Confused With All the Travel Information on the Internet?

There is so much information available on the internet right now regarding travel. There are online travel sites for cruises, hotels, air, trains and any other type of travel. But what is the correct product for you? Is the location of the hotel where you want to be? Is the type of room or cabin the right fit for you? Is that cruise line the one you should be booking? Not all products are created equal nor are the products right for everyone. How do you tell? Contact a travel professional.

Do travel agents exist?

There have been multiple articles, and even the President of the United States, has said travel agents don’t exist or are going away. In a way they are right. Travel agents in the past were just someone who booked a trip for someone who called or came in to the storefront office of a travel agency. Storefront travel agencies are few and far between now a days as most of the “travel agents” have gone home to work. Even the term “travel agent” is going away because what they do now is different than what they did before.

Travel Professionals/Travel Counselors

Travel Agents are now more a counselor and an adviser so they are now called Travel Professionals or Travel Counselor. Even the travel industry is trying to get away from using the term “travel agent”. They no longer just book a trip for someone, they know more than what is available to the traveling client. The travel professionals now are constantly learning, constantly traveling, receiving input from other travel professionals about where they have traveled and are a resource for what is required to travel now a days.

When you use an online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. you aren’t able to have someone protect your back. They book the travel for you and then you are pretty much on your own. Say your flight gets cancelled, who is going to book a replacement flight? You are, not them. If you use a travel professional that travel professional will do it. If something goes wrong on your trip, if the room you booked is not like what you thought it would be, who is going to make it right? A travel professional will also check constantly for price drops before final payment and whether a new promotion offered would be more beneficial than what was booked with a deposit. All these things can be addressed before final payment.

A travel professional works with you from the time you first talk to them until you are home safe and sound and any and all problems have been solved or addressed.

It Costs More to Use a Travel Professional

This is not always true. True, some travel professionals charge fees but not all of them do. This is because some vendors, like airlines and some hotels, don’t pay commission or some of the vendors have decreased the amount of commissions paid to the travel professional. In order to make ends meet, some travel professionals charge fees. I charge $50 per person for airline reservations domestically and $100 for airline reservations internationally. I will also charge a fee sometimes for hotels for the same reason or if I am putting the various sections of the trip together myself. If I book a cruise or a tour, I don’t charge a fee as the vendor pays me a commission. Remember, whether you use a travel professional or not the commission is still being paid as it is automatically included in the price from the vendor. So, why not use a travel professional and avoid the hassle and save your time?

The rules for traveling are constantly changing and it is the travel professional who is able to keep their clients on track with them.

Examples: Passports

For instance, did you know that come January, 2016 you may need a passport to travel by air domestically? This is due to a law called the REAL ID Act. This requires all travelers to have a REAL ID compliant identification that includes all of these fields: full legal name, signature, date of birth, gender, unique identifying number, a principal residence address and a front-facing photograph of the applicant. Unfortunately there are still a handful of states that are non-compliant. Do you know which states are compliant and which aren’t? Your travel professional does. By the way, outright non-compliant states/territories are American Samoa, Louisiana and New Hampshire. The states of Minnesota and New York offer an optional Enhanced ID at a cost, so because it is optional, a large percentage of residents don’t have one. Some states have applied for additional extensions, but it is unclear if those will be granted. Currently, only four states (Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York) and American Samoa are technically non-compliant.

Also, we still don’t know if January 1, 2016 will be the date of the requirement or will it be later? Because of this law, the passport processing time for all will be affected. All the passports issued in 2006 to meet the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that went into effect in 2007 are now expiring, causing a slew of renewals. So, because of those renewals coupled with the possible REAL ID enforcement, passport waits are expected to further increase. As of October 11, the current wait has already increased a week to four to six weeks for standard passports and three weeks for expedited. Expedited in person could be up to eight days based on travel need.

Ultimately the REAL ID Act will require all state-issued drivers’ licenses to include “machine-readable technology” or chips to help keep us safe and secure while traveling. For more information on the REAL ID Act go to http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.

Also, passports are recommended for cruises just like they are required to fly outside of the United States. The reason being is if you do need to fly back to the United States from a foreign port you have a passport to do so. Just because you are on a cruise leaving a United States port, technically you are traveling internationally just as soon as you step on the ship as most ships are registered outside of the United States!

Example: Visas

A travel professional would be able to help you determine if visas are required to travel to where you want to go. If they don’t know for sure, they know where to send you for that information and get confirmation that you do or don’t need one for the type of travel you are taking. For instance, for most cruises if you leave an U.S. port and return to the same U.S. port you probably don’t need a visa to visit the ports. This is called a “closed loop” trip. But, again, most of the cruises. Always double check to see if one is needed.

