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Traveling with no regret

A great Travel Agent: The smart Travel Addict’s best travel tool — May 6, 2020

A great Travel Agent: The smart Travel Addict’s best travel tool

I have collaborated on parts of today’s blog with my Travel Professional and I am not being compensated for any endorsement. The advice provided in today’s blog should be verified with a travel professional of your choosing.

A smart traveler’s best travel tool can be an experienced and trusted Travel Agent.    

However, before I get going too far, and in full disclosure, not all of our travel has been with the assistance of a Travel Agent.  In fact, our earliest travels were ones we pieced together and planned on our own.  In fact, we’ve even traveled without reservations in the past.  (GASP!  I know.  We were young…but it was sort of fun!)  Now, in hindsight, some of that travel might’ve been even better with the help of a Travel Agent.   

Courtney caught a quick selfie of us on the Grand Canal in Venice

In 2010, I met my dear friend and fellow Travel addict, Courtney Roggmann.  She has owned her own travel business, Solutions Travel, for 15 years and she is a dedicated, passionate travel professional.  We first met on a trip she planned and escorted and we hit it off! Since then, Roger and I have traveled with Courtney and her Husband, Michael, just us four, to places like Key West, Maine, and on a Viking River Cruise through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany.  We’ve also traveled together on some fantastic trips that she has escorted under the umbrella of her business.  In the 10 years we’ve traveled together, I’ve watched her up close and learned a lot about what she does.  This week, she has been kind enough to sit with me as I blog so I can share insights with you about how a Travel Agent can be a tool for your travel.    

Consider travel an investment

Food for thought; when you invest in a home, most people will seek out a real estate agent.  When you invest in a new car, a lot of people do so with the help of an Automobile Dealership. For us, the biggest purchases in life are usually made with the help of careful research and the use of an expert and for us, the purchase of major travel is no different.  No matter what kind of travel you enjoy, you are spending your hard-earned money and possibly using precious vacation days.  If you’re like us, you want to know that you got the best return on your investment.  In my view, a Travel Agent can be a wonderful resource. 

In addition, invest your own time as well as your money as you plan your trip.  I always recommend that you do your research.  We live in a wonderful time with the internet providing information on every topic easily and quickly at our fingertips. Seek out any and all information about your destination that you can. Know where you want to go, what you want to do and see there, and when might be the best time to travel where you plan to go. 

Me and my Travel Agent exploring the beautiful Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

A Travel expert can be the best place to turn

An experienced and trusted Travel Agent can help you plan your trip, give you an estimate(s) on what your trip might cost, do their best to stick to your budget, and will have resources that could upgrade your trip in ways you might not have known about on your own.  Travel Agents have resources and relationships with travel vendors that can enhance your trip and a great Travel Agent can take your broad travel plan and fill it in with great ideas that make it a trip to remember. 

How much does a Travel Agent’s services cost? 

When you speak to an agent, a good first question would be regarding what the fees for their services will be.  Know that the answer could vary from agent to agent.  Courtney charges nothing.  That’s right!  Nothing.  I’m betting that might be a surprise for you if you’ve never used a Travel Agent before or maybe even if you have used an Agent that charged you a large fee.  Perhaps, the unknown cost of an agent might even be why you’ve shied away from calling a Travel Agent for help.  Is that a fair guess?

You should know that Travel Agents are paid a commission on the products they sell by the vendors they are working with such as a cruise line or an all-inclusive resort.  That commission may be paid to them directly or through a host company.  Some Travel Agents, like Courtney, will not charge you for their services. She does however, help her clients that need assistance with the purchase of airline only tickets.  For this assistance, she will charge a nominal fee.  This is because the airlines do not compensate her for the sale of the tickets.  She does waive that fee when booking airline tickets as part of a travel package. 

However, other agents could  charge a consultation fee which could run up to $250.   So, if you need help planning a trip, I recommend talking to friends who have used travel professionals for their travels.  Word of mouth recommendations could lead you to a great travel professional.  Always be a savvy consumer and ask lots of questions. 

