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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Overcoming the Challenges of Winter Travel

Winter can be a challenging time  to travel. Flights are cancelled or delayed frequently, and those cancelled flights are leaving travelers either at their origination (wondering how to get to their destination) or at their destination (wondering how to get home). The airline will do their best to get you on the next available flight, but, with most flights fully booked, that could mean a back-log of days.

The next time you are planning a winter trip, keep these tips in mind:

1) Purchase travel protection. Many people seem to think that travel protection is an expense to be avoided, but most travel protection plans provide valuable coverage for cancelled or delayed flights. Call your provider as soon as your flight is cancelled or delayed, and have your policy number handy. They will assist with getting your trip back on track and cover your expenses (up to the limit specified in your coverage). Be sure to save all of your receipts. (Note that coverage varies by provider and policy. Read your coverage details carefully.)

2) Provide your "day of travel" contact information to the airline. Virtually every airline provides the opportunity for passengers to provide an email address and a cell phone number so that they can contact you if your flight is cancelled or delayed. Enter this information online when you are viewing your reservation or completing your online check-in. They can't contact you if you don't provide this information.

3) Book your airfare as part of your travel package with your travel agent. This puts many more resources at work to resolve any situation that may occurYour travel agent and your tour operator will provide assistance in getting your flights rescheduled, making alternate hotel arrangements, rescheduling your transfers, etc. Without a travel agent, you're on your own.

4) Consider your options. Sure your flight from Boston may have been cancelled, but maybe if you drove to New York or Philadelphia, you could still be on your way. In storm situations, as long as there is availability, many of the airlines will waive your change fees and any difference in fare.

5) Plan your trip to arrive early. Arrive at least a day in advance of when you absolutely, positively must be there. If your cruise ship is scheduled to depart on Saturday, arrive on Friday and spend the night near the pier. This eliminates so many potential problems, and the odds of you being on time to board your ship are so much better.

Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia
6) Roll with it. Stuff happens - don't let it ruin your trip. If you arrive a day later or get stranded for an extra day or two at your destination, take it in stride. There are worse things than being stranded at the beach for an extra couple of days of vacation, right?

7) Ask for a "distressed passenger" rate. If you are at your destination and unable to return home, ask at the front desk about a "distressed passenger" rate. Many hotels will provide a lower rate for a night or two while you are trying to get back home. This will minimize your out-of-pocket expenses.

8) Pack a few necessities in your carry-on bag. That way if you are separated from your checked bag for any length of time, you can still make do with what you have in your carry-on.

9) Download a VoIP app, such as Skype or Viber, to your smartphone. If you need to make calls to reschedule your flights or alert your family of your new travel itinerary, these apps allow you to connect (using any available internet connection) without paying outrageous international roaming fees. Be sure to download it before you leave home, as it may not be available for download while at your destination.

With a little advanced planning, some creative thinking, and the right frame of mind, your next winter trip will be better than ever!

Fun 'n Sun Travel & Cruise provides friendly, personal, professional service in order to plan each and every client's dream vacation, destination wedding, or honeymoon at one of the best prices available. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, visit us on the web at fnstravel.com, or email us at info@fnstravel.com.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fundraising for Non-Profits Using Travel

We often get questions from non-profit organizations regarding using travel packages as a fundraiser for their annual auction. While we are unaware of any suppliers that give away complete travel packages to be used as a fundraising item, there are still many different way that travel can be successfully used to raise funds for non-profits. Here are a few "words of wisdom"  that we've garnered over the years:

1) It's virtually impossible to find a travel supplier to donate a complete package for a charity auction. Many organizations have had some luck with getting various hotels or recreational properties to donate pieces or parts of a trip (a few nights in hotel X, or family tickets to amusement park Y). 

2) Nobody gives away airfare. Airfare is precious, and I've never seen anyone include it. Airlines certainly don't give away free tickets. Non-profit organizations may have better luck with getting supporters who are frequent fliers to donate their mileage points.

3) Some cruise lines will let you, as a non-profit, purchase a voucher for auction. These vouchers do have significant restrictions. Many cruiselines either no longer have a program or only allow non-profits with certain goals to participate in their program.  

Several cruiselines DO offer fundraising options for group cruises (e.g. if you have 5 or more staterooms booked, they will donate $100 per stateroom to your non-profit organization). Put together a group and let everyone know that their participation on the cruise helps to raise funds for a cause they believe in.

4) There are some South African lodges that will split the proceeds of an auction 50-50 with you, but it's really just the lodging that's included, and the out-of-pocket expenses associated with redeeming the "prize" are significant.  Be aware that there is no consumer protection involved with any of these packages.

Obtaining an attorney's advice on anything relating to dealing with foreign providers would be prudent, as US consumer protection laws would not apply.

5) If the organization is fortunate enough to have some supporters who own property in other locations, ask them to donate a week at their place (1 week at our fully furnished ski lodge, or 1 week in our Paris apartment). Those prizes often receive the highest bids in auctions. You might also ask people to donate their Marriott or Hilton loyalty points (although bids may fall short of the actual value of the points).

