views! We returned the car and went to Pier 39 for some clam chowder in sourdough bowls. Just a traditonal, touristy thing I do! Great day!

The next day at sea was crazy rough again – same 60 mph winds and 25-30 foot swells. The captain decided that we would skip our next day’s port of Astoria, Oregon due to all the chaos. We spent the day rockin and rollin – I felt like I was in a big cradle and wanted to sleep all day.

The day we were supposed to be in Astoria, was beautiful! Sunny and only a bit breezy – a chamber of commerce day! Mid-day out by the main pool, they showed a Bryan Adams concert on the jumbotron. What a wonderful afternoon! We got some sun and heard some great music. All in all a great day!!

Our next stop was Victoria, BC. A quaint city with lots of great history and awesome views! We walked a lot of miles that day, getting our land legs back from all the rocking seas. Felt good to be on solid ground! We saw the Parliament Buildings and The Empress Hotel, where they hold high tea every afternoon. (High priced as well – $86 per person!) We took a water taxi to Spinnaker’s Brew Pub and had a great lunch and tasted amazing craft beers! Lovely afternoon in perfect weather – sunny and mild temperatures. No wind either!

The cruise ended the next morning in Vancouver, BC.  Also a great city with amazing views, although lots of high-rise buildings in down town. We toured Stanley Park on our way to the airport. A great way to take up some time before checking in for our flight home. We were in first class on the flight – SWEET!! All in all we had a fabulous time and enjoyed our Princess Cruise very much. Contact Infinity Travelaz to book your next cruise! You won’t regret it and you might have as much fun as we did!

28 Apr

What Travel Agents Actually Do

I recently read an article  that said “Even with the advent of online booking, travel agents are certain customers would book their vacations with them, if they actually knew what we do.” Do you know everything a Travel Agent does? Do you know what we actually do? Let’s take a look.

Infinity Travelaz specializes in cruise vacations, both ocean and river, all-inclusive resorts and the Hawaiian Islands. But, as a travel professional, I do my best to help my clients with any and all travel requests. I love to cruise, but that does not mean I can’t create a wonderful and customized independent tour for you around Italy.

It is stressful researching, planning and creating vacations. That is where I come in. I want to take the stress of your shoulders and help you connect with your loved ones. I offer valuable services you just can’t get from an impersonal internet website. I truly care about your vacation as if it were my own.

Please keep in mind, travel agents are not order takers. We consult with our clients to give you the right components for your vacation. I want to give you the best value for  your vacation dollars. I want to get to know you and what you enjoy doing with your leisure time. I want help you make the most of your budget because I know which options can meet your expectations. I will make suggestions that are based on years of experience as to how best to travel stress free and relax while enjoying your time away. I work with trusted supplier partners that I know will provide you with the best experience possible.

I am constantly learning about travel be it new resort openings or traveling myself to an exotic destination. When I travel, I work. 2 years ago at our yearly conference in Jamaica, we inspected 17 different all-inclusive resort properties in 3 different areas of the island. No downtime at all, because inbetween resort inspections I attended the educational part of the conference. 7 days of nonstop learning and every minute was invaluable because I gained a lot of knowledge to share with my clients.

When you contact me to inquire about a vacation, I use every resource available to me to find the best price for the type of travel you are looking for. Best price incorporates more than being the cheapest price. I look for the best flight schedules, I search for hotels in convenient and safe locations and want to offer you the best cruise to fit your choices and lifestyle – not your neighbors. After booking, I monitor your cruise to see if there is any drop in price. I won’t compromise your vacation by offering a club membership, timeshare or any other gimmick to ‘get you to book with me’.

Infinity Travelaz does not charge a service fee for individual, leisure vacations. We do reserve the option to charge a ‘Plan to Go’ fee for groups, that in the big picture become part of your deposit once your group is booked. For White Glove VIP services, we may also charge a small fee for the extra services you require, based on case by case scenarios.  We don’t like surprises and will discuss this upfront, if the need arises.

