Wednesday, January 20, 2016

10 Good Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

I am often asked why you should use my services versus booking your own trips online.  Below you will find several reasons that a good travel agent is as valuable as a good mechanic.

1.  We, quite simply, know more than you do.  We are always training, getting certifications and visiting the destinations that we sell.  We also have input from our clients, about hotels, restaurants and activities. We know the best time to visit, when hurricanes are likely to happen and when the rainy season is.  We know if you need a visa or if a passport is sufficient.  We have the inside information and are really happy to share it with you.

2.  We also have clout with many suppliers because we do business with them everyday.  We can often get that oceanview room that is unavailable on the websites.

3.  When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, your travel agent will go above and beyond to make
 things right.  Again our influence with many suppliers that we use on a daily basis works in your favor.  They will work hard to not only insure your satisfaction, but the travel agency's as well.

4.  The best agents, will save you money.  They have access to specials and discounts that you know nothing about.  Maybe it's a room upgrade or or beverage credit, or other amenities that will give you more bang for your buck.

5.  In high pressure world with crazy, busy schedules, a travel agent will save you so much time.  Let them do all of the research and find the best value for your trip.  Leave it to the pros while you get that time to relax and do something that you enjoy.

6.  Your agent, can match you with the trip that best suits your needs.  For example, a cruise line that attracts a younger crowd would not be appropriate for retirees.  Your agent will know the difference and steer you in the right direction.

7.  We will know about that nonstop from your gateway city to your destination that may not be shown on that internet site.  Who wants to spend their time in airports when they don't have to?

8.  Using a good, local agent will help protect your from travel scams.  We know when a deal is too good to be true and we know where to go to get the real lowdown.  Countless people show up in our offices asking for our assistance to recoup their money once they have been scammed by internet sites.   As badly as we feel for them, we cannot help because it was not booked through us.  This is happening with more and more frequency in recent years.

9.  You will receive all of our travel services at no charge and we usually are able to price match if you find a good deal on the internet.  (Some agencies charge a research fee that is applied to the cost of your trip at booking.  I rarely do this unless it is a very detailed itinerary that is going to require more time than most bookings.)

10.   We are as excited about your trip as you are.  We can't wait to hear from you upon your return and love to see your pictures.  We want to know about that fabulous restaurant and that place that was a disappointment.  Your feedback helps us to be better when we book that destination again.

We do all of the above at no charge, we are paid by our suppliers, it does not cost you a dime.  So next time you get that travel bug, give us a call, we should always be your first stop in planning a memorable adventure.

Until next time, safe travels!

Quote of the Week:   “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Monday, January 11, 2016

Another Four Great Getaways

Received lots of response to the first blog that I did on Great Getaways, so here are four more to add to your bucket list.

1.  Boston, Massachusetts-A great city full of history, charm and amazing seafood.  Walk the Freedom Trail and learn so much about this country's great history.  This 2.5 mile trail through downtown Boston takes you to 16 historical sites.  You can walk the tour independently or take one of the organized walking tours.  On Tuesday, they even offer a Pub Tour because we all know those brave rebels found some of their courage at their local pub.  One stop you must make on The Freedom Trail is Faneuil Hall that has served as a marketplace and meeting hall since 1743.  The marketplace is teeming with food options and street entertainers.  It is on of my very favorite places in Boston.  Like most cities, their is an abundance of museums.  Two of the most notable is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library and the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.  And of course, baseball fans will want to see historic Fenway Park. Music lovers will want to see the Boston Pops.  The list just goes on and on.   This is just a great city for a quick four day weekend or you could spend a full week here and not run out of things to do.

