Wants and Needs

We here in the USA often confuse wants and needs. We are so used to being able to obtain all our wants that we forget what we need. Right now, we all need to concentrate on need. Before we go out, ask yourself “Do I really need to go out? Do I really need to go to the store?” Staying home saves lives, yours and mine. If you are feeling unconnected, call a friend, call me.

I very much want to take my grandson to Italy this June; we, like so many, have lots of great plans. But do we need to go? NO. Italy will be there for a long long time. I just read a book written 60 years ago, “Bedlam in the Backseat”. A family of six, with children under 12 traveled to Europe for five months. The Europe they saw is the same as I saw last year. Little changes, Venice is cleaner, and Naples is safer! We will all still go when we can.

Speaking of all. I am an independent travel advisor; I work for you under the umbrella of Vista Travel. And I am not going anywhere. The past month my job is answering questions, helping people get home, finding refunds or rescheduling. If you were one, please tell your friends and family the advantage of using a travel advisor.

The travel industry is clearly a luxury for many clients. We travel because we can and want to. That luxury may be gone for a while, but this industry has had many hits in the over 30 year I have been an agent, and we will survive with all your help.

Meanwhile, stay home, call a friend, wash your hands. Let’s all continue to come together and support each other during this challenging time. We’re all (reluctantly) putting travel on hold for now, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming of our next big adventure.

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Thank you, we will make it through

We will make it through…  The travel industry has had its share of rough patches: oil prices, wars, stock market and accidents. I have seen the sky with no airplanes, that was the scariest! During the first Gulf War, a woman came to my desk (they did in those days!) wanting to cancel her holiday to Hawaii. I suggested she go home and listen to Mozart. When she got into her car, Mozart was playing. She decided that was an omen and she went on her holiday. So, today I say, listen to Mozart and wash your hands.

Things continue to be challenging for all of us, and there seems to be more bad news and cancellations each day. We will continue to send these updates as there are important pieces of news to share – both good and bad. Meanwhile….

Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
2. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
3. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
4. Disinfect frequently touched objects (cell phone, doorknobs, etc.).
5. Avoid crowded places and public transportation.

Make your own sanitizer.
1 cup of 91% isopropyl alcohol.
½ cup of aloe vera gel (natural or store-bought)
15 drops of tea tree oil (or another antibacterial essential oil)

What’s the really good news? We are one day closer to the end of this. We know for sure that this will not last forever. Be well and carry on. Peace, Harriet
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Lots of travel news

The news that is on everyone’s mind is the Coronavirus. We are all most alarmed by how quickly it spread. The number of deaths is high but then so are the usual flus. Even though flu shots are highly recommended and get lots of publicity to get them, the flu is still very prevalent. WASH WASH and sanitize are the best solutions any time.

Insurance. People are beginning to ask. Will travel insurance cover any cancellations? Travel insurance will only cover some coronavirus cancellations.

“Fear of traveling due to coronavirus is not a covered reason to cancel a trip on a typical comprehensive travel insurance plan. Unfortunately, there is limited cancellation coverage under most standard travel insurance policies.” Meanwhile if your physician recommends you do not travel for health reasons, most insurance will cover you.

On another topic….
Seat assignments. In the past month I have been on 9 airplane flights. My seats ranged from coach, to comfort, to business class. Where I sat made a big difference. I always recommend seat assignments, because being in the last row in the middle is no fun! The toilet usually flushes behind you!
If you are doing your own tickets, pay attention to your seat assignments. There is a great website https://www.seatguru.com/ On a flight home from Atlanta I should have checked.. as my seat was behind the flight attendants jump seat, with no screen or place to put my stuff!

I also recommend the business class. Often, if you call and reserve well in advance, it does not cost much more than coach. And I never recommend the economy with no seat assignments and fee for luggage. Some carriers have what they call comfort. It is neither coach nor business, but a nice option. Lastly about seats, if you have the option of flying on a nonstop flight, take it. Changing plane takes at least two hours longer to cover the same distance! What normally takes me 6 -7 hours to cross the country from Seattle to Boston, took me 13 hours last week because I choose to fly on miles and change planes. Did I learn my lesson!

Time to plan your fall and winter holidays. Call soon 617-588-4246 thank you Harriet
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Magic in the unfamiliar

It is the shift in perspective that comes from being face-to-face with people, customs and landscapes that are completely new, even challenging to us.‘ Departures Magazine.

This why I travel. To be challenged. Sometimes it is physical more than mental. Either way, it does not mean you need to go to very strange faraway places by yourself. A very good cruise line can take you to local kitchens and food stands along the way. Shore Excursions can take you to the most unusual depending on the ports of call.

