Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Fall 2009's Travel Tips Quarterly

Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations


Stop Lagging Behind - How to Combat Jet Lag

You don’t feel jet lag sink in as the time zones fly by, but it’s there. It starts as soon as the airplane doors close and the recycled air fills the cabin. It builds as your body clock begins to disagree more and more with your destination’s time. And it strikes about one hour after you’ve landed, right when you’re surrounded by a wonderful new city to explore but can’t muster the strength to do so.

You can't avoid jet lag, but you can reduce its effect on you and your vacation if you follow these steps.

Sleep Well to Travel Well
To get a step ahead of jet lag, first get a good night’s sleep before your flight. Go to bed nice and early and sober! If you stay up late the night before enjoying a wild bon-voyage party, the next day your body will be more susceptible to jet lag’s nasty side.

Stay Hydrated During the Flight
Watching what you drink continues during the flight, as you should stay away from alcohol and caffeine. Instead, aim for plenty of water with occasional fruit juices to fight the dehydrating effects of long flights. Don’t be afraid to ding that flight attendant buzzer and ask for another bottle of water. Without caffeine in your system, it will be easier to sleep as much as you can during the flight. The more hydrated, better-rested your body is, the better it will handle jet lag.

Stretch Often
To keep your body in peak condition while seated for hours in a pressurized cabin, you’ll need to stretch. Stretch your toes and you ankles. Reach you hands to the ceiling and roll your shoulders. Get up to stretch your legs. All of these actions keep your blood flowing.

Change All Your Clocks
During the flight, either the captain will tell you the local time at your destination or you’ll see it on your personal display screen. When this happens, don’t immediately think how different the new time is from your home time zone. Instead, set both your wristwatch and your mind’s clock to the new time to mentally prepare for the change.

Soak in the Sun
Your goal on the first day of your arrival is to stay awake until an early, local bedtime. You’ll only delay jet lag by taking a three-hour nap in the middle of the day. To stay up until nighttime, go for long walks in the sun without sunglasses to inhibit the production of sleep-causing melatonin.


Snap, Snap, Wow! How to Take Great Vacation Photos

It’s happened to all of us before—we return home from a sensational vacation where we witnessed breathtaking landscapes, historic monuments and vivid city scenes. After unpacking, we immediately download all the pictures to our computer only to find a collection of boring snapshots that don’t match the razzle and the dazzle of the destination.

Follow these tips and you’ll be taking pictures you’ll cherish as much as your vacation memories.

Stop Posing!
Nothing will make your neighbor’s eyes glaze over faster than showing them picture after picture of you posing—standing straight, big smile—in front of various scenes. Get candid with yourself and your photos by snapping pics without posing. Candid photos capture the moment more honestly, for you can see your true reactions to the wonders of your destination.

From Many, Comes One
Digital cameras have revolutionized vacation photography, for now you can take hundreds of photos a day—as many as your memory cards can hold—and then delete the bad ones from your camera each night to give you more space for the following days. So never be afraid to take multiple shots. The more you take, the better your chances of getting ‘the one.’

Gain Some New Perspectives
Stop shooting every picture from the same level with the object in the center of the frame. Play around with your point of view by using different angles, shooting off-center or shifting to a lower or higher level. When all else fails to bring out the subject’s true essence, then move closer. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal, even if the object is gigantic. Often the beauty of a building or landscape is in the details.

Stay Colorful
During your vacation, always be on the lookout for colorful scenes, such as a fruit market or fabric shop, or where two bright colors are next to one another, such as bright green shutters on a fire truck-red house. Also, don’t be afraid to add color to shots. If you’re framing a shot of friends at the beach, toss one of them a beach ball to inject a dose of color.

Capture the Local Scene
Don’t be afraid to take photos of the locals and their local lives. Pictures of a shopkeeper sweeping her storefront in the early hours or a boy leading a donkey through the village will bring back a flood of memories when you view them years after your trip.

Crop, Shop and Share
Learn how to use the photo-editing program on your computer to make basic enhancements to your vacation photos, such as eliminating red eye, making colors more vivid or cropping photos. Cropping alone can turn an average photo into a piece of art.


Solo Flights - Helping Your Child Fly Alone

As families stretch further and further across the continent, it becomes a greater possibility that you may need to send your child on a flight alone to visit the grandparents or spend some time with dad. While your child may view such an adventure as awesome, you begin to worry as soon as the ticket is purchased, racking yourself with questions.

Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that your tiny traveler arrives to his or her destination without experiencing any emotional turbulence.

Quick Glance at the Rules
Many airlines, including all of the major U.S. airlines, allow unaccompanied minors as young as five to travel alone. Your child will be escorted by an airline employee from the moment they are checked in by you or a guardian and until they are picked up by an authorized individual at their destination. You will have to pay the normal adult fare for their seat, along with an escort fee—generally between $75 - $100.

Book Nonstop When Possible
Since it would be difficult for the airline to monitor the child overnight if a late connection is missed, it’s recommended that you book nonstop tickets when possible. If a connection is unavoidable, try to schedule it at a smaller airport that would not intimidate the child as much as, say, O’Hare.

Spending Time at the Airport
Arrive at the airport early, so you don’t have to rush the boarding process. You can also request a gate pass to get through security, so you can stay with your child until he boards and the flight has left the gate. Once you’re at the gate, introduce your child to the lead flight attendant, who may allow you to escort him to his seat.

Information and Money
Make sure your child carries proper identification and an emergency contact sheet with phone numbers and addresses of not just you, but also the person picking him up and other relatives. Also, it’s wise to leave your child with enough cash to use in an emergency, or at least to buy snacks on the plane.

Charged Up & Ready to Go
Be sure to charge up your child’s various electronic gadgets (iPod, cell phone, portable DVD player, handheld game) as well as pack extra batteries in his carry-on. If your kid does not have a cell phone, then teach him how to contact you from a pay phone using a calling card or by calling collect.

The Pickup Person
Whoever will be picking up your child should have all the details about the flights along with photo identification that matches the information you supplied the airline. The pickup person should arrive early, for he or she will need to obtain a gate pass and pass through security before meeting your child at the gate.

Talk about the Trip
The most important step you can take to help your child enjoy her flight is to talk to her about it. Describe each step of the journey in detail, from the security check, tarmac delays and take-off to the in-flight movies, baggage claim and who will be collecting her on the other side. Also discuss what is proper in-flight behavior, including what to talk about with other passengers and what to do if a passenger acts inappropriately. They less your child is surprised about, the better she will enjoy the flight.

Call Upon Your Travel Agent
If you have any questions regarding your child’s flight, or if you’re having trouble finding information regarding your airline of choice, please feel free to contact us at anytime. That’s what we’re here for—to help our clients travel better.


See the World Your Way - Smart Tips for Senior Travelers

Planning is a crucial part of any vacation, especially for senior travelers who must plan more earnestly than others on their health and safety. Does that mean seniors should forgo international vacations and stick to picnics in the park? Of course not! The world’s greatest destinations can and should be enjoyed by travelers of all ages.

Here are a few tips and precautions for senior travelers to consider to ensure a safe and enriching journey.

Be Prepared Before You Leave
Find out as much information and make as many preparations as you can before your trip. Mark all of the hospitals and medical facilities on a map of your destination. Make sure you know how extreme the temperature gets. Make any arrangements you may need for wheelchairs. We—your trusted travel agents—can help you find the information you need.

Pre-trip Doctor Visit
Visit your doctor for a complete medical check-up a month before your trip. Get necessary vaccinations and discuss any health concerns you may have, especially concerning the destination’s food choices. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about staggering your medication to correspond with the change in time zones. If finances allow, visit your optometrist to get a new pair of glasses (you don’t want to miss the amazing sights!), and then pack your old pair in your carry-on luggage.

Direct Flights and Transfers
To make flying easier, try to get a non-stop or direct flight to your destination. If you have to connect and you’re concerned about making the next flight on time, ask us to help you arrange proper transportation between terminals.

Medication Do’s and Don’ts
Never expect to pick up more medication at your destination—you should not assume that your specific drug will be available and easy to obtain. Not only should you bring enough meds to last the entire trip, but also an extra week’s worth just in case. Pack all medications in your carry-on in their original bottles, which makes them easier to inspect. Carry a list of every medication you use, including it’s generic name, and what you use it for on you at all times, just in case of an emergency. If it will fit, write this list on the back of your physician’s card, or just write your doctor’s contact information on your medication list. If you do find yourself in need to buy medications overseas, be sure to check the dosage levels, which may differ from what your body is used to.

Blood clots that accrue in your legs during long flights—known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—can spoil both you vacation and your health. To keep both in prime condition during your flight, wear loose, comfortable clothing; drink plenty of water and fruit juices; stretch your legs, feet and toes while seated; and get up often to roam the aisles.

Ease into Your Vacation
This is your holiday, so take care of yourself to enjoy it to the fullest. Pad your itinerary with a few days in the front to get acclimated to the new time zone, and several off days to rest between long afternoons sightseeing. Stick to bottled water, and avoid buffets and street vendors to keep away the bellyaches.

Travel Insurance
Seniors are more likely to use travel insurance than other travelers. Talk to us about the different types of coverage available, including policies that cover your pre-existing conditions or include emergency evacuation coverage.

Think Groups
As your travel agent, we can book you with companies that specialize in senior groups. Whether you’ll looking to explore a remote destination, like China, or you have something adventurous in mind, like an African safari, we can introduce you to established and trustworthy organizations that are well-equipped to take care of your unique needs.




Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Summer 2009's Travel Tips Quarterly

Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations


Festive Destinations to Celebrate Christmas

While many holidays are connected to certain regions or religions, Christmas is truly a world wide event. They may not celebrate it like North Americans do—in Finland they spend Christmas Eve at the cemetery, and in Belgium St. Nick has a partner known as Pere Noel—but they do welcome all to join in the merriment.

