Hiring a Professional Chauffeur: "Let Us Handle It"

Posted by Justin Murphy

August 7, 2017 at 5:45 PM

 

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Whether you’re catching a flight for a business trip or splurging for that dream vacation of a lifetime. Trying to keep a schedule while taking in every little experience you can get your hands on from event to event, hiring the elite, skilled, professional help of a chauffeur service is the always the way to go. Chauffeuring is an extremely handy, affordable, view finding means of transportation that provides exorbitant benefits, and no one knows those benefits better than our on the ground, experience based, knowledgeable company’s drivers. Having served satisfied customers of the all over Europe.

 

“ I cannot express to you enough, how much this trip meant to all of us!!"

-Tom


"We saw wonderful places and the views were so much better and I know we would not have been able to see as much as we did, if we had tried to drive ourselves or small group!!"

-Sara


"Our favorite part of the whole trip were the drivers! They were all awesome!! Especially in Ireland our driver searched for 3 days to get the perfect authentic shillelagh”

-Linda


"Thank you for suggesting the private driver in St. Thomas/St. John." We saw so much more than we imagined AND hearing the stories and suggestions of local, good eats--great value!"

-Lynn  

Having a driver serves multiple benefits from punctuality to the ability to seamlessly handle rough weather with a drivers’ years of experience, hiring a professional chauffeur service for your next trip could change the way you feel about transportation to the airport, make a country side tour much more insightful, an exploration into hidden gems only the locals know about, and with that one on one experience that lets you decide what you want to do and where you want to go offering wide range of other locations off the beaten path waiting to be explored.

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Highest Trained Professional, Personable Drivers:

  • All of our suppliers’ professional chauffeurs are held to the best of safety standards that make other transportation services pale in comparison. Any destination, anytime, you can be stress free that no matter what comes your way your driver has been trained and is ready for it.

Our Drivers are On Time, Every Time:

  • These highly trained professionals are always on time. Our suppliers can solemnly swear that they do everything in their power to ensure they are present and awaiting your arrival and you waiting in line somewhere trying to rent a car, or standing on side of the road in the rain waiting to catch a cab (believe me, it happens).

Luggage Support:

  • Our entire registry of suppliers offer the most personable of drivers that take care of every one of your travel needs. While their drivers can’t go in and meet our clients at the baggage claim, our friendly greeters are more than happy to assist in gathering, carrying, and transporting any luggage you may no matter how big or small.

 

We Offer Suppliers All Over the World:

  • Be proffessionally Chauffeured is perfect for almost any occasion. It just adds that little extra touch of luxury to any type of destination for any motive including business meetings, bachelorette or bachelor parties, themed trips, medical appointments, or just a fun night out.

 

Bad Weather, No Worries:

  • The extremely trained professional drivers of a chauffeur service are qualified in handling any type of inclement weather, reassuring any worries of staying on schedule. We make sure you’ll make it to your destination safely and on time.

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As I hope you can see by now, hiring a professional, vetted chauffeur has many diverse benefits that insuring the decision of hiring the service a no-brainer. These are just the few reasons we want to help your next experience in a new land something that you’ll always remember and to adventure somewhere you’ll never forget. So call VIP Travel Experience the next time you need a reliable ride.

 
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Venice, Italy - The Trip of a Lifetime

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 1, 2017 at 7:30 AM

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Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Professionally Pack Your Suitcase Make Sure You Never Leave Something at Home Again!

Posted by Justin Murphy

July 27, 2017 at 8:30 AM

 

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So I think what most of us, travellers, stress and dread the most about our vacation is the packing, or at least for me it is. Trying to figure out how many bags to brings, how many outfits, pairs of shoes, jackets, etc. Well I'll give you one tip to right off the back: GET ORGANIZED BEFORE YOU PACK! This usually includes making a check list of everything you will need.

