Monday, December 15, 2008

The Most Travel-Inspiring Movies of 2008

By msnbc & Budget Travel

1. "Australia"
Northern Territory and Western Australia. In director Baz Luhrmann's tribute to his native Australia, aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) takes an arduous journey across the country with a rough-and-tumble stockman named the Drover (Hugh Jackman) as World War II is about to break out.

Arriving in Oz
Sarah disembarks from a ship in Darwin, Australia, with so much baggage that she has to enlist four porters to help her off the vessel. The scene was shot in Bowen, a beach town in northeastern Queensland with excellent snorkeling and diving.

Beau of the ball
Sarah is surprised to see a rather dapper-looking Drover, whom she hired to help her drive cattle across Australia, at a high-society party one evening. The scene was filmed at Strickland House, an 1850s Italianate villa in Sydney, built for the city's first elected mayor, John Hosking. You can only tour the home once a year (the 2009 date is April 13), but visitors can stroll through the villa's manicured grounds year-round and eat a picnic lunch on a hill that overlooks Sydney Harbour (011-61/2-9337-5999, house tour $3).

In love in the Outback
Sparks fly between Sarah and Drover as they traverse hundreds of miles across the Outback to a cattle station that Sarah has inherited in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. "The area has the most incredible sunsets and sunrises, and practically everything in the scene is authentic—the sunshine really burns, the dust is real," says James Fisher, one of the film's still photographers. You can explore this rugged countryside via a bus tour, which leads trips through the red-rock valley that surrounds the Ord River, with stops at an aboriginal art gallery and Ivanhoe Crossing, which has some of the best crocodile spotting in the region.

2. "Mamma Mia!"
Greece. Based on the hit Broadway musical, "Mamma Mia!" tells the story of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who's on a quest to find out who her real dad is before she gets married. After narrowing the pool down to three men, she invites them all to her mom's hotel on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi. The result? Chaos, and a whole lot of Abba tunes.

Shipping out
Sophie's prospective fathers meet for the first time when Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) miss the last ferry to Kalokairi and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) offers to take them on his boat. The scene was filmed on Skiathos, an island in the Aegean Sea about 85 miles north of Athens. Ferry tickets can be purchased in Greece, and cost about $95.

Boatloads of fun
When the men learn that Sophie's mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), doesn't want them at her daughter's wedding, they make a hasty retreat back to the mainland on Bill's boat. Determined to stop them, Sophie swims out to her could-be dads, and the group sings a playful rendition of "Our Last Summer." A peninsula off Glysteri beach, on the island of Skopelos, served as the scene's backdrop. Boats can be chartered to explore the peninsula, along with the isle's many beaches and coves.

Going to the chapel
The wedding takes place in a tiny church built on a steep rock formation overlooking the Aegean Sea. Before Donna climbs up to the chapel, she pours her heart out to Sam, singing "The Winner Takes It All." The scene was filmed at the rustic Agios Ioannis sto Kastri on Skopelos Island, where you can scale the 100-plus stairs to the top of the dramatic cliff.

3. "Quantum Of Solace"
Italy, Austria, England.
The highly anticipated sequel to Casino Royale marks the return of 007 (Daniel Craig). Bent on avenging the death of his lost love, James Bond outwits the British government and the CIA on a covert mission that takes him around the globe.

Horsing around
In the fast-paced opening scene, Bond chases a spy through a warren of medieval aqueducts in Siena, Italy. In the summer, tours are available to the public. Bond eventually pops up through a manhole in Piazza del Campo—directly into the path of the Palio horse race. During the competition, which has been held in Siena since 1310, riders must complete three laps around the piazza, avoiding spectators along the way (July 2 and Aug. 16, free).

Opera on the water
Bond tracks down villain Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) at the Bregenz Festival House, a 7,000-seat concert hall with a floating stage on the banks of Lake Constance in Austria. The 2009 festival season runs from July 22 to August 23 and features Verdi's tragic opera Aida (tickets start at $40).

4. "The Other Boleyn Girl"
England. Sibling rivalry really heats up when sisters Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) catch a glimpse of a young Henry VIII (Eric Bana)—and his spectacular palace. The movie is based on Philippa Gregory's best seller, which took its inspiration from English history.

Grassy knole
Henry VIII's home, Whitehall Palace, burned down in 1698, so production designer John-Paul Kelly turned to Knole, the king's country manor in Sevenoaks. Kelly was struck by the house's massive scale: "It looks more like a small town than a building!" The estate has 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances, and 7 courtyards. From mid-March to early November, you can tour the rooms—complete with opulent Jacobean-era furnishings—as well as the Japanese sika deer park that surrounds the 1,000-acre property (, $18).

Get thee to the nunnery
Queen Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) gives the Boleyn girls a rough welcome to court, forcing a timid Mary to sing for the queen's ladies-in-waiting in Lacock Abbey. Today, visitors to Wiltshire can explore Lacock's main hall, octagonal tower, botanic gardens, and medieval cloisters—which also had a cameo in two Harry Potter films (, $18).

5. "The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
New Zealand, Poland, and Slovenia
The Pevensie clan—Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell)—returns to Narnia only to find its creatures have been forced into hiding by the Telmarines. So the children set out to help Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) reclaim his throne—a spectacular journey that was filmed in four countries.

Tunnel vision
One minute the kids are in a London Tube station, and the next they're emerging from a rock arch onto a white-sand beach in Narnia. The arch is part of Cathedral Cove, a marine reserve on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula. Boat tours to the reserve, along with the other North Island film location can be booked in advance (tickets are $44).

Rock on
As the foursome sets off in search of the Narnians, Peter leads the group through a lush forest dotted with jagged rock formations, refusing to admit that he's lost. Fittingly, the scene was shot at Lost Rocks, in Poland's Góry Stolowe National Park (, $2). "It looks like the Grand Canyon, but full of greenery," says executive producer Perry Moore of the park's sandstone passageways. "The truth is that some of the best magic in the Narnia movies is grounded in reality."

Watershed moment
The movie's epic battle between the Narnians and the Telmarines culminates in a showdown along the banks of Slovenia's Soca River. "It was a complicated location to scout," says producer Phil Steuer. "We needed access to a river and permission to build a bridge." Wedged amid the Julian Alps, the Soca River valley is an adventure-sports haven for hikers, rafters, bikers, kayakers, and paragliders. If you want to hit the rapids, the Bovec Rafting Team arranges white-water trips (011-386/5-388-61-28, half-day tours from $50).

Original Article : The Most Travel-Inspiring movies of 2008

To get started booking your vacation to any of these amazing destinations, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Friday, December 12, 2008

JetBlue Announces Service to San Jose, Costa Rica

JetBlue Airlines has announced that it plans to add new daily non-stop service from Orlando - San Jose, Costa Rica. The service is scheduled to begin on March 26, pending authorization from the Costa Rican government. Introductory fares begin at $99 one-way, and must be purchased by December 23rd.