6) Non-profits can arrange to purchase a package with a high perceived value from a travel agency, establish a minimum opening bid, and keep whatever amount was raised that was above and beyond the purchase price. Some alumni organizations have had great success with this strategy.

We wish you well in your fundraising endeavors and encourage you to feel free to call or email us to discuss your organization's goals further.

Fun 'n Sun Travel & Cruise provides friendly, personal, professional service in order to plan each and every client's dream vacation, destination wedding, or honeymoon at one of the best prices available. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, visit us on the web at fnstravel.com, or email us at info@fnstravel.com

Friday, October 17, 2014

Your Rx for Better Health: Vitamin Sea

Have you ever felt that being at the beach improves your overall health? Well, you were right!  In addition to
being just plain enjoyable, there are many health benefits to spending a few days at the ocean.

Better Mood:
Sea air is full of negative hydrogen ions which improve our ability to absorb oxygen. These negatively charged particles also help balance seratonin, a neurotransmitter that is popularly considered to contribute to feelings of happiness and well-being.

Exposure to light also helps boost endorphins which causes you to feel better and improves your mood.

Stronger Immune System:
Sunshine is a good source of Vitamin D. Although precautions should be taken to avoid overexposure to the sun, Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption, thereby aiding in bone health, and it also boosts the immune system.

Healthier Skin:
Salt water helps heal wounds and reduces infection. Ocean water swimming can improve conditions such as arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis. In addition, sand acts as a natural exfoliant, removing old skin and helping skin regenerate.

While you're away, why not try a Thalasso treatment at the spa? Thalasso is a seaweed treatment that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It nourishes skin, stimulates cell function, and encourages blood circulation. Mud treatments and hydrotherapy can also improve your skin's tone and circulation.

So you see, it wasn't just your imagination. You DO feel better after a few days at the beach. Now if your doctor would just write you a prescription for a beach getaway, you'd be all set!

Fun 'n Sun Travel & Cruise provides friendly, personal, professional service in order to plan each and every client's dream vacation, destination wedding, or honeymoon at one of the best prices available. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, visit us on the web at fnstravel.com, or email us at info@fnstravel.com


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tired of "Traveler versus Tourist" Debate? Me too!

I've just finished reading yet another article about the purportedly  vast differences between a "Tourist" (bad!) and a true "Traveler" (good!). Most of these articles seem to be written by young(ish) people who are convinced that the way they travel is much better and more authentic than the way you travel. They are doing it right. You, on the other hand, are doing it ALL wrong.

The majority of these journalists/bloggers seem to be self-centered and arrogant. They have embarked on a mission to prove that they are better at this whole travel thing than you are. For example, backpacking and staying in hostels was the method of travel that this article was espousing as the only real way to travel. Choose any other way, and your wanderlust is "inauthentic".

I beg to differ. As a travel consultant, I speak to people of all ages and means. One of the first things I do is identify what type of experience the client is looking for. Some people want to be "away from it all" and others want to be "in the middle of it all". Some clients want to rent a car, stay at a locally owned inn, and spend their days exploring. Others want to stay in a central location and explore more locally. I also have clients who want to maximize how much they can see in a week, and they choose to take a guided tour. Travel is not "one size fits all", and I endeavor to provide each client with the experience they are seeking. Successful travel is the trip you come back from that delivered exactly what you wanted. One person's dream trip is not any better or more authentic than someone else's.

Every traveler should respect the culture and language of the place they are visiting. Kindness and compassion will reap more rewards than rudeness and demands, and we should all endeavor to leave a positive impression on the local people no matter where we go. Beyond that, if you come back from your trip feeling thrilled with your adventure, then it was right for you. One person may find fulfillment diving with sharks, another may wonder at the architecture in Barcelona. One person may want to participate in a music or food festival, another may desire to travel on a church mission. It's all good, and it's all authentic.

My advice for those who are so caught up with how they are a true "traveler" (and are looking down on all the other people with different desires and experiences as "tourists") is this: stop comparing yourself to others and worrying about coming out on top. Travel is not a competition, and you don't need to "win". Give it a rest, and simply enjoy your own adventure.

Fun 'n Sun Travel & Cruise provides friendly, personal, professional service in order to plan each and every client's dream vacation, destination wedding, honeymoon, or cruise at one of the best prices available. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, visit us on the web at fnstravel.com, or email us at info@fnstravel.com




Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 Tips For Planning Family Vacations

The task of planning a family vacation can seem overwhelming at times, especially if you have young children or a large family.  We've compiled a list of some of our favorite family travel tips to help with the process and make sure you don't leave important things to chance.

