Do it now

How can I encourage you all to plan ahead? Now is the time to plan for your festive holiday plans. It is amazing how busy the end of December and early January are in the traveling world. It is even not too early for next spring break plans either. As they say ‘the early bird, gets the worm!’

This week I had two request for June summer plans. They are almost impossible to arrange if at all.

The fall is getting busy too. October, November and into mid-December are great times to travel many places. The northern hemisphere is cool and the southern not heated up yet. The Caribbean is a bit iffy in the fall, but the prices are right. The huge summer crowds of Europe will have diminished. More than once I have wandered in Europe in November and December. Just put on a light jacket and go. Everything is open; concerts and special museum exhibits can be arranged. Restaurants will not be rushed to get in the next patron. Do it now…

A short travel advisor story. In October 2020 a client purchased two business class tickets in Emirates to Dubai for January 2021. The trip was cancelled. The tickets were over $5,000. Today after many calls and requests the tickets were refunded. More than two years later and another very good reason to use a travel advisor.

Happy Memorial Day and may the summer begin.    

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You can do it!

Recently several people have talked with me about traveling with mobility limitations. In this world today, one has lots of options. Of course not all destinations have made accommodations accessible, but so many have. Let me know what are your needs and assistance and I can help arrange for you.

A cruise line this week indicated they would add a raised toilet seat, a shower chair and a small refrigerator for medication. We all know airports have lots of wheelchairs or mobile carts to assist in negotiating the large airports. I can easily arrange for you. Just remember there is no wheel chairs waiting at the curbside. One needs to go into the terminal. Or your traveling companion and driver can go into the terminal to obtain a wheelchair while you wait at the curb. If a police person comes along just explain and they will understand.

Tour guides are everywhere and very accommodating. They know the back entrances, elevators and ramps that may not be open to the general public. Even in hotels, not all services, like a pool, are handicap reachable by the general public. Just ask. There are service elevators that go everywhere. And someone will be pleased to assist you. No hotel wants a bad report.

I travel with a cpap machine, and more than once i asked for an extension as the outlets are too far from the bed.

The main message here is you can do it. Ask for what you need! Do not say ‘I or we cannot go because of physical or health limitations’. I have a client who travels with all her nourishment and one with an oxygen tank. With a little bit of help we can make it work.

Let me help you plan your next wonderful holiday today. As they say ‘tomorrow may never come.’ So where is your dream holiday?

PS Did you ever think of a rail holiday? Great way to have assistance?  

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Creative holiday planning

Many years ago I saw an escorted tour for Northern Italy. I had been wanting to do the Po River Valley and this tour covered most to the town, Parma, Modena and Bologna. But much to my surprise the tour began in the Piedmont region, south west of Milan. And there was a resort.

Immediately I needed to go to this wonderful place; taste the wine, pick the truffles and enjoy the meals. So my plans changed and I went to the resort and then down to Cinque Terre, Lucca and on to Florence. Was a wonderful holiday.

Wonderful unique resorts are a great way to plan a holiday. Here are four resorts in very different parts of the world to begin stimulating your thoughts. Years ago I stayed at the Glenlo Abbey Hotel and ate in the train car! Every place you stay does not need to be a five star, in fact, if the holiday has too many five stars, their unique and special feathers dwindles. But three nights, now that can make a holiday pop. Here are the four thoughts for you to begin that next dream holiday.

I still want to do the Po River Valley, taste the Parmigiano Reggiano from provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Prosciutto di Parma and the Italian durum wheat semolina pasta! And of course then go on to Florence. Who would like to join me, possible this fall? Go into Milan and then all by train. So as many who would like to join, it will be easy to accommodate. Call and we can talk and plan. 617-876-6007

To get your juices going.. check out

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Some essential packing tips for your next adventure

Packing tips where ever you are going.

Many of us pack a few essentials in a carry on as a convenience in case our luggage gets delayed–but what if your luggage never arrives? Well, this happens.