There are great tour operators, escorting you along the way, that explore everything from the Western National Parks to Egypt to Cape Town. Some places are best to do with a tour operator because of the language barriers and for safety. Even with a small group of people you can learn and experience new perspectives. The conversation among a small group often enhances our views. We learn from each other.

For the more physical among us, a white-water rafting trip can bring us through landscape we can not see from dry land. Rock formations tell a story. Plants growing in harsh environments remind us of from where we all came.

Travel allows us to grow as humans. A trip to Hawaii is not just sitting on a beach. There is history, culture, food, and scenery. Next week I will be there with my daughter and I cannot wait to share the Magic of the unfamiliar. The history of the Hawaiian island can be read in a Michener novel, but seeing all the different ancestry faces is enlightening. Tasting Poi or a very fresh pineapple will add to the uniqueness of the islands. There is so much unfamiliar in this world for us to explore.

Call soon for your Magic holiday.
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Make your trip your own!

Chilling out on the bed in your hotel room watching television, while wearing your own pajamas, is sometimes the best part of a vacation.” — Laura Marano

Your time away should be invested in the things YOU want to do. If you go to Whatever Town you do not have to do The Usual (as conventional wisdom would have you do).
For example, Panama has the Panama Canal and that’s a great place for geek overload, watching the trains and water and ships going to and fro. But Panama has world class wildlife viewing opportunities and great beaches too. Santa Fe, NM, has wonderful art shopping, museums, and open-air opera. But it is in easy distance of great hiking and camping opportunities too. Peru has archaeology, indigenous crafts, museums, and history – but it also has Amazonian wildlife and is an emerging food destination.  – Jane Emmons

Do what you want to do! Some of my favorite holidays are when I have a central theme.  Once my trip was around cathedrals in France.  Cathedrals have more than crosses, they have art and history. Going from cathedral to cathedral I experienced some beautiful countryside.  No wonder there were so many wars over the beautiful, fertile Lorraine Valley.

In mid-February my daughter, Lori and I are going to Oahu and Maui for a few days each.  I am sure we will unlikely spend more than an hour or two on the beaches, as beautiful as they are.  Oahu has much to see and do, Pearl Harbor, Cultural Museum and Sangria La (Doris Dukes house).  On both island the vistas and walks will be magnificent I am sure.  More photos for my webpage!

What do YOU want to do with your time, energy, money, and personal space? Make your trip your own!  Call 617-588-4246 straight away. Peace, Harriet
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This is the Year!

This is the year, “I am going to go where I always wanted to go!” Now is the time. TRIPOPHOBIA, the fear of not having any travel plans currently booked. Where do you want to go? Time is not waiting! It is 2020 after all.

It may be too late for a warm February or March, but you can easily and affordably go to a European destination. The far away and exotic are often warm year-round. Tahiti, Fiji, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, Patagonia and most of South America just to suggest a few. They may be far away, but that may be why you have not gone. Air travel is not that bad! Consider how folks traveled before the steam engine! So let go….

Now is the time to plan your summer and fall getaway. Six months out will give you most options, but of course, 9 – 10 months is much better. I did my June plans in November and still did not have all the options I preferred. A family planned their Galapagos reunion in March of 2019 for a July 2020 cruise. They had all the options they wanted. You can plan too!

Most of you know I do a lot of Europe and go most often. But I have great resources for the rest of the world. Believe it or not, the more luxury you prefer, the further ahead you need to book. We also need to pay attention to big cities and conferences. Just because there are lots of rooms that does not mean they are available. Another reason to plan early.

Lastly, promise yourself and family that you will take all your allotted vacation days this year. We Americans often do not take what is there for us to take. Your company and job will be there when you return. And of course, you can always check in.

And lastly, too many good reasons to use a travel adviser to write now. The best reason is you will have the best itinerary and experiences. Call or email today for your travel plans for 2020.

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Holiday Greetings to all

Whether you are traveling during the next few weeks or enjoying family nearby, please do remember to be patient. Everyone traveling wants to be there on time, too! Make sure you get to your departure location with much time to spare. Remember the pilots, conductors, flight attendants, gate agents and all the other staff that make the traveling world happen, get to their jobs on time so you can get to your destination on time. So, you can get to your departure location on time too!

And family time together is probably much different than when we were children. Families look different today. We are all family often not by choice, but family none the less. Love each other.

