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Travel Agent vs Travel Advisor

Thursday, April 18th, 2024 | BLOG, Who to consult before traveling | No Comments

Are all travel agents travel advisors? NO…What is the difference between a travel agent and a travel advisor?

While both travel agents and travel advisors handle the booking and planning of trips for clients, there are some key differences between the two:

1. Travel Agent: Travel agents specialize in organizing flights and accommodations for their clients. Examples of travel agents include Costco and various online booking engines. Some travel agents might operate under the umbrella of a larger travel company and call themselves travel advisors. It’s important to understand the distinction between a travel agent and a true travel advisor.

2. Travel Advisor: A travel advisor is not just someone who books trips. They offer personalized recommendations, expert advice, and insider knowledge to create customized itineraries tailored to each client’s preferences and needs. They provide a more in-depth level of service by offering destination information, suggesting unique experiences, recommending local attractions/restaurants, and ensuring a seamless journey.

A travel advisor takes a holistic approach to trip planning, providing personalized guidance and expertise at every step of the process. They take the time to understand their clients’ preferences, interests, and budget to curate a truly unique and tailored experience. Additionally, they may offer additional services such as travel insurance, visa assistance, and 24/7 support during the trip. The ultimate goal of a travel advisor is to create unforgettable moments and exceed their clients’ expectations by going above and beyond just booking travel arrangements.

To summarize, a travel advisor’s role is more than just booking travel arrangements. They provide comprehensive support throughout the journey while striving to exceed expectations and create unforgettable experiences for their clients. 

Sustainable Living

Friday, April 22nd, 2022 | BLOG | No Comments




Since the 1970s, Taos, New Mexico, has been a playground for creative off-grid builders. Today, it is slowly becoming overwhelmed by a wave of pandemic-era emigres who eschewed big coastal cities for a more rural idyl.

It only takes about 15 minutes to drive from the center of Taos to feel a world away from urbanity. Centuries ago, the Taos Pueblo Indigenous people who lived in this area used deep red adobe brick to build naturally insulated earthen homes. Today these brick homesteads make up one of the United States’ oldest inhabited communities. Since then, the area’s new denizens have started to experiment with a sustainable, passive architecture all of their own: Earthships. Made of dirt, tires, and other recycled and reclaimed materials, Earthships have evolved in styles over the decades. You can find everything from unremarkable, solar-powered single-family homes to a castle turret to a pyramid as if Las Vegas had been rebuilt in a recycling facility.


The ideal modern Earthship is built with natural and recycled materials like wine bottles and soda cans. It uses thermal and solar heating and cooling, along with solar power, to regulate its internal temperature without connecting to a conventional utility grid. Earthships are built to harvest rainwater, have contained sewage systems, and feature gardens that provide a buffer between the living area and the outdoors and act as mini larders. The gardens provide food as well as work to purify the air. Earthships generally consist of a wall made of pounded tires that wraps around three sides of the structure, providing a cocoon of thermal mass that stays warm in winter and cool in summer.

Homes like these Earthships are not a new concept. In fact, for the last five decades, they have been a popular home of choice among extreme sustainability enthusiasts and survivalists. People have built Earthship-like homes in every U.S. state and dozens of countries, but they truly thrive in Taos. The ongoing climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic have given these seeming safe havens fresh appeal. Today, they are attractive climate and social breakdown bunkers.


Be An Educated Traveler or Why You Don’t Book With The Big Box Store

Monday, February 1st, 2021 | BLOG | No Comments

I am totally amazed at people who really think that “discount” stores are the best places to book travel. Apparently, these people are not educated consumers so let me try to help.

As a travel professional for more than 45 years and the owner of an independent travel agency, I can assure you that most travel professionals work very hard to stay abreast of the latest travel information up to and including destinations, airlines, hotels and resorts and they have hundreds of travel suppliers that they partner with, including local destination specialists. They also sometimes have connections that travel sites do not have.

Travel professionals attend travel expos and conventions, although they are virtual at this time. The amount of knowledge they possess is phenomenal. Most true travel professional also really travel to visit destinations and resorts for personal experience giving them a worth that you will never get from a discount booking service or online booking engine. It is imperative that to better serve our clients, we stay educated.

