Monthly Archives: January 2012

What the New Airline Regulations Mean to You


By now, you have probably heard about the new airline regulations that were set to go into effect last week (last week of January, 2012).  I have been getting calls and emails about it all week and there seems to be some mass confusion over what this means to you, the consumer.  The new regulations are entitled “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections #2″.  As always when there are governmental regulations made or changed, there is a massive amount of material.  If you would like to see the rules and some Q & A about them you can go here.  Below I will explain what I believe are the major points of interest for you.

I believe one of the biggest advantages to the consumer is that the airlines are now forced to show the entire cost of the purchase, including taxes and fees on the advertised price.  I know many of you have found a great “deal” only to be surprised by the total when you finally get to the page where you put in your credit card information.   This is because online sites have traditionally only shown the amount of the fare excluding any additional charges.  This is part of the reason the online websites have generated such great “deals”.  This will no longer be the case.  Any advertised rates, by anyone in the travel industry, will now be the total of your fare.  No more surprises!

Another big change is that now you must be made aware of the baggage fees that you are facing.  The baggage fee information must now be printed clearly on your e-ticket.  I know that if you bought airfare and were not told you may have suffered sticker shock when you got to the airport.  This will no longer be a “gotcha” for those purchasing through a website or otherwise booking on their own.

The DOT has now banned the practice of post-purchase price increases in air transportation or air tours unless the increase is due to an increase in government-imposed taxes or fees and only if the passenger was provided full disclosure of the potential for the increase and affirmatively agreed to the potential for such an increase prior to purchase.  So, in simple terms, they cannot raise the price of your ticket unless it is for a government fee and you have to be made aware of it before you purchase so there are no surprises.  Of course, this only pertains to your purchase until you have the purchase paid in full.

Airlines now must make flight delay information available within 30 minutes of finding out.  This means they must post on their websites and any other available mean, such as the  apps and carrier notification systems.

There are numerous other changes that you will probably never become aware of because they don’t directly affect you but do the travel agent, such as, insurance can no longer be an opt-out on a travel quote.  It now must be requested when getting a quote from our supplier.  Previously some of our suppliers had insurance added and it had to be opted-out of by the requester.  Of course, on your side of the fence, I always include insurance and require a waiver of insurance if you opt out.  That will not change, only how I request the quote will.

All in all, the regulations are actually very much in your favor and are designed to clarify purchase and travel for the consumer.  As a travel agent, I know that we always strive to give our customers the information they need so there are no expensive surprises.   When in doubt, check with your agent.  We are here to help you make the most of your travel.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Blog, insurance, Tours, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | 25 Comments

Tuesday Morning Bliss!


I received the following email this morning:

Hello Edwina Parker:

Congratulation!

You have been featured on BLOGGERS as one of the Bloggers of the day. Your profile and Blog “Yapa Now Travel Blog” has been showcased in Bloggers Home page (http://bloggers.com). In addition to that you are awarded with Featured bloggers badge on your profile.

Thank you again for your brilliant work. Enjoy the latest features and tell your friends to join this wonderful community.

regards

Thank you
The Bloggers Team

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the Bloggers link and saw this:

Check this out!!

I have the Yapa Now blog published in several communities but have to say I am overwhelmed and humbled to be chosen as an “Editors Pick of the Day”.  Thanks everyone for reading this blog and for your comments.  I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Blog, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | 14 Comments

All-inclusive vs. European Plan – Which resort is right for you?


My job as a travel agent is to match my clients desires with the perfect vacation experience.  This week, I would like to give you the ins-and-outs of all inclusive (AI) resorts versus the European plan (EP) resorts to help you decide which type of resort fits your vacations needs.  Many of my clients assume they want an all-inclusive resort but when we start discussing their vacation needs they find that they are not a great fit.

The All Inclusive

All-inclusive is just what it’s name implies.  The per night charge includes all food and beverages, including alcohol, all taxes and gratuities and numerous restaurants and bars.  Many of the resorts also include extra amenities such as limited water sports or other activities not available at EP resorts.  This type of resort is perfect for those travelers who just want to get away and don’t have any plans of venturing off the resort frequently for excursions in the surrounding area.  If you are looking for a great place to hang out, relax and are not too adventurous at heart, the AI’s would be a perfect fit.  Here is a quick list of the pros:

  1. Fixed price – You do not have to wonder how much cash you need.  Everything is included with the exception of any money you will want to spend on souvenirs or excursions.  If you will be partaking of the alcoholic drinks at the rate of several a day, this could be a good option.  Drink prices can range anywhere from a few dollars to the $20 dollar range in some areas.
  2. Size – These resorts have everything you could want in a vacation destination.  They offer numerous options for dining, activities, pools, spas, etc.  There are AI’s designed for every type of vacationer.  If you want luxury, they have it.  If you want a party atmosphere, there is one for that.  Adult-only… that too.
  3. Total relaxation – Room service, swim up bars, beach loungers, casual to fine dining.  The resorts will take care of everything for you.  All you need to do is relax and enjoy the vacation.

