Justin Murphy

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Avoiding Crowds & Creating Experiences

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 25, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Enjoying Europe Through The Back Door
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For those of us who cherish authentic experiences, avoiding the crowds is an essential part of enjoying our travels. Of course, there’s some irony in being a traveler who complains about all the other tourists cluttering up the landscape, because of course, we’re all contributing to the crowd! The best-known places are always going to draw lots of people, and usually with good reason. So how can we see the sights without feeling like we’re stuck in a herd of camera-toting sheep? I take great pride in carefully scheduling a great travel plan...designed to minimize crowds and time in line and maximize your enjoyment. Here are our top ten tips for avoiding the worst of the vacation crowds:
 
  • Hire a local guide
    • My very first suggestion is to splurge on a private guide, if your budget will allow. A guide knows when the busiest places will have lulls in the crowds, and exactly where to go to soak in a city’s ambiance without being joined by thousands of others with the same idea. I have several well-vetted private guides all over Europe that I use frequently for my clients. You will get so much more out of sights when you see them with a local guide who can make the history come to life. Your tour guide really DOES know it all!
  • Skip the line!
    • Did you know you could do this? A major benefit of using a travel professional who specializes in Europe (like yours truly) is that they often have the ability to help you skip right past a 2-hour long line-up and whisk you inside the attraction you’d rather not wait to see. Some of the most important spots with “skip the line” privileges are the Louvre and Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Vatican and Colosseum in Rome and the Accademia (to meet Michelangelo’s amazing David) in Florence.
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  • Take advantage of jet lag
    • What does that mean? Imagine you managed to stay up until 8pm after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight. Now it’s 5am the next day and you’re wide awake. Get out of bed and go for a wander through near-empty streets as the city quietly stirs. Enjoy a coffee alongside locals on their way to work. Early morning can be a magical time to explore the streets of Europe. 
  • Travel off-peak
    • Have you ever been to Paris in August? The locals have fled the city for their summer vacation, leaving the tourists to take it by storm. A lot of stores, cafes and restaurants are closed. Consider traveling in your destination’s shoulder season (April, May and September-October) – and avoid school holidays like the plague! If you are worried about taking your children out of school, get over it (shh, you didn't hear that from me) ! A family trip to Europe will contribute so much more to their future than a “Perfect Attendance” award in 6th grade.
  • Do your research and plan museum visits accordingly
    • Many museums have “free” days once a month; these are always going to be busy days, and best to avoid. Some major attractions (e.g. London’s Tate Modern) stay open late one or two nights a week; visiting the gallery during these extended hours tends to offer a quieter experience.
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  • Investigate “alternative” destinations
    • Everyone talks about the big ticket destinations – Rome, Paris, London, Prague – but there’s much magic to be found in Europe’s smaller cities. For instance, if you’re looking to experience Dutch culture, Leiden or Haarlem are beautiful and less crowded alternatives to Amsterdam. (I can suggest some great alternatives to the hustle-bustle where you will get the authentic “feel” of the country you are visiting)
  • Benefit from local insight
    • Talk to the locals to learn about what’s popular with people who live in the city, rather than what’s popular with people who visit it. A good way to incorporate this wisdom into your trip-planning is to use an experienced Travel Professional who specializes in Europe. Many of the suppliers we use to construct your vacation actually live in the destination you are visiting and can give us some great “insider” tips.
  • Choose attractions off the beaten path
    • Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to visit it; you won’t get a failing grade for skipping the supposed “must-sees”. You can visit London without going to Buckingham Palace (maybe); You can experience Italy without snapping a photo of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There’s way more to a city than its icons, so let the icons draw the crowds, while you ferret out more unique ways to spend your time.
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  • Stay in locally owned smaller hotels that are centrally located
    • Choosing a smaller hotel in a more residential neighborhood with easy access to the places you want to visit is a nice way to escape the crowds at the end of the day. You didn’t travel all the way to Europe to stay in a Holiday Inn or Best Western, did you? Plus, the owners and employees are super helpful in suggesting some little-known jewels for restaurants and sightseeing.
  • Be aware of cruise ship dockings
    • If you’re staying in a port-city, find out when the cruise ships dock – then hightail it out of there! And if you’re one of the people debarking from the ship, see Tip #1...then hightail it out of there with your private guide! Today’s megaships can dump 3000 people off in Rome...all at the same time and all heading for the same sights. Plan carefully.

Whatever your travel personality, we can help you identify it and plan accordingly.  We want you to have the best EXPERIENCE possible on your next dream trip,

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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel

New Year, New Resolutions, & New Vacations, Right?

