International Accents Travel

Your Personal Travel Planner

Why Use a Travel Agent?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 | BLOG | No Comments

Why It Pays to Book with a Travel Agentkeep-calm-and-use-a-travel-agent

Booking a trip often proves to be an extremely stressful, grueling undertaking. You can spend hours online searching for deals on flights and hotels, bouncing from one website to another in pursuit of the perfect price. This kind of process is o ften headache-inducing: According to a recent survey by the I.B.M. Institute for Business Value, approximately 20 percent of more than 2,000 travelers worldwide said it took them more than five hours to search and book travel online. Faced with countless choices for flights, hotels, car rental, and tours, some consumers are dumping the DIY approach. To quote James Shillinglaw, editor-in-chief of Travalliancemedia, “There are simply too many travel products in the market today for individuals to decipher on their own. You need a guide to help you cut through all the different things out there that are available.” There’s a difference between price and value. Here are six reasons to consider booking your next vacation with a travel agent:

  • Save time
  • Save money
  • Learn what you want
  • Connections
  • Authenticity
  • Knowledge
  • Troubleshooting

  Taken from:

Do you remember the days when it wasn’t a faceless online search engine that helped you find the best deals on flights, but real live people called travel agents? One source says she scours the Web for deals but says her agent beats the prices she finds. Plus, the agency alerts her to local customs abroad and tosses in perks, such as setting up tours at popular sites so she doesn’t have to wait in lines. “We’ve outsmarted ourselves by not taking advantage of the knowledge that travel agents have.” In some cases, travel agents don’t charge their clients—for example, an agent who books a cruise may earn a 10% commission from the cruise line. Others impose booking fees—say, $35 for an airline ticket—or require a deposit that they’ll keep if you cancel. The more complex or luxurious the trip, the more useful an agent can be. Agents have an inside track on deals and upgrades, and they can quickly solve problems or change plans while you’re on a trip. Let’s take a scenario such as the passengers on the stranded cruise ships faced when they finally reached port and their cruise was terminated early. If you had a travel agent, you could already have a nice air-conditioned hotel room waiting for your arrival or your airline tickets could already be rebooked so you just have to head back home instead of waiting hours on end for someone to help you find a place to sleep. Maybe you would even like to just stay at the beach a few days. All arranged for you while you wait to get back to dry land. Taken from:

Even for budget travelers, the overall experience can offer better value, was found in a recent test of agents versus online search engines. This survey showed “Agents won nearly every time, on both price and service. In other words, the agents suggested alternate routes, gave advice on visas and just generally acted, well, more human than their computer counterparts”. Taken from:

Sustainable Tourism

Friday, July 11th, 2014 | Costa Rica, Costa Rica - Green Travel | No Comments

eco tourismSustainable Tourism & Rural Community Tourism

Take the Challenge

Experience the Real Costa Rica

Costa Rica is known for its outstanding natural beauty. This jewel of Central America has a flourishing culture discovering only experiencing it.

Rural community tourism is an opportunity allowing you to experience firsthand how Costa Ricans live and how they strive to conserve the environment. Rural community tourism implements the community associations. The communities own private ecological reserves or are located near areas of ecological and cultural. All offer visitors a mixture of cultural and environmental adventures in addition to the usual tourist services such as accommodation, tours and crafts. People who visit have the opportunity to discover the real Costa Rica, explore more than just the popular tourist trails and meet people committed to preserving the rural area.

  • Stay in villages located in beautiful rural surroundings and get to know local people and their customs.
  • Explore magnificent forests, fascinating mangroves, and observe the rich diversity of wildlife with experienced local guides.
  • Spend time with women fishers on the Island of Chira and learn about their way of life.
  • Pick your own vegetables from an organic garden.
  • And much more!