A quick list of the cons:

  1. Price per night – The cost of an all inclusive resort is generally higher than it’s counterpart.  If you will not be spending all of your time at the resort it may not be the best option for you.
  2. Resort size – Generally, the AI’s are the largest of the resorts.  This means more people and sometimes that relates to less one-on-one service unless you are willing to pay the upgrade price for the luxury service.

The European Plan Resort

The term “European plan” simply means, pay as you go.  You pay a per night rate for the resort like you would any other hotel.  Your meals, drinks and other amenities are not included in your room rate.  You may wonder why you would ever want to choose an EP over an AI.  If you want everything in one place, you wouldn’t want to make that choice but if you only want a great place to stay while you explore the area and all it has to offer then the EP is a perfect choice.

The pros:

  1. Unique Resorts – Many of the boutique hotels and smaller quaint resorts are based on the EP model.  I particularly love the boutique hotels because they are unique and often very quaint and full of charm unlike the overly large AI resorts.
  2. Freedom – I’ve seen clients get into the habit of feeling like they have to rush back to the resort for meals and such to make sure they get their moneys worth.  If you have chosen a resort or hotel with the EP, you are free to explore local restaurants, shops and excursions that you might otherwise miss out on.  Treating your resort as a place of rest and relaxation after a day of exploring is a real treat.
  3. Price – The price per night is often substantially less than that of the AI.  This allows you to feel like you have saved a few dollars that can be spent on more adventurous outings.

The cons:

  1. Price – You will be on your own for meals and drinks.  If you are on a tight budget and want to know exactly how much you will be spending, this type of plan is not for you.
  2. Size – If you are looking for a great resort with tons of amenities and activities, this is probably not a good fit.  The EP’s do not often offer the multitude of restaurants, bars and activities of most AI’s.

When asked about my preference by clients, I try to steer them not to my preferences but to what it is they are looking for in a vacation.  I will say that though I have enjoyed both immensely, I often prefer to book an EP resort because I rarely stay on the resort.  I am an adventurer at heart and love to explore the surrounding area.  Talking to the locals is an excellent way to find the best food in an area as well as the best places to explore and shop.

I hope this helps you in choosing the right type of resort for your vacation or getaway.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or help you need in choosing.

Happy travels,

Edwina

edwina@yapanow.com

Categories: all-inclusive, Luxury, Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: | 35 Comments

Yapa Now’s Favorite Travel Must-Haves – 2011 In Review


Throughout 2011, I had the opportunity to discover many new must-haves that I have added to my list of travel essentials.  Let me preface the list by saying these are personal choices and not information gathered from Top Ten lists.  I have personally used, read or worn everything on this list.  These are in no certain order as favorites or such as a top ten.  These are all things that I am currently using and take with me when I leave home.

1.   IPad2   I have been a laptop gal for over 13 years now.  It was a necessity for me if I were travelling or working from home which I did a lot.  Last year, we broke down and bought an IPad2.  Wow!  What an amazing treat it has been.  I bought the one with 3G so I have more options than with WiFi alone.  (I’m also a Blackberry gal and have not switched to the IPhone so I had no idea, really, what it was all about.) I have loaded Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Foursquare and a few other apps that allow me to work just like I do from my laptop.  Another app, Docs to Go, lets me sync Office documents to my IPad so I can work with them there.  I also purchased a keyboard so I can type email, blog posts or anything else fairly easily.  I now have the option of leaving my laptop at home and still feel like I am able to work.  The IPad fits easily into a large purse or a backpack and with a good case it is very sturdy.  I also love that you go to “Maps” and get a blinking blue dot where you are in relation to where you are going.  It (the blue dot) moves as you do.  Oh, the joys of gps!  There are other notepads out there that are probably perfect for you to use while travelling but like I said, I am only writing about products that I know and use and I don’t think I could live without it now.

 

2.   Claude Bouchard Books!  Who travels without a good book?  I love having a good book to rely on for airport delays, road trips, beach side reading and dozing off to sleep the first night in a new place.  I discovered a new (to me) author this past year and dearly LOVE his work.  His name is Claude Bouchard and he writes mystery/crime type novels that are true page turners.  The depth of the characters is so strong that you feel like you really know them and miss them after the book is finished.  I have read all five books in the series starting with the first, Vigilante, and am not-so-patiently waiting for the next one.  Hint, hint, Claude!  I highly, highly recommend giving these books a try.  What I love the most about them is that I purchased and downloaded them to my IPad.  How very cool is that?!?  They are available in paperback, or e-reader (Kindle, Amazon, Apple and others).  You can also find Claude via Twitter @ceebee308  He is a fun guy to follow.  You can find his books at his website here.  Be sure you read them in order.  Start with Vigilante and you will be hooked!

From Claude Bouchard – “Summer of 96 in Montreal and a killer known as the Vigilante is on a spree, his victims, those who engage in criminal activities. Following 16 murders in 6 months, Lieutenant Dave McCall, head of Montreal’s Special Homicide Task Force is without clue or lead until an electronic message is received from the assassin himself. Failure in tracing the origin of the email leads McCall to request the assistance of CSS Inc., a security firm specializing in computer and communication networks and headed by EVP and COO, Chris Barry. As murders and emails continue, the two men join forces to bring the killer to justice. But whose justice will prevail? Theirs, or the Vigilante’s?”

