Why are there no🌴 all-inclusives in the US?

With the winter months just around the corner, we have been getting a lot of requests for getaways to the Caribbean and Mexico. The birthplace of the “all-inclusive” resort. Ahhhh, the place where you can eat and drink as much as you want, and be as lazy as you want with no judgment except your inner self.  ​​​

So why are there no all-inclusives in the United States? The initial purpose of the all-inclusive was to get people to destinations that may not have been safe to go to but had beautiful beaches. Why let a beautiful beach go to waste? So countries such as Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic built beautiful resort​​s that provided everything you need so you wouldn’t have to off property, even private transfers to and from the airport. Initially, a lot of these resorts had armed guards to keep you safe. 

Over the years, however, many of these countries have become safer. People have started to venture off property to do various excursions such as seeing waterfalls, cooking with the locals, and even Travelanthropy (travel + philanthropy). These resorts have brought many jobs to the various communities within these countries. However, many of these communities are still financially hurting. There are many things you can do to help the community if you’re interested. You can bring stuff for the local schools, take some food to shelters, or help paint some local community buildings where many people gather. The help is much appreciated. If you are looking for more information on helping out on your next trip, let me know as I can help set it up for you.    

So back to the original question “why aren’t there all-inclusives in the United States?” We get asked this question all the time. The US is fairly safe to venture out and go to a local restaurant or do some sightseeing. If hotels start to become all-inclusive, then the local community starts to suffer. No one is going to restaurants, no one is shopping, and no one is enjoying excursions. If you are traveling within the US and are looking for a food plan, then ask your travel agent if the hotel or resort provides a food plan such as breakfast, or a combination of breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Food allows more flexible to eat at local restaurants.


Remember, Life is Better Traveling is always here to help you. We are a female owned, small business and every booking helps a local family. We thank you for your support and thinking of all of our agents during this time.  


5 Apps Every Traveler Needs to have a Great Next Vacation

As a travel professional, I always want to book your dream vacations. While I manage all of your travel plans to a T, not all experiences are always plannable. Luckily, there are some great travel apps to help with just about any aspect of your trips. Here is the our list of apps we use at Life is Better Traveling.  

An App for: Speaking the Language

When traveling to foreign countries, be sure you are prepared with an app that helps you speak the common language. Google Translate is a lifesaver for any mono-linguist traveler. Translate from 103 different languages just by typing or drawing the word or phrase. Use your phone’s camera to hold up to street signs or even restaurant menus for instant translations. The best part is that the app works without using a wireless connection so you can explore data-free. Navigate with confidence and even learn a thing or two about the native tongue.

An App for: Maps & Directions

Don’t leave home without a solid navigation app for exploring. Apps like Maps.Me or City Mapper offer downloadable maps with turn-by-turn navigation, traffic updates and can even pinpoint local hotspots to check out. Explore points of interest from restaurants to tourist attractions, all with step-by-step directions. Even create driving, walking and cycle routes to save extra time, or just to take in the scenery.

An App for: Packing

Ensure you never forget a thing for their next trip. With apps like PackPoint, you can type in the destination and select the activities planned to create a customized packing list for the trip. It will even check the weather to make sure you are packing all the essentials. Share the list with your fellow travelers so nothing is ever left behind.

An App for: Chatting

Make sure always stay in touch with friends and family. WhatsApp provides free voice calls and messaging when they are connected to Wi-Fi. The group chat feature also allows you to share messages, photos and videos to share their experiences.

An App for: Time Zones

Never lose track of time again. With an app like Circa, travelling to multiple locations across different time zones has never been easier; find the best times for connecting flights and send invitations to other travelers in different time zones to meet up. Now you will never miss a beat no matter how far apart you are.

Recommending helpful apps shows that at Life is Better Traveling we go above and beyond, and care about every aspect of our client’s trip. Contact one of our agents to get started planning your next trip today. 


Thinking of planning a 2022 vacation but not sure where to start? Fill out the form below and one of our award-winning travel agents will get back with you shortly.

