80 days. Nine countries. Two flights. Six ferries. Two car trains. Over 12,000 miles driven.Read More
I am not an app or a computer program. Instead, I am an experienced travel planner and I use human common sense and practicality when customizing vacations for my clients. I don't just let the computer dictate what you should do but instead will use my real life experiences when making suggestions on where you should go, where you should stay and what you should do while there. More than likely, I have sent clients to your chosen destination before and oftentimes I have personal travel experience there too - especially in Europe where I have traveled extensively. Yes, travel agents still exist.
Never used a travel agent before? Don't worry - you are not the only one. Majority of my new clients have always planned their own vacations - wasting precious hours googling and making notes and trying to make sense of their travel plans. They are usually referrals from my existing clients who have heard through them about my services and the ways I have enhanced both their vacation planning process as well as their overall vacation experience. I can take the stress out of your vacation planning. You don't have to do it on your own.
For land vacations, I handpick each element to customize the itinerary to your travel preferences and style. I don't have any bias when it comes to hotels or tour operators that I work with - except I choose those that offer outstanding quality and value. The OTA's (online travel agents such as Orbitz or Hotels.com) do have bias in their search results - often the hotel companies will pay to be listed at the top of the search results lists. The companies I partner with are not like that.
With cruises, I again only partner with companies that offer quality and value. There's not as much customization with cruises as the cruise lines dictate the itineraries but I can personalize the shore excursions in each port, as well as the pre-/post-cruise stays.
I've been in the travel agency industry since 2000 and have seen the changes it has made in the past two decades. The OTA's have tried to take over the smaller travel agency businesses and it is a shame that many people still rely on the internet when planning their vacations when there is a better option - an experienced travel agent. A few years ago I launched "Travel Agent Awareness" to help spread the word that real travel agents still exist and that we are the better option to turn to when planning your vacation. We do the research and figure out the small details so you don't have to waste hours figuring it all out on your own while worrying if you've chosen the right options. We have the resources and contacts at our fingertips, as well as the personal travel experiences and advice you can't find online.
So, if you are wondering what it is like to have a real travel professional plan your vacation, then seek out a travel agent. Feel free to ask questions to learn more about our expertise and how we can assist you with your travel plans. I am quick to respond to emails and am accepting new clients. So why wait? Contact me now so we can get started on your travel plans!
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Visiting Alaska via cruise ship is not anything new. Thousands of tourists descend on Alaska during the summer months visiting the main (and touristy) ports of call. The views are beautiful and you can definitely have some great experiences but there is a better way to get closer to the real heart of Alaska - its nature and wilderness.
UnCruise Adventures is the only Alaskan-owned cruise company and their love of Alaska shines through everything they do. They have 7 vessels in Alaska including yacht-style vessels (with a capacity as low as 22-guests!) and expedition-style vessels (which average 60-70 passengers). They have specially curated itineraries to showcase the “real” Alaska - because of their smaller size, they can get into areas that the big ships can’t so you will have Alaska all to yourselves. The captain will also change course if there are reports of whales or bears so that you have the best wildlife viewing experiences.
Another difference between UnCruise Adventures and the “normal” cruises in Alaska is the food. You will enjoy healthy and sustainable gourmet meals while on board your ship - including chef-selected wine pairings. There’s always a vegetarian option and other special dietary needs can be met. The chefs will pay attention to how your food options meld with the activities and conditions of the day. You don’t get that on the big ships!
Besides dining, each ship has a lounge and/or bar which will serve local wines and craft spirits and beers. They say they don’t want to brag, but they are confident that they can “hang their hat” on having the best craft bars afloat! Sounds good to me! Oh - and alcohol is included in the cruise price.
Now to the day-to-day activities - also all included in the cruise fare. You can wake up to morning yoga on the deck. Most ships have a custom-made kayak launch platform so you can get in the kayak without tipping over into the water (I need that). You can also go hiking on glaciers, go snorkeling and/or do stand-up paddle boarding. Typically you’ll have an activity to choose from in the morning and in the afternoon - or you can choose just to relax onboard and just absorb the views which will be incredible from any angle.
While the summer is the most popular time to go to Alaska for the big ships, UnCruise Adventures starts sailing in April. This is springtime in Alaska so there is a high chance you’ll see bears awakening from their winter slumber - with their cubs! There is usually more whales as they haven’t migrated yet. The days tend to be dry and sunny, and there’s even a chance of seeing the Northern Lights. This is the “secret” time to visit Alaska before the crowds!
These cruises are also family-friendly with special activities for kids. They can also do private charters just for you and your closest family and friends.
Besides Alaska, they also have itineraries in Hawaii, Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, Costa Rica & Panama, the Galapagos, the Pacific Northwest and along the Columbia and Snake rivers. There are themed cruise departures including craft beer, photography, wellness, wine and birding (amongst others).
For more information on these cruise options, please email me today!