3.  Survival Straps – Have you every needed a rope or string of any kind and didn’t have one?  Did you ever have need of a leash for a stray animal or forget to bring something to tie down your Christmas tree? Imagine having your bumper knocked loose on a road trip by some crazy driver in a parking lot or having the zipper break on your suitcase while in a place unfamiliar to you.  Enter the Survival Strap.  This company has created an awesome product that you can wear as a bracelet or anklet and take it apart if you need it.  I bought one of the bracelets and just loved that I could choose my color combination.  They are made of hand woven nylon with a metal closure.  If you ever have need for a rope or tie material, you simply unravel it and voila!  Honestly, they are pretty cool looking to wear which is a big plus for me.   They have even upped the variations you can purchase by offering dog collars or leashes and accessories (key chains).  You can choose your color or colors and customize to your liking.   Check out their website to see the straps in action.  One of the most impressive things about this company is that it is totally US based.  All straps are made here in the US.  They are also huge supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project and that makes me very proud to wear one.

How adorable is this!

4.  Batab Products – I first became aware of Batab products when I was in Mexico on vacation several years ago.  Although I knew better, I got a pretty good sunburn on the beach one day.  My wonderful husband went over to the spa at the resort and asked what the best product was for sun care.  He brought me a bottle of Batab After Sun Lotion.  I was hooked from the first moment I smoothed it on.  My burn did not peel and I never had the rough dry skin that usually follows a burn.  The smell is slightly sweet but not at all over powering.  It makes your skin supple and soft without being greasy.  It absorbs extremely well and is just my favorite skin care product.  You can order the products online from their website.   Even if you are not a sun lover like me, your skin would thank you for using the Batab line.  This is the reason Batab makes my top faves from 2011 even though I discovered it in 2005.

5.  Personal WiFi or Hotspot - I do a lot of road trips throughout the year and more often than not, I wind up in places that do not have free internet access available.  This includes trips to see family as well as road trips exploring new and favorite destinations.  Early last year, we invested in a personal WiFi.  We are AT&T customers so that’s what we went with along with the monthly plan.  At $50 per month it is really a matter of whether or not you need internet where none exists.  With this little device, if I have AT&T service, I have a WiFi connection.  Recently on a week long road trip I found it especially nice to be able to surf the web via the IPad while on a highway virtually in the middle of no where.  I have found that it is strong enough to allow me to upload photos via the web which says a lot for me.  The best part is that you don’t even have to be geeky to figure out how to use this device.  Just turn on and connect!

Well, that’s it for my favorite 5 must-haves.  I don’t think I could live without any of them now.  They have each become things that I always have on my checklist whenever leaving home along with my luggage and passport.  What are some of your favorites?  Please share with us below in the comments section.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The BEST Wedding Photographer in all of Mexico


Please let me introduce you to my friend and associate, Gonzalo Nunez the best wedding photographer in Mexico in my opinion.  I became acquainted with Gonzalo last year when a client of mine contacted him after I shared with her some of his photos of weddings in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico.  After exchanging emails, we became friends of sort and I learned more about him and his work.  He specializes in wedding photography in Mexico but before you think “oh, a wedding photographer” I encourage you to check out a few of his photos below.  I am proud to showcase his work on my website and to recommend him to any couples considering a destination wedding in Mexico.  Gonzalo’s website is loaded with many more amazing photos.  Please check it out.

Gonzalo has an artists eye for beauty.  His photographs capture the essence of a couple unlike anything I have seen before.  I have not seen two photographs that are alike, nor have I seen any of the typical posing you usually see in wedding photographs.  Of course, the background of a destination wedding always helps, but Gonzalo uses the natural backgrounds to enhance the photos.   The couples all look so natural and most importantly, IN LOVE!

I have to say, my favorite of all the photographs are of the “Trash the Dress” shoots.  Let’s face it girls, after the wedding, the stress leading up to it and the excitement, wouldn’t it be fun to just cut loose and let your hair down in one of these shoots?  Check out some of the photos below.

Don’t these photos just take your breath away.  I know many brides who can’t imagine “trashing” their wedding dress but the truth is, most of the dresses are able to be cleaned afterwards and look good as new.  After all, you will only wear it once but imagine the pride you would have in showing your wedding photos that are totally unique to you and your spouse.

Gonzalo will also travel to the States to photograph your pre-wedding, engagement and announcement sessions also.  This is your once-in-a-lifetime event, why not make it the absolute best it can be.

If you are looking for a wedding photographer look no further.  Gonzalo is a true professional and a really nice guy too!  You will not only be living your dream wedding but you will have the most incredible photographs to relive the memories after you go home.  If you are planning your wedding through Yapa Now Travel you already know that Gonzalo offers a discount to our customers.  Shoot me an email or give me a call if you would like to learn more about his offer.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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