Vacation of a lifetime planned!  What could go wrong? Here's the skinny on travel insurance!

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 28, 2019 at 11:26 PM

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Think your health insurance or credit card covers you with insurance while you are traveling on your dream vacation?  You would be AMAZED at what they don't cover and how critical it is to purchase travel insurance from a reputable third party insurance company like Allianz Insurance because the country you are visiting does not accept any medical insurance. 
 
Don't just take my word for it, open your passport, the U.S. government recommends that you purchase travel insurance before you leave home.   Is travel insurance right for you. ask any jet setter, globe hopper, or traveler that has had a medical emergency or family medical emergency while traveling .   I wouldn't recommend you do this unless I do, and I absolutely purchase travel insurance for each and every trip, sometimes that may be 4-6 per year.  In the last three months, I have helped 2 young couples (plus myself) make claims for unforeseen travel cancellation or interruption.    In fact, it is SO important that we are required to obtain a waiver if travelers choose NOT to purchase travel insurance. 
 
1.  What is it?
  • Travel insurance is insurance to give us peace of mind financially and otherwise in stressful and unexpected challenges.  Would you purchase a ring, car, etc without insuring it?  So why would you risk not insuring your dream vacation experience or bucket list trip? 
  • Your vacation time and dollars are precious, coverage may include both costs incurred before your trip like non-refundable event, air or hotel stays, and during your trip, including travel interruption and medical expenses.  
  • Depending on coverage elected, coverage may include health benefits,  luggage delayed (buy new outfit), medical evacuation or simply sharing helpful concierge information.
  • It's a lifeline, they are there for you when your travel consultant may be sleeping, 24/7/365 hotline assistance.  They speak many languages and are an extension of our helping hands when you need real-time help in emergency situations, including medical evacuation and pre-trip assistance.
  • Cost is minimal compared to risk.
 2.  Why Do I Need It
  • No one WANTS to cancel their long awaited vacation of a lifetime, but sometimes due to circumstances beyond your control, trip cancellation becomes necessary (50% of the trips, in fact).  Cancellation before you go for covered reasons, based on coverage chosen are entitled to 100% reimbursement, including non-refundable trip payments and deposits.
  • Interruption while you are traveling (you or family member).  You may think the airlines are required to put you in a room if your flight is canceled or delayed.  When they are at fault, they may offer assistance, but they aren't required to.  What if your family member at home is injured or becomes very ill while you are traveling and cases you to end your trip prematurely?
  • Lost, damaged or stolen baggage?  This too happens more than you think.  What if you arrive at your destination with no luggage?    This is just one small benefit of travel insurance.
  • Medical coverage while traveling (medical insurance rarely provides coverage while traveling internationally). Most people are completely surprised by this.
  • Medical evacuation is very complex, however, if you purchased this coverage with Allianz travel insurance that becomes much easier.  Travelers in need will be assigned a case manager to assist you and may coordinate with doctors and nurses of University of Virginia that may work with translators, etc during the emergency.  Depending on need, they will arrange to get you to the nearest medical facility, then work on getting you back to U.S. to the best medical facility.  If you are hospitalized, they may bring family member to you to have support while you are away.   If you do not have third party travel insurance, you will not be picked up unless you pay $20,000 up front (right in middle of medical emergency).  This may cost from $90,000-and up.  This happens more frequently than you can imagine.
 
3.  Not all insurance providers are created equal
  • Cruise lines specialize in cruises, suppliers specialize in their resorts or destinations, leave the insurance to the insurance experts.   Third party insurers protect the interest of the insured, not the supplier.
  • Insurance offered by your credit card may cover some benefits of travel insurance IF you use that card for each travel expense, but it will not give you the medical coverage/evacuation which is where the cost skyrockets.
4.  Best time to purchase
  • You can purchase up until day before travel, however for the best coverage it should be purchased the insurance on the day (within days) of purchase.
  • Insurance cost is based on age of traveler and cost of trip. 
  • Even if traveling within the United States, it is still important because you will be out of your insurance network and even minor emergency room visits may cost well above what you would pay for insurance premium.
  • What if you booked your trip online before you learned about us at VIP Travel Experience, Click here to contact us and we can still assist you in purchasing your travel insurance even if your trip is already booked.  If you have particular concerns about your situation, we are happy to add Allianz support on the line with us.