Make this a Christmas to remember for your family by taking a break from your traditional festivities to experience how another country jingles their bells. Here are several cities that truly get into the Christmas spirit, making them a joy to visit for Christians and non-Christians alike.

Munich, Germany
Germany becomes transformed during December, as Christmas Markets spring up across the country. At Munich's celebrated Christmas market, held in Marienplatz (St. Mary’s Square) since the 14th century, you'll find all manner of crafts, sweets, cakes and other delights. Christmas in Munich is also a time for music, when churches echo with carols and Bach’s ''Christmas Oratorio'' can be heard throughout town.

Edinburgh, Scotland
Beautiful throughout the year, Scotland’s capital becomes magical around Christmastime when winter festivals celebrate with fairground rides, Ferris wheels, outdoor ice rinks, hot food stands and traditional German Christmas markets. Other Christmas events include the Santa Run, Edinburgh's record-breaking attempt for the largest gathering of Santas, the Reindeer Gardens and carol concerts.

Prague, Czech Republic
In Prague, four separate Christmas markets converge in the city center—at Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Havelske Trziste and Namesti Republiky—filling the air with the sound of Czech carols and the scent of mulled wine. Each market features brightly-colored wooden huts selling local handicrafts, Czech glass, hand-made jewelry, hot food and warm drinks, which you can often enjoy while listening to school children dressed in traditional costume dance and sing for the crowd.

London, England
London hosts many Christmas activities to appeal to millions of revelers. The West End lights up to illuminate shoppers on Oxford and Regent streets; ice-skating rinks appear across town; a massive Norwegian pine is erected in Trafalgar Square; the English National Ballet performs “The Nutcracker” and other favorites at the London Coliseum; there’s even an obstacle race around Covent Garden that contestants run while carrying Christmas pudding on a tray!

Sydney, Australia
Christmas on the beach? Why not in Sydney, where the warm summer season makes such beaches as Bondi and Manly prime destinations for a Christmas day family barbeque. Christmastime is also celebrated with a light show projected nightly onto the Town Hall and the annual Carols by Candlelight at the Domain, which concludes with a stirring, hand-holding, candle-raising rendition of “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”


Ocean vs. River Cruises - Which One's Best for You?

When you hear the phrase “cruise vacation,” your mind usually goes to the sea, picturing a massive ocean liner visiting exotic islands in the Caribbean or plying the fabled waters of the Mediterranean. However, river cruises through Europe, China or Africa are gaining in popularity, making some passengers to wonder which one provides the better vacation experience.

Both cruising styles offer great value, allowing you to experience a parade of destinations while unpacking only once. Plus, both include delicious cuisine, nightly entertainment and onboard activities. The key to choosing the one that’s best suited to your vacation needs is to understand each style’s unique benefits, which are listed below. 

Benefits of Ocean Cruising

Bigger Ships=More Variety
The large ocean-going cruise ships—getting bigger every year—now offer an unbelievable variety of restaurants, cabins, entertainment, pools, nightclubs, casinos, activities and spa treatments. In essence, the ship is the destination itself, a destination you can enjoy on days at sea or before and after port explorations.

Travel Further
Ocean cruising itineraries tend to cover more ground than river cruises, exposing you to a wider variety of cultures across countries and continents. For instance, an eastern Mediterranean voyage can stop in Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Israel and Egypt in just 12 days.

Transcendent Ocean
Civilizations were born on rivers, but the oceans always held man’s heart. Staring out at the endless ocean—a view that’s forever moving but never changes—has a calming influence that can only be described as transcendent.

The Allure of Islands
In the eyes of many, paradise is found on the islands. From the tropical wonders of Hawaii to the white-sand masterpieces of the Caribbean, the call of the islands is powerful and can best be satiated by an island-hopping ocean cruise.

Benefits of River Cruising

Smaller, Boutique Ports
While the allure of islands is strong to some, the serene and historic beauty of a centuries-old riverside village is more appealing to others. River cruises visit both bustling cities and scenic villages during the same voyage, letting you easily disembark right into the heart of the destination without having to navigate a boisterous and crowded dock.

Leisurely Exploration
On a river cruise, you often awaken with the vessel already docked at the day’s port of call and don’t set sail again until midnight. This gives you all day to explore the destination and culture in depth, using your ship as a home base to jump on and off of as needed.

An Ever-Changing View
You’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery from just about everywhere on the ship, where panoramic views can be found in the restaurant, on the sun deck or from the privacy of your stateroom.

Included Shore Excursions
Many river cruise companies include daily shore excursions at each port for free, allowing you to enjoy a tour of the port city’s highlights before venturing off on your own.

Intimate Camaraderie
On a river cruise filled with no more than 300 guests, you will see the same people day in and day out, giving you a prime opportunity to get to know your fellow passengers and form long-lasting friendships. By contrast, ocean-going vessels hold up to 5,400 passengers.


Flying with Toddlers

You can only ask grandma to visit you so often. One day you’ll have to return the favor, which means you have to perform an act so frightening, so terrifying, that the mere suggestion of it sends shivers down the spine of all parents: flying with your toddler.

Cramped seats, squirming kids and angry neighbors can turn a 90-minute flight into the longest day of your life. But fear not! With some careful planning and a little in-flight ingenuity, your flight can turn into a fun, family adventure. Just keep these tips in mind.

Sleepy Time
The best-case scenario is for your child to sleep during the flight. If possible, schedule your flight during his usual nap time. Before you board the plane, give your child a protein-packed meal with little or no sugar—everyone sleeps better with a full belly. Seat her next to the window, and pull the shade down after take-off. Once airborne, before the aisles are filled with drink carts and wandering passengers, go through your child’s bedtime routine to encourage the nap. Whatever you do, do not give cold medicine to knock him out, a practice condemned by pediatricians.

Pre-Boarding Play Time
Tire your kid out as much as possible before you board. If an airport has a play area, spend every second you can there. Let her run around empty gates, or simply take long walks up and down the concourse. Let him waddle around while you’re in line (use a tether to make sure he doesn’t get too far away in the crowded airport). The more energy expended outside the plane the better.

A Seat of Their Own
Kids under two may fly for free, but do you really want a heavy, squiggly baby on your lap for three hours? Buy your child his own seat on the plane—it’s the best mental investment you’ll ever make. Bring a child restraint system or else your kid may be bouncing all around the seat.

Get Allies Early
Be extra nice to the people around you when you board. Introduce you child and encourage her to play cute baby games like peek-a-boo with nearby passengers so that they’ll be more understanding in the event that your child becomes noisy.

The Rule of Plane Snacking
There’s only one rule on what to give your toddler to snack on during the flight: no sugar. It’s a hard rule to follow considering how sugary snacks are perfectly packaged for travel. Come prepared by bringing grapes, carrots, goldfish crackers, snap peas or raisins.

Keep them Occupied
Pack plenty of activities, like coloring books or travel-sized drawing pads such as an AquaDoodle. Pack new books and toys they have never seen. Bring each item out one at a time, putting the last one away before introducing the next. You may consider wrapping a few toys, which will add to the wonder and take more time to play with.


Packing the Perfect Carry-On

Standing around an empty baggage claim carousel, waiting for the conveyor belt to lurch forward, is a part of the flying process many dislike. That’s why a growing number of passengers are skipping the baggage claim by packing everything they need for their journey into their carry-on bags.

For others who still need to check their larger pieces of luggage, it’s a good idea to pack your carry-on as wisely as possible to ensure you have everything you need when you arrive. Here are a few tips to packing the perfect carry-on bag.

Know the Rules
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the final word on what’s allowed in your carry-ons, so be sure you know the rules before planning what to bring. This includes following the 3-1-1 rule, which stipulates you can only carry liquids, aerosols and gels (such as toothpaste and shampoo) in nothing larger than three-ounce containers, which should be safely kept inside a one-quart, plastic zip-top bag. Each passenger can bring one, one-quart bag. Check for the full list of rules.

Call First
The size (usually 45 cubic inches) and number of carry-ons allowed (generally two per passenger, except during holidays) varies by airline, so visit your airline’s Web site or ask us for the details. If you plan to pack everything into your carry-on bags, you may consider buying the maximum-sized bag to take advantage of each allowable inch.

What Goes in First? Everything You Can’t Live Without
Just in case you checked bag is lost, it’s imperative to pack all essential items into your carry-on, including passport, travel insurance, clearly-labeled medications, list of emergency contacts, address and phone number of your hotel, your travel agent’s contact information, an extra change of clothes, small bag of toiletries, glasses or spare contact lenses, cell phone and chargers.

Carry-On Only? Be Ready to Sacrifice
If your goal is to take carry-ons only, then you will need to change the way you think about packing. Forget extra pieces of clothing or that second pair of brown shoes just in case you go dancing. You should take as few, maximum-use items as possible, focusing on those pieces of clothes that mix-and-match well and can possibly transform from day to evening wear. Pick one basic, neutral palate, such as brown or black, and base your entire wardrobe around it. Toss aside any item you planned to bring that can only be worn one way. Yes, you may end up wearing the same outfits twice, but you’re on vacation, not on a fashion show runway. Just bring your most comfortable favorites, relax and have a great time.



Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Spring 2009's Travel Tips Quarterly

Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations


Planning a Destination Family Reunion Everyone Will Enjoy

The typical family does not have an estate on Martha’s Vineyard to meet at every year. Nowadays, the typical family is split up across North America and beyond, with no one house big enough to host the entire group. Even when a particular locale is chosen, some relatives will be forced to travel great distances and find suitable lodging.

The last thing you want is Cousin Eddie to complain the whole time about how he had to buy a plane ticket while Aunt Charlene only had to drive across town. In the interest of fairness and fabulous vacationing, the best choice is for everyone to travel for a destination reunion. Even Eddie and Charlene will get along at an all-inclusive resort in the Mexican Riviera or while whale-watching on an Alaskan cruise.

To get your family together for a destination reunion filled with more delights than fights, follow these helpful tips.

