International Accents Travel

Travel concierge and consultant

Are you a smart traveler?

Thursday, April 20th, 2017 | BLOG | No Comments

So many people return year after year to the same place for vacation. Why? One reason may be that they don’t know how to travel outside what they know and have no idea where to go to learn how to do this.

Then, there are the people who think that they can go online, search the booking engines and now they are an expert travel planner with no need for a travel agent. Here’s a few things they don’t know:

  1. They can get the same or even better rate through a travel agent, remember, it is “value” for your dollar, not “cheap” travel that you want
  2. Most online booking engines have people making your reservations who have never traveled at all, so the only advise you get from them is what they are reading to you
  3. These online services are ONLY booking engines, not travel agents, they’re just order takers
  4. They are limited to the resorts, hotels, airlines, car rental companies that contract with them
  5. Most do charge a service and/or handling fee once you enter all your information and once you pay, you’re committed to the purchase
  6. Once you’re on your trip there is no one there that can help you if you have a problem with flights, hotels, tours, etc.
  7. They take no responsibility if the hotel or resort you book is not as represented online, so you’re stuck with it, like it or not
  8. They won’t sell you a package trip that is anything other what is offered on their site. No customization.
  9. They can’t give you personalized information about destinations, resorts, hotels or tours. They just read the script
  10. And then there is the amount of time spent researching and the overwhelming information gathered. Many people get so tired and confused; they end just booking something to get it over with.

What a waste of hard earned money and vacation time!!! Be smart and let someone who is trained in planning travel do all the work. 

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IS WANDERLUST IN YOUR DNA?

Saturday, April 1st, 2017 | BLOG | No Comments

There are some people who perfectly happy to stay where they are, never feeling the urge to leave their home. They’re content just sitting on the couch, watching TV, surrounded with everything familiar to them.

Then there are people like us, who can’t sit still, with constant travel plans and always with a passport at hand… just in case. We are afflicted with WANDERLUST, a desire for the unknown or just an honest love for travel. It is a hunger to explore that can never be feed, no matter how many journeys or vacations we take. It’ like and addiction, a craving that can’t be satisfied. There’s always the next thing, the next adventure, the lust for something different, and before you know it you’re on a flight in search of new adventures.

According to recent scientific researches, the wanderlust gene may have been embedded in our DNA long before our first trip with parents. One Psychology Blog claims that the built-in urge for travel goes back to one genetic derivative gene DRD4, commonly associated with the dopamine levels in the brain. The same “wanderlust gene” is responsible for increased levels of restlessness and curiosity.

Another separate study supported the same findings with additional link, 7R (the mutant form of DRD4), is found in people who are more likely to take risks, explore, are open to new ideas and more willing to take greater risks. Oh, I have this badly! One study shows that only 20% of the world’s population possess the DRD4-7R gene, so we are very rare.

The next time you hear that inner voice saying “quit work and travel the world”, it’s just in your DNA. Now you have to decide whether to do it or not.

 

Cindy Rainwater
International Accents Travel

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Canada Entry Rules Change Sept. 30

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 | BLOG | No Comments

cananda-passportAs of September 30, travelers flying to Canada will experience a raft of new documentation requirements depending on their citizenship.

The rules are part of Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), established in 2011 to facilitate travel between the U.S. and Canada. A result of the eTA was an effort to more closely scrutinize foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries.

Up until the eTA, some countries authorized citizens to travel to Canada with only a passport, and without having to obtain a visa. As a result, foreigners from these countries were not subject to any screening until they arrived at an airport in Canada.

These foreigners will now have to obtain an eTA in their passport before they can board a plane flying to Canada. There is a (C)$7 application fee for the eTA, which is valid for up to five years. A traveler’s application can be rejected for a number of reasons, including certain prior criminal convictions, some serious medical conditions, past immigration refusals, or other security concerns.

U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid Canadian visa are exempt from the rules.

