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10 Reasons Why You Should Use A Travel Agent

Travel is on the rise! TV and social media allows us to connect worldwide. Myths of an unknown destination are dispelled. Fear dissipates and is replaced with curiosity and intrigue. As family members and friends travel, the desire to travel grows. A snowball effect takes place with individuals sharing their wonderful experiences and building the interest in others to travel, as well. So, as you start to plan your next vacation, why should you use a Travel Agent? Here are 10 reasons listed by travelmarket report:

1. Travel is more complicated than ever.
With 24 new cruise ships coming online — never mind the new resorts and new airline fare categories — keeping with the options is a full-time job. And the growing trend toward groups of families and friends traveling together makes each trip a much more important purchase. Having a professional help with the planning and logistics can have a big impact on how much you spend on — and how much you enjoy — your vacation.

2. Travel advisors are on top of what’s new and exciting. 
The world is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences… If you’d like to see The Passion Play at Oberammergau, the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, the cricket World Cup in Australia or the inaugural sailing of Virgin Cruise, travel professionals have access to the best tour packages and exclusive events, and they understand how to navigate the logistics, said Ashley Metesh-McCoy.

3. They save you so much time and stress.
Sure, reading about places to go is fun — but planning a trip is hard work, and you never know what to believe. Travel agents travel the world, looking at everything, from the size of the rooms in hotels and cruise ships to the dining options on-site and nearby. If they haven’t personally been where you want to go, they know someone who has. They can answer your questions quickly and correctly.

4. Travel advisors have your back when you need an advocate.
Blame global warming, acts of God or just the luck of the draw, but 2018 was a year of volcanoes erupting, earthquakes shaking and airlines failing, not to mention just plain bad weather, and 2019 promises to be the same. Whether the problem is getting there, getting in or getting out, your travel agent will get you where you want to go.

5. There is no do-over for a vacation gone wrong.
Life is busier and more demanding than ever, and vacation time is more valuable. Travel agents can save you hours, not just in doing research to find you the perfect vacation, but also just sitting on hold with short-staffed airlines and resorts to make your vacation perfect.

6. Travel advisors add a human element — and an element of trust.
Travel advisors are invested in their clients’ happiness and satisfaction and want to make sure each and every trip is packed full of positive lifelong memories. They listen, suggest, adjust, understand and become a friend … not just a search engine or an anonymous voice. [GO JDTravel] …is with you before, during and after your trip.

7. The world is constantly changing, and travel agents are on the ground experiencing it.
Has the Caribbean recovered from Hurricane Maria? Is it safe to travel to the Middle East? Travel advisors don’t just sell a destination. They discover, research and experience the places they offer, over and over.

8. They often save you money — and if not, they deliver more value.
Even if your travel agent charges a fee, the value you receive will be bigger than what you paid. Cruise lines and many resorts get the majority of their customers through travel agents — and they reward the best ones with perks to share with you.

9. Travel agents offer unique services for discerning clients.
It all comes down to who you know. And odds are, they know that guy or gal.

10. Like any professional advisors, they really do know more than you do.
You can cut your own hair and do your own taxes and perk your own coffee, but a professional can do it better. You can plan your own vacation, too. Good luck with that.

Give us a call and let’s have a conversation. We are interested in you and learning what you enjoy! Planning the perfect trip involves open communication and we thrive off of your feedback. It is our pleasure to put the work into arranging your travel and making great memories!

Review of the Norwegian Epic

The Norwegian Epic was last refurbished in 2015, has a Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) of 155,873… this is how cruise ships register there size… this is a BIG ship! The ship’s guest capacity is 4,100 (not including the staff). It boasts a wide variety of dining, plenty of activities and a full range of entertainment. Here is a quick video, courtesy of

 Picture courtesy of

We recently sailed on the Norwegian Epic and have an opportunity to share our thoughts about our experience. On a 5-star scale, with 5 stars being the best, I give this ship 4 stars. I will break it down into 2 categories: Quality and Service.


Let’s get right to it… The cabin was tighter than what we are accustomed. It was relatively clean. There were exceptions: balled up paper under the bed — I hate when there’s access under the bed for this reason. The carpet was vacuumed, but could have used shampooing. The glass doors to our balcony and its glass partition were not cleaned and clouded with salt-water spray. The bed was a little short, I am just over 6-feet tall and my feet were hanging over the edge. Still, the bed was very comfortable and we slept well. The bathroom configuration was odd, but not all bad. The shower, toilet and sink are separate with the sink seemingly out of place – in the middle of the cabin – and in the way. We had to swap positions to maneuver around the sink so one of us could pass, which was inconvenient. However, it was nice for one of us to shower while the other still had access to the “private” toilet (private enough). The cabin had plenty of storage and with a little creativity we were able put everything in its place.