We are your advocate in case of any emergencies as well. Many people do not purchase travel protection and risk losing thousands of dollars. Even if you have not purchased travel protection, in some cases, your travel agent can still get refunds for non-refundable reservations. Your on-line boking service will not do that for you nor will your big box stores.

I can also tell you that if you save any money at all by booking with a discount company, it will be very little and remember, that cheap is not the best for anything you purchase. They are simply booking engines, not travel professionals. They have zero travel experience or knowledge of destinations and no local destination contacts.

Keep this in mind when you are booking travel. It never hurts to use the “cheap” sites to explore and look over resorts, etc., because that is one thing that makes you educated.

And please remember that it is also good to support local businesses especially during these difficult times when Covid is shutting down so many small business.

You wonder why I am posting this? Because I see so many people who have no idea what a travel professional can offer, suggesting other means of booking travel. And don’t forget the amount of time they can save you. If you have questions or comments, I am happy to address them if you would like to message me.

Author: Cindy Rainwater
Owner of International Accents Travel

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Italy and Coronavirus

Monday, March 2nd, 2020 | BLOG | No Comments

Is it Safe to travel to Italy?

The remainder of the country, including the Italian regions where the cities in temporary isolation are located, is safe and accessible. All services and activities for citizens and tourists are normally provided and the quality of life, for which Italy is famous world-wide, remains high.

Italy is a safe country, it is safe to live in Italy and it is safe to travel to Italy.

The Italian National Health System, among the most efficient in the world, immediately implemented procedures directed at safeguarding citizens and tourists. Intense controls made it possible for the Italian Government to monitor and contain the spreading of Covid-19 from the earliest diffusion outside the Chinese borders.

The adoption of extraordinary preventive actions, such as the temporary closure of several sites or the suspension of several events, represents cautionary measures which have nothing to do with the spreading of the virus throughout the Italian territory.

In accordance with the data provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to date only 0.05% of Italy is affected by extraordinary measures of temporary isolation of some Italian cities (equal to 0.1% of the total) aimed at avoiding the spread of the virus.

Only 11 out of 7904 Italian cities are affected by such measures:

  • Lombardy: Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione D’Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini.
  • Veneto: Vo’ Euganeo

For additional information, please consult the following links:

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The Best Italian Wine Region You’ve Never Heard Of

Thursday, November 29th, 2018 | BLOG | No Comments

The Best Italian Wine Region You’ve Never Heard Of
The world does not yet come to the Friuli region, and so much the better
The world is now discovering Friuli’s wines. It’s now widely understood that Italy’s finest white wines are produced here…that the region’s equidistance from the Austrian Alps to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south has created a sunny and breezy micro-climate that conspires with the marlstone soil to yield grapes of astonishing fragrance and minerality.

Like a glass of Venica Pinot Grigio, the wines tremble on the tongue but are finally focused and persistent…a silver bullet to the palate, the very opposite of the buttery California Chardonnays Americans tend to associate with white wine. The label reads VENICA, the name of the producer, COLLIO…the word just below. Collio is a derivation of the Italian word for “hill” and the preeminent winegrowing district in the region just east of Venice, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Drinking it is like taking the first bite into a ripe golden apple, piercingly tart. Are you even aware that there is any more east to go in Italy after Venice?

It happens that excellent red wines are also made here…particularly Merlots of surprising power and elegance…along with daring “orange wines” fermented in ceramic amphorae. Friuli wines evoke a place that remains as fresh and untrammeled as the region itself. The world still does not come to Friuli. No tourist buses, no guides with hoisted flags, no selfie sticks contaminate the region.

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Cruise or All-inclusive Resort?

Sunday, November 4th, 2018 | BLOG | No Comments

Caribbean cruisesIf you’re looking for a getaway where everything is taken care of, which vacation type — a cruise or an all-inclusive resort — is truly the better deal?

While cruise lines like to promote their vacations as “all-inclusive,” that is a misrepresentation in most cases, leaving many cruise travelers wondering why they’re being charged for soda, alcohol, specialty coffees, meals in specialty restaurants, bottled water, gratuities and select onboard activities. And that’s on top of paying for shore excursions, spa treatments, fitness classes, commemorative photos and souvenirs.

Typically, your cruise fare includes onboard accommodations, meals in a few (but not all) onboard eateries, select nonalcoholic beverages, pool use and some daytime kids programs.

