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  • Why should I use a travel advisor when the internet makes it so easy to book myself?
    Well first of all, internet booking services don’t make it easy…they only make it look easy. That is until they have your money. Then good luck getting someone to take your calls. Travelers face thousands of choices when booking travel and a good travel advisor will help you sort through them to present you with the options that best fit your needs. We’ll also get you the best value for the trip you want to take, customized to your needs rather than a generic product offered to whomever clicks on a “buy now” link. We offer our services and expertise from the first time you contact us until after you’ve returned from your trip. If you have questions, need to make changes to your booking, have special requests such as dietary restrictions, or if you are celebrating a special event, we are the ones spending hours on hold with suppliers, not you. We sweat all the details, so you don’t have to.
  • What is the difference between a travel agent and a travel advisor?
    That’s a bit of old school vs new school terminology. The travel industry began using travel advisor in lieu of travel agent a few years ago to recognize that travel advisors do much more than just book your travel. We call ourselves travel advisors, but most people use the two labels interchangeably.
  • What qualifications does it take to be a travel advisor?
    None. And that’s why you need to be very careful about the travel advisor you select. There are several industry-recognized certification programs that travel advisors can voluntarily participate in. The most rigorous certifications, from the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and the Travel Institute (TI), require many hours of study and practical experience, and you should look for a travel advisor with that level of certification. We hold certifications from both ASTA and TI, as well as specialty certifications from a number of industry organizations. You can see our qualifications by going to the about us section of our website.
  • When is the best time to book a trip?
    The longer you wait to book a trip, the more likely you’ll face limited availability and higher prices. Depending on your destination a year in advance is not too soon to start planning, but not every traveler can book every trip a year in advance. We advise our clients to get in touch with us to start planning a trip as far in advance as possible, and to book as soon as you are ready. Trying to time your travel purchase to get the cheapest price is a bit like day-trading in crypto currency. It works out well for a few people…not so much everyone else. We don’t believe in pressure sales tactics, unfortunately most of our suppliers do. They’ll generate a false sense of urgency with sales that are marketing gimmicks dressed up as deals. We’ll help filter through the gimmickry so you can be confident of getting the best value when you are ready to book.
  • Are there any “good deals” for last minute bookings?
    Sometimes, but trips consist of multiple components. A good deal on one component often costs you more on other parts of the trip. That difference can more than eat up whatever you’ve saved with the “good deal.” It can also mean settling for accommodations or flight routings that don’t really meet your needs. We focus on value over marketing gimmicks.
  • How do I apply for a passport, or renew my existing passport?
    The best thing to do is visit the State Department’s passport information page. It contains all the information you need, whether you are applying for your first passport, replacing an existing passport, or renewing your expiring passport.
  • I’ve booked a trip but I’m not sure if my passport is still valid…what should I do?
    We recommend you check your passport before booking any international travel, and there are several things to check. First, the expiration date should be at least six months after your scheduled return to the U.S. Some countries have more relaxed policies, but most follow the six month rule, and airlines tend to enforce the higher standard even when you are traveling to a country that doesn’t require it. Make sure your passport has at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps, and make sure it is in good physical condition. If your passport is worn, has rips or tears in the cover or any pages, or is set to expire less than six months from the return date of your travel, it’s time to get a new one.
  • How far in advance should I apply for a passport, or renew my passport?
    We recommend applying for new passports, passport replacements, and passport renewals at least six months prior to your departure date. As of March 24, 2023 the State Department was taking 10-13 weeks to process passport or passport renewal applications. You have to add 4 weeks on top of that…2 weeks to allow time for the US Postal Service to deliver your application and documentation to the State Department, and 2 weeks to for them to deliver the passport to you. That’s over 4 months. You can pay extra to get expedited processing, but that still requires 7-9 weeks for processing, plus the shipping time. If you have an emergency need for a passport you can make an appointment at the nearest State Department passport processing facility, but you must have documented international travel within 14 days of the date of your appointment, and there is no guarantee you will get an appointment or a passport before you need it. Check out the passport processing time section of the State Department’s website to see current processing times.
  • I’ve heard you can take a cruise without a passport…is that true?