Here is a link for an example of a packing checklist: Packing List

  1. packing flowchart.jpgNarrow it Down. Gather all of your clothes that you need to bring, want to bring, and think you mightneed. Now cut your choices in half, and then separate what you'll definitely need from things you want to bring. Now put together different outfits and lay them out on your bed, spare bedroom, or couch, etc. Now time for the tough part, you need to make choices. Choose which outfit goes with each day. A plan saves you time later so you dont have to decide each day what you want to wear. Contrary to what you might think you don't need 3 outfits for 1 day. Now that you've narrowed down all your outfits take what you didn't choose as an outfit and put that back in your closet. (Travel Tip: Pack clothing that be used for multiple things, ex. yoga pants can double as pajama pants or a sarong can double as a  swimsuit coverup, or scarf)
  2. Drape longer pieces like pants. Fold pants in half (leg over leg) and lay flat at bottom of suitcase and line up waist lines with center of suitcase (ex. 2-3 per side) with the pant leg draped over the sides hanging out of the suitcase. (After you have put all of your rolled clothing on top of the pants inside the suitcase wrap the legs over the top of the rolled clothes to keep it tightly packed all together.)
  3. Roll don't Fold. Tighly rolling your softer, wrinkle-resistant garments, like T-shirts and cotton pants, and place them along the base of the bag. Jeans should be rolled, too. Also if your suitcase has separate pocket/storage for undergarments those should be rolled as well.
  4. Fill In With Smaller Items. Look for nooks and crannies to fill with smaller items, like bras and socks. (Travel Tip: Stuff the cups of your bras with rolled-up socks to maintain bra shape and snake belts around the perimeter of the bag.) Then cover the whole pile with a dry-cleaning bag that can double as a dirty clothes hamper while you're on vacation plus thanks to the bag’s slippery surface, clothes won’t stay in one place long enough for creases to set.
  5. Choose Shoes Wisely: As a general rule pick three pairs of shoes, like a casual sandal or loafer, sneakers, and an evening shoe –go for styles that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Wear the heaviest pair en route and pack the others along the sides of your suitcase in resealable bags. (Travel Tip: If shoes are dirty you can put in gallon ziplock bags or strech a shower cap around the bottoms to keep them together and protect them from dirtying your clothes.
  6. Pack Your JewelryAre you tired of spending tons of time untangling bracelets, necklaces, and earrings from one another after you unpack? Stow inexpensive jewelry in a seven-day plastic pillbox or a 35-millimeter film canister. Wear any fine jewelry en route to ensure it won’t get lost or stolen.
  7. Last But Certainly Not Least, Cross Pack! If traveling with another person try to cross pack between each other's suitcase putting at least 2 outfits in the other's suitcase. Also if checking bags make sure to have at least a clean pair of underwear, 1 outfit, and a swimsuit in your carry on just incase your luggage doesnt make it the same time you do to your destination.
Bonus!
Airplane Tote Packing Tips! 
  1. Laptop. A laptop computer is always a good idea to bring especially if traveling for business, just be sure you'll have a safe place to store it in your room when you get to your destination. Access to the internet in this day and age is crucial. 
  2. Small Pouch for Toiletries/Essentials: small pill case with allergy medicine, travel Advil, Chapstick, travel lotion, travel tissues, floss, etc. Just remember if bringing any liquids on board they must be less than 3 fl. oz. I carry this pouch with these contents daily. While traveling I make sure to have lotion and chapstick with me because my hands and lips get dry on long haul flights. I also MUST have headache medicine. I once had a migraine in flight and no one around me had medicine. It was absolutely AWFUL.
  3. Reading Material. All that time strapped in your seat on a flight I often like to take the opportunity to journal, read my bible, book, or magazine (Travel Tip: This time is also great to look over your printed out itinerary from VIP.) Otherwise, I'm working on my computer on the flight. If driving I don't carry these things in my tote and opt to pack them in my suitcase instead.
  4. Small wallet. My daily wallet is much bigger, but when you travel you should always try to bring less. A little pouch is all I need to hold cash and essential credit cards.
  5. Headphones & iPhone Charger. These are two essentials to all of my travels, and they MUST be in my carry-on. I've been stuck on long layovers one too many times with low battery and no charger to have learned my lesson. Also, in case I had to check luggage and it gets lost, I don't want to be without a charged phone. (Travel Tip: An old glasses case that is not being used is great for storage for earphones and chargers it also makes them easier to find and not get all tangled.)
  6. Sunglasses with a little pouch or case. Sunglasses are a must for me on any vacation, but I strongly reccomend them for all my caribbean travelers. Also bring something to clean them with.
  7. Water bottle & Snacks. Make sure it is empty until through customs and security. A water bottle is an absolute must, and it also helps to have something insulated to keep cool longer. A good example is a stainless steel and insulated, keeping water cold (if you put ice in it) for up to 24 hours and hot up to 6 hours, and snacks because traveling hangry is bad for everyone involved.
  8. Light Layers. A Light cardigan. I get cold on flights, so I always bring an extra layer. (Travel Tip: I've noticed window seats are colder than aisles.) I try not to bring a super thick layer because I don't like carrying heavy or bulky stuff through the airport. The extra layer needs to fit nicely in the tote, along with everything else, without taking up the entire tote. 
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, different travel styles, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Venice, Italy and All of Its Charm

