Thursday, June 26, 2014



The International Travel Professionals Network (ITPN) recently met in Asheville, NC. The focus of the meeting was technology in running the business and in marketing. We covered some of the newer tools available to us; webinars to help us to use this technology and what tools are best to help us work while on the road. An important topic was social media and the differences in communication styles and vacation ideas between baby boomers and the millennial generation. When it comes to vacations, values and priorities are different and we must be sensitive to the needs of each generation. 

Asheville is an ideal meeting destination, with easy access, and lots to do when not in sessions. A sophisticated city filled with southern charm and a deep but constantly evolving arts and cultural heritage.  It is known for its microbreweries and has an interesting musical street scene.

This was the perfect area for this group of foodies.  While we did not get to sample every restaurant, we managed to take in quite a few.  A favorite tour was “Eating Asheville”.  We tasted and drank in seven different spots during this a 2½ hour walking tour.  Along with the eating was a bit of history about the town.  There are nearly as many styles of architecture throughout the streets of Asheville as there are buildings.  Asheville is the 2nd largest Art Deco city in the US.  The ornate Jackson Building is located along Pack Square Park. The 13-story Neo-Gothic style skyscraper, completed in 1924, was the first skyscraper in western North Carolina and the tallest skyscraper in all of North Carolina.  It was fitted with a searchlight to draw tourists to the city and has been a visual landmark since its completion.
A highlight of our sightseeing was a visit to the “Biltmore”, the 1895 Vanderbilt estate.  It took six years to build, opened to the public in 1930, and is the largest privately owned estate in the country.  The estate includes beautiful gardens and grounds for walking, riding, canoeing and more.  It is a city in itself including restaurants, shops and a winery.
And how could we resist the opportunity to explore the area aboard La Zoom Trolley, a Comedy show on wheels.  It kept us laughing as the changing characters told tales of the area’s history some of its famous citizens. I won’t spoil it for you.  You really need to visit and learn for yourselves
ITPN was founded 17 years ago by three Travel Professionals who decided to take their expertise home in an era when working from home was new. 
Meeting in an online chat room, they realized they could join forces learning the ins and outs of working from home.  They were soon sharing ideas and identifying the best websites and suppliers to work with.  Posting reports on our travels helped us to expand our knowledge and keep up with changes in the different destinations.  Articles in trade magazines attracted interest and we soon had a vetting process for new applicants.  Not everyone could make the grade and some just could not keep up with the requirements. Today we are as active as ever, addressing the ever changing challenges facing our business. ITPN’s 14 members hail from 10 states and boast an average of 25+ years of expertise in travel per member. We specialize in destinations ranging from Australia to Africa and covering all 5 continents.  Whether its adventure, heritage, romance or eco travel; via land or sea; individually or with a group. If you can dream it, these gals can plan it for you.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New TSA Programs to Speed up Airport Security

Tired of long lines at airport security?  Or coming home from abroad and waiting in more lines to clear customs?  Take a look at these new programs.
If you make even one trip a year abroad, consider Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. 
At participating airports, participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration.  The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs them to baggage claim and the exit.
There is a $100 non-refundable application fee.  You will have to be pre-approved through a background check and interview.  Interviews are being held at Dulles Airport.  Membership is valid for five years.
Once approved, you will receive a Global Entry Card.  Details at:  Membership automatically enrolls you in PreCheck.
For those who only travel domestically, there is PreCheck.  US citizens can apply online and visit an enrollment site to provide identification and fingerprints.  Enrollees are being screened at Dulles Airport.
This program requires a background check, fingerprints and an anticipated enrollment fee of $85 for a five year term.  Once approved, travelers receive a “Known Traveler Number” and the opportunity to go through PreCheck lanes at airport security checkpoints.  This program enables travelers in these screening lanes to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belts.  Travelers may keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids bag in a carry-on. 
PreCheck is currently available at 40 airports nationwide.  Current participating carriers are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.  For details:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Mother Daughter Visit to Paris & London

When my daughter called to say she had a week off, we decided to visit Paris and London.  It was very last minute and we arrived just in time for the Olympics.  Lots of crowds but lots of fun.

