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!