Ready to see Budapest

Before you call your travel professional

A great Travel Agent will be a busy person.  So, before you talk with him/her, it’s a good idea for you to have done your research and be able to answer these basic questions: 

—When and where do you want to go?  How do you want to travel?  Do you want to go on a cruise or land based vacation?  If it’s land based, are you driving, flying,  or considering an all inclusive?  If it’s an all inclusive, are you looking for a family friendly or adults only resort?  Do you want to sit on the beach and catch up on your reading or do you want to go to Italy and to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa?  Try to have a something in mind so you can get your Travel Agent working quickly on a plan for you. 

—What budget do you have in mind for your trip?  You can do some research on line and get a feel for what type of budget you should be prepared for.  Know how much you are willing to spend and how much, if any, you can bend with that amount. 

—How many people will be traveling with you?  Do you have kids traveling with you and how old are they?  Do you have anyone traveling with you with special needs?

—What do you want to do or what do you want to see on your trip?

—Have an open mind.  A Travel Agent might make suggestions for your trip that you had not yet considered. 

Why should you consider seeking out the help of a Travel Agent?

A Travel Agent is, or should be, an experienced traveler and ideally, have first hand knowledge of where you want to go.  On top of that, a good Travel Agent will know the trends in travel and will have a working knowledge of travel vendors and resources that a travel lay person, like you or me, would not otherwise have knowledge of or access to. 

What if you opt to plan without a travel professional?  Sure, you could do it.  You might even find a “really cheap” price for your trip on line somewhere but what are you getting for that cheap price.  Roger and I always agree with the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”  What if something happens during your trip?  Will your on line source be there to help you?  Is there even a resource to reach out to if you need help?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If you planned on your own, you will also be on your own to figure out a solution if your travel plans are interrupted. For us, it’s a security thing.  We know that our Travel Agent is there if we need her from start to finish.   

For a real life example: we traveled with Courtney on an escorted tour to The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks.  The night before we were to head home, she got an alert that there would be no plane waiting for us the next morning.  With the first leg of our trip home badly delayed, it meant that our entire group would miss our connecting flight.  Courtney sprang into action and pulled from her resources to get us home.  By the time we made it to Washington, D.C., there was a motor coach waiting for us and we were driven home.  We were a few hours late as a result but Courtney got us home, at her own expense.  We have the luxury of actually traveling with our travel professional but if that had happened to us without her, I know she would’ve  been there to help us make it home.  

A great Travel Agent is your advocate.  When you plan your trips with a Travel Agent, you have someone who can be your resource and someone you can reach out to when something unexpected pops up (be sure to ask your travel professional about his/her availability while you are traveling).  If your travel results in a missed or canceled flight, no room to go with your reservation when you get to your hotel, or your friend’s room is not next to yours when you get to the resort, you need only reach out to your travel professional. When your travel professional has a relationship with a vendor, your concern may be easily fixed if there is an issue.

Another quick selfie at Buckingham Palace. Smile like you mean it Christina! (I think she caught me off guard!)

 Do you need travel insurance?

A good Travel Agent will recommend travel insurance.  Again, travel is an investment.  What happens if you have an accident on the way to the airport to catch your flight?  What happens if you are sick and hospitalized and can’t travel?  What do you do if you get sick and are hospitalized in a foreign country?  What happens if your trip is two days away and you have a death in the family?

Many travel vendors have strict policies about refunds.  Be sure to understand what those might be up front.  No matter the reason that you might be prevented from traveling as planned, the purchase of travel insurance could result in some, if not all of your expenses being covered. 

As an example: you are on a cruise and you don’t feel well and you seek out the service of the ship’s doctor.  Courtney had a client who received a medical bill for $4,200!  $4,200!!!!   That’s surely an unexpected expense.  Wouldn’t you agree?  I’ve seen cruise guests helicoptered off a couple of cruise ships for serious medical reasons by the U.S. Coast Guard.  I don’t want to know how much that might cost!  Luckily, Courtney’s client had purchased Travel insurance which kicked in to help with this out of pocket expense.  I can only hope those folks that left by helicopter are well and had insurance! 