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 18, 2018 at 6:30 AM

Why I haven’t left the house in three days...
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Is everyone with a camera  a photographer? Is everyone with a blog a journalist?  Likewise, is everyone with a computer a travel expert? The difference in each instance is years of training, experience, vetting products and relationships, and a little dash of intuition. 
 
January is typically the busiest time of the year for travel professionals.  Why?  I guess families get together over the holidays and discuss their travel plans for the next year...then when the kids go back to school, they pick up the phone and call their local, friendly travel expert. That’s great for me, as a business owner, but also tends to be a very busy time as my “To Do” list typically grows each and every day. I wake up with my list of trips to research, documents to deliver, travel articles to write, emails to return, social media ads to post... usually leading to more new ones added than old ones crossed-off when I leave my desk at the end of the evening. Complaining? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I absolutely LOVE  it! It’s my passion! So please permit me to explain a little bit and hopefully clear up some misperceptions of what I do:
 
1.   When I first meet with a prospective new client, I am used to all of the usual questions; "Why should I use a travel agent?", "How do you get paid?", "What can you do for me that I can’t do for myself online?", etc. I have been asked these questions countless times. 
 
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Here’s the thing...you don't ALWAYS need a travel expert ...if you want to book round trip air from Charlotte to Buffalo and stay in the Holiday X on the corner of1st Avenue and Main Street, you probably don’t need me!   I  am an expert in custom-crafting vacations that are going to provide you with the EXPERIENCES you are longing for. I don’t just “book travel”.  It ALWAYS  amounts to some well-researched (and vetted) advice on which Caribbean all inclusive or which Hawaiian island is the right fit for your dreams. THEY ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT!  It involves literally hours upon  hours of detailed planning, research and jigsaw-puzzle precision to put together a 10 day custom European journey through 1 to 3 different countries for a couple or family who want to immerse themselves into each culture with art or culinary classes. I am happy to go to any lengths necessary to craft that perfect EXPERIENCE for my clients...it’s what I do! And it turns out to be a gift of mine!
 
2.  If you send me an email that says “I found a deal online for a week in Jamaica at the XYZ resort for $599...Can you beat it?”   I’m going to let out a big sigh and pour another glass of wine.  First of all, how can we know that the XYZ resort is a good fit for you?  Secondly, we  have no idea what the good "deal" includes.    Nine times out of  ten, I have learned that if SOMETHING looks too good to be true, always is.     I've had clients that saw a great price online, then once they pressed the button with their "on-line travel agent" realized the advertised price was "PER ADULT"  and did not include tax and the tiny print had some language about "or comparable".    Please don't fall victim to "steps from ... the beach, city center" etc. literally I see these and I know its over "a mile of steps from".  
 
Saving money is great, and I'm all for staying within budget and getting a good value for my own travel dollars, but don't reduce  your vacation experience to being treated like a commodity. When an item is a “commodity”, there are no differences between the same item sourced from different places – except price.  I really do have your best interests in mind...trust me to do what I do best and find you the perfect fit and the greatest value for your precious vacation time and budget.
 
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3.  Finally, keep this in mind...when you hit the “Buy now” button online and purchase that vacation from an invisible travel agent, you receive confirmation numbers and that's the end.  Are there any unique experiences included?  When you give me, or any other hard working travel professional, the “go ahead” to book that same vacation (often at the exact same price, or better), you receive your travel documents, destination information, restaurants recommendations and sightseeing suggestions or reservations, along with the promise that we have YOUR BACK until you return home from the trip ... and even beyond!  If anything goes wrong on the trip, we are that extra security blanket and advocates for YOU and YOUR well being.    Try getting Mr. Orbitz or Expedia to pick up the phone at 6:00 a.m. to argue with the French hotel desk clerk about the noise level, or lack of air conditioning in your room!  That my friend is "VALUE" for your travel dollar.  
 
Ultimately though, it amounts to WHAT is important to you.  If you want LIFE ENRICHING or CHANGING experiences, it probably can't be found with a "BUY NOW" button.
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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel

Where is 2018 Calling You?

Posted by Justin Murphy

December 28, 2017 at 9:36 AM

Where Is 2018 Calling You?

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Venice

Gondola Serenade: When you think about Venice, one of the first things you imagine is a gondola silently gliding on the water, and the silence of the Venetian canals at sunset. You will experience all this too, in the late afternoon, while enjoying the city from a different perspective during your 30-minute private gondola ride. This definitely is the best way to discover the enchanting scenery hidden amongst the canals of Venice, allowing you to admire this romantic city. Absorb the colors and the atmosphere, the noises of the city in the background and relax in this everyday means of transportation which has been used for centuries.