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

Read more

Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Memories Fade, But A Photograph is Timeless!

Posted by Justin Murphy

July 20, 2017 at 8:35 AM

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Smart phones these days can take great photos and videos, but there are a few simple things to know to make sure your memories are captured best. Try a few little tricks, shooting great photos/video with your smartphone will be as easy as 1-2-3 and the footage will look like it was taken by a professional.  YES, you have amazing potential to capture incredible photos/videos right in the palm of your hand.
 

Ample Lighting is Crucial

Try to capture your photos in brightly lit areas to  avoid unnecessary shadows over faces and grainy/blurry areas in your picture. Most smart phones these days offer touch focusing if you find your camera/phone is focusing on the wrong area of your portrait, just tap on the screen where you'd like it to focus. Once you're finished setting the focus on the most aweinspiring aspect of your photo, your camera's automatic exposure control will have an easier time making small adjustments if lighting conditions begin to change. Now with all of the improvements to the smart phone cameras, they do most of the hard work for you.

Be Aware of Background Noise

The quality of your audio effects is just as important, if not more, than the quality of your visual effects. It’s oh so common to hear wind and other unnecessary environmental noise that will completely drown out or distort any important audio while shooting a video outside. Try to shoot your video in a quieter place or protected from wind and other audible distractions, or maybe indoors if possible with less ambient noise. If you have to video in the elements, stay close to the audio source you're recording and try to shelter the phone’s microphone (without covering it completely) with your hand or body to protect it from other sounds. You can even purchase microphone for your iphone.

Keep it Steady, Eddy

Keeping your phone or camera as steady as possible is probably the most important part of capturing a clear focused photograph or video. A selfie stick (or tripod for cameras) comes in handy and will help to keep your shots clear and steady. If handheld, try your absolute best to keep your camera as steady as possible, using both hands will help to keep it focused. The shot doesn’t have to be perfectly steady, especially with all the advancement in your cameras and smart phones, but the steadier the better.

Try to Avoid Shooting Portrait (Vertical) Video

We live in a tecnocentric world now, everything we do get's blasted all over the internet due to facebook, instagram, snapchat, and various other social media applications and nearly all of them focus with a landscape (horizontal) orientation template. Laptops, websites and social media probably won’t tell the whole story due to the automatic cropping or "drag to fit" features. Try holding your phone horizontally and you’ll get everything you need in your snapshot.


Try to Avoid Using the Zoom Feature on Your Phone

As tempting as it may be to use the zoom feature to expand your shot, try to avoid it because the lens isn’t zooming optically therefore the picture is getting bigger but the pixels are going to getting blurry (if you try to blow up a 3x5 picture into a 8x10, you will see a visible blur because the picture wasnt formatted for that dimension). Using the zoom feature only enlarges the picture digitally, causing unsightly pixels. There are multiple clip-on lens adapters that work great for wider shots and some even add great effects like fisheye, bubble, etc.


