🎁 The Gift of Travel: The Who, What, Why and How 🎁

I love Christmas and am 1,000% on board with the joy of giving.

I also have 3 kids and know how the joy of giving can suck you (and your bank account) dry. You know the joy of giving I’m talking about..the one that leaves you weeping your last remaining tears in the PS4 aisle at Target because they are out of NBA19 and you needed just one more gift to even things out. 😢

This joyous feeling is what prompted me to rethink Christmas gifts for my kids a few years ago. I’m hoping I can save someone the agony of toys and items still sitting in boxes in February because you possibly bought things to buy them, not necessarily because they were wanted (no judging here, I still do it every year).

Here it is…give the gift of travel!

I know. I know you might be thinking that sounds complicated, out of your budget, and really difficult to wrap, right? 😉

No worries.. I have the answers.

The Who: Children are top of my list. We have given our kids large trips 2 out of the past 4 years and my kids STILL talk about them being their favorite gifts. Multi-generational family members are also a fantastic choice to receive a git of travel.

The What: Any trip from an overnight out of town to a cruise, an all-inclusive vacation, or Disney. Honestly, any trip that will allow you to make memories as a family, either big or small.

The Why: I’m going to say it, and I think as someone who has fallen into the deep pit -I mean joy- of giving, I think I can: the endless gifts and things are ALL TOO MUCH. Even now at 12 and 10 my kids lists are insane. They think Christmas is a free for all and nothing is off-limits to ask for. Yep. I’ll shoulder a good portion of the blame. We had great intentions before our kids were born and then that first year you become Santa all good intentions are shot to heck with your common sense and your Visa balance. Now, years later we’re working on backpedaling and changing how Christmas goes down around here. So back to the why. The why is simple: the stuff and the things do not last. Very few kids can remember what they received for Christmas by March. So, why not give an experience and memories that I PROMISE they will not forget.

The How: The how you give it is really up to you. We have given the gift of travel for Christmas two different ways.

The first time was a trip to Disney. The kids each received a few gifts and then they began opening Disney related items. For example, my daughter collects snow globes, so she got a Disney globe, they opened Disney socks, Disney notepads (I got at the Dollar Tree!) and a few other small things. They finally realized something was going on and asked if we were going to Disney. At that moment, the didn’t even care about the gifts they opened before they found out!

The second time was a cruise. The last gift the kids opened was a small box which began a scavenger hunt. Each box contained a large puzzle piece and once they had all the boxes they had to put the puzzle together to find out what the gift was. They had so much fun searching and assembling together! I just ordered a puzzle of a picture I created and came up with fun rhymes.

The physical HOW of booking and giving a trip is simple. Most people do not realize that you can book almost any trip with a deposit and make payments. So, now is the time to think about a trip for next Christmas. Speak with your travel agent (or me, if you don’t have one 😁), decide on a trip and book it! Pay on it all year and you will be ready for next year! We’re already planning our next one. 🏝

To wrap this all up, my kids STILL talk about our trips. On our cruise our kids got a glimpse into how people live in another country. A country where plugging in iPads isn’t top priority. It was a great experience for them and we had an amazing time. Our kids STILL talk about the cruise more than anything else. They will remember both of these trips forever. This is another reason multigenerational trips are a wonderful idea. Grandparents and grandchildren sharing experiences is the best gift you can give to everyone. 💗

Happy shopping!

Our Scavenger Hunt

The Benefits of Travel Insurance

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You purchase insurance in case of an emergency for your large life purchases- your home, your vehicle, your belongings and your health. Most vacations cost thousands of dollars and, in some cases, families have scrimped and saved over time in order to take their once in a lifetime trip.

Generally speaking, travel insurance can cover all aspects of your trip from lost or delayed luggage to flying you out of a remote location if you need medical assistance. The cost is usually minimal compared to the cost of your trip and can save you many headaches, lost money from a trip that cannot be taken and, in some cases, even your health.

I often think that clients do not understand the value of travel insurance until it is explained to them. I also understand that it can feel like you already spent enough money on your trip, so pulling out your checkbook to write another $400 (I just pulled this number out of the air) seems unnecessary because “nothing will happen”. However, you just never know and, just like with your car or your health, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Here are some ways that travel insurance can add value to your trip:

  1. Handling the Unexpected. You have saved for your perfect vacation and are all ready to go and then an elderly parent become hospitalized, a child becomes seriously ill or there is a work emergency. Travel insurance can save your perfect trip so you can take it at a later date.
  2. Rebooking for Later.   A policy that includes trip cancellation will allow you to preserve your funds so you can rebook with your agent at a later date.
  3. Trip Interruption. You are in the middle of a fantastic trip and get a phone call that there has been an accident at home and you need to return immediately. Trip interruption coverage allows you to return home in the middle of your trip and recover most of your investment.
  4. Lost Baggage. If your luggage is lost or stolen, baggage benefits on your policy can help you replace the essentials that have gone missing.
  5. Help with Problems. Having emergency travel assistance with your policy is essential. This provides your with a team available 24-7 to deal with emergencies. This could be a need for an attorney or lost or missing travel documents.
  6. Keeping your Healthy. If you become sick or injured while in another country, travel insurance with medical benefits allow you to be directed to a local English-speaking hospital or doctor.
  7. Getting you Home. If your insurer determines that your health and medical situation is an emergency and that you cannot be helped where you are, they can arrange for you to be moved to a proper hospital or medivac you back home.
  8. Peace of Mind. The peace of mind knowing that almost every situation that could arise would be covered by your travel insurance policy is probably the most important item on this list.