You will have the opportunity to listen to stories about rural life and share your own experiences in conservation. See the authentic Costa Rica, off the beaten path, in rural areas where you can learn from the people about their efforts to preserve the environment. ActivitiesFruit

  • Bird watching
  • Canopy exploration
  • Eco / nature / wildlife
  • Educational / research / volunteering
  • Fishing
  • Guided tours
  • Horseback riding
  • River rafting / kayaking
  • Scuba diving / snorkeling
  • Visits to conservation projects
  • Volunteers acceptCIMG9149
  • Walking / hiking


  • Hiking
  • Honeymoon
  • Families
  • Birdwatching
  • Volunteerism
  • Gastronomy

Be a Sustainable Traveler! Why choose to travel sustainability? Because your travel choices make a difference. By choosing sustainable businesses you will support businesses that conserve natural resources, protect plants and wildlife, and contribute to the well-being of local communities. You will also help to ensure that these treasures will also be there for future generations to enjoy.

What is Sustainable Tourism? Sustainable tourism businesses are those that are profitable while conserving natural resources and benefiting local communities. Examples of best management practices include conserving water and energy, supporting community conservation projects, preserving, recycling and treating wastes, and sourcing locally-produced products in restaurants and gift shops. Sustainable businesses also hire employees from neighboring towns, pay them just wages, and offer them additional training.

What is Rural Tourism?Rural tourism means that local residents can be entrepreneurs on their own land rather than being pressured sell it. People who previously would have only been gardeners or maids in an ecolodge now are the owners of their own tourism destinations, providing visitors with memorable experiences of nature and local culture.

How Do I Know if a Business is Sustainable? Many tourism businesses claim to be “green” or “eco-friendly” – but what does that really mean? How can you know if these businesses are really environmentally and socially responsible? Many hotels, tour operators, and other businesses have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability by participating in a sustainable tourism verification program. This means that they have been audited by an independent, third-party program and have met a vigorous set of environmental, social, and economic criteria. CST, Certification for Sustainable Tourism, is a product of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT). The CST was designed to differentiate businesses of the tourism sector, based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management. CST is regulated by the Costa Rican National Accreditation Commission and consists of a scale of 5 “levels” of sustainable tourism achievement. has strict guidelines for participation – all of the hotels, tour operators, and other businesses listed on their site must be verified by the Rainforest Alliance. The sustainability claim of each business is confirmed by their staff before it is included on the site, so you can be assured that all of the businesses on are taking concrete actions to conserve natural resources and support local communities.

How Can You Make A Difference?

  • At the hotel: Ask about environmental policies and practices. Does the hotel support community development or conservation projects?
  • Language: Learn a few words of the local language and use them.
  • Dress: Learn about local conventions and dress appropriately. In many countries, modest dress is important.
  • Behavior: Be respectful of local citizens’ privacy. Ask permission before entering sacred places, homes, or private lands
  • Photographs: Be sensitive to when and where you take photos/video of people. Always ask first.
  • Environment: Respect the natural environment. Never touch or harass wildlife. Always follow designated trails. Support conservation by paying entrance fees to parks and protected sites or making a donation.
  • Wildlife or forest products: Never purchase crafts, clothing, furniture, or other products that are derived from protected or endangered wildlife or plant species. In many countries it is illegal to bring these goods back home.
  • Pay a fair price: Don’t engage in overly aggressive bargaining for souvenirs. Don’t short-change on tips for services.
  • Buy local: Choose locally-owned lodges and hotels. Use local buses, car rental agencies, and airlines. Eat in local restaurants, shop in local markets, and attend local events.
  • Hire local guides: Enrich your experience and support the local economy. Ask guides if they are licensed and live nearby. Be sure they are recommended by tour operators?
  • The Rainforest Alliance, an international conservation organization, helps the tourism industry protect the environment and provide sustainable livelihoods, builds travelers demand for sustainable tourism and enables them to travel responsibly, and promotes sound international standards for sustainable tourism.

Our Mission is to promote environmental sustainability, social, cultural and economic initiatives and Rural Community Tourism of our partners, through the living natural environment by strengthening self-governed independence and transmitting an authentic experience to our customers. For our Sustainability Tours, we work only with tourist operations that are environmentally responsible and that comply with quality and sustainability criteria when selecting our suppliers, products and services we offer.