On many of the newer ships, cruise fares also give passengers access to ropes courses, water parks with multiple slides, rock climbing walls and even zip lines. Most onboard entertainment also is included. In the evening, Vegas-style shows, Broadway musicals, comedy, magic acts and more are available. During the day, a variety of audience participation activities are offered, though some (like bowling, bingo and beer and wine tastings) do carry extra fees.
Luxury cruise ships are a different story. Many higher-priced cruise lines, as well as some river cruise and expedition ships, include some or all shore excursions and a selection of both nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages in their fares.

What is not included in my cruise fare?
On most cruise ships, alcoholic drinks, specialty coffees, meals in alternative restaurants (and associated gratuities), spa treatments, Internet, purchases in the onboard shops, certain menu items like surf ‘n’ turf or a la carte snacks like pastries and sushi, shore excursions, some fitness classes, limited-access sun decks, baby-sitting services, arcade games, and some shows and entertainment experiences carry an additional cost. On some European lines’ ships, there might also be an additional charge for water at non-mealtimes.
As a reminder, meals in the main dining room and buffet, water and juice from buffet or pool-area dispensers, most room service (some lines charge during certain hours or for hot items), select fitness classes and use of the gym, kids and teens facilities, some onboard classes, use of the casino, the pool, most entertainment and your room are included in the price you pay for your cruise.
All-inclusive resorts, on the other hand, have rates that encompass much more. Head to a land-based “AI,” and your payment will include meals at all on-site restaurants, all drinks (soda, alcohol, coffee), beach and pool access, daytime activities like beach sports challenges, fitness classes, kids programming, and nonmotorized water sports like snorkeling, kayaking and Hobie Cat sailing. Some may even include scuba and snorkel trips, beach and restaurant access at sister properties, and golf outings.

On the surface, it looks like an all-inclusive resort offers vacationers the most value. But is the comparison that black and white? And if you add in extras (like flights), is an all-inclusive still the cheaper option?

Also, you need to know that many low-cost all-inclusive resorts are not really that, with extra fees for steak and/or seafood and other fine dining experiences, premium alcohol if it is even available.

Before you dump the cruise, though, consider flights. With few exceptions, all-inclusive resorts are located outside the United States, making flying a necessity. Cruises, on the other hand, depart from a large selection of U.S. cities, so it’s easy for a significant portion of U.S. travelers to drive there. That eliminates the need to pay for airfare, which can be costly.

The Bottom Line
Determining which option is the best value depends on your vacation priorities and spending habits.
If you’re happy lying on the same beach for a week straight and want to dance and drink the night away, an all-inclusive resort might be your best bet. If you want to visit more than one destination and see a show in the evening instead, a cruise might be best. Just remember that any excursions at all those destinations are an additional cost.

Still need help determining which option is best for you? Here are a few guidelines:
Pick the cruise if
… you don’t spend a lot on extras like shore excursions, spa treatments or specialty dining. The base prices for cruises are typically lower than prices for resorts because the cruise lines expect you to make up the difference in onboard purchases.
… you like Broadway-style entertainment. Resort entertainment, when there is some, tends to be more low-key, showcasing local acts.
… you don’t drink. At an all-inclusive, you may be subsidizing someone else’s alcohol consumption.
… you like to gamble. Few all-inclusive resorts have on-site casinos.
… you want to visit different destinations in a week and enjoy (or don’t mind) days at sea.

Pick the resort if
… you like hanging out in a bathing suit all day. Most cruise lines make you put on a cover-up to grab a buffet meal, sandwich or pizza.
… you want to be able to walk on the beach at sunrise or sunset … or any time you want. With a cruise, you’re restricted to hours in port; at a resort, the beach is right out your front door.
… you want to eat and drink as much as possible without worrying about racking up high bills for cocktails or trying out multiple dining options.
… you enjoy fine dining freshly prepared, all you can eat and/or dining around for no additional fees. At some resorts, even steak and lobster are included as well as top shelf liquor and wine with dinner.
… Wi-fi is included.
… like on a cruise, fitness centers and certain areas of the spa, like hydro-therapy, are included.
… you enjoy pool activities and nightly entertainment. Quality of shows varies greatly at different resorts, so do your research if this is important to you.
… you plan on taking advantage of water sports and other activities.

