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Travel Insurance: Here’s What You Should Know

If the last two weeks of hurricanes have you rethinking your vacation plans, you’re not alone. Watching the news report as hurricane Irma slamed the Caribbean was terrifying.

As I imagined vacations being interrupted by extreme weather, my heart sank. Waiting out the hurricane in your sixth floor hotel room is dangerous.

What if that were me and my family? What would we do? What could we do?

The unexpected like hurricane Irma can happen anywhere at any time while on vacation.

If and when it does, knowing you’re protected from the extra costs of vacation interruptions is priceless.

Travel insurance can provide the security needed in case the unexpected happens while traveling. Here is what you should know about Travel Insurance.

Handling A Crisis

You’ve planed the ultimate family trip and the day before vacation your child becomes sick.  You’ll be out of thousands if you cancel the trip, but there really no other option.

With cancellation protection coverage, you can recoup most of your costs or you reschedule your dream trip.  Most vacation packages are non refundable so it’s a good idea to have cancellation coverage.

What if you’re vacationing in France and while soaking in the beautiful scenery, you get a call that your house is badly damaged from a storm or your dad was in a serious accident.
Would you want to continue your vacation as planned?

Of course not!

Going home to handle things is all you care about. Having interruption coverage will help you recoup most of your costs so you can get home ASAP.

Baggage Replacement

We’ve all heard of someone who’s had their luggage lost/ stolen or have been a victim of it.

Isn’t it comforting to know travel insurance has baggage benefits?

Yes, baggage benefits can help with replacing your essentials if bags are delayed, damaged or stolen.

Health Coverage

Having a health scar while on vacation is something we never want to imagine but it can happen.

Being faced with a serious injury or health condition while traveling can put a huge financial dent in your pocket, especially when touring outside the country.

Travel insurance with medical coverage can direct you to  English speaking doctors or hospital, help pay for care, arrange payments for major medical emergencies, and even arrange for private medical evacuations in remote areas.

Coverage For Minor Hiccups

Not all travelers have complex vacations overseas. Simple travel insurance with car protection can cover car rental costs should you get into a fender bender.
By using travel insurance, you avoid getting your car insurance provider involved, which can lead to a premium increase.

Peace of Mind

Many vacationers skip travel insurance to avoid paying more for their vacation. I understand and have been guilty of it too.

We live with more uncertainly today than ever and not having the added protection of travel insurance can mean disaster should you need it but don’t have it.
When choosing travel insurance, keep in mind that third party coverage can provide more benefits than the operating tour group planning your trip.

Not all travel insurance is created equal and knowing what’s available will help you choose the right plan for you.

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Health and Wellness Travel: Top 8 Spas


Wellness tourism is a rapidly growing travel niche and it’s no surprise.  As more Americans understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, self care is on the rise.

And what better way to show self love than a spa getaway?

Yes beloved, with 4 months left of 2017, there’s plenty to do and prepare for.  A spa getaway would melt away the stress and give you something to look forward to.

Call your girl friends and get out your calendars because there’s a list of the top 8 spas to visit from Travel Agent magazine July edition.

International Health and Wellness Spas

Budapest, named the “City of Spas” since the 1930s. Its wellness culture history spans as far back as the Roman era. The Ritz-Carlton Budapest, which opened in March offers a steam room, sauna, a glass enclosed pool and a 24hr fitness center. Try the Serenity on the Danube or The Royal Ritual spa treatments for a personal Hungarian experience.

The new Oberoi Marrakech, a destination spa, is located on a private island sprawling across a lake within a citrus orchard. Amenities include swimming pools, hammams, yoga in the garden, a fitness center, and treatment rooms. You can choose between Ayurvedic and Moroccan- inspired treatments or Balinese, Western and Oberoi signature rituals.

The Heavenly Spa, in The Westin Golf Resort and Spa, has six treatment rooms including hydrotherapy rooms, saunas, hot and cold whirlpools and a relaxation room. This spa offers couples massages and bridal party buyouts of up to 12 people.

Health and Wellness Spas at Sea

Silver sea’s Silver Discoverer has complimentary wellness-themed on expedition voyages to Micronesia, Melanesia, and Australia. The complementary program includes stretching, yoga, Pilates classes, daily lectures, cooking demonstrations, gym session with a personal trainer and a choice of 1 spa massage treatment.