Beginning Sept. 30, Canadian citizens will no longer be allowed to board a flight to Canada using their foreign passport in combination with a citizenship card or a provincial driver’s license to confirm Canadian citizenship.

“A valid Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document that provides proof that you are a citizen and have the right to enter Canada without being subjected to immigration screening,” the Canadian government says, also reminding dual citizens that they ensure their passport doesn’t expire until “well beyond your planned return date.”

Canadians can renew their Canadian passport if their current passport is valid or expired for no more than one year, reflects the same name, sex, date of birth and place of birth that you would like to appear on your new passport, was issued to be valid for 5 or 10 years, has not been reported lost or stolen, and was issued when the traveler was at least 16 years of age.

In addition, permanent residents of Canada are required to obtain a valid Permanent Resident Card, or a Travel Document, as well as their passport, in order to board a plane to Canada.

Travel industry observers have been concerned this year that the implementation of the eTA has not been communicated broadly enough, and that as a result, many foreign nationals will find their travel plans to Canada are disrupted.

An eTA can be applied for online through Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website. Travelers denied an eTA because they are found to be inadmissible may be able to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit in order to enter Canada.

Travel agents can help clients determine what kind of travel documents are required by the eTA by visiting http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.

 

by Richard D’Ambrosio

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3 Reasons Why Travel Agents Are Still in Demand

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 | BLOG | No Comments

travel agent
Here are the top three reasons while travel agents are still in demand:

  1. Expert Advice

Travel agents are industry trained professionals who are experts at navigating through the options and asking the right questions to ensure their clients find the right vacation.  Their expert recommendations are the kinds of details that take a vacation from good, to incredible. Not to mention they are typically seasoned travelers and travel enthusiasts who can share their experiences and tips for destinations around the globe. This knowledge allows them to make educated recommendations based on their clients’ needs to design the perfect holiday experience they’ve been daydreaming about.

  1. Best Value

A key benefit of working with a travel agent is that not only are they often able to secure better fares but they also add value to your vacation. They can save you hours of stressful research and review reading by asking you a few simple questions about what kind of vacation you’re looking for and guiding you in the right direction with their industry knowledge. In addition, our clients often receive other exclusive extras like bonus onboard cash credits, room upgrades, reduced deposits and more!

  1. Personal Relationship

Working with a travel agent brings back the human component of sales that is rare today providing an opportunity for our vacation consultants to get to know their customers and build a relationship where they can provide them with the best service for their needs. Our vacation consultants take pride in making dream vacations come true for travelers in their community and being right here in your neighborhood allows them to connect with you on a more personal level.travel agent sunglasses

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Google is now a travel agent!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 | BLOG | No Comments

Google_Travel_Agency

Recently, on CNN Money there was an article announcing that Google has launched a new feature; ‘Destinations on Google’, which is a travel search engine. You simply type ‘vacation’ or ‘destination’ after a state, country, or continent on Google on our phone, to which they respond by giving you summarized options of hotel prices and flight costs. You can then have them customize your search results according to specifications you may have, so this feature is about to take the market by storm.

Is this good news or bad news for the travel industry? In truth, I will always stand by the fact that working with travel agents and real people is the better way to book your travel. This is not just because I am a travel agent either. This is because if I was booking a trip I would want a real person on the other end of the transaction working on my behalf so that my plans go off without a hitch. But, in the interest of playing devil’s advocate, let’s take an honest look at the pros and cons of using this new Google service.

Pros
1. Efficient – Who would not like the idea of booking travel at any place, time, or location? Although, if we’re being honest here, most good travel agents are available to you any time, day or night.
2. Flexible – You can keep changing up the details of your travels as many times as you would like before you book. Again, agents will work with you here too and probably be able to offer you suggestions that a bot wouldn’t have thought of. But, I digress….
3. Fast – You get an instant response about a variety of locations.
4. Cheap – You might get cheaper accommodations and transportation. MAYBE! (CHEAP being the key word here)

 

Cons
1. Isolation – In the event that things go wrong as they sometimes do, you are left stranded and without anyone who can advise you on what to do next.
2. Logistical Failures – If the internet connection ceases while you are trying to pay for your trip you might be left in limbo.
3. Data Safety – As with all online transactions, you risk losing some vital information or having it intercepted.
4. No Follow-Up – A robot doesn’t care if you arrived at your destination on time and/or if you had a good trip.
5. No personal connection – Goes with the no follow-up con, but wouldn’t you rather work with a small business than a big corporation that honestly doesn’t care about you?