There are also insurance options if you are traveling closer to home. Your agent can provide you with an accurate quote in just a few minutes.

5 Reasons You Should Give a Travel Agent a Try

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You use a professional for your taxes, your car repairs, your hair so why aren’t you using a professional for your travel needs?

In this day and age with hundreds of websites full of travel information, discount deals and special offers constantly in front of us, people need the services of a travel professionals more than ever.

  1. They read the fine print and compare offers. There are a lot of deals  on the internet seem far too good to pass up and people wonder why the quote they received from an agent was higher. However, what they are missing is the small details from the discount website quote that makes it less expensive. For example, it is a lower category room, doesn’t include transportation to/from the airport, includes horrible flight times, etc. An reputable agent is trained to put together the best possible deal for you and include everything you need for a stress free trip.
  2. They are your personal vacation shoppers. One you have established a relationship with an agent, you become more than just a client. They will often keep you in mind if they come across a deal or a trip that you might be interested in.
  3. The Human Factor. Let’s face it, a discount internet site isn’t going to share you vacation excitement and have real interest in how your trip was when you return.
  4. They are the experts. Like your doctor or mechanic, a good agent will ask the right questions, listen to your answers and help to guide you to the best fit for your vacation time.
  5. They can manage both the product AND the service of your vacation. A travel agent knows how to sell you the vacation that fits your needs-the airline and resort, the cruise or the vacation closer to home. They also offer the service that will guarantee your vacation is stress free and goes off without a hitch.

The best way to find a reputable travel agent is to ask your friends and family. You might be surprised how many people actually use an agent for their travel needs!

So, the next time you’re thinking about a vacation, give a travel agent a try!

 

To Do: 11 things you should be doing before you leave on vacation.

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I am a busy, working mom with 3 children. My family also loves to travel. So, nobody understands as well as I do what those days leading up to actually LEAVING the house can feel like. If you are anything like me, you have lists and then your lists have lists! It can feel as thought you are trying to keep track of a dozen papers in a hurricane. Even with all of our list making, it can be easy to forget to the basic things that need to be taken care of because we can be so focused on all the large things. I provide all of my clients a Travel Tips and Checklist document so they can leave for their vacation confident they have taken care of everything. I’m going to highlight some of the important items from that list today.

Money Matters: ALWAYS contact your financial institution and let them know you are traveling. We do it for every road trip that crosses state lines and you should ALWAYS contact them if you are leaving the country. If you are leaving the country, make sure you debit/credit cards have an expiration date that is one month after your scheduled return date. Pay any bills that will be due while you are away.

Your Mail/Newspaper: If you will be gone longer than the weekend, hold your mail. It is super easy to do. Just go to http://www.usps.com/holdmail. You just provide your mailing address and chose your hold dates. This will stop mail from piling up in your mailbox- and from people realizing your home is empty.

Your Services: Do you have a housecleaner or lawn service that would generally be scheduled to come while you’re away? If so, make sure you either cancel that scheduled service or make special arrangements with them to come while you’re away. If you have an alarm, notify your alarm company you will be away.

Your Pets: If you have to board pets, make sure they are up to date on their shots. If you have someone coming into your home, make sure you confirm your dates with them and leave your contact info.

Garbage Day: Will you be gone over garbage pick up day and have garbage that needs to go out? If you have a great neighbor, maybe they can drag your cans out if you have everything ready to go.

Clean Up: I know. I actually groaned when I typed that. However, the only thing worse than coming home from vacation is coming home from vacation to a messy house. So, try to get the laundry caught up (think about all the dirty laundry you’ll come home with), put clean sheets on the bed (think about how good it will feel to climb into your own bed with clean sheets when you get home), give the bathrooms a quick wipe down and clean off the kitchen counters.

The Fridge: Take a quick peek in the fridge and clean out any fruit, veggies or other items that could spoil while you are away. You do NOT want to come home and play the “what’s that smell” game.

Medication: If anyone in your family takes prescription medication, make sure you have picked up a refill if it will run out while you are away.

Your House: Set a light timer or two in your home. Close curtains or blinds. Double check all windows and doors are locked. Water your house plants. Set your thermostat (upper 70’s for summer and upper 50’s for winter).

Let People Know: Make sure you give a few people a copy of your itinerary and let them  how to get a hold of you if you will be in an area where you might not have cell service.

Documents: Double check that you have your identification, wallets, tickets, confirmations, copy of your travel insurance, and cell phones and chargers.

Last but not least, do a head count on the way out the door so you don’t forget any of the kids!