1)  Book Early for the Best Pricing.
The large online travel agencies have done a spectacular job of confusing consumers and leading them to believe that "last minute deals" offer the best possible pricing. That's simply not the case. Most often, resorts offer their best pricing as an "early booking" rate, and then proceed to raise rates as the resort fills up and demand is still high. The only resorts that offer "last minute deals" are the ones for which demand is weak. The most popular resorts are sold out well in advance. For international travel, book your trip at least 6 to 9 months in advance.

2) Look for Non-Stop Flights
Non-stop published airfare and charters are the quickest, easiest way to arrive at your destination with the least amount of fussing. Connecting flights add at least a couple of hours to your travel time, not to mention the hassles of keeping everyone fed and together at a busy international airport. Don't underestimate the value of those quick flights - they're worth paying extra for.

3) Don't leave Too Early or Too Late
Sure, that 6:00 am departure looks good and gets you to your destination early in the day, but keep in mind that you'll need to be at the airport at least 2 hours in advance of your departure (and you'll need to have everyone organized and out of the house well beforehand). And if you wake everyone at 3:00 am, they'll be starting off the trip with a significant sleep deficit. Leaving late in the day presents another set of challenges. It's no fun to arrive after dark and settle into your room just in time to put the kids to bed. Pick a mid-morning departure time if at all possible.

4) Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates
Traveling mid-week may shave a significant amount off the bottom line. Also, consider shortening your trip to  5 or 6 nights if the best resort for you is coming in slightly over budget for a 7-night stay.

5) Bring a Bag of Tricks as Your Carry-on
When you're travelling with kids, it's challenging to keep them entertained. Pack a bag filled with toys, games, snacks, medication, quick change of clothes, etc.so that you're prepared to keep everyone busy and happy.

6) Schedule in Some Down Time
Traveling can be exhausting, especially for young people. Be sure to schedule in enough down time for relaxing (or napping).

7) Pack Light and Request Gear from Hotel
Many resorts that cater to families have kids' gear and toys available. Some resorts have cribs, chairs, toys, etc. Request it in advance to make sure it will be available when you arrive.

8) Know the Rules (TSA)
When you're packing your carry-on bags, make sure you are complying with the TSA's rules. https://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/3-1-1-carry-ons
Check your kids' bags to make sure their bags comply. One of my sons once brought
his "Magic 8 Ball" in a carry-on bag. That raised a few eyebrows at the scanning point, and we were stopped for his bag to be searched.

9) Check Everyone's Passports
Make sure they are good for at least 6 months beyond your scheduled date of return. Renew or apply for your passports well in advance of your trip.

10) Trust Your Instincts
You know your family best, so please do not listen to advice or suggestions from well-meaning friends. For example, if your family likes to stay busy and keep moving but your friend's family is very low-key, chances are small that you will like the same type of trip that your friend took. Trust your instincts and the advice from your professional travel consultant. Look for the best fit for YOU.

Fun 'n Sun Travel & Cruise provides friendly, personal, professional service in order to plan each and every client's dream vacation, destination wedding, honeymoon, or cruise at one of the best prices available. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, visit us on the web at fnstravel.com, or email us at info@fnstravel.com

Friday, March 7, 2014

Creating a Unique Destination Wedding

Every couple is unique. You have a special style and flair, and your destination wedding should reflect that.  You deserve a "one of a kind" wedding that you and your guests will remember for many years to come. Creating a memorable wedding takes some planning and effort, but the results can be spectacular!  Here are a few ideas for how to customize your destination wedding:

1) Pick a location that reflects your vision. Close your eyes and imagine your perfect moment, and remember that there are no limits on just how different you can be. Pick a cliff, an authentic old chapel, the middle of a jungle, a cave, a wine cellar, or an ancient spiritual site.

2) Give some thought to arriving in style.  Brides and grooms can enter by horse-drawn carriage, by boat, or by zip-line. Your mode of arrival can reflect your passion, your energy, your style. Think outside the box to create a setting and a moment that mirrors your personality.

3) Provide entertainment at your reception that you wouldn't find elsewhere. Your guests might not remember your DJ (no matter how great he/she is), but they will remember a steel drum reggae band or a fire dancer. These unique performers will enhance your reception and help create the mood for your magical evening.



4) Sponsor a shared experience. Your guests have traveled from far away to be present for your wedding day. Let them know you appreciate their efforts and expense by treating them to an experience they won't forget. How about a sunset catamaran cruise just for your wedding guests? Or a cliff jumping excursion? Or white water rafting? The possibilities are endless. Think about what your guests would enjoy and make them feel special too. Sharing that time and experience together will be a memory that you and your guests will cherish.

If you can imagine it, we can probably arrange it. Don't be afraid to ask for ideas. We've got plenty of suggestions and are happy to brainstorm with you to create that unique and special wedding  that reflects your style and your vision. It's easier than you might think!

Fun 'n Sun Travel & Cruise provides friendly, personal, professional service in order to plan each and every client's dream vacation, destination wedding, honeymoon, or cruise at one of the best prices available. Call us at 1-855-557-5588, visit us on the web at fnstravel.com, or email us at info@fnstravel.com.