Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

What is it about a song?  I don’t care where I am or what I’m doing, there are just some songs that scream “Vacation!” to me (including Vacation, by the GoGos)

Nearly everything by Jimmy Buffett will do.  It doesn’t matter where I’m going, Jimmy’s music puts me in the vacation mood.

Of course there’s also Kenny Chesney with Beer in Mexico or When the Sun Goes Down and the Zac Brown Band with Knee Deep.

When we are going on a cruise, we listen to cruising music – Sea Cruise, Come Sail Away, Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Sailing.  Then there’s sailaway party music – Everybody, Electric Slide and Upside Down.  Finally, there’s music for where we are going – Panama, Barcelona, Caribbean Queen.

What music puts you in that vacation mode?

Quality versus Quantity

I was asked the other day about cruise bookings for summer 2012 and how they relate to 2011.  While checking numbers I found the trends to be interesting.  But it also got me thinking.  What is more important to people in recent years – more time off or higher quality in the time off that you have.

This is an interesting choice and it isn’t necessarily the same for everyone.  It comes down to one question – What do you want to get out of your vacation?

Some people just want the downtime, and the more, the better!  Staying in a value resort just so you can go on vacation as often as possible is worth it to them.  It may mean driving more often to a destination than flying there so save on airfare. Getting away for a long weekend in a nearby city to catch a show or concert, go to a spa or nothing at all!

For others, it is totally about the destination.  You don’t care where you stay, how you get there, what you eat, you just want to be there.  For a Disney vacation, this could mean eating offsite more frequently, getting a resort with a kitchen or kitchenette to be able to cook some meals in the room or getting annual passes for the discounts and lower cost of admission (assuming you visit enough times to make this happen).

Still others are wanting the deluxe experience, regardless of what it will cost.  However, they may need to cut back on some of the options to make this happen.  Instead of a ten day vacation, they may cut back to only five days.  They may decide that instead of a couple trips a year, they will only take one, and make it a good one!  Or take some short weekend trips instead of a second vacation.

What I noticed while studying my sales numbers is that people weren’t cancelling vacations when the economy started to fail, they were just changing how they vacationed.  This is where working with a good travel consultant can help.  The agent that you use for all your vacation plans will know what you like and dislike, know what’s important to you on vacation and how you can scale back that usual vacation so you still get your well deserved break, yet don’t break the bank.

What are you doing with your vacations?  Is the economy affecting how you vacation or not?  We’d love to hear from you!

Vacations – Time to De-stress or is it?

We all work hard.  Some of us put in well over 40 hours a week.  Then we get home and there is more work o do – yard work, house work, laundry, cooking, taking care of the kids, running errands.  Calgon, take me away!!

When it comes to vacations, we all need them, not just want them.  Some of us want to “unplug” for a while and just relax with the family.  Some can’t seem to get away from it all, but at least getting away from home helps to rejuvenate them.

The problems with vacations are the stress leading up to them and after you return home.  The key is to find a way to cut down that stress.  I have found a few.

First, to avoid the stress when you come home, I try to make sure most of the work part is out of the way.  I leave the house cleaned and clothes laundered.  I don’t put off my work that would normally come due during vacation until I return, I take care of it before leaving.  That way, there is less that must get done as soon as I return.

To help prepare for the vacation, I have some lists to help out.  I plan ahead for meals so we don’t have too much in the refrigerator while we are gone.  I have a packing list, depending on the type of vacation, which can be modified to fit the exact trip.  I also start working on getting ready as far in advance as I can.  I have found with work, if I do my follow up with clients a week before hand, they usually have questions or come up with thinks that need to be done in a day or two after they get my email.  If I wait until the day before I leave, this makes the first few days of vacation very stressful.

This is where a travel consultant can come in handy.  I answer a lot of last minute questions for my clients.  Things they don’t know or plans they want to change last minute.  This is just a little bit of stress I am able to take away from their plans.  The most stressful time I have ever had traveling is going somewhere for the first time, like a cruise.  As much research as you can do just doesn’t seem to totally prepare you for a new experience.  I also find that some people deal with vacations and stress situations different than others.  Let’s just call them “high-maintenance” type folks.  Somehow, nothing is ever just right for them.  Unfortunately, when you read discussion forums online, there is a lot of that.  People are more likely to complain about things online than they are to complement online.  Additionally, many people think that their way is the only way something can be done.  A great travel consultant should know many ways that something can be done.  For example, when are passports required.  This can be a hot topic on discussion forum.  A travel consultant can sort out for you what the requirements actually are versus what is recommended.