Travel insurance is something Roger and I always purchase, without question.  Life happens and you never know when a curve ball could derail your travel plans.  We consider travel insurance an investment to guard against the unknown. 

Having a good time in our of our favorite places, Key West

When should you travel and how far out should you start planning?

Spring break and summer vacations are huge travel times, of course.  When you start thinking about travel, depending on the time of year you plan to go, you could be vacationing with thousands of your closest new friends.  Roger and I like to travel in the off season.  We don’t have kids so we can take off in February on a cruise or in the fall after all the kids are back in school and the bulk of the tourists are done with their vacations.  Consider too that traveling during the off season, depending on where you are going, might be a bit cheaper.  Finally, if you’re like us, we don’t like to travel when it’s blazing hot or freezing cold.  We are “Goldilocks” travelers.  We like the temperature to be  just right!  If that’s you, consider the time of year and what the weather might be where you are heading.   

Understand, that some vacations require planning and reservations so calling a Travel Agent and asking for a trip to Disney in two weeks during spring break season might mean that there are no reservations to be had.  Courtney recommends planning 8 to 12 months out or longer whenever possible.  Doing so also allows for making payments on your vacation, if needed.  Courtney states that depending on your trip, to help you in planning, reservations could be open as follows:

-Nearly all cruise lines will post their cruises 1 to 2 years in advance. 

-Resort vacations packages with airfare take reservations 10-11 months in advance.

-Group tours such as Trafalgar or Globus start planning 18 months in advance. 

-Disney Vacations are released in June for the next calendar year.  You can book a Disney hotel 1 year out but can’t book other trip components until 6 months out.  Give yourself time and plan in advance when looking to go to Disney.  Your travel professional will know tips and tricks to help you. 

**this timing is always subject to change so be sure to consult a travel professional.

All of us in Scotland: Courtney and her husband Michael in front & Roger and me in the photo bomb position!

Today is Wednesday, May 6, 2020: National Travel Advisor Day!

We are very blessed to have a Travel professional that we trust and consider a dear friend.  Right now, in the middle of a pandemic, every facet of travel has been affected.  Those of us who love to travel miss our suitcases and are starting to twitch just a bit!  I just want to thank my friend and travel professional for her enthusiasm and love of travel that she shares with us and all of her clients.  She works so very hard to make every trip memorable, comfortable and just what all of her clients hope for.  Courtney’s special personal touches are a feature of her business that sets her apart and her client family loves her for it.  2020 has been a tough year for her as she’s had to work with her clients to make difficult decisions about their travel.  Do we cancel or postpone?  Courtney is doing everything she can to give the best advice possible as the situation has twisted, turned, and drug on and on.  As always, she is doing an outstanding job!  Much love to you, dear friend and Travel Agent on this very strange Travel Advisor day! 

If you already have a travel professional, don’t forget to reach out to them today and share some love with them, especially this year!

I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked, “Can you recommend a Travel agent?”  Of course, if you can’t tell, I can recommend a great one!

If you need an outstanding Travel Agent, please find Courtney’s contact information below:

I hope we can all pack a bag soon and get back to our adventures! 

Safe travels!

Travel Addicts in quarantine, Part II — May 2, 2020

Travel Addicts in quarantine, Part II

Quarantine week 6, day 46.  The Travel Addicts torture themselves! 

A few nights ago, we entertained ourselves by looking through photos from past adventures.  We love to do this but it’s just a little bittersweet right now since we know we can’t travel.  As Roger flipped through each picture, he started saying, “I can’t believe we were there!”   As he said it again and again, I started to wonder which “pinch me moment” places were my favorites.  The list is long and picking favorites is as impossible as picking your favorite child!  We have had some wonderful trips in fantastic places so it’s been hard to pick just a few. 