Plan Early, Way Early
To coordinate a large reunion, start planning two years in advance. This gives all invited guests plenty of time to plan, save money, take advantage of discounted deals and clear their schedules. Plus, if the trip is out of the country, some family members will need time to get or renew their passports.

Follow the Leader to Anywhere
Nominate a leader or committee to handle all the research and planning. Once the chain of command is settled, task number one is choosing the site. A destination family reunion is an exciting opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones at an incredible locale. With plenty of time to save for this important journey, family members will be ready to think big with a Caribbean cruise or a week in Cabo.

Pick a Date, Keep that Date
Picking a date two years in advance eases the complications of scheduling, for most people do not plan their personal lives that far ahead. Ask for suggestions to find a time that works for everyone, especially those with school-age kids. Try to stay away from major holidays or busy traveling times when prices are higher. Once the date is agreed upon, set it in stone and ask everyone to schedule conflicting events around it. Changing the date later affects those who already started planning around it.

Keep Everyone Excited
Once the day and destination are chosen, keep the enthusiasm rolling. Send a monthly email with updates on who is coming, general family news and photos, and interesting tidbits about the destination (which you can glean from the destination’s official tourism site). Work with us to find travel deals to and around the destination and send them out to your family.

Plan Activities for Kids of All Ages
Have plenty of options on hand to keep kids active, parents relaxed and grandparents engaged. A scuba-diving excursion may sound great to you, but make sure you have an alternative activity for those who prefer to stay dry. Cruise ships and family-friendly resorts are great locations that offer plenty of activities, entertainment and space for all ages.

Have Fun!
Don’t get so bogged down in the stress and time-consuming nature of planning this event that you fail to enjoy it! We are here to take care of all the travel details—from air tickets and lodging reservations to car rentals and show tickets—so you can focus on attendance. Plus, often we can get special rates for large parties, cutting the prices so low that even stingy Aunt Edna will come.


Overcoming Language Barriers

Poets and greeting card manufacturers claim that the international language is love, but travelers know better. For anyone who has spent a good deal of time in a foreign destination, surrounded by people he or she cannot understand, the international language is effort, plain and simple.

As in taking the effort to communicate slowly, thoughtfully, and with the intent of being understood. Usually this translates into learning a few key phrases to have at your disposal, but unfortunately those phrases fail to cover the full range of experiences a traveler typically encounters.

However, here are some helpful tips to get your message across in any situation.

English 101
English comprehension is growing around the world, creating more students of our language. As students, their grasp of English is tenuous at best, so speak slowly and clearly, annunciating each word as if you’re speaking to someone reading your lips. Just like you cannot understand a Spanish film even though you took two semesters of Español in high school, international English students may not be able to understand you because you’re talking too fast.

Choose Your Words Wisely
Use simple, straightforward English phrases without slang (“Where can I chow down on some grub?”), colloquialisms (“Y’all know where the bathrooms are?”) or idioms (“I’m looking for a place to drown my sorrows.”).

Word Economy
There’s no need to communicate a complex message or mangle a foreign phrase when one word will suffice. “Toilet?” works better than “Excuse me, sir, but where is the toilet?” And “Photo?” will do instead of “Can you please take our picture next to this cathedral?”

Keep Moving
Language is only one small part of communication. Don’t forget that facial expressions, gestures and charades work just as well, especially when exaggerated. Rub your belly if you’re hungry or mimic drinking with your pinky extended if you’d like a cup of tea.

Make it One Big Game of Pictionary®
For those of us with artistic talent, keep a pad and pencil on you at all times and draw whatever it is you want. A picture of an airplane will tell the taxi driver where to go, while a stick figure with a stethoscope shows you’re looking for a doctor.

The Most Important Word
Learn how to say “thank you” in the local language and use it at the end of every conversation. Even if you failed to get the answer you were looking for, you should thank the person for their effort.


Advantages of Traveling During the Summer

Heat, schmeat. A little heat isn’t so bad, especially when you’re walking down cobblestone alleyways and exploring ancient temples. Sure, the guide books tell you to stay away from destination X during the summer due to soaring temperatures. And this may be sage advice for some travelers, such as those of a red-headed persuasion who easily burn.

Then again, there are some major advantages to traveling during the height of summer, several of which are outlined below. The key to enjoying your time is to not sweat the small stuff, even if you’re sweating through everything else.

The Beauty of Off-Season
Two major advantages of traveling in the off-season, when rumored heat waves keep less-adventurous tourists away, are lessened crowds and lowered prices. It’s only natural for travelers to plan their holidays around the weather, aiming for sunny, 68-degree days so they can enjoy standing in line with millions of other tourists who craved similar forecasts. During summer, these crowds and those lines melt away in tropical destinations, making it much easier to enjoy major attractions.

As for lowered prices, retailers enjoy peak seasons, for they can sell just about anything to the throngs of tourists at maximum price. In the off-season, however, they are forced to reduce prices to attract fewer tourists, resulting in incredible bargains for savvy travelers.

Some Things Simply Taste Better in the Heat
Locals in the countries you visit have a long history of surviving the off-season heat, which lead them to create many of the cultural treats and beverages that are now internationally enjoyed, such as gelato and other frozen confections, as well as national beers. Experiencing these treats in their country of origin on a wonderfully warm day is an experience you never forget.

Maximizing Your Day with Naps
We often push ourselves too hard during vacations trying to see every major site in a 50-mile radius of the hotel. While this is a perfectly acceptable strategy, you often return home drained and in need of another, more-relaxing vacation. Traveling during a heated summer solves this dilemma! You typically wake up early in the morning, leisurely enjoy one or two crowd-free attractions before the sun rises too high in the sky, and then return to your luxurious hotel for a swim and a nap. You awaken late afternoon, as the sun and the temperature descend, feeling refreshed and ready to relish the local nightlife.

Take Your Time in Museums
Summer is the best time to deliberately dawdle in some of the world’s greatest museums, when you can take your time appreciating masterpieces without fighting the crowds. Plus, during summer travel, museums become chilled sanctuaries from the heat since they must keep the halls properly air-conditioned to protect the art.

Talk to Us, Your Travel & Weather Advisors
Contact us at any time to talk about the best places to visit during the summer. Europe, Asia, Australia, Mexico, Las Vegas…all these fabulous destinations have off-seasons you can take advantage of!


How to be a Respectful Tourist

When you visit a foreign destination, you are often reminded to be respectful of the temples or natural attractions, so that you do not harm them for future travelers to enjoy. While this is a very good practice, your respectful treatment should extend to the inhabitants of those destinations as well.

Some locals love tourists—enjoying the influx of wonder and enthusiasm (and money!)—while others find tourists a necessary nuisance. However, everyone enjoys interacting with respectful people. This interaction—when the tourist is courteous and the local welcoming—enhances a travel experience, for it makes the traveler feel surrounded by a network of friends instead of a web of strangers.

To ensure that you are treated with the utmost in kindness by locals and welcomed throughout your destination, please keep these tips in mind on your next journey.

Know the Basics Before You Go
Each country is different, so never visit a foreign destination without first researching the region’s cultural and social customs. Behavior that is perfectly acceptable in the United States can be seen as disrespectful overseas. Read up on what you should or should not do so you’ll know if it’s okay to wear shoes in a holy place, show affection on the streets or even walk with a drink in your hand. 

A Few Words Go a Long Way
Pick up a few phrases from the local language. Saying “hello” and “thank you” in the native language will improve the demeanor of locals a lot more than asking point-blank, “Do you speak any English?” Write five-to-10 common phrases on a card and carry it around with you at all times. If you’re feeling linguistically adventurous, get a small pocket guide and attempt full conversations with the locals. They will appreciate the effort.

Become a Small Group
If your party consists of just your family or an entire tour group, be conscious of the space you’re taking up as you slowly walk the streets where locals are trying to live. Pay attention to the people around and give them access if you’re blocking a sidewalk or standing in front of a storefront while snapping a photo.

Keep the Joke Between the Two of You
We often encounter strange-looking objects or unique ways of doing things during our travels, such as gas pumps that stretch from the awning or individually-wrapped fruit. When you come across one of these peculiarities, quietly share the humor with your travel-mates instead of yelling across the grocery store, “Honey, look at this funny-looking fruit!”

Spend Time Hanging Out
One of the best ways to curry favors from locals is to spend quality time getting to know them. Ask our agents to pad your schedule so that, after action-packed days of seeing every temple and volcano in the area, you have some down time to simply sit in a café all afternoon or share a pint at an off-the-beaten-path pub.



Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Winter 2009's Travel Tips Quarterly




Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations





Finding the Best Deals in 2009

Luckily for travelers worldwide, 2009 has been anointed the “Year of the Travel Deal.” The turbulent economy has forced many consumers and businesses to tighten their belts, which means they are spending less on travel. The result: airline seats are empty and hotel rooms are vacant. 

To fill those revenue-depleting voids, tour companies, cruise lines, all-inclusive resorts and airlines are dropping prices to unprecedented lows. And as the economy slows all over the globe, destinations you once thought were financially out of reach are now attractively reaching out to you for your business.

Here are a few tips to help you snag a deal that could jumpstart your 2009 vacation:

Look for Air-and-Hotel Packages
Tour operators and packagers who buy hotels rooms and airline seats in bulk have the power to adjust pricing according to demand. And since demand is currently low, prices will follow suit.

Cruising for a Deal
To entice passengers onboard, many cruise lines are offering free or discounted spa treatments, specialty dinners, shore excursions, cabin upgrades and other rewards. Further deals can be found by booking a repositioning cruise (when the cruise lines move ships from one region to another).

Sign Up for Airline E-alerts
Go to your favorite airline Web sites and sign up for low fare alerts. Some sites even allow you to pick your preferred departure/arrival cities, so that you will only be alerted when a deal involves them.

New Air Routes
When airlines add new routes, they typically offer low introductory rates. Keep an eye on the travel section of your local paper to see if any airlines are expanding to new cities or changing hubs.