Finally, the last stress you can face with vacation is the vacation itself.  Are you going with a large group?  If so, you will want to remember that it is important everyone should not do everything together.  Can they?  Of course, but it will increase everyone’s stress level and take more time with coordinating what everyone wants to do, waiting on everyone to be ready.  What about the vacation destination?  Will that cause extra stress?  If you end up with a very regimented vacation when you need something laid back, that could lead to more stress than before vacation.  This is why I enjoy cruising so much.  I can do as much or as little as I want, yet go from place to place.  Staying in a hotel would do the same for me, except I wouldn’t have the option of seeing a tropical island in the Caribbean or a glacier in Alaska.

Next time you prepare for a vacation, consider what you are trying to get out of the vacation.  Pick the vacation that will give you the experience you need and take steps to allow yourself to relax and enjoy when you get there.

Why Don’t You Cruise?

Last week I attended a series of classes through Cruise Lines International Association and some of the things we learned made we wonder why people don’t cruise more often.  80% of the North American population has never been on a cruise.  Hard to believe?  For those of us who have cruised, it is very hard to believe.  Especially when you find out that 95% of cruise guests rate their cruise experience positively!

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Happy New Year

As 2011 begins we reflect on what was 2010.  So many great things happened that year, including the opening of Travel On A Dream and our Toad’s Travels Blog.

We have been so lucky to get to know so many of you either through meet and greets, different travels and referrals.  We look forward to 2011 and hope that we get to meet many more of you.  We also look forward to helping many of you plan your dream vacations.  Whether its your first Disney cruise, 100th trip to Disney World, or your first time to another destination without “the mouse”, we will be here for you to help with the planning, offer our expert advice and get you the best price possible.

Thank you for all of your support, referrals and bookings in 2010.  Here’s to a fantastic 2011!!

Traveling with Friends and Family

Sometimes when we say Group Travel, people only think about a organizational group like a Girl Scouts Troop, the Rotary Club or any of the other millions of groups in the world.  This is not the only way to look at a group.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a group is two or more figures forming a complete unit in a composition or a number of individuals assembled together or having some unifying relationship.  Pretty much if you are traveling with one other person, you are a group!

We have found that the holidays are a time that people tend to get together and make their vacation plans for the next year (or following year).  They figure out when they are going to take vacation time, when others can join them and start making the plans.

With much group travel, benefits are available to groups of a certain size.  With cruises, this is usually when you have 16 people in 8 cabins.  With land stays, such as Disney World, this can be as few as 8 people.  All groups are not created equal though so you will want to check into the particulars offered by the travel provider you are looking at, be it a cruise, tour or land stay.

With cruises you can sometimes get reduced deposits, discounts or onboard amenities.  Some of the amenities offered require a minimum number of people in the group.  The types of amenities offered are a bottle of wine or champagne, fruit platter, cocktail party, onboard credits, wine and cheese, cruise line logo merchandise, dining experience at specialty restaurant.

One of the nice parts about setting up a group, either on land or at sea is that you can keep your group together as you’d like.  Though not guaranteed, your rooms have a better chance of being near to each other, you can arrange to dine together and there are other events that you can arrange together.

At Disney World, they have what is called Grand Gatherings.  You can participate in certain experiences set up just for these Grand Gatherings.  To do so, at least eight guests 3 years or older would need to participate.  These experiences include a Good Morning Gathering, Safari Celebration Dinner and the International Dinner and IllumiNations Dessert Reception.  If you are on the dining plan, you can use your dining plan credits towards these experiences as well.

When you are traveling as a group you get the added perks that being in a group brings you but you also get as much independence as you want.  Once you arrive to your destination, there are many things that you don’t have to do with the group and can do on your own giving you the best of both worlds.

So who do you want to travel with?  Can you get together 8-16 people?  You too can take advantage of all a travel group has to offer.

Cruising 101, Part 1

Many people are choosing to cruise as their choice of vacations these days.  It can be intimidating both for the new cruiser and the experienced cruiser however to book a cruise and then actually go on the cruise as there can be many differences between cruise lines and their policies/procedures.  I ran into this twice this year cruising on Celebrity and Norwegian cruise lines because I have cruised with Disney so many times, I just wasn’t sure about some things.

This blog will address many of the questions you may have regarding choosing a cruise, planning for the cruise, once onboard the cruise and disembarkation after the cruise.  The blog will be continued over a few days as there is so much information I don’t want to overwhelm you.  Once the topic has been covered, I will be including a link to our website with all the information there.  This will allow you to search for particular topics and allow us to update the information as necessary.  Please post questions that you may have so that we can answer them as well. Continue reading

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