Category Archives: Travel

Should Know About Holiday Travel With Kids

One of the country’s leading experts on family travel, author and television personality Deb Geigis Berry spends up to 16 weeks on the road each year with her husband and two young children to seek out the best destinations to recommend to consumers. Here are some tips for holiday travel she’s picked up along the way.

Family Around Christmas TreeKeep planning simple: Traveling with kids in tow involves many details. To make the process easier, consider using a travel agent, who can recommend vacation destinations tailor-made for your family’s interests and budget, find great deals on airfare and hotels, and fill you in on the latest airport security news.

Make getting to your destination fun: Use time traveling together for zany sing-alongs, family storytelling sessions and scavenger hunts. Parents can draw up a list of things you might expect to see from a car or plane, such as two-toned cows, a car toting a Christmas tree, or a man wearing a red hat, then have the kids vie to see who spots the items first. For the ultimate treat, splurge on a portable DVD player, and watch a new holiday movie in transit, the just-released A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is a good bet this winter.

Pack a fun bag: Assemble a bag for each child containing stickers, paper and washable markers, poseable figurines (that don’t have a lot of pieces), magnetic games and puzzles, and a pillow. If you use these particular bags for trips only, they’ll remain novel, and kids will look forward to the journey.

Break up the trip with frequent stops: Playgrounds, indoor fun centers, and family restaurants are good bets. AT&T Wireless even offers new M-Mode cell phone services that let customers access the locations of nearby fast-food restaurants, movie schedules, restaurant reviews, directions and even weather reports. For more info visit www.attwireless.com/personal/features/mmode/.

Make a memory box: Bring an empty shoebox along to store items you’ll collect along the way, such as seashells, rocks, funny postcards, and marked-up road maps. When you get home, label the box with the trip destination and date, and you’ll have a great souvenir of your time together.

Tips To Get Amazing Honeymoon

So you’re planning your honeymoon? Congratulations! The honeymoon is an important part of the wedding experience, and a much-needed escape after months of exciting, yet exhausting, wedding planning.

Couple LaughingTo unlock the secrets of honeymoon bliss that will make all your friends envious, check out these tips from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know that planning your honeymoon should be as relaxing as the honeymoon itself.

First Things First – Let’s Define Ideal
Most people grow up with a preconceived notion of what an ideal honeymoon should involve. However, a bride’s idea of tropical paradise and a groom’s idea of a ski resort could conflict.

Communication and compromise are needed from the start (and preferably the duration) of the marriage, with the goal to make your honeymoon romantic, memorable and stress-free. Consider these questions as soon as honeymoon talks begin:

What is most important? Suntan lotion, sand and surf or the privacy and seclusion a cozy mountain retreat?
Are you looking to experience new cultures in distant lands or do you just want to get away from it all?
Are you more interested in going around the corner or around the world?
Do you want to spend more on the wedding or the honeymoon?
Niagara Falls like your parents? The Caribbean like your friends? Europe like your ancestors?
What sounds better: a cruise, a package vacation or an all-inclusive resort?
Paradise Comes in Many Guises -Types of Honeymoons
When it comes to honeymoon planning, most couples try to select the destination first, yet travel agents suggest a more productive way to begin. Unless your dream destination has already been set in stone, first decide what type of vacation you want and then narrow down your list of destinations accordingly.

Couple beside PoolResorts are the most popular honeymoon destinations, for they transport you into another world for a miraculous escape from the daily grind. Often set in the most picturesque places in the world, they include pools, private beaches and golf courses, as well as culinary delights and relaxing spas.

All-inclusive resorts streamline the enjoyment process by including everything – your room, transfers, recreational facilities, meals and drinks – all in one price. Without the worries of wondering how much everything little thing will cost, you are free to live the high life and experience everything you want as often as you want it.

If an all-inclusive resort sounds tempting but too stationary, consider taking a cruise. Cruises are floating resorts that whisk you away to one exotic port after another. Whether you want a cultural cruise to the Mexican Riviera or a wildlife adventure up the Alaskan coast, your travel agent will match you and your betrothed to the perfect floating experience.

If the idea of lying on beach sounds about as exciting as a nap, then shift to a higher gear and take an adventure vacation, especially if you and your fiancé share a kindred spirit for outdoor exhilaration. Whether it’s white-water rafting in Colorado, hiking through the Alps or taking an African safari, sharing the experience will become a vital bond you both will share forever.

