Travel Better with These Travel Tips
As professional travel advisors, it’s our job to stay up to date and keep you informed about the ever-changing world of travel. Below you will find our latest tips and trends to help you travel better.
Photo: Family vacation
Benefits of adding cushion days to vacations
Time is precious, especially when you work all year to accrue enough time to take a well-deserved holiday. When it comes to planning that vacation, travelers try their hardest to make the most of it. They often cram a thousand experiences into every day so that nothing is missed — every historic museum strolled, every iconic site photographed, every local dish savored and every idyllic beach properly napped upon. And then, as soon as you return home from this action-packed adventure, you immediately realize you need another vacation to recover from the one you just had.
As professional travel planners, we suggest you take a different approach. Not only do we create itineraries that have enough space in between activities to allow you to relax and breathe, but we also suggest you add cushion days to each journey. Cushion days are extra time at the end of your journey that allow you to transition back into real life, thus giving you time to mentally digest the experiences you just had. Here are some reasons to consider adding cushion days to your next trip.
More Time = Less Stress
When you bake in an extra day or two at the end of your journey, situations that were once stressful are no longer so. If your flight gets delayed or canceled, you have extra time to get home. If you lose your luggage, you now have time to replace the items you need most. And if you become jet-lagged after traveling a long way, you still have time to rest up.
Work Can Wait
What’s better: exercising when you’re tired or when you have a full tank of energy? Work is the same way. When you go straight from a long vacation to an early start at the job the next day, you’re burning the candle at both ends. Build in a cushion day and use it to mentally prepare for the workweek ahead. And if this extra cushion day costs you another vacation day, you can still use part of it to embark on an enjoyable experience, like going to the movies.
Time to Explore
Another approach to adding more time to a vacation is to spend it leisurely at the destination you’re leaving. For example, if you have a Mediterranean cruise that ends in Barcelona, don’t spend your last day racing from the port to the air terminal, and queuing up in long lines at customs. Add a cushion day and spend that time exploring Barcelona, possibly touring La Sagrada Familia and indulging in a delightful tapas dinner. In the travel world, these are called pre- and post-cruise tours, and our agency can help you plan a relaxing day of exploration at port cities around the world.
Finding the right all-inclusive resort
All-inclusive vacations are not one size fits all; each resort comes with its own special mix of opportunities. Some are focused on romance, catering to couples who come to connect. Others are family oriented, providing a well-balanced diet of activities for all ages. Some are focused on cuisine, featuring a number of premium dining establishments on-site, and others are all about the destination, giving you a home base to launch your adventures from.
The key is finding the right mix of fun and relaxation for you, whether that mix includes multiple pools, a private beach, indulgent spas or championship golf. Family fun could include water sports, kid and teen centers, family rooms and nearby attractions.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind when choosing the perfect all-inclusive resort for you and yours.
Photo: all-inclusive resort
Location, Location, Location
Paradise can be found in many locations, and each will have an all-inclusive resort nearby. If a picture-perfect beach lapped by turquoise waters is the one ingredient you can’t live without, set your sights on the idyllic islands in the Caribbean. If you want to explore the history and culture of your locale more in-depth, then choose a resort near grand attractions, such as Jamaica, where you can go hiking at Dunn's River Falls, or Cancun, where nearby Maya ruins are waiting to be discovered. If you want to tee off on a breathtaking par 5 where the water hazard is actually the Pacific Ocean, many resorts are on or near championship-quality golf courses, offering packages that include a few rounds.
Timing Is Almost Everything
Like all popular holiday spots, summer, spring break and Christmas are peak times for all-inclusive resorts. Going at those times may be the most convenient for your schedule, but be prepared to deal with more fellow guests. Also, June through November is technically hurricane season in the Caribbean, so lower-priced packages come with a slight risk (ask us about travel insurance!). Don’t worry, many resorts offer weather guarantees, giving you a credit for a future stay if weather disrupts your dream vacation.