These are just a few of my “pinch me” places that I will remember when I am old and I will smile because I was there!

Venice.  Just the name is a complete sentence to me.  In my mind, there is no other place on the Earth like it and I fell in love with a place that is magical, romantic, and beautiful from nearly every angle. There was so much to see and so little time.  I don’t know of any other city in the world where you can take a water taxi to the airport!  Somehow, it felt wrong to get on a boat with my giant suitcase!   What an experience that was!  We loved the food, the artisans who make the famous Venetian glass, the food market, the magnificent buildings full of history and works of art, strolling down back walk ways that opened to grand Piazzas, and the Gondolas!  We were enraptured.  Our trip to Italy was a bucket list check off, for sure!  In fact, I have never taken it off!  My hope is that we can go back again one day and immerse ourselves in all things Italian with lots of time to enjoy the charms of Venice.   

The Grand Canal, Venice

Paris. For us, Paris is truly a “pinch me moment” with the emphasis on moment!  Our first trip to England was our first trip to Europe and we planned it all on our own.  We used Gray Line Tours to see the sights and in our planning, found a tour that took us by train from London through the Channel Tunnel into Paris for the day.  The entire day was 12 hours long so our actual time in Paris was 8 hours at the most.  At the time, we didn’t think we’d ever be that close again so we grabbed the opportunity to see everything we could.  Part of the tour took us onto the Seine River, giving us the opportunity to see Notre Dome from the water.  In light of the 2019 fire, I lamented that we didn’t have the time to go inside!  The tour shifted back to land at the base of the Eiffel Tower and while the bulk of our tour group went on to The Louvre, which is where we eventually reunited with them, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Paris from the Eiffel Tower.  Now, you need to know that I am not a fan of heights but in instances like this, I risk a panic attack and go anyway!  I’m so glad I did.  The elevators alone are an experience as they creep sideways up the leg of the tower to the first level which is as far as I ventured while Roger went all the way to the top. What a spectacular view!  In separating from our tour group, our tour guide told us that all we needed to do was grab a cab at the base of the tower and she told us how to find her.  RIGHT!  This left me as spokesperson, in PARIS, trying to remember my high school French lessons to get us, as politely as I could manage, to the Louvre.  I guess it worked but I told Roger to make sure to give the taxi driver a good tip!  I know!  Typical American!  I did my best!  That in itself was adventure enough!  Returning to Paris, and visiting other parts of France, remain BIG on my bucket list.  We can’t believe that we were there for less than 8 hours and saw what we saw.  It was a tiny taste of all things French and it was magnifique!

The elevator going up the leg of the Eiffel Tower, Paris

Westminster Abbey; London, England.  We’ve all seen Westminster Abbey on TV during Royal weddings and funerals but let me assure you that in person, it is magnificent!  It took my breath away!  When I stood in this building, I felt the history all around me.  Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers, Poets, Scientists.  They are all there!  From the black and white tile floor to the soaring cathedral stained glass, it is a sight to see.  We’ve been lucky enough to be awed by it on two occasions now and I will go again and again if I am so fortunate. 

Westminster Abbey, London

The Hungarian Parliament Building; Budapest, Hungary.  We took a Viking River Cruise down the Danube from Budapest to Passau, Germany as an anniversary trip.  For me, the biggest highlight was Budapest.  My beloved Great Grandmother was Hungarian and I have wonderful memories of her, the wonderful food she cooked, and of a sweet children’s song that members of my family sang in Hungarian when I was young.  I thought a lot about her when we were in Budapest even though the Hungary we saw was likely very different than the one she left in 1912.  The Hungarian Parliament Building is fantastic from every angle and is an iconic figure in many of Viking’s ads.  We stood on the top deck as we left Budapest for our next port and my friend that was traveling with us captured this fabulous shot that I cherish!  What a fabulous place! I was so grateful to have been able to see just a glimpse of where my family came from.    