First, you don’t know that your baggage won’t arrive when it is first delayed. Airlines will always try to get your luggage to your destination within a day or two. However, in case you were going on a cruise, so what if the luggage hasn’t arrived by the time you are setting sail. You need to tell the airline to re-route your luggage to home. You will need to spend the day shopping. (Another reason to arrive for a cruise the day or two prior to sailing.) Make sure you have insurance, so it will all be paid for (keep receipts)–but you can’t recover the time it all took.

How to avoid this? If you are traveling with someone, pack your suitcases and take half of what you are packing and put it in your companion’s suitcase and vice versa. That way, if only one suitcase arrives, you still have half your stuff. Maybe you may need to buy a few things, but you won’t need to replace everything.

Second packing tip?

Get an AirTag or Tile. It is a small GPS device that you can track on your phone. It works. This won’t stop your luggage from getting on the wrong plane or being left behind. It will save hours of time once in destination wondering where your luggage is.

Final side note regarding AirTags. I was recently told a story of someone in destination who had their luggage stolen out of their rental car, but they had an AirTag in it. They were able to inform the police, track it down, and recover it.

You just never know when you might be that person whose luggage goes in the opposite direction.

Edited from: Stephen Smith  

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Slow Travel

Slow Travel… edit from Caroline Bologna

In the rush of day-to-day life, we don’t always have the opportunity to slow down and move at our own pace. Even on vacation, there’s an urge to visit, do and taste as many things as possible in a new destination or multiple destinations.

I’ve heard countless times how exhausted people are when they come back from their vacation and feel like they ‘need a vacation from their vacation,’ and that’s because many times we pack so much into a very short amount of time. We want to see everything, do everything, and not waste a minute.

There is, however, another approach to globetrotting that many seasoned tourists recommend: slow travel. But what exactly is slow travel, and how do you take full advantage of this kind of trip? Below, travel experts break it down.

What exactly is slow travel?

Slow travel is about quality over quantity. It is also about immersing yourself in the local culture. Traditional vacations often involve seeing as many things as possible in a short time. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can feel very superficial. It can also feel overwhelming and not like the ideal relaxing vacation.

As the name suggests, slow travel generally entails slowing down and savoring each moment, rather than rushing to check off bucket list items.

Slow travel may mean different things to different travelers, but I define it as staying in one place for longer and going deeper into the local culture. It’s taking the time to make real connections with locals versus jam-packing a schedule full of tours. Slow travel doesn’t necessarily require long stays in one place.

Slow traveling isn’t necessarily about the number of days you are spending in a place. You can slow travel with just a few days or with a few months ― it all depends on the level of connection you would like with your destination, allowing you to gain a deeper appreciation of the culture and understand the local environment better.

Slow travel is a meditative approach to traveling that allows people to stop and smell the roses ― quite literally.

It’s about being fully present in the moment and experiencing the sights, sounds and sensations around you without distraction ― letting the experience unfold at its own pace and without expectations. Slow travel doesn’t have a strict definition or certain mandatory elements, such as using slower modes of transport or sticking to a single city or country for a certain amount of time, but rather is about the compassionate awareness one brings to being a visitor in a destination.

Slow travel is a more mindful approach to tourism that fosters deeper connections.

What are the benefits of slow travel?

When you travel at a slower pace and not so rushed, you naturally immerse yourself in the culture and place that you’re in and really try to get to know it on a more personal level.

You talk with more locals and do more ‘off the beaten path’ activities, and not just things you see on Trip Advisor. Also, when you do start to talk with the locals more, usually they want you to have the best experience and will show you some of their favorite spots which naturally leads to a more immersive and personal experience. A local guide can also help in a local experience.

Getting to know locals and their culture and lifestyle more intimately and authentically will create rewarding experiences and memories you can carry with you long after your return home. You may even make deep connections and friendships that lead you to return in the future.