High Priced Destinations are Now on Sale
Don’t assume a destination will break the bank. While Hawaii is typically a high-priced destination, it is now offering great discounts and offers to attract more East Coast travelers. The same story could be told for such destinations as Australia , India and more.

Harness the Power of Your Travel Agent
We have special relationships with specific resorts, hotel groups and cruise lines, helping us obtain unpublicized perks and discount pricing. Call us and ask which partners we have that may interest you. We also post special offers on our Web site, so check back often!




Good Things to Know when Picking Your Cruise Cabin

There isn’t much you need to know about a hotel room before you book it, besides the size of the bed, whether it’s a garden or sea view, and how close is it to the ice machine. But choosing the best cabin on your next cruise entails a bit more knowledge.

While cabins once were simply classified as inside, outside, veranda or suite, some ships now have more than 20 categories. Choosing one based on price alone is not a good idea, for if you don’t like your cabin, you won’t be so thrilled with your cruise, and we don’t want that to happen.

With that in mind, here are some helpful insights into picking the cabin that’s best for you:

Main Cabin Types
Inside Cabins: roughly 120-180 square feet, with no porthole or window.
Outside Cabins: typically mirror images of interior cabins, but with ocean views through a porthole or window. Some newer ships feature large picture windows, but they cannot be opened.
Balconies or Verandas: slightly larger cabins with sliding glass doors, giving you access to a small balcony just large enough for a couple of chairs and a small table. Sliding doors act like a giant window, giving you ocean views from practically anywhere in the cabin.
Suites: expanded balcony rooms with either a small sitting area or a separate bedroom.
Villas: only found on select ships, such as the Norwegian Gem, which boasts a 4,390 square-foot Garden Villa complete with three bedrooms and bathrooms, living and dining room, whirlpool, wet bar and steam room.

Location, Location, Location
Lower decks: usually the least expensive, lower deck cabins are best for those who feel the effects of motion discomfort the most, for they provide a smoother ride in rough seas. The downside is proximity, for they are the furthest from, well, everything you’d want to do on a ship.  
Higher decks: usually cost more, but they are close to all the fun stuff, making it immensely easier to run back to your cabin after lunch to grab your novel before hitting the pool deck. Higher decks on smaller or older ships may cause more motion discomfort, yet newer ships come equipped with advanced stabilization technology.
Midship cabins: a good compromise when it comes to cost, proximity and motion control. The only downside is traffic, as the hallways can be filled with roaming passengers.

Who Spends Time in Their Cabin?
Yes, today’s ships are packed with enough activities to keep you on your toes (or climbing a rock wall) 24/7. But don’t assume you’ll never step foot inside your cabin. With so many things to do onboard, you’ll need a good place to nap between activities. Or maybe you’ll just need a quiet sanctuary to relax, watch a movie or have a private dinner on the balcony. Every passenger spends different amounts of time in their cabin.

To Splurge or Not to Splurge
Cabins range from compact to grandiose, with price tags to match. The least-expensive cabin on every ship is a low level, interior one with limited room. Spend a little more, and you get an outside cabin with a window, and oh what a difference that window makes. Spend a little more and you get a balcony, where you can enjoy fresh air as you watch the next destination slide into view. On shorter cruises, when you only have a few days to enjoy all the ship offers, an inside cabin may be the best choice, since you will not spend much time there. On longer cruises, when you will often seek your cabin to relax and simply enjoy a leisurely day, then a balcony would be ideal. Also, if the itinerary finds your ship hugging a stunning coastline, then a window or balcony will be indispensable.

Your Cabin is Ready
Each ship is unique, and new ships are launching yearly. How is it possible for you to keep track of all the different cabin types? Easy, ask us! Travel agents make it their business to sail on or tour as many cruise ships as we can, so we have seen many of the cabins first hand. So feel free to pick our brains about your next cabin selection anytime.




Are Escorted Tours Right for You?

Travel agents understand that you must match the traveler with the vacation. Retired couples might find an arctic adventure to Patagonia a bit off-putting, while teens may go stir crazy on a train ride through the Old West.

And likewise, you may or may not enjoy an escorted tour. So let’s find out.

Typically, people choose escorted tours to experience a destination stress free. The tour company sets them up with hotels, transfers, meals and a local guide who takes them directly to a destination’s main attractions.

But there is much more about escorted tours you should be aware of before deciding if they’re right for you, such as:

The average age of a tour group depends on the tour itself, but generally they attract seasoned travelers who enjoy hassle-free travel experiences. If the tour has a high activity level with long hikes or attractions that require numerous stairs to access, then chances are the average age will be on the south side of 50. Regardless of their ages, people who take tours are united by the experiences they share, which often leads to the kindling of ongoing friendships.

Exotic Destinations
Escorted tours help some travelers discover exotic destinations they may not attempt on their own, such as those in Asia or Africa where the customs and languages are completely foreign and the security of the large tour group is comforting.

Tour guides are usually locals who know the culture and history of the destination inside and out. They are great resources who are willing to answer any question about the sights you visit, as well as give you tips on how best to spend your free time, such as restaurant suggestions.

Some tours are based around a theme, such as wine, gastronomy, hiking, Christmas markets or golf. Themed tours are perfect for meeting new people who share a common interest.

Because tour operators use their increased buying power to purchase hotel rooms, meals and airline seats in bulk, they can offer packages at much lower rates than the typical traveler can find on their own.

V.I.P. Access
Tour groups are often escorted straight to the main entrances of major attractions and ushered directly inside without waiting in line or having to buy individual tickets.

If you’re still up in the air about tours, please swing by our travel agency or give us a call. We’ll gladly you tell you about our many experiences with group travel, as well as explain all your touring options, such as those that don’t involve typical guides or even groups.




Packing the Perfect First-Aid Kit

You’ve planned and packed every outfit of your trip, right down to the socks and belt. You even threw in an extra shirt just in case something unplanned for happens. But what did you pack for unplanned injuries or illnesses?

No matter if you’re taking a safari in Africa or escaping to a posh resort in the Caribbean , cuts and bruises can happen. So it’s best to pack a personalized first-aid kit, unless you want to spend valuable vacation time hunting down a pharmacy or chemist shop.

Your first-aid kit should include basic items, labeled below as “The Essentials,” mixed with any additional items specific to your needs. And while you can always purchase a pre-packed kit, they are usually more bulky than one hand-crafted by you.

The Essentials

Small and large bandages

Pain reliever (aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen)

Antibiotic cream

Roll of gauze or gauze pads

Alcohol or antiseptic wipes

First aid tape


Small scissors

Burn cream




The Extras
In case there's room, these items may round out the kit to better serve your needs or type of vacation:

First-aid manual

Cotton balls

Calamine lotion

Sanitizing hand gel or latex gloves


Motion sickness pills

Nasal aspirator/bulb syringe

Personally prescribed medications

Allergy medication

Cold and flu medications

Throat lozenges


Oral hydration solutions/rehydration salts

Sun block

Lip balm

Insect repellent

Instant ice pack


Water sterilization tablets



Also, be sure to bring your prescription medications in their original containers, and always pack enough for the entire trip plus two days, just in case of delays. Pack your kit in a waterproof container if you can. And check all expiration dates on any medications—the old first-aid kit you’ve used for years may be filled with expired items.

As your trusted travel provider, we can plan almost every detail of your trip—except for unexpected injuries. For those we hope you follow this list and take along the perfect kit, for we want nothing to stand in the way of your vacation happiness.





Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. November 2008's Travel Tips Quarterly
Know Before You Go - Rules for Bringing Items into the U.S.
Weather Info for Your Destination
Airline Passengers' Rights
State Department Travel Page
International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Center
Tips for Traveling Abroad
Airport Status and Delays Info
Worldwide Directory of Tourism Offices
Center for Disease Control Travel Page (International Health Issues)
Security Checkpoint Wait Times
Sponsored by
Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The travel tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations
In This Quarterly:
One Recognizing and Avoiding Common Travel Scams
Two Transporting Wine from Abroad
Three Replacing Lost or Stolen Passports While Traveling Overseas
Four The Best Not-So-Faraway Beaches
Recognizing and Avoiding Common Travel Scams

There are thousands of trustworthy travel promotions every year, as hotels, resorts, cruise lines and destinations offer discounted packages to fill empty space. However, those legitimate offers are sometimes overshadowed by travel scams and bogus claims that prey on travelers who find the idea of a free vacation too tempting to pass up.

Whenever you receive travel offers over the phone from people you don’t know, suddenly win a prize in a contest you never entered or think you might be involved in any type of travel scam, turn to us for advice. As your professional advisor, we will use our years of experience to analyze any offer that comes your way to sift out the gold nuggets from the mud.

Hopefully you will never need to question the credibility of the travel offers that come your way, but here are some general scams to avoid just in case.

Discount Travel or Vacation Clubs
The offer: Pay to become a member of a club, and then receive incredible travel discounts to the worlds top destinations, only available to members.
The scam: membership fees are often outrageous, and the discounts minor or hard to prove. Plus, when you pick a deal to take advantage of, you’re often told those dates are not available, but it is available the following week…at triple the price.

Become a Travel Agent
The offer: Pay to become a travel agent with official ‘credentials’ and receive all of the travel benefits they do, such as free hotel stays and heavily discounted airfare.
The scam: Travel agents did regularly receive industry discounts…20 years ago. Nowadays, discounts are uncommon, and to take advantage of them, one must have sold a certain number of vacations and be affiliated with a legitimate travel agency, an independent seller of travel or an official organization, such as the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) or the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Deceptive Pricing
The offer: Fly to Cancun for just $99!
The scam: Offer is one way only, does not include taxes or services fees, is only redeemable for flights leaving Dallas, and you have to stay (and pay) for four nights in a lackluster hotel far from the beach. Always read the fine print before you click the “buy now” button.