Faneuil Hall

Tours are available at Fenway

2.  Washington, D.C.-Everyone needs to visit our nation's capitol at least once.  It is a stunningly beautiful city, especially in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.  To stand on the National Mall and gaze in either direction is a moment that you won't soon forget.  Of course, there are accommodations of all kinds in the city and they are expensive (expect to pay for parking, like all cities) but most of the attractions are free so it helps offset the financial burden.  Visit the Capitol Building and stand under the third largest dome in the world.  The building itself is a work of art and it is inspiring to stand at the top of the stairs where so many of our presidents have taken the oath of office.   Climb the Washington Monument, visit the Vietnam memorial, sit for a moment at Lincoln Memorial,  See the White House and the National Zoo (it is free too).  Dedicate several hours to the Smithsonian, it is also free and well worth the time.  I still laugh at the memory of my husband realizing that his first bike was housed in the Smithsonian, he was horrified that he's was old enough for that to happen.   To read more about the national memorials, the zoo and the Smithsonian,  go to    When it comes to eating the restaurants run the gamut from fast food to very exclusive,  Remember that this our nation's captiol and like all capitols, prices are on the high side.  There are all kinds of tours available but try to find one that transports you from place to place and you can get off and on as you desire.  Some offer multi-day passes.  There is not a bad time to visit but cherry blossom time draws more crowds and of course, the 4th of July is one huge party.  Take your time, learn your history, savor the beauty of the city, it is a trip that is well worth taking.
Celebrate the 4th in our Nation's Capitol.

Photo looking down the National Mall
3.  Portland, Maine-What an unexpected little gem of a city.  I had no plans to visit but it was a port of call on a cruise that I took and I am so glad that we visited and we have returned here a couple times since.  It is a small city of about 66,000 people but if you include the suburbs, Portland houses almost a quarter of Maine's population.  It sits right on Casco Bay and is home to the U.S.'s first lighthouse, the famous Portland Head Light.  It was commissioned by George Washington and was built in 1791.  They have a great little museum and the photo opportunities abound.  The Old Port district is probably my favorite place in Portland.  It is crammed full of cute little shopa and boutiques and lots of great places to eat.  I usually try to book accommodations within walking distance of the Old Port, and there are lots available.  Like all cities, Portland does have museums of all kinds and its own symphony.  It is a pretty casual town so leave the dressy clothes at home.  Remember, you are on the water and pretty far north so layers are recommended.  In the summer months, it gets cool when the sun sets and the wind off the water and we all know winters in Maine are pretty frosty, so dress appropriately.  Of course, Portland is famous for its seafood, particularly, the lobster.  I just love sitting on the waterfront savoring a Lobster Mac-n-Cheese......just thinking about it makes me want to go back.  For more on the culinary scene in this great town, check out  Beer aficionados  will love this town   with its abundance of microbreweries and pubs.   Enjoy a local craft beer will enjoying pub fare.  So, if you are like me and Portland, ME was not even on the radar, give it a try because I am sure you will really enjoy a visit to this lovely northern city.

Old Port 
Portland Head Light
4.  Toronto, Ontario, Canada-In the interest of full disclosure, I was born in this beautiful, ethnically diverse city on Lake Ontario.  It is city of towering skyscrapers that are all dwarfed by the amazing CN Tower.  It is home to world class shopping and dining.  Again, as in all major cities, accommodations run the gamut from budget to luxury.  One of my personal favorites is the Fairmont Royal York, which is more on the luxury side, but it is just a grand old hotel with hand painted ceilings and Travertine columns.  All the neighborhoods in the city have their own unique personalities so try to visit as many as you can.  Visit the St. Lawrence Market. which dates back to 1803 and offers cheese. meats, produce and baked goods.  Most vendors will give you a sample so try anything that looks appealing.  While there try the Paddinton Pump Restaurant.  All there food comes from the market and don't let the lines stop you, they move quickly.   During the summer, a trip out to Centre Island.  When I was a kid this was the highlight of our visits to Toronto.  It has something for everyone.  The ferry trip alone is worth the trip because views of the skyline are spectacular.  Once there enjoy the small amusement park for the little ones, rent a bike or rowboat or get lost in the wonderful maze.  Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the 50 square metres of park.  Another favorite of mine, is the very trendy Distillery District.  This place was designed with foodies in mind, with its many restaurants and breweries.  The old brick factories of this neighborhood have been turned into wonderful galleries and storefronts which makes it a lovely place to spend an evening.  Make a trip to the iconic CN Tower and go to the top, the views defy description and for the more adventurous among us, you can walk the rim of the Tower's upper rim (weather permitting)....crazy, if you ask me!  Of course the Hockey Hall of Fame is a must see for hockey fans where they can get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup (unless is it on loan to the reigning NHL Championship city).  Again, there are endless museums, theaters and music venues to explore.  If going, check Toronto's calendar of events because there is always something going on in Canada's largest city.
Shot of CN Tower from Centre Island
Distillery District
Toronto has a gorgeous skyline at night

Hope this gives you some ideas for your next getaway.  Until next time, safe travels!