What can a travel consultant can do for you?

Is your travel consultant doing their best for you?

I have to start this week’s newsletter with saying that I absolutely have the best clients any travel consultant could ever ask for.  I love planning travel for all of my clients, so when I hear that something goes wrong, I have to find out why!  Last week I had an amazing group of people take a nice romantic weekend getaway to Jamaica.  The weekend was filled with great friends, good food, and fun.  Unfortunately, the return home didn’t go as smoothly as the rest of the weekend.  What should have been a 5-hour journey home turned into 15 hours of miscommunication, multiple flights, and several tired people who just wanted to get home to their families. 

 

Now waking up the next morning and reading their emails, I couldn’t believe that they had gone through this nightmare but I was on a mission to find out what I could do for them.  You see some travel consultants feel that once you have left for the vacation, their job is done.  I don’t feel that way.  Every one of my clients gets a document holder with all final documents including my business card to call even when they are on the trip.  Let’s be honest, things happen, and I have been on my own vacation where I had to call 5 different companies to get one answer while standing in the middle of a room while on vacation.  There are several hours of my vacation I am not going to get back!  So when one of my clients is going through the same thing, I want them to call me so I can take care of it and they can relax. 

 

So what are some of the things that a travel consultant should do for you?

1.Be available – When looking for a travel consultant ask them if they are available after hours or on the weekends.  Will they be there for your when you are on the vacation or even after the vacation?  Make sure that they are available to help you when you need the help.

 

2. Friendly – Make sure your travel consultant is friendly from the beginning.  It is tough to work with someone who isn’t excited for you to take this trip.  They also might not be willing to help you if something goes wrong during the trip. 

 

3.Knowledgeable – When a travel consultant has been there or done their research and they can make the travel planning easy for you, make sure you keep them for life.  You want to make sure that you have someone who knows how to weed through all the options and is helps you make the best choice for your vacation.

 

4.Provide all final documents through the mail – I have talked with many travel consultants who still refuse to mail final documents to their clients.  They tell me they are green so they just email everything to their clients.  Emails get lost, so I believe is printing everything out for my clients and mailing it in a nice, easy to use packet.  And if for some reason you need the documents later, I can always email them.

 

5. Follows-up – Whether you came back from an amazing vacation or a horrible vacation, your travel consultant should follow-up with you to see how everything went.  A follow-up should occur within the first two weeks of you returning.  Besides, you spent so much time together planning, why wouldn’t the travel consultant want to know how it went?

 

A travel consultant should be an advocate for you from the time you are planning your vacation with them until after you return home.  Make sure to use these tips in helping you find the best travel consultant for you.

Congratulations to Mary! 

She recently earned the distinguished Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designation from the Travel Institute, the travel industry’s oldest education organization.  She completed a comprehensive exam-based training program that demonstrates extensive industry knowledge and experience, and she must continue to fulfill stringent education credit requirements each year. 

 

Fill out the form below to get started planning your next European Vacation.  Looking for a motor coach tour, self-drive, or private tour, we can easily put together the perfect European vacation for you and your family’s needs. 

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling Team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

I use a Travel Agent for the same reasons you do…

I use a Travel Agent for the same reasons you do…

I have not always been a travel agent.  Before I was a travel agent, I used a travel agent to book my vacations.  I needed help, support, and understanding of the “W’s.”  Where, What, and WOW.  I always wanted to make the most of my time while I was on the vacation, but for me the problem was that I didn’t have the time to do all the research.    

I always knew where I wanted to go whether it was a region, country, or city, but I didn’t know the logistics of the best routes to get there, where to stay, what to see, and what was one thing that was going to WOW me while I was there.  Now, when I say WOW me I don’t mean that I needed my adrenaline at the highest level.  I just wanted one thing while on the vacation that for me to look at it, taste it, or feel it and I would say WOW.  Something that would leave such an impression on me that every time I would think about it I would experience that same feeling over and over again.  Even with all the guide books that I purchased, there was always one suggestion from our travel agent that gave us the WOW. 