Others Offers to Question or Simply Avoid:

  • Any offer that comes to you randomly by email from a source you do not recognize (please do not mistake these for the exceptional promotions you receive from our agency!)
  • Any offer from a phone solicitor that happily informs you about a contest you won, even though you never entered! Welcome to the textbook definition of “too good to be true!”
  • Any offer that asks for your credit card information up front or asks you to pay before giving you all the details. You always should know everything that’s included—such as service fees or port charges—before committing to the offer.
  • Any offer that requires you to call a 900 number to collect your travel certificate. Also applies to seemingly normal area codes like 809, 758 or 664, which are unregulated 900 numbers located in the Caribbean.
  • Any offer that you must say “yes” to immediately because the deal expires at midnight. Those who are rushed into a decision do not have time to investigate the validity of the source.
  • Any offer that refuses to give you the names of the hotels, airlines or other travel suppliers in writing.
Transporting Wine from Abroad

One of the joys of travel is discovering new wines at romantic restaurants, bucolic vineyards or colorful markets. Unfortunately your neighborhood wine shop cannot possibly keep all the wines of the world in stock, so you may have trouble finding the shiraz you enjoyed at the outdoor café in Melbourne or the cava you picked up at La Boqueria in Barcelona.

So what’s a wine lover to do? One could simply savor the memory of the vintage like we would recall the vision of a painting in a museum. Or you can transport a few bottles home to relish once again, hoping it tastes as good at your dining room table as it did at the Italian winery.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before deciding if the wine is souvenir worthy:

Flying the Vino Airlines
Due to recent security restrictions, you cannot carry liquids—even delightfully fragrant sauvignon blancs—onboard, which leaves you with one choice: packing the wine in your checked luggage. Be forewarned: U.S. Customs limits you to one liter of alcohol free of tax, while more will be subject to a three percent duty fee.

While many would never consider placing bottles in their checked luggage (imagine the carnage upon opening your suitcase at home to discover three shattered bottles and a new all-pink wardrobe) the success rate is quite high if you thickly pad the bottles with clothing and use a hard suitcase. While this helps solve the breaking dilemma, it still exposes your wine to extreme temperature changes while in the cargo hold, which may alter the taste of the delicate liquid.

Shipping it Home
If you’re worried about your ability to transport wine home, leave it to the professionals, namely the retailer. Ask whomever you purchased the wine from to ship it to your home. They have experience shipping fragile items and navigating customs regulations, so they’re up to the task. You will still pay the customs duty on whatever you ship when applicable.

This option works best when you buy complete cases, for it needs to be in their financial interest to offer the service. If the wine merchant does ship your wine, be sure they use a certified carrier, and that you can track the shipment online. And don’t leave without the merchant’s contact information.

Last Resort
If you can’t take the wine with you, at least take the wine’s information, possibly its label, and then search for that exact vintage online. One way to do this is to keep the cork, which usually has the winery’s name on it—just be sure to write the exact name of the wine and the year on it.

Replacing Lost or Stolen Passports
While Traveling Overseas

It crosses all of our minds as we travel—what do we do if our passport is lost or stolen? For some, a missing passport can ruin a trip and put the date of your return in serious jeopardy. However, when you’re prepared and know the right steps, getting a new passport can be a quick and (relatively) easy procedure.

Hopefully this event will never occur during your travels. If you safeguard your passport by always keeping it on your person (and never in checked luggage or a purse), do not draw attention to yourself while you have it out, and keep it in the hotel safe instead of out in your room, then odds are you will never know the gut-wrenching feeling of realizing your passport is suddenly missing.

But unfortunately, some will know that feeling. Luckily there is one important thing you can do to ensure that the feeling doesn’t last: make some copies.

Before you leave on your wondrous journey abroad, make two copies of your passport identification page. Leave one copy at home with family or friends, and carry the other with you separately from your passport. In the event of a lost or stolen passport, that piece of paper will be instrumental in proving your identity and procuring a replacement.

When you first realize your passport is missing, deal with the situation immediately. Report the lost property to the local authorities, and then go to the nearest embassy or consulate to complete a new passport application.

You must convince the consular officer of your identity and citizenship; a copy of your passport will expedite that process. If you have no copy or any other official documents to verify your identity, the officer will confirm your previous passport issuance through a Passport Verification System or by requesting that Overseas Citizens Services retrieve your original application. That takes time, so make sure you have a copy.

Once your original passport is verified, issuance of its replacement can be completed within 24 hours. The consulate or embassy will try to speed up the process if your departing flight looms, but no guarantees can be made.

The Best Not-So-Faraway Beaches

Escape is a natural human desire, especially for us humans with demanding jobs. This desire is heightened during the winter months, when an escape to a beach becomes a reoccurring daydream filled with hypnotic surf lullabies, colorful drinks with tiny umbrellas and the sun giving your skin warm hugs and kisses.

These dreams are often set on the world’s best beaches, those famously found in such faraway lands as Phuket, the Whitsunday Islands or the Seychelles. But few people have the time to travel across the world and enjoy those locales, forcing some to bury their dream in the soft, powdery sand.

Fear not, for your travel agent is here to save your sun-worshipping dreams! Here are some fabulous beach destinations that are a reasonably short flight from Canada and the U.S. If any pique your interest, give our agency a call and we’ll put together a package that includes everything but your swimsuit.

Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
There’s a scientific reason behind the three miles of soft, blushing sand at this Bahamian beach involving the shells of microscopic sea animals, but science is not welcome here on this fantasy island. Other things not welcome are alarm clocks, day planners or Blackberries. Instead, this is the place to go for natural beauty, enchanting resorts, laid-back locals and calm waters. The only time you’ll rush will be to claim a dinner table overlooking the turquoise bay to watch the sunset. There is little to do here besides relax, or, if the urge strikes, strap on some air tanks and explore shipwrecks along the Devil's Backbone, where you just might spot the rare underwater remains of a train wreck.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra Island, Puerto Rico
Flamenco Beach doesn’t just make many top ten lists of best beaches in the world…it is often at the top of the list. And once you see this breathtaking swathe of white sand covering a perfect half-moon, you’ll agree, as did Christopher Columbus in 1493 during his second voyage. Since Chris’ stopover, pirates have claimed the island as a hideout, but thankfully they left without plundering Culebra’s natural beauty. Pirate tales are still told by locals, and sun-worshippers often dig their fingers deep into the soft sand in search for gold. But there is no gold on Flamenco Beach, along with no luxury resorts, no fancy restaurants, no flashy casinos, no crime, no traffic or no crowds. If those “no’s” appeal to you, then say “yes” to a truly pristine beach surrounded by a wildlife refuge filled with gulls, pelicans and endangered turtles.

Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
Bermuda is in itself a tantalizing destination, teeming with quaint towns, pastel houses, historic sites and British charm. The eye-pleasing beaches of Horseshoe Bay are icing on the cake. Wide stretches of pastel pink sand, brilliantly offset by clear blue waves gently lapping at the shore, create an enchanting ambiance for beachgoers of all ages. And if Horseshoe Bay Beach is too crowded on a particular day, secluded stretches are easily discovered at nearby Somerset Long Bay or remote Astwood Cove. Even though the warm waters of the Gulf Stream help keep the air and sea temperatures reasonable all year round, some days may not be ideal for lying half-naked in the sun. Fret not, for those are perfect days to explore the island by bicycle, ascend Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse for spectacular views, window shop at the eclectic boutiques in Hamilton, or squeeze in a round or two of golf at Bermuda’s many championship courses.

Maroma Beach, Mexico
The Yucatan Peninsula’s white, limestone sands, crystal blue waters, spicy cuisine and historic ruins create an attractive recipe for travelers, but then it’s reputation as a Spring Break party spot drives them away. Say hello to Maroma Beach—the answer to your Mayan Riviera prayers. This resort hideaway 30 miles south of Cancun focuses on two things: the ecology of its 500-plus acres of beach and rain forest, and rejuvenating the bodies and souls of all visitors. Guests are immersed in a Mexican Eden, a quiet retreat of warm azure waters, powdery white sands and rich tropical foliage. Eco-friendly travelers will delight in Maroma’s machine-free construction practices, for every building was made by hand, without any machinery, and only one-tenth of the property will be developed in order to preserve its ecological balance. Maroma’s ideal location makes it easy to visit the ruins of Chichen Itza or snorkel along the world’s second-largest barrier reef. Though many guests prefer to stay at the resort, enjoying Flaming Mexican Coffee prepared right at your table or a four-hand massage right on the beach.


Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Summer 2008's Travel Tips Quarterly
Know Before You Go - Rules for Bringing Items into the U.S.
Weather Info for Your Destination
Airline Passengers' Rights
State Department Travel Page
International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Center
Tips for Traveling Abroad
Airport Status and Delays Info
Worldwide Directory of Tourism Offices
Center for Disease Control Travel Page (International Health Issues)
Security Checkpoint Wait Times
Sponsored by
Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations, AfricaSafariSpecialist

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The travel tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations, AfricaSafariSpecialist
In This Quarterly:
One Finding the Right All-Inclusive Resort
Two Enhancing Your Travels with Voluntourism
Three Persuading Your Teen to Take a Family Cruise
Four Avoiding Excess Luggage and Excessive Airline Luggage Fees
Finding the Right All-Inclusive Resort

All all-inclusive vacations are not for all travelers, for each resort comes with its own special mix of opportunities. Some are focused on romance, catering to couples who came to connect. Other are family oriented, providing a well-balanced diet of adventure for all ages.

The key is finding the right mix of fun and relaxation, and whether that mix includes multiple pools, a private beach, included water sports, kid and teen centers, family rooms, nearby attractions, indulgent spas, championship golf and fine dining options.

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the perfect all-inclusive resort for you and yours:

Where to Go
Paradise can be found in many locations, and each will have an all-inclusive resort nearby. If a picture-perfect beach lapped by turquoise waters is the one ingredient you can’t live without, set your sights on the idyllic islands in the Caribbean. If you want to explore your locale a bit more in depth, then chose a resort near grand attractions, such as Jamaica where you can go hiking up the Dunn's River Falls, or Cozumel, where nearby Mayan ruins are waiting to be explored. Other resorts are on or near championship-quality golf courses, offering packages that include a few rounds.  

