Comfortable Flying

It is often said ‘have a safe flight’ but I say ‘have a comfortable flight’, as the latter is less likely than the prior comment. I do everything I can to make my clients’ (or my) flights comfortable. Here are a few options.

  1. Fly first/business class. You would be surprised how little more it costs. Or if you have miles, upgrade. It is the best use of your miles/points. How many times have you walked past those fliers and wish you were one of them. So be one!
  2. Fly economy plus/delta comfort/extra legroom whatever the carrier calls it. Do it. I went to Seattle last weekend on a nonstop Delta Comfort. A few inches more between the seats, early boarding, and free beverages!! Coming back to Boston, the middle seat was empty, which is almost like first class.
  3. Get an aisle seat even if you need to pay for it. To be able to lean into the aisle (when the carts are not coming) is just that bit more space.
  4. Do not carry on so much stuff! They say one carry-on and a personal item, but I see a lot more come on board. With less on the floor under the seat in front of you, your feet will have more space to wiggle around; good for circulation.
  5. Flying comfortably has a lot to do with what you wear. You do not have to be sloppy to be comfortable. Fabrics that stretch or breathe are best. Put the air flow on and always have an extra jacket, sweater or shawl. The plane feels more comfortable when cooler.
  6. Lastly, fill your water bottle inside security, take hand and face creams and whatever item helps: neck pillow, noise canceling ear phones, your own music .. and etc.. For me the noise canceling headsets are the best! My seatmate coming home had an earpiece canceling set, very small.
  7. So have a comfortable flight. Book early so you will have your choices.
Where are you going on your next holiday? How may I assist? Thank you, Harriet

 

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Updates

TSA requirements. You may be well aware of security changes due to arrive at the airports. But it never hurts to remind you. And for you to double check your driver’s license. Here is the website for all the details. Considered to be forewarned! https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

 

My webpage is updated. http://www.alwaysharriet.com Check out the ‘may I suggest’ section for new pictures. Then do peruse the site for ideas for your next holiday. Please, if you too have pictures from your holiday, send them along for everyone to enjoy.

My schedule. My travel season arrives next week, in and out until September. Yes I will be in the office most of the time and my computer with me. Just do not want you all to be stuck with no service. So please do plan ahead. I almost could not reserve the luxury hotel a client wanted because of late timing. Yes, I did pull it off but never fun to have to say ‘sorry, you are too late’.

Cruise ships. You may be reading about more ‘big’ ships. Yes, that is true, there are new big ships being built. RCCL will soon have the largest. There are also new small ships, especially river boats. There are more river boat companies than the ones advertised on PBS. Some are very small and unique. And of course there are the sail boats!

Hotel Brands. Hotels change brand names and sometimes their service. If you know a hotel and it changed names, check it out, for it may or may not have changed. For example, Fairmont a wonderful chain, is now a part of AccorHotels. The brand may have changed but not the service.

There is so much happening in the travel industry. It is hard to keep up. I get 80 or more emails a day with new information. And there are many products and services that do not work with the travel agency world. It clearly can be most confusing. Anything I can do to assist.. Please do ask. Thank you
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Fall or Winter Plans NOW!

Fall and winter may seem far away with the spring still here. If you want the best fares and rooms, now is the time to plan and reserve. Often you do not need to make final payment for a long while. But you have what is best for you. Where would you like to go?

Last week, as it was public school vacation and religious holiday week, I had time on my hands to learn. I found a tour operator that specializes in culinary tours. You still get to see the major sights with lots of food and beverage on the schedule. Not just a food class for a couple hours, which are fun in most any place, but days of shopping, cooking and eating with the best of chefs.

In Peru, visit the colorful markets before enjoying the local dishes. Visit a family home assisting the hostess in preparing the evening meal. Do similar in Cuba or South Africa. Go to an exciting new destination with a very local twist. So many of our holiday touring is around adventure or museums. A cultural and culinary experience offers a very different perspective.

Another thought for your planning is Cuba, not far and very interesting. Rule for visiting are constantly changing. A good tour operator will make it all happen. Want to visit a local baseball club, learn about sugar cane or tobacco, or go scuba diving? I know a tour operator to make it all happen.

There are the more traditional winter escapes, skiing or bathing. All need to be reserved now, especially for the holiday seasons: December and February. Air is already getting very busy. Last month I did a family to Fort Myers and fare was already well above normal.

No matter how much I say NOW, I still get requests in November for holiday times and they wonder why they cannot afford to travel. Make the decision now, it is not so hard to do. Take out insurance if it makes you feel better. Plus it is a wonderful feeling knowing you have plans for the fall or winter. How may I assist?

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Managing Your Numbers

Many of you have airline, hotel, car, and TSA membership numbers. Make sure I have them all; so I can put them on your reservations. Often you may get discounts or upgrades accordingly. For sure you will get better service, especially if you have an account with many accumulated points.

How can you manage them? Primarily keep all your information in one place. Know your numbers and the accumulated amount or points. Know what the amount is worth in dollar redemption or upgrades. Your credit card may have collected points. Know, how and where you may use them.