Star Clippers Royal Clipper round trip cruises from Barbados offers complementary yoga, meditation and fitness classes.

Domestic Health and Wellness Spas

You don’t have to leave the U.S. to keep up with your wellness regimens. New York’s 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, which debut in February is home to Bamford Spa, a nine treatment room facility. There’s also a fitness center, a yoga and barre studio.

The Confidente Miami Beach Hotel might suit your taste. The oceanfront hotel has recently launched a monthly Spa Nights experience. Guests and locals are invited to the rooftop Spa at The Confidante after hours to enjoy music, complimentary glass of champagne and s 15% discount on the spa menu.

The Ritz-Carlton Denver recently added a “babymoom” overnight package and a collection of pre-natal spa treatments for expanding families and moms to be. Packages include facial, manicure, pedicure, sparkling cider, and a rubber ducky and baby bib of choice.

Would you like to win a spa getaway for two? Sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win!  Drawing will be held September 18th.

 

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Top Travel Destinations For Fall Foliage

With the end of summer fast approaching, it’s time to embrace the crisp weather and dazzling foliage the fall season brings.
Autumn foliage is a great reason to explore your surrounding areas. For me, there’s no better way to spend a lazy Sunday then to drive through the country side enjoying the refreshing fall air and admiring the glorious yellows and blazing oranges of fall.
If you enjoy the smell of burning leaves, and the vibrant colors of the autumn season as I do, here’s a list of special places to visit.

New York

Duchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley has some of the most beautiful land you’ll ever set your eyes on. New York’s Hudson River Valley is a popular location for leaf peepers and once you visit, you’ll know why. With sinuous roads, sweeping vistas, elevation changes, and miles of farm lands, you’ll fall in love with the scenery. Late October and early November is the best time to visit.

Connecticut

Blessed with rolling forested terrain and quaint towns accentuate the leaf-peeping experience. The top places to visit for the best colors are Litchfield, and the eastern Mystic region. The Connecticut Wine Trail welcome guests to wineries and vineyards that host harvest season events and tastings. Hartford has a beautiful city park, Bushnell Park, and the rugged East Rock Park. Visit in October to view brilliant colors and join the festivities.

North Carolina

Yes, North Carolina has amazing fall foliage! Mt. Mitchell and the surrounding Pisgah National Forest has vast expanses of deciduous trees. Plan your trip for mid to late October and hike the trails in Pisgah National Forest to take in the wonderful view.

Ohio

Just 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a 33,000-acre preserve. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad chugs past heron and bald eagle nests and offers ghost train rides in autumn. Ashtabula County, home of 17 historic bridges offers spectacular autumn colors and festivities. Plan your visit for mid-October and bring the whole family!

Wisconsin

Visit the picturesque Marinette County’s Waterfall Tour and marvel at a series of 14 waterfalls and cataracts throughout this 125-mile loop tour. Adventurous foliage peepers can whitewater paddle on the Pike, Peshtigo and Pemebonwon Rivers. Lake Geneva boasts wonderful fall foliage you can take in ziplinning through the woods or a boat tour on the lake. Autumn colors peak in early to mid-October.

Kansas

*See Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa from a viewing platform in the little town of White Cloud, 85 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri. The town, on the bluffs of the Missouri River, lies at the northern end of the 63-mile Glacial Hills Scenic Byway. Plan your trip for mid-October.

Washington

Washington is a wonderland of fall foliage! The Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle is a must visit and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness has spectacular mountain scenery with vibrant yellow Alpine larch trees in the central Cascades. Early October through early November is a great time for leave peepers to visit.

Leaf peeping is serious business in many states, so expect crowds on peak weekends. To by pass crowds, plan your trip in advance and go during the week.

Enjoy the fall season!

 

*John Briley Travel Channel article, Fall Foliage Road Trip

 

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7 Beach Vacation Ideas

When it comes to going on a beach vacation, it can be challenging to pick a destination. There are many places you can go, whether you want to explore the
beaches of Hawaii or just play golf in Georgia. Below, you’ll find 7 ideas to help you decide where to go for beach vacation.

1. Hawaii

Put your frequent flier miles to good use and visit Hawaii. Relax on the beach, enjoy snorkeling in clear blue waters, play golf, and even indulge in one of the many innovative spa treatments. Hawaii enjoy some of the best weather in the world – making it a great choice for your beach vacation.