Best for: adventure seekers, wildlife lovers, retirees, families with kids ages 8+, family reunions, incentive trips, wine and/or beer lovers, those looking for something “different”
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Planning your first international vacation can seem like a daunting task - so many things to consider that it can quickly get overwhelming. Fear not - we are here to assist you every step of the way. To help you get started here is our list of the top 5 things to consider when you first start planning your trip:
1. Passport! Get a passport or you won't be going anywhere internationally. And don't get a passport card - it's not worth it as its only good if you were driving to Canada or Mexico. Make sure to get the Passport Book. There are a lot of requirements to getting a passport but luckily they have a handy checklist on the official passport page.
Tip: Get your required passport photos taken at Walgreens or somewhere that knows what they are doing. Don't submit photos you take on your own - your application will be denied. Oh and don't smile. You think your drivers license photo is bad? You haven't seen your passport photo yet then!
2. Budget - Be realistic! And don't penny pinch or stretch it too thin - you will be disappointed. Not sure what it may cost? We are happy to give you some insight. Just an FYI - we only recommend hotels and places to stay that are at least a well-rated 3-star or higher. We don't do hostels. We don't do cheapo motels. We do quality vacations so you are comfortable and happy. This also applies to the sightseeing activities we recommend as well - we concentrate on the overall quality and value - not just the price. Lowest price does not always equal the best memorable experience. You don't have to figure out the exact amount of your budget now but it's good to have a ballpark figure in mind. Try to be flexible as well as more than likely its going to cost more than what you hoped.
3. Where to? Once you've applied for your passport and thought about your funds, it's time to figure out where to go. This is the hard part unless you really know what you want. Ask us for suggestions if you need help deciding. We have the questions that will reveal the answers to find the perfect vacation for you! We specialize in international vacations to any destination. Europe is our most popular continent but we have the skills, resources and experience to send you anywhere. And we have - to all 7 continents (yes, that includes Antarctica!)
4. Organizing the itinerary. Once you know where you want to go, we can start filling in the details. This is the fun part! Where will you stay? How will you spend your time? How will you get there?
We can help you with all the details - this is our favorite part! We love making suggestions and recommendations based on your own travel styles, preferences, "musts"... We are vacation customizing pros. We also like to think outside the box and provide you with the experience that you are looking for but maybe didn't know it.
5. Other travel documents - besides a passport, some countries also require you to get a Visa. This doesn't have anything to do with credit cards (although proof of having one may be a Visa requirement for some countries). Another important thing to check is what, if any, vaccinations are required for your destination. The CDC has a handy website with what is Required (important) and Recommended. Scared of what they recommend? Just look at the warnings for the US to put them into context.
Ready to get started? Contact us now!
How we work:
- Email us to start the conversation. We strive to respond the same day so keep an eye out for our prompt response! Please let us know if you were referred by someone at this time as well.
- We will send you a questionnaire which will allow us to get to know you as an individual. It will have questions about where you've been before, what your hobbies and special interests are, your travel preferences, etc. We can also set up an appointment to chat (by phone or in person if you are in the Orlando area) if that is easier for you.
- When we have your answers and more info, we will send you an itinerary outline to give you some ideas and to get your feedback. We will provide some ideas at this time for how to spend your time and the logistics of the itinerary. This will confirm that we are both on the same page when it comes to your vacation. Changes can be made at this time if necessary as this is a guide only - no reservations or quotes* done at this time. Why no quote at this time? We prefer having an outline of the itinerary before we start making reservations and gathering prices. Unlike a search engine, we hand select all the elements of your vacation. This does take us some time to fully customize all the details. Many times we are working with suppliers in your destination country so time differences have to be taken into account as well. Therefore we need some type of commitment from you before we dive into the details. See below. This ensures we spend our time wisely with the right clients - you. *We can provide ballpark figures at anytime to give you a general idea of expected costs.
- Once we have a general idea of the itinerary, we will put together a Custom Vacation Plan for you to review and approve. A Custom Vacation Planning Fee will be due at this time before we move forward with the quotes. The fee amount will vary on the complexity of the trip but is usually @$150. Once we receive this act of commitment from you, we will fill in all the details on the itinerary outline and send you a quote. Changes can be made until you are happy! No obligation. (If you were a referral, please let us know - we may be able to waive this fee!)
- After we have agreed on an itinerary, a deposit will be required followed by final payment. Deposits vary but are typically $250 or less per person. Final payments are typically due 45-60 days prior to departure but will depend on the individual elements of your vacation. Credit cards are highly preferred. Note: Some items, namely flights, will have to be paid in full at time of booking.
- Fast forward to about three weeks before you leave - we will send you hard copies of all the necessary travel documents including a very detailed itinerary, hotel confirmations, vouchers, tickets... As well as destination info, maps, travel tips... We will also include emergency contact information for you to leave with family and friends, packing lists, and luggage tags.
- We will be available during your entire vacation to assist you as need be as well as afterwards. We want to know how much you loved your vacation and look forward to seeing your photos!
Want more info? Ready to book? Just send me a quick email and we can start planning your first international vacation!