There's an APP for that

Most built-in camera apps work well, and there are plenty of downloadable apps that will take your photography skill to the next level, allowing you to tinker with color, focus, exposure, fast and slow motion, depth effect, and time-lapse images.  Ask your friends which apps they love, and try a few.  You will enjoy reliving your vacation with these tips to improve your video and photo skills. I like to use Camera+ for scenery and either FaceTune or Airbrush for portraits. (pictured below taken with iPhone 5s using Camera+ app in France)

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Have Fun With It!

The most important thing about capturing photographs is to use it to take "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve lasting memories, so have fun, explore the world and make sure to tag us when you show off your photography skills @VIPTravelExperience! The more energy you put into it, the better your photos will be. Capture as much as you can and remember to look for those special active and meaningful moments as well as those gorgeous scenic landscapes that will look great in your photos.  (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, different travel styles, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer

Travel Professionals Are Alive & Well

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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All this rainy weather tried to spoil the fun for some of my clients and made my afternoons very tiring.  The end result though is that we pulled off alternate plans when flights were canceled, and everyone had a fabulous, relaxing time and is home safely.  While I was sitting on hold for hours making alternate arrangements (I had a lot of time to think).  One thing occurred to me is what are travelers doing that didn't have a Travel Expert? Are you missing the last piece of the puzzle?
 
1) You know how crazy schedules are the day or two before you leave to go on vacation?  Would your work schedule allow you to sit on hold for hours making alternate arrangements?  OR
2)  What if you didn't know YOU COULD make alternate plans?  Many travelers canceled their trip altogether when they were notified of canceled flights.   
3)  What if your flight is delayed and you miss your connecting flight?  Where will you stay for the night?  Will I lose that day at my resort? How will I beat the crowd to get on the next flight?  (Sometimes, there is only one flight going to the islands per day per airline).
 
If I had a dollar for every time I am asked "Do people still use travel agents?"  My response is all day, everyday (keep reading, I think you will be surprised at what a travel agent is).  And the really well informed travelers are using a travel expert INSTEAD of a travel agent. 

If you have asked the question, "What can a travel expert do for me that I can't do for myself online?" 
A quick example of what a travel expert would do:  If your flight was delayed and your connecting flight would be missed, your travel expert could re book your flight before you landed saving you from standing in long lines of angry travelers at the ticket counter, book you in a hotel for the night* if no other flights for that day and make alternate arrangements at your original destination resort.   Of course, no one wants to HAVE to be the hero in this story, but sometimes travel plans go awry despite the BEST laid plans. Travel experts frequently are holding extra pieces of the puzzle, just in case.. .
 
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Travel Experts take pride in offering incredible service and value for our clients hard-earned vacation time and budget.  Service that begins with their dream and ends when they are unpacking after the trip.  This goes WAY beyond clicking BUY NOW on a computer screen.  Travel experts spend hours custom-crafting YOUR vacation to provide you with the EXPERIENCE you are dreaming of, collaborating with colleagues to check the best values, amenities. Travel experts don't just "sell travel", we won't try to fit a square peg in a round hole . . . we research hotels, resorts, destinations with YOUR interests and hobbies in mind, if we have not visited the particular property or destination, we have long lists of vetted properties and excursions, in addition to being an engaged member of consortia to obtain unbiased opinions (you can't exactly believe all opinions you read online). 
 
ARE WE A GOOD FIT?
You may not need all the services we provide?  We review your answers on the questionnaire and schedule a complimentary phone consultation to see if we are a good match.  We will let you know if you don't need our services.  We will ask questions to find out  what a perfect vacation looks like to you?  If your anniversary dream includes relaxing at a kid-free pool cabana with an umbrella drink?  I'm going to steer you towards an Adult-Only property with amazing service!  Are you looking for a hopping, party atmosphere or some place to relax and disconnect? That may be yet a different resort or destination.
 