The food was great! We enjoyed all of our dining options, from the hot dogs and hamburgers at the buffet to the wings at the pub to the top-notch food at the free specialty dining restaurants. We love the fact that in addition to your dining room there are a few of the specialty restaurants you can enjoy without an extra cost. The food was fresh, varied and accessible. I am a french fry connoisseur and their fries were VERY good! As far as the drinks, we chose to prepay for the adult beverage package with the beverage gratuities (separate from the standard sailing gratuities per person per day) and enjoyed the convenience of ordering drinks at a whim throughout the entire cruise. Once you try different drinks and engage the bartenders on what you like or don’t like (know yourself), they will take care of you. I got to know a few by name and made good conversation; the rest took care of itself — in the way of great drinks. The main bar at the upper deck was always crowded since it is a popular spot, so we found other locations that were not so busy. The only thing is that the package did not include bottled water, so we had to order that separately.


The entertainment was enjoyable. It was not anything special, just mildly entertaining. There were some shows that looked interesting, but they cost extra. There was a ‘deal or no deal’ game that was fun to watch, but the seating was scarce and many had to stand. It would have been better at a larger venue. The comedy show that was funny and funnier after a few drinks. There was no shortage of entertainment or activities. You could play billiards, gamble at the casino, there are a few bowling lanes to reserve and enjoy, basketball court, well-equipped fitness center and water slides. The pools were small and the hot tubs were crowded. When you wanted to entertain yourself with a good book or a nap, there were quiet spots in the adult-only section of the upper deck and a library.

The internet WiFi signal was weak in the cabin which is common on cruise ships. It worked great in the public areas. Since we operate our travel agency while traveling, we settled in comfortably at the library and handled business without a hiccup.



Simply put, the overall service is what kept our rating at 4 out of 5 stars. The highlights were the servers at the specialty dining locations who paid very close attention to detail, the bartenders who are willing to converse and have fun with you despite dealing with large crowds of revelers, store attendants who took the time to answer questions showing a genuine interest in us, the staff at the buffet and lounge areas who were constantly cleaning and organizing the area to keep the tables available and the food fresh. These individuals made our experience enjoyable and relaxing.

When we had questions or issues the staff at guest services were slow to respond. Ultimately, our issues were resolved, but it was the lack of urgency that concerned us. One example was when we asked to have our balcony door and partition cleaned, we ended up cleaning it ourselves. Another was paying for bottled water and arranging delivery to our cabin that didn’t arrive until 3 days later. We were later credited the charge. We are avid and frequent cruisers who realize that these negatives are isolated issues that did not adversely affect our experience.

All-in-all we recommend this ship and the cruise line, as a whole!

Traveling on a budget? Be Flexible!