Their service from Orlando - Bogota begins January 29, and service from Orlando - Nassau on February 1st.

To get started planning your next trip to Central or Latin America, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Bike Friendly Travel

Good news for bicycle enthusiasts! The American Association of State Highway & Transportation and the Adventure Cycling Association have been working together for the past four years to put together a transcontinental bikeway system in the U.S..

This map system will connect over 50,000 miles of pedal friendly pavement to form a vast network of byways, off road trails and cities, reaching every corner of the country, much like the one created for cars over half a century ago.

A similar network is being put together in Europe, and the 2,700 mile route in Quebec was finished last year. Once completed, this would be the largest bike route network in the world!

Upon writing this blog, there was no information as to when this system is expected to be completed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tough Economy? The Perfect Time for a Repositioning Cruise!

By Jason Cochran,

Among the first vacation sellers to get slammed by recession jitters were the cruise lines. When the stock market tanked in late September, the phones stopped ringing. Rather than spend their cash, vacationers would rather hang onto it until they see where things are headed.

Standard cruises are begging for customers, and they're now insanely cheap. is now listing cruises for between $40 to $80 a night whereas a few years ago, you could easily pay double that. But for even more insane savings, look beyond the regularly scheduled runs and do a one-way trip.

One of the best bargains in cruising has long been the so-called "repositioning cruise," during which ships are relocated from one part of the world to another in preparation for the next season. These trips, which often include long stretches at sea in total (i.e. forced) relaxation and few cattle-call stops at ports, are now so cheap they're practically being given away. How about $18 a day?

That incredible price, which of course includes all meals, your room, and more than offsets what you'll send in the open-jaw airfare to reach the starting and ending points of the trip, is for the Costa Fortuna, which in March will spend 17 nights going from the Caribbean to the Italian Mediterranean (stopping in the Canary Islands, Portugal, and Barcelona) for an astounding $300. For the whole trip. Even adding in the mandatory taxes, the whole 17 night getaway comes to just $743.

Repositioning cruises typically happen at the change of seasons. This one, for example, leaves the Caribbean at the end of winter to ready for the warm European summer. In the fall, the repositioning bargains will be for the reverse direction. They're not always so long; some are a week or less. The ones that transfer ships from America's West Coast to the Caribbean, or vice-versa, usually come with a trip through the Panama Canal (although that treat may draw so many passengers that the price may not be so cheap).

Every travel agent worth anything will know what one is, and any cruise line that operates in more than one hemisphere (including Celebrity and Norweigan ) will have a few on offer each year. The cruise fan site Cruise Critic rounds up the upcoming options, although you'll have to get price quotes elsewhere (such as through Cruise Compete, where multiple travel agents bid on your business).

As with so many forms of transportation, prices usually rise as bookings mount, so it's always smartest to make reservations as far ahead as possible.

Contact a Cruise Specialist to book your cruise vacation today!

Airline Fees Are Here to Stay, Even as Fuel Costs Sink

By USA Today Staff

You had better get used to all those new airline fees. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes "although airlines are enjoying lower fuel costs, it doesn't mean the end of extra fees for travelers. That's because the airline industry has made fees for everything from seat assignments to checked bags part of a new strategy which appears to be here to stay. Tacking on fees makes it easier to charge passengers more, even if competition makes it difficult to raise fares."

When airlines began adding such fees earlier this year, most cited high fuel costs for the changes. However, airline consultant Bob Mann tells the Journal-Constitution: "I think that was a convenient excuse." Regardless of why, the new "a la carte" pricing system appears to be becoming increasingly entrenched. "I think quite frankly the environment that we're in we're really unlikely to roll any of those back," AirTran CEO Bob Fornaro is quoted as saying by the Journal-Constitution about his airline's fees. AirTran officials say the carrier could make as much as $130 million a year combined from its first-checked-bag fee and from selling advance seat assignments.

AirTran CFO Arne Haak discussed the move toward a la carte pricing -– and customers' purchasing behavior -– last month while speaking at a conference. "For many years, airlines have stuck with one price gets you everything whether you need it or not," Haak is quoted as saying by the Journal-Constitution. "Really what is happening is an unbundling of the services… . That’s how customers respond. Our customers will spend three hours on the Internet figuring out how to save $8 when they buy an airplane ticket. Then they're going to come to the airport and spend $20 to buy a soda, a bag of chips, a candy bar and a magazine that they could have bought for half the price."

Still, not all airline attempts to add fees have worked. United, for example, backtracked from a plan to sell meals on some of its trans-Atlantic flights out of its Washington Dulles hub. Others, including Delta, have scrapped fees that they had been charging fliers to use the curbside "skycap" check-in option. But, for now, at least, many of the new fees appear to be permanent.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started planning your next vacation!

Monday, December 08, 2008

World's Highest Hotel Is Now Open!

The world's highest hotel, the Park Hyatt Shanghai, fully opened for business last week. Situated in the heart of the Lujiazui business district in Pudong, the Park Hyatt Shanghai occupies the 79th to 93rd floors of the 101-storey Shanghai World Financial Centre.

The hotel has 174 rooms, all of which have views over the Huangpu River and Pudong. The spacious rooms feature walk-in dressing rooms and deluxe bathrooms with large rain showers, deep soaking tubs and heated floors. The hotel's top floor holds a private dining and function space, capable of holding 250 people for cocktails and 120 people for sit-down dinner. The 92nd floor features two bars, one featuring live music and the other a Chinese-style bar.

Rates start around $300 USD per night.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next international trip!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Traveling to India? An Alert You Should Know About.

India's Bureau of Civil Aviation had placed all of the country's airports under a Red Alert. Authorities have established police cordons around the perimeters of the airports. All vehicles must pass through a security checkpoint before approaching the terminal building. Passengers should expect to go through metal detectors at least three times at various points before boarding their flights; some reports indicate that security guards have screened passengers' luggage upward of six times.

All passengers, including first and business class travelers, should arrive at least three hours before their scheduled departure. There is extra focus on New Delhi's India Gandhi International Airport , Chennai International Airport and Bengaluru International Airport following an e-mail warning of an attack on 6 December, the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992..

Friday, November 21, 2008

Best and Worst Airlines 2008

By Staff

Feel like you’re spending more and more time at the gate or on the tarmac? It’s not just your imagination. Delays are bedeviling air travel these days; the carriers with the poorest records averaged nearly one-hour delays on their latest flights, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

That’s just some of the data we uncovered researching on-time percentages from September 1, 2007, to August 31, 2008. Mining that data, we put together a list of the best and worst airlines for delays. This list has changed quite a bit from 2007, even more so than our list of the Best and Worst Airports—there are newcomers in both categories, and some airlines have changed dramatically. How come?

While there are industry-wide efforts to improve on-time performance, perhaps more effective are the steps that individual airlines are taking. US Airways, which had the lowest on-time performance in 2007, with just 68 percent of domestic flights taking off on schedule, began offering its employees bonuses for improving conditions. In 2008, its punctuality record ranked near the top. And the worst offender, American Airlines (running last during the first eight months of 2008), is also changing its ways. The carrier has scheduled longer periods between flights to give staff more time to prepare planes, and it’s building up its spare-parts inventory so that repairs can be made more quickly.