Lastly keep it simple. I never enjoyed making fancy hors d’oeuvres. As they may take hours to make and minutes to consume! If you would like to bring a shared gift to a party or when family come by, here is my thought. Take a pound brick of cream cheese, let it warm. Then spread several choices over the top and surround with crackers. Options for the spreads; small jar of shrimps in a cocktail sauce; jar of Harry and David’s Pepper and Onion relish or similar; or any other favorite sweet and sour relish. And there you go with the easiest of appetizers ever!

May your holidays be simple, on time and happy.

Thank you for all your business. May 2020 be prosperous and healthy.
Peace, Harriet

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Airport Trivia

We have all seen the three-letter airport codes used for baggage sorting. It is easy to understand the logic behind using MIA for Miami, DFW for Dallas-Fort Worth, and SEA for Seattle-Tacoma. But how did the powers that be decide which California city gets the code SAN? And should I take it personally that my Fresno-bound bag is tagged FAT?

The codes given airports are determined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Generally they are based on the first letters of a city’s name (Boston, BOS) or on significant combinations of letters (Salt Lake City, SLC). But sometimes the reasons are buried in history, deriving from earlier names for the piece of land which has since become an airport. Or the airport has been re-named to honor someone, but the code remains the same. Having more than one airport to serve a city requires additional codes also, so things get “interesting.”

There is a wealth of confusion and trivia treasure possible in airport codes. Here are a few examples.

ORD Best known by its WW II flying ace namesake, Edward Henry O’Hare airport retains its original Orchard field code name.

JFK Formerly Idlewild Airport (after the Long Island golf course it displaced). John F. Kennedy Airport.

MKE Milwaukee, named for controversial Billy Mitchell, father of US Air Force.

SAN “Spirit of St. Louis” was built here, hence Lindbergh Field. San Diego, CA airport got the SAN code.

IAH  Named in 1997 for George H. Bush 41, Houston’s international airport. The smaller airport Hobby retains the city code HOU

BWI Now named for its famous local son, Thurgood Marshall Airport was originally Friendship Airport. Marshall was the first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. BWI stands for Baltimore Washington International Airport as it is half way between the two cities.

SNA Best known as John Wayne or Orange County airport. The initials come from the city location, Santa Ana. This is one of the hardest for me to remember as people refer to it by all three names.

BUR Burbank, CA now honors Bob Hope Airport, but most say Hollywood Airport

DCA As in District of Columbia, now Ronald Reagan Washington Airport, formerly “National”. Many still say National.

GEG, Now this is a good one. Spokane, WA Originally Sunset Field, later named for Harold Geiger an Army aviation pioneer.

IAD Named for Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, it is west of DC. Dulles International Airport, but the code is IAD not DIA?

LGA NYC airport named for Fiorello LaGuardia, popular city mayor.

MSY. New Orleans! Now this is a story. Daredevil aviator Joh Moisant died in 1910 in an airplane crash on agricultural land where the airport is now located. The code MSY was derived from Moisant Stock Yards which the airport displaces. Lakefront Airport, very small, retained the city’s code NEW. I did not know this airport existed until now! Now MSY is called the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. I am sure not many say all that!

There are old names still using the original codes. PEK Peking no longer but Beijing and MAA Madras now Chennai for example. And cities that have no airport code. There is no NYC or CHI. So if you wonder why I am crazy!
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You never know!

By now most of you have heard about the financial collapse of Thomas Cook Travel. We the general public do not know what is going on behind the workings of travel companies. Recently I read about another international well known company that is having financial issues. Back in the 1990’s an organization was formed to help protect the traveling public. To belong, financial and ethical criteria were required, as well as $1M protection for clients due to bankruptcy. Today that number is clearly not high enough. That being said, not all tour operators belong to USTOA and international tour operators like Thomas Cook do not. This is why I always encourage trip protection insurance when you are spending over $2,000 on nonrefundable charges. I often ask you these questions. Financial collapse of the tour operator or cruise company I usually do not ask as it is unpredictable, I will now remind everyone.

* Do I have trip cancellation insurance with my credit card? If I need to cancel or interrupt my trip, what covered reasons are eligible?

* Can I cancel if my traveling companion or family member gets sick?

* Is emergency medical/dental and evacuation included as primary coverage with no deductibles?

* Are pre-existing medical conditions covered?

* If my luggage is lost, stolen or damaged, can I be reimbursed?

* Can I be reimbursed for essential personal items that I must purchase if my luggage arrives late at my destination?

* If my flight is delayed overnight, can additional expenses like hotel stays, meals and taxi fares be reimbursed?

Insurance is not very expensive. Most are by age and amount of coverage. One can always add insurance. To cover preexisting purchase needs to be within 21 days of deposit. Make sure your holiday investment is protected. Call today! I can help with insurance, even if you purchased your own holiday.
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