THIS MONTH WE ARE GOING TO PROVIDE SOME TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS

Today we are going to look at some important travel safety tips. In today’s world, a growing concern is travel safety and what can we do to still travel, have a wonderful time, and reduce our travel safety concerns.
Before we travel: When planning your travel, research what areas are safe to travel to. The U.S. Government provides reports showing the different levels of travel safety in all areas of the world. You can view the Gov threat levels for each country in the world at this link There are 4 threat levels, 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest.
Remember, take news reports with a grain of salt, as we all know bad news sells better than good news so most travel news tends to be exaggerated. An example is, there may be isolated instances going on in a area of a country that is not close to the area you are looking to go to but, a lot of new stories tend to paint problems with a broad brush indicating the the whole country has problems.
Seek the advice of a professional. As far as our agency is concerned, we get regular updates on travel issues that we pass on to our clients. An example, right now there are some issues in Jamaica but the issues tend to be in Kingston which is not close to the tourist areas of Jamaica.
Use this research to help you decide where you would like to travel.
During travel: One of the biggest tips we can provide is when traveling, use common sense. So many instances we hear about could have been prevented if the travelers just used common sense.
As in any destination we live in or travel to, there are areas we need to stay away from. Most crime will happen in these areas. Chicago is a prime example, people talk about the crime rate in Chicago but the majority of that crime occurs in areas that tourists don’t visit. It is the same thing for most of the tourist areas in the world.
When in the airport, keep you luggage with you at all times until you check your bag. When you pick your bag up at your destination also keep it with you at all times. Not just for theft purposes but it has been known that people will put items in unattended bags to be transported to your final destination.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You don’t need to be paranoid but just be aware of what is going on around you.
When flying, be aware of TSA regulations, it can save you time and grief.
At the resort one of the biggest areas we see problems is people tend to totally change their eating and drinking habits. We have spoken with a number of doctors who say one of the most prevalent reasons people get sick is they change their eating habits. If they go to a tropical region some clients tend to go crazy over the fruit and local cuisine that their systems are not used to. Try to keep your same eating and drinking habits that you would have at home and it will cause less stomach problems.
When traveling limit the amount of valuables like excessive jewelry, a lot of cash, or an over abundance of electronics that you bring with you. When going off the resort do not wear a lot of expensive jewelry or carry a lot of cash. When you leave your room, if only for a few minutes, place your valuables in the safe provided in the room.
Again the two biggest tips are. Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t forget to pack your common sense when traveling.
Also we always recommend purchasing trip insurance. It will not only protect you before you travel if you have to cancel for an unforeseen reason, but, it will protect you medically if, God forbid, something happens on your vacation.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that most medical insurance plans, that people have, will not protect you when you are outside of the country.

Understanding airfare classes of service and seat assignments

Today we are going to look at the different classes of service and how they relate to seat assignments. The three main classes of service are Coach, Business Class, and First Class. Since Business and First Class only have 1 type of seating, we are going to focus on Coach which can have many types of seating.

When you purchase a ticket you will be assigned a seat based on the type of ticket that is purchased. A regular ticket will get you a seat in certain rows. There are other rows that you can upgrade to. These seats are called premium seating and include rows of seats that, with most airlines, have wider seats and more legroom. Premium seating also includes the exit rows which, due to the fact that they have an exit door will also have substantially more legroom.

Premium seats will have an additional fee of $25-$40 depending on the airline and the seat.

At the other end of the spectrum a number of the major airlines have implemented low or budget fares at highly reduced rates called “Basic Economy”. These fares come with a number of restrictions. The main restrictions are, you don’t receive a seat assignment until you are at the gate, you board with the last group called for boarding, you cannot board with any carry on luggage but only 1 personal item that fits under your seat. You may check you bag at an additional fee. These discounted seats also do not receive any food or beverage service.

The disadvantage of these seats are that since you are last to receive seat assignments they will almost always be middle seats and it is almost impossible to book seats together. There is also the baggage fees to think about.

The best fits for these seats are business people who may be making a day trip and have no luggage.

I have seen “Basic Economy” Seats go for great fares, one I saw was phoenix to Dallas, one way, for $42 on certain days. Some I have seen were only $10 – $20 less than full fare. Remember fares can vary based on when you fly. This applies to all fares and classes of service.

You just need to be aware what type of ticket you are purchasing and what restrictions apply or what additional fees may be charged for the seat you want.

A disturbing advertising trend

I am seeing a disturbing advertising trend happening on Facebook and other social sites.  That trend is, what I consider misleading information, not by the airlines, but by the third party sites that sell airline tickets.