Today, I will still use a travel agent to book a vacation for me if it is a place that I have never been to and want to make sure I get the full experience.  How do I find a good travel agent?  If I don’t personally know someone who I met at a professional development conference, then I go online.  A survey done in 2016 found that of those asked how they found a good travel agent, 47% of the people said online and 31% said through word of mouth.  So how did they find a good travel agent online?  There are many websites where you can put in your zip code and find travel agents in your area and who specialize in the area where you want to take your vacation.  You may still get a long list of agents to weed through, but the best way to determine who is the best to work with is by their reviews.    

Travel Leaders has a really good site where you can find travel agents in your area and the agents will list their specialties including European vacations, Australia, etc.  It will also show you if they have any reviews.  The reviews are posted by actual clients of those agents who have used them to plan their vacations.  Another good place to look for honest reviews from clients is on a travel agency’s Facebook page.  These reviews are posted by actual clients as you can see their avatars next to their reviews. 

When I am reading reviews, there are a few key things that I look for.  Do the reviews talk about making the planning stage easy or effortless.  Do the reviews say that the person will work with them again.  Do the reviews explain what the travel agent did for them.  Do the reviews include any WOW’s that occurred while they were on the vacation. 

As I always say, if you find a good travel agent DON’T let them go!

P.S. I would love for you to check out my reviews from all of my amazing clients…CLICK HERE

When you book your vacation with a member of the Life is Better Traveling team, you are supporting local families and business.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 4 years, we have become an AMAZING travel agency due to your support!

 

Why Your Next Vacation Should Be Customized?

Vacationing the way you too!

  At Life is Better Traveling we always say “Connecting Friends and Family through Customized Vacations.”   But what is a customized vacation?  A customized vacation is a vacation that fits your needs, desires, and overall goal of the vacation.  When you first start to plan a vacation, you get on the internet and start browsing different sites for the destination you want to go to.  All too quickly you are confronted with multiple options and many suppliers who all sell vacation packages to that destination.  It seems like an endless task to continue trying to do more research so you start asking friends.  You hear about amazing stories of their travels and you want to go more than ever.  Reality sets in that you again have to get back on the internet to do the research.  The truth call-center-1026462_1920-smalleris you don’t.

There are many different reasons you want to travel to a particular destination: the food, the sites, the people, etc.  What if you could do and see all the things that you wanted to do and see without having to choose a preset tour?  Well, that is where our travel agency comes in.  We put together customized vacation packages for what you want to do and see.  You contact us with which destination or destinations you want to see and put together a tour package that is only for you.  Do you want to fly to London on business class stay 2 nights then fly to Italy for 5 nights and then onto Portugal for 4 nights?  Guess what, we can do that for you and even recommend sight-seeing tours, provide transfers, rail, accommodations, and travel insurance.  You pick the destinations and we put it together. 

Why not a preset tour?  I have personally done the preset tours.  I had to have my luggage set outside my hotel room by 4:30am to get on the bus by 6:00am.  I had one hour to tour a city that had so much history I had to pick which single spot I wanted to see because I didn’t have time to see them all.  Did I still enjoy myself?  Yes, I did but I learned from that experience that I wanted a more relaxed vacation and I wanted to see the sites the way I wanted to see them.  I would have loved to have had a private tour guide of the Roman Baths in Bath, England, absolutely.  You better believe that next time I go, I will have a private tour guide!

 

mary-and-josh-on-bus-smaller

A customized tour must be more expensive than a preset tour, right?   I am finding that when you customize a tour it is actually less expensive then when you do a preset tour.  I have to preface though, that a customized tour is not an apple to apples comparison to a preset tour.  You are not paying for a motorcoach, driver, and tour guide for an entire vacation.  You are picking accommodations that fit your needs, tours that you want to do, and restaurants that fit your palate.  When we breakdown the pricing, it typically does come in a few hundred dollars less which helps you make the easy decision of buying travel insurance. 

