Thursday, February 13, 2014

10 Ways to Stay Safe While Traveling in Europe

Staying safe while traveling abroad is always top of mind. Most people aren't dishonest, but those few bad apples or one unfortunate incident can blemish an amazing travel experience. Check out this list compiled by travel specialists for tips for staying safe while traveling abroad.

2. Separate money sources - Don't leave all cash and credit/debit cards together as most do when they are at home. This is a safe guard against unfortunate events like theft - the phrase 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' is very true in this case.1. Don't look like a tourist - Many people have a perceived idea of what the quintessential American looks like; white sneakers, big camera, or sweatshirts with university logos. Staying away from these stereotypes when dressing can help travelers avoid drawing attention to themselves. Also, be wary of public displays of wealth - leave flashy jewelry and unnecessary expensive gadgets at home.

3. Secure wallets and purses - Eliminate opportunities for theft. Make sure purses are closed and zippers are placed towards the front of the body. Never put wallets in back pockets or any other pocket that is easily reachable by others. Money belts are also an option, but what is most important is making money easily accessible to yourself but difficult for others to take without you noticing.

4. Make copies of your important documents - Scanning and printing copies of documents and keeping them in several locations is very simple, but can be crucial if they are lost or stolen.

5. Purchase travel insurance - There are many benefits to travel insurance but one of the biggest is ensuring medical coverage while abroad. Hospital bills can add up quickly, so purchasing insurance is vital.

6. Don't leave your belongings unattended in public - This is true everywhere, but especially when abroad in tourist areas. Keep belongings with you at all times; for example don't place phones and wallets on the table or hook purses on the back of chairs when dining, and never leave luggage outside hotel doors.

7. Avoid pulling money out in public - Take out wallets as infrequently as possible, and avoid showing large amounts of cash. This helps reduce the risk of being targeted for any foul play. With this in mind, we would encourage keeping small amounts of currency for minor transactions, bartering and tipping.

8. Get familiar with the surroundings - A confident stride can make all the difference but not ending up in a bad part of town helps even more. To avoid this, study your map, talk to the front desk clerk, or examine your guidebook before venturing out. If you find yourself in an area that is not familiar or you feel threatened, go into a hotel or restaurant.

9. Put away your belongings - Most hotels will be fine, but in those terrible incidences where you run across a dishonest person it is best to keep your belongings out of site. Leave them in your suitcase, put them in the hotel safe, or better yet, leave them at home it you can.

10. Double check - There are many distractions while traveling. We also tend to carry more stuff - look around and double check that you have all your belongings before leaving anywhere.

Hopefully these tips will help you travel abroad more safely. If you need help planning your trip to Europe, please get in touch with us.

Creat memories, not regrets!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Make Your Honeymoon or Family Vacation in Cozumel Memorable

Snorkeling and scuba diving! Sandals and sunglasses! Stingrays and sealions! Did you know you can find all these in Cozumel? Cozumel, located in the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest Mexican Island. Forty miles south of Cancun, pristine water and white sand beaches are ready to welcome tourists.

Whether you arrive in Cozumel by plane or ship, taking a tour of the ruins is a must. Learning about the history, lifestyle and culture of the Mayan civilization is an experience you will never forget. 

Tulum was occupied as far back as 600 A.D.; however, it was most densely populated around 1200 A.D. The oldest Mayan ruin on the island dates back to 300 A.D.

The Castle is the pyramid type structure which dominates the city from the top of a 40-foot cliff. The nearby Temple of the Descending God provides equally excellent insight into the architecture of the Mayan people. Colorful murals and paintings that once decorated the ancient walls are now faded but still tell the story and history of an incredible civilization. The Mayans are a group of people who gained many achievements in the arts and sciences, and then mysteriously disappeared.Their story is amazing.

When touring the ruins, be sure to wear good walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Depending on the time of year you travel, the temperatures can get extremely warm.

You can't visit Cozumel without shopping. Cozumel, known as the world's best duty-free shopping ports offers incredible prices on diamonds, colored gemstones, jewelry, watches, gold, and sterling silver, as well as local handmade crafts.

Mexico's currency is the peso, shown with the $ sign. Most of the time prices will be shown in pesos. Any prices in the U.S.dollars are listed as US$ or USD.  Keep in mind, that many hotels, restaurants and shops accept major credit cards, which usually offer a good exchange rate.

Whether you visit Cozumel for your honeymoon or family vacation, it will be an experience you will never forget. 

Create memories, not regrets!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

One Word for 2014

Hello, 2014! In 2013, my New Year's Resolution was to do things that I'd never done do things that took me out of my comfort zone without going against my vaules and beliefs. That theme resulted in the accomplishments of several things: running the Disney Princess Half Marathon, biking 25 miles in the Mount Dora Bike Festival, participating and placing 3rd in my first mini triathlon, attending the Christian Women's Speaker's Conference, and making myself available for speaking engagements, to name a few.

Today, I watched The Today Show and saw Author Jon Gordon's segment on One Word. As he spoke about the One Word concept, I was reminded of the movie City Slickers, with Billy Crystal. In the ever popular scene, Curly (played by Jack Palance) holds up his finger and explains that the key to life is one thing. And that the one thing is different for everyone.

Fascinated with the concept of having one word instead of a New Year's Resolution, I downloaded the ibook and read it in 54 minutes. About the time I was reading the book, Michigan State University won the Rose Bowl and Coach Mark Dantonio's interview aired. I was intrigued by the video he shot at the beginning of the season, in the Rose Bowl stadium to encourage his team. Then today, at the end of the season, his mission was accomplished by winning the championship. The message of the power of words rang out loudly in my living room.

What will my One Word be for 2014? I don't know yet. I'll implement my action plan in the next couple days.  I am excited about another great year to spend with friends and family, another year to make new friends, and another year to make memories, not regrets.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mount Dora Travel Agent Now Certified Special NeedsTravel Advocate

This past week, I received certification from Special Needs Group, Inc., a global provider of wheelchair rentals, scooter rentals, oxygen rentals and other special needs equipment rentals for the travel industry. Recommended by the world's major cruise lines for superior service and value, Special Needs Group also services guests visiting hotels, resorts, theme parks and convention centers. To earn the distinction, I participated in Special Needs Group’s in-depth online 3 module certification program.

Through the program, I gained an understanding of the special needs/accessible travel market. I also learned about the best equipment to rent for special needs travel. From mini refrigerators for insulin and patches of sod or mulch for a service animal, to organic baby food and pack-n-plays, I will make every effort to accommodate needs.

One of the things I learned was that nationwide, one in seven persons has some form of disability, and one in five families are touched. Whether someone has cystic fibrosis, asthma, sleep apnea or other respiratory disease, travel is still accessible. By specializing in special needs/accessible travel, I have the ability to help this large percentage of the population travel in an enjoyable, safe and efficient manner.  

Through these courses, I not only learned how to assist individuals with special needs to enjoy travel, but I found some valuable new ways to serve the needs of all of my clients. The population, as well as the travel industry itself, has undergone major changes in the past few years. By completing this program, I have the ability to stay on the cutting edge of these changes and create incredible opportunities for my clients.

To book a vacation or inquire about equipment that might be needed while away from home, please contact me. 

Create memories, not regrets!