Are you dying to show your children the Caribbean, but you really want a resort that has a nice adult-only section to sneak away to while the children take advantage of sports clinics or learn to fly on a trapeze before you all meet up a few hours later for some quality family fun?  I have the perfect place in mind to make everyone happy.
 
We can also provide benefits to the traveler that loves the challenge of researching travel and finds the exact hotel and excursions they want.  That's when our inventory to properties that may show sold out online or our vetted suppliers come in handy.  We may have amenities or upgrades at the resort you've chosen without the added cost.  We may have a vetted supplier for excursion or a private tour excursion for the same price you found for a big group tour.

WHY SO MANY QUESTIONS?
So these are why we ask so many questions, not to be nosy, we want you to have the best EXPERIENCE possible.  We take all of your answers and put together the puzzle to match little dream in your head.  More times than not, that takes hours and hours of detailed research and planning to put each little piece together
 
Many times, we have access to things that YOU may not be aware of.  Would you like to visit the Sistine Chapel after hours?  Would you like a photopher on location? Would you like a cooking lesson in the chef's home as opposed to cooking institution or restaurant?  Would your kids love a truffle hunt? You may be able to get a private experience for nearly same price as big group excursion.  And much more, we can't reveal all of our secrets, right. 
 
Will you really get what you think you're getting online? Buyer beware, last week a client sent me an email asking if I could get them a room for 4 at a specific price at a specific resort during Christmas holidays.  Well, turns out I could get the room (which appeared sold out online), however the price shown online did not accommodate 4 people, the price for the room that would accommodate 4 people was significantly higher.  Saving money is great, and I'm all for staying within budget and getting a good value for your hard-earned travel dollars.  That is why we ask for your budget.  I really do have your best interest in mind . . . trust me, I will do my best to find you the perfect fit for the greatest value.  
 
Many think they are saving money "booking themselves", but what they may not realize is that the booking engine is a "large corporation travel agent", you will receive confirmation numbers and that is the end of that story, there is no service during and after the sale.  AND if something is not as you perceived it to be, you probably won't receive a live person that sincerely cares about your time and money.  When you give me or any other hard working travel professional, the "go ahead" to book that same vacation (often at the same price or better), most times, you are not paying in full on that day, you will receive first class service, well-organized travel documents, app with your day-to-day itinerary plans via mobile phone, destination information, restaurant recommendations and sightseeing recommendations, along with the peace of mind that we are available for you each step of the way.  If anything goes wrong on the trip, we typically have affiliates on-location and/or good working relationships with the hotels, resorts, cruise lines.  We sincerely advocate FOR YOU. Just ask yourself or the agent you are working with, what is included in the sale.
 
Insure your vacation
Your travel expert can help you choose the best policy for YOU. 
One of the greatest surprises why you may want travel insurance is not just for trip cancellation.*(more on this next week).
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, different travel styles, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel

It's Never Too Early To Make Memories

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 6, 2017 at 10:53 AM

You Don't Only Have 18 Summers!
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“One day...we’re going to take the kids to Hawaii!”, “We really want to travel over to Europe, but we’re waiting until the kids are older”; “We really want to go out West and see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, but our summers are just too busy”. Do any of those statements sound familiar to you? The average American family doesn’t think they spend enough time together (guilty). Between school, work, sports, and extracurricular activities it’s no surprise that we are all feeling disconnected and burned out. The best way to reconnect with your loved ones is to get away. No distractions and no excuses: just you and your kids (or Grandkids) spending “quality time”, enjoying each other’s company and maybe even experiencing an unfamiliar culture together. “Next Year, maybe” turns into the year after that...and so forth...until you “blink” and are sitting at their high school graduation wondering what the hell happened!
 