But what if I am a bit nervous about doing my own thing?  That is ok.  Even though we can plan your hotel, rail, flights, car rental, etc on your own terms, we have plenty of sightseeing tours that you can do with a group.  Most of them will be half-day or full day tours, but you will be either with a small group of people to see the sights or a larger group of people, typically no more than 30 people.  This way you can have the best of both worlds!

Do you have a form I need to fill out to put together a customized tour?  No.  You simply call me and we discuss where you want to go and what you want to see.  One of my favorite things to do on the phone with you is to really get a good understanding of why you want to take this trip or vacation.  Everyone has a reason for their trip whether it is a Whiskey tour of Scotland or island hopping on Hawaii.  Whatever your reason is to take the trip, then that is what we want you to be able to do.  The trip or vacation is really what you want to make out of it. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what our travel agency can do for you in putting together a customized vacation, give us a call today and let us help you start connecting friends and family through customized vacations. 

 

Request a Travel Planning session today for FREE!

What is the third letter of the alphabet?

When and How to Buy Travel Insurance

 Travel Insurance,

When and How to Buy

You plan all year, sometimes even two years in advance to take that big trip.  You have been slowing putting money aside, saving up, and right before you are supposed to go on this amazing journey something happens.  You can’t go!  What are you going to do?  You read through all the cancellation policies and most of them say “100% non-refundable 6 days prior.”  Oh no, you are within that time frame.  No refund!  All those hard earned dollars down the drain. 

Most of us are lucky that this scenario does not happen to us.  However, life has a way of throwing curve balls at us so you want to make sure that when that curve ball comes your way you know exactly where to hit it, with travel insurance.

There are many travel insurance companies out there selling only travel insurance.  The question now becomes, Which one works best for you?  Your travel agent is the best guide as to which company will provide the most coverage for your needs.  You don’t need to purchase the “Platinum Plan” to get good coverage.  Most times their basic plans, or gold plans will cover up to 100% of your non-refundable costs and give you very good health coverage also. 

Some things you want to make sure you do when buying travel insurance:

Tip #1:  Buy travel insurance within 15 – 21 days of your initial deposit to ensure coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. 

Tip #2:  Only buy “Cancel for Any Reason Coverage” if you really are on the fence about going on the trip.  Most medical issues for both travelers and immediate families is covered under their reasons for cancellation plus, this is an added cost that you may not need to pay.

Tip #3:  Check what your medical insurance covers for out of country visits.  Don’t buy additional medical coverage if you already have good medical coverage.

Tip #4:  Renting a car?  Check what your credit cards and car insurance coverage for any damage to vehicle overseas.  Consider buying additional coverage if you already have high premiums here in the states or you don’t have enough coverage. 

Tip #5:  Make sure to get a comprehensive copy of your purchased policy from your travel agent.  Each state has different policies so make sure you have received the correct one for the state you live in. 

Tip #6:  READ OVER YOUR POLICY!!!  The more you know before you go the better.  If you have any questions about the policy call the travel insurance company directly for a full explanation.

Click Here to check out the Life is Better Traveling Team!

Congratulations to Mary! 

She recently earned the distinguished Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designation from the Travel Institute, the travel industry’s oldest education organization.  She completed a comprehensive exam-based training program that demonstrates extensive industry knowledge and experience, and she must continue to fulfill stringent education credit requirements each year. 

 

Have a Great Week!

Questions Answered by a Travel Agent

The Travel Agent is Alive!

I am going to answer all those questions that we commonly get asked…

John, did you know that unlike the caveman, the travel agent is not extinct?  I hear this all the time, “I thought travel agents were extinct!”  We are here to stay and becoming larger in numbers.  Home based travel agents are popping up everywhere.  Some people think it will be an easy way to make money and get into this profession for all the wrong reasons.  I always tell anyone I meet, “If you have a travel agent you like, don’t let them go because good travel agents are hard to find.”  So the question becomes, if you aren’t booking with a travel agent/consultant, then WHY NOT?  Here are some common questions my team of consultants and myself here when people find out what we do and our honest answers:

Why should I book with you because I can do it online?