Ultimately, airlines save money by being punctual. And in this economic environment, it’s clearly in an airline’s self-interest to get to the gate on time.

So who’s acting self-interested? Certainly not the two airlines that dropped off our best carriers list from 2007, Aloha and AirTran. But one of the airlines that moved into the list did so in a big way: US Airways was No. 3 on the worst carriers list last year, with fewer than 68 percent of its flights arriving on time. This year it’s at 79 percent and No. 3 on the best list.

And the worst? Last year’s worst carrier, Atlantic Southeast, dramatically improved its on-time performance from 2007, moving from 63 to 72 percent. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep them out of the top five. Gone from the 2008 list are JetBlue and US Airways, but taking their place are two other large carriers: American and United.

Original Article: Best & Worst Airlines 2008

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started planning your next vacation!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Most Luxurious Cruise Ship in the World

Hapag-Lloyd’s MS Europa has been rated as the only 5 star-plus cruise ship in the world for the eighth year in a row by the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships.

Just what sets this ship apart from all the others? Quite a few things actually, but service and space are the two biggest. The Europa has the highest passenger-space ratio in the cruise industry, with the smallest cabins starting at 290 square feet! Every guest cabin is a suite, with separate living and sleeping areas, walk-in closets (which are unheard of in the cruise industry), spacious bathrooms that feature a bathtub and separate glassed in showers, and over 80 percent of the cabins have their own balconies. Also, each guest cabin has a mini bar stocked with complimentary beer, juice and soft drinks.

This ship also has the highest staff to passenger ratio of any cruise ship, with a crew of 280, and never more than 408 guests on board. All of the staff must have years of experience in the hospitality industry to even be considered as a crew member on board the MS Europa.

Every day aboard this ship is a spectacular dining experience. There are 4 restaurant choices, and fare includes Haute Cuisine, Euro-Asian and Italian, as well as the Lido cafe, and a very extensive wine list that includes vintages from some of the finest wineries in the world. International show stars perform in the ballroom and concert hall regularly.

Some other amenities aboard include a saltwater pool with a retractable roof, spa and salon, fitness room, 21 course golf simulator, bars and lounges, library with internet access, a boutique and jewelry store.

The MS Europa offers 10-20 day cruises all over the world, including Europe, South America, South Africa, Australia, Tahiti, China and the Caribbean.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next Cruise Vacation!

Friday, November 14, 2008

5 Best Places to Travel in a Recession

By Brian Walsh

The economy is in meltdown, consumer spending is dwindling and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is seriously considering priming the monetary system with change he found inside his sofa. That just means you need a vacation more than ever — and the good news about the bad news is that the financial crisis has made some typically pricey destinations suddenly affordable.

Thank the 98-lb. weakling — the U.S. dollar — which, over the past several years, has made foreign travel outrageously expensive for Americans. Today, given the financial crisis, investors see the U.S. as safer than other markets — even though the downturn is largely the responsibility of Americans — and are flocking to the dollar. (Apparently there's no financial penalty for irony.)

For Americans, that means many foreign destinations have effectively become 25%, 30% even 50% cheaper than they were just a few months ago. You may feel a bit like a financial vulture visiting these countries but, hey, this may be the dawn of Depression 2.0. No one's turning down cash these days — not even from ugly Americans.

ICELAND Drop in currency value since a year ago: 51% No developed country has suffered as much from the credit crunch as Iceland, which has seen its banking system and its currency, the kroner, all but collapse. The silver lining in an Arctic cloud: what was once one of the most expensive, if memorable, destinations in Europe has suddenly gone budget. Iceland Air flights from New York City start at $500 round-trip, and decent hotels in the hip capital of Reykjavik — like the Centerhotel Thingholt— are as low as $60 a night. Sure, if you go in the late fall or winter you'll get only about five hours of sunlight a day — but Icelanders know how to make those hours count. Move fast — tourist agencies are reporting a huge spike in visitors to Iceland.

CANADA Drop in currency value since a year ago: 21% If Canadians didn't want us to make fun of their traditionally weak currency, why did they call it the loonie? A year ago, the joke was on us — a Canadian dollar was actually worth more than its American counterpart. Fortunately, economic catastrophe has reasserted the natural order of U.S.-Canadian relations. From the cosmopolitan charm of Montreal to the amazing skiing of Whistler (and, in between, Saskatchewan), America's neighbor to the north is a great place to spend strengthening greenbacks. Bonus: Global warming will make those biting Canadian winters just a little bit more endurable.

AUSTRALIA Drop in currency value since a year ago: 28% The Aussies' unoriginally named currency almost managed parity with the American dollar in recent years. Not anymore. The Down Under dollar now gets you only about 66 cents. But that opens the Land of Thunder's many delights to the American budget traveler — once, of course, you mortgage your devalued home for a plane ticket. Round-trip tickets from New York City to Sydney are going for about $1,400. On the upside, when it's winter in the North, it's summer over there. (Except financially — then it's winter everywhere.)

GREAT BRITAIN Drop in currency value since a year ago: 23% Admittedly, it's difficult to put England on any kind of budget-travel list, given that a brief, one-way trip on the 145-year-old London Underground will still run you more than $6. But compared with a year ago, when you needed more than $2 to buy a single coin with the Queen of England's face on it, Britain has gotten considerably cheaper — relatively. Book a spin on a "champagne flight" on the London Eye — the giant Ferris wheel (and millennial white elephant) on the banks of the Thames — for a mere $692. Or don't.

SOUTH KOREA Drop in currency value since a year ago: 30% For South Koreans, the current economic meltdown has a sickening familiarity. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the South Korean won lost 52% of its value against the dollar. Things haven't gotten that bad yet in 2008, but there are still plenty of sudden bargains in the Land of Morning Calm, long an unjustly ignored travel destination. Bewildering Seoul boasts dramatic mountains, spicy street food and gorgeous royal palaces. Beyond the capital — where almost half the country lives — South Korea has arty port cities like Busan and cultural centers like Gwangju. And anywhere in the country you can get soju — the potent rice wine that will enable you to forget the recession, along with everything else.

For all your international travel needs talk with a Professional Travel Agent.

US Dollar Still Strong for DownUnder Travel

Day dreaming about a vacation is the first step to making it a reality. But do you find yourself wondering how to accomplish such a trip with the economy so up-in-the-air? Especially with all the media hype? You are in luck! There are still many great countries offering fabulous travel opportunities where the US dollar is strong and Americans are welcomed with open arms by delightful locals.

Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the South Pacific can offer a great getaway, a trip to remember and destinations where your dollar will go a lot further. Trade in your greenbacks for some downunder travel and tell your friends to stop watching the news and get on a plane with you!