Cultural and historical trips are fascinating and romantic ways to reconnect with the past. Visit a famous European city – Paris, London, Rome…the list goes on – and inhale the culture, soak in the sights and experience the art of living. Or dive into the rich history of the old world country from which your family originated. The unique perspective you gain will become a central root for your future family tree.

Want Stress Free? Leave it to a Professional
Couple Entering HotelAfter “I do,” your two favorite words will be “stress free,” and we can’t stress that enough. Planning for the most important day of your life will be a wonderfully crazy time for you, so finding someone you trust to aid in your decision making will be a welcomed relief.

Would you try and bake your wedding cake yourself or ask a professional for help? For stress-free travel plans – especially those with multiple steps like a honeymoon – seek out the expert advice of a travel agent.

A good travel agent can save you money as well as time – two enormous factors for a couple trying to plan a wedding and a honeymoon simultaneously. Through incomparable experience and valuable resources, travel agents specialize in providing personalized suggestions to suit your interests and your budget. And visiting their office for a chat is absolutely free!

From Their Lips to Your Ears – Travel Agent Tips
Begin early and share the planning. To ensure that you both enjoy the honeymoon, make all the decisions together.

Make time for yourselves. Pad your honeymoon schedule with generous amounts of free time, for a rushed and overly organized honeymoon might feel too much like your wedding. Instead, plan a few enjoyable activities and leave lots of opportunities to just enjoy each other’s company.

Couple beside ShoreSet a tentative budget. Talk about your expectations and priorities from the very beginning and decide what you might splurge on and where you might cut corners.

Splurge on whatever accommodations you choose. No matter what type of vacation package you choose, you will spend an enormous amount of time in your room or cabin. Make it special = make it unforgettable.

Use your maiden name. Unless you’re taking a delayed honeymoon, you won’t have time to change the name on your passport and driver’s license. Use your maiden name on visas, airline tickets, etc., so they match as it appears on your official documents.

Tell the world you’re on your honeymoon. Stand up on every chair, on every rock and shout, “We’re on our honeymoon!” Everyone from strangers to airlines to hotels will take notice and cheerfully offer you such special treatment such as complimentary champagne in-flight or a gift basket in your room. Go ahead, it’s your honeymoon.

Simple Packing Tips For Traveling

There are two kinds of travelers in the world: those who pack light and those who wish they had. To include everything needed in as little space as possible, follow these helpful packing tips compiled by ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know the techniques of efficient packing and packing tips for all types of travel.

PACKING LIST – MAKE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT!
Like an architect planning a building, you must plan the contents of your suitcase by creating a packing list. A packing list eliminates the panic of last-second packing, serves as a handy guide for repacking at the end of the trip, and can be beneficial in the unfortunate event of lost or stolen luggage.

When planning your wardrobe, consider the events you will participate in both day and night and write down a possible outfit for each activity. Crosscheck this packing list to determine if one piece can cover multiple occasions. Pick clothes that coordinate well together, based around complimentary colors.

Check the weather forecast of the destination and plan accordingly. Also, be sure to know the local traditions, where a t-shirt for dinner could be a serious blunder, or bare shoulders may bar your entrance into places such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. For almost all outdoor activities, take pieces that can be layered.

Forget dress clothes for every occasion. The world at large has relaxed its dress code, showing almost universal leniency to tourists. Dark colors – a black dress or blue jacket – will get you through most dinners and plays.

PACKING TIPS : TO PACK OR NOT TO PACK? THAT IS THE QUESTION!
Now that the wardrobe is thoroughly planned, stick with it. When packing, lay out the items you intend to take and reexamine your packing list. If possible, weed out single-use items and extras.

Set aside the pieces you intend to bring and ensure that they are clean and ready to be packed. Contact your travel agent about the hotel’s in-room amenities – such as a hair dryer, an iron and board, soap, shampoo etc. – so you’ll know what to leave behind.

Jewelry – don’t take what you don’t want to lose, and leave behind the flashy pieces that could attract thieves. Keep makeup to a minimum to save space, and leave the perfume behind when scented lotions will work just as well.

When it comes to the question of toiletries, travel kits are always the answer. Having a travel kit perpetually stocked in a waterproof case will save in packing time before the trip and aggravation after arrival. Most toiletry items come in inexpensive travel sizes, so purchase these whenever you see them so as not to arrive with a half-empty bottle of your favorite hair gel. And don’t fill bottles up to the very top, for pressure inside the plane may force the contents to expand and overflow.