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Tuscany

Amazing Vineyards: Val d'Orcia boasts some of Tuscany's most picturesque towns that have miraculously remained untouched by tourism. Your private excursion starts in Montalcino, a beautiful walled town known for its production of the precious Brunello wine. You will then continue to Pienza, a town famed for both its Renaissance perfection and its mastery of pecorino cheese. After a relaxing tasting of fine wines and cheeses, we will continue our trip to Montepulciano. There you will be able to explore distinguished wine cellars and taste the world-famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We will also explore ancient underground Etruscan tombs and the town's medieval center, rich with history.

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Rome

Papal Audience: Your expert guide will lead you through the huge crowds, directly to St. Peter's Square with individual headsets so you can hear your guide over the roar of the crowd. Once settled, your guide will provide an in-depth insight into the history and traditions of the Papacy and Papal Audience ceremony so you're fully prepared for the moment when Pope Francis I takes the stage along with his Cardinals. Understanding the rich traditions of the Papacy and background on the event itself will make this one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

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Capri

Tour from Positano to Capri Island: Take a boat trip around the beautiful island you will see many highlights as we drive through Faraglioni, three peaks emerging from the blue water pointing toward the sky. Stop for swimming and snorkeling and visit of all important grottos (Blue Grotto) –Admire caves and bays around Capri at a leisurely pace with various stops for swims.

Port of Capri: 3 hours on the Island to explore by yourself – on the way back to Positano stop for swimming. Take cable car up to see - ANA CAPRI for panoramic view of island; Walk around this charming island and you will be enchanted by the breathtaking landscape, natural treasures and picturesque rocky caves. and stroll around the famous Umberto I square, also known as “Piazzetta”, where you can enjoy a drink in one of its fashionable bars or do some shopping.

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Sicily

Agrigento & Valley of Temples: Almost 2,000 years ago, before the rise of the Roman Empire, Greeks ruled Sicily and left their mark with a series of important cities and sites. Where Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples are found today was the huge site of Ancient Akragas, a wealthy city of as many as 500,000 people and one of the most important in Ancient Greece. The city was founded in around 580 BC and prospered until it was conquered and destroyed by the Carthaginians in 406. Over the centuries the area was under Roman, Arab and Norman control, largely due to its strategic position overlooking Porto Empedocle and the Strait of Sicily. All left their mark at Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples shows evidence of all these civilizations.

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Ireland

Driving Around the Irish Countryside:Drive along the coastline of County Clare to view the Cliffs of Moher, one of the country’s most magnificent rock formations that rise to heights of almost 700 feet above the churning Atlantic swells. Pass through The Burren, an area of rocky limestone hills where a number of unique flowers thrive. This region also contains many dolmens, prehistoric monuments formed by large limestone slabs. Just outside Ballyvaughan visit Aillwee Cave, one of the most ancient caves in the Burren and perhaps in Ireland. The cave was formed millions of years ago by the melted waters of the prehistoric ice age when streams sinking underground on Aillwee Mountain started dissolving channels through the lines of weakness in the limestone.

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Australia

Climbing the Syndey Harbor Bridge: Absorb a 360 degree panorama of Sydney as you journey to the summit on our original Climb experience. Like an exposed spine, the outer rim delivers you to the peak, as the sky remains just beyond your outstretched fingertips. Latching on in the Climb Base below the Bradfield Highway, you will walk on catwalks below the road-deck until you reach the South-East Pylon. Here you will ascend 4 ladders to the start of the upper arch, surrounded by the hum and buzz of Sydney’s traffic. With the summit in your sight, your journey continues along the Bridge’s outer arch on the Opera House side until you hit the top. After a summit celebration with your group, you cross the spine of the Bridge to the Darling Harbour side to make your descent to our Climb Base. This was one of the most ehilirating experiences I've been a part of in my entire life.

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St. Lucia

Catamaran Tour: 1st:  Zip Line viewing the two peaks of the Piton Mountains. Lunch at Ladera Resort (Oprah's favorite) -Dasheen; hike a beautiful hillside nature trail offering a picturesque viewpoint of the water & mountains; Let's go off the beaten path to bath in the Falls & Mineral Bath that is a secret held by the locals.   At the end of the day, return to the catamaran, snorkel along Sugar Beach and sail off into the Saint Lucian sunset. Pass through Marigot Bay for some amazing photo ops and get ready to have fun and dance to island rhythms.

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Alaska

Tour Glacier Bay: Covers more than 3.3 million acres, 18 glaciers reach the ocean, largest concentration of tidewater glaciers on earth. National Park was all solid ice, thousands of feet thick 200 years ago. Most shoreline of Alaska's 9 coastal National Park Service units with 752 miles of coast, not including islands. Home to diverse collection of wildlife, including large colonies of nesting seabirds, migrating ducks & geese, whales, and porpoises.

