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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). Keep in mind that 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 fit 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 are 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) Know What Your Family Wants
You know your family best, so don't listen to advice from well-meaning friends. If your family likes to stay busy and keep moving but your friend's family is very low-key, chances are that you will not like the same type of trip. Trust your instincts and the advice from your professional travel consultant.

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.



Monday, January 13, 2014

The Myth of the "Last Minute Travel Deal"

Every year prior to the Holidays and then again in the spring, clients call  looking for that elusive wonder - the "Last Minute Travel Deal". All of the hype about these "deals" can leave travelers feeling disappointed with what's actually available and confused about when to book their vacation in order to get the best possible pricing. Here are a few facts that advertisers won't tell you about their "last minute deals":

1) These "deals" are rarely available for popular destinations during peak travel times. If you are planning on going to the Caribbean in the winter or spring or thinking about Europe for your summer trip, you most likely will not find a "last minute" deal that applies.These deals are more likely to be applicable to off-peak travel (think winter in Europe or the Caribbean in the summer).

Confused Felipe
2) The "deal" may be only for a particular resort or cruise and does not take airfare into account. Yes, you may find a great deal on a Caribbean Cruise leaving from Miami or Fort Lauderdale in the middle of spring break, but if the last minute airfare from your gateway is over $1000 per person, the bottom line doesn't end up being much of a deal.

3) The airfare that is included may be very undesirable in order to get the best possible rate. The air itinerary may include multiple stops or travel in the wrong direction. You may even be forced to overnight at one of the layovers. For example the least expensive air itinerary included in a "last minute deal" from Hartford, CT to Punta Cana contained a flight north & west to Toronto, an onward flight to Montreal, and then a flight the following morning to Punta Cana. Total trip duration: 21+ hours.(A non-stop flight is less than 4 hours.). Do you really want to spend your valuable vacation time crisscrossing international borders and waiting in airports?

4) You may need to be very flexible about your dates, destination, and where you stay.  The available destinations may not be your ideal location, and the resort or cruise-line may be at a different level than what you are used to. If you have your heart set on travelling to St. Lucia and staying in a 5 star luxury resort, the special for the 3 star property in Cancun may not be good experience for you. The fact is is that the properties and cruse-line openings that are available as "last minute" bookings are the ones that still have space. The desirable & popular ones book up well in advance. Is the experience you end up with in these "deals" going to be worth your hard-earned vacation dollars?

5) You really should book your travel at least four to six months in advance to get the best pricing. Resort pricing tends to go up as the resort fills up. The same rules generally apply to cruises. "Early booking" rates are often the most attractive rates, and if the pricing does go down, a travel agent can often get you the lower rate. Airfare rates for international travel are often the best for travel that is at least 4 months away - longer for peak travel dates. For example, if you would like to travel to the Caribbean in the spring, flights will fill up and airfare will likely be higher if you aren't purchasing at least 4 months in advance. And if you want to travel for specific dates over the winter Holidays (Christmas & New Year), consider purchasing nine months (or more) in advance.

We care deeply about your travel experience and can almost always find some of the best available pricing for your trip, but for last minute travel, keep in mind that your desired resort or destination may not be available. If you are flexible about your dates, flights, and budget and ready to consider some "creative" destinations or itineraries, we can almost certainly help with your plans.

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.





Tuesday, November 5, 2013

5 Reasons to Visit St. Lucia

I recently had the privilege of traveling to St. Lucia with the St. Lucia Tourist Board to experience the island and visit many of the resorts. It was every bit as magical as I had imagined it would be, and I'm convinced that this island has something for everyone.  Here are 5 reasons why you might want to consider traveling to St. Lucia:

1) St. Lucia is widely considered to be the Hawaii of the Caribbean due to its volcanic origins and varied terrain. There is a "drive through volcano", rain-forests, and beautiful beaches. And, for many people in North America, it's closer to home, easier to get to, and less expensive.

2) The people on the island are very friendly and hard-working, and the official language is English, so there is no language barrier. The tourism business is their primary business and they understand how to make travelers feel welcome.  I met so many warm and genuinely good people on this island that I hated to leave.

3) The beaches are gorgeous! There are volcanic sand beaches and there are imported white sand beaches and everything in between, but no matter which beach you are on, it's beautiful and the water is warm and inviting.  I saw some beaches with surf and wind (which the kite boarders were enjoying), but most of the beaches in Rodney Bay, Castries, and Soufriere, were calm and inviting.

4) There is a resort here that is just what you are looking for. I was so impressed with the wide variety of resorts catering to just about every price point.  There are off-beach, budget properties for those who want to keep it simple, there are mid-range large all-inclusives, there are small, stunning boutique properties, and there are over-the-top "I think I died and went to Heaven" properties.  Try one (or better yet, try two)!

5) There are so many great activities and excursions on the island. While there, I visited the volcano and mud-baths, took a Segway tour in the rain-forest (highly recommended), visited a casino, and took a catamaran sail along the coast.  There is also horseback riding, kite boarding, zip-lining, hiking, snorkeling, and diving. You can be as busy as you wish or simply relax and enjoy this wonderful Caribbean island.

For a long time, St. Lucia had been on my list of islands that I'd love to see first-hand.  It surpassed all of my expectations and is, without a doubt, one of my very favorite Caribbean destinations. But don't take my word for it - go see for yourself!