With each item you intend to bring, visualize how to make it smaller, like photocopying certain pages and maps from the guidebook instead of bringing the entire book. Streamline your daily habits. Bring only one bottle of all-purpose lotion instead of multiple lotions for hands, face and body. Choose a regular toothbrush or razor over electric models.

Film and other accessories can be purchased globally and often easily, so save packing room by leaving them behind. Create an in-trip adventure and discover more about the area by shopping for a local brand of deodorant or lotion.

When it comes to incidentals, a few items will go a long way. Important items to bring include a first-aid kit, a tin of aspirin, sunscreen and a small bottle of Woolite for emergency, in-room laundering if needed. Also, a Swiss army knife will amaze you with its handiness, whether peeling fruit or uncorking a wine bottle. Remember – it’s not allowed on the plane, so pack it in your checked luggage.

Once your travel kit is complete, be sure to pack it in your carry-on bag to avoid a mess in your checked luggage and have on hand during the flight.

THE ART OF PACKING
Now you know what to bring, so let the packing begin. Iron everything before placing it in the suitcase. If it goes in crisp and clean, odds are more in its favor of coming out the same. Button all buttons and zip all zippers.

Learn to fold. Practice folding like they do in clothing stores – they use that method for a reason. The better the fold, the fewer the creases. All garments can be folded in many different ways – T-shirts, jeans, skirts and sports coats can be rolled up and strategically positioned (i.e. stuffed) in a duffel bag or travel pack.

The interlocking method of folding clothes is ideal for suitcases. Overlap two pieces of clothing flat and then fold them into each other so that each piece cushions the other to aid in defying wrinkles. Placing a piece of tissue paper between each layer of clothing will also help prevent wrinkling.

If using the fold and stack method, try to think chronologically, placing the items to be worn first on the top. This will prevent rooting around the suitcase for a specific item while disrupting the rest.

Always pack tightly. Packing loosely wastes precious space and causes clothes to wrinkle. Eliminate wasted space, such as the insides of shoes, which are perfect for socks or underwear.

Always carry travel documents, medication, jewelry, traveler’s checks, keys and other valuables in your carry-on luggage. Items such as these should never be packed in checked luggage.

Label each piece of luggage, both inside and out, with your name and telephone number, but not your home address. If an address is needed, then put your office’s. And remove old claim checks to avoid confusion.

Unpack as completely as possible as soon as you get to the hotel to prevent further wrinkles. When repacking, remember that balled-up, dirty laundry takes more space than carefully folded clothes, so repack your used clothing identically to your original packing method.

Travel apps that should have it

The world of travel apps is saturated. There are apps for almost everything these days, from the planning stages right through to post-travel reminiscing. Some of them are fun, some are seriously handy and others are just gimmicks.

With all the tech that’s out there, it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack if you want find something genuinely useful for your travels. Here are 7 apps and websites we rate for 2017.

 

1. For European rail adventures: Loco2

If you’re planning a rail trip around Europe this summer, Loco2 is a must-have. Whether you’re going to Lyon for the incredible food or want sun, sea and sand in Barcelona, Loco2 is on hand to help you book your trips.

You can search for in-country and cross-border routes throughout Europe and reserve tickets in either euros or GBP. Plus, you can set up alerts for when booking opens on routes you’re planning to use in future. There’s a desktop site and both a free Android and iOS app for booking on the move.

2. For savvy travelling: Hopper

Flight prices are notoriously unpredictable – one day they’re up and the next they’re down, with seemingly no logical or predictable pattern. This is where Hopper comes in. Enter your travel dates and Hopper will predict when your flight is going to be at its cheapest.

If it tells you to wait, you can watch the route and receive notifications when prices drop, or you can book there and then through the app (available on Android and iOS) with no added fees.

 

3. For a bit of fun: PolarSteps

Not all travel apps need to be practical. We’re intrigued by PolarSteps – the app (on Android and iOS) that tracks your travel using GPS (no data required) and turns it into an instant photo album.

Using only 4% extra battery power, it’s a good way to keep a log of your holiday without having to update social media or write notes on your phone (making your digital detoxeven easier). Over time it tallies up your number of trips, countries and total number of miles covered, giving you some serious bragging material.

Some Hotel Tips for Traveling

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest, especially while on vacation or a business trip. To ensure the best possible hotel stay with the least amount of worry, follow these helpful hotel tips compiled by the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). ASTA members are trained professionals who know hotels, the services they provide, and, most importantly, the quality you expect.

CHOOSING A GOOD HOTEL

Choosing the right hotel is half the battle. Most Americans will spend hours finding the perfect airline ticket, but only minutes to research a hotel room, often going with the lowest price option.