I saw an ad on Facebook by one of these sites that while true, was very misleading.  The ad stated “Roundtrip air to Maui for $129 per person.” This is an unbelievable deal until you click on the site and did the research where the actual flights were $129 per person roundtrip from Honolulu to Maui, not roundtrip from the mainland to Maui as the ad would try to lead you to believe.
Continue reading A disturbing advertising trend

Understanding Internet Travel Information

There is a lot of great information on the Internet but there is also a lot of questionable information on the Internet. Can you tell the difference? When it comes to travel, we can and will help you sort through the amount of mind numbing information that is available and we will get you the lowest legitimate price for the vacation, Honeymoon, or Destination Wedding that meets or exceeds your criteria. Continue reading Understanding Internet Travel Information

Take your Hawaii Vacation to the next level

If you want to take your Hawaiian Vacation to the next level, look at doing a multi-island vacation.  Each Hawaiian Island will provide a totally different vacation experience.

Say you want to see Pearl Harbor, experience Waikiki Beach, and do some serious shopping but you also want to drive the road to Hana and visit an extinct volcano you can split your vacation between Oahu and Maui. Two totally different islands and experiences.

Another example would be, say you want to play golf on championship golf courses, hike the Napali Coast, and also see an active volcano, you could split your vacation between Kauai and Hawaii, the big island.

Inter-island flights are relatively inexpensive , most less than $100 a person, and flying time between islands is around 1/2 hr.

Let us take your Hawaiian vacation to the next level and help plan your multi-island vacation.

ZIKA VIRUS

ZIKA VIRUS

There has been a lot in the news about the Zika Virus and I just wanted to pass on the facts about it. These facts are from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)and the WHO (World Health Organization).

1. Zika is not a new disease, it has been around for years.

2. There are two levels of people. Threatened people and non-threatened people.

3. Threatened people are people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future.

4. Non-threatened people are the rest of the population.

5. The disease is transmitted by a certain type of mosquito.

6. The symptoms and length of the disease are very mild flu like symptoms and lasts less than a week. Less than 50% of the people who contract the disease will display any symptoms.

7. Pregnant people or those who plan on becoming pregnant in the near future are at risk because it has been thought that the disease may be a cause of birth defects. Both the CDC and the WHO claim that, as of yet there is no medical proof of this.

8. When looking at maps of areas where there are cases of Zika Virus, make sure you look for maps that show contracted cases not just reported cases. An example Hawaii will show up on the map for reported cases because they have 1 person with a reported case of Zika Virus but will not show up on the map of contracted cases because the one case they have was actually contracted in Brazil and the person traveled to Hawaii. Hawaii has no contracted cases of Zika Virus.

9. What I recommend is make your own decision concerning your travel plans but make sure you make those decisions based on the facts not on the news hype.

If anyone has any questions please call us for further information.

AIRLINE TIPS

TRAVEL TIP:

This month we are going to discuss something that has confused mankind for years, Airline Pricing and scheduling. I will try to explain these things in layman’s language.

Let’s start with the fact that airline pricing can and often does change every day. You can price a particular flight one day and the next day that same flight will be a completely different price. Airline ticket Prices, legally, can change multiple times a day.

The main reason air prices change is the fact that there can be multiple classes of service on every flight. This means that the airline may have have a class of service that provides 15 seats at a certain price. Once those 15 seats are sold out the price moves to the next highest class of service and price. In the next class of service the airline may have another 15 seats at a higher price. Once those seats are sold out it moves to the next higher class of service and price. You get the idea. There can be 15 or 20 different seat prices for the same flight depending on when the ticket was purchased and what class of service it was in. Prices do occasionally do go down when the flight is not selling but this has become a rare situation.

Airlines have come up with a method to insure flights remain full therefore prices do not come down. They have figured out how many flights they need to a particular destination and they regulate the number of flights to insure all their flights remain full. The day of discounted flights are all but gone.

Next we will explain the myth of using websites to find the cheapest flights. You can use websites to find cheaper flights but you cannot find the exact same flights at different prices. Flight A has a certain schedule. Flight A will have the same price regardless of the website. What the website will do is give you a flight option with a different schedule for a lower price. Flight A for $350 may leave at 9:00 AM and arrive at 1:00 PM non-stop. The flight they give you for less money, $275, may leave at 8:30 AM and arrive at 3:00 PM with 1 connection. When comparing flights, make sure you pay particular attention to the schedule of the flights you see. If you see a +1, it means you will not arrive until the next day.