The Hungarian Parliament building, Budapest

Giant’s Causeway.  Our visit to Ireland was almost one we did not make.  My Travel Agent friend was planning an escorted trip and while we hadn’t considered going, we told Roger’s Dad about it.  Visiting Ireland had long been on his bucket list and we told him that if he wanted to go, we would go as well.  It turns out that Ireland is beautiful and full of wonderful people and we were so glad that we decided to go.  For me, my favorite parts were in Northern Ireland.  Specifically, Giant’s Causeway.  I have to admit that I knew nothing about the place before we went so when we arrived, I was, and still am, fascinated in the oddity and expanse of the location.  We gingerly climbed the rock formations and marveled at their shapes all around us.  We lost Roger’s Dad in 2017 and we are so glad that we were able to see Ireland with him. 

Giant’s Causeway. County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The Canadian Rockies.  Roger will tell you that he didn’t want to go on this trip and that he had no idea what to expect.  Now, I’m pretty sure that he would be willing to go back.  While I knew what to expect, it was a trip full of awe.  Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Jasper National Park, The Columbia Ice Fields, Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake.  To us, these are some of the most beautiful places we have ever been.  The crystal blue glacial water makes you think you’re in a tropical locale for just a split second but the cathedral Mountains around you remind you that you aren’t.  The Rockies are a place to be admired and their ruggedness respected.  For me, it was humbling to look at the mountains around us.  I get the same feeling at the edge of the Ocean.  We hope to return to the Rockies with our RV one day to be humbled again. 

Banff National Park

We are so blessed to have been to some really cool places, many of which we never thought we would ever see with our own eyes. What lucky ducks we have been! Our bucket list continues to grow and I can only hope that we are fortunate enough to find more places that we can add to this list.

Today, we continue to look through our photos and get them organized and properly backed up.  We might not be able to pack a bag and go but we are not letting a virus keep us from enjoying our travels.

Travel Addicts in Quarantine — April 20, 2020

Travel Addicts in Quarantine

For us, January and February 2020 were clipping along as planned but in general, March just fell down with a big flop!  Did that happen to you too? 

For the last week of February, Roger and I were lucky enough to squeeze in a wonderful cruise to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.  At the time, COVID 19 was out there but really, not a concern and far away. 

Walking the pier; February 2020

The week after we got home, we picked up our new RV and off we went on our first official camping trip.  Again, COVID was out there and we were listening to reports but especially since we were in our own vehicles in the woods, we weren’t terribly concerned.   

Our first s’mores over our first fire!

However, within three days of returning home from our camping trip, my job as a Student Nurse Recruiter saw massive cancelations in on campus recruitment events as Universities started implementing social distancing and sending their students home.  Within the next week, my office started social distancing which quickly shifted to working from home full time amid the growing concerns.  Looking back, it is just stunning at how quickly our normal life was disrupted.     

Thankfully, we are well and in our safe place.  On the rare occasion we watch the news, I feel the anxiety sneak up on us after a particularly hysterical news story prompts Roger to ask me, “do you think we need to get some groceries?”  All we can do is make smart decisions and stay home as much as possible.  Luckily, we have masks in the house because Roger wears them in the yard due to his allergies.  I always have gloves in the house and as a germaphobe, I always travel with individually wrapped  hand sanitizing wipes so we feel we have the gear we need to safely step out on the rare occasions that we need to.  We have chosen to go grocery shopping late at night, just before the store closes, when there are very few people in the store.  With masks and gloves, we look like bandits robbing a train, but there we are!  God bless our local grocery store staff!

Now, we are in week 5, day 34. 

In September 2019, B.C. (Before Corona), I started a habit of listing 5 things that I am thankful for each week.  I make my lists right on my calendar each Friday and it has been a positive addition to the end of each week and a great way to start the weekend.   Over the last 5 weeks, this has been a practice that has helped me to focus on the positive.  That along with limiting my exposure to the news and it’s toxicity.

This little piggy needs to stop making banana bread!