Hopefully, you have seen why you should keep working with real people and caring agents instead of yet another online travel agent wannabe.

Carnival Bans Bringing Bottled Water Onboard

Monday, July 6th, 2015 | Cruises | No Comments

Sometimes the smallest things are the most touchy for clients. The onboard beverage policy – involving carry-on beverages and corking fees – is one of those. Passengers often rant and rave on the Facebook pages of a multitude of lines. Any small change or even the basic policies themselves cause a lot of noise from booked guests or potential cruisers.

Today, Carnival Cruise Lines is gingerly wading into those waters with a policy change. Booked guests are receiving a letter and agents are being notified.

Essentially, guests will no longer be able to bring any water, sodas, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard in bottles. Carnival cites instances of alcoholic beverages being smuggled in those bottles – causing safety and security concerns. In turn, the line has reduced its price for bottled water to 12 bottles for $2.99, providing the water is reserved in advance. The price is comparable to what guests would pay in the grocery store.

To receive that price, the guest must reserve the bottled water online in advance; it will then be delivered to the room. If guests wait to buy it onboard, the price is $4.99 per 12 bottles. The line says it will basically break even with the new fee structure, if that.

Carnival stresses that people can still bring up to 12 cans or cartons (per person) containing juice, sodas and other nonalcoholic beverages. But bottles are not permitted. The carry-on wine policy and onboard corkage fee remains the same.

Carnival says some safety issues onboard have been investigated and found to be caused by guests’ use of smuggled alcohol. Guests are also bringing what Carnival considers as “excessive amounts” of bottled water – thus slowing down embarkation as inspections must occur.

Not suprisingly, much of the abuse cited by the line is occurring with boarding in the U.S.for Caribbean itineraries. That said, all North American ports have a high complement of “drive market” guests — who bring coolers and cart cases of water and other beverages, as they’re not restricted by airline regulations or baggage fees.

To a lesser extent, this happens in Europe or elsewhere, but the policy changes made by Carnival today are being implemented fleetwide for all itineraries, the line said.

 

By Susan Young | June 9, 2015
Susan J. Young, is senior contributing editor for cruises – covering ocean, river and niche cruises for Travel Agent and TravelAgentCentral.com.

Travel 101

Sunday, October 5th, 2014 | BLOG, Ups and Downs of Travel | No Comments

 

TRAVEL 101passport applications

Is it necessary to have a passport to travel outside the USA? Yes, unless you are traveling to one of the US territories. This would include Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. It is not necessary to travel with a passport when going on an ocean cruise if you arrive back into the same port as your departure, however, it is advisable as you would not be able to return to the US without a passport should the need arise during your travel.

  • To obtain a passport, you can either print an application form online at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html or go to your post office. You will need an original copy or certified copy of your birth certificate and one passport photo. Be sure to meet all requirements before submitting your application. Send these along with a check in the amount of $140 plus a $25 execution fee. Remember, a passport card is not good for travel outside the USA.

Be a savvy traveler and know before you go. This will make your travel easier and keep a lot of other travelers from wanting to punch you out right in the line at TSA. If you are not a pre-check traveler, remove your shoes, belts, jewelry and jackets and place them in a bin. Put your quart size zip-lock baggie of liquids, gels and aerosols in the bin too. Familiar yourself with the 311 rule and other important information at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information. Put your computer in a bin by itself. PLEASE don’t wait until you are next in line to get your things ready, be a good scout and be prepared.

