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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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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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Travel Insurance

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 | BLOG | No Comments

You may have recently had the debate with yourself or with your travel partner. “Should we buy a travel insurance policy to protect the cost of our trip and any potential emergency medical costs or not?” Your answer might have been: “No, our credit card insurance will cover us.” Or your partner may have answered, “Well I never get sick!” or “We can get a plan directly from the travel supplier, can’t we?”

Far more trips are canceled because of accident or illness, and you don’t get any refunds for those. Any time you face a penalty or loss that’s more than you can comfortably afford, consider Trip Cancellation insurance. If you decide you can get the cheapest insurance directly from your travel supplier, check the small print again. Many suppliers’ policies, especially those that offer “cancel for any reason,” only offer you a credit to rebook a trip with the same company. You do not usually get a cash refund.

What about that credit card insurance? Many cards’ plans are limited to accident insurance on a common carrier and baggage loss coverage. No trip cancellation, medical protection or emergency evacuation coverage is normally included.

There is also Trip Interruption, in case you have to cut the trip short for a covered reason, reimbursing up to 150% of the prepaid trip cost and should include emergency medical protection and evacuation, missed connection, trip delay coverage, baggage loss and baggage delay. When you get to your vacation spot, your one wish is that your bags arrive with you. Unfortunately, the airlines don’t always make your wish come true.

Finally, if an emergency illness or accident happens far from home, nothing will be more welcome than a helpful voice on the phone working to get you assistance on the spot. Our policy has a global emergency travel assistance service, which goes with you 24/7 with every insurance plan. You will be able to contact the service toll-free from wherever you travel, even when your family or loved ones are not immediately in reach. It’s also important to know if your insurance plan covers accidents or illness outside the USA.

You can say that having a comprehensive travel policy is much like having a knowledgeable, professional travel agent to arrange your trip. You will most appreciate both when they come to your assistance in a travel emergency. That’s when you’ll know you made the right choice to plan ahead.

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Need Help Packing?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 | BLOG, Helpful Travel Planning Info, Travel Tips | 5 Comments

Check, and recheck, the weather.

Lay out everything you think you need for your trip at least one week before you leave. As it gets closer, look at current weather reports   to see temperatures and forecasts for your destination, and determine what items you can definitely remove. Wear your bulkiest clothing items such as pants, a coat, sunhat or baseball cap, and shoes on the plane. Pack smaller, lighter items such as your t-shirts, shorts, swimsuit, and sandals. Skip items you can go without or that you can find at your destination, such as hair dryers.

Use your pockets.

JetBlue poked fun at a photo of a man wearing a suitcase-turned-shirt. However, the airline’s idea wasn’t far off the mark.Scottevest travel clothes include reasonably stylish coats that are designed to hold a carry-on’s worth of items. The company claims the jackets prevent potential pickpocketing by having interior compartments, and make it easy to go through airport security since you can remove your jacket without taking everything out of its pockets. The Essential Travel Jacket comes with 19 pockets (18 on the women’s version), is wrinkle-resistant, and has removable sleeves. Other options include waterproof jackets, sweatshirts, tops, and shorts, all with tons of pocket space.No matter what type of coat you’re traveling with, wear it on the plane and make the most of the pockets by packing them with any items you’ll use during the flight, such as books, snacks, and music devices.

Reuse clothing.

Packing neutral-colored clothes (think blacks, whites, and grays) makes it easy to mix and match; a couple of interchangeable tops and bottoms can create infinite combinations. By accessorizing with items such as scarves, belts. And jewelry you change up the same outfit.

Pack the right fabrics.

Worried about wrinkles? Remember, some fabrics travel better than others. You can purchase clothes made with travel in mind, but chances are there are items in your own closet that will do the trick. Pick knits over woven items, and opt for blended fabrics, especially those with a bit of spandex or polyester.

Use compression bags.

Several of our readers are super-light packers, and already use compression bags to pack a lot into a little space. If you set out everything you think you absolutely, without-a-doubt must bring and it still won’t fit into your bag, try putting your clothes in a vacuum bag to reduce the volume. It may even free up some space for extra items. You can use XL or XXL baggies too. Another thing to make more space is to roll you clothes.

Leave (some of) the toiletries behind.

But if it’s a challenge to go without your favorite products, brush up on the    3-1-1 rule to avoid any unpleasant surprises as you go through security. Also consider non-liquid toiletries to avoid the 3-1-1 hassle all together. If you’re staying at a hotel, chances are you’ll find soap, shampoo, and conditioner in your room. Many hotels also offer extras such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, and shaving cream upon request.

Excluded items.

There are, thankfully, several items you can take that do not count toward your baggage allowance, including umbrellas, cameras, infant diaper bags, and outer garments, including hats and coats with stuffed pockets. Bassinets, child car seats, strollers, and wheelchairs are accepted as checked baggage at no charge.

Do a load of laundry.

If you don’t have access to water to wash your clothes, you’re likely not the type of traveler that’s concerned with having a new outfit for every hour of the day. Washing, whether by hand, at the hotel, or around the corner at a Laundromat is a quick way to get more mileage out of the same outfits.

Ship ahead.

Limiting yourself to the essentials will provide you with a vital tool: mobility. You can tote your bag through the airport with ease, and can start sightseeing immediately without having to schlep luggage into museum coat-checks. Instead of packing all the items you might need, pack only the items you will need. Chances are you won’t miss what you leave behind. Have must-pack items that won’t fit in one bag? Consider sending them to your destination in advance via UPS, USPS, or another carrier. You’ll pay a fee, but the cost is sometimes more reasonable than the exorbitant airline charge, depending on your carrier and what you’re packing. This is also a good option to consider for any souvenirs.

Pack nothing.

It takes guts to take off to a new destination with nothing, but you might feel a sense of liberation. Bring an empty backpack or small duffel with you for the return trip to hold anything you bought. Purchasing necessities at your destination may be more expensive, but it’s also a great way to ensure you bring home useful souvenirs rather than a bunch of useless stuff.

What are your tricks for packing light? Share your tips and advice by leaving a comment below!

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