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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Prescription for the Long Haul

This was written by me many many years ago. So if I have written before on the Long Haul, please indulge me and read again! Reminders are always good and many of you are planning long airplane flights in the next few weeks. Here are a few suggestions to help keep you more comfortable!

Prepare for the long haul.

The day before, eat veggies… and a large pasta dinner. For you are going on a marathon, and the runners eat pasta.. as it slowly yields energy.
Have low salt or veggie meals ordered for your flights. (now you can tell how long ago this was originally written!)

While Flying…

Drink six ounces of water or more every three hours of flying.. Carry your empty water bottle through security and fill on the other side.

Do not drink carbonated drinks. The bubbles just sit in you and make you uncomfortable.

Do not eat peanuts. Too salty and makes you store water- feet and hands swell.

Drink juice and go light on the alcohol: same reason.

Wear elastic stretch or surgical stocking on the plane, a must.

Wear comfortable clothes and natural fibers. The skin needs to breathe too.

Find an extra seat to keep your feet up! (Again written long time ago!)

Walk up and down the aisles every six hours or less. It’s good for circulation and helps prevent blood clots.

Wash and moisturize your hands and face regularly. The airplane air is extremely dry. Eye drops may also be helpful.

Do not touch anything on the plane you do not need to. Use a paper towel.

Lastly, put a smile on your face for most everyone is feeling the same as you.

Have a comfortable flight.

 
P.S. Once flying home from Barbados, I put some bougainvillea, flower-like spring leaves near its flowers and very frail, in my hat. The leaves dried instantly and I had a memory to last forever! But eventually they did get too dusty!
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Just Go For It

This is the year you are going to go for what you have been thinking and wishing about all your life. For some of you that is a very short time, but many of us it is quite a while…. So where have you always wanted to go visit and explore.

It does not need to be a new place, it could be somewhere you went years ago; as a student perhaps. One of my clients took her family to Spain where she spent a semester abroad. Not only did she want to see Spain again but wanted to share with her family. A few days the boys went to Spanish camp to learn the language and for the parents to have adult exploring time. They had a great holiday.

Sometimes new places are very off the beaten track. Tunisia, now that is a place you probably may have not been. Watched a webinar today, and I had no idea how first world yet old world the experience can be.

Maybe you just need a stop the world and get off sort of experience, but are not beach people. You want to learn, but do not want to pack and unpack, you want lots of time to read a book, meditate or just chat with a new friend. The QE 2 and Queen Mary itineraries. I must say they are wonderful. February from San Francisco to Sydney for 21 days, there surely will be no snow. Or a crossing from North American to England or back for 7 days. What a great treat they would be.

Whatever your heart desires, Just Go for It. Life is too short. You do not need to break the bank. There are lots of ways to do a Safari or trip through Tuscany. Major cities have lots of great three and four star hotels. Public transportation is available in much of the world.

Of course if you wish your wish to break the bank I can surely help you do that. Maybe it is a luxury holiday you have always wanted. Where everything is taken care of you and you have the very best. This we can do anywhere in the world.

Next year is coming very quickly.. so call now and let’s begin to plan.
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Tour Operators

Most of you probably think of a large bus or motorcoach when I say tour operator. Yes that may be so. But there are all kinds of tour operators. Your needs and wishes determine who I use and for what.

Some of the operators are very small and provide unique services; limousine, tour guides, and other specialty services. For independent travelers they may offer very unique service overall. They may do hotels, trains, admission tickets and transfers. Usually they do not do air. These tour operators can save me a great deal of time and give a one stop service if changes are needed. It is best for all. They also may have a discounted contract with a hotel and guides and get us great rates. On the other hand, these small tour operators may not have the most sophisticated operations and sometimes cause everybody a headache.

There are very luxury tour operators that can also provide a personal service. They have relationships with the best hotels and tour guides. Often they have access to unique attractions like museum or theater events. When you want and can afford the best, we use the best.

Then of course there are the large tour operators that do the motor coach tours. They are great for people who are anxious about independent travel, and also for those who enjoy lots of company. Some of these programs are very inclusive and others allow for a great deal of freedom. They always include hotel, breakfast and get you from point to point. Some may include meals and admissions to attractions.

If you are looking at any tour operators program, please do pay attention to what is included. A luxury program may seem more expensive but usually much is included. Also compare hotels.. Where are they located? Center city with easy to walk about.. or on the outskirts of town..

My job is to provide you with what is best for you and your needs. Next year is just around the corner and I have already booked several holidays. So it is not not too early to call and begin your planning.
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