All of these are bucket list worthy for me, but what is your bucket list look like?

 

"The Trouble is...you think you have time"

Hopefully, this will encourage you to understand why skipping your next vacation is so not worth it! Email tammy@viptravelexperience.com or justin@viptravelexperience.com today! Don't wait, call now!

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Topics: Italy, #passportpassion #viptravelexperience, #group travel, #familytravel, luxurytravel, travel, #australia, #alaska

Feeling Overworked & Under Traveled?

Posted by Justin Murphy

December 14, 2017 at 6:30 AM


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What? You’re thinking of skipping your vacation again this year? Americans are among the hardest working people in the world...and receive the fewest vacation days from our employers. So why is it that every year Americans throw away an estimated 415 million vacation days by skipping their vacation! If you are in a leadership role at your place of work, not taking time off from work can prove to be more harmful than beneficial for you or your organization. Here are four reasons why you should be going on vacation this summer.

1. Revive your productivity and with it, your team’s

We all know that small breaks throughout the day help us over the short term, but it’s vital that we take longer breaks from work to sustain and even build our creativity and productivity. Being away from your work environment for a longer period of time will help you gain a fresh perspective about your work, as well as providing you with the opportunity to pursue your other interests. By skipping your vacation, you can have a negative effect on the organization’s morale. It creates frustration and resentment and makes the rest of the team think that if the boss isn’t taking a vacation then maybe they had better not take one either.

2. Vacation time is part of your compensation; it’s not a job “perk”

Remember when you applied for the job? Weren’t your allotted a certain number of vacation days per year part of the compensation package? Vacation time is part of your remuneration for doing the job; it’s not a “perk”. It’s a return on the investment of our time and expertise in helping our organization to reach their objectives. Would you not accept a monetary bonus at the end of the year? Of course, you would! That’s how we need to think of vacations.

 

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3. Serve as a role model for others in your team

Whether you are in a leadership role or an employee, you need to take a vacation! Employees will look to their leaders for guidance on what is allowed and what is frowned upon. What you model at work will determine what your employees do. Despite the workloads that may be building on your desks, it still very important to take time off work in order to maintain your effectiveness in your role.

4. So whether you’re in Bora Bora, Paris or Hawaii, show your team they can manage without you!

While we all like to think that we’re indispensable, the reality is we need to encourage the company’s growth and overall morale. Taking time off from work will encourage team members to develop strategies and abilities that will help them learn how to effectively hold down the fort while you’re away. We need our leaders and employees to bring their best efforts to reaching the organization’s goals. And the best way we can encourage this is to make sure everyone takes their vacations so that they might bring a fresh perspective and new ideas on how to attain their shared goals.

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Hopefully, this will encourage you to understand why skipping your next vacation is so not worth it!

Let us help you bring fresh perspective and new ideas to your workplace by planning your next vacation today! Your employer AND your family will be glad that you did!

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Topics: new york, Italy, ireland, #passportpassion #viptravelexperience, #group travel, #familytravel, luxurytravel, travel

Perks of Packing Like A Pro!

Posted by Justin Murphy

December 7, 2017 at 6:30 AM

 