Example: Travel Insurance

Again, not all travel insurance is created equal. Should you purchase travel insurance? Absolutely!!! I recommend to my clients not to purchase travel insurance, for the most part, from the supplier of the cruise or product. The reason being the coverage is not as comprehensive as third party policies. Travel insurance is not only purchased for travel delays, luggage lost/damage or cancellation protection. Some health insurance companies do not cover you when traveling outside of the United States. Medicare does not. Travel insurance will act as your primary health insurance during your travel, from the time you leave to the time you return to your home. Also, it provides emergency evacuation for health reasons and protects you for other items. Always read the policy and information provided by the issuer of the travel insurance to see what is covered. Your travel professional will know which is a good travel insurance issuer.

Budget Travel Holidays – Three Quick and Easy Tips to Plan Budget Travel Holidays

We all want fabulous budget travel holidays without breaking the bank. Here are three tips that will help you plan your next great holiday while staying on a budget. We’ll go over the months you should target to travel that will give you the greatest travel savings, which type of airports to fly out of, and more general tips to give you the greatest bang for you buck. Let’s get started:

1. Try to travel during “Shoulder Season”, a term coined by the travel industry. This is a great time to travel because it’s not High Season, which is when it’s most expensive to travel and most crowded, and it’s not Low Season, when the crowds are not there but the weather is the worst. You can generally save hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on your vacation just by targeting Shoulder Season because airfare and hotels are cheaper. For example, go to Hawaii in March or September, Tahiti in November, Costa Rica in December, or Baja California in June.

2. Use the internet to your advantage. Many airlines, resorts, cruise companies, and hotel websites offer rewards to people who subscribe to their e-mails lists. Usually all it takes is for you to visit their website and find the place where you can enter your e-mail in exchange for discounts, rewards, etc. These e-mail lists are often one of the first or only places to get major, unadvertised discounts. Social marketing is on the upswing and you can follow the airlines, etc. on Twitter to get similar savings also.

3. Be flexible with your travel planning. By being open to flying out of a less commercial airport, or staying in a neighboring city that borders the touristy city, you will save money. Many people want to go to San Francisco but cannot afford the pricey hotel rooms in the city. Consider staying in neighboring Berkely and taking public transportation into San Francisco. Neighboring cities often have the same “feel” as the touristy cities, yet the local businesses are more accommodating and even grateful for your business. You are more apt to be treated like royalty because the locals like you being there, rather than being an annoyance, aka “just another tourist”. Minor travel adjustments such as this can save you hundreds on your trip, while still being able to vacation in the city of your choice.

I hope this helps you see that the possibility of budget travel holidays can be a reality with a little planning and ingenuity. Flexibility in travel planning goes a long way to huge savings. Be a smart shopper and use the internet. It’s a great resource for budget travel. By following these simple tips, you will be able to have your budget travel holiday.

Planning Your Ski Travel Holidays

Planning your ski travel holidays may at first seem to be relatively straight forward, however when considering the vast amount of and diverse choices one has in terms of the various ski travel holidays options, you will quickly come to realize that there is no shortage of options available. Making the right choices in terms of destinations will also impact upon whether or not you will be able to fully appreciate the venue and amenities when you take your level of skill and capabilities into account.

The successful planning and booking of any ski travel holidays requires specific destination knowledge and experience, often times something which only a seasoned traveler will be able to provide. One also has the option of doing some research via travel magazines, travel agents and even online when looking to plan this type of vacation.

There are a number of destinations that are available when it comes to catering to all types or levels of skill on the slopes, and across the world too. North America, within the United States and Canada offer some spectacular options when considering ski travel holidays. Some of the top rated areas that are accessible to the various level of skill include Aspen, Breckenridge and Crested Butte in Colorado with the state of Utah also providing a number of great options for ski travel holidays too. The Canadian offerings of Blackcombe and Whistler are exceptional and one would have come to appreciate these destinations within the recent Winter Olympics coverage of these regions. Naturally there are many options within the North American travel destinations that can be considered beyond the ones herein mentioned.

Europe has a wide variety and diversity of destinations when it comes to options available for planning any ski travel holidays, moreover there is a destination for virtually any type of budget too. Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and some of the other Eastern European countries offer great value, in terms of a more limited budget, and although some might say that the amenities are not as good as those of the more established French and Austrian options, they certainly are sufficient enough to allow for a great skiing or snowboarding holiday option.

Besides the mentioned and albeit traditional options of the European or North American ski travel holidays and destinations available some of the lesser known options include the likes of Indian, Australia and various regions within South America. All of these areas are slowly building up a reputation of quality and commitment to providing a great experience and option when it comes to planning vacations of this nature.