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Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.
The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.
As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.
Five Common Trip-Planning Mistakes
Because there are so many variables involved—from the plane tickets and hotel reservations to meals and entertainment—self-planned journeys often go off track or way over budget. As someone who plans trips for a living, professional travel advisors like us have seen our share of mistakes made by even the most experienced travelers. Here are five you should definitely avoid:
- Sticking to Set Dates – Airlines and hotels know when people travel most, so they typically raise their prices accordingly. You can save hundreds of dollars by being flexible with your travel dates.
- Ignoring the Fine Print – The internet is filled with incredible travel deals that seem too good to be true. Before hitting that “Buy Now” button, take a moment to question how this company can possibly afford to sell their product for such a low price. The answer is usually in the fine print, where that low price comes with a slew of restrictions that will definitely damper your vacation.
- Forgetting to Breathe – Many travelers return from a vacation exhausted due to over-planning. To see all of the must-see sights at their destination, they race across town from dawn to dusk, never stopping to soak it all in. It’s okay to miss a few sights, as long as you take the time to enjoy the ones you do see. Travel agents always suggest spending more days at your destination, or to arrive at the embarkation port a day or two early, to give you that added time to breathe.
- Stuffing the Bags – Some globetrotters cram all of their items into one carry-on bag, thinking it saves time and reduces baggage fees. However, after a week away—a week spent shopping—those travelers suddenly have no place to pack their newly-purchased items, so they have to buy another bag or suitcase. Moral of the story: always pack with room to spare. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you return home with more items than you left with.
- Picking the Wrong Season – Every destination has a perfect time of the year to visit and not to visit. Under the “not to visit” times are those seasons that are too hot, too cold, too crowded or too expensive. Make sure you know before you go…or simply ask us.
Introduction to Global Entry
– If you’re an active international traveler like we are, then you should know about Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.
At participating airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs them to baggage claim and the exit.
Even though the program was created for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify. You will need to get pre-approved for the program, which includes a rigorous background check and interview, and pay a non-refundable $100 application fee.
Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, Dutch citizens, South Korean citizens and Mexican nationals. Canadian citizens and residents may enjoy Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program.
To learn more and apply, visit www.GlobalEntry.gov.
How to Make Your Luggage Easier to Find in Baggage Claim
– We’ve all been there, standing next to the conveyor belt in baggage claim, jostling with strangers to get a good view of the bags as they’re making their turn, hoping that the next black one is yours. The wiser solution is to travel with a bag that’s so visually unmistakable, that you can relax away from the black bag parade and casually wait for yours to arrive. If you don’t want to go buy a brightly colored stand-out bag, you can:
- Put ribbon on Top – Festive ribbons and bows are not just for presents. Tie one on your luggage handle to spot it a mile away. I’ve done this – it works!
- Strap a luggage belt around it! You can find these at most major retailers or even Amazon!
Great Apps for Travelers
Packpoint: When packing for your next venture, that this is your app of choice. It’s great for generating packing lists. It makes suggestions based on where you’ll be going and the type of activities you’ll be doing. It then allows you to select a quantity for each item and save the list for future trips.
GateGuru: GateGuru helps to navigate unfamiliar terminals. The app makes it easy to find good food locations and airline lounges.
Little Peanut On The Go: This app, which lets users create packing and to-do lists, build care schedules to share with caregivers, and check in on your child’s daycare, helps when you’re traveling with or without kids. It keeps me completely organized when getting the whole family packed up for a trip. When traveling without the kids, it makes communicating and sharing child care plans with their caregivers ridiculously easy.
RoadTrippers: This app has every unique, odd, fun, weird attraction you can imagine and they are all mapped out for you, so you can plan your entire trip before you go and map each day out mile by mile or, if you are stopping for gas and just want to be spontaneous, you can see what’s around you as you are driving.
Travefy: To stay organized , use this itinerary maker app. It has everything you need with times, dates, notes, maps, and it’s easy on the eyes and great for mobile.
Work Hard Anywhere: Use this app to find cafes and co-working spaces with Wi-Fi, plug outlets, food, drinks and opening times.
- Can you book my air? What a Travel Agent sees and a consumer sees online is one and the same for the normal domestic US and some International routes. So, searching for airline rates on airline website or an all-in-one site like www.kayak.com is advisable as 3D does charge a processing fee to issue tickets. If we issue your tickets as part of a travel package, there is no fee for that. If you are in need of Business/First class or an airline ticket that is more than a simple roundtrip, we can work with air consolidators to bring various options to you that you may not find on your own. There are also fees for that service, but you know you are in good hands with our agents handling those extensive reservation details.
- Do you have payment plans? We can arrange payment plans on nearly any vacation. At times, airfare is an instant purchase so that tends to be one area that we may not be able to work out payments. The earlier you schedule your travel, the more bite-size the payments can be.
- Is Mexico safe? This is a difficult question because while there is no denying crime happens in Mexico, it is equally true that tourist destinations are safe. The U.S. Department of State reports on their site: “The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors traveling to major tourist destinations. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.” We believe that all of our travelers should exercise caution and common sense whether traveling in the U.S. or another country.
- Do you help with travel within the USA? We have learned that we are much better at getting people OUT of the USA vs. keeping you here. While we handle many vacations to Hawaii and Alaska, within the 48 contiguous states some areas we do have expertise are: California Wine Country, Disney (both Land and World), and New York City. Also, if your travel in the US calls for stays at resorts (not small hotels, motels, Bed & Breakfasts, Rental Homes, etc.) we have negotiated rates via some of our suppliers that we can get great package pricing on.
- What does travel insurance cover? Most any Travel Insurance covers:
- 1. Complete reimbursement in the case of an emergency prior to travel. Some examples of emergencies are: sickness/injury/death to traveler of family member, financial default of airline/cruise line/tour operator, inclement weather, job loss (providing that he/she has 1+ years of employment with that company), jury duty and many other reasons. The key word is emergency and proof would need to be submitted.
- 2. Assistance while in travel such as: baggage loss/delay coverage, trip delay/missed connection/interruption coverage and even medical coverage-primary or secondary based on policy purchased. In these cases, the traveler is reimbursed after submitting a claim and receipts.
- Ack! How do I get a passport? The easiest thing to do is visit the U.S. Department of State website for comprehensive instructions whether obtaining a passport for the first time or renewing.
- Can you book JUST my air travel? We can book your airfare for a fee if that is the only thing we are doing for you, for many people they find our fee worth saving them the hassle of trying to figure out the best flight schedule and best airline that doesn’t have a million hidden fees. IF you are using us to book any kind of package vacation (ie. flight to a resort) we will not charge a fee to book your flight.
- What Cruise Lines are out of Texas?
- Carnival: 4nt, 5nt, and 7nt year round from Galveston
- Princess: 7nts November-April from Houston
- Royal Caribbean: 7nts year round starting November 2013 from Galveston
- Why did Carnival Cruise Line leave all those people stranded at sea? The extreme issue with Carnival Triumph was terrible. Engine fires can happen with any engine in existence and I’m sure Carnival’s on-board staff did all they could to make the best of the situation. What would have alleviated 2-3 days of inconvenience for all passengers and crew was if the US Government would mandate Passport be held by all cruisers from US ports. At the current time, if you cruise from a US port and return back to that same US port, you are not required to have a Passport; it is recommended but passengers can sail with birth certificates. Sadly, with birth certificate, you cannot fly from a foreign country. So, should Passports have been held by all, instead of the few days it took to get to a US port, Carnival could have taken Triumph to Mexico and the passengers would have been home much sooner.