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The Benefits of Packing Light – especially on an itinerary where you will be moving and changing locations a good bit – cannot be underestimated. In fact, it can be the difference between an enjoyable vacation and a miserable one! You will never meet anyone who says “I wish I had packed heavier” when they return from a journey. Rick Steves, the Public TV European travel guru, only allows the members of his escorted tours to bring 1 carry-on size piece of luggage per person...even when the tour is 3 weeks long! Can’t be done? Yes it can...and it should! I’ve done it myself, and schlepped all over Europe with my kids with one carry-on each for a month!
Admittedly, I was ready to make a big bonfire and burn the clothing in that carry-on when we returned home from our journey, but the advantages outweighed the disadvantages by a huge margin!
Every morning we would dress quickly in whatever outfit was clean and appropriate for the day. I started thinking of my wardrobe as my “travel uniform”. We were there to learn and expand our horizons...not worry about what we were going to wear. Doing a little laundry along the way won’t kill anyone – in fact, it can be a real adventure!
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1. We could move quickly from place to place....No worries about big suitcases and where we would fit our luggage on the train or bus or taxi. A lot of European hotels have no elevator, so lugging heavy bags up and down stairs can be a real bummer.
2. Having too much luggage “marks” you as a typical tourist. Con artists figure you’re helpless and you become a serious pickpocket or scam target.
3. We saved enough money in checked luggage fees to treat ourselves to some special “extras”. We also saved time by not having to wait around at baggage claim. We were off and starting our adventure while everyone else was standing around waiting for the bags to arrive.
4. Here are my suggestions for cutting back on the amount of “stuff” you think you need on your next trip:  Spread out everything you think you might need on the living room floor. Pick up each item one at a time and ask yourself “Will I really use this enough to justify carrying it over the Swiss Alps?” (or wherever you are heading) When in doubt, leave it out!
 Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario...Pack for the best-case and buy yourself out of any jams along the way. Risk shivering for a day rather than taking a heavy jacket. Buy a cheap umbrella from one of the many street vendors who "miraculously" appear when the drops start to fall. If you think it “might come in handy”, it should stay home.
 Pack exactly the same whether you’re traveling for three weeks or three months. Rather than take a whole trip’s supply of toiletries, take enough to get started and replace them along the way. Believe it or not, Europeans use toothpaste, lotion, hair gel, soap and (sometimes) deodorant! It’s fun to go into a general store and stock up on local brands on the fly!
 Invest in a good quality piece of luggage that fits your needs. Rick Steves offers a few options in his travel store at www.ricksteves.com/travelstore that are reasonably priced and come with or without wheels. If you are healthy enough to carry your bag, do it...suitcases on wheels don’t get along with cobblestone streets very well....
So weed out the unnecessary, pack your bag and go walk around the block a few times to get a good idea of what you will be dealing with. You will thank me later! Remember, in your travels, you’ll meet two kinds of tourists – those who pack light and those who wish they had
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If you're interested in a perfect, no worry vacation, email us justin@viptravelexperience.com tammy@viptravelexperience.com
I would love to make your dream come true.

Are you looking for the perfect travel destination?  We would love to help you with travel tips and more.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, #RiverCruise, experiencesnotthings

Adventures Await Where The Anchor Drops

Posted by Justin Murphy

November 30, 2017 at 6:02 AM

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From fields covered in tulips in April to December's decadent Christmas markets, hundreds of riverboats sail along Europe's abundant, historic rivers and canals, which span thousands of miles. A European river cruise is one of the best and most efficient ways to explore inland Europe, stopping at many ports, towns, cities, and villages that traditional big ships usually can't access.

What makes a river cruise so different from an ocean cruise is emphasis and immersion into the destinations visited. Every day a new port is featured so there are no days at sea. Multiple guided tours are included to go out exploring a new and enlightening city. With this focus, it's nice that river itineraries in Europe feature a diverse mix of intriguing ports.

 Have an “in-Seine” experience in Paris sailing down the Seine River. Roll down the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. Drift down the Danube River to see the best of Budapest, or even take a merry little Christmas cruise. charles-bridge-743669_960_720.jpg

Though most river cruises have the reputation for being adapted to the elder generations U by Uniworld is changing the game offering a cruise line geared toward the younger generations with an age range of 21-45 years. This new line will market and intrigue the next generation of travelers to expand and broaden what experience they can enjoy without the backpacks and hostels. They’ve thought of everything in that you can even rent mobile hot spots for the day so no more outrageous international data plans to worry about. No need for a special converter either because the ship is outfitted with European, American, and USB electrical outlets.

The excursion choices vary depending upon activity level, interests, and destination. Most of the adventures and tours are complimentary, from an evening bike ride along the Danube, a “Midnight in Paris” evening stroll, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, vineyard hikes, castle visits, and so much more. Also if you’ve adventured a little too much or stayed out a little to late and don’t want to explore around the port a certain day there are numerous on board activities offered. Sip wine while you paint on the top deck, take a mixology class and concoct something just for you, relax and center yourself with a yoga class, or have a special culinary experience with the chef’s cooking class. 

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To travel is to fully immerse yourself in another culture. What better way to do that than by trying out authentic port specific foods? River cruising many of your on board meals will be inspired by the local fare of the cities you’ll visit, made from ingredients that were sourced just miles down the road. If you happen to be hungry for something a little closer to home you’ll have classic options, comfort food choices and plenty of vegan, vegetarian and various healthy dining choices as well. Uniworld steps it up a notch with their partnership with VizEat to enhance the authenticity to eat like a local and taste the city and share a meal in the home of a U Host. It’s where authentic home cooking meets immersive travel.

I’m hoping this will open the market to other river cruise lines gearing some of their boats to younger generations as well. These cruise itineraries are great for college graduation gifts, girlfriend getaways, young groups, and even the solo traveler with the social and intimate feel of this smaller boat and crew.

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If this sounds like your perfect, no worry vacation, email us justin@viptravelexperience.com tammy@viptravelexperience.com
I would love to make your dream come true.