What most of our clients don’t realize is travel agents have relationships with our suppliers that can make your vacation experience amazing. I work to try to secure a room at the resort to get you a better view, add a celebration note or confirm early check in. Many times airlines will work with agents when schedule changes or cancellations come up at little or no cost to our clients, when they are booked with our partner airlines. Because we deal with this all the time, we know what to do to get you on your way.

Infinity Travelaz works hard for you. Booking your trip is just the tip of the iceberg in putting it all together. We present you a day by day itinerary starting with the day before travel begins, to remind you to check in for your flights. I put all of your documentation in order of when you will use them and make sure to include any changes we have made along the way. It is all in a nice little packet that takes hours to create, all because I want you and every other client to have an awesome and memorable vacation. I call it a labor of love – I want you to love your trip!

I work just as hard on my own trips, because when I travel, I spend the same amount of money as my clients. And I bring it all home to share with all of you. Being a Travel Agent or Travel Advisor is not a hobby – it is a profession. I work hard to stay on top of everything that is new or happening in the world of travel. I inspect hotels where I vacation so I can tell you about them. I travel miles to visit a ship docked in port, so I know first hand what that cruise line has to offer and what will be a good fit for you. If I am lucky, I get a lunch from the hotel or ship for my efforts. But I want you all to know, I love my life as a Travel Agent. I do it for you!

14 Apr

International Market Place Waikiki

My first visit to Oahu was back in 1979. Waikiki in those days was much like Lahaina is still on Maui. Uneven sidewalks, narrow 2 lane each way streets and lots of visitors with Minolta cameras. You could actually see the beach and the ocean behind the hotels. Sand on the streets, it was the perfect beach town. And of course you had to go to the International Market Place!

Visiting the International Market Place back in the day was like going to a Polynesian swap meet. Built around a wonderful Banyan Tree, the little shops and Don the Beachcombers restaurant welcomed tourists since 1956. It was an iconic part of going to Honolulu. But like many other places rich in history and culture, big business comes in, takes over and redevelops the area in the spirit of revitalization.

I still have the sapphire earrings I bought  at the International Market Place, when my sister and I went to the islands together in 1999. She got diamond earrings and both of us haggled with the shops owners to get the price we wanted. And then we went upstairs to Coconut Willy’s and had burgers and a beer. I still have the tank top I bought there, too! (Although it has seen better days and I really can’t wear it anymore in public.) Ah, memories!

In 2007, Eric and I decided to fly over to Honolulu for a day while we were staying at our timeshare on Maui for a week. We rented a car and drove to the far side of Oahu and went to Turtle Bay, the Banzi Pipeline, Waimea Falls, the Dole Plantation and dropped down through the Schofield Barracks before arriving in Waikiki. I was shocked! In less than 10 years, Waikiki went from a quaint beach town to something that reminded me of New York City in the Islands! Louis Vuitton. Gucci, Channel, Coach – what happened to Hilo Hatties?

And sadly, at the end of 2013, the International Market Place as we knew it, closed. A wonderful piece of Hawaiian history, gone. But, it is now 2017 and it has been reborn.  New shops, restaurants, and cultural experiences have made the iconic venue once again the heart of Waikiki. Cheap and kitschy gave way to high-end retail. I am pleased to say though, that the banyan tree is still there.

Check at the video of the new and improved International Market Place:

 

11 Apr

Overbooked Flights Happen

What happened on United flight 3411 seemed so harsh and wrong. We have all seen the viral video on Facebook more than once. And on the news. A doctor being drug off the plane. HOW can this happen? WHY did it happen? Let’s look at the facts and your rights as an airline passenger.