This week, I was thankful for:

  1. Working from home. B.C., I worked from home three days a week, which is a true blessing.    Now working from home full time has eased the anxiety of going out to possible exposure.  As an asthmatic and  someone who is immunosuppressed, limiting my exposure to any illness is paramount to my health, in the best of times.  In this pandemic, I am mindful of this in the extreme.  
  2. I was thankful that bad weather passed us by earlier in the week.
  3. All family and friends are reporting healthy.  BORED, but healthy!
  4. I am thankful for being home which reduces my stress, thus helping my body to be well.  My particular illness is made worse when I’m stressed and despite the stress of the world outside, being safely at home has seen my symptoms all but disappear.  A real plus for me and a surprising benefit of all this!
  5. Time.  The time at home has given us the ability to focus on things that need doing around the house.  We tend to put many of these things off so having no excuses has made us happy to get some mundane, long awaited projects completed at long last.  We are also reading more with our time.  We are hoping that this becomes a habit we hold onto when quarantine is over. 

What are you thankful for?  I am hopeful that you have at least 5 things this week that are blessings in your life.

I’m thankful for the time that I would otherwise be spending on my commute.  This has also saved us big money in tolls and gas.  I have enjoyed having more time to dedicate to reading, kicking off my blog, and working in my own office where I can make it as warm or cool as I’m comfortable with (my other office is one of those offices where you wear a coat inside even when it’s 90+ degrees outside in August). I am thankful for banana bread, my favorite comfort food that I need to stop baking!

I miss jumping in the car and turning up the tunes.  I miss an impromptu trip to Target, Hobby Lobby, and Home Goods.  I miss our usual Friday night dinner with friends and visiting with my parents.  I miss texting my friends during a meeting to set up a lunch date. 

Pretty accurate!

Of course, from a travel blog perspective, there is no question that I am missing my suitcase! I miss packing a bag and catching a flight or crawling into the truck and heading off on a road trip.  We’ve had to cancel two camping trips and our Easter Family Reunion in Mississippi.  Not having travel plans on the horizon is unusual for us.  We do hope to be able to venture off to the Gulf Coast in September and sneak off to the woods with our RV soon.  Fingers crossed!

 I hope that if you can’t pack a bag, you aren’t limiting your travel.   Follow a travel blog (there are tons of them), get on YouTube and travel with those who have travel Vlogs (there are lots of good ones out there), or research a trip you want to take when this is all over.    

No matter what, we are thankful and blessed.  When I hear myself start to complain or I get frustrated by being “stuck at home, ” I go back to my gratitude list.  I remind my self that, you know, this could be a lot worse! 

I hope you all are well and finding things you can be thankful for.

We bought an RV! — April 9, 2020

We bought an RV!

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” -Winston Churchill

“BA” and “Blanche” together at last!

Do you have a something in life that you keep going back to over and over until you decide to take action?  Maybe you are thinking about something now?  Is it a dream vacation, starting a family, buying a house, moving to another state, getting a new job, a pool in the back yard, or maybe a fixer upper cottage on the beach or lake?  We all have something, no matter what it is, right?

We have had lots of dreams that we’ve worked to make reality and we are truly blessed! Our most recent dream? Buying an RV.  

After two years of shopping, researching, dreaming, planning, and watching our favorite You Tube RV families, we finally purchased our Grand Design RV at the beginning of March.

Blanche in her first campsite at Chippokes Plantation State Park

After two years of in depth study, we found what we wanted.  We knew where to get it, how much it would be, what we needed to get started, the whole thing.   We had even driven out to the dealership and lurked around when they were closed.  AND, to be sure we were going to like it, we rented an RV last fall and took a long weekend to make sure that we would like the camping thing. (We aren’t really new to the idea. We both camped with our families as kids so don’t worry about us too much!) You’d think we would’ve been ready, right?  HA!

When we finally made an appointment to talk to a salesman, before we left the house, the conversation was; “We’re not buying anything today.”  We agreed. 

