Posts Tagged With: United States

National Plan a Vacation Week


I should mention that the following may be considered shameless self-promotion on my part!  :-)  As you already know, I’m a travel agent and I love helping folks find their perfect destination and adventure.

Next week, March 18-24, is National Plan A Vacation Week.  I know many of you are thinking “I don’t need a week to tell me to plan my vacation!” and I completely agree but for some it is a reminder that we need to think about ourselves sometimes and do something for US!  I meet too many new clients who have waited sometimes years to actually take time out of their schedules and plan a vacation.  Like I mentioned last week in “What are you waiting for?  Just GO!”, it’s never too soon to start working on those getaway plans or travel dreams.

Through our partnership with some of the leading suppliers in the travel industry, we are able to bring you some sweet deals on everything from cruises to land/air packages.  We have a new site set up for this annual occasion which you can find here.  Throughout the week, I will be updating the info, videos and deals.  There is such a wide variety, I can’t get everything in at the same time!  Many of the offerings you can book directly through the site or you can call me, email me or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook to get more information or pricing.

Remember too, I have a do-it-yourself page on the main website where you can either book through my automated site or through my Funjet page.  If you have ever thought about Europe and river cruising in particular please take a peek at our newest site for Avalon Waterways.

If you have not planned a vacation in a while or if you’ve been thinking about it, I challenge you to take the first step.  If you don’t take the time to plan a vacation or getaway, I can promise you, no one will do it for you.  Your boss wont do it, your kids wont do it, your family wont do it.  It’s up to you!  There are many, many affordable getaways whether into another country or right here in the US.  We can work with any budget you have in mind.  You are only limited by your imagination!  If you can dream it, we can find it for you!

National Plan A Vacation Week – It’s not just a vacation, it’s YOUR vacation.

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Travel Safety – Common Sense Tips You Can Use


I thought it was time to revisit the subject of travel safety since it often comes up with my clients.  This past week I had a call from clients who are taking their first trip out of the US next month and our conversation has prompted me to share with you a few of the tips and guidelines that will help you enjoy the most from your travel plans.

Before You Go

1.  Make sure you have  your passport!  This may sound silly to some but I have had someone wait until the last moment to apply for their passport and then had to move mountains to get it in time or have had someone call me a week before their trip and say they just realized their passport was not valid.  If you are traveling outside the US you will need a valid passport and it is never too early to apply for one.

2.  Make 2 copies of your travel documents.  This includes: passport, itinerary, airline tickets and confirmations, hotel reservation confirmations, any other confirmations you have received regarding your trip.  Place one copy in your carry on bag (if your luggage is lost or delayed, you still have your copy).

3.  Give the second copy of your travel documents and a list of phone numbers to someone at home in case of emergency.  This can be a friend or relative but it needs to be someone you can reach if you need them.  This might seem like overkill but if you ever need help you need someone with your information readily available.

4.  Leave your expensive jewelry at home!  You do not want to mark yourself as affluent when you are traveling.  Expensive watches, rings, bracelets even rings and earrings can temp the pickpocket or thief.  It is much better to be under-dressed than to set yourself up as a potential target.

5.  Register with STEP.  This is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program provided by the Bureau of Consular Affairs with the US State Department.  This basically registers you and your travel plans with them so that if you need them or someone needs to reach you because of an emergency at home in the US or if there is a disaster in the area in which you are traveling, the consulate knows where you are or are supposed to be.  It is free to register and is something I not only recommend but do myself.

6.  Use covered luggage tags.  You know the ones I mean?  The tags have a flap over them or have to be slid out of the packet to read the information.  This is just so that your personal information such as address, etc. is not visible at first glance to anyone close to your bags.

7.  Do NOT broadcast your upcoming trip on your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter pages.  Sharing the fact that you will be in Costa Rica for two weeks is not something you want everyone on the web to know.  I know how much you want to tell people but do it in a private email or over the phone, don’t broadcast it.  It’s like saying “Hey, I’m gone for two weeks, come rob my house!”  When you get home you will enjoy sharing the stories and photos much more anyway.