While price is a universal factor, remember that all hotels want a full house and strive for this goal every night. To get the best deal, book early through a travel agent and try to be flexible with your dates. Hotels that cater to business people surprisingly will have great weekend rates, which they consider “off season.”

Travel agents will ask for special package deals loaded with options or discounts for seniors, families or the military that may apply. They also understand your needs and expectations, so they will be able to choose the hotel that’s best for you, based on the amenities and services it provides, along with its proximity to the interstate, airport, restaurants and attractions.

MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS

While direct online booking is an option, it’s still advisable to book through a travel agent. If you choose to contact a hotel directly, travel agents recommend that it may pay to connect in a more conventional way – by phone. Many hotels, both national and independently owned, have toll-free numbers to connect you to reservation specialists. If no such number is available and you must call the hotel directly, be sure to call in the afternoon or night, for the mornings are hectic times while guests checkout.

When making a reservation, confirm the quoted rate and record the confirmation number and the name of the person with whom you spoke. Ask the reservation specialist to repeat him or herself, write down the details, and be clear about the type of room you are getting, if it’s smoking or non-smoking, and what are the check-in and checkout times.

Once the room is reserved, document all hotel information and a full itinerary to leave with a friend or neighbor in case of emergencies. If you book your room through a travel agent, make copies of the reservation confirmation they provide you, for it will clearly state the hotel’s information and your arrival and departure dates.

Have this confirmation information or a printout of your e-mail reservation available when you check-in. Hotels never intentionally misplace or incorrectly enter reservation information, but it’s always a good idea to bring evidence just in case.

GUARANTEEING HOTEL RESERVATIONS FOR LATE ARRIVALS

There’s nothing worse than driving all day through syrupy traffic only to arrive at the hotel and discover your reservation is expired and there are no more rooms available. The key to never having this happen is knowing how late is late.

Most hotel chains will hold a normal reservation until 6 p.m. For those arriving later in the night, ask to guarantee the reservation with a credit card number. Even those pulling up after midnight with a guaranteed reservation will find a warm bed waiting. Hotels hold the right to cancel reservations that are not guaranteed. If you are delayed en route, call the hotel and ask to hold your reservation until you arrive.

OVERBOOKED HOTEL – NO ROOM IN THE INN?
Even though losing an expected room due to over-booking or a misplaced reservation may come as a shock, don’t let it get you down. Most hotels will assist in remedying the situation by transferring you to a sister location, an associated hotel nearby.

If the lost reservation was guaranteed, then the burden falls on the hotel to ensure that your new room at the sister location is of equal or greater quality and at no additional cost. The hotel should cover any transportation expenses incurred by paying for a taxi or providing the use of their shuttle service.

If this courtesy is not extended, then ask to speak to a manager or contact your travel agent to act as your advocate.

CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH A SMILE
As a valued consumer, your satisfaction is important. Hotel staffs are thoroughly trained, working around the clock to meet your needs. However, problems may arise, such as uncooperative neighbors, so know the hierarchy of the hotel’s customer service for a swift resolution.

A quick call to your travel agent is always a good first step, for they speak the hotel language and understand reasonable reparations for each problem. Through advocacy and advice, travel agents can assuage most situations, pleasing you and the hotel.

Staying within the hotel, the front desk clerk is trained to handle problems without involving the manager, so state your complaint clearly and allow them to arrange a remedy. From forgotten toothbrushes to room relocations, front desk clerks offer the quickest and most direct assistance.

If your complaint falls outside their jurisdiction, politely ask to see the manager. Managers better understand the necessities of customer loyalty and possess the authority to offer guests discounts on current or future stays.

If nothing is resolved with the manager, contact the hotel’s customer service department. Be sure to write down the names of the people you spoke with, the dates of your stay and the rates charged to aid the operator in assisting you in the most proficient capacity.

CHECKING INTO YOUR HOTEL
The only obstacle during check-in should be the line at the counter. With your reservation made, hotels will want to usher you to your room as quickly as possible, so have your confirmation information ready and verify that the rate charged is the rate originally quoted.

Know the proper check-in time and ask specific questions about the area and the provided services. Request a card with the hotel’s name, address and telephone information in case you get lost exploring the city.