Are you looking for the perfect travel destination?  We would love to help you with travel tips and more.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, #RiverCruise, experiencesnotthings

Adventures Await

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 26, 2017 at 11:36 AM

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Adventures don’t have to bring you half way across the world hiking miles upon miles up a mountain, or have you climbing glaciers seeking one of a kind thrills. Adventures are something that takes you out of your comfort zone and places you in a new, thought provoking environment to learn, see, and do things you never thought were possible for you.  We have trusted suppliers that  offer all without costing an arm and a leg.

Whether it is thrill seekers, family vacations, cultural immersion, or marine exploration we have access to it all! We have divided tours into many sections to offer diverse and immersive EXPERIENCES for everyone! 

Firstly their “18-to-thirtysomethings” tours target the younger generation that were freshly bitten by the travel bug. Youth is a limited-time offer. Squeeze more out of yours with fast-paced and affordable adventures designed for young travelers. Explore the world by day, stay up all night, and do it all over again tomorrow someplace new with friends you’ll want to hang on to forever. You’ve got the rest of your life to take it slow. Live fast now. These tours target young professionals that can’t spend insane amounts of money, but want to experience and immerse themselves in a foreign environment to learn and grow together in a small group setting. 

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A very different, but equally appealing travel style they offer is Local Living. Be where you belong. Have you always dreamed of getting immersed deep inside one of the world’s greatest and most out-there destinations? Now you can. Local Living tours send you undercover in some of the world’s most interesting places to discover life as it’s lived every day by a local. Unpack once at a central location like a Tuscan farmhouse, an Icelandic home, or even a rustic lodge in the Amazon jungle and discover how the locals live with the help of a connected guide who knows the area best. 

Want the rush and thrill from an adrenaline boost? Active adventures let you explore

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and learn all about a destination from kayaking creeks to trekking up mountaintops.  Active adventures get you closer to the destination by letting you hike, bike, and multi sport your way through it. We provide the equipment, the experts, and the opportunity; all you need to provide is the energy. On your mark. Get set. Go…Active. 

Adventure knows no age limits. I’m going to say it again: Adventure knows no age limit. That is why we help determine your travel style fit for the whole family with all sorts of multi generational activities. Just because you’ve settled down and had kids doesn’t mean your adventuring days are over and done with. Family trips open up the world of adventure travel to kids age six and up by letting them experience their planet on their own terms. Everything is new and exciting when you’re a kid. Travel with yours and discover your world for the first time all over again.

Another awesome travel style they offer is for all those water lovers out there. If you swim like you have gills and enjoy seeing what the great wide ocean has in store this Marine travel style is just for you! Sea-ing is believing. There’s adventure aplenty out there beyond

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the shore, but unless you have flippers, you’ll need a ship to find them. Marine tours are designed for travelers of all stripes, from experienced cruisers and sailors to landlubbers who’ve never set foot on a boat. And they go just about everywhere there’s water. If you can float there, you can go there. Set Sail and set your sights on the horizon this will be an unforgettable journey. 

Lastly, these next two are a little more on the higher end with a more luxurious feel. The private tour and national geographic journeys styles will have a little more tailored to fit and let you experience so much more. With a step up in accommodations, meals, activities, and tours these styles will impress any client. 

Private Tours: Your world, your terms

Group travel is a great way to discover your world with people you’d otherwise never meet. But some adventures are best enjoyed with a group of your own choosing. Get your group of four or more and let fun begin by selecting your trip! There are two ways you can go about it: Go off-the-rack by selecting any  existing Adventures group departure OR you can block it off for your group’s private use. Or step it up a notch and go for a more tailored fit. If you want to personalize your trip to really individualize and make the most out of it you can enhance any existing G Adventures itinerary with some great add-ons. Add on a few days; upgrade accommodations; add in some fun activities.

 

National Geographic Journeys: Experience the world with an enhanced adventure from

National Geographic Journeys are a collection of truly unique tours designed to take you deeper and further into the cultures and habitats of the places we explore. They offer more inclusions, greater hands-on exploration, interactions with local experts, and the freedom to roam, all within the structure and safety of traveling in a small group. With these tours you get to explore more.