There is another issue you will have to contend with and that is schedule changes. I have seen up to 10 schedule changes for a particular flight. Schedule changes can incorporate many things such as flight number changes, schedule changes, and equipment changes. You have to make sure when you receive a schedule change from the airline you understand what type of change it is and what you need to do about it. If in doubt call the airline. Also realize that when it is an equipment change it can have an impact on your seat assignment. We automatically handle schedule changes for our clients.

There really are no discounted flights any more other than charter flights that a number of travel agent suppliers offer.

Bottom line is the sooner you purchase flights the better price you are going to receive. If you are within 2 weeks of travel be prepared to pay a premium price in today’s world of airlines tickets. Airlines have scheduled their flights to insure they are all full so they do not have to offer discounted tickets.

When shopping for airline tickets, if you are not ready to purchase right away, be prepared for the price to change. It can change the same day of the next day but sooner than later it will change.

Last point to remember is make sure, when you are looking at flights and prices, you look closely at the schedules of the flights you are researching. A low price usually indicates the worst flight times.

Be sure, when you receive a schedule change for a flight you purchased, you understand what the change is and what you need to do about it.

When we research flights for our clients we try to balance the schedule and the price.

Travel Tip

TRAVEL TIP:

This months travel tip is a discussion of something we have covered before. It is determining how the actual rating of a resort is developed. I want to re-discuss this because I am seeing an alarming number of 1 and 2 star resorts being rated at 4 & 5 star resorts. This can have a huge impact on the type and quality of your vacation and resort choices.

In the U.S. we have standard rating systems like AAA 1-5 ratings. These ratings are determined by AAA through a book or books of requirements and goals that a particular hotel or resort has to follow in order to be rated. AAA then performs inspections to rate the resort based on how well a hotel or resort is following the book or books of requirements and qualifications. There are a separate set of qualifications for each rating level 1 – 5 and these are strictly adhered to.

Having said that, when you get outside of the U.S., for the most part, these ratings do not apply. Europe has it’s own rating system that is much more relaxed than in the U.S. When going to Mexico or the Caribbean there really are not any organized rating systems. Most of the ratings you see are given by the owners of the hotel or resort.

When you think about it, if you owned a resort and rated it 1 star, you probably would not generate a lot of interest for your resort so, why not give it a 5 star rating. You may ask, how can they do this? It is because there really is not any governing body that controls ratings of resorts or hotels in Mexico or the Caribbean. When you look at a rating online, the rating you see is the rating the resort told the online company to publish.

An example of this is there is a well known resort chain in Mexico and the Caribbean that has 3 different quality levels of resorts yet they rate all their resorts 5 stars. If there are 3 different levels of quality how can they all be 5 stars.

The message is be very careful with resort ratings you may see during your research. The largest complaints I see for resorts are on the review websites where a review will say, “this resort was OK but it certainly was not a 5 star resort as they advertised”.

A good knowledgeable travel agent, such as ourselves, will base the rating of a resort on them visiting the resort and the feedback they receive from the clients they send to a particular resort, not on what the published rating is

There certainly is a market for all resorts 1 star – 5 star but you need to make sure whichever one you select meets your criteria for your vacation.

Some of the major differences between 1 star and 5 star are, the service level and the amenities provided. At a true 1,2,3, star resort you will get alcoholic drinks but only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will they be top shelve alcohol, only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will you get 24 hour room service, Only at a true 4 or 5 star resort will you get unlimited dining at all their restaurants. So, it is not necessarily the facilities as much as it is the service and amenities you receive.

The way to be sure is to speak with an experienced knowledgeable travel agent who has visited the resorts and has first hand experience and can get you the vacation you are looking for at the best price available. Most knowledgeable travel agents do not charge a fee and can provide a payment plan.

Make sure you get the Vacation, Honeymoon, or Destination Wedding you want rather than wondering if you got what you want.

Beware of sales

When you see a sale, Cybersale or any other type of sale be careful.  The retail industry has learned that if they put the words sale or deal in front of everything, a large portion of the public will believe it even if it is not true. There are no rules or laws to control this.

We have had people who call us with this fantastic travel sale or deal they found and when we check it against our regular pricing we found that in most cases our regular prices were less that the sale or deal price.

There are some sales out there but make sure you check a number of sources to make sure they are real sales or deals. Keep in mind that in most cases the vacations or products for sale will be the ones they are having a hard time selling.

Another thing to be aware of is, if a deal appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.