Today, it only takes $0.66 USD (United States Dollar) to buy $1.00 AUD (Australian Dollar) and only $0.57 USD to buy $1.00 NZD (New Zealand Dollar). Thinking of checking out Fiji? It will take only $0.55 USD to buy $1.00 FJD (Fijian Dollar). Compare all this to it costing $1.27 USD to buy $1.00 EUR (European Euro) for travel throughout Europe. See the huge advantage of taking that vacation downunder? It’s a steal!

To give you an even bigger picture:
If you buy $1000 AUD, it will cost you only $660 USD
If you buy $1000 NZD, it will cost you only $570 USD
If you buy $1000 FJD, it will cost you only $550 USD
If you buy $1000 EUR, it will cost you $1270 USD

You can see the enormous benefits of considering a trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Check-out one, two or all three countries for a great value. Click on the country to see great trip opportunities to Australia, New Zealand and/or Fiji. There are many great Cruises to choose from as well!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rave Reviews from Oprah about the epic movie "Australia"

From: The Australian
By: Ashleigh Wilson

FRESH from her endorsement of Barack Obama, influential American television host Oprah Winfrey has enthusiastically thrown her weight behind Baz Luhrmann's epic film Australia.

With Luhrmann scrambling to complete the much-anticipated film before its official release in two weeks, Winfrey dedicated her show on Monday to the production starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

And while Kidman used the show to reveal a photograph of her daughter Sunday Rose, and Jackman spoke about his love of Sydney Harbour, it was Oprah's celebrity endorsement of Australia that will be credited with building excitement for Luhrmann's film in the US market.

"Congratulations on your imagination, your vision, your creativity, your direction," she told the director.

"Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it's just the film we needed to see. I have not been this excited about a movie since I don't know when."

Winfrey dedicated her entire show to Australia ahead of its November 26 general release. The show was pre-recorded last month, and featured a specially constructed replica 1930s outback cattle station where the film is set.

Winfrey's endorsement will also delight Tourism Australia, which has based its advertising campaign around the film.

"It's the best movie I've seen in a long, long, long, long time," Winfrey said. "It is epic, it is magic, it is a spectacle and the scenery is so gorgeous you can barely stand it. Australia is going to make you jump on a plane and go Down Under."

Luhrmann's movie received more valuable publicity when he appeared with Jackman in New York yesterday at a Museum of Modern Art film benefit honouring the director.

In his interview with Winfrey, Luhrmann told how, as a child, he fell in love with "sweeping epic" films.

"I'm not pretending we're Gone with the Wind, but a film like Gone with the Wind has something for everyone," he said. "It's a really inclusive, big film. It has comedy and romance and action and drama."

During the show, Kidman said she had agreed to do the film without seeing the script because of Luhrmann's involvement.

He views the world, she said, in a "very unique way".

"He just called me up and said: 'I'm thinking about this film'. And I'm like: 'I'm in. I'm yours', because I feel also that there are directors that bring out something in you that nobody else brings out," she said.

Jackman said Kidman convinced him to do the same.

After months of shielding her daughter from the media, Kidman flashed a photo of Sunday Rose that her husband, Keith Urban, had taken. She said her daughter looked so much like Urban she called her Keithette.

Original Article: Rave Review of the Movie "Australia"

For all your international travel needs talk with a Travel Agent especially if you'd like to go to Australia!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Need Some Sun This Winter?

Most of us here in the U.S. spend our winters in cold, wet weather which can be a bit… well, depressing. I know many people, including myself, who always try to make sure to get at least one “sun break” during the winter. If you’re thinking about taking a vacation to a sunny destination this winter, this is a great time to start planning!

Our winter is the ideal time to travel to pretty much anywhere in the South Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand , Tahiti or Fiji, since it is their summer! While airfares to these places can be a little higher during these months, keep in mind that with the current exchange rates between U.S. dollars and Australian or New Zealand dollars makes it very affordable once there!

Same thing goes for South America, whether it be Brazil, Argentina, Peru or Chile, our winter is their summer. If it is a laid back, sunny getaway with great food and wine that you crave, any of these countries are a great choice!

Hawaii is a good place to vacation during the winter too, as long as it is not over major holidays or mid-winter school breaks. Those weeks tend to book up about a year in advance and are very pricey. Otherwise, it’s a great location for a winter getaway, with average temps in the low – mid 80’s, beaches not as crowded as other times of the year, and hotels often have lower rates. Besides, it’s just a 5 hour flight from most west coast cities!

The Caribbean has a year round tropical climate, and hurricane season is over by mid-November. Some of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean include Jamaica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Barbados. Many hotels on the islands offer promotional rates in the winter months, too.

Southern California is a great place for those who don’t want to leave the country, or travel very far. Los Angeles/Anaheim/Disneyland area is always a good choice for families. While it’s not going to be as warm as the Caribbean, you can usually be on at least mild weather. Also, January-February is usually the slowest time of year for Disneyland, meaning little to no lines.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to get started booking your winter vacation today!

Friday, November 07, 2008

New Travel Rules and Regulations You Should Know About

There will be some changes in 2009 that travelers should know about, including some new rules and regulations.

The biggest change for U.S. citizens will become effective on June 1, 2009, passports will be required for all U.S. citizens re-entering the United States. This includes entry from Mexico, Canada and all sea ports (such as cruises). From what I understand, the US Passport Agencies are pretty backed up right now. If you are planning a trip outside of the US over the next year and do not currently have a passport, or need to renew yours, make sure to allow ample time, like 2-3 months.

As of January 12, 2009 the Department of Homeland Security will begin the Pre-Travel Authorization Program for U.S.-Bound Travelers from Visa Waiver Countries, as part of the 9/11 Commission Act. It will be mandatory for anyone planning to visit the U.S. to have an electronic visa before boarding the plane. This will allow screening of passengers before they travel to the U.S.

Another change coming in early 2009 is that all airlines will be required to quote the TOTAL price for all tickets to or from Europe. They will no longer be able to quote the airfare and the taxes separately. This includes all airline taxes, airport fees and fuel surcharges.

This year the State of New York enacted the New York State Passenger Bill of Rights. This means that airline passengers in New York who are delayed on planes for more than three hours will not be without basic amenities including: water, snacks, fresh air and working restrooms. And if they feel their rights are violated, they can report it and the airline could face penalties of up to $100,000 per passenger per violation. It’s possible that those same standards could eventually go into effect nationwide.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent for more information regarding current travel rules and regulations, or to start planning your next trip!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Considering a Trip to South America?

A client of ours just returned from a trip to Argentina. This is his review of the country.

The Argentina trip was fantastic. It was way beyond my expectations. My itinerary was just about perfect for my interest level.

Buenos Aires is a great city. Mendoza wine, food, and scenery are spectacular. Iguazú Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world.

The Hotel Bel Air in Buenos Aires was very nice. It was clean and the staff members were attentive and helpful. English was spoken by all front desk staff, although some staff members were more helpful than others. The hotel probably would be 4 star ranking. The location in Recoleta is good but not close to the subway system.

