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.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


SEE THE SUNDAY WASHINGTON POST TRAVEL SECTION.  Today Nancy Trejos talks about the return of the Travel Agent.  When the airlines stopped paying commission, travel agents suddenly found themselves struggling to survive.  According to Nancy Trejos, of the Washington Post, they had to "change their modus operandi."   It was either that, or close their doors.  Nancy quotes ARC in stating there wre 37,981 travel agencies in 2001 and only16,564 ARC agencies as of this March. 

Of course, that is not the entire story.  Many of today's successful agencies are home based according to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).   These agencies do not issue individual airline tickets but provide airline services in connection with tour and cruise arrangements.  They would not belong to ARC.  The truth is, today's consumers are seeking more than just a ticketing agent.  They want a professional who can offer them advice about a complete range of topics from what to see and do, where to find great restaurants how to get a good deal on a hotel room, and where they can find a great guide who will show them the things the average tourist never sees.  To read the complete article go to:

Travel Agents are not for everyone.  Some people like to build their own houses and fix their own cars.  Others prefer to plan their own trips.  For those who appreciate service, a Travel Agent is always there for you.

For More information on using the services of a travel agent, refer to my March 16 Article "Why You Need A Travel Agent".

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taking the Grandkids on Vacation

Every summer Grandparents around the country decide to take their grandchildren on vacation.  Cruises are always a popular vacation.  Lots and lots of activities for children of all ages.  Beaches resorts in the Caribbean cater to familes with children.  These resorts offer supervised kids programs for five different age levels. Here dining becomes a celebration, with up to 10 specialty restaurants per resort.  Leave your wallet at home, but bring your appetite, because it's all included from the non-motorized activities to the food and drink. They even include the gratuities. 

For the little ones there are nannies and Sesame Street Characters.  For the older kids there's XBox and Pirates Island.  Your teenagers will find a teens-only Beach Shack. Or they can hang at Trench Town with everything from hoops to football. And, just like you'd expect in the Caribbean, there are non-stop reggae jams to keep them moving with the beat and a teen night club.  Visit 
Scroll down and click on Beaches.  Or give us a call.


See Why We Say "There is Nothing Like Australia":

Thursday, April 28, 2011


How about this:  Island hopping in the Indian Ocean; sunbathing in Mauritius, wellness in the Seychelles, hiking in La Reunion, nature experience in Madagascar shall soon be easily arranged. The tourism Authorities of the four islands have developed a new destination concept and position themselves now together with the label; ‘Iles Vanille’ or Vanilla Islands named for the Vanilla grow on all these islands.

For more information on this new "hot spot", give us a call or send an email to