“I Can Do This On My Own”????

You’re planning this summer’s European vacation and undecided as to whether you should call your travel agent or not.  “I can do this all on my own.  I don’t need a travel agent or a tour company.  How hard could it be??”  Tell us what you think after you see this video . . .

Need we say more???? This video hits the nail directly on the head, especially when it comes to traveling to a country you’ve never been to!  Let your travel professionals take the stress out of planning (and traveling) to all those places on your bucket list.  You’ll be so glad you did!

 

 

Making Roman Footsteps

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.  Did you ever wonder what that truly means?

When I visited Rome a few years ago, it was my first trip to Europe and I was very excited to see what everyone was always talking about! My first experience was stepping out of the hotel with my husband and walking to the Spanish Steps nearby.  We were at the top and looking down, I was amazed at all the people, mostly, sitting on the steps, having lunch, meeting friends or loved ones, laughing and talking.  Just taking in the beautiful sunshine.  No rushing around.  No hustle and bustle.  We walked down the steps into the neighborhood to grab a slice of pizza. Rounding the corner, the smell of fresh garlic being sautéed and fresh bread baking.  I closed my eyes and drank it all in.  I was in Rome!  And we’re going back there October 9th!

Imagine exploring ancient Rome through the Circus Maximus Palatine hill with a stop at the Colosseum. If you close your eyes, you can hear the roar of the chariots and conjure up Roman soldiers sparring with lions.  Standing at the top of the Colosseum, you’ll get a tingle up your spine as the reality of the history that happened below begins to hit your senses.  It’s truly amazing. . .

Enjoy your first afternoon on your own exploring or we can arrange an optional tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel so that you skip the long entry line and discover the artistic masterpieces inside, including Michelangelo’s famed ceiling. When I saw the Sistine Chapel for the first time, I stood in awe trying to capture all of into my memory.  You CANNOT take any pictures of it as the flash from your cameras has been causing the deterioration of it over time.  The Security Guards are on their game in guarding this beautiful artistic buffet, so don’t even try to sneak it in.  They become quite offended.  This is their history and heritage and you need to respect it.

In the evening, we begin our culinary adventure on a walking tour of Campo dei Fiori, Trastevere, the historical Jewish Ghetto, and Piazza Navona. During tonight’s tour you will meet vendors, taste local specialties and live the ambiance just like a Roman.  Rounding out the night’s fun, a stop at a famous local Gelateria for delicious artisanal gelato.  And I can assure that what you thought was gelato in the United States is nothing like true gelato in Italy  So many flavors and combinations and so little time!

This is the first of the culinary “footsteps” we’ll be taking beginning on October 9th of this year . . . stay tuned for our next stop on this 10 day tour! Ciao! 

 

 

What Are You Waiting For??

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On January 2nd of this year, we lost a very dear friend of 30+ years.  We went to his house for a New Year’s Eve Party, just as we had done alternately for the last 25 years, only to hear from his daughter that her mom was following him in the ambulance on his way to the ER.  They thought he had the flu and just needed fluids.  He had endocarditis, a strep virus that was attacking his heart, producing multiple heart attacks, strokes, and then organ failure.  He was a very young, active 75.  And we are all devastated by his loss.

You’re now asking “WHY is she sharing this sad story with us?”  And my question to you now is “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??”

What is keeping you from taking that bucket-list vacation?  What is holding you back from going somewhere that you’ve always dreamed of?  Is it that you don’t want to plan too far in advance, what if something happens?  That’s what trip insurance is made for!  (It isn’t just for medical reimbursement anymore.)  Is it that your kids are still young and in school?  You only have 18 summers of your life to travel with your kids while they are young (and possibly still want to travel with you!).  That’s not a lot of summers in the grand scheme of things. And with the help and guidance of a professional travel agent, you can plan those trips that will give you and your family the memories of a lifetime, without all the stress and worry.  The Agent takes that worry and stress away from you and will be there through all of it with you, as well as waiting patiently till you get back to regale the beautiful and funny experiences you shared!  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

Are you waiting till you retire and can travel with your spouse or significant other without having to worry about returning to work?   What happens if you retire and like so many other people we hear about, suddenly fall ill and can’t travel?  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???

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My point for all of this is that life is way too short to dream about all the places in the world you’ve always wanted to go to and NEVER making those dreams a reality.  If you keep waiting, you may never get there.  And I can assure that there were places our friend would have loved to go to, but kept putting off for various reasons.  Life has a funny way of smacking us in the face with reality, so why not take the plunge and plan that bucket list trip???  Call your travel consultant and let them show you how easy it is!