Travel is proven to be a wonderful learning tool for children. Seeing how people live in other countries can open their minds and hearts and expand their imagination exponentially. Here are a few things that travel can provide for your family:
 
1. It can create lasting relationships...both between your own family members and people you meet while on the road. These folks that you run into along the way give you a glimpse of what life is like outside your regular circle of friends and can give you a fresh perspective on how other cultures live.  
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2. You can learn another language...There is something very exciting about being able to throw around a few words of French, knowing how to say hello and thank you in Portuguese, or ordering off of a menu written totally in Italian and hoping you don’t end up with something inedible! And...knowing that if you do accidentally order goat’s testicles, that your whole family will still be laughing about it 20 years from now!
 
3. It gives you and your kids perspective...Meeting folks from other cultures will teach you that the way you look at the world (maybe through the distorted lens of our mass media) is not the way everybody does – and that you could be dead wrong about some things! We have had many meaningful conversations about why Europe is so far ahead of the U.S. in its transportation infrastructure, why people of Native Hawaiian descent still protest becoming a part of the US, and why so few French and Italian teenagers feel the deep temptation to drink alcohol to excess like ours do here in America. 
 
Are you reading this and thinking “Boy...I’ve always wanted to see the Pacific Ocean with my kids”? If you want to do it now, you’ve probably always wanted to. You’ve imagined it, daydreamed about it, envisioned it. Guess what? Now’s the time to DO IT! I had several vacations this summer for folks just like you, who are wanting to finally take their 16 and 21 year olds to Europe before they are “gone”...or who are celebrating a high school graduation with a trip to Canada – the destination chosen by their daughter. Remember...you don't only have 18 summers!
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, Italy, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, #group travel, paradiseescape, Paris is Always a Good Idea

7 Easy Ways to Avoid Money Disasters While Traveling

Posted by Tammy Murphy

June 29, 2017 at 9:38 AM

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While VIP Travel Experience does not advocate overthinking potential travel mishaps, we do like to prepare our clients with some simple travel tips IF circumstances may not happen according to plan.
 
1.  Notify your bank and credit card company of your destination and dates of travel before you leave.
You can usually take care of this on-line, although I recommend posting this several weeks in advance of trip so there are no delays.  If you don't think about it until the week of travel, you may be best advised to call and speak to a representative.   Take this opportunity to ask about any security measures they may enforce while you are traveling abroad.   One of the great things about security of our bank and credit cards could catch you off guard while trying to make a purchase on your vacation if you skip this tip, charges may be temporarily blocked if banks are unaware of your travel plans.
 
2.  Take multiple cards with you.Time flies. It's up to you to be the navigator..png
Don't be surprised if American Express is not accepted abroad or in small mom and pop establishments.  American Express charges high fees from the companies that accept it, and is therefore not as commonly accepted as Visa and MasterCard.

3.  Make copies of your credit cards and "if lost phone numbers"
In the unfortunate event that your cards are lost or stolen, having copies of your cards and the contact phone numbers on the back of them stored in your hotel safe will allow you access to your bank's international contact numbers.  Please note, this is different than the typical 1-800 number.
 
UNPLUG! LET GO & LET LIVE.png4.  Cash on hand for emergencies
In the unfortunate event that internet is down, establishments may enforce "cash only" policy.  In addition,  I have happened upon an ATM machine that is not working appropriately, so it is nice to have a Plan B until you can locate another working ATM. US currency can be exchanged for local currency in times of emergency.
 
5.  Best Conversion Rates
Generally, credit cards offer the best conversion rates, but please check with your bank before you leave.  I generally get a small amount of destination currency before I leave from my local bank, and I will use ATM when I arrive for better rates, however, credit card purchases are my first preference.  Note:  Confirm that ATM machines are available in your destination prior to leaving.
 
6.  Don't use public WIFI for banking purposes
If you do not have international ready cell phone or want to incur roaming charges, using public WIFI (internet cafe, airport, cafes, hotel, etc) is great.  However, please do not use for banking or sensitive information as it is rarely secure.
 
7.  Know your ATM daily limits
Check with your bank before you leave to know your daily limits of withdrawals per person and per account.  Having access to several accounts is recommended in case someone's card is lost or stolen.
 