I know what you’re thinking but bear with me!  Of course, when we got there, we had no questions.  We had seen our exact RV at the 2020 Florida RV Supershow in Tampa just a month before.  We knew everything there was to know.  We had no questions.  So, what was left?  That’s right.  I already spoiled the surprise in the title!  We bought an RV!

Okay.  Now.  Our someday finally came and three weeks after kicking things off, we picked up our new hobby and headed off on our first camping weekend.  It was scary, fun, terrifying, and we had a ball!  We are going to love it!  Wouldn’t you agree that some of the best things in life scare you death?

BA’s first pull. She finally knows her purpose!

Then a Pandemic outbreak brought the world to a screeching halt.  With our beloved Virginia State Parks closed, we have had two planned trips for April and May canceled.  So, back to dreaming we go!  It’s hard to make plans but we persevere.  At least this time, we are hopeful that we don’t have to wait another two years!  That is our short term.      

For us, the long term plan is getting out there to see the U.S. in our RV.  We have a bucket list of spots we want to go and now we have the gear that can get us up close and personal if we plan it right.   

Our thinking in all of this is that we want to be sure that we don’t wait for some day, until we have the money, or worse, until we retire and have the time.  The fact of life is, we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  We work hard, we save our money, we plan a trip and we go!  We go when and where we can.  We are blessed, that is for sure!  And while retirement might be the optimal time to travel, and we plan to keep going if we can, that season of our life is still a long way off! In the meantime, we will go when it’s safe to do so. #stayhome

So, for those that think we’ve lost our minds, I say, what is your dream and what are you doing about it?  Make sure you aren’t dreaming your life away.

“You paid for your cruise!” 5 tips for your Cruise that no one tells you — April 8, 2020

“You paid for your cruise!” 5 tips for your Cruise that no one tells you

Congratulations!  You planned a cruise, you are packing a bag, and you’re about to get the heck out of Dodge!  I know you’re excited and ready for a long deserved vacation.  Let me wish you BON VOYAGE!

Visiting a rainy Labadee

Now what?

The simplest advice I can give: Enjoy it!  You’ve paid for your cruise now it’s your responsibility to have a good time. 

To make sure you enjoy your cruise, as with any vacation, there are always things you should consider and be prepared for.  Some you can anticipate and others, no one will tell you about.

Sunrise in New York Harbor

Let’s talk about some things you should consider as you get ready to go!  While I’m not giving packing tips right now, I’m talking about preparing your expectations and readying your attitude so you can enjoy your cruise to the fullest.   

Cruise time: when we get on a ship, we shift into what we call cruise time or vacation mode, whatever you’d like to call it.  It’s time to relax, kick back, and have a restful time in beautiful places.  However, even when you’re in vacation mode, and regardless of how much you plan, sometimes things happen that can’t be planned for.  Things like bad weather can’t be planned for except to pack a rain jacket or umbrella.  It might spoil your planned beach day but try to think of it as a day to get some reading done.  Remember!  You’re on vacation.  Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate but you can still have a good time regardless.  It’s important to stay positive, be flexible, and go with the flow. 

 Cruising is more popular than ever.  That means that, on most major cruise ships, you will be vacationing with between 2,000 to 5,000 of your closest new friends.  As a result, you will want to be sure to pack your patience.  No matter the size of your ship, you want to be ready to stand in a line from time to time, know that children could be running unsupervised around the ship, have theater neighbors talking louder than they should during the evening’s show or through the safety presentation, experience loud, rowdy fellow cruisers who’ve had a bit too much to drink, or depending on the location of your room, a loud night club above you that boom-booms into the wee hours. (Yes, we’ve experienced all of these.)  While others are obviously enjoying their vacation, they might also be disrupting yours.  While we all should be self aware, even on vacation, it doesn’t always happen.  Just remember that you aren’t cruising alone and you should not be surprised if you encounter any bad mannered behavior.  I hope that none of that happens to you but being mindful that you’re sharing a vacation with a large group of people in close proximity to you and alcohol could make for some interesting stories to bring home. 