Want to know more? Watch for our next Ups and Downs of Travel Blog at www.ia-travel.com/blogs

Recline Rage

Friday, September 5th, 2014 | BLOG | No Comments

Airline Passenger “Recline Rage” It seems like whairplane seatsining about reclining seats is the newest American fad. Did you know that 3 flights in the last 2 weeks were diverted when due to passenger “recline rage”? I have personally experienced recline rage when I reclined my seat the short couple of  inches that it will recline on a regional jet. I looked behind me before reclining my seat and the gentleman there was about my height. The seat in front of me was reclined and I found it to be no problem, however I would definitely be more comfortable with my seat reclined as well. I very slowly reclined my seat back even though the man behind me did not have his table down and was leaning back in his seat apparently sleeping. I didn’t notice if his seat was reclined. I fell asleep and then was suddenly rudely awakened as I was catapulted forward by the man sitting beside the person behind me. He took his fist and shoved my seat back forward and started yelling that I was crushing his knees. I told him he was not behind me; therefore I could not possibly crush his knees. I slowly reclined my seat back again, turned around and looked to prove my point. He started yelling again and slammed me forward again, almost causing my nose to make contact with the back of the seat in front of me. I called the flight attendant, which I hated to do, being a former flight attendant myself. She was young and embarrassed, but I suggested that she move the man to another seat. The small regional jet had no first class, however, there was no one in the front row and I knew that. She took my suggestion and moved him and the man behind me, who turned out to be his very embarrassed son. I promptly went back to sleep. This turned out to be an easy solution, but what if there had been no empty seats? He was making a connection but I think someone should have taken him aside before he boarded his next flight and had a very serious talk with him concerning each person’s space on the plane and his attitude. He was average height and had no reason at all to behave in this manner. He did not request a seat with more leg room and should have done so if he felt it was needed. No one promised that it would be the most comfortable flight on a small jet, but then it was a short 30 minute flight at a very early hour in the morning.  I wondered what made this man so special that he had to disrupt the entire flight. My husband was in the seat in front of him and his seat was not reclined, neither was the seat in front of him. Should we make the whole incident a domino effect and make everyone leave their seat backs upright to please one passenger? I don’t think so. In my opinion, the man should have been banned from flying unless he could control his temper. Air Travel Etiquette The combined results of our poll and speaking with travelers revealed this basic consensus about air travel etiquette. *Do look behind your seat before reclining and assess your fellow passenger’s needs. Are they very tall? Are they using a laptop? *Don’t put your seat back during meal time. *Always keep your cool.  What do you think about reclining an airline seat?

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Swimming with the Whale Sharks

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 | BLOG | No Comments

Swimming with Whale Sharks

 

Probably the mwhale-sharkost salient whale shark fact — at least to those hoping to get up close and personal with them — is that they aren’t meat (or man) eaters. Instead, they use their gaping, cave-like maws to suck up plankton and fish spawn, like giant industrial vacuum cleaners. Whale Sharks migrate following their feeding instincts. Every year they pass by and stay around the Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox areas.High concentrations of plankton allow this wonderful event to happen close to our Cancun coast. Nowhere are they reported in greater concentrations than in Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico waters off the northeast corner of the Yucatán Peninsula. In August, researchers counted 420 whale sharks in one area.

Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the sea at 6 feet to 50 feet and possibly longer. If whale sharks are the double tractor-trailers of the underwater highways, human interlopers are puny Smart Cars, utterly insignificant in the presence of such overwhelming mass.

The tour operators have devised their own code of conduct. Following ecological rules along with National Park procedures, only 2 snorkelers are allowed in the water at a time so they have a certain amount of time to snorkel with the Whale sharks. Every snorkeler has their fair share of turns. Additionally, Mexico created a Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve in the region last year.

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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: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/04/30/why-it-pays-to-book-with-a-travel-agent

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: http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T059-C000-S002-travel-agents-vs-do-it-yourself-online-travel-book.html#h4kumdxu8DpDDJUG.99

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: http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/is-the-best-travel-search-engine-around-the-corner/

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