5.  There is an APP FOR THAT

  • Travel Smart app is a great reference for hospitals, translation for first aid terms.  Flight stats, not all countries use 911.  All inclusive app to get really great travel information.  The Travel Smart app is free to download on your smart phone. 
Of course, we hope you never have to cancel, interrupt your trip, but we sleep easier knowing your are covered if the unforeseen happens.  It is a minimal cost compared to the value of what you might lose should you not have it.

 

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Topics: planning the right trip, travelinsurance, why use a travel agent

Venice - The Travel Experience of a Lifetime

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 20, 2019 at 2:42 PM

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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

Sharing Adventures means enjoying them 100% more

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 8, 2019 at 2:32 AM

 

The beauty of traveling with someone whose company you enjoy!!

 

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“Sharing adventures means enjoying them 100% more.”

That includes vacations!! The beauty of sharing travel with someone whose company you enjoy is wonderful because the trip doesn’t end when you get home! On my recent trip to Sicily with my BFF, we purchased wine, pasta, and everything needed to recreate some of the wonderful meals we experienced there. When we prepare and share this food and wine to share with our family and friends, we will recreate the memories of the incredible times we had on our trip. We are also carving out some time to create photo books of our trip together – looking through all our photos, remembering the time we had chocolate bars and hot cocoa on the steps outside the oldest chocolate shop in Modica…the time we climbed to the top of the Mount Etna volcano amid freezing, blustery winds…the time we made pizzas from scratch and baked them in a stone fire oven in Aragona…These and so many more memories will be relived through the process of preparing our photo books – SHARING our adventures, enjoying them AGAIN and AGAIN. Think of the benefit of a “girls’ trip” where you have several friends experiencing the joy of travel together!

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The same benefit apply when traveling with couples!  If you and your spouse enjoy traveling together, why not invite other couples to join you on your next adventure?  Again the SHARING of the activities on the trip and the reliving of the memories once you're home multiplies!  Traveling with small groups (for example 2-4 couples together) can actually provide opportunities for private tours that you may not be able to afford as one couple.  Sharing expenses will allow your group to afford more exclusive, bespoke experiences that are available in so many destinations - private cooking classes, privileged tours, and exclusive guides - things that will make your one-of-a-kind trip so much more memorable!

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So, when planning a girls' trip for you and your besties or a romantic getaway for you, your hubby, and some close couple friends, VIP Travel Experience can help!  We can design the perfect experience for you, customized to the interests and tastes of all of your travelers.  We want to share in the planning of the perfect vacation for you to enjoy because ...

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Sharing adventures means enjoying them 100% more!

 

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.

Read more

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

Taste A Little of Stunning Sicily

Posted by Tammy Murphy

May 2, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

Sicily is Beaches, Sicily is art, Sicily is lemons the color of Sunshine.  

Sicily is amazing!!

 

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If you're like me, you love discovering #destinations.  It's a big reason why we travel, right?  So, every year, I make a point to explore new locales.  I do this because I love to see the world, meet new people and I LOVE it even more when I am traveling with family or friends--it always brings you closer than you were before.

In addition to all of the benefits of travel, I travel so that I can personally vouch for the experiences I recommend to you and your family.  Not only was this a trip of a lifetime with my bestie, but I experirenced many different experiences in the same village so that I could better match you and your travel preferences to this destination.

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I am thrilled to share a little of the next few months about gorgeous #Sicily in southern Italy. 