When planning a trip we normally start with what step? A budget, right? Well, not always. Usually, it’s the destination! The beautiful views and the exciting adventure! Someone shared their experience or you saw an advertisement and now you want to go too. Then… we find out how much it costs $$$!!! WOW!!! SERIOUSLY!!! Even though you thought you had an idea of the cost, you didn’t expect it to be that much.  Before you hand over your hard-earned money, some research needs to be done. Where can you find the best deals? How are all these other people able to afford a similar trip? As travel experts, we experience this “sticker shock” reaction time and time again with our clients. Our answer, most of the time, is that the key to finding a less expensive option for your dream vacation is FLEXIBILITY. We also help put the price into perspective. Can you expect to travel from the U.S. to Japan for the same price as a weekend trip within the states? Not realistically. So, having a sensible starting point helps. There are instances when a rigid schedule or budget is required and there’s no way around it– you have to go on these dates for this price. What we’ve found, mostly, is that the “rigid” part is not so much a requirement, but a state of mind. Remember, this is vacation we’re talking about, be flexible! As you begin to plan your vacation, form a game plan. If you are traveling with others set up a relaxed meet up to discuss everyone’s expectations- budgets, desired length of trip, destinations, experiences, level of activity. Keep it fun! Remember, it’s vacation! Decide on the best means of communication, so you can get in touch relatively quickly once the research starts. This works especially well when planning group travel. We will discuss group travel in a future post. Moving forward, your flexible mindset will come into play. You have a dream destination in mind, you just need to make sure the cost is right. Here are some flexible options:
  • Look for off-peak flight dates during the year. There are certain times of the year when the flights are cheaper. you will usually pay a higher fare for holidays, spring break and summer. Parents tend to wait until their kids are out of school to travel paying much higher rates than if they— wait for it— travel when school is in session. Psst… you didn’t hear that from me! Think about when most people travel and avoid those times.
  • Some destinations have lower pricing during winter months. Generally, known as dead zones. Especially, overseas and other areas that thrive in the warmer weather. If you’re not into the activities associated with warmth, you can save a bundle. My fiance’ and I love to take advantage of the price breaks that come with the cooler weather. We pick cooler, but not too cold, times when we can walk the city and take in the atmosphere without the discomfort of the heat. Also, it’s a great time to wear some fashionable attire. Still… pack lightly!
  • Plan to travel during the week. Many take advantage of weekends to avoid using too many vacation days. If you can fly out on a Wednesday or even split the weekend and depart on a Saturday, you may find less expensive options. Departing on Fridays and Mondays and returning on Sundays are typically most expensive.
  • Become an early riser or a late owl! Travel times with departures very early in the morning or returning home very late in the evening typically have lower fares. I once scored a great deal on a flight. I departed at 6:15am on a Saturday and returned at 11:45pm on a Tuesday.
  • Be OK with reasonable layovers. Notice the word REASONABLE is in bold print. Some layovers are ridiculously long. If you have the time, you can save $$$. However, you may score a deal by enduring a layover that will allow you to recharge, check in with family, explore an airport or have a decent meal at one of the many restaurants and meet new friends. The extreme adventurers fly STANDBY! It’s a gamble, put it pays off financially. Flying standby requires ultimate flexibility, in my opinion.
  • What about lodging? Convenience dictates a hotel near the airport or near sites and attractions. We love to be close to the action! A convenient location is what we focus on for our clients. However, when trying to save some cash, hotels just outside your desired area can translate into big savings. Many destinations have either public or private transportation options that will get you where you need to be. Transportation isn’t free, so advanced research is key to ensure the sacrifice will pay off.
There are many more ways to adjust your itinerary to save money. As travel experts, we love sharing our experiences and enjoy helping with planning your vacation. It’s starts with a conversation. We listen. You talk. That way we pick up on what you want out of your vacation and assist with all the different ways to save.      

Travel Lightly!

Have you ever started packing for a trip and end up staring at your suitcase and then look at the pile of clothes you’ve selected wondering how you’re going to fit it all? Or, jammed all the “necessary” items in your suitcase(s), arrived at the airport and had to pay extra fees to check an extra bag or pay for one that was too heavy? The excitement of your vacation and all the things you envision doing sends us to bedroom closets and dresser drawers grabbing all the must-have-outfits for each activity of your trip. Yes, most of us have been there. I know I have when I first started to travel. Once I traveled regularly, it seemed to be a fun challenge to pack as light as possible. It made each trip easier– navigating the terminal, to the hotel and during my stay. Here are some things I do to help me travel Light:

  • Review your trip itinerary… and all activities for which I am genuinely interested and will realistically do. Select appropriate clothing. Packing for just-in- case situations adds more than you will actually need. You will return home with clothes you’ve never worn. Right?
  • Consolidate the selected clothing. Do you need all pairs of jeans or will fewer pairs suffice? Some jeans are very similar and your selection can be pared down (see what I did there?). Do you need all those shoes, really? To be fashionable is one thing, to keep things simple is another. Select a comfortable, versatile shoe for your daily activities and, if needed, a dressier shoe that can be paired (did it again 🙂 with multiple outfits. You will save so much room!

  • Avoid bulky clothing. Is it going to be cold? Warmer during the day and colder at night? Try selecting layers that you can combine when chilly or peel off when warmer. You don’t want to pack a big, heavy winter coat and not wear it.
  • Wear clothing more than once. Fashion and the fear of who might notice aside, some clothing items can be worn more than once… others, of course, can’t. You know which ones. Yes, I said it! Why not reduce your load even more with clothing you can mix up for more than just one day. Less clothes, less worry.
  • Consider doing laundry midway through those longer trips. It’s worked wonders for me! More and more hotels, cruise lines, etc. have laundry options. For longer trips, I’ve packed for 1/2 as many days knowing that I can do laundry during those down times of my trip.

When it’s all said and done, what does one really need when traveling? Time and consideration will refine your clothing choices. With the baggage fees and smaller carry-on limits nowadays it’s worth a try. Plus, you can make more room for souvenirs! Plan well. Pack light. Enjoy!