I'm sure that everything will be great for your next international trip, however, heeding these simple tips may save you a world of stress IF things go awry.
 
 
Click here MORE BLOG STORIES for more inspiration and ideas for a travel inspired life. 
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, Italy, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, #group travel, paradiseescape, Paris is Always a Good Idea

Best Travel Experience Ever, Is Sandals Butler Service Worth it?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

June 22, 2017 at 6:00 AM

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Just ask anyone that has had Personal Butler Service at Sandals?  Once you have experienced vacation with a butler, its really hard to imagine NOT having a butler on vacation.  It's where luxury meets exceptional hospitality!  Many are interested, but may be a little skeptical at first.  Some say "I don't need a butler?  I'm not high maintenance".  While this is true, none of us really NEED a butler, but if there is any way I can help my clients experience the butler service, I am so happy.   I too was apprehensive at first about having a butler and then once we made the decision choose the suite with butler service, I was almost embarrassed to let Nicola (our first butler) do things for me.  Then I learned what an honor it is for the staff to become a Butler.  They sincerely LOVE their jobs and will do everything in their power to make your stay as special and as perfect as possible.  
 
When clients contact me about planning their trip, I try to share my experiences with a butler to see if that is something they would enjoy.  We determine what they are comfortable spending and if there is any way the budget will allow a butler, I highly recommend it.  Ten years ago we were planning our first visit to Sandals and we had dreamed of visiting St. Lucia for quite a while. However, after looking at what options fit our budget, we opted to visit Jamaica with a butler as opposed to St. Lucia without a butler.  As much as I hated not seeing St. Lucia ten years ago, I still think its the best decision we ever made, never before or since then have I felt so pampered --It's not something most of us experience too many times (until we return to Sandals).  While the Sandals website provides a short list of the butler perks, it is only a starting point, it only scratches the surface.   I can never fully explain how awesome the butler service can be, because they take the que from the client.  Their goal is to anticipate your every need and then EXCEED it.   As a Sandals specialist, it makes my job SOOOO much easier because I feel relieved once my clients are in the hands of the butler, I know everything will be just perfect.  Almost every client that has selected a suite with personal butler service comes back from vacation bragging that "their butler was the best ever".  In fact I typically hear more about the butler than the excursions.  I have also noticed that clients that experienced butler service usually have their friends calling me without days of their return.   I think they really connect with the local hospitality through the butlers, and island people have such beautiful souls filled with gratitude and service. 
 
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Curious about how to get the most value of butler service at Sandals?  Here are a few important things . .
 
Work with a travel professional.  Your travel professional will communicate your preferences the butler prior to your arrival.  When you arrive, your travel professional will already have double checked that your suite is confirmed and your butler will have already double  checked that it is prepared per your preferences: Club Sandals Lounge keys, His and Hers plush robes with bed slippers, 24 hour room service, In-suite bar stocked daily with Mondavi wines, spirits, sodas, juices, and water, fine Egyptian cotton linens and pillow menu including feather down pillows, coffeemaker with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and free wifi in room. 
 
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The butler knows your expected time of arrival and will be waiting for you in the lobby with lemongrass-scented hand towels to refresh you from your flight.  Listed below are just a few of the things he enhances your arrival:
 
  • Welcome cocktails and culinary treats
  • Escorts you to your suite for check-in in the privacy of your suite and coordinates your luggage handling
  • Provides you with resort and room orientation
  •  Reviews your personal preferences communicated through your travel professional
  • Supplies a cell phone to reach him during your stay
  • Offers to unpack your luggage
  • Press your first night's clothes complimentary
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During Your Stay