Did you know that Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean?  It's a land of crystal blue coves, hilltop villages, and ancient ruins. Sicily is authentic Italy - filled with local traditions, foods, and on-of-a-kind sights.

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Highlights from my time in Sicily include:

  • Hiking Mt. Etna, Europe's largest active volcano
  • Exploring the Ancient Greek temples near Agrigento
  • Wine tastings in the historic cellars of a local vineyard
  • Strolling the charming villages of Sicily's stunning island
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Over the next couple of months, I'll be sharing more and more of Sicily with you.  So, keep your eyes peeled on social medial for Sicily pictures and posts!

 

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.

Read more

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

One of the hottest new ways to visit Europe

Posted by Justin Murphy

April 27, 2019 at 12:38 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 previously river cruises had the reputation for being adapted to the elder generations the newer river cruise ships are appealing to more active and adventurous travelers.  AMA Waterways newest ship proves very intriguing to golfers with its connection for some bucketlist golf destinations.  While still very popular with seasoned travelers,  the next generation of travelers are anxious to expand and enjoy this new experience 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. I am speaking from experience, I am counting the days until my next river cruise.

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.

There are many choices for the perfect river cruise.  Let us help you find the one that fits you best.   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  smaller boats 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.

Read more

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

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.

Read more

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

eiffel-tower-905039_960_720.jpg

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.

Read more

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

Savor the Wine & Linger Around Tuscany & Piedmont

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 24, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Savor the Lands & Wine in Tuscany & Piedmont

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Enjoy the beauty of Italy in autumn.  Imagine how happy you will be --sipping a glass of Brunello at a foliage-filled vineyard in Tuscany!  Relax in your charming Tuscan hamlet with a beautiful view overlooking medieval buildings perched on a hill conveniently located between Florence and Siena, amidst the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany.
 
A little excerpt of 6 night small group (15 people) departure:
 
The the later afternoon, you will enjoy a welcome apertivo --including prosecco and Tuscan appetizers.  After relaxing at the accommodation, head to dinner at an esteemed Michelin-rated restaurant in the heart of Tuscany.
 
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Montepulciano & San Gimignano

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel then meet you English speaking driver and sommelier.   Enjoy your day of wine tasting and exploring Tuscany's hilltop towns.  You will be surrounded by enchanting views of the valleys dotted with vineyards, cypress trees and rolling green hills.

Enjoy free time  exploring the charming stone streets to this historic Tuscan town.    Savor a light lunch paired with a private tasting of regional wines at a small batch winery.  Enjoy a guided tour of a historic family-run vineyard with a member of the family followed by a tour of their spectacular estate and cellars.  

Montalcino & Brunello Wine
Your English speaking driver/sommelier will pick you up after a leisure breakfast for a full-day excursion through the stunning Val d'Orcia.
 
Val d'Orcia  boasts some of Tuscany's most picturesque towns - medieval stone hamlets that have remained untouched by modern development.  Begin in scenic Montalcino, a beautiful fortified town known for its production of Brunello wine.  Stop at your first winery known for its astounding exploration (and tasting!) of the world famous wines.  Enjoy leisure lunch at an authentic ristorante nearby.

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Piedmont 

After breakfast, meet your private driver and transfer to Italian region of Piedmont.  Along the way, stop at one of the most influential wine-producing family wineries.    Enjoy a private visit through historic vineyards surrounding the estate and go behind-the-scenes accessing the cellars typically closed to the public.  Tour concludes with a wine tasting and light lunch featuring regional food products. Continue on to your hotel and pause for free time in a seaside town along the spectacular Italian Riviera in Liguria.  From your deluxe accommodations, enjoy sweeping views of the vineyard-draped valleys and snow-capped Alps in the distance.  Settle into your rooms and enjoy a welcome apertivo - including local cheeses, salumi and prosciutto.

Le Langhe

 

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After breakfast. Meet your private driver and wind through the enchanting hills and valleys of the Langhe wine country.