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

Thursday, June 19th, 2014 | BLOG, Sandals | No Comments

Royal Caribbean overwater bungalows

Sandals Royal Caribbean Spa Resort & Offshore Island
guests are in for a treat! In 2015 they will now have five over-the-water suites  at this Montego Bay paradise. This will give you the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of an alluring hideaway nestled directly above the sparkling Jamaican seascape. Additionally, 14 existing rooms of the resort will be renovated to become the über luxurious Grand Luxury Butler Suites with tranquility soaking tubs! Leave it to Sandals Resorts to keep up to date and beyond in ultra luxury.

Book now and they’ll get up to 65% off,
1 free night, and $150 spa bonus

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Vacation Like the Rich and Famous

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 | BLOG | No Comments



Villa in Monaco

Are you like most people and think that renting a private home or villa for vacation is only for the rich and famous? Actually, it can be less than a hotel plus you have all the  amenities of a private home. It’s the best way to take your family on a very special vacation, have other family members or friends join you, or plan your family reunion without all the headaches and allow time to spend with family members. You can even add a chef, nanny and many other concierge services to make your vacation perfect. If you are staying by the water, some places even include boats, but if they don’t, you can rent one for a day or your entire stay. You can rent a car or, if you’d rather not always be the driver, hire a personal driver so you can enjoy all the scenery while discovering the highlights of your destination.

Richard Branson

Maybe you just want to go on vacation with your friends. Believe me, a vacation villa is absolutely the best it gets. Have the villa pre-stocked with all your special food and beverages and be greeted by your personal chef and housekeeper. They can take care of all the cooking for you or just be there for special events, like a bonfire dinner on the beach.

If your company is in need of a place for a conference or corporate retreat, consider renting a private villa. It can be mush more productive than a stodgy hotel with a conference room and meals in the local restaurant. All the equipment you need for your meetings can be supplied for you and you can have each meal catered or prepared on site. Any other needs that you may have can be taken care of through the concierge services. After the work is done for the day, you can relax and recharge to be more productive when you return to work.

Dining in Italy

Are you a member of a special interest group? Then this is the best way to arrange a group trip where you can enjoy your special interest together and also have an enjoyable relaxing vacation at the same time. Tours and guides are always available for your group. It’s an ideal way to bring together your group for any interest. Perhaps it’s photography, quilting, birding, hiking, scuba or other water sports, yoga and meditation or wellness. It also great for personal coaches to plan a retreat. The possibilities are endless. recharge for a more productive group when you return to work.each. If you prefer to do the cooking yourself, then you can either pre-order everything or perhaps just have a few things for your arrival, then head to the local market and do your shopping. The concierge service can make arrangements for tours and activities just for you and your friends. Enjoy your destination by seeing it with a personal guide and discover places that most tourist never see.

Santorini Greece Honeymoon

A vacation villa is the perfect venue for a destination wedding. You can rent a villa as small or as large as your heart desires. Make it affordable for your family and friends to join you for this special occasion. Concierge service can make all the arrangements for you, including arranging for necessary documents. Have the destination wedding of your dreams and share it with all those who are special to you. Maybe you just want a small private cottage for the two of you for your honeymoon. Think about renting a one or two bedroom cottage with private pool and have your own personal chef and housekeeper during the day, then they quietly disappear after dinner to leave you in your own personal paradise.

Paris, France

Vacation villas and homes are available in every part of the world, so stay somewhere not too far away or go totally exotic. It’s your choice for a perfect vacation, wedding, honeymoon, corporate retreat, special occasion and much more.

Renting a vacation villa or house will insure that you have a really relaxing and fun vacation without the crowds but with all the fun that you want for your vacation and it’s more affordable than you think.





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10 Best Reasons to Take a River Cruise

Friday, November 29th, 2013 | BLOG, Cruises | No Comments

10 Best Reasons to Take a River Cruise

Docked in ViennaRiver cruising is the in-vogue travel trend, so popular that more than two-dozen new river ships will debut in 2014. I have personally seen the growth having spent a lot of time in the Rhine River area during the past 15 + years. Explore such cities as Paris, Vienna and Budapest. Cruises on the Danube and Rhine continue to be the most popular, but that’s just the beginning of where you can go. France is getting new attention with Bordeaux in addition to the Seine and Rhone. Even Italy is getting attention with the Po River and Portugal’s Douro Valley in the wine region. Other popular destinations include Russia’s Volga, China’s Yangtze, the Mekong. One of the newest is cruising in Myanmar. And be sure not to overlook the Castle on the Rhinebeautiful springtime tulip cruises and the ever popular Christmas Market cruises. The popularity of river cruising started in Europe, but we now have many river cruises closer to home. In addition to the Mississippi, we have a new sternwheeler on the Columbia & Snake Rivers in the Northwest.

