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Published June 30, 2015
Packing for a cruise isn’t as hard as it seems. Just follow six important rules.
Rule One: Pack light.
No matter how long the trip, try to limit yourself to one large piece of luggage and one carry-on bag.
Rule Two: Pack early.
Do a dry run 7 to 10 days before departure – and pack everything you plan to take.
Most airlines limit checked luggage to 50 pounds. Weigh the luggage on a bathroom scale and aim for 47 or 48 pounds. Your scale might be less accurate than the airline’s.
Pack clothes in 2-gallon Ziploc bags. Press out all the air. Use smaller bags for smaller items. This provides extra space for souvenirs and gives you some wiggle room in case your primary luggage is overweight.
Pack a lightweight, easy-to-fold bag inside your primary luggage.
Rule Three: Adhere to all TSA regulations. Failing to do so is a surefire way to spoil your trip before you even get started. [How To Pack]
Each traveler is permitted to bring onto the aircraft one bag containing small quantities of liquids, aerosols and gels. Consolidating those products into one bag speeds up the screening process by making it easier for security officers to x-ray the bag separately from your carry-on.
These products are governed by the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. Containers can’t exceed 3.4 ounces (100 ml). They must be stored in a clear, 1-quart Ziploc bag. Each passenger is limited to one bag.
Practicing 3-1-1 ensures a faster checkpoint experience. Remove your bag from your carry-on to facilitate easy screening. If you’re not sure that your liquids, gels and aerosols meet TSA specifications, place them in your checked luggage.
Medications, breast milk and food and formula for babies are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3 ounces. They are not required to be in a Ziploc bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint, prior to going through security. Officers may need to open these items for additional screening.
For more information, go the TSA’s traveler information website.
Rule Four: Place your name, address and other contact information inside each piece of luggage.
Exterior luggage tags, required by airlines and transportation companies, can get torn off. Without contact information inside, there is no way to recover lost luggage.
Rule Five: Make photocopies of your passport, driver’s license, all credit cards and any other vital documents, and trade this information with your traveling partner.
Also leave a copy at home with someone you can contact while traveling. If your information is lost or stolen, report it immediately. Most credit card companies will report lost cards to credit agencies.
Be advised that some police departments will not take reports regarding lost credit cards or personal documents.
Rule Six: Protect your valuables!
Many cities in the U.S. and abroad have problems with thieves and pickpockets. These bandits are clever and opportunistic. Keep cash, credit cards and vital documents stored in a passport/ticket wallet worn around your neck.
Published February 15, 2015
Western civilizations most famous places are located in Greece and Turkey. The greatest journey ever told is of Homers Odyssey through these truly magnificent lands. The Greek isles and western Turkey will provide an amazing trip to historical lands and memorable destinations.
Most people, when thinking of Greece are attracted to Athens. Athens is considered the cradle of western civilization. The origins of democratic government, philosophy and drama all find their roots in Athens. The Parthenon is perhaps the most recognizable image from Athens and home to Athena. Athena is the patron of Athens, goddess of wisdom and intellect and daughter of Zeus. Greece offers many more treasures than just Athens.
Explore Crete the largest Greek island and home to king Minos palace. Crete has wonderful beaches and historic archaeological museums. Crete’s Mountainous terrain provides beautiful vistas of deep gorges and sweeping landscape.
The island of Santorini is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Island was created by one of the most violent volcano eruptions recorded in history. Today bleached white buildings line the slopes of what was the volcano’s rim and look upon the white beaches surrounding the emerald blue water of the Mediterranean Sea.
Greece can provide a vast difference in travel experiences. Whether you want to party with the locals tobouzouki music or just relax or maybe a little of both we encourage you find your interests. These are just a few of the many attractions of Greece.
As always contact us to answer any questions you may have.
Published February 1, 2015
River cruising vs Ocean cruising
Many people ask what is the difference between river cruising and ocean cruising. Here we will inform you as to some of distinctions of the two. Both have characteristics, which may or may not be what you are seeking in a cruise experience.
Lets start with the cruise itself. River cruises are inland whereas ocean cruises are out on open bodies of water. With inland cruising you tend to be effected less by weather or storms. This translates directly to the kind of ride you will experience. Most river cruise rides are silky smooth verses the rolling on many ocean vessels.
As we stated above, on a river cruise you are inland. Land is always in sight and you have beautiful scenery to enjoy. With ocean cruising often times you are on the open sea for extended periods of time.
Next there is the vast difference in the size of vessel you will be cruising on. River vessels are generally referred to as boats. Ocean vessels are generally referred to as ships.
River cruising is more of an intimate experience due to the fewer number of passengers. Ocean cruising generally involves thousands of passengers. These differences greatly affect the amount of time you spend simply getting on and off your boat or ship.
River cruises dock along the shore, most times directly in the center of the city or destination. Ocean cruises because of the size of the ship must dock at large ports or cargo terminals. Often these ports or terminals can be a distance from the destination you wish to visit while ashore. On a river cruise the next city or site is your destination. With ocean cruises the ship is your destination.
Accommodations or cabins for river and ocean cruising very greatly. Most river cruise cabins have a view. Generally speaking there are no interior cabins with no view at all. Ocean cruise ships have interior cabins with no view. You may be required to spend extra to upgrade to cabin with an ocean view.