When to Go
Like all popular holiday spots, summer, spring break and Christmas are peak times for all-inclusive resorts. Going at those times may be the most convenient for your schedule, but be prepared to deal with more fellow guests. Also, June through November is technically hurricane season in the Caribbean, so lower-priced packages come with a slight risk. Don’t worry, many resorts offer weather guarantees, giving you credit for a future stay if a hurricane is on path to disrupt your dream vacation.

How Much
The cost of an all-inclusive package can seem high at first glance, until you take into consideration all that package provides. Included in the cost of your stay is usually all meals, premium drinks, numerous sports and activities, social functions and often tips. Some resorts pride themselves in telling guests to bring little or no cash, for it’s not needed as long as you stay inside the resort.

The Contenders
Here is a short list of resort chains to consider, located in some of the most beautiful, sun-soaked destinations in the world.

SuperClubs is proud to offer Super All-Inclusive packages, which include all food and snacks in a variety of dining options, free weddings and renewal of vows, piano bars that stay open until you say when, all land and water sports and unlimited premium brand cocktails. With eleven properties in Jamaica, Curacao, The Bahamas, The Dominican Republic and Brazil, you can find one that caters to your individual needs.

Beaches specializes in offering the ultimate family getaway. From fun-filled fantasylands for kids to world-class luxury and amenities for adults, all in gorgeous tropical settings, Beaches truly has something for everyone. Kid-focused amenities include Vacation with Elmo and Friends, Xbox 360 Game Garage, Pirates Island, golf for kids in Jamaica, supervised kids camps, huge water slides, swim-up soda bar, fully-staffed nursery and a disco.

Offering “Luxury Included Vacations for Two People in Love,” Sandals provides everything you need to escape with your partner for a romantic getaway. Sandals delights couples in love with supremely luxurious accommodations, gourmet candlelit dining for two, gorgeous tropical settings and some of the world's most exquisite beaches.

Enhancing Your Travels with Voluntourism

To travel well is to thoroughly experience a destination in such a way that it changes you forever. Nowhere is this concept more obtainable than through voluntourism. This new way to experience the world—in which travelers spend part or all of their vacation volunteering their time and energy to assist the community—can make more of a difference in the lives of the local people than buying a few over-priced trinkets.

Not that there’s anything wrong with buying souvenirs and infusing the local economy with much-needed tourism dollars. But many cultures around the world need more than money. They need help fixing schools and building women’s shelters; learning valuable skills and new languages to make them viable in today’s global marketplace; and preserving their historic sites and fragile ecosystems.

Voluntourism is that help, letting you experience a new part of the world while intimately connecting with the indigenous people in an unforgettable way and making a tangible difference in their lives.

An underground idea for decades, voluntourism blossomed in recent years as more and more concerned citizens wanted to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asian tsunami of 2004. Today, travelers ready to lend a hand have many opportunities to aid communities around the world through one- and two-week programs.

Examples include building a rainwater collection unit at a rural school in Cambodia, cleaning reefs in the waters off Aruba, restoring a village in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, caring for orphans in India, repairing Aboriginal homes in Australia, helping in the kitchen at a peace center in Northern Ireland, protecting dolphins in South Africa or working with senior citizens on an Indian reservation in South Dakota.

While each voluntourism trip is unique, they usually include meals highlighting the local cuisine, accommodations and ground transportation from the airport to the community site, leaving the airfare and visas up to you. Also, each trip generally comes with free time for you to venture away from the project and explore the host country.

But for most of the time during your volunteer adventure, you will work. The fruits of your labor will be small, but every improvement you make, every smile you bring to the face of a deprived child, helps that community take one more step in a positive direction…a step they could not have taken without the generous assistance of earnest voluntourists like you.

For more information, visit and For assistance with flights and other travel services to your destination, please give our agency a call.
Persuading Your Teen to Take a Family Cruise

In a teenager’s mind, there’s nothing worse than spending a vacation with the family. To them, a trip with the ‘lame’ parents and ‘bratty’ little brother is filled with confined spaces, no personal freedom and limited interaction with other teens. Thankfully, teenagers are often misinformed, especially when it comes to a family cruise vacation.

Cruise lines have been working overtime to please teens, creating “cool” areas, shore excursions, spa programs and more, all geared specially for the teen set. Why go to such great lengths? Because one disgruntled teen can ruin the entire trip. And parents can’t relax unless they know everyone in their brood is in a good mood, which make cruises the ideal choice.

Below you’ll find a list of cruise lines and what they offer for teens. Armed with this information, you’ll have the upper hand in convincing your teen that a week with the fam island-hopping in the Caribbean or cruising past glaciers in Alaska won’t be so bad. One word of warning: some of these cruise lines offer so many options for your kids, you may barely see them for the entire vacation. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity’s X-Club is designed to make sure your children enjoy the cruise as much as you do. Once on board, they will receive Teen Scene, a daily newsletter detailing the day’s activities. Ship includes popular Sony PlayStation® game titles, a teenager's video arcade called Waves, late-night pool parties with music, teen disco, teen karaoke, pizza parties and e-mail services.

Holland America Line
Provides a wide variety of exciting youth- and teen-friendly activities and facilities for guests ages 3 to 17. For teens, The Loft and The Oasis features teen disco, karaoke sessions, video games, teen sports tournaments, card games, trivia contests, bingo, movies and videos.

Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL’s Freestyle Cruising is all about flexibility and freedom. Your teens can eat where they want (13 restaurants to choose from), when they want, and with whom they want (hopefully that includes you). Highlights for teen include Nintendo Wii games played on a two-story screen, the only bowling alleys at sea, rock climbing wall, internet café, theme parties, sports events, teen dining or taking in a show as a group.

Princess Cruises
Teen Centers are packed with PlayStation® 2, the latest movies and music, karaoke, giant screen TVs, card games, board games, ping pong tables and juke boxes. On the Grand Princess and Golden Princess, teens have a separate jacuzzi and sun deck just for them. Princess also offers teens-only dance parties, the Dating Game, t-shirt painting, sports tournaments, casino night, pizza parties, mocktails, hip hop dance classes and teen dinners.

Royal Caribbean International
When you cruise with RCI, you're not just going on a vacation, you're embarking on an adventure! Highlights for all onboard include a giant rock-climbing wall, ice skating rink and catching a wave on the FlowRider. Adventure Ocean groups give teens the freedom to come and go as they please for sports, themed parties, movie nights and more. Teens can also meet and relax in the laid-back Living Room lounge, or dance late into the night at Fuel, a teen-only nightclub.

Once you’ve decided which cruise line your teen would love most, call our agency to find the ideal departure that will get everyone in your family excited!

Avoiding Excess Luggage and Excessive Airline Luggage Fees

To compensate for skyrocketing fuel prices, more and more airlines are now charging for each piece of luggage you check. Switching to carry-on luggage to avoid this fee is not always the answer, due to safety considerations and federal rules regarding what you can or cannot take onboard.

The best solution to avoiding excessive luggage fees is to simply avoid excessive luggage. You’ll pay less at check-in when you pack everything you need into one bag, instead of two or three, as long as that one bag does not exceed weight restrictions. Plus, packing lighter often makes your trip simpler—fewer pieces of luggage to rattle down cobblestone streets or keep your eyes on in crowded areas.

Here are a few tips to help you pack everything you need in as little space as possible.

Create a Packing List
A carefully-constructed packing list saves you from last-second over-packing, ensuring that everything you intend to bring is packed up and ready to go. Plus, in the unlikely event that your luggage is lost, the list can help you claim all that is missing. Packing lists also let you visualize everything you intend to bring, helping you realize that some items can be used more than once, thus allowing you to eliminate other items that are good for only one use.

Color Coordinate
Try to choose clothes that mix and match well together. Pick one color as your base—usually brown or black—and then choose neutral colors that match well, especially when layered. With one base color, it will be easier to bring just one pair of shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits.

Keep a Well-Stocked Travel Kit
A well-stocked travel kit, always filled with miniature bottles of all your usual toiletries, will save you time and space. Remember, when refilling your travel-sized bottles with hair gel or shampoo, don’t fill them up to the very top. The pressure inside the plane may cause contents to expand.

Find Out what Your Hotel Already Has
Check the hotel’s Web site or contact your travel agent to discover which in-room amenities will be waiting for you at your destination. Hair dryers and travel irons take up a lot of space, so leave them behind when you can.

Think Small, Pack Smaller
Think of ways you can minimize your daily items. Bring a shampoo/conditioner combo instead of two separate bottles. Leave electronic razors and toothbrushes behind and just pack regular ones. Find a moisturizer with SPF included.


Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Summer 2008's Travel Tips Quarterly




Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The travel tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy travels!
WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist






A Traveler's Guide to Tipping

When traveling the world, customs change with every border crossing. Yet the one thing that remains constant is tipping. Bellmen, taxi drivers, tour guides...the characters of your holiday race on and off the stage at a dizzying pace; knowing how much to tip each one can be confusing.

So keep this tipping guide (alphabetically listed for your convenience) handy at all times so you'll know exactly how much to reward all those who help you achieve the vacation of your dreams.

A Traveler's Tipping Guide

Bellman/Baggage Porter

$1-2 per bag, more if extremely heavy


$1 per drink or 15% of final bill


$5-10 each time you receive personal assistance

Cruise (busboy)

$2 per person/per day*

Cruise (cabin steward)

$4 per person/per day*

Cruise (waiter)

$4 per person/per day*

Doorman/Hailer of Taxis



$2 per day

Room Service


Shuttle/Bus Driver

$2 per person

Taxi Driver


Tour Guide (short tour)

$2 per person for a half-day tour, $3 for full-day tour

Tour Guide (long tour)

$3-8 per person per day

Valet Parking Attendant




* Some cruise lines include gratuity in their fares. Be sure to inquire with your booking agent.
** In Europe and Asia , some restaurants automatically add a 15 percent "service charge" and do not expect tips. Don't be afraid to ask your waiter if service is included.