Visiting the Eiffel Tower
We flew first to Paris, staying at the 4 star  Hotel Lumen, Rue des Pyramides.  The hotel is modern and trendy yet very French – lots of grey and black and crystal, with touches of red.  The room was small.   We had a small balcony facing Pyramdes –a really nice view.  Busy but never kept us awake at night.  It is right down the street from the Tulleries, between Rue de Rivoli and Avenue de l’Opera.  Very easy to walk to places from here.  The price included a small but nice buffet breakfast. 
Cruising the Seine
Touring the Louvre
During our 3 days we took a small group walking tour of Paris, the Louvre and Versailles Palace and Gardens.  We travelled by train to Versailles so that we could spend more time walking around the grounds after the tour.  We also took a boat ride on the Seine, strolled around the Tulleries one evening, and caught a performance at the Moulin Rouge.

The Sun came out over Tower Bridge
We took the Eurostar to London where we stayed at the 4 star Radisson Blu Leicester Square, just behind the British Museum and down the street from the Tickets Booth.  Very central location for getting around the city.  The room was small but the hotel was modern and the staff helpful and efficient. 

 Beach Volley Ball at the Royal Horsegards Parade
On the River Thames with the London Eye in backgroud
 With huge screens set up around town to broadcast the games live, we were able to catch the action and share the excitement with the locals and tourists from all over.  The subways were jammed most of the time, but cruising the Thames on a hop on off boat gave us a great way to explore the city without the masses.  We also did lots and lots of walking.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oceania Mediterranean Cruise

   Just returned from an Oceania Mediterranean Cruise.  What a great vacation.  The selection of ports was fantastic.  We only had to tender into one port.  The schedule was such that we arrived early and sailed late.  This gave us time to tour, sightsee on our own and shop without feeling rushed.  In Monte Carlo, many people went back at night to see the town lit up like a Christmas tree.  The food was amazing and Oceania offers a wide selection including vegetarian and Canyon Ranch spa cuisine selections.  We also dined at the 2 specialty restaurants without paying any surcharge.  In fact there were no surcharges for a lot of extras such as cappuccinos, lattes, sodas or bottled waters to take on our sightseeing excursions.  We also avoided the overcrowded port syndrome.  Because Oceania ships carry fewer passengers than the large cruise lines, and because we arrived early in the day, before other cruise ships, there were not as many cruise passengers touring each port as sometimes happens.  And did I mention its all country club casual.  No need for fancy clothes or dinner jackets.
   We have some great specials with Oceania for 2012 including a 10 day cruise on the brand new Riviera in August with free airfare, free pre-hotel stay, free gratuities and shipboard credit.  Call me at 800-622-3533 or email for more information or to receive a brochure or DVD.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In 2012 Austria will celebrate the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt

Klimt and the Birth of Modernism in Vienna

In 2012 one of Austria's greatest painters would have celebrated his 150th birthday: Gustav Klimt (1862–1918). His paintings, in particular The Kiss – one of the world's best-known images – are rightly seen as epitomizing the spirit of optimism that heralded the dawn of the modernist era.
Painting by Gustav Klimt: The Kiss
The Kiss, 1907/08
Beethoven Frieze by Gustav KlimtBeethoven Frieze (cut-out), 1902
Portrait of Fritza Riedler, 1906Fritza Riedler, 1906
Tea service by Josef Hoffmann, Wiener Werkst├Ątte, 1903
High culture of all genres gravitated towards Vienna at around 1900. Exciting and pioneering discoveries were being made in the world of literature, visual arts, architecture and music with an intensity hardly seen elsewhere. In 1910 Vienna had a population of two million, making it the world's fifth largest city and the uncontested cultural capital of Central Europe. Gustav Klimt's pictures reflect the artistic and scientific discoveries and developments that shaped the period. His oeuvre charts the course from the Ringstrasse era to the early days of abstraction: influenced by Hans Makart, the defining Viennese painter of the late 19th century, Klimt, his brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch accepted a number of commissions to decorate buildings on Vienna's showpiece Ringstrasse boulevard. The staircases of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Burgtheater are two outstanding examples of their work. Klimt's creative output and the style he developed in later years paved the way for his younger contemporaries, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

To make your travel plans, contact Travel Harmony.  We offer a variety of planned tours and independent programs to fit every budget.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cruise the Mediterranean in 2012 aboard the Oceania Marina

We invite you to take advantage of this Travel Harmony Exclusive:

Free Air, 2 for 1 pricing, Gratuities included, Free Hotel; shipboard Credit

Aboard Oceania Cruises' New Riviera

Visit Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Portofino, Saint Tropez and more

Fine dining under the direction of Master Chef Jacques Pepin

Open Seating; Variety of venues; no charges for specialty restaurants

We sail August 23, 2012.  Call today. You don’t want to miss the boat!

800-622-3533 or 703-726-6346