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???  ENJOY LIFE, MY FRIEND!!  LA DOLCE VITA!!

Packing 101 – Did you forget something?

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Packing for that family holiday trip to Grandma’s or Aunt Josie’s?  Or maybe you’re getting away to an island to escape the holiday rush? Boarding a cruise ship to let all your cares float away? Beginning the year by checking off a country on your bucket list?

No matter where you are heading, you will definitely want to print out the packing list contained in the link below.  It is the ULTIMATE checklist for packing.  Even if you don’t need everything on there, once you’re back from your trip, cross out what you didn’t need or use and keep it for your next packing adventure!  Either way, GET AWAY, and enjoy life!  Happy Holidays to all!

International-Travel-Guide

 

 

 

 

Merry Thanksmas!!!

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Merry Thanksmas! Grab Some Sweet Deals in the In-Between Holiday Time.

Have you ever considered a non-Holiday holiday? With November, December, and January stuffed with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s, sometimes it doesn’t occur to people to take a break around this time.

But in the travel industry, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the week after New Year’s, are considered “dead weeks,” with a big drop in demand. And in the travel market, a drop in demand = a great time to grab a fantastic deal on a trip. So if you have some flexibility in your holiday plans — or better yet, if you have adventurous family members who would love an unusual way to spend this time together — then put us on the hunt for some fabulous last-minute bargains and pack your bags.

Go off-peak for bigger savings. The days right before and right after major holidays tend to be the busiest (and most expensive), so opt for off-peak and you can save considerably, sometimes 25-50% off.

Off-peak savings also apply to destinations, not just travel times. Consider this advice from Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations:

Cities that regularly host conventions can be good places to find last-minute hotel deals over the holidays. Sometimes you can find a last-minute deal in cities like Orlando or Las Vegas just because there are so many hotels to fill and no conventions going on (at this time of year).

And for beachside lounging, don’t limit yourself to Florida. Consider sandy (and cheaper) spots in other warm destinations along the Georgia and Texas coastlines, including towns like Tybee Island near Savannah and Galveston. Many hotel rooms in Galveston sell at or below $100 per night in November and December.

Consider a vacation rental. Especially at resorts, prices can be as steep as the slopes. If you’re willing to drive a few extra minutes, you can often rent a larger space for much cheaper. There are hot deals available on luxury apartments, homes, condos, and cottages. Other advantages: your own space, more room for larger families or groups, no noisy hotel patrons to keep you up. (For help scouting out the perfect space for your family or group, schedule a phone chat with me by replying to this email.)

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Don’t rule out Europe for a pre- or post-holiday escape. TravelChannel.com author Valerie Connors says, “During the winter, roundtrip flights to Europe can be as much as 20% cheaper than during summer months, when hordes of travelers descend on popular European cities like Paris, London and Rome. In winter these same cities can be blissfully quiet, with short or no lines to enter major attractions like the Louvre or St. Peter’s Basilica.” Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

Don’t be afraid of traveling during the Holiday season — when you know where the deals are, the holidays can be better than ever!

Working with a Travel Professional is one of the best ways to get the most value on your dream vacation!  We would love to help you plan your perfect getaway this Holiday season.  Fill out the comment section below to schedule a “Let’s Get Acquainted Session” with us today. Or visit our website, http://www.skylandworldtravel.com for more vacation ideas to start your year off right!

From all of us at Skyland World Travel, we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year!!

 

 

 

 

 

Do I REALLY NEED Travel Insurance??

We hear it many times when consulting with clients about an important family vacation, a couple’s weekend, a business trip, etc.  “Why spend the extra money?” “What if nothing happens, and I don’t use it?”  But what IF something does happen?  What IS the plan?

From AIG Travel Guard, here are the top 10 reasons why you need travel insurance:

  1. “It’s 10 p.m. and you and your immediate family arrive at the airport for a connecting flight, only to find that your flight has been cancelled. Who can assist you with finding new flights to get everyone home?”
  2. “Your bag was lost with your insulin inside. You need help to locate your bag as soon as possible and have your emergency prescription filled. Who do you call?”
  3. “Your first visit to Europe, and your passport and wallet are stolen. Where do you turn for assistance in obtaining emergency cash, and how will you get your passport replaced?”
  4. “You’re involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. Who will help coordinate a medical evacuation?”
  5. “If your sister-in-law becomes seriously ill and you must cancel your trip, what happens to your non-refundable deposits or pre-payments?”
  6. “You arrive in Jamaica and your luggage doesn’t. If it’s lost, who will help you find it? If it’s delayed who will reimburse you for covered necessities? If it’s stolen, who will reimburse you for its contents?”
  7. “Your cruise line, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. Who will pay for your non-refundable expenses? Who is able to assist in getting you to your destination?”
  8. “You’re walking down a street in Rio and twist your ankle. Who is able to assist you in finding an English-speaking physician?”
  9. “Three weeks before your scheduled arrival, a terrorist incident occurs in the city to which you are planning to visit. Who will reimburse you if you want to cancel your trip?”
  10. “You are at a beach resort in North Carolina, and you are forced to evacuate due to a hurricane which has made your resort uninhabitable. Who can assist you in being evacuated? Who will reimburse you for your lost vacation investment?”

These questions are answered simply by contacting the 24 hour toll free number for the insurance company to get the help you need as quickly as possible.  And, of course, contact your travel agent so they can assist you as well. They always have shortcuts and tips to help you. Please be sure to discuss the coverages of the policy with the insurance company, because each policy does not automatically include “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage and that is very important.

So, do you REALLY NEED travel insurance??  Absolutely!

 

 

 

 

 

The Airlines Best Kept Seat Secret

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Hate being squashed in economy seats ? Why not try Premium Economy? For those in the know it’s like an airline’s best kept secret.

Premium Economy is a small cabin in front of economy – these are the people already relaxing in their seats, drink in hand while everyone else is struggling past with their luggage.  You are on a flight from New York to London, approximately 6 hours, plus all that time sitting on the plane before you take off and the extra time taxiing around the destination airport when you land.  If your Premium Economy seat costs round trip an additional $500.00, here’s how you justify the cost: You work out how many hours you are on the plane, say 7 to London and 8 coming back, so 15 hours . Take the cost and divide it by the number of hours on the plane and at approximately $33.00 an hour it is money well spent. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have had these cabins for years. And they always sell out.

Here’s what you get:

  • Advance seating, as soon as you book, at no additional cost on most airlines;
  • First on the plane;
  • Only five or six rows in your cabin;
  • Lots of overhead luggage space as there are fewer seats. The configuration is usually 2,3,2;
  • Wider seat, much more recline, often a lumbar support and a footrest;
  • Blanket, pillow and nicer headphones;
  • A drink as soon as you settle into your seat;
  • Complimentary newspapers;
  • On night flights, they include an amenity kit, with socks, eye mask, toothbrush toothpaste and a pen; and
  • Hungry during the flight? A tray of snacks and goodies in the galley , just for your cabin.

It’s a win-win situation, especially if you get delayed waiting to take off , so that is even more time watching your movie. You arrive relaxed and refreshed, having had a comfortable flight, and are already enjoying your vacation!

 

Global, Mobile & REAL ID

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REAL I.D.

Beginning January 22, 2018, you will need to have identification for domestic travel that meets the security standards as set forth in the REAL ID Act.  This Act prohibits Federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses from states that do not meet the Act’s minimum requirements.  Therefore, you need to visit the TSA.gov website for the map of states that are in compliance. Certain states have filed extensions to so they can get things in order to be compliant  and New Jersey is one of those states.  The TSA WILL accept driver’s licenses from these states. However, New York is not compliant and has not filed for extension, so those residents will need to provide other forms of accepted ID, such as:

  • U.S. passport;
  • U.S. passport card;
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST);
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents;
  • Permanent resident card;
  • Border crossing card;
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license;
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID;
  • HSPD-12 PIV card;
  • Foreign government-issued passport;
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card;
  • Transportation worker identification credential;
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766); or
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

All U.S. citizens over the age of 18 must provide one of those forms of identification at airports in order to travel domestically. Please go to http://www.travel.state.gov for more information.

PASSPORTS:

For interntational travel, all U.S. citizens over the age of 18 must have a valid passport in order to re-enter the United States. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • make sure your passport is valid for at least six (6) months AFTER the date of your travel.   Certain countries will deny you entry if
  • it isn’t.
  • An adult passport is valid for ten (10) years. A child’s passport is only valid for five (5) years, so be sure to check your children’s passports when you are planning travel out of the country.
  • A Passport Book is always better than a a Passport Card!  While the card may be cheaper, it stops you from traveling via air and/or most cruises that go to foreign countries.
  • when traveling in another country, keep your passport locked up in your hotel’s safe when you’re out and about.  However, it’s a good idea to make a copy of the passport information pages to keep with you in case there’s ever an issue.