2. Georgia

Popular among the East Coast, the luxurious Cloister at Sea Island in Georgia offers you 54 holes of championship golf, sandy beaches, and a wide array of things for
you to do.

3. Oahu

At the Kahala Mandarin Oriental, you can expect to be pampered like never before. You can visit the spa, take scuba diving classes, or choose to swim it up
with the dolphins. The resort is conveniently located 15 minutes away from Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.

4. Virgin Islands

At this vacation destination you can enjoy blue waters and sandy beaches. The Ritz Carlton, and St. Thomas resorts offer you the best of luxury hotels during your beach vacation in the Virgin Islands.

5. California

Located just 30 minutes by car away from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a quick beach vacation away from the normal busy life of the city.

6. Bermuda

Two hours away by flight from New York City, Bermuda is a quick and ideal vacation away from the East Coast. Ariel Sands offers gourmet food and breathtaking views.

7. Jamaica

With unique rooms and splendid views of the Caribbean, gourmet cuisine and amazing beaches, The Caves resort in Jamaica helps to set the beach vacation mood like never before.

 

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10 Most Dog-Friendly Vacation Spots in the U.S.

As more dog lovers are bringing their beloved pooches along on vacation, finding accommodations can be challenging.  A great blog written by Inteletravel lists the top 10 dog friendly places to travel in the U.S. Below are the 10 cities and must visit destinations ranked by Vacations.com.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Definitely Visit: The Lighthouse Ice Cream Shop, a sweet family owned ice cream parlor that stocks doggie ice cream line, Frosty Paws.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA

Definitely Visit: One (or two… or three) of the wineries that allow dogs to tour their grounds! A few of the dog-friendly ones include Bluestone, First Colony Wineries and Blenhelm.

THE FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK

Definitely Visit: The Watkins Glen State Park, which is home to nineteen breathtaking waterfalls, and will allow your leashed pet to enjoy the scenery

WISCONSIN, THE WHOLE PLACE

Definitely Visit: Have a dog that really loves getting wet and wild? The Kettle Moraine State Forest has a designated area where you can train your dog in water skills!

ARIZONA, THE WHOLE PLACE

Definitely Visit: The Grand Canyon National Park, where you and your pup can enjoy one of the most famous and breathtaking views in the country.

PORTLAND, OREGON

Definitely Visit: The annual Canines Uncorked Wine Tour. With this event, pet parents and their pups are able to participate in a benefit for shelter animals. Tour 16 wineries with free wine tasting and doggie activities including decorating dog treats, meeting adoptable dogs or letting your pooch enjoy a doggie massage!

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Definitely Visit: The Mercury Canine Cruise, where you and your pet can enjoy a 90-minute boat ride on the Chicago River.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Definitely Visit: The Bow Wow Bone, a mobile dog-food truck that cooks up some snacks for pups of any size.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Definitely Visit: The Mutt Lynch Winery in Sonoma County has brought together the wonderful worlds of wine and dogs. Grab a bottle of Merlot Over & Play Dead or Unleashed Chardonnay and help support local dog shelters and animal rescues!

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Definitely Visit: The K9 Fun Zone, an indoor doggie playground. You can rent the space for a single dog or a group of dogs to play and exercise.

Have fun vacationing with your four-legged child!

 

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Plan Stress Free Travel: Itinerary & Activities 2 of 5 Series

Itinerary & Activities
Itinerary & Activities

You decided on your vacation destination and began to create a budget. Now what?

Activities and entertainment are the most important elements to a great travel experience and usually the last item in the budget. Making this mistake can be fatal to a well-deserved vacation!

I’ve witnessed many travelers (including myself) make the mistake of assuming adventure will just fall in their laps without any advance planning. Sure it’s cool to be spontaneous while vacationing, but not having any activities planned can spell disaster or boring trip… Who wants that?

I’ve also witnessed vacations when every minute was planned out and that can be just as horrific. I recall a vacation where we had an activity scheduled every morning, at the crack of dawn, and that was torture… NEVER AGAIN!

Can you relate?

Activities

I have found that a happy blend of excitement, spontaneity and relaxation will create an amazing travel experience.

Now the right combination of these three components really depends on the individual or family. One concept that remains true for most people is this….

The first outing sets the tone for your whole trip.

Ok, I know you may be quick to disagree with me and cite the need to recuperate from jet lag.