    Yes and no. Most cruises require a passport, and it needs to be valid for at least six months after the end date of your cruise. There are some cruises to the Bahamas or the Caribbean that depart from and return to the same U.S. port where you may be allowed to use either an enhanced driver’s license or your birth certificate in lieu of a passport. Even when we book clients on those cruises we still recommend traveling with a passport. If you have to leave the cruise unexpectedly and fly home from another country, you won’t be allowed to check in for the flight without a passport.
  • Is trip insurance really necessary?
    There are some trips where the supplier or the destination requires trip insurance, but most do not. Regardless, we always recommend that our clients purchase trip insurance, as much for the coverage it provides during the trip as for the cancellation coverage. Some people are fortunate to be able to absorb the cost of cancelling a trip, but even the most well to do would be hard pressed to absorb the cost of advanced medical care or medevac flights if something happens during their travels abroad. Most healthcare plans, to include Medicare, don’t provide coverage when you travel outside of the U.S. A good trip insurance policy will also include 24/7 access to a travel concierge service that will help with alternate travel arrangements, medical or dental care, prescriptions, and even legal representation should you need it.
  • I have specific questions about what a trip insurance policy covers…who should I ask?
    Always go directly to the company providing the policy. Each state has their own regulations covering insurance, and that includes trip insurance. The rules are complicated so to make sure you get the most accurate answer to your questions, go straight to the source…the insurance provider.
  • I found a website that allows you to pick the cheapest trip insurance policy, but it seems to good to be true. What’s the catch?
    Who doesn’t want to save money whenever they can? We surely do. But when it comes to trip insurance, you get what you pay for. Online services that provide a list of trip insurance companies and policies are only partly useful. For a true comparison you have to look beyond the cost and consider what the policies cover. When you find a policy for a lower price, it’s usually because it offers less protection. Always look at the coverage limits, exclusions, and exceptions to ensure the policy you purchase meets the full range of your needs and isn’t just the cheapest policy you can find.
  • I found a great price for a cruise or trip online…can you beat it?
    We’ll certainly try. Most of the pricing you find online is misleading…it doesn’t include all required taxes and fees, and the cheapest prices are for limited dates and service levels. Some pricing is downright fake. Online booking services and supplier consumer websites like to get you hooked with a low lead-in price and then hit you up with the full cost of the trip once you are emotionally committed to it. We don’t play those games. We do work hard to get our clients the best price for travel, and we can often beat online pricing once you factor in all of the taxes and fees, and the dates and level of accommodation you want. But we can’t beat every offer you may find, and we don’t price-match. We offer a full range of services that you won’t get when you book online or direct with a supplier, and that is worth something.
  • I booked my trip and now the price has dropped. Can you get me the lower price?
    We will if we can, but that depends on the conditions the suppliers put on the new price offer. As the demand for travel has increased, suppliers have responded by restricting their willingness to offer price reductions for travel that is already booked. Often when a supplier lowers the price of a trip, the only way to get the lower price is to cancel and rebook. But that comes with risks and trade-offs. What is the supplier’s cancellation policy? Did you book a non-refundable deposit? Can you get comparable accommodations at the lower price? Will it affect other components of your trip like air? We lay out all of those considerations for our clients when they ask about whether they can take advantage of a price reduction so they can make a fully informed decision.
  • When we book a trip through your agency, where does my money go?
    We don’t take your money and then pay for your trip out of our account…your money goes directly to the supplier we’ve booked you with. For that reason, we only accept credit cards for booking travel and the charge to your card will be from the supplier, not us.
  • What do you charge for your services?
    We offer an initial free consultation, and from there it depends on the trip. We do not charge fees for most of the travel we book…we get paid by commission from the suppliers. We book some trips with suppliers who don’t pay a commission, or who pay such a low commission that it doesn’t cover our expenses. In those cases, we will charge a non-refundable service fee at time of booking. The amount of the service fee is determined by the complexity of your trip, and we disclose our fees up front, before we book your travel.
  • Do I need to bring a power converter or plug adapter?
    It is always a good idea to pack a universal plug adapter if you are traveling to another country, even on a cruise. Most personal electronic devices like cameras, cell phones, and laptops are dual voltage and work fine with just a plug adapter. You can get an inexpensive universal plug adapter from Amazon, Target, Walmart and other stores like them. Power converters or transformers are only necessary if you plan to use a high wattage device like a hair dryer or curling iron, and those too are available from Amazon. For more travel tips, visit the Travel Tips page on our website.
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