If you want to really unplug and relax without the stresses of traveling, then slow travel may be for you. You get to unpack your suitcases less, take fewer planes, trains and automobiles and just relax in a destination.

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Changes are afoot

Changes are coming — and I will not be able to help.

A bit of history. For many years, a flight reservation was a difficult task. (We used a book the size of a very large telephone book! Had to find what flights connect with another!! Many pages to turn!!) As air travel became a viable transportation option in the early 40s, thousands of people became ticket buyers. With the growing number of customers, carriers had to overcome numerous challenges to make booking fast, convenient, and operationally easy. Twenty years or so down the road in the 60s, the whole booking process could be accomplished in minutes – through a travel agent. Fast forward to today – and previously unimaginable – travelers enjoy fully automated ticket booking, reserving and paying for flights using smartphones. The assumption is—all travelers can, and want to, use a smartphone to make their own reservations.

Currently, the Global Distribution System (GDS) is a primary reservation tool for travel agents. GDS is a network that enables travel agencies to access travel data, shop for and compare reservations options, and book travel. What is so great about the GDS is, I can switch from one carrier to another with just a few strokes on the keyboard. I can quickly compare price and availability. See which hotel rooms are available and at what price. All fast and easy so you do not need to do the work.

But now, American Airlines is going to withhold 40 % of their flights, to be booked only on They have signed a new long-term agreement that will provide customers more opportunities to experience modern retailing with direct access to American’s content, including elevated offers and ancillary products. What they do not say is what the effects are on you and travel agencies. They will be offering fares not in my GDS. Now the client will have to do their own research to learn if they can find a fare and availability I cannot offer.

AA makes it sound so good, but in the long run, if you have difficulty using the online platforms and prefer to use a travel advisor, this all may not be in your best interest. And if United and Delta follow I will be out of business and you will be on your own. You may find I am booking away from AA; you might want to do the same.

Open if you want to learn the whole story!!

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Double check schedule changes

Airline schedules change regularly, and not only because of the weather. The airlines use a complex matrix called ‘Airline Scheduled Planning’ to fix flight timings. They use a software and feed in the historical data for a flight’s departure, arrival and block time for each specific route on a specific day. The software analyses this data and suggests a schedule for that flight. Flight schedules are mapped out several months in advance by the schedule planning teams at the airlines, so factors like bad weather, runway construction, or other unexpected events will affect departure and arrival times. 

When do airlines make their flights available for sale? US airlines typically open their booking window around 330 days in advance, but the early bird in this case doesn’t usually get the worm. I have known schedules to change significantly.  

Where ever or how you book your airline flights, double check. I regularly monitor all the reservations I make. I also get a message from the airlines when there is a schedule change, but not always cancellations. If there is a significant change I let you know immediately, if it is only minutes I usually wait until 14 days prior to departure. For sometimes, there are several changes, and I do not want you all to get confused with which is the correct itinerary.

Also, within 24 hours of departure check your schedule. Suddenly the pilots or flight attendants may not be available.  I once was sitting on a plane to depart for Seattle and a flight attendant was drunk from the night prior. We had to wait 12 hours until the carrier brought in an extra flight attendant.  

Last week a client called letting me know there were ice storms in Dallas. Changed his JFK departure to allow for five hours in Dallas; thereby unlikely to miss his connection.  The following morning, the first thing I did was check his flights. Called him, and when he answered the cell phone he said he was already half way to the airport. I said turn around as your flights are cancelled. He had not double checked. He got out two days later and got to stay three days longer!  In the end it was easy for him. But having double checked might have made it even easier.  

How to double check? First go to the airlines website, put in your confirmation number (letters and numbers) and your name, and your flight will come up. If this does not work for you, call or email me any time. There is also a 24-hour number on every itinerary. You can call it too!  

Any way you double check, DO double check.  Flying is unpleasant enough, airports are crowded enough, so help yourself along and double check!

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Savvy Traveler

Be a Savvy Traveler.