1. River cruises get you to inland Bucket List places.
2. Experience is leisurely
3.  Ships are intimate
4. Time to explore
5. Better cabins
6. Nicer ships
7. Local tastes & culture
8. Not a lot of extra charges
9. Casual dress code
10. It’s for grownups

I can’t go into detail here on the 10 best reasons to take a river cruise, but I’ll be happy to talk to you in person or you can email me for a complete list and even more reasons to take a river cruise.

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Richard Branson’s Great House

Thursday, October 10th, 2013 | BLOG | No Comments

Necker_IslandNecker Island is Sir Richard Branson’s home and favorite hideaway. Located in the British Virgin Islands, you can hire this little slice of paradise exclusively for up to 28 guests, or share the island with others during selected ‘Celebration Weeks’.

During our 2014 Celebration Weeks, it is possible to book one of the Great House rooms, without hiring the entire Island.

The Great House is the place where people come togetherNeckar Island Great-House-Sea-View and has an expansive outdoor terrace with hammocks and sofas and a large dining table for everyone to gather round to enjoy their meal.

Your stay includes Balinese-style accommodation, all your meals and drinks (even fine champagne!), plus a team of 60 fabulous staff. Each of the eight guest rooms has a balcony, and all come with king-size beds and spacious en-suite bathrooms.

Neckar Island Great-House-Master-BedroomInspired by the beautiful features and Balinese style of the original structure, the new Great House offers breath-taking panoramic views of the Caribbean, the Atlantic and neighboring islands. Sir Richard Branson’s island can be exclusively yours for up to 30 adults plus six children at a nightly rate of USD $60,000.

Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2

Saturday, September 24th, 2011 | Cruises | No Comments

Queen Elizabeth’s Maiden Call to Boston Celebrates Historic Relationship between Cunard and the Port City

                       Queen Elizabeth Press Information

23 September 2011 – Continuing on her maiden New England & Canadian Adventure voyage, Cunard Line’s newest ship,

Queen Elizabeth, made her first visit to Boston, Massachusetts yesterday. Welcoming Queen Elizabeth to the historic port were David Mackey, Interim CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), along with local dignitaries, and port and local tourism officials. As part of the traditional maiden call plaque ceremony, Mackey and Captain Christopher Wells, Master of Queen Elizabeth, presented plaques to each other to commemorate the special day.

“The Port of Boston is honored to welcome Queen Elizabeth. The cruising industry continues to generate significant economic impact for our region, with more than 7,000 jobs and $429 million in income for Massachusetts in 2010,” said David Mackey. “Cunard Line’s historic ties with the Port of Boston have certainly contributed to these activities, and we look forward to welcoming Queen Elizabeth again on her future voyages.”

The city of Boston also holds great historical significance for Cunard Line, being the first U.S. city that the company’s first passenger ship, Britannia, called on at the conclusion of her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England in 1840.

Joining the celebration to welcome Cunard’s newest ocean liner was Nancy Haas of Shreve, Crump & Low, America’s oldest and finest jeweler, who presented an exclusive Boston Harbor Bowl to Captain Wells in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s maiden visit. The jeweler’s historic ties with Cunard date back to 1840 when Shreve, Crump & Low created a 2.5 foot silver cup that was to be presented to Sir Samuel Cunard. The “Boston Cup” went missing and was found in 1967 in an antique store in Maryland. Cunard purchased the cup and later displayed it on board Queen Elizabeth 2, and it now resides on board the line’s flagship Queen Mary 2.

“We are pleased to celebrate our relationship and strong longtime Boston ties with valued port officials, the Coast Guard, the British Consulate and Shreve, Crump & Low, as well as other Bostonians here today. We appreciate their passion about our history and also our future as the youngest fleet at sea,” said Captain Christopher Wells, Master of Queen Elizabeth.