8.  Get travelers checks!  You do not want to travel with a large sum of cash.  Sure, having cash you can convert to currency of the country you are in is very handy but carrying large sums of cash is just asking for trouble.

9.  DO purchase travel insurance.  It is best to pay the small extra fee to get the “cancel for any reason” insurance.  You never know…

10.  Do I really need to mention drugs?  Ok, so I did.  Do NOT try to carry illegal drugs with you on a trip and do NOT try to buy them at your destination.  On another note, some drugs legal in the US are illegal in other countries.  Remember when a famous actor got caught in Australia (I think it was) with Human Growth Hormone?  You can check the with your travel agent or do a little research on you own.  Just know before you go.

Now That You Have Arrived

Most of the following tips are the same whether you are traveling here within the US or to another country.

1.  If you booked with a travel agent, you should have your transportation all lined out with a reputable company.  If you didn’t and need to find transportation at the airport, look for a well marked cab or other service.  I know the guy in the ugly green car said he was cheap but really… are you sure he’s a legitimate cab driver?  The best way to go is to have your transportation lined up before you arrive.  Most resorts offer transportation either by their own vans or by a reputable company.

2.  Once you arrive at your hotel and check into your room, if you found yourself unable to leave your valuable or expensive looking jewelry (not always the same thing) at home, please leave it in the hotel safe.  I promise you are only going to impress the wrong people by wearing it.  In a tropical destination, why not purchase some of the cute shell or beaded jewelry and wear that instead?  Ladies, we do not have to sacrifice our well being just to “look the part”.

3.  When you venture outside your hotel or resort, DO stick to known safe areas where tourists go if you are not familiar with the area, other cultures or countries.  As you would in any city in America, do NOT wander down alleys or dimly lit streets where there is not a lot of people.

4.  Do not carry a large sum of cash.  Remember the travelers checks? Only cash them as you need them.  They are much safer than cash.  Also, in many places you can access ATM machines if necessary.  I remember needing one once in Mexico.  My bank account looked much healthier in Pesos!   If you do have a lot of cash on you, please don’t pull it out in front of people.  You are potentially putting yourself in harms way.  Keep your cash and credit cards in different pockets or better yet, divide cash between the two of you so if you should get hit by a pick pocket, you will not lose everything.

5.  Men – Do NOT carry your wallet in your back pocket.  I know you’ve heard this but it’s true!  Back pockets are much easier to pick than front.  Ladies – if you must carry a purse, try carrying one that has a strap that will go across your body.  This is much harder to snag than a purse carried on a shoulder or over an arm.

6.  Always act like you know where you are going and what you are doing.  This is another one that may sound silly but if you look lost and look like you don’t know what you are doing, you appear to be a tourist and therefore a target.  If you are lost, look for someone in authority or worst case a shop keeper.  Just keep your head about you.

7.  Beware of strangers who try to sell you things or offer to show you around.  There are plenty of places to shop for great bargains and there are numerous reputable tour guides everywhere you could possibly want to go.  Sure, saving 30 bucks would be great but not if you got robbed or taken advantage of.  I’m not saying don’t talk to anyone. I love engaging with locals and other travelers.  Meeting and getting to know people is one of the best parts of travel.  I’m just telling you to be aware of the potential for scams.

8.  Most of all, be aware of your surroundings.  We sometimes get complacent with our surroundings especially when we are in a beautiful location where everything appears to be perfect.  You cannot afford to become complacent.  Watch things and people around you and pay attention to the little things.  Ask yourself this, would I go here or do this if I were in NYC or Atlanta or Dallas or LA?  If you would not, don’t do it where you are either.

I would love to hear any other suggestions for travel safety.  Please drop us a line below and share.