This list is in no particular order. Actually the last three may be the most important. Flying is no fun these days, so do whatever you can to make it most comfortable for yourself. Of course the first step is to call/email me!

  1. Bring your own headphones.
  2. Do not hesitate for a free upgrade.
  3. When entering the security check, head to the left checkpoint. Most people go right.
  4. Don’t forget to bring a portable charger.
  5. Bring wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
  6. If you don’t like turbulence, book an early morning.
  7. Bring Your Own Spare Ziploc Bags.
  8. Check-in 24-hours before your flight.
  9. Take a photo of your checked luggage.
  10. Find the best seat on the plane when you check-in
  11. Always check your flight’s status before heading to the airport.
  12. Bring an Empty Water Bottle

Jeff Weise, Investing Magazine

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Where are you going this year?

Clearly the airline disruptions this winter have also been anything but normal. If you book on your own, you are on your own. Not just cancellations are causing the disruptions but significant schedule changes. Some of these changes are not easy for me, so I cannot imagine the time and energy one needs to spend when on your own.

How much are two hours and lots of frustration worth to you? I bet a lot more than my fee. It may be seem easy at first, but….. that snow storm will come eventually to the northeast. When one region of our country has a major weather pattern, it effects the entire network of airline flights. Not only do air planes get stranded on the tarmac, but also pilots and flight attendants get stranded. Nothing is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there! And of course this says nothing of the passengers. Today, most planes fly very full. So if a flight or many are cancelled there are few seats to accommodate the stranded passengers. This is when you hear about the disruption on the news!

I cannot make airplanes be where they need to be, nor the pilots and flight attendants, BUT I can help you find seats quickly and easily. Check out my blog and you can read several stories, where I helped resolve an unpleasant situation.

I not only plan and create interesting itineraries, but I resolve situations that need resolutions! A little fee can go a very long way.

“As you move through this life you leave marks on the world, however small. And in return life – and travel – leave marks on you.” Anthony Bourdain

Where are you going this year? How may I assist you? Just an fyi.. Europe is going to be very busy this summer, so do try to go in the spring or fall. Also, plan ahead your tours, restaurants, tickets, hotels and resorts. This will not be a summer to wander carefree. Again, how may I assist you?

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Happy New Year

One of my favorite musicals is Cabaret. “life is a cabaret old chum.” It is your life so come and let us play. Where would you like to go in 2023. Cruises are even booking 2024. The world, except China, is open for you. Yes, we still need to travel responsibly, but we always have.

Life and travel are an adventure. It is for you to explore. Where are you going? England, France, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Kenya, Equator, Chili, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii……… Do these places get your mind and heart going? There are so many ways to explore. There are: Guided tours, group tours, on your own, planned individual itineraries (my specialty), cruises: which is your preference to travel? Different places suggest different modes of travel. The Tahitian islands are best seen from a ship, like the Paul Gaugin, while Italy can be a unique personal itinerary.

What can you see yourself planning this year? Just imagine yourself fulfilling your lifelong dream. If not now, WHEN?

My new company, Direct Travel has lots of benefits for you all. They are a Virtuoso company, like Vista. Therefore, there are hotel upgrades and cruise specials. So call and learn what is best for your adventure.

PS here is an example of our benefits.

Windstar Wanderlist offer

Pick Your Perk Offer for bookings made by February 28, 2023 to any destination that Windstar cruises any dates.

Pick Your Perk — Clients can choose ONE of the Following Offers:

Up to $1,000 Onboard Credit per Stateroom or Suite OR One Free Easy Stays Hotel Night, pre- or post-cruise, including gourmet breakfast, Wi-Fi and transfer to yacht OR Free Upgrade to All-Inclusive Fares for Premium Suites Guests.

Yacht Club Members: Receive 5% Additional Savings, plus, refer a New-to-Windstar Guest and Receive Additional $100 Shipboard Credit.

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