  • This is a question we often encounter.  When looking at deals online or pricing shopping for your next vacation be sure that it is an apples to apples comparison. 
  • When booking online beware of the various “Hidden Fees” from the major online companies. 
  • You can book online.  Sometimes travel agents will not be able to beat the PRICE available online but please make sure that you are aware that if something goes wrong while you are on the vacation, you do not have an advocate or voice to better or fix the problem.
  • When booking online make sure you understand the Terms and Conditions of cancellations and refunds.  It can become very confusing and you may have to pay heavy fees to change your itinerary in addition to any fees you must pay the resort, airlines, hotel, train, cruise line, etc. 

What should my travel agent being doing for me?

  • Travel agents should be doing all of the work for you.  They should be comparing different resorts, cruise lines, hotels, airfares, etc.  We will NOT always be the “best deal” but we should always be getting you the best VALUE!!! 
  • Your travel agent should be available to talk with anytime you need them.  Automated systems are fine as long as you get to talk with someone.
  • Your travel agent should have all your details on hand so when you book with them they know exactly what you want.
  • Your travel agent should keep you updated on any and all changes to the itinerary including air or train departure times, resort or hotel renovations, cruise line issues. 
  • Your travel agent should take care of any cancellations and refunds if for some reason you would have to cancel.
  • Your travel agent should send you all your documents either via mail or email.
  • Your travel agent should call you a few days before you leave for your vacation to make sure that you have everything you need and update you on any last minute changes.  

Are travel agent service fees common?

  • Yes!  Travel agents are providing a service to you.  They are experts in their field or niche and this type of expertise is what you are need to make the most out of your vacation.
  • Most chain travel agencies and online travel booking engines charge fees.  You are paying for the computer to book your vacation with little to no understanding of what you are looking for out of your vacation.  Instead, work with a travel agent who really knows your vacation needs.
  • Most travel agents charge a fee that is reasonable to the amount of work they will be doing for you.  Some travel agents have a flat service fee that can be upwards of $500 per person going on the trip.  These fees are usually associated with high end luxury travel that requires a lot of personalization. 
  • Group travel fees will also vary.  Again, a lot of work can be put into putting together an itinerary for groups so the fees may be more.

Don’t travel agents make commission, so why the service fee?

  • Yes, travel agents do make commission from suppliers and vendors as a thank you for referring clients to their establishment.  Service fees are for the many hours a travel agent is researching so they can put together an amazing itinerary, answering questions from you and the supplier, and the many phone calls to suppliers to get you the best price and amenities. .
  • If the vacation is cancelled by the client, the travel agent may not be paid commission.  The work was done but the travel agent did not get paid.  Most people don’t work for free so travel agents charge service fees to ensure they get paid for their work. 

What if I don’t like my travel agent, can I leave?

  • Absolutely!  If your travel agent is NOT listening to your needs or wants for your vacation drop them immediately and move onto someone else.
  • Even if you have booked a vacation, you can switch travel agents.  Most bookings are transferable as long as you consent to the booking being transferred to the new travel agent.
  • Bookings cannot be transferred if full payment has been made, which is usually 60 to 90 days prior to departure.  If you are unhappy early on then don’t wait to change!

I have to cancel, who do I call?

  • Your travel agent.  You don’t have time to be calling every supplier to cancel your trip or you can’t.  This is why you have a travel agent.  Peace of mind knowing that it will all be taken care of and your refund is on the way, of course if you bought travel insurance.

Click Here to check out the Life is Better Traveling Team!

 

Congratulations to Mary! 

She recently earned the distinguished Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designation from the Travel Institute, the travel industry’s oldest education organization.  She completed a comprehensive exam-based training program that demonstrates extensive industry knowledge and experience, and she must continue to fulfill stringent education credit requirements each year. 

 

Have a Great Week!