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.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

8 Easy Tips for a Smoother Vacation

Taking a vacation can be one of life's greatest pleasures, but getting there can be anything but.  Here are a few simple tips (most learned the hard way) for ensuring that traveling  to your ultimate destination doesn't put a damper on your enjoyment.

1) Don't schedule a "crack of dawn" flight - It can be very tempting to think that you'll be arriving at your destination with a large part of the day left to enjoy yourself, but remember that you'll need to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours in advance of your flight.  So, if you're going to have to get up at 2:00 am after only a couple hours of sleep to be at the airport at 4:00 am for your 6:00 am flight, think about how exhausted you'll be when you arrive at your resort after a long day of traveling.  A flight that leaves at mid-morning can allow you to arrive well-rested and in a much better frame of mind.

2) Don't gamble with a tight connection - If you don't have a direct flight, be sure to leave yourself adequate time to change gates and planes.  A slight delay in your departure time can wreak havoc on your ability to make your next flight.  Do yourself a huge favor and allow at least an hour for domestic layover, more for international ones.  Missing your connecting flight is a great way to get your vacation off to a bad start.  Don't take that chance.

3) Check your passports before you book a trip -  Make sure that you will have at least 6 months after your return date before your passport expires.  Apply for or renew your passport before you book. Many people wait until after they've booked their trip to apply for a passport, but delays can and do happen.  There are few things more stressful than looking at the calendar and wondering if your passport will arrive on time.

4) Turn off your data roaming before you board your international flight - As soon as you land and turn on your phone, data roaming charges kick in, and they can be exorbitant.  Call your cell-phone provider before you leave to find out if you'll have coverage and arrange for an international data plan if you'll need it. Otherwise, keep your data roaming off and use the hotel's wi-fi to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

5) Pack a quick change of clothes in your carry-on - That way, if your bags are lost or delayed, you'll at least have the clothes you brought with you.  In addition, if you arrive at your resort or hotel prior to check-in, you can change clothes quickly and head out to relax by the pool or have a bite to eat while your room is being readied.

6) If you're traveling for a cruise, plan on arriving at least 1 day in advance of your sailing date -  This will greatly reduce your chances of missing your ship and give you a chance to rest up and do a bit of sightseeing in your departure port.  Trust me, catching up with your long-departed ship is not an enjoyable experience nor is it a good way to start your well-earned vacation.

7) Call your credit card company before you depart - Many credit card companies will flag your international activity as possibly fraudulent and may deny to authorize  your payment.  If you call in advance and tell them you'll be traveling, you'll avoid your card being declined for that special purchase.

8) Schedule special activities in advance- If you're planning for a romantic dinner on the beach or a special excursion that you want to make sure you take while at your destination, be sure to finalize your arrangements in advance. Popular excursions can and do sell out well in advance. Avoid disappointment by making reservations and arrangements at least 2 weeks prior to departure.

Do you have any other tips to share for how to make sure your trip gets off to a good start?

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, August 30, 2013

Group Travel Made Easy


Congratulations!  You've got a group of people who want to travel together.  It could be a destination wedding, a family reunion to an exotic location, a golf group, a group of friends just wanting to get away together,or a bachelor or bachelorette party.



If you're leading the group, it can be overwhelming to think about coordinating travel plans for a large (or small) group. But once you know the ins and outs, you'll see that there are ways to make sure that:

  • Your group stays together
  • Availability of rooms is guaranteed at your chosen resort
  • Your guests save money
  • You and your guests gain access to exclusive perks and upgrades.


First we'll start with the questions, "What is a group?" and "How many people do I need to qualify as a group?". In general a group is considered to be a party of people traveling together that will occupy at least 10 rooms.  For some resorts and group promotions, a group may be as small as 5 rooms, so be sure to check with your travel agent as you may qualify for some group bonuses such as a free room or upgrade. Read on below for more details about these potential bonuses.

Don't make the mistake of letting your guests book on their own.  They will get no discount, your group will get no special amenities, and the resort might not even know you are all traveling together.  There are better ways to book group travel:

  1. Block group space with your agent - if you know how many people will be coming, what type of room they want, and how many nights they will be staying, this could be the best way to book your group.  A deposit will be required for all the rooms and there may be penalties for dropping rooms from your reservation, but your pricing will be locked in and your rooms are being held just for you. In addition, you don't have to worry about the resort selling out and some of your guests not  being able to secure a reservation (this happens most often with peak travel time to a popular resort). Also, many resorts will offer perks and extra amenities to groups booked this way - room upgrades, free rooms, complimentary group gatherings, or a free wedding package. The resort will also make every effort to keep your guests as close together as possible.
  2. Book using a group code - this option is perfect if you don't want to put down a deposit and/or you're not sure of how many people will be coming. Using this method, your travel agent will secure a group booking code for your guests that 1) tells the resort who is traveling together and 2) provides a discount for your guests whenever they get around to booking. The downside is that pricing can vary based on when the traveler books and no rooms are being held aside for your guests, so the resort can sellout before all of your guests have booked.  Extra amenities are usually provided for groups booked in this manner, just as they are for blocked group space.. 

There you have it, booking a group can be a snap! Once you have made the group arrangements, be sure to let everyone in the group know what they need to do and who they should contact.  You can even start a facebook group or a special webpage to keep everyone up-to-date. Don't forget to think about special events for your group.  Private dinners, themed excursions,  photo opportunities, vow renewals, spa and golf outings, and more can all be arranged in advance by your travel agent.

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.