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!