Cruise travelers can quickly jack up their onboard tabs on shore excursions. (The more ports a cruise visits, the more you’ll spend.) If you want to spend your vacation snorkeling, kayaking and body surfing, you’ll save money at the resort where these activities are included. Just know that resorts do charge extra for spa treatments and off-site excursions like zip-lining and dune buggy rides.
Once you decide what is your style of vacation and you want to see what the bottom line cost is, be sure you are comparing like resorts and ships as well as room/cabin categories.

If you’re still confused about which option is the best value for you — both in terms of price and vacation satisfaction — reach out to your friendly neighborhood travel agent. Getting advice from an expert who’s knowledgeable about different resorts and ships, as well as picking the trip that best meets your budget and holiday preferences, might be the easiest way to get the best value for your vacation dollar.

Cindy Rainwater
CEO International Accents Travel

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How to order coffee in Italy

Monday, June 11th, 2018 | BLOG | No Comments

When coffee houses like Starbucks, first became popular in the United States, I had the worst time ordering exactly what I wanted as I was more familiar with these terms in Italy. I like Caffe Latte, but here I was getting something more like milk with American coffee, not expresso with hot milk, really bad stuff. In the USA, we ask for “latte”, but in Italy, that is simply “milk”, so if you don’t say “caffee latte”, you will just get a glass of milk.  

Reading a menu at an Italian coffee bar can feel like more than just a foreign language, it’s a glimpse into Italy’s culture and identity. Unlike American coffee, Caffè Italiano revolves solely around espresso and the different ways it can be served. Here’s an in-depth guide to your options for how to order your coffee like an Italian.


The Basic Caffè: A simple espresso. Though caffè means “coffee” in Italian, it isn’t your standard American coffee. If you’re unfamiliar with espressos, you’ll be getting a small cup of strong coffee served on a saucer with a spoon

Cappuccino: An espresso with steamed whole milk and foam, an Italian favorite typically served in a slightly larger cup than the espresso.

Caffè Latte: An espresso with hot milk, served in a glass. Remember to ask for “caffe latte” or you will end up with just a glass of milk!

Caffè Macchiato: An espresso with a bit of foamed milk on top. Macchiato means “marked” or “stained,” so it is an espresso “marked” with a little foamed milk.  

Latte Macchiato: A glass of steamed milk with a bit of espresso, or “marked” with a small amount of espresso. If you want a bit more espresso, like a double latte, order a dark version, or latte macchiato scuro.


More Than Milk

Caffè con Panna: An espresso topped with sweet, often fresh, whipped cream. This drink is especially for those who want a sweeter version of the caffè macchiato.

Caffè Corretto: An espresso with a drop of liquor. Popular choices are grappa, Sambuca, or cognac.

Caffè con Zucchero: An espresso with sugar added for you. Most bars have patrons add their own sugar from a packet or container at the bar.


Less Caffeinated 

Decaffeinato or Caffè Hag: A decaffeinated espresso. Hag is the largest producer of decaf coffee in Italy, so some bars will write their name on the menu instead of decaffeinato.

Caffè Lungo: A “long” espresso, when the barista allows the machine to pour water until the coffee is weak and bitter.

Caffè Americano: An espresso diluted with hot water, the closest drink to American filtered coffee you’ll find in an Italian bar.

Caffè Americano Decaffeinato: A decaf espresso diluted with hot water, the closest drink to American filtered decaf coffee.

Cold Coffee:

Caffè Shakerato: An espresso shaken with sugar and ice, typically served in a martini or cocktail glass. Some bars add chocolate syrup for an extra layer of sweetness.

Caffè Freddo: An espresso served iced or cold, typically served in a glass. If you order a caffè freddo alla vaniglia, you can add vanilla syrup or vanilla liquor to the mix.

Granita di Caffè: An espresso-flavored icy slush, typically with added sugar, almost like a coffee snow cone.


Regional Specialities:

Espresso in Naples typically comes with the sugar added. If you don’t like your coffee sweet, order un caffè sense zucchero. Try Caffè alla Nocciola, an espresso with froth and hazelnut cream, for a special local treat.

In Milan, coffee bars serve an upside-down cappuccino called a marocchino. Served in a served in a small glass sprinkled with cocoa powder a marocchino starts with a bottom layer of frothed milk and is finished off with a shot of espresso.

The Piemontese enjoy a traditional drink created from layers of dense hot cocoa, espresso and cream, called bicerìn.


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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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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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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 agent sunglasses


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