Global Entry and TSA Precheck

TSA Precheck will provide you expedited security screening for flights departing U.S. cities.  Global Entry provides TSA Precheck as well as expedited U.S. Customs screening for international air travelers.  TSA Precheck costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership.  For the $15 difference, if you travel out of the country even just once a year, the value is in Global Entry.  For more information on each program and how to apply, please visit the TSA website.

There is also an app called Mobile Passport, which helps expedite you through U.S. Customs.  Download the app and when you are within four hours of arriving back into the U.S., you enter your trip and the information required, which is the same as the paper Customs form the airline gives you before you land.  Once in the airport, you go on the Global Entry line, not the other LONG, LONG line, and scan your passport and the QR Code that Mobile Passport gives you.  Wa La!!  You are through Customs in no time!

If you travel to Aruba frequently:  Go to the Aruba.com website and at the very bottom you will see “Aruba ED Card”.  If you fill this out before going through Arubian Customs, this will expedite you through without having to fill out the paper form at the airport. 

And lastly, if you are an American Express Platinum Card member, you can receive one Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) statement credit every four years for the application fee if you’re charging it to your Platinum Card.  Please go to http://www.americanexpress.com and search Platinum Card benefits for a full disclosure on all the benefits of Platinum Card membership.

 

 

 

 

Kangaroos, Koalas or Opera?

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What does Australia mean to you? Kangaroos, koalas, Sydney Opera House? It’s all that and so much more. It’s a vast continent with 24 million people and a truly diverse landscape, with aboriginal history and culture in everything you see and do. Australians are warm, friendly people with a great  sense of humor.  It’s a bucket list item for many people and much easier to get to then you would imagine. The seasons are opposite to the USA,  so Australians are having barbecues on the beach in January. On a first visit the main three are usually a must see-  Sydney, Great Barrier Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock).  All three are great for families, couples and groups.

A typical itinerary would have 3 or 4 nights in Sydney, 3 nights in Cairns and 2 or 3 at Uluru, with flights in between each city.

In Sydney you can climb or walk the Harbour Bridge, visit the Opera House for a tour or a performance, walk through the Botanical gardens, take ferries across the harbor, watch the surfers at Bondi Beach and even take your own surf lesson. Take a day excursion to the Blue Mountains, go to Hunter Valley for wine tasting and watch movies under the stars.

Queensland is the home of the Great Barrier Reef – a great place to stay is Port Douglas – a charming walkable village full of great restaurants and boutique stores. An inexpensive shuttle runs to all the hotels from the main street, so you  never have to worry about driving. Day trips to the reef go from this point and you can snorkel, scuba, do a semi-submersible or sit and enjoy the view of the spectacular coral.

Another great day out is the Kuranda scenic rail, Skyrail and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Stunning scenery from an original steam train – time in Kuranda to visit Kuranda Koala Gardens (who doesn’t want their picture taken holding a cuddly koala?) and then the return journey is on the Skytrain Gondola across the rainforest. At Tjapukai you can learn about the culture of the Aborigines, try your hand at spear and boomerang throwing – not as easy as it looks, and of course, spend time in the gift shop.

Uluru – previously named  Ayers Rock, is the huge red rock you see in all the pictures of Australia, and is a sacred site to an indigenous Aboriginal tribe. Rising up from the desert floor in the Northern Territory, it is millions of years old, over 2,800 feet high, and is part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to view this sandstone monolith and nothing can beat a ballooning experience over the area. The field of light experience under the stars, is a wonderful pattern of glass globes lighting up the night sky, and this is currently extended until March 2018.

Australia is almost the same size as the USA so it is worth two or three trips to uncover this vast and diverse country. Each region has its own climate so there is no right or wrong time of year to visit.

I am a Certified Australia Specialist and would be happy to assist you with planning your dream vacation DownUnder.  Please either email me directly at Pauline@skylandworldtravel.com or fill in the comment form below.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have Coffee, Will Travel

 

Join us on December 5th at The Coffee Potter on Schooleys Mountain Road in Long Valley at 3:00 p.m. for a brief presentation by our tour operator, Maria DiRocco, on our upsoming tour to Sicily next spring.  Come in, grab a seat to hear about this fabulous tour and have a cup of coffee on us! Please contact me if you’d like to reserve a seat!

Jill@skylandworldtravel.com

 

 

Buon Giorno, Sicily!

 

 

On my first visit to Italy, I tried to drink in all the sights, the smells, the sounds of this amazing country.  There is so much to see and do and get lost in that you would need many trips there and even then, not engage in all of it. From the best pizza I ever had right at the foot of the Spanish Steps to picking beautiful lace tablecloths in Venice, it was an experience I’d do over and over again.