I believe strongly that a well-informed traveler is a happy traveler.  Be careful, be safe and

Happy Travels,

Edwina

Categories: Blog, Destinations, insurance, Travel, Travel, Uncategorized, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Birth of Passion


Merriam-Webster defines “passion” in part as:  intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.  I believe one’s passion is a gift from God and I believe passion starts deep within one’s heart for some thing, some place or some activity that begins as a small kindle and with nurturing (and sometimes without) grows to a raging fire.  It’s the one thing that drives you or if you have suppressed it, the one thing that keeps rearing it’s head to be seen. That is how my passion for travel began, slowly.

In my early childhood years, I was bitten by the travel bug.  I never recognized it for what it was, only that I loved being on the road, in new places, meeting new people, experiencing new things.  I was often the child who was described as being the one with “ants in her pants” or “restless”.  Some things never change, I guess.  I still get very antsy when I don’t get out on the road for a while.

My mother is a retired school teacher who taught a vocational office education course.  Each summer she was required to spend a week in training. Those trainings took place in cities all over Texas and since she would be gone a week we went with her.  That, of course, meant that Dad would have to keep us entertained for an entire week in a new city each summer while Mom was in class.  You can only spend so much time in the pool at the hotel so every morning we would start out for breakfast and then off we went to explore and have some fun.  I discovered early on, that I had no favorite cities because each was unique and offered experiences worthy of being a favorite.  I’ve come to realize it was the adventure that mattered the most.  Travel and exploration of new places was firmly taking root in my heart.

Once, while in Corpus Christie, we had only been there two days when we were rushed out of town due to an impending hurricane.  That was devastating for me not because I missed out on seeing Corpus (it wasn’t our first time there) but because I spent all year saving up money to buy one of those awesome and often trashy souvenirs.  After much complaining and whining, Dad allowed for a quick stop for us to buy something to commemorate our vacation “that never happened”.  Photography in the 70′s was not what it is today.  As kids, our souvenirs were often the catalyst for recalling the memories we made.

One of our summer sojourns sent us to El Paso.   For those of you who don’t know Texas, from El Paso it is just a short skip over to Juarez, Mexico.  Ah, my first trip to the land I came to love!  Dad took us across the border to shop. Yes, I was a shopper even back then.  I still have the silver ring and leather purse I bought on that trip.  Back at that time, there was dog racing there also.  Mom tried to always take one day off to spend with us while we were there.  The dog races was part of her “fun time” with us.  I don’t remember much about the dog races, I was much more into horses but while sitting in the restaurant/bar area I noticed a lady who had a drink with an olive in it.  Man, did I want one of those!  I practically begged Dad to get one so I could have the olives.  Oh, the innocence of a child!  He finally relented and asked the waiter to bring me some olives.  I didn’t know until much later that I was begging him to order a dirty martini!  El Paso was great but now, Mexico, THAT was the place to be!  The sounds, the people, everything was foreign to a child and yet so very exciting.

For many years, all I knew of Mexico was the border towns but I was fascinated by everything about it.  Border towns back then were not the dangerous meccas they have now become.  It was a safe place for families to cross over and experience another culture.  As a child, I vowed to explore Mexico from border to border.  With that, my passion truly took root in my heart.  I explored in books what I could not explore in person.  I’m still a road-trip kind of girl and love to get in a car and just GO!  One of my dream trips is to load up a Jeep with my husband and dog and travel Mexico from coast to coast.  The coastlines are beautiful but so much culture and adventure awaits throughout the interior.  Just what my “restless” spirit needs!

You might say that travelling by auto does not compare to getting on a plane and saving hours and hours of travel time, but have you ever wondered what you missed by jumping on that plane instead of heading cross country?  I always wonder…. what did I miss?  what’s down there?  where are we now?

Most who know me well, were not surprised when I went into the travel industry.  One girlfriend even asked “what took you so long?”. It was not something I planned.  I found myself with free time after selling our business and the opportunity came up.   Sometimes the best experiences in life are those you do not plan for.  That, my friends, is my passion.  I wish to pass my love for travel onto you and love helping someone’s travel the best it can be.  Please share your passion or comments below.  I would love to hear from you.

Happy travels,

Edwina

Categories: Destinations, Mexico, Travel, Travel, Yapa Now Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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