Bostonians share an affinity for Cunard’s hallmark of dressing up. A recent online survey commissioned by Cunard measuring the attitudes of 1,500 U.S. residents revealed that more than half of them enjoy dressing up five times or more each year. Bostonians enjoy the elegance and glamour of getting decked out more than residents of Washington, DC and San Francisco. In addition, respondents said they preferred to dress up on a cruise vacation, rather than during a land-based holiday.

Prior to her maiden call to Boston, Queen Elizabeth visited New York for a rare overnight call to Manhattan. She continues her maiden New England & Canadian Adventure voyage up the eastern seaboard through Maine to the Canadian ports of Halifax, Nova Scotia and Québec City, Québec.

Debuting in October 2010, Queen Elizabeth captured the world’s stage with her Royal Naming Ceremony by Her Majesty The Queen, in Southampton, England. Art Deco features throughout the ship pay homage to the original Queen Elizabeth, reflecting The New Golden Age of Ocean Travel. On board, guests savor the sense of occasion by dressing up for glamorous evenings at Royal Nights themed balls, and enjoy countless offerings and amenities from Champagne Afternoon Tea in the Garden Lounge to an extraordinary dining experience in The Verandah, a French restaurant that pays tribute to the legendary Verandah Grills aboard the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary.

For more information about Queen Elizabeth or to book a voyage, consult your travel consultant

International Accents Travel        865-577-3137


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Passport for Cruising?

Sunday, August 28th, 2011 | BLOG, Cruises | No Comments

Caribbean cruises   So you think you can’t go on a cruise because you don’t have a passport. Well, here’s the scoop.
You do not need a passport to cruise from and return to the same US cruise port. You also do not need a passport if you cruise from and return to San Juan, Puerto Rico. If you leave one US cruise port, like Miami, and return to another, like Los Angeles, perhaps on a Panama Canal cruise, you will need a passport.
It is advisable to have a passport when cruising in case of an emergency. Let’s say you get hurt on one of the shore trips and need to come home for medical attention that is not available where you are located, well then you can have a problem getting back into the United States. Even if you’re on an Alaksa cruise, you may have to return from Canada, so this is a good rule of thumb for Caribbean or Alsaska cruises. Not a good situation to be in.  So even though a passport is not needed, it is a very good idea to get one anyway. For $135 a passport is good for 10 years, just $13.50 year! Now that’s one deal that’s really too good to pass up.

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Puerto Rico, Island of Enchantment

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 | BLOG, Caribbean | No Comments

Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment

No Passport Required!

Want to take a trip to the Caribbean but don’t have a passport? Well take off to Puerto Rico. This beautiful green island is a commonwealth of the United States so no passport is required. With its Spanish heritage, this island has more to offer than one can see in just one vacation, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve seen this varied country until you have seen it from east, west, north and south. With both Spanish and English being primary languages, you will have no problem getting around. It’s easy to drive here if you are the adventurous type and want to get out and explore on your own. If you prefer guided tours, there are plenty of those available too.

First you will want to see Old San Juan and El Moro fort. This area is also chocked full of handsome old colonial buildings, some painted in bright Caribbean colors. There is an endless array of shops and fabulous restaurants. Stop by one of the shops that make and sell local Cuban-type cigars. Even if you don’t smoke them, it is really interesting to learn the history and see how meticulously they are hand rolled. You may want to ship some home to your favorite cigar aficionado. While in this area you can also take a ferry across the bay to visit the Bacardi rum factory. Following the guided tour and learning how this delectable drink is distilled, enjoy complimentary Bacardi drinks before hopping the ferry back to Old San Juan. If you arrive in San Juan via cruise-liner, this is the area where the docks are located so be sure to leave enough time before or after your cruise to enjoy San Juan. You may even want to take a tour via Segway. You will find a tourist information center just outside the dock area.