River cruising and ocean cruising both offer a wonderful travel experience. We encourage you to be informed about both before you book your trip. As with any travel experience it’s all up to what you want to do.
Published January 24, 2015
The answer is YES !
You will be as safe anywhere you travel in Europe as you are here in the United States. No one can predict when and where a calamitous event will happen. You might be more adept to experience something on the way to the grocery store as in one of the European countries.
As an American, when you are in Europe, you should make a point to always have your passport and or visa on your person. Security IS more stringent than in the USA. This is to safeguard you and your traveling party. Embrace the Security officers you meet. They are there for your protection.
Stay with the plan. This is a foremost travel safety tip. When on a tour, you may be interested in visiting someplace not on the normal schedule. Ask your tour guide for assistance. They will be happy to accommodate you. Do not venture out on your own. Communication is a key here.
The guides and directors will assist you in visiting areas you want to see.
Do your homework. Plan ahead for sites you would like to visit. You may know more and or have a special knowledge about a destination than your tour guide. However, please accept their guidance on venturing out to the site.
Be punctual. Don’t be “that guy” who keeps everyone waiting.
Relax and have fun. You are safe.
Published December 23, 2013
Thanks to the Internet, modern consumers have endless options for making their own travel arrangements.
Many believe the World Wide Web has made travel agents unnecessary and obsolete.
“There are lots of occasions when it’s smart to use a travel agent,” Nancy Dunnan, editor of TravelSmartNewsletter.com, told the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.
Some travel websites are excellent. More than a few of them are not – and it’s often difficult to tell the difference.
We all love freedom of choice, but sometimes the choices are so numerous that it becomes overwhelming. A recent survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value found that 20 percent of travelers spent more than five hours searching and booking trips online.
Those computer-weary tourists could have saved a lot of time – and in some cases, a lot of money – by calling a travel agent.
Here are five good reasons to pick up the phone.
Top travel agents are, of course, paid for their services – but their fees often are covered by the vendor, not the customer.
Resorts, cruise lines and such usually pay agents around 10 percent of the package’s total cost. It rarely pays for consumers to book the trip themselves. The price is usually the same. A commission is paid to the vendor’s “house agent” instead.
Some travel agents charge by the hour; others require a one-time fee. Some are paid by customers and vendors alike. The common denominator is that good agents are almost always worth the money.
As famed oil-well fighter Red Adair once said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, just wait until you hire an amateur.”
Travel agents can save their clients a lot of time and trouble. But as veteran travel writer Larry Olmsted says, here’s the best part:
“Even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved (us) money, often a lot of money,” Olmsted wrote for Forbes.com. “And in every case, (they) more than paid for themselves.”
You might possess the Internet-savvy of a Silicon Valley whiz kid, and that expertise might help you find some great travel websites. But there’s a big difference between navigating cyberspace and traveling the real world.
The real world is complicated. It’s run by real people – and travel agents know who those people are.
“The bottom line is that (travel agents) know more than you do,” Olmsted wrote. “They are better connected than you.”
They know tour guides, cruise managers, concierges and restaurateurs. They know where to go, what to avoid and how to prevent a dream trip from turning into a nightmare.
“They have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise,” Olmsted wrote. “They can often beat any other prices available – even online – and after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself.”
Using such popular travel sites as Kayak and Travelocity isn’t a bad idea for booking one-stop trips within the U.S. But longer trips can have complex itineraries that must be coordinated to result in a smooth journey.
The do-it-yourself approach “often proves to be an extremely stressful, grueling undertaking,” Daniel Bortz wrote in U.S. News & World Report. “You can spend hours online searching for deals on flights and hotels, bouncing from one website to another in pursuit of the perfect price. This kind of process is often headache-inducing.”
Vacations that involve multiple destinations or international travel are like jigsaw puzzles. Travel agents assemble the pieces for you.
Author Micah Solomon criss-crosses the globe speaking to companies about customer service. He learned the hard way how difficult it is to make complex travel arrangements on the Internet.
“Tastemakers in the press sometimes make it seem that people who use travel agents are dumb,”Solomon wrote for Forbes.com. “But I’ll tell you what’s dumb, at least for me: trying to save a $50 travel agency fee by paddling around Kayak without competent assistance."
“I’m only sorry it took me so long to figure this out.”
Like other one-stop convenience stores, most travel websites are jacks of all trades and masters of none. A trip is a trip, right?
Going on safari is a much different vacation than taking a cruise. And cruising the Caribbean Sea is much different than cruising the Seine River.
Top travel agents tend to specialize. They know the particular ins-and-outs of the particular vacation you want to take.
Jim & Mary Anne Probus, owners of Probus World Travel, specialize in river cruises.
For example, as Nancy Dunnan told MarketWatch, “Travel agents who are cruise specialists can easily find excellent discounts and/or cabin upgrades. The overwhelming number of cruises and destinations make it difficult for the first-time cruiser to select the right trip, and a travel agent can help with that too.”
5. Peace of Mind.
Travel insurance covers medical expenses and financial losses incurred while on a trip. But what if you miss a flight, lose a passport or discover that your hotel isn’t up to snuff?
The only insurance for that kind of crisis is an experienced agent with expert advice.
A 2009 study by the Harrison Group and American Express Publishing found that nearly 70 percent of affluent travelers believe that on-call troubleshooting is the most important service a travel agent can provide.
Good luck getting that help from a website.