Courtesy at Sea - Common Sense Rules of Etiquette for Cruises

Cruise ships are big, oftentimes the size of a small town. But they are still limited in space, especially when 2,000-3,000 guests are constantly on the move, searching for their next great onboard adventure.

In order for everyone to enjoy the space they're in, it's crucial to follow a few rules of etiquette when vacationing on the high seas. The golden rule of cruising applies: be respectful of others and the rules of the ship. While this sounds like common sense, common sense is something some passengers forget to pack.

Not that you need this advice (you're obviously someone who is always polite to others!), but here are a few shipshape rules of etiquette to ensure a harmonious cruise vacation.

·        Learn the Lingo
When you visit a foreign country, you learn a few basic phrases as a sign of respect and to get around more easily. The same holds true for cruise ships. You will find your time onboard—and your discussions with the crew—more enlightening when you speak the language. So before you heave ho, learn correct nautical terms for the ship (which is never called a boat, and is always referred to as "her"). Learn and use the phrases starboard (right), port (left), bow (front of the ship) and aft (rear of the ship).

·        Don't Be a Sore on Shore
During shore excursions, remember that you are a guest in that country. Be familiar with (and try not to break!) local laws and customs. Ask your ship's shore excursion representative what is considered proper attire for your destination, especially if you plan to visit a church, mosque or synagogue.

·        What Not to Wear
Look on the daily newsletter you'll receive in your cabin and pay attention to the dress code for the day's activities. If dinner requires a tuxedo or suit, do not show up in sandals and dripping-wet swim trunks. Formal nights create a unique atmosphere that many passengers relish. If you don't feel like wearing the monkey suit, avoid the main dining hall and eat at one of the ship's casual restaurants. If you're allergic to dress codes in general, be sure to tell us when booking your cruise. Different cruise lines require different attire, so there's one to fit all comfort levels.

·        Seats are Reserved for Everyone
Don't "reserve" poolside lounges with a towel or seats at an entertainment venue with a sweater draped over the back. While it's fine to save a seat for your partner or kids, don't save an entire row of seats for all your new friends. And don't race to the pool first thing in the morning to leave a book on the deck chair you want to use hours later.

·        Keep the Kids in Check
Kids will be kids...just keep an eye on them to make sure they're not being kids too close to someone trying to be an adult, such as in casinos and other adult-centered areas.

·        Dinner is Served
If you have an assigned dinner time and table, do not show up late. A late arrival disrupts the meal for the entire table, for waiters may not serve your tablemates until all have arrived. And if you don't care for your dinner companions, do not make a big scene. Simply ask the Restaurant Manager to be reassigned...they are used to such requests.

If you have any further queries about what to expect on your cruise, just ask us. We've been on so many cruises, we know the rules frontward and backward...or bow to aft, in this case! Drop us an e-mail or call anytime.





Safety Without Numbers: Tips for Women Traveling Alone

Women are beginning to realize that men are unnecessary, especially when it comes to traveling. That's why more and more women are choosing to explore the world alone without being bogged down by a male companion who would rather sit in a sports bar than see the Sistine Chapel.

Before embarking on your solo adventure, you should be conscious of the unique cultural situations and safety concerns inherent within each destination. No matter how smart and fit you are, one poor decision could mar a perfectly good holiday. So keep in mind these simple tips and precautions to ensure a safe and enriching journey.

·        Knowledge is Power
Study your destination before you go to get an accurate idea on their cultural and religious identity. If traveling to the Middle East or North Africa , realize that religion plays a major role in their lives. While you are not expected to dress in their traditional garb, you are expected to respect their religious sites. Learn the proper rules of etiquette and dress accordingly.

·        Hotel Safety 101
Request a room on a high floor near the elevator, where there is typically increased traffic. Ask for a new room if the desk clerk loudly announces your room number within earshot of strangers. Take the hotel's business card and keep it on you at all times to show taxi drivers.

·        Copy Your Docs
Make copies of your travel documents—including your passport, itinerary and reservation numbers—and leave a set with a trusted friend or family member back home. Periodically call or e-mail your friend to let them know if your plans change.

·        Make Friends
While the point of independent travel is to remain independent, it's wise for women to make friends while out late at night. By staying with a group in a well-lit area of the bar or restaurant, you will avoid the attention of impolite men.

·        Pack Light
Don't be weighed down by a heavy suitcase. Not only does it make your journey through foreign streets slower and more cumbersome, but it also announces that you are a tourist.

·        Fashion Do's and Don'ts
Dress a tad more conservatively than usual and never wear your best jewelry or fanciest clothes. Pickpockets look for people whose wardrobe screams "rich tourist," so do your best to stylistically fit in.

·        Kung-Fu You
Take a self-defense course before your trip. It never hurts to know a few basic moves to get out of a sticky situation, should such a rarity occur.

·        Map it Out
Study a map until you know the area of your hotel and where you're going frontward and backward. It's easy to get lost in a foreign city; and lost on a dark street is one place a lone woman never wants to find herself.

The best way to avoid unpleasant situations abroad is to use your common sense. If a situation feels bad, it probably is. Please follow the advice above and always keep our office phone number handy to help you in a pinch. That's what we're here make sure you have the best vacation possible.





Shape Up and Ship Out: How to Eat Healthy
while Traveling by Air, Land and Sea

Vacations are supposed to be an escape from the routine, where you overindulge on the pleasures of the world. However, when traveling, we should never escape from the routine of healthy living, and the only thing you should overindulge in is common sense. Here are a few tips to stay healthy on your next trip, whether it's by land, air or sea.

·        Shift to a Snacking Gear
Ignore those blue signs on the side of the interstate that list the tempting fast-food options at the next exit. Instead, bring a snack-attack pack of fruits, nuts, yogurt, granola bars and carrot sticks, along with a big bottle of water. Not only is it a healthier option, but you'll also get to your destination sooner by not stopping so often.

·        Snacks on a Plane
While the rules for items you can take on airplanes have grown stricter recently, you can still take solid snacks like apples, trail mix, bananas and energy bars. All of those are better options than the salty snacks provided in-flight.

·        Fly Veggie Airlines
On your next long flight, request vegetarian meals, which tend to be lighter and healthier than their meaty counterparts. Some airlines provide choices for vegetarians—including vegan, Indian and Asian—giving you plenty of options to suit your palate.

·        Be Keen on Kitchenettes
Let us find you a hotel with a kitchenette. On one of the first days of your vacation, hit the local supermarket and stock up on healthy basics you can cook right in your room. The fewer times you have to eat at restaurants, the better. Plus, the supermarket is a great place to learn about local foods if you're in a foreign country.

·        Start the Day Right
A hotel's continental breakfast or morning buffet gives you a wide choice of options, some healthy, most not. Stay clear of the Danishes and doughnuts, and stick to the fruits, cereals and yogurt. With a big day ahead of you, you'll want to get off to the right—and healthier—start.

·        Stay in Shipshape Shape
Keep a healthy focus when faced with cruise ships' massive buffet bars. Split one of those large plates with your mate, and only hit the buffet once per meal. After your food has settled, tackle some of the ship's onboard activities—such as the fitness center or ice skating rink—instead of plopping down next to the pool.

We all want to return from a vacation looking invigorated and well-rested. That's hard to do when you spend the entire time gorging yourself on local delicacies or opting for the motorcoach over the volcano hike. So keep these tips in mind the next time you travel so that when you return, everyone will shriek with jealousy when they see how great you look.




Useful Travel Tips Brought To You By WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist. Spring 2008's Travel Tips Quarterly




Trusted Tips from Your Travel Agent
WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist

Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.

The travel tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. Our agency simply wants you to have the best experiences possible, wherever you travel.

As always, please feel free to contact us about your future travel plans.

Happy Travels!
WinWin Vacations, Your Africa Specialist





>>> Your Rights as an
Airline Passenger

What You Need to Know to Ensure a Happy Landing

From last-minute cancellations and overbooked planes to bad weather and air-traffic delays, a variety of obstacles can stop you from getting on your plane and making it to your destination on time. But what recourse do you have? Luckily your travel agent is here to give you the 411 on your rights as an airline passenger.

  • Fare change refunds – Fares change from time to time. If the fare for your seat goes down before you fly, some airlines will refund the difference—but only if you ask! So call the airline or your travel agent before your departure to check the latest fare price.


  • On-time codes – When you can’t decide between two similar flights, ask for the on-time performance code for each flight. This one-digit code in the reservations computer shows how often that flight has recently arrived within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival time. A "7" means that flight arrived relatively on-time between 70% and 79.9% of the time. This information will help you make a more-informed choice.


  • Lost tickets – Lost or stolen paper tickets can be a hassle, and refunds can be difficult to obtain. The key is to have your ticket number on you at all times, so jot it down on a piece of paper and carry it separately from your ticket. If your ticket is lost or stolen, the airline can process your refund application more quickly, and perhaps issue an on-the-spot replacement ticket, when you can give them this number.


  • Endorsed tickets from one airline to another – If your flight is canceled, most airlines will rebook you on one of their future flights at no additional charge. If this involves a lengthy delay, see if another carrier has space on a similar flight, then ask the first airline to endorse your ticket to the new carrier. This could save you from a potential fare increase. There is no rule requiring them to do this, but it doesn’t hurt to nicely ask.


  • Reimbursements during delays – If your flight is delayed, ask the airline representative if they will pay for a meal or phone calls. Since airlines are not required to compensate passengers, each handles it differently. Smaller airlines usually do not provide compensation to stranded passengers, while others do not when they feel the delay is beyond their control, such as bad weather.