The feel of freedom; we include plenty of free time for you to do anything you wish on your adventure. Learning all you can with each tour including opportunities to learn about our world through unique interactive experiences with local experts like historians, marine biologists, photographers,  chefs, and others. You have the power to change the world.  Let us arrange your travel with National Geographic Journeys and you help fund community development initiatives worldwide, in addition to supporting the National Geographic Society’s non-profit work in conservation, exploration, research, and education.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel

Fun Ideas For The Whole Family

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 19, 2017 at 7:30 AM

Planning a family vacation isn't always an easy task. You must attempt to accomodate the preferences of adults and children alike. If you're looking for luxury family travel without the hassles of planning the itinerary, allowing you and your family to truly relax while you're on vacation, look to VIP Travel Experience. We have some excellent options that are great for children as well as their parents.  Lately we have seen a big rise in Moms/daughters bonding trips and well as dads/sons golf and fishing trips!!  What a great Christmas idea right?  And there is no shopping neeeded, one phone call is all it takes.

New York

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New York is an incredible destination for your luxury family vacation. Depending on the time of year you choose to visit, you'll enjoy all kinds of attractions the kids will love.  What kinds of things REALLY excite your children, which hobbies and interest, let us know and we will seek out activities that will personalize this vacation and make you look like a ROCKSTAR!!  

Just a few ideas include Broadway  shows or perhaps your daughter may be interested in a Rockette dance class and a backstage tour?  Visit the many great historical sites and museums the city has to offer, but have you considered some of these tours by night?  Shopping Anyone? There is something for all ages.  Did you know that you can visit the hip boutiques of SoHo and NoLita or get exclusive access to Designer Showrooms and Wholesale pricing in the Garment District along with a fashion guide or even have a private stylist guide you?   For the foodies . . . many, many food tours, baking , pizza or chocolate making classes.  Of course, New York City boasts some of the best nightlife and restaurants the country has to offer. 


Italy

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Italy is such a vast, and varying AMAZING country. From the flooded streets of Venice, through the Renaissance town of Florence & Tuscany countryside, to the romantic elegance of Rome, there is something for everyone to enjoy! In Venice everyone can enjoy an authentic gondola serenade. For those of age, wonder around the amazing vineyards in beautiful Tuscany  and you will find tastings of these  amazing Italian wines are plentiful. Or for the whole family, consider going to the market with a local chef and purchase the ingredients to prepare your delicious meal with a local chef.  Italy is a great family travel destination with ancient ruins, parks, spooky places and even children museums.  How exciting, they can be a Roman gladiator for the day or create carnival masks in Venice.  Italy is a hands-on history lesson with many opportunities to bond while learning.

 

Ireland
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Ireland, it hold all things old and new and AMAZING VIEWS. Ireland is one of the safest places to travel, so if worry free vacation is what you're after, look no further. Ireland is becoming one of showbusiness favorite new locales with filming from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and the Game of Thrones series which could be fun tours for everyone to see where these were filmed. You can attend a medieval meal with authentic food and drinks in a REAL LIFE CASTLE! While there make sure you take a quick kiss of the "Stone of Elloquence" so you will be well spoken from then on. Also wonder around all of the rich history Ireland abounds. Book of Kells, Trinity College, Cliffs of Moher, and much much more for the entire family to enjoy


When it comes to luxury family travel, no matter where you go, every one of your needs will be anticipated and taken care of, for every member of your family. You'll finish your vacation feeling relaxed and ready to tackle whatever challenges await you. If you'd like more information about our fabulous luxury vacations for yourself, or for your entire family, contact us for a quote today.

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Topics: new york, Italy, ireland, #passportpassion #viptravelexperience, #group travel, #familytravel, luxurytravel, travel

Historic Hawaii

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 12, 2017 at 1:52 PM

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Hawaii is a bucket list trip for many!!  If you’ll be traveling to the spectacular Hawaiian Islands, you probably already know that attending a luau is a must.   Not only will you have the chance to try a variety of fabulous traditional dishes, but you’ll enjoy it all while taking in a show filled with Hawaiian music and dance – usually topped off by a couple of complimentary Mai Tais. To appreciate the experience even more, you may want to know a little about the history of this ancient tradition. 

There are tons of Luaus advertised, it helps to have someone that has the inside scoop!!  Ask us about an authentic, unique experience.