Follow directions.  Simple advice, but listening, understanding, and following directions about some of the most important piece of your cruise is important and could even save your life.  Understand all instructions or announcements given regarding embarkation,  debarkation, and the ship’s safety drill can ensure your safety and make for a smoother experience.

 The safety drill on every ship might seem compulsory, and it is.  But, it can save your life.  No matter if this is your first cruise or you are a cruising veteran, the drill only takes a few minutes.  Listen to the staff and related announcements.  The staff is there to help you and, God forbid, paying attention during the drill and listening to the ship’s crew can save your life.    

Your personal safety.  Being on a cruise can lull you into feeling safe.  However, when you get to a port and venture onto what is a foreign country, you should remember to be mindful of your safety.  As a veteran cruiser, there are some ports that we visit where we do not get off the ship.  Just remember, you might be on vacation but others see you as an opportunity or a target so keeping your children close and your valuables secured is a must.  This is wise advice for cruising but a tip I would give to anyone that travels both inside and outside of the U.S.  Don’t be any less vigilant on vacation than you are when you are out and about at home. 

Cruise Hair! Not caring in Puerto Rico!

Your ship’s crew.  Some of the best cruises we have taken have been because of the wonderful crew members we have encountered.  Some of the nicest people we have met on a cruise have welcomed us, pampered us, given us recommendations of things to do on shore, or just been delightful people to be around.  Get to know the crew that serves you.  Some of them are just wonderful people who love what they do.

I hope these are some helpful tips that will help you to set your expectations a bit as you get ready to go! 

Enjoy yourself.  Get some vitamin D!  Have a drink for me!  I hope to see you on our favorite ships soon!

Use those vacation days! —

Use those vacation days!

The saddest conversations I often have with friends and co-workers starts with “Where are you guys going next?”  They know that we always have something next on deck to talk about.  Are they asking because they are looking for ideas or just living vicariously through us?  I know it’s polite conversation but I know they aren’t packing bags and having an adventure.  It makes me a little sad. 

Falling in love with Italy!

Worse, I recently had a friend tell me that she wanted to “grow up to be like me,” after asking me where we were going next.  I loved the sentiment but I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and tell her that she IS grown and she CAN be like me. 

We love to travel.  Anyone who knows us, if asked, would tell you this about us if that is the only thing they can say about us with certainty.  

We sort of joke about it, but my Mom once even stated that we “travel more than most.”  I guess that’s true, but again, a little sad!  We love to travel.  It’s our “thing!”  We love to watch other people’s travel vlogs on You Tube (yes, we love to see other people’s vacation photos).  I read travel blogs enough that I wanted to start one of my own.  We study and dream.  Heck, we have a bucket list and it is totally based on where we want to go. 

A Wikipedia definition of travel that I just love states:

 “Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical locations.  Travel can be done my foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, bus, airplane, ship or other means, with or without luggage and can be one way or round trip.  Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements, as in the case of tourism. 

To us, the term “travel” fits that definition in every way. 

Golden Hour in Venice

Did you even know that there is a National #PlanForVacationDay?”  Yes!  It’s January 28!  THIS should be a proper National Holiday!

I love it but to us, every day is plan for vacation day!

Start now!  Open a savings account and put a little in it each month.  Talk to your friends that travel.  Ask them where they go or better yet, go with them!  If you don’t have the time, just take a long weekend somewhere within driving distance. (Of course, my advice is–make the time!)  Go to the beach, rent a cabin, buy a tent and go camping, get a hotel room in a place you’ve never been and explore for the weekend, visit a friend in another state and let them show you around.  The options are endless. 

If you have some extra time and money, (HA!  Lucky you!) call a Travel Agent that you trust or that a friend might recommend (I can connect you to a great one!) and plan the trip of a life time!  Go to Alaska, go on a cruise, visit a National Park, GO. TO. ITALY! 

Just GO!  Use those vacation days.  Enjoy your life!  Make memories!  You won’t be sorry!