The first thing that happened is that United Airlines overbooked their flight. All the airlines do this so they don’t fly with empty seats. It is not illegal, according to the Department of Transportation. Having been a Travel Advisor in the travel industry for over 20 years, I have known this has always been the airline’s practice. Back in the day, there were a lot more flights operated by the airlines and you could find empty seats. I actually flew to London on a flight where the entire back half of the economy cabin was empty and we layed across the seats and slept all the way. But in today’s world, there are not that many flights operating  and if you have an empty seat next to you ~ well you’re darn lucky!

I have never EVER agreed with the right of the airlines to over book their flights. (For the record, I feel the same way about doctors double booking patients.) My opinion is and ALWAYS will be, if you have 250 seats, you sell 250 tickets. Period. If people no show the flights, the airlines still have the money. On the other hand, if they over sell by 10 seats and everyone shows up, NOW they have to ask for volunteers to be bumped ~ and the airlines pay the bumped passenger money to do this! HOW does this make sense? Seems to me like they would maybe break even with over selling and then paying out, but they have made angry customers. ??????

In the days of paper tickets (yeah – remember those?) we had to staple the ‘Airline Passengers Bill of Rights’ to each ticket we packaged. It had all the information that explained what the airlines are and are not responsible for. I attached hundreds of them over the years. I never read the whole thing – who did? IF you did, it might have made you a little upset, because in truth we as airline passengers don’t have many rights. And we pay the airlines good money to have no rights.

I am attaching a link to the Fly Rights from the U.S. Department of Transportation that explains what you are and are not entitled to. It is really eye opening to read and you will see that in the case of United flight 3411, it was within their rights to remove that passenger. Here is the first paragraph pertaining to overbooking of flights:

“Overbooking is not illegal, and most airlines overbook their scheduled flights to a certain extent in order to compensate for “no-shows.” Passengers are sometimes left behind or “bumped” as a result. When an oversale occurs, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to ask people who aren’t in a hurry to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation. Those passengers bumped against their will are, with a few exceptions, entitled to compensation.”

I will let you click the link and read all the details of your rights when you have time. The bad part of this is that Airport Security forcefully removed the doctor from the flight and now it is plastered all over Social Media and the News Media. People are viewing it from 2 schools of thought. 1 ~ The Security agents were way out of line. 2 ~ The doctor should have left the flight. I am going to weigh in on each point.

1 ~ I have been on flights when passengers have refused to give up their seat or change seats. Regardless of the reason, they weren’t budging. I know from my own point of view, I paid for the flight because I have somewhere I need to be. I chose my seat because that is where I want to sit. I totally get this! For Airport Security to drag this guy out of the plane was crazy! According to that paragraph I put above “When an oversale occurs, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to ask people who aren’t in a hurry to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation.” The doctor stated quite clearly he needed to return home to see his patients the next day. WHY did the airline not go to the next passenger ‘on their list of possible bumping prospects’ and move on?

2 ~ The bad part of the doctor being drug out of that plane was it made him look like an uncooperative passenger. Much like a spoiled child not getting their way. Honestly at the point that Airport Security started dragging him out of his seat, he probably should have stood up and walked out of the plane. That was a bit mellow dramatic of him, if you ask me.

My point to even writing this all is this: I feel it is wrong that the airlines have so much power over their passengers in this manner. We all pay our money to get from point A to point B. We are not wrong to expect we WILL get from point A to point B. I think in today’s world of so little flight choices and packed airplanes, it is wrong of the airlines to continue the practice of over booking their flights.

However, there are people out there that apparently have nothing better to do but book flights, go to the airport, hope their airline asks for volunteers to get bumped off the flight and benefits with an airline voucher and maybe some cash. I am serious, read this article about someone getting $11,000 from Delta Airlines. Yep- 11K, that is not a misprint!  That is craziness!

To quote the late Paul Harvey – “And now you know the rest of the story.” We live in a crazy world and I can honestly say, “I hope this never happens to me!” I don’t want to get bumped off my flight. I don’t care about getting an airline voucher. And now I pray I haven’t created bad air travel karma for myself.