If you want to stay in this area, there are several hotels located right in the old town. Your next option would be to stay in the Condado area. Here you will be within walking distance of the old historic center but you can stay right on the beautiful tropical beach located in this area. Another option is the area of Isla Verde and Carolinas Beach. About 10 minutes via taxi from the docks and old city and 5 minutes to the airport, this is the beach that made San Juan famous as a beach destination in the 1950’s. You will find older remodeled hotels reminiscent of the old Miami hotels, as well as new hotels. There are both chain hotels and smaller boutique style hotels both right on the beach and a couple of blocks off the beach. The main street, Isla Verde, is a great place to stroll and enjoy many restaurants and local shops. You can even get a bicycle taxi to transport you to the beach if you prefer not to walk.This area makes a great pre or post cruise stop too.

There is so much more to see outside the city, but too much to include here, so stay tuned to my follow up blog about the fabulous tropical paradise of Puerto Rico.

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Travel Agent Myth Buster

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 | BLOG, Travel Tips | No Comments

Do you use a travel agent when booking your vacation?

Most people think that their trip will cost more if they use a professional so they do it themselves by looking at a few brochures, reading an article in a magazine or seeing someplace really cool on television and then going online.
Do they save money? Maybe a little bit.
Do they get the most for their money? Probably not.
Travel agents usually do not charge any fees for their services. They work on commission from hotels, car rental agencies, tour operators, etc. They also can sometimes get perks for you that are not available to the general public, like upgrades, cruise or resort credits and such. Think of the travel agent as an outside reservation agent, sort of like theonline booking engines, only we’re real people.

Is it better to use a larger company than an independent travel agent?

No. In some instances it might be better to go with an independent. Most larger companies have preferred vendors and only use them, so they may not actually get the best offer for you while the independent has no obligations to use specific vendors so they can research more options for you. The indepent agent works for you, not the supplier. On the other hand, sometimes the larger company may have more leeway since they sell volume travel, unlike the smaller agencies. This does not always represent the best value for your money, but if lower cost is more important than quality, then that would be best for you.


Can you get a better deal on the internet?

Maybe a lower price, but again, take a good look at what you’re getting. Is your cruise stateroom the smallest darkest lowest cabin on the entire ship? Are transfers included? Is your lovely resort suite overlooking the parking lot or delivery area at the back of the hotel? Did they tell you about the extra per person daily resort fee and taxes that are not included? Your all-inclusive resort was a bargain until you learned that you are limited to local liquor only and all meals are at the one buffet and do not include any of the sit down restaurants. Those cost extra as do the steak and seafood dinners. They specified free wi-fi in the room, but when you arrive you discover that it is DSL and you don’t have a cable but can rent one for a mere $10 per day or use the computer in their business center for $25 dollars a day. If there is a problem, will this online company be there to help rectify the problem for you? Well if you used a travel agent, all it takes is a phone call and your agent will handle any of these problems while you enjoy your vacation.

When you talk or “chat” online with a discount internet travel company, do you ask the agent your working with where they have traveled?

Perhaps they have seen several of the resorts you’re interested in and can give you recommendations based on personal experience or tell you some neat places to visit on your European vacation or a great tour to take while on your cruise. What?! they haven’t been anywhere outside the windowless office where they answer calls and take orders? Where is their office located anyway? These are good questions to ask any travel agent. Nothing is better than having a professional with personal experience who knows the right questions to ask you before you take out the old credit card and put a big chunk of money down on a non-refundable vacation that turns out to be the worst vacation ever. Find a travel agent that is interested in you and not what they want to sell to you. Tell them what you like to do and what you expect on a wonderful vacation. Let the professional suggest some things that you may not even know about. If the travel agent asks for a small deposit up front that goes toward your final payment, then you know they are truly going to spend quality time searching for just the right trip for you and your budget. This is a sign of a true professional. After all, you don’t see other professional doing intense research without at least a small amount of “earnest” money upfront to assure that you are truly interested as well.

How can you not feel more secure in planning something as special as your vacation, honeymoon, family reunion, etc. etc. by going to an experienced travel professional? Going online is for amateurs who don’t know the difference in quality and quantity and that you can have both. So do yourself a big favor and call a travel professional the next time your have travel plans. Save time, headaches and money and just enjoy the trip. You deserve it!

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