FULLY STOCKED – THE THINGS YOU MIGHT NEED
Depending on your needs, ask if the hotel offers or provides the following:

Laundry service or in-room ironing board and iron
Hair dryers
Voltage converters
In-room coffee makers, refrigerators or kitchenettes
Morning newspaper service
Complimentary meals (usually breakfast)
Access to fax machine, copier or printer
Mini-bar or refreshments
Data port
In-room safe
Cable television, movies or video games
Portable cribs or rollaway beds
Shuttle service to airport or other points of interest
Recreational facilities
Telephone access charges
Adequate parking
Hotels often have a limited number of internet-ready rooms or hair dryers, so ask for specific items during check-in.

HOTEL SAFETY TIPS = SLEEP TIGHT

Safety is a priority for you and the hotel. From your car to their bed, take a few precautions and don’t leave anything to chance.

Park in a well-lit space near the hotel entrance or your room,and be sure to lock all doors and keep valuables in the trunk and out of sight. If given the option, always ask for a room with an interior entrance. At the front desk, ask that the attendant write your room number down so that no one can hear it, and quickly pocket your key if it has the room number printed on it.

Once inside your room, lock your door with the deadbolt and the chain lock, and familiarize yourself with the fire exits posted on the back of the door. Do not open the door for anyone unless you verify the identity of the person either through the peephole or verbally, even if you are expecting a friend or room service.

CHECKING OUT WITH NO SURPRISES

At the end of a hotel stay, checking out should be a pleasant experience as long as there are no surprises like left-behind items or incidental charges. Check the room thoroughly before vacating, including drawers, closets and the bathroom, especially behind the shower curtain and the back of the bathroom door.

Most hotels have established checkout times ranging from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you need additional time, request it in advance, or else you may be charged an additional night.

Review the bill to ensure all charges are accurate, and you received all entitled credits and discount. Get a receipt, and if you pay in cash, make sure it is marked, “Paid in Cash.”

Amazing Destination Weddings

Congratulations! You’re getting married! Over the next year you will be making a million decisions about your wedding and honeymoon, and hopefully the process will be as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. One choice that many couples are making nowadays is foregoing the traditional idea of a wedding – a local ceremony in front of 300 family, friends and random strangers – for an intimate destination wedding.

HoneymoonA destination wedding, labeled by some as a “wedding moon,” combines the wedding, reception and honeymoon together in one location. The destination wedding is held at a desirable site, sometimes tropical, other times exotic, allowing the guests to enjoy a relaxing, activity-filled vacation while spending more quality time with the wedding couple. The couple invites only their nearest and dearest to celebrate the union. All events occur over a long weekend, along with other wedding activities designed to bring the revelers together.

If it’s hard to imagine what a destination wedding is like, picture this: you and your partner are in a warm, tropical setting, surrounded by friends and family toasting your success. The sounds of music and ocean waves peacefully blend together in the background, and a feast is prepared in your honor in the local traditions. Every single detail, from the setting of the service to the flowers, has been effortlessly arranged to suit your taste. And after the ceremony, you won’t have to leave this breathtaking locale, for you’ll have your honeymoon there as well.

To discover if a destination wedding is right for you, check out this advice from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA travel agent members know that a special destination can make a special occasion extra special.

Reasons to Say, “I Do” to Destination Weddings

HoneymoonThe Beauty of Package Deals – Tourism organizations, resorts and cruise lines offer wedding packages to keep a destination wedding stress-free and simple. Some offer the complimentary services of their on-site wedding consultant to help coordinate the essentials, like your marriage license and an officiant. All you have to do is show up. Your travel agent can sometimes expand these package deals to include fun activities for you and your special guests, such as sightseeing excursions, snorkeling adventures or shopping trips.

Avoiding the Awkward Invites – Because destination weddings are generally intimate affairs attended by only your closest friends and dearest family members, you can avoid being forced into inviting cousin Matt with halitosis or your best friend Jenny’s little brother you met once 10 years ago. You get to choose the level of intimacy you want for the ceremony and invite accordingly, or you can invite no one at all for a very romantic trip down the aisle.

No Reception with 250 People to Pay For – You do the math: 250 people, including co-workers and business contacts, at $75 a head equals too much money! A luxurious wedding weekend at a fabulous destination oftentimes costs less than a seated dinner at the local country club. Proper etiquette of a destination wedding calls for invited guests to pay their own airfare, while you’ll pick up the tab for the lodging, food and beverages. You can add a few perks for your guests if feeling generous, such as gift certificates to nearby spas.
It’s smart for a couple planning a destination wedding to contact a travel agent to negotiate a discounted rate for booking multiple rooms and group rates with airlines or cruise ships. If money is an issue, your travel agent can steer you toward domestic locations or countries with a favorable exchange rate.