  • Butler makes your dinner reservations, cabana rentals, spa treatments and any other activities you have added to your stay.
  • Reserves your chair at the beach or pool and serves your favorite drinks while you relax
  • Serves your lunch at the beach or pool
  • Confirms your room is serviced while you are away and ensures it is kept in perfect order
  • Ensures your table is arranged at the restaurants of your choice and escorts you to your table with preferential seating, skipping all lines
  • Per your request, arranges a perfect romantic dinner for two in the privacy of your suite or patio.  They can order from any resort restaurant menu for dining in-suite.
  • Shine/clean shoes for dinner
  • Tend to your wardrobe
  • Collect and return all laundry
  • Leaves amenities in your room between meals (per the preferences provided by your travel professional or things he hears you mention during your stay)
  • Ensures your bed is turned down and that you have anything you need for the night.
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Before your Departure

  • Provides you with check out details
  • Offers to pack for your departure
  • Ensures your bags are brought to the departure area
  • Escorts you to the butler lounge to process check out
  • Escorts you to your transportation and bids you farewell (i promise you will want to take them home with you, I know I did)
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 A few other tips your Sandals specialist can help you decide: 
  • For the same price as an entry level butler suite at one resort, you can stay in one of the top butler suite at another
  • The higher the category of room, the bigger the room and better the view (usually)
  • Some rooms have a private plunge pool or tranquility outdoor tub

Loosen Up:  

They will make it abundantly clear that they are at your beck and call, but who can wrap their head around that, right?  Remember, this is his job and you are depriving him of what he loves to do.  Making the most of your butler experience may include asking him for your favorite drink while you are on the beach,  or saving your chair at beach or pool or reserving your table at your favorite restaurant, etc.  The more you allow him to get to know you and learn about him and his life on the island, the more you will enjoy your stay.  Imagine your surprise when you return from dinner to find this?   He mentioned that he heard you mention your feet hurt.  
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What to Expect?

Ask your travel professional what to expect.  Think about how much you hate to pack and unpack, take advantage of his offer.  I usually recommend that you unpack a few personal items and leave the rest for him to unpack while you are exploring the resort.  Or another idea would be to pack your personal items in a carry on which you unpack and ask the butler to unpack the other bags when they arrive.   Here's a little hint, my butler unpacked and packed WAY better than I did.

Remember, the only way they know what you want is if you speak up.  

Nothing makes you feel more special than a personal note on your pillow from your butlers reminding you "Love is All You Need".

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True VIP Travel Experience is  . . . anything you want is at the press of a button.  

It's OK to so No.  Butler service is not for everyone and that is okay.  For those that are not comfortable with the idea, the concierge service at Club Sandals may be the right fit for you.  Club Sandals is a quiet lounge offering snacks and drinks and free wifi, tvs and even kindles to borrow.

As you know Sandals has a strict no tipping rule.  However, butlers and spa attendants are the only Sandals employees that are able to accept tips from guests.  If your butler does an outstanding job enhancing your stay, consider leaving them a tip to show your gratitude.  If you aren't sure how to tip them, ask your travel professional. 

So is butler service worth every penny?  For me it is, but you are the only one that can decide for yourself.  The one thing I tell my clients is if you aren't afraid to use your butler service, it is worth every single penny and much, much more!!  In my very humble opinion, once you try the butler service, its almost impossible to go back!

 

 
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, paradiseescape

Pack for a Purpose Caribbean

Posted by Tammy Murphy

June 13, 2017 at 7:37 AM

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 Pack for a Purpose

It's vacation time and many of you are heading to the Caribbean.   There are many non-profit and service organizations working to improve the community education and wellness in the Caribbean.

Why not make a Big Impact in the communities you visit:

1)  Take advantage of the Pack for a Purpose program.  Don't worry, it won't require much space and not only will you be helping a worthy cause, (my favorite is schools) you will be saving some room for souvenirs on the return home.  Look up your tour provider and you can leave the donated items at their front desk. 

2) Sandals Foundation also supports education for those in need through its Adopted Schools Program.  Guests can also get involved by donating 2 hours of their time at one of their adopted schools and interact with children and help them with literacy skills.  There is a nominal fee which includes cost of round trip transportation.  

If you have the opportunity to donate supplies and/or time, share a pic of your donation with me at tammy@viptravelexperience.com.

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Topics: Caribbbean, Sandals

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