My mother-in-laws’ family is from Sicily and so, it is with great pleasure that I am hosting an eight-night trip to Sicily in May of 2018. We are working with a fabulous team to ensure that our clients enjoy the essence of what the Sicilian Coast offers.  We will be enjoying lunch at an organic farmhouse with an olive oil tasting to follow.   A visit to a chocolate boutique in Modica to sample these fine chocolates.  Explore the Valley of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Agrigento. Enjoying the island of Syracuse on our way to gorgeous Taormina, where we will have a cooking class at our hotel and prepare our own dinner, as well as explore the slopes of Mt. Etna.    This is an all-inclusive vacation, including airport transfers, round trip air, land and travel insurance.

La Dolce Vita!!!

We will be having an informational gathering about the tour locally in Hackettstown on December 5th.  Please fill out the comment card below to reserve your seat in advance.  Or you may contact me directly at jill@skylandworldtravel.com.  We hope you can join us and experience the true Italian way of life!

 

 

 

 

Travel Tips for Families with Children on the Autism Spectrum

 

As a grandmother of a child with autism, I thought I knew a lot about traveling with children on the Spectrum. But it wasn’t until I completed my certification training to become a Certified Autism Travel Planner through IBCCES, that I saw for the first time what my grandson experienced during his everyday activities. It was truly inspiring and eye-opening. That said, I’d like to now share with you tips to make your family vacation plans much less stressful and help you make those beautiful and special vacation memories a reality!

Some general travel tips:

– Make and stick to (as much as possible) a schedule for your travel plans.  This way the child knows what to expect and will find comfort in being on a routine.  Go over the schedule ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.

– Make time out for sensory friendly activity.  Inquire with the airlines or the airport about a sensory friendly place that the child can go to calm down should the need arise.

– Make a go bag with sensory friendly activities with items such as an IPAD or IPhone, noise-cancelling earmuffs, headphones with music, sunglasses, hat, chewing gum, weighted blanket, lap pad, fidget toys, silly putty, worry stone, bottled water and healthy snacks.

– Have an exit strategy.  Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, things just become too overwhelming for your child.  Establish a signal, something simple so as not to cause a scene and let the staff know about it in the event that they can assist if you need help.

– Your resort should have 24 hour closed captioned security cameras to insure the safety of your child.

As for airport travel, the TSA will allow a person with autism to be screened without separation from their group.  You should ask for a consultation with a TSA official before hand to advise of any concerns you may have and to let them know of any medications, sensitivities or required accommodations.  The TSA also offers Wings of Autism, which allows a practice run of the required security screening process so the person with Autism will know what to expect.  This practice run includes security screening, obtaining your boarding pass, boarding the plane, deplaning, leaving the airport. You can also request “silent boarding”at the gate, giving you priority boarding and the ability to get the family settled before everyone else boards, avoiding any sensory overload.

Taking a cruise can be exciting and yet overwhelming for people with sensory processing issues.  Consider taking a shorter cruise first to ease everyone into cruising, and be sure to discuss with your travel agent about proper sensory activities and excursions, as well as any dietary restrictions or sensitivities. This way a safe menu can be worked out, as well as them approving food brought from home.  Request express boarding to avoid long wait lines. Also, speak to the maitre’ d regarding being placed in a quieter area of the restaurant. Pack a go bag similar to the previous one suggested but add water shoes, sunblock, Dramamine or bracelets and sunglasses. And for your peace of mind, request (in advance) a phone to carry while on board so you can have contact with the dining room and the Kid’s Club at all times. You should keep your confirmation of your advance request to show when embarking the ship.

There are many resorts and cruiselines with staff specifically trained to make your child with autism feel comfortable, safe and happy while on vacation   All Beaches (family inclusive resorts owned by Sandals) resorts are Certified Autism Centers and their Kid’s Clubs are autism friendly.  You may also request a Beaches’ Buddy for your child for the entire trip or just for a few hours.  Karisma Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana is also Autism friendly with specially trained staff.  They offer (with advance notice of arrival time) having your child’s favorite Nick character waiting in the lobby to welcome them, as well as a private meet and greet with a Nick character for your child with autism free of charge.  They have a beautiful sensory-friendly aqua park and can accommodate any dietary needs.

Please contact our office to discuss any questions or concerns you may have and to allow us to help you get to that fabulous family vacation with as little stress as possible. Or you can contact me directly at jill@skylandworldtravel.com.