  • Overbooking – Overbooking is common and not illegal. This practice protects airlines from no-shows, while causing some passengers to be voluntarily or involuntarily bumped. When a flight is overbooked, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to ask passengers to give up their seats voluntarily in exchange for compensation. If no one complies, then passengers are involuntarily bumped by order of check in (those who checked in last are more apt to get bumped). Checking in online before you leave for the airport will improve you chances of not getting bumped.


  • Voluntary bumping – Before you choose to become voluntarily bumped, you should first learn when the next flight is, if your seat can be confirmed, and if the airline will provide extra compensation for meals, a taxi or a hotel room (for overnight delays). Each carrier negotiates differently, often offering money or free future trips. The fewer the volunteers, the more leverage you have for negotiations. If the airline does offer you a free ticket for a future trip, find out if it comes with any restrictions.


  • Involuntary bumping – The DOT requires airlines to give all involuntarily bumped passengers an on-the-spot payment, the amount of which depends on the price of the ticket and the length of the delay. If the airline can get you to your destination within one hour of your original time, no compensation is due; within one to two hours, you receive the cost of a one-way fare, up to $200; longer than two hours entitles you to double the one-way fare, up to $400. For international flights, the airline has up to four hours to get you on another flight.


  • Damaged luggage – If your suitcase arrives at your destination damaged, the airline generally pays for repairs. If the bag cannot be fixed, they will negotiate a settlement to pay you its depreciated value. The same holds true for what is packed inside a damaged bag; however, airlines may decline to pay for anything damaged due to poor packing or if the exterior of the bag appears unharmed.


  • Delayed luggage – Airlines track down roughly 98 percent of all misplaced bags. In most cases, the airline will reimburse you for reasonable expenses you incur while they track down you missing bag. The amount depends on whether or not you’re away from home, along with how long it takes to track down and return your bags.


  • Lost luggage – Once your bag is declared officially lost, you will submit a claim, which is sent to the central office, thus initiating the compensation negotiations. If your flight was a connection involving two airlines, the final carrier is normally the one responsible for processing your claim. The airline will not automatically pay the full amount of your claim, for they will first use the information you provide to estimate the value of your lost belongings, paying you the depreciated value (as opposed to original prices or the replacement costs). Don’t exaggerate your claim to get more money out of the airline, for they often dismiss claims that seem inflated or fraudulent. Eventually an amount will be agreed upon, which can sometimes be exchanged for free future tickets that exceed the agreed-upon amount.


  • Limits on luggage liability – Airlines will only pay up to $3,000 per passenger for delayed, lost or damaged bags on domestic trips. If your possessions exceed that amount, you should consider purchasing excess valuation insurance, if available, from the airline as you check in, which will increase the carrier’s potential liability. The airline has the right to refuse to sell you excess valuation if the items you are carrying are deemed extremely valuable, such as jewelry and antiques.

Hopefully you will not experience any difficulties on your next trip through the friendly skies, but keep these rules in mind in case you do. If something unforeseen does delay your trip, do not shy away from calmly asking the airline for reasonable compensation. As always, feel free to contact us, your trusted travel advisors, with any questions regarding any of your travels.




>>> Safety Tips for Teens on Spring Break

Spring break has a way of turning teens into daredevils as soon as mom and dad are in the rearview mirror. For one week, they think anything goes, and they do things they would never normally do the other 51 weeks of the year. Unfortunately this reckless behavior oftentimes can lead to a mistake that ruins the trip for themselves, their friends and their parents.

To make sure your teen comes home in one piece, ask them to read this quick-hit list of spring break survival tips.

  • Learn the local laws and customs before you go, especially if you’re venturing into another country like Mexico . Each country has different laws regarding drinking age, curfew and drugs. You will be charged if you violate them, even though you’re just a visitor, leading to a messy legal situation.


  • Bring backups of your eyeglasses and contacts. It’s never fun searching for an optometrist in Cancun when you've lost your contacts and you can't even see if your flip-flops match. And while you’re bringing those, you might as well bring some first aid supplies, just in case.


  • Give your parents all the hotel's details—phone and fax numbers, address and a full itinerary of your trip. If you get kicked out for singing too loudly in your room at 4 a.m. and have to change hotels, drop a quick e-mail to your parents with the new info (but tell them you switched hotels because of bed bugs).


  • Do not pack any valuables, medications, travel documents or passport in your checked luggage. Keep those items close at all times in your carry-on bag. Also, once you’re at your destination, keep your ID on you at all times.


  • Only carry enough cash on you to get through the day and keep the rest safely hidden in your hotel room. Keep your cash in a zipped pocket. And only exchange money in foreign lands with official vendors, such as those in airports or in banks.


  • As much as you want to impress others, don’t dress in your coolest clothes, don’t wear your priciest jewelry, and don’t flaunt your brand new $400 digital camera. It’s like carrying a big flashing neon sign that reads, "rob me."


  • Grab a business card from the hotel's front desk and keep it on you at all times. It has key information you'll need when you're in a cab and the driver doesn’t speak your language.


  • Stay with the group, always. It’s scary to find yourself alone in a foreign land or with a stranger you don’t trust. Only accept drinks from your friends, and never leave a drink unattended.


  • Be weary of buying food from street vendors. Sure it's cheap, but your digestive system may not agree with their crude cooking methods.


  • Alcohol poisoning is dangerous, sometimes lethal. It is not a right of passage. Don't be the guy that ruins the night because his friends have to carry him to the hospital.


  • Don't horse around on your balcony. What's funny one second can become real serious the next.


  • Laying out in the hot sun all day will only make your hangover worse. Limit your time in the sun; you can still hang out at the beach covered in loose clothing and a hat. And remember that you can get a serious sunburn even when it’s cloudy, so don’t fall asleep on the beach assuming everything will be fine when you wake.


  • Drink plenty of water on the beach and before you go to bed each night. Make sure it’s safe to drink water from the tap before doing so.


  • Use common sense when you’re in the water. Don’t drink and swim. Be cognizant of rip currents, jellyfish and oncoming storms.

Look, we don’t expect spring breakers to stay out of trouble…we just want them to stay out of serious trouble. So follow these rules so that the only memories you bring back are great ones. And if you ever have any questions about your destination, your travel agent is just a phone call or e-mail away. Class dismissed.




>>> Travel Insurance Is It Right for You?

You travel half-way around the globe to experience an exotic locale, lugging along your kids, your laptop and your new digital camera with the mega-zoom lens. Everything is postcard perfect until the end, as you’re waiting for a cab to the Cairo airport, eating some koshary you picked up from a street vendor, you realize your bags are gone, including your laptop and your new digital camera with the mega-zoom lens. Luckily you still have your kids. But what now?

Or say your husband falls off the Great Wall, fractures his leg and needs to be airlifted to a hospital 100 miles away? Or an ambitious snowstorm not only covers the mountain you were set to ski, but also the resort? In all of the situations above, travel insurance saves the day.

Like all other insurance policies—house, car, health—you never expect travel insurance to go into effect, but you’re relieved when it does. It covers a wide range of travel-specific situations, including trip cancellation, lost bags, sudden illness, medical troubles, essential items you’ll need if your bags are delayed, transportation to medical facilities and more.

You spend so much time and energy researching, planning and paying for the perfect vacation, it makes sense to add travel insurance to the equation, ensuring that all your hard work does not go up in smoke due to some unforeseen event or illness.

Yet travel insurance is not for everyone. A three-hour plane ride to stay at the Marriott near Aunt Hester’s house needs no extra coverage. But when you plan to visit an unfamiliar part of the world, travel during times of unpredictable weather, drive through underdeveloped countries or engage in physical activities, then travel insurance is just as important to pack as your toiletry bag.

Here’s a list of the most popular types of travel insurance you may want to consider for your next vacation. Of course, if you have any questions or need more information about travel insurance, please call us at the agency at any time.

  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption – The most common type of travel insurance, trip cancellation covers deposits or non-refundable payments if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances. This coverage is generally meant for illness, injury or death suffered by you, your family or travel companion. But it can also cover supplier situations, such as a cancelled cruise due to a propeller problem or if a tour operator defaults the week before you trip.


  • Emergency Medical Coverage – Before you leave on any international trip, check your health insurance; the policy you have in the United States does not cover you the same way overseas, especially when a pre-existing condition is involved. With emergency medical coverage, if you have an accident, or if you fall ill because you drank tap water, you will be reimbursed for the medical expenses incurred. Coverage varies from policy to policy, and you can tailor medical travel insurance to cover that which your regular health insurance does not cover overseas.


  • Emergency Evacuation or Emergency Transportation – While falling ill and staying in a hospital in a foreign land can rack up a hefty bill, nothing compares to when you need to be medically evacuated from a remote area, which can incur a charge as high as $100,000. Emergency evacuation insurance covers this transportation to a hospital or other medical facility. This is key coverage to have for those traveling to remote areas of the world, those with chronic illnesses or who are pregnant, or those who are involved in hardcore adventure travel.


  • Property Loss – Covers your luggage and personal effects in case they are lost, stolen, damaged or indefinitely delayed.

The next time you plan a trip, pack a little peace of mind by purchasing travel insurance. Give our agency a call and we’ll set you up with the perfect policy that fits your plans and your budget.




>>> Know Your Passport Requirements
Before You Go

IATA Travel Centre's New Web Site Provides Accurate,
Up-to-Date Passport Information and More

The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) wants you to know all the travel requirements of the country you’re visiting before you go. That’s why they created the IATA Travel Centre at

The Travel Centre provides personalized advice for travel planning and trip preparation, including passport, visa and health requirements, as well as customs, airport tax and currency information. Access to the site is free.

Every year an estimated 35,000 travelers are turned back at destination or transfer points by immigration authorities due to improper documentation. Now, with the help of the Travel Centre, you can make sure this doesn’t happen to you!

If there is any information on the Travel Centre Web site that is unclear, or if you need more information about the destination you’re traveling to, a professional travel agent is always just a phone call away.

Accessible Travel


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