Buenos Aires tours were good. The ½ day city tour is a good idea for a first time visitor. Buenos Aires can be a little overwhelming and it is good to have an orientation to various areas of the city. Tourists only visit a small portion of the city anyway.
One final thing I did in Buenos Aires was taking the boat to Uruguay (Colonia del Sacramento). This is worth a day trip to experience another country. I would not do this if you have only a few days in Buenos Aires, but with the enough time, it was worth a visit.

The trip to Iguazú Falls was well worth the time. This is a sight than cannot be appreciated just by the photos. It is like the Grand Canyon, spectacular in pictures but even more awesome in person. Puerto Iguazú is probably the best option to stay in.

The tours in Mendoza were spectacular. There are two English language tour companies, Ampora and Trout & Wine. Both are excellent small tour group companies. I took two wine tours and one Andes tour. The food, wine, and scenery are absolutely amazing. I would recommend either of these companies to your clients.

My overall impression of Argentina was extremely positive. I like the people, food, wine, and scenery. The cost was very inexpensive in US dollar terms. In other words, what a great place to visit! Safety and security were not significant issues (of course common sense is always necessary when traveling). I was comfortable walking the streets of Recoleta at night but I do not stay up late. The late time for dinner was a struggle for me to get used to. I may be back to visit the southern part of Argentina in the future.

I would recommend Argentina without reservations to your clients!

Call a Travel Agent today to get started planning your trip of a lifetime to South America, or anywhere else in The World!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sounds of Silence Experience

Set in a lone sand dune in the middle of Ayers Rock Resort/Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, almost anyone who’s ever experienced the Sounds of Silence calls this a “must-do” in Australia.

The evening begins over sparkling wine and canapés while you watch the beautiful sunset over the Australian Outback. After that, sit down to a candlelit feast of traditional Australian BBQ, including beef, kangaroo, crocodile, emu, freshly baked breads, bush salads, classic desserts and some of Australia’s finest wines, all under the stars.

Following dinner, the resident astronomer takes the stage to guide you through unbeatable star gazing and storytelling with telescopes, while the digeridoo is played in the background.

Planning a Trip to Australia? Make sure to book this once in a lifetime experience! Contact an Australia Specialist for assistance and for other suggestions today!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Affordable Family Vacations

Trying to figure out a way to afford a family vacation this year? There are some great promotions for family travel this fall and winter! Some of the best deals and promos include:

All Club Med Resorts offer Kids under 2 stay & eat free, kids under 4 pay just 30% of the adult price, and kids between 4-12 pay just 50%. Also, many Club Med Resorts have free kids clubs to keep the kids busy and offer daycare (at additional fees). Club Med has resorts all over the world, including Mexico, the Caribbean and the US.

Beaches Family Resorts is offering a Fall Promotion, of Stay 7 Nights, Get 1 Night Free! This resort chain is very family friendly, featuring the Sesame Street characters live at the resort! Beaches have locations in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos.

Atlantis Resort, located in the Bahamas, has some huge price drops for stays this Fall and Winter, not only for accommodations, but also for dining options.

Universal Orlando is offering a Kids Stay & Play Free promotion with at least a Four Night stay. The hotels in this promo include Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort. All are located within walking distance to the Universal Studios Park.

Dreams Resorts is an all-inclusive luxury resort with properties in Mexico and Dominican Republic. They are currently doing a Kids Stay, Play & Eat Free! Two kids can stay, play, and eat free when traveling with two paying adults. This offer is good for travel completed by Dec. 19, 2008.

For 2009, Disneyland Parks in California is offering Free Admission on your birthday to either Disneyland or Disney California. You must register and receive confirmation online ahead of time.

Disney Cruises have reduced their rates for families cruising in November, December and January. Cruises are a great option for family vacations, as there are activities for everyone, including free kids clubs.

Costa Cruise Lines are offering a winter 2008-2009 promotion of Kids Sail Free! This offer is valid on any of their winter cruises, including Christmas and New Years.

Every January and February, Alaska Airlines brings back there very popular Kids Fly Free to Disneyland Promotion! This is typically valid for travel to any of the Los Angeles area airports, and is for travel between January-June, but must be booked by the end of March.

To get started planning your next family vacation, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Fly Business or First Class?

Do you think Business and First Class Airfares are just too expensive and not worth the extra money? If so, we urge you to take just a moment - before you plan your next trip half-way across the world - to learn about some of the perks of business class. We believe you'll find, as many others have in the past, that with the considerable benefits over economy seats, business class is often the intelligent choice.

Consider the benefits of business class:
  • Speed of check-in, security, and boarding
  • Increased Comfort
  • Personal Service
  • Privacy

These days, probably the most obvious reason to book business class is the ease and speed of checking-in and getting through security. With your own business class lines, you’ll quickly be checked-in, through security, and on your way to relax in the Business Class lounge. While conversely, due to the increased security measures, economy passengers may be held-up for hours!

After enjoying a pre-flight drink or snack, or even grabbing a quick shower or nap, you’ll leave your business-class lounge for your gate, where you’ll be the first to board the plane. While everyone in economy is fighting over luggage storage space to the sound of babies crying, you’ll be peacefully relaxing in your comfy chair in the privacy of the business class section, sipping a glass of complimentary wine or scotch.

One of the main benefits of choosing business class is the added comfort it brings to air traveling. By now, most of us travelers have seen pictures of the famous British Airways Flat Seats: airline chairs that fold full-back into a 180 degree bed. (Also available on airlines such as Qantas, Air France, Lufthansa, and SAS are Angled Lie Flat Seats which recline to a slightly less 170 degrees.) And don’t forget: along with these flat seats comes increased seat-width and legroom, to give you plenty of space to stretch out, even when seated upright.

Not only is the sleeping better, but the food is tremendously better, as well—choose your meals from menus prepared by world-class chefs. And don’t forget: alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as snacks, are complimentary during your whole trip.

Providing great personal service, flight attendants will be there to attend to your every need, with one attendant serving 3-5 passengers, compared to economy, where the ratio is—as we all know—significantly higher.

Enjoy video and music on your personal player, with most airlines offering Audio and Video on Demand (AVOD) for their business class passengers. Power-up your laptop or cell-phone, or even surf the web, as more and more airlines are offering an internet connection.

Remember the bathroom lines in economy? Well, no need to worry about that, since business class has its own bathrooms.

Once you land, you’ll be the first off the plane and into the customs lines. Thanks to your flat seat, you’ve a had good night’s sleep, so rather than wasting your first few days of vacation recovering from jet lag, you’re refreshed and ready to see the sights and enjoy your vacation!

And so, why not choose business class for your next trip? Why fly half-way across the world, only to waste the first few days of your valuable vacation time, only to recuperate from the flight? Enjoy yourself; you deserve it! Look into flying business class—you’ll find the added investment is well-worth the comfort and relaxation you’ll get in return.