No Extra Traveling Necessary – Destination weddings are perfect for couples with families and friends scattered around the country or even the world. If a good majority of your guests would have to travel to your hometown anyway, then getting married in a desirable vacation spot will make many of your guests happy.

Reasons to Think, “Maybe Not”

Long Distance Planning and Legal Red Tape
For those not getting married at a resort with a complimentary wedding consultant, you’ll have to juggle all the small details yourself long distance. You might experience complications when trying to get a marriage license in a foreign country or even another state. Many places require marriage fees and residency requirements.

It’s wise to hire a coordinator who specializes in destination weddings to help you navigate the twists and turns. A good wedding planner, like a good travel agent, can help keep costs in check by bargaining with vendors or utilizing professional relationships to obtain special discounts. The more exotic the locale, the more necessary the wedding planner becomes. If at all possible, hire a local wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings, and let him or her work with an onsite planner. This usually does not translate into double fees, for the services of the local wedding planner are generally included in the overall price.

HoneymoonWhere’s Granny? – While exotic locales are a great way to keep undesirables from attending your special event, it may also have the reverse effect with loved ones who may not be able to attend due to the expense, physical limitations or getting enough time off of work. Think about all the guests who are truly essential before deciding on the location. If money is an issue for your guests, simply tell them that their presence is the only wedding gift you need.

No Room for Impetuousness – With a destination wedding, advance warning and save-the-date cards are crucial. Send them off as early as possible, preferably at least eight months in advance, for your guests will need to work the trip into their budget and work schedules. Also, many guests, since they’re suddenly planning to visit an exciting corner of the world, take vacations before or after the wedding. Fair warning gives them time to contact a travel agent and plan the perfect trip.

Crowded Honeymoon? – With your family around, will you be able to enjoy a private honeymoon with romantic alone time? If you want alone time, you’ll have to schedule it. Arrive a few days before everyone else, which you may need to do anyway for marriage license requirements, or enjoy your honeymoon nearby on a different island or neighboring resort. If neither of these options is possible, plan fun activities, preferably of the all-day kind, to occupy your friends and family while you and your new spouse sneak away to a private beach or special restaurant.

I, Travel Agent, Take Thee (State Your Name) Anywhere You Want to Go
Once you decide a destination wedding is right for you, then say “I do” to a travel agent. Travel agents excel at making plans for multiple people from multiple locations, oftentimes at special, discounted group rates. Planning for the most important day of your life will be a wonderfully crazy time for you, so finding someone you trust to aid in your decision making will be a welcomed relief.

A good travel agent can save you money as well as time – two enormous factors for a couple planning their life together. Through their love of travel and reliable relationships with suppliers around the globe, travel agents specialize in providing personalized suggestions to suit both your dreams and your budget. Some travel agents can even set up a layaway plan, so you can make monthly payments for your special trip.

Gorgeous cities you should visit

Georgia’s leafy capital is due its time in the spotlight. Dynamic, progressive and home to one of the country’s most exciting food scenes, Atlanta is the new star of the South. Whether you stay for a week or stop by on a layover, you’ll soon discover why it’s one of our top 10 cities to visit this year.

Where do I start?

Atlanta is a city of distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own vibe. The best place to start is on the Eastside, where you’ll find rock ‘n’ roll Little Five Points, bohemian Virginia-Highland and laidback Inman Park, once Atlanta’s first suburb.

The Westside is more spread out, but home to some of the city’s coolest areas, studded by galleries, hip loft apartments and factory conversions. The Westside Provisions District is one of the easiest to wander on foot. Once a meat-packing plant, its red-brick industrial buildings have been tastefully renovated and are now packed with cool boutiques and upscale restaurants.

 

To understand the city’s history, dedicate a day to exploring historic Sweet Auburn, birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. The district was designated a National Historic Sitein 1976, recognizing the achievements of the African-American community which has thrived here.

You can learn more about Dr. King’s life on a free tour of his Birth Home, in the visitor centre, or at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was once pastor. To get a feel for the area today, drop by the much-lauded Sweet Auburn Curb Market for lunch.

 

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For a different taste of Atlanta life, head for quirky Cabbagetown, with its clapboard houses and narrow streets, or drive north to glitzy Buckhead for high-end malls and mansions (yes, this is where residents once protested against Justin Bieber). Downtown and Midtown, while essential to visit for the city’s big sights, can feel a little soulless.

 

What’s new?