What do the numbers mean? You may assume 20,000 points is a lot, as it is with dollars! In most cases it is not, but do not assume. American Airlines upgrades from coach to first on a domestic flight with 15,000 points and $75. That is a great value, if you enjoy the first class comfort. All carriers have their own programs, know them.

Car accounts may give an express check-in, very nice to have! Hotels may give free nights or upgrades upon check-in. The membership numbers indicate your frequent usage. All services reward loyal customers, me too.

Do membership numbers expire?  Most provider accounts do not expire though some may become inactive. TSA needs to be renewed very 5 years. Go on line https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov  It may not be the easiest process but the only way. Do note there are several programs, choose one that meets your travel usage. The two most common are The Known Traveler, valid for domestic travel, and Global Entry, valid for domestic and international travel. Please remember these are USA programs and not recognized by other countries.

 

Meanwhile, Check your Passport too!

Call today to give me your numbers and plan your next trip. Where do you want to go?
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Go In-Depth

So many travel a day or two here or there. Traveling much too quickly to take in all the uniqueness and character of a place. Mostly they take a picture. May I suggest you plan your next holiday in one city or region. I rate cities by the number of nights one can spend and still have more to see and experience. All the big cities New York City, London, Paris, Rome, Bangkok, Sydney and more are all 10 day cities. Now, spending 10 days is just too long, I get that. But four or five will just make you want to return for more. There are also regions that can devour many days. For example the Amalfi coast, most any region in Italy, Bordeaux or Provence in France and islands like Crete, Sicily, or Easter Island.

By staying in one city or region, you can learn the food and history. Not just the kings and queens but the invasions, religions, and art and literature. You can have the time to take a cooking class or make a mask in Venice. Enjoy a night at the opera or symphony. There are so many cities with magnificent venues. Then there are the street markets for food and antiques. Paris has so many markets. How about bringing home something you can use every day and remember your holiday!

OK, here is an example of what you can do.. Dordogne Valley .. a southern region of France. The caves of the Dordogne Valley are home to some to the earliest and most extraordinary displays of human creativity. Wild animals and human figures – some up to 30,000 years old – are vividly displayed here in ochre (an earthy pigment containing ferric oxide, typically with clay, varying from light yellow to brown or red) and charcoal on stone walls. You do not need to sleep in a cave, for there are extraordinary castles for you with Michelin star chefs. You can go on your own or take a tour with archaeologist to guide you.

So chose a place you really want to experience and let me help you put it together. Then a piece of your heart will always be there. Why do you think there are so many songs about Paris?
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Visit USA

Here is a list of 15 small cities that are great destinations for food, architecture and culture. I am highlighting those I have not visited so maybe you have not either. They can be enjoyed in a long weekend, have airports or very nearby, and of course they have wonderful hotels.

Santa Fe, NM, sits in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It’s renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture and as a creative arts hotbed. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, it has at its heart the traditional Plaza. The surrounding historic district’s crooked streets wind past adobe landmarks including the Palace of the Governors, now home to the New Mexico History Museum as well as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Savannah, GA, is separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. It’s known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobblestoned squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. At the center of this picturesque district is the landmark, Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.

Asheville, NC, is a city in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s known for a vibrant arts and music scene and historic architecture, including the dome-topped Basilica of Saint Lawrence. The vast 19th-century Biltmore estate displays artwork by masters like Renoir. The Downtown Art District is filled with galleries and museums, and in the nearby River Arts District, former factory buildings house artists’ studios.

Palm Springs, CA, is in the Sonoran Desert of southern California and known for its hot springs, stylish hotels, golf courses and spas. It’s also noted for its many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture. Its core shopping district along Palm Canyon Drive features vintage boutiques, interior design shops and restaurants. The surrounding Coachella Valley offers hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.

Other small cities include Alexandria VA, Greenville SC, and Santa Barbara CA

OK, so I cannot exclude those I have visited: Charleston SC (a favorite), Sarasota FL, Sedona AZ, Monterey CA, Key West FL, Portland ME, Napa CA, and Newport RI.

How many of these wonderful cities have you visited? Where would you like to take a long weekend to visit or revisit? Call me soon to assist in your planning.

 

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Mixed Medley

Airline sues passenger who missed his flight

Lufthansa has taken a passenger, who didn’t show up for the last leg of his ticketed journey, to court in an apparent bid to clamp down on “hidden city” ticketing. – CNN
It has long been illegal to purchase tickets where the fare is lower to the further airport and not flying to that airport. Also, it is illegal to purchase a round-trip ticket and not flying the return portion. The airline computer programs are very sophisticated and can track all uses- even when booked on different programs. Be warned!

Southwest Airlines may be making some changes to their no frill policy. For those of you who enjoy the low cost carrier, pay attention to some of the subtle changes to occur soon.