Still not convinced business class can be affordable? Check out our website for our
Business and First Class Airfares to anywhere in Europe and the South Pacific or contact a Travel Professional today!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Getting Married in Paradise

I got married in the beautiful Fiji Islands back in 2000. My fiancé (at the time) and I decided that we wanted to go to a tropical beach to tie the knot. We considered Hawaii, or even the Caribbean, since we reside in Seattle, we mainly just wanted to go somewhere warm!

About 6 months prior to our wedding date, I went to Fiji on a Travel Agent Familiarization trip. Upon exiting the airplane, I was basically swept off my feet. The aroma of the sugar cane fields, the warm tropical breeze, the lush vegetation everywhere, and the friendliest group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet made it easy to decide that this would be the perfect place to start our new lives together.

Upon my return to the U.S., it wasn’t hard to convince my husband-to-be that this tropical paradise would be the perfect place for us to get married and honeymoon, so we started planning the details right away. One of the great things about getting married in Fiji is that there isn’t much to it. All we had to do was pick our dates, book the flights, and decide where we wanted to stay, and the wedding coordinator took care of everything else.

The wedding package that we purchased included a fresh orchid bouquet and boutonniere, a professional videographer, the minister, services on the beach at sunset, a Fijian Warrior and Bridesmaid, both dressed in traditional Fijian attire, a 12 person choir, a 5 course gourmet dinner on the beach, a bottle of French champagne, and a day trip to our own private island, including a lobster picnic. The price was a mere $600 USD (however, this was several years ago).

We flew Air Pacific from L.A. to Nadi, unfortunately the flights from the U.S. to Fiji all arrive in the early morning hours, and we arrived at 5:00 am. After clearing customs and collecting our travel documents at the tour desk located inside the airport, we caught a taxi to our first hotel, the Sheraton Royal Denarau (which is now the Westin Denarau Island Resort).

We spent our first two nights at this beautiful resort, which is designed and decorated in traditional Fijian décor and surrounded by lush, fragrant tropical flowers and gardens, and also located on a private white sand beach. We stayed in a garden view room, which was very spacious, and we even had a patio with a table and chairs on it, where we were able to enjoy our breakfasts.

On the morning of the third day, we were transferred to our seaplane to make our way to Matamanoa Island, where we would be married. The seaplane flight was spectacular, one of our highlights of the trip. It was an awesome way to see many of Fiji’s 330 beautiful islands, and the coral reefs that surround them. One of the best parts of the flight was the landing. Of course, we landed in the water, and so had to climb out of the plane in the warm tropical waters and make our way up to the beach where the wedding planner was waiting for us.

Matamanoa Island is what one might picture a true island paradise to be. The island is so small, that it takes a mere 30 minutes to walk all the way around it. There is a volcanic cone jutting out of the center, which is lush and green, and is covered in banana trees, papaya trees and wild hibuscus plants. About two-thirds of it is surrounded in powder white sand beaches, and it is situated in crystal clear turquoise waters filled with colorful marine life! The best part is, there are only accomodations for 50 people on the entire island!

After going over our wedding plans, and getting situated in our ocean front bure, we made our way to the beach. One of the reasons why we chose Matamanoa Island as a place to get married was because it is an adult’s only island, so it is quiet and relaxing. Our wedding was scheduled right at sunset, since we wanted a “sunset beach wedding”, which was at approximately 6:00 pm that evening. Around 4:00 pm, we decided to head back and start getting ready.

Upon arrival in our bure, my white orchid bouquet and my husband’s boutonniere were delivered to us, along with a basket of fresh island fruits. After he got ready, he headed down to wait at the resort bar until it was “time”, and to allow the bride to get ready. Just as I finished getting ready, there was a knock at my door, and I could hear beautiful loud music coming from outside. To my surprise, the bridesmaid, Fijian warrior, videographer, wedding planner and 12 person choir were waiting for me outside!

I was ushered through the resort and down the beach barefoot in my wedding dress, with this huge entourage and angelic music following, until I was standing next to my love. It was such a magical moment. We said our vows there in the warm soft sand, with the gentle waves lapping behind us, just as the sun set. Everything was just as perfect as we could have ever imagined, and completely stress free.

We plan to return to Fiji one day for one of our anniversaries.

To plan your dream wedding or honeymoon, or just a vacation of a lifetime, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Benefits of Utilizing a Travel Agent

Travel Agents have been helping travelers plan their vacations and trips for decades.
Now that almost every home in America has a computer and internet access, many people are trying to do it all by themselves. For an international trip, the typical person will spend many, many valuable hours online doing research and making reservations if they do it alone. Why not just go to a Travel Agent? That’s what they are for.

There are many benefits of using a Professional Travel Agent.

Your time is valuable. Instead of spending your precious time searching the internet, going from website to website, comparing prices, itineraries, hotels and destinations, you can make just one call, and have a Travel Agent do all the planning.

Service. There is something to be said for good, old-fashioned service. This is something that you will not get with an online booking. Travel Agents are happy to help you with your travel arrangements.

Knowledge. Travel Agents have the most up-to-date information about specials, promotions and rates. Because they are professionals in the industry, they are usually notified of all current special rates and promotions.

Specialized. More and more Travel Agents are becoming specialized in a specific geographic region or type of travel. This means that if you are traveling to Australia, for instance, and want assistance from someone who really knows that country, the best places to visit, the climate, the exchange rates, etc, a Travel Agent is a great resource.

One-stop shopping. With a Travel Agent you can book all your reservations and services in one place. Travel Agents can book everything from airfare to car rentals, to tours and show tickets. This also means you only have to give your personal information, like credit card details to one business.

Someone to call in case of an emergency. If you should have some type of a glitch or emergency while abroad, trying to get through to an actual person at an airline or online agency can be practically impossible. It can be very reassuring knowing that you have someone that you can call in case of an emergency.

Unique Travel Itineraries. Travel Agents can help you put together a trip and itinerary based on your interests. Tell a Travel Agent what you like to do during vacation, how active you want to be and your budget, and she will give you suggestions based on that. This usually results in a more enjoyable vacation that following an itinerary of a friend or family. Just because your friend enjoyed a specific tour doesn’t necessarily mean that you will.

Current information on hotels. Most Travel Agents have up-to-date information on hotels that are under construction or being refurbished. You do not want to arrive at your hotel, only to find that the reason why you got such a great deal is because they are doing construction on the pool.

To book your vacation of a lifetime, contact a Travel Agent today, or visit us on the web.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Travel Insurance

As a way to protect ourselves from our daily lives, we are constantly being told we need one kind of insurance or another. The most common being health, auto and home owner's insurance. All three can take a chunk out of the pocket book, but we're happy we have it when something unforeseen takes place. The new kid on the block is Travel Insurance.

Travel insurance is good to have any time you travel whether by ship, plane or train. It'll save you a lot of grief when you were looking forward to a much needed change of scenery and something unfortunate happens along the way. Coverage varies depending on the cost of your trip, age and the benefits you want to pay for. If you suddenly get sick and are unable to take your journey for example, you could receive money back on your ticket. If you opted out of the Travel Insurance, then there would be nothing you could do to redeem the cost of the ticket.

