Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Now Is The Time To Plan For Your Vacation Next Year!

Now Is The Time To Plan For Your Vacation Next Year!

Summer will be upon us on June 21, and I'm still getting inquiries from a lot of families who are wanting to plan travel for June (which is halfway over), July and August. While I appreciate the inquiries (and hopefully potential business), it gives me pause that people are wanting to plan their vacations right now for travel (in some cases) that will take place in less than a month.

I understand that plans change and that sometimes people don't know what is going to happen; therefore it's difficult to make definitive plans, but with that being said, prior planning will generally save a lot of time, frustration, and money. Yes, I know that there are countless websites that purport unbelievable, deep discounted vacations, but at what cost? Unless you are a person that can just jump on a plane or cruise at a moments notice (literally), then planning is crucial so that you get the experience you truly want. Last minute travel can be great, but is not my idea of "fun" when you are doing it with a family in tow.

Then there is the money issue. A lot of people I've spoken to are in "sticker shock" when you tell them just exactly how much that trip to Disney World, Disney Cruise, etc, is actually going to cost for a family of 3, 5, 6. I've explained to numerous people that June - August are the most heavily traveled months by families; therefore, it stands to reason that the most desirable locales that families tend to frequent will also be filled to capacity, and in financial terms that means the family resorts have the upper hand.

Here are just a few recommendations that I have for any families who are looking to travel during the months of June - August:

  1. Select your top 3 destinations early and research them to narrow down to your top choice, that way if one or two are out of your budget, or just won't work, you still have other options to fall back on.

  2. Work with a travel professional to assist you with your plans, even if you have done your own preliminary research, there are a host of travel professionals that specialize in family vacations.

  3. Set a reasonable budget. Yes, reasonable is a relative term; however, some people want to have everything, without paying too much...it usually doesn't work out that way. Are there specials? Absolutely, but oftentimes you have to be on top of it and ready to book right then in order to ensure you get those specials.

  4. Don't be afraid to place a deposit. Most trips will require an upfront deposit, but they are usually fully refundable, less a nominal processing fee. If you change your mind within the allotted time frame, you can get that money back, but at least you've locked in a rate and that can become important when space is limited, which leads to number 5.

  5. When booking a cruise, the sooner you know, the better. There is a lot of volatility in cruise prices, and while there are times where the cruise ships are unable to fill the spaces and will offer some discounted rates, that usually doesn't happen very often during June - August. I've seen prices for cruises that were one price in January, but had almost doubled in their price by May. In that case, if a family had booked in January, then they are paying far less than the family who decided in May to go on a cruise in June.

  6. Stay positive and enjoy your vacation. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the planning, but I caution everyone against that overload that causes you to just want to "get it over with." This is something that cost a lot of money, and should be looked forward to, not dreaded!

Wherever your plans may take you - Chicks That Trip wishes you happy trails!

*photo taken from:http://www.ee.ucla.edu/~dmlab/iWAT2009/INFORMATION_IMAGES/Santa_Monica_Beach.jpg


Monday, June 7, 2010

Part 8 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

Part 8 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent
There are so many important decisions to make when deciding about where to go on vacation.
  • Where should I go?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Will my entire family enjoy it?
  • Is it safe for a single traveler?
  • What if something bad happens?

Obviously, the list could go on forever, but there comes a time where you have to make a decision, and you want to be assured you are making the best decision possible; especially if it's going to cost you a month or two of your salary!

Part of a travel professionals job and responsibility is to answer all of these questions a traveler may have, as well as ask the questions the traveler may not have even thought about. I was having dinner with a friend the other night and he told me a story about a travel professional he worked with several years ago. While he thought she was nice and for the larger part she did assist him in his travels; she didn't ask enough questions, and from his viewpoint, she tended to only focus on the costs, and not the total experience. In his own words, he gladly would have paid more to get an even better experience. One example - instead of him being centrally located to the action, he was far, far away. Now again, had she asked the right questions, she would have known that while the cost to stay farther away was less, he would have paid more to be closer in the city.

In this day and age, most people have budgets for their trips, but for every individual there are certain things that are "must haves" for them, and they are willing to pay for them. It is my job as a travel professional to figure out what those "must haves" are to ensure my client(s) have the optimal travel experience!

  • Crime Rates - Travel experts are great at helping you to be in the know of the questionable parts of town that you may be heading to and give you tips on what to look out for.
  • Someone to Call if Having a Problem During Your Trip - An online travel agency internet site is not going to answer the phone when you call with any complications during your trip. A travel agent continues to give you that personal support even while you are away.
  • When You Shouldn’t Drink the Water - We are always told when you travel be careful of the water. Travel agents can advise you on when it is safe and when it’s not safe to drink the water.
  • Small Intercontinental Flights Delayed – What to do? –Travel agents can help you find somewhere to stay when you are left helpless at an airport overnight due to flight delays.
  • Saves You Precious Time on Your Trip - To avoid 36 hours in the airport, your travel expert can help plan your trip so your time spent getting to where you want to go is the shortest it can be.

*Source: American Society of Travel Agents