Take that Vacation

Vacationing may seem like a luxury, but research reveals that it is a necessity. The consequences of passing up vacation days include increased mental fatigue, job dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression. Additionally, working straight through the year could put your health in peril. A study published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), found that people who were at risk for heart disease and skipped their vacation days were 30% more likely to have a heart attack than those who took extended time off annually. – OARS

This is not a job promotion for my industry, it is for you! Travel keeps you healthy and happy! And it does not need to be expensive to be wonderful. But of course, it can be if you wish. Call or email soon to plan your summer or fall vacation. I already have bookings for 2020!
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Airport Activities

Fun things to do at an Airport during an Extended Layover

The events of the last few weeks stimulated this newsletter. “What do I do when I get to the airport early and quickly to my gate?” “What do I do when I have a long layover?” Now I strongly recommend a long rather than short layover. Rather have you wait than miss!

So what do I do? Some say I read a book, but there are lots of options. First you can get some exercise. Walk.. Most of the airports have long terminals to walk. Some airports and airline lounges even have a fitness center. Or sit down and do a few yoga movements.

Go to a Spa. Often there are day spas nestled inside the airport. A massage, facial or pedicure can be fun.

Of course get a Meal. Airports may not have the best meals but if you check around you may find a gem. Boston’s Logan terminal A has a Legal Seafood, some of the best fish in the area.

Shopping is always available. There are more than t-shirts and books at the airports these days. There is jewelry, electronic gadgets, cosmetics and fine clothing. Treat yourself, someone with a surprise.

Then there are things to do at the airport. Some have a putting green, a museum, or a hotel in the airport for a day sleep!

Someone recently asked me ‘what am I to do in Houston with an eight hour layover?’ It is amazing how quickly the time goes. Visit some of the art around the airport and enjoy a great southern meal. I usually do not recommend departing an airport. But I have with long long layovers. The Space Center might be a fun experience.

Just because the airlines indicate it is a legal connection, does not mean you will make the connection. All one needs is a 10 minute delay and a long distance to the gate. It happened to me in Dallas years ago. Just remember longer is better than shorter; whether arriving extra early or a long connect between planes.

Where are you going next?
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Do the Unconventional this year!

What does that mean? As I wrote recently, some places are getting over crowded with tourists. My suggestion is go someplace else.. for example..

Instead of Venice which has many thousands of day trippers, try Verona or Bologna. Smaller and easy to navigate plus lots to see and hear. Verona has operas! And both are accessible by train.

Instead of Paris which is big and beautiful, consider Bordeaux- two and one half hours south on the coast. Also a beautiful city also with 1800’s architecture. And the most pedestrian friendly street with no cars. On the Gardonne River near where it joins the Dordogne River make the city an historic port. Of course we all know the region for wines. There is a new wine museum with 800 varieties to taste and learn.

Instead of Charleston and its southern charm, explore Greenville, SC. It is a city of culture, nature and barbecue. If you enjoy the coziness of Fenway go to Flour Field, modeled after Fenway with its own version of the green monster! Greenville may be small but has a vibrant food scene and charming downtown.

Instead of Rome with all its ancient wonder think about Orvieto or Ostuni. In different regions, but both the major cities within their region. They offer excellent starting off points to come and go. They are charming and ancient and nature is all around them.

So if crowds and lines are not your thing, do the unconventional. There are so many other places to go. Try on a new destination, perhaps one where the word over tourism has yet to be heard. These places have great hotels and restaurants for you to indulge. Quaint streets, churches and museums to wander.

Go someplace where you have a story to tell your friends that they have not heard. Someplace new and under explored. I can help you decide and plan.
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Touring and Tourist

Over the holidays, my family had a long discussion on Touring and Tourist! What do those two words mean to you? What connotation do they bring to mind? And why?

Touring comes from the word tour. “a journey for business, pleasure, or education often involving a series of stops and ending at the starting point.” But the latter is not necessary. I use the words tour, touring, tourist and tour operator every day. For me, they have a happy and exciting connotation. Yet some consider a tourist as something bad. Why?

At our family discussion, we all had examples of when ‘tourist’ diminished a travel experience. What usually happened was when a group of ‘tourist’ begin to invade our space, often speaking very loudly. Suddenly the environment we are experiencing changes. And we think ugly tourist! We probably all have been there! So we do not want to be a ‘tourist’! But on the other hand we are touring.

One time I wrote saying I do not travel during tourist season. And a client responded to me by saying “what is wrong with tourist?” And of course nothing is wrong with tourist, it is just that sometimes there are too many. A small city can easily be taken over by tourist. The small towns on the west coast of Italy, for example, lose their small town feeling during the summer cruise season when thousands of people descend upon them. I clearly understand many of us can only tour during the summer months, but for the rest of us, if we can avoid these times it is best to do so.

Also the connotation of a tourist is of someone just passing through, not experiencing or learning the new environment or culture. So what does it mean to pass through? Staying one day or ten? In a very few days we can experience and learn a great deal of a new place. We can talk to the locals, eat when and where they do, and honor their culture. Being a tourist allows us to see the world as it is.

Call and be a tourist very soon! Peace

 

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