Regeneration initiatives have transformed Atlanta in recent years. The highest profile development is the BeltLine, one of the most ambitious public projects in the country. Tracing an old railway line, it will cover 22 miles when fully complete; follow the trail on foot or by bike, and keep an eye out for the latest art installations along the way.

Foodies will love the enormous Ponce City Market, a superb multi-million dollar conversion of the derelict Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. It’s a slick development from the team behind NYC’s Chelsea Market, with shops including Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie, and food hall residents ranging from award-winning burger purveyors H&F to smart bar-restaurants like The Mercury. Nearby Krog St Market is smaller and more convivial; try the bao at Suzy Siu’s or the excellent Tex-Mex tacos at Superica.

 

The city has also hit the big screen again this year, thanks to FX’s new show Atlanta. Movie tours can take you behind the scenes, as well as to filming locations from the likes of The Hunger Games, Anchorman 2, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead, parts of which were all shot here.

Simple Tips For Women Trip Alone

Now more than ever, women are traveling by themselves for business or pleasure. And although their reasons for traveling are similar to their male counterparts, women traveling alone have very different concerns. From safety issues to cultural variations, women travelers encounter a variety of difficulties that can be avoided if the necessary precautions are taken.

woman with computer at airport gateTo learn how you can travel safer, read these tips from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members understand that while it pays for both men and women to be educated travelers, it is imperative for women to plan every step of their trip – from packing a suitcase to choosing a hotel room – to ensure a safe return.

Know Before You Go
Learn as much about the destination as possible, especially when traveling to a foreign country. An area’s religious or cultural beliefs can directly impact you, compelling you to adapt your dress and demeanor to comply with local customs. Also, what is regarded as sexual harassment in one country is part of the social fabric of another, so avoid form-fitting or revealing clothing to prevent unwanted attention.

Welcome to Hotel Safety
Get to know the staff, who will be familiar with guests and are able to more effectively monitor who enters and exits the building. Ask beforehand if a member of the staff will be available to escort you to your room if you arrive late at night. Ask for a room on a higher floor near the elevator but away from emergency exits, stairwells, and any renovation work. Never accept a room if the clerk loudly calls out your name and room number.

While at the front desk, grab a card from the counter with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it, and keep this card on you at all times. Once inside your room, make sure the door has a peephole and a deadbolt. If it doesn’t, make sure you don’t open the door to someone you don’t know.

Travel Documents
Make two copies of important travel documents – one set for the trip, and one for friends or family to keep at home.

Packing Smart
Pack light so you won’t be weighed down and look weighed down, both of which would make you an ideal target for pickpockets. Avoid expensive looking baggage and clothing, lock all suitcases and only use covered luggage woman writing in journaltags with your office address written on it rather than your home. Carry only one credit card, and don’t keep all your money in one place.

Transportation
Explore transportation options available at your destination ahead of time, especially if you will be arriving late in the evening. Travel agents can help determine the safest choice and make the necessary arrangements. If renting a car, carefully examine maps, write out directions in advance and bring along a cellular phone.

Know Your Surroundings
Study a map of the area you will be visiting. Learn as much as possible about getting around the streets to avoid looking like a lost tourist. Ask the concierge about where – and, more importantly, where not – to go.

The Best Vacation Memories are Good Vacation Memories
There may be safety in numbers, but there is also safety in knowledge. With some advance planning and the advice of a professional travel agent, your vacation or business trip can be safe, hassle free and memorable.

Discovering Best Heritage Travel

We all come from somewhere. Whether our parents bravely crossed borders for a better life before we were born, or generations ago our families were deeply entrenched in the southern hemisphere, our bloodlines race with the trade winds across the oceans to connect to another land and another time.

Nowadays, more and more travelers are discovering the roots of these bloodlines through heritage travel, which combines the excitement, relaxation and bonding of a vacation with the education of a history lesson. But this is not your regular history lesson, when you slept on your desk in the back of the room during fourth period. When the subject of the lesson is your family, you’ll enjoy sitting at the head of this class.

Old ChurchDiscovering your roots through heritage travel is especially poignant if your cultural background is dissimilar from your partner’s. Sharing their heritage with a new spouse or with children is driving more and more people to bypass the amusement parks of the world and head for the homelands of their forefathers.

To discover more about heritage travel and how it can enhance your next vacation, talk to a member of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know how to connect the glories of your past with a glorious vacation of your present.