Rest may be needed for some people. And I agree, traveling to your destination can be exhausting (for this reason, I typically wait until the next day to schedule an activity unless the destination is only a couple of hours away). No matter when you schedule your first activity, the anticipation of it and how you feel afterwards will most often determine your attitude for the rest of your trip.
And remember attitude is everything!

Itinerary

When creating your vacation itinerary, create a rough schedule of your daily activities and research them ahead of time. Let the first activity be a “hello world” experience that invites the inner child to come out and play.

The activity can be anything that excites you from site seeing to shopping, recreational activities, lounging by the pool, you name it. The goal is to end the activity feeling excited and exhilarated.

The next tip is a no brainer and I’m sure you already do this, but just incase you need a reminder… add some free time to your itinerary.

Free time serves a variety of purposes. Of course, you want time to relax and to explore.

While touring Munich Germany with a group of students, we were given some free time in the middle of the day. We spent our time wandering around the city and I met a young family that was from Appleton Wisconsin. It was so hilarious and fun connecting with random people!

Do you remember a trip where you went off the beaten path and just explored? Wasn’t it fun?

Last but not least, try to purchase tickets for activities and event before you leave.

Often times you can find pre-packaged sight-seeing deals that can be purchased before you leave for vacation.
I always encourage my clients to purchase tickets ahead of time because it saves time, money, and it’s one less thing to buy while you’re on your trip. Using apps like Travel Advisor, Yelp, and even Groupon, are great resources to find discounts and ideas for activities.

Remember to schedule an awesome activity for your first outing if you want to plan the ultimate vacation. And don’t forget to add ample free time in your schedule. Now it’s your time to let the fun begin!!!

 

Please feel free to ask questions or make comments regarding How To Plan Stress Free Travel.
THANKS FOR ALLOWING ME TO HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR TRAVEL!
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How to Prepare a Travel Budget 1 of 5 Part Series

Congratulations, you finally decided to take the vacation of your dreams. You’ve read travel magazines, online reviews and asked your loved ones where you should go. You want your vacation to be magical, filled with adventure, relaxation, and fun… lots of fun. Now comes the hard part….

Creating a travel budget (Yikes)!

How much will this trip of a lifetime cost?

Travel expenses can vary greatly depending on travel preferences, so it’s important to make a travel budget early on.

Most experts will tell you to start with the biggest expense first, but that’s not what I suggest and here’s why…

Flight and lodging are usually the biggest expenses, but if those things aren’t important  to you, then they don’t have to be the biggest part of your budget.
Some travelers value recreational activities and entertainment more so then lodging. I suggest you prioritize what’s most important and budget accordingly.

Yes, I know, this may sound counter intuitive for some of you and that’s ok.

I’ve found when travelers start with the biggest expense (transportation and lodging), they leave little room in their budget for activities and entertainment which is a big NO, NO.
Why?

A great travel experience is created when you do.

Don’t get me wrong, staying at a luxury hotel is exciting and it enhances the travel experience. The same can be true for transportation. Remember, creating a travel budget is the foundation for your epic vacation. It’s the cornerstone of your travel experience.

When I think about the vacations I had, the best travel memories are of the different activities I experienced. Like the one time we went ziplining, or when we went on a Segway tour. The hotels we stayed in were nice, but that’s not what made the trip fun. What made it fun was what we did and who we befriended.

Now what I’m suggesting doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it too (luxury lodging, exciting activities, the best transportation). It simply implies that you should create a budget that reflect what’s most important to you.

Running out of money, or worrying about cash flow during your trip is stressful and can quickly ruin your trip.

Which brings me to the next golden nugget…Including miscellaneous expenses into your budget!!!!

This is a must because unexpected things happen while you’re travelling. The unexpected can be anything from illness to a spontaneous outing. No matter the reason, you can’t go wrong with having miscellaneous cash.
If nothing else, returning home with extra cash in your pocket is a lovely feeling.

Of course meals, travel insurance, and travel gear should be included in your budget as well, especially if you’re traveling abroad.

Websites like www.budgetyourtrip.com and www.tripcipe.com are great resources when planning your travel budget. A travel agent is also a great resource for suggestions and booking your travel.

I hope my tips serve you well as you begin to plan your next excursion!

Please feel free to ask questions or make comments regarding How To Plan Stress Free Travel.
THANKS FOR ALLOWING ME TO HELP YOU IMPROVE YOUR TRAVEL!
If you’re a semi- expert traveler, why not get paid for it? Click here for details.
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