Ancient Luau Practices

The Hawaiian luau dates back to ancient times, but the first recorded Hawaiian luau was held in 1819 by King Kamehameha II and his stepmother, Queen Ka’ahumanu. This event was said to have been the catalyst for the luau that is known in Hawaii today. In ancient Hawaii, men and women ate their meals separately due to their powerful religious beliefs that only royalty could eat certain delicacies. There was a fear that women could steal the men’s spirit, known as mana, while they were in the relaxed state induced by the generous feast. Women ate at what was known as the hale aina, or women’s house, while men ateScreen Shot 2017-10-12 at 1.48.47 PM.png at the hale mua, or men’s house. The beginning of the modern luau In 1819, the King enjoyed the feast with women as a symbolic act to end these religious taboos, and the modern luau was born. It is not known why he made this decision, but some feel it may have been due to his recently acquired Christian beliefs. Prior to this date, a Luau, as it is held today would have been punishable by death under the ancient Hawaiian law that was governed by the kapu system. The feast The traditional feast was eaten on the floor where Lauhala mats were rolled out with a magnificent centerpiece made from Ti leaves, native flowers and ferns that was about 3-feet wide laid across the mat. Some of the foods included the traditional pig roasted in an underground oven, or imu, bowls filled with poi (pounded taro root ground to a consistency almost like pudding), dried fish, salted meats, sweet potatoes and a variety of fresh fruit – all put onto the Ti leaves. Hawaiians ate all of these wonderful foods with their fingers, which is how poi got its name. Poi of various consistencies was known for the number of fingers required to eat it such as three finger, two finger, or the thickest – one finger poi.(Ask me about my favorite luau where you still have option to sit on matts on the ground and you actually see the underground oven, and wait don't miss the gorgeous sunset on the water right next to where you are!!)

The word for this celebration, “luau,” comes from the favorite traditional dish at these feasts. Taro leaves that are blended with chicken and baked in coconut milk are known as luau – today, this dish is called “luau chicken.” Luaus weren’t held as part of a regular meal but as a large feast with great numbers of people invited. Royal luaus were held on a massive scale. In 1847, King Kamehameha III threw a luau that was said to have included nearly 500 large bowls of poi, thousands of taro plants, more than 2,200 coconuts, over 3,000 salt fish and almost 2,000 fresh fish as well as 271 pigs and a host of local fruits and other fine foods. King Kalakaua was known as the Merry Monarch due to his love of celebration, with over 1,500 people invited to his 50th birthday party luau – fed in three different shifts of 500 guests served in each. There are a large number of different luaus available to visitors today in the Islands and we know the pros and cons of each. I would be very happy to steer all my readers and clients in the right direction, as there is a wide variation in ambience, entertainment value and food quality. But to me, the best luaus are the traditional, private family luaus which are still given to celebrate milestone events, like weddings, graduations and major anniversaries. Be sure to include the luau experience in your next trip to the islands! 

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Topics: hawaii

Home Away From Home For the Holidays

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 5, 2017 at 7:56 AM

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Home for the Holidays? Maybe not this year! Have you ever considered taking it on the road over the holidays? No? Why the heck not??? It's getting close to some of everyone's favorite holidays. Even more importantly some MUCH needed time off for many. So why not travel to an amazing destination and learn how different cultures celebrate the holidays. 

Here are Five great reasons why a holiday AWAY makes perfect sense:

1. Use Fewer Vacation Days

Extending a holiday that most people already have off minimizes the amount of time needed off from work. More bang for your buck! Save those vacation days for later!

2. Step Away from The Hustle Bustle

Holidays can be a source of major stress for families (especially moms) as they juggle preparations, strong personalities of relatives, coordinate meals, shop for gifts and more. A resort getaway helps them put the “pause” on all the planning. Sure, there’s preparation involved, but when the major decision of the day is deciding between the beach or the pool, it doesn’t seem too terribly taxing. Plus...I’m here to help with the planning and preparation...you just pack and go!

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Wake up early to watch the sun rise over the horizon. Visit a volcano. Explore the local music scene. Try new foods. Visiting a new destination can awaken the possibilities and a sense of adventure in the whole family. Sharing a unique, common experience is one of the best ways to strengthen bonds and create memories that you will all cherish forever!

4. Leave the Housework At Home

For the big holiday dinners, many hotels and resorts also craft special menus for the day to celebrate the occasion. Whether it’s a traditional turkey dinner, or infused with local flavors, it’s sure to be deliciously fuss-free.  Ever thought of  sharing Thanksgiving dinner with your family in Hawaii over a huge spread of sushi.  You can be just as thankful for sushi as turkey. And no one has to wash any dishes!

5. Teach an Old, Young Or Young-At-Heart Dog Some New Tricks

Families can take advantage of being in a different environment by soaking up some new knowledge or acquiring a skill. Learn how to surf. Learn some foreign phrases. Explore a local museum. Doing so will help stimulate their brain and body in ways they wouldn’t be able to if they were at home in their comfort zone (AKA in front of the video game screen).  If your kids are a little bit older, you can agree to limit actual gifts this year to just a couple special surprises and put your gift budget towards a fantastic family vacation...Most kids these days have more than enough “stuff” but not enough interaction with their family. So think about it....but don't think about it for too long because popular destinations are already filling up with other families just like you! Let us help sort through the options and plan your perfect Holiday Escape this year!

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Topics: holidays, holidaytravel

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