There is always the chance that you could have a medical emergency on a trip and need to be hospitalized. Say you are out hiking and get cut during a fall or your appendix decides to go bad, the insurance provides comprehensive coverage and will give you peace of mind and a smaller doctor bill when you arrive home.

You could be covered for trip delays, cancellation or interruption; loss of travel documents including passports; baggage delay or complete loss; sickness or death by you, family member, travel companion or business partner; some policies even cover cancellation for work reasons (but ya gotta pay a little more!); others include concierge services.

Travel Insurance policies range from Basic to Platinum and everything in between. Taking out an insurance policy for your next trip is highly recommended, but completely optional. I recently took out insurance on a trip heading to Nevada even though it's a domestic flight. This is a first for me, but by working in a travel agency, I hear the best and the worst of hundreds of trips including all the trouble airlines cause their passengers. This time I thought if my trip was delayed or my luggage lost in space, at least I could recoup some of my hard earned cash.

Spending the extra $15-$900/per person can save you thousands of dollars and a lot of frustration when an airline decides to creatively delay your flight or nature takes a turn for the worse. You will be a lot happier than your fellow travelers knowing your situation will be covered by your Travel Insurance policy.

Next time you book your International Trip, talk with your Expert Travel Agent about taking out the travel insurance policy that works best for you and your family. Have a pleasant and safe trip!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Saving Money on Travel This Season

Almost every American is feeling the effects of our current economic situation in some way or another. We all seem to be finding ways to save a little cash wherever we can, whether it be eating out less, riding our bikes more, carpooling, or making our coffee at home.

If you are due for a much needed vacation, or really just need a getaway, fall is often the best time to get the most trip for your money. This year the sales seem to be better than ever! Some of the best specials going on now include:

- Some international airlines, such as SAS, have substantially marked down their Airfares to Europe for their Fall Sales.

- Hawaiian Airlines is having a sale on Airfares and Packages to Hawaii, with savings up to $400 off of some of their air + hotel packages.

- Cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean are offering some of their lowest prices of the year on their Caribbean Cruises for the fall and winter.

- Many hotels are doing "Free Night" promotions, such as "Pay for 3 Nights, Get the 4th Night Free!".

- Some tour companies, such as Trafalgar, are offering discounted South Pacific Escorted Tours for the fall, with saving up to $500 per couple!

Most of these special promotions need to be booked by mid October. Many of them are for travel in October - November.

Contact Us for more information on these and other fall travel specials! Many travel promotions need to be booked through a Professional Travel Agent.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Traveling During Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season is among us! During this time of year, it seems as though there is a new hurricane or tropical storm forming just about every week. However, this is still a very popular season to travel. Some of the best deals on airfares can be found in late summer and fall. Many resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America offer promotional rates, and most cruise lines offer some of their lowest prices during these months.

I personally have taken a few Caribbean cruises in September, and have had no issues at all. I got great rates on the cruises and airfare, even had a cabin upgrade once, and had nothing but excellent vacations. However, it doesn’t always turn out like that.

When planning a vacation to the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America during the late summer and fall, it is important to keep in mind that there is a chance your plans will be changed or cancelled. Already this year, many cruises in that area have had to alter at least one of their routes to avoid a hurricane, flights have been cancelled and some hotels have had to close briefly.

If you are going to be travelling during hurricane season, remember these tips for a safer trip:
  1. Get Travel Insurance, and make sure that your policy covers hurricanes. Also, make sure that you purchase the insurance before the hurricane forms, otherwise it most likely won’t be covered.

  2. Use a Travel Agent. This is a perfect example of why to use a Travel Agent instead of booking online. In case of an emergency or cancelled trip, the Travel Agent is there to help you.

  3. Check with the airline, cruise line, or tour operator about their travel services back to the U.S. in the event of a hurricane.

  4. Minimize your risk of encountering a hurricane by traveling to the lowest hurricane risk islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, or Trinidad and Tobago. Or take a cruise, since cruise ships are mobile, they are able to avoid hurricanes all together.

  5. Leave a detailed itinerary with a friend or family member at home.

  6. Make sure you have the phone number of the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate with you at all times.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today for assistance with planning your next vacation!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What To Do in Brisbane Australia?

Thinking about traveling to Brisbane, but not really sure what there is to do there? Brisbane is a city for every traveler, offering an abundance of outdoor activities, art galleries, museums, shopping, beaches, fine dining and nightlife.

Some of the most popular attractions in Brisbane are:

  • South Bank is a community vibrant in arts and culture, situated on 16 hectares of waterfront property. It is full of outdoor markets, cafes, restaurants, walk ways and bike paths. And for those warm Aussie days, cool off at Streets Beach by taking a dip in the swimming lagoon. Home of the Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and the Performing Arts Center it’s a great destination with those who have art in their hearts.

  • Story Bridge. Bridge tours are available on this famous bridge. A guide will take you on a 2 ½ hour climb, almost a kilometer up the bridge, providing stunning 360 degree views of the city, the Bunya Mountains and the Brisbane River.

  • Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. The Sanctuary offers opportunities to get close to many different types of Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, wombats, dingos, and of course koalas! You can even experience holding a koala. The soft marsupial will cling to you like a young child; it is not your average animal!

  • Riverlife Adventure Center is a perfect way for any outdoor adventurer to spend the day. Located on the edge of the Brisbane River, they offer rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, cycling and rollerblading.

  • Moreton Bay Islands are just a short drive and ferry ride from Brisbane. Offering dozens of sandy islands in the sheltered blue waters, Moreton Bay is a favorite getaway for Brisbane locals and visitors alike. Here you can feed the wild dolphins or make the rewarding hike up to the summit of Mount Tempest.

Check out our Australia Independent Packages to help you get started planning your trip or if you like a more organized style of traveling see our Australia Escorted Tours. Any way you travel to the great land of Oz, be sure to include Brisbane on your itinerary.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Best and Worst Airports to Sleep In

No one ever plans to sleep in an airport. Unfortunately, sometimes due to flight delays or cancellations, we are forced to. According to, these have been rated the best and worst airports to sleep in by travelers.

The Best:

1. Changi (Singapore) International - The airport hotel rents rooms by the hour, free massage chairs in the Oasis Lounge, free internet kiosks, showers (for a fee), pool and sauna, free movie theater, comfortable seats, clean bathrooms and 24 hour restaurants.

2. Seoul Incheon International, South Korea – This airport features long couches, luggage lockers, clean bathrooms, free internet café, Korean Sauna, wide variety of shops and restaurants.

3. Hong Kong International, China – Clean bathrooms and showers, seats with massagers, 24 hour buffet, 24 hour internet café, comfortable, padded seats, and a nursery/kid’s area.

4. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Finland – Clean and quiet, soft benches, clean bathrooms, friendly, helpful information staff.