How Much to Spend
The cost of an all-inclusive package can seem high at first glance, until you take into consideration all that these packages provide. Included in the cost of your stay is usually all meals, drinks, numerous sports and activities, social functions and often tips. Some resorts pride themselves on telling guests to bring little or no cash, because it’s not needed as long as they stay on the resort grounds. Once you do the math and see how much you’re getting for one flat fee, you’ll better appreciate the true value of all-inclusives.
Top fall foliage destinations
Nature puts on one of its most colorful shows during the fall when landscapes transform into a blazing tapestry of reds, golds and yellows. We’ve rounded up four of our favorite places to take in this gorgeous spectacle.
Throughout the fall, foliage-seekers flock to Quebec’s 2,871-foot-tall Mont-Tremblant, where 50 miles of trails wind through vividly colored forests of yellow birch, sugar maple and American beech. Water activities such as kayaking and canoeing in traditional birch-bark canoes offer unique ways to enjoy the show, as does the ski gondola, which, through mid-October, takes riders to the summit for jaw-dropping views of Lake Superior and the St. Lawrence Valley.
Photo: Mont-Tremblant, Canada
Lake District, England
Visitors to England’s Lake District get double the color, thanks to glassy lakes that reflect the region’s dramatic fall finery like mirrors. Trekkers will want to head to Buttermere Lake, where a footpath runs through dairy pastures and over rocks to rim the 4.5-mile perimeter of the lake. In Keswick, Derwentwater Lake is only a 10-minute walk from the center of town. Climb to the top of Walla Crag for an expansive view of the mountains draped in red, gold and rust, or hop aboard one of the many tour boats that ply the calm waters.
Woodstock is a quintessential New England town, complete with a village green, a covered bridge over the rocky Ottauquechee River and a general store — F.H. Gillingham & Sons — that’s been operating since 1886. Getting a dose of fall color couldn’t be easier; just stroll into the park next to town and you’ll be enveloped in clouds of foliage. Or, drive along Route 4 East to the 165-foot-deep Quechee Gorge. Amid the vivid trees, you’ll be able to see the rushing river far below and the dramatic circa-1911 bridge from several vantage points.
Photo: Woodstock, Vermont
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
A day of leaf peeping along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway is filled with miles of varied colors that dip into valleys, sail across broad mountain slopes and reach as far as the eye can see. There are dozens of places to pull over to admire the view. Don’t miss Linville Falls, which plummets 2,000 feet into Linville Gorge, or a zip-line adventure tour through the multicolored trees.
Why families love holiday travel
Traveling at holiday time isn't just about skipping out on all the cooking and cleaning associated with the season — it's a way to make exciting new holiday memories with the people you love most. We’re talking about taking the family to a foreign destination to either relax in paradise or explore local holiday traditions. It’s the ultimate gift of travel and here’s why numerous families are choosing to give it.
Trading Snow for Sun
In many parts of the world, the holiday season arrives with cold temps and piles of snow. When you take the family to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or Mexico, you can forget about scraping ice off your windshield and jacking up your thermostat. Instead, you’ll be enjoying powder-soft sands, the gentle lapping of waves and the rustle of palms tickled by ocean breezes.
Eat More, Clean Less
There are many differences between holiday dinner at home and holiday dinner away. One involves toiling away for hours in the kitchen to cook up everyone’s favorite foods, followed closely by a never-ending parade of dirty dishes to clean. The other involves talented chefs whipping up endless courses, after which you simply say thank you and walk away to enjoy your evening with your family.
Give Memories Rather Than Things
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hype of gift-giving that comes with the holiday season. But think long-term. When your children are older, what will they appreciate more — that Lego set they haven’t touched in over a decade or memories of a family vacation exploring a new destination together? Holiday travel isn’t just a treat for the week, it’s a gift that only grows in value with the years to come.
Celebrate at Sea
The idea of a family vacation during the holidays is not confined to land-based journeys. Cruise lines offer many themed voyages during the holidays. From decked-out ships with festive decorations to special seasonal menus meticulously thought out, cruising during the holidays can be especially magical.