The Many Faces of Heritage Tourism
Heritage tourism is traveling to experience the places, monuments, museums and relics that tell the story of a people, culture or race. This story often represents eons, tracing the arduous journey of a national consciousness from its primordial beginnings to its present day state. During this story, travelers discover ancestral points of view, symbolic artifacts and all the small pieces that create their cultural identity.

Yet heritage travel is not just limited to the discovery of deep ancestral roots. Often it’s a journey to the recent past to experience the events that shaped our current surroundings. This form of heritage travel is popular in America, where travelers seek out tangible history icons – battlefields, civil rights protest sites – that were instrumental in the development of the nation.

Outrigger on Hawaiian SeaStates are catching on to heritage travel’s growing popularity. Many have formed cultural heritage tourism programs designed to promote significant sites and monuments within its borders. One crucial step in this promotion is to officially list these sites with the National Register of Historic Places, where currently more than 74,000 historic areas, national parks and landmarks are identified for preservation and celebration.

Not to be left behind, countries around the world are making their heritage sites a priority. Since heritage tourism uses national assets – historic, cultural, and natural resources – that already exist, countries realize the benefit of developing their tourism potential as opposed to creating new attractions. This arrangement works well for the assets themselves, for the prestige associated with national designation elevates these properties as valuable cultural resources, ensuring the restoration and preservation needed for them to be enjoyed for generations to come.

The Many Destinations of Heritage Travel
With 192 countries in the world, each with a distinct and unique history, there are a vast number of heritage sites for all travelers interested in uncovering their roots. Visiting the country of your lineage is the most common form of heritage travel, where you can see firsthand the customs and settings of your forefathers by visiting museums, castles, battlegrounds and villages.

In the United States, many minority travelers prefer to stay within the borders to investigate the recent past. African-Americans are rediscovering the scenes – of both triumph and anguish – of their southern heritage by visiting historic sites detailing slave life and civil rights struggles.

Aiding these endeavors, many southern states are endorsing African-American heritage sites. Tennessee actively promotes the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, while Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia recently opened the Great Hopes Plantation – a realistic replica of an 18th-century plantation complete with black field slaves and their tiny slave dwellings.

Medieval ArmorHispanic travelers are also discovering the enormous impact of their forefathers. From the Spanish Colonial era up to the mid-20th century, the Unites States witnessed an influx of Hispanic immigrants from Central America, the Caribbean and Spain. Nowadays travelers are flocking to Hispanic cultural sites, including the San Antonio Missions, De Soto National Memorial Park near Tampa Bay and St. Augustine, America’s oldest city.

Travel Agents Connect You to Your Past
Transforming the annual family vacation into a cultural history lesson can be a rewarding experience that adds an unforgettable and personal touch to your travels. However, travel agents want you to remember that half of a heritage vacation is the vacation – always plan a little R&R time between sites.

To begin the R&R time early, rest easy and get a travel agent to plan your heritage trip. Armed with a world of knowledge, travel agents know the best ways to get you and your family to the places you want to go, connecting multiple cultural sites into one, wondrous journey, all at a fair price that will make your ancestors proud.

PLACES TO GO WITH KIDS

The new year is underway and it’s time to think about that trip, so we’ve put our expert travel heads together to collate a list of the top 30 places to go with kids. Whether you want a relaxing break for the whole family, or if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, there’s somewhere for everyone in this list.

Kerala offers the Indian experience at a more manageable pace for families with babies or small children. Start in quaint Fort Cochin, a small, chilled-out quarter of Kochi with good hotels and restaurants. The peaceful backwaters can easily be reached on a day trip from here, but if you want to overnight along serene waterways on a houseboat made of wood and palm leaves, start out from Alappuzha (Alleppey) or Kumbakonam. Kids will also love the state’s national parks, with elephant spotting in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, and for teenagers, there’s bamboo rafting.

Slovenia is a small but brilliant country – especially for family travel. Rent a car and head north from the capital to Maribor, a compact city just a stone’s throw from active entertainment appropriate for all ages. There’s canoeing on the river Drava in summer and skiing in the nearby resort of Pohorje in winter. In spring, try the resort’s Pohorjet – a single-track toboggan that hurtles down the ski slopes at up to 30mph.

England‘s Midlands are perhaps not the obvious destination for a family holiday in the UK, but the region has tons of great activities for kids. See big game in the West MidlandsSafari Park, or visit the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley to go back in time to the 1930s and taste the best chips – fried in beef dripping – you’ll ever have. Then there’s Birmingham, which has an excellent Sea Life Centre, and Derby, a pleasant gateway to the Peak District and the Severn Valley Steam Railway, which runs between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.