5. Auckland, New Zealand - Internet kiosks, long couches near gates, kid’s play area, luggage storage, clean bathrooms, telephones which offer free local calls!

The Worst:

1. Paris Charles de Gaulle, France – Cold metal benches, and bucket seats with arm rests, some gates do not have seats, dirty, smelly bathrooms, noisy, expensive food.

2. Mumbai (Bombay), India – Restrooms are filthy and smell bad, food is awful, no services at night, mosquitoes, check-in areas crowded, lack of signs/information.

3. Indira Gandhi (New Delhi) International, India – Lack of seats, dirty bathrooms, lack of signs, mosquitoes, rats, crowded, minimal services and restaurants.

4. Jakarta, Indonesia – Uncomfortable seats, very few restaurants, many peddlers/beggars, dirty, squat toilets.

5. Kiev, Ukraine – Cold and noisy, restrooms do not have toilet paper, hard plastic seats with arm rests, dark, customs officials try to bribe.

Contact an International Travel Specialist today to start planning your next trip!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

10 Busiest Airports in the U.S.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, these were the busiest airports in 2007. Each logged hundreds of thousands of flights last year.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International / Atlanta, Georgia, 991,627 flight last year. Make sure to check the airport website for up to date information about current wait times.

2. O’Hare International / Chicago, Illinois, 926,973 flights last year. This airport offers a good variety of restaurants and eateries, including Goose Island Brewing Company and Johnny Rockets.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth International / Dallas, Texas, 686,711 flights last year. DFW has two on-premise hotels, the Hyatt Regency and the Grand Hyatt.

4. Los Angeles International / Los Angeles, California, 680,954 lights last year. Located 20 miles southwest of downtown L.A., there is public transportation to and from the airport via Los Angeles County Metro, Culver City Bus Lines, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and Torrance Transit.

5. Denver International / Denver, Colorado, 619,941 flights last year. The Denver Airport has Hospitality Ambassadors, easily spotted by their white cowboy hats, who are there to assist travelers with information or directions.

6. McCarran International / Las Vegas, Nevada, 619,941 flights last year. If you’re in a hurry to get started gambling, there are slot machines located in the airport. Try to avoid traveling on Thursdays and Sundays, as those are the airports busiest days.

7. George Bush Intercontinental / Houston, Texas, 603,641 flights last year. Most of the airport security personnel at this airport have been trained in CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

8. Phoenix Sky Harbor International / Phoenix, Arizona, 539,211 flights last year. This airport features 2 dog parks and an Airport Museum in Terminal 3.

9. Douglas International / Charlotte, North Carolina, 525,943 flights last year. Douglas Airport is famous for being the first airport to offer rocking chairs through out.

10. Philadelphia International / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 499,683 flights last year. There is a free cell phone parking lot for drivers picking up passengers.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to start booking your next trip!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Review of the Hideaway Resort in Fiji

Some clients of ours just returned from their 9-day vacation to the beautiful Fiji Islands where they stayed at the Hideaway Resort in one of the Garden Bures. This moderate property is located approximately 1 ½ hours from the Nadi, Fiji airport, on the Coral Coast.

Here is what our clients had to say about the resort: “It was quite a large resort, very spread out and peaceful. …The gardens were immaculate. The bures (villas) were roomy, with good air conditioning and the cleaning (staff) was thorough. All members of the staff were amenable, agreeable, and always smiling.

There was entertainment of one kind or another every evening. We ate dinner there every night and the menu changed every night too. The food was delicious. …All in all, I would go to Fiji again. I would recommend (Hideaway Resort) to anyone who does not expect a 5 star…”

The Hideaway Resort offers the following amenities:

· A large multi purpose swimming pool with water slide, children's wading pool, conversation dish, 8 people spa, area for water games and aqua aerobics, reading blocks, and ideal deep end for scuba diving training.
· Pool surroundings are equipped with lounges and tables for outdoor dining
· Large theater restaurant overlooking a beautiful lagoon
· Cannibal Cafe, poolside with views overlooking lagoon
· Boutique
· Health and beauty spa
· 5 Palm Padi Dive School
· Handicraft Shop
· Wood Carving Center
· Professionally Equipped Gymnasium

This resort is just one of hundreds available to enjoy in Fiji. Take a look at a select few of our Fiji Vacation Packages and contact one of our Fiji Experts today to book your dream vacation to Fiji.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How Do You Pick the Perfect Cruise?

In the process of searching for the ultimate adventure in cruising, there are many choices that need to be made during the planning stage. Here are some items you'll want to consider to ensure a fabulous experience and to create lifelong memories.

Size of Ship: There are small, medium and large ships that can accommodate up to 900, 1300 and 2500 passengers respectively. Of course, there are the super small vessels that carry only 100 or fewer passengers but you pay more for that luxury. Decide whether you’d like to recognize individuals throughout your cruise or blend into the crowd – there is the perfect size ship to suit your needs.

Style of Ship: Ships tend to be either more formal or very causal. You will want to choose if you are more interested in wearing flip-flops to dinner or prefer to dress a bit fancier a few nights, or during the whole duration of the cruise.

Length of Cruise: The amount of days you want to cruise is definitely a component you'll want to consider. There are anywhere from 3-27+ day cruises available on a variety of cruise lines.

Kids or No Kids: Cruise lines offer certain sailings that are geared towards family with lots of activities for the kids and plenty of fun for adults. If you are searching for a more quiet cruise or one that has been designed for couples, those are available as well.

Dining Options: Some ships offer simple “open” style dining meaning you can eat whenever you want. Others offer both open and sit-down options and some only offer reserved dining meaning you have a set time for dinner. There is usually a formal night on most cruises so you could be casual for 90% of the cruise and have one gourmet evening of dinner and dancing.

Type of Port Stops: Cruises offer a variety of port stops. Depending on whether you want the freedom to explore at your leisure or you want scheduled shore excursions like a guided tour, choose the cruise that best fits the way you like to explore a new place.

Destinations: Weather and type of eco-systems might be a consideration for you. Do you like scenic places to travel to or is warm weather a must? You can have both! There are culture-rich and plenty of adventure type of destinations as well.

Reason for Taking a Cruise: Think about why you want to experience a cruise. Is it for a Family Reunion? A cruise is a fantastic place for such a gathering. All that you and everyone else have to do is get on the boat! If you are looking to relax and rejuvenate, keep that in mind. Many ships are improving, adding and/or expanding their spa offerings. There are cruises that specialize in hobbies from music to naturalists with presentation and well known speakers. Bringing your employees together for a business retreat is a great way to reward their hard work and bring the group closer together. Some other reasons you may consider is the ease of travel a cruise offers and if you simply want to be pampered by having others do the dishes and serve you delicious meals.

Cruising offers a great variety of choices and can usually satisfy everyone in your travel group. Use these tips to start your planning process and narrow down what you’d like to experience on this amazing adventure.

Browse our Cruise Listings and call one of our Cruise Specialists to discuss the unlimited possibilities and to help book your cruise today!