Your first stop will be at a winery recognized as producing some of the finest wines in Piedmont.

Your day continues on to the scenic city of Alba, located high on a green hill, overlooking the vineyards below, Alba is famed for its prized white truffles and fine foods.  Stroll the stone streets to enjoy a lunch at world renowned Michelin-starred-restaurant.  Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the restaurant's kitchen after the meal.  After lunch, enjoy free time in Alba before heading back to the hotel to relax before the evening hands-on cooking class.  Meet local Italians -- learning about their culinary traditions and passion for slow food.  Learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch as well as some other Piedmontese delicacies.  Enjoy your creations for dinner --paired, naturally with local wines... transfer back to accommodation.

Barolo and Barbaresco

After breakfast at the hotel, meet your driver to explore the wine areas of Barolo and Barbaresco.  Start your day in Barolo located in a hollow of hills covered in vineyards and dominated by a majestic castle dating back to the 10th century.

pienza cheese store-1.jpgIn Barolo, you will tour the historic cellars and a tasting of their wines.  Following your personal tasting and visit, you will enjoy an authentic Piedmontese lunch at La Cantinetta in Barolo.

After some free time in Barolo, continue with another wine tasting in the late afternoon at a winery that has been owned by the same family since 1896 specializing in full-bodied red wines with dark plum and cherry undertones (oh, my fav).   Enjoy your tasting and exclusive visit then continue on to your accommodation.  You will have time to relax and freshen up before the closing dinner at a gourmet restaurant to celebrate a wonderful week in Tuscany.


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

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Grab Your Girlfriends and Get Away!

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 16, 2017 at 6:45 AM

Girlfriend Getaways

One of the fastest growing travel specialties is the "Girlfriend Getaway" and it is easy
to understand why. After all the stresses of everyday life, there is nothing quite as
enjoyable and relaxing as getting away from "reality" with those true friends who
allow (and even encourage) you to totally be yourself without fear of judgement. Of
course, the same goes for men, although they may not admit it as freely. A few days
away with the "buddies" on the golf course can be more valuable than hours of
therapy! Here are a few suggestions for creative escapes:
 
A little Retail Therapy?
Most women love to shop, so why not combine a
weekend in the "big city" with great shopping, dining and entertainment
options? New York City and Chicago come to mind first, but there are many
amazing options out there that are centrally located and served by convenient
airports.
 
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Why not check in to a Spa or Yoga retreat for a wellness weekend?
A little
pampering never hurt anyone,
and you might even come home with some
new healthy habits, and feel a couple of pounds lighter...both good things!
 
"What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas"...you know the old tagline! In addition
to gambling, Las Vegas offers amazing dining, shopping and live
entertainment...and most resorts have ridiculously gorgeous pools and spas!
This destination works well for both genders...great for male-bonding
getaways too!
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A few days spent wine tasting, or possibly signing up for a culinary boot-camp
can be fantastic options for girlfriend getaways! Because wine and good food
are ALWAYS a good idea!
 
A sports-related trip works well for both girls and guys too!
What about a
fitness retreat for those who love to exercise? Or a golf weekend at an amazing
resort with tee times daily? Or a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean? All it takes
is a shared interest and some planning!
 
All-Inclusive Resorts and Cruises are natural fits for this type of travel, where
your biggest decision for the day might be whether to order champagne or a
martini...or whether to sit by the pool or on the beach. Who wouldn't welcome
some mental "down time"
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So, think about YOUR ideal getaway....who do you need to spend some time with?
Most of us have those folks in our lives who we are long-overdue for a meaningful
visit.
 
Why not let VIP Travel Experience help you plan that all-important trip
soon...One of my favorite quotes is from Buddha:
 
"The Trouble is...you think you have time"
 
 
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Tantalizing Tuscany

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 9, 2017 at 6:30 AM

TANTALIZING TUSCANY
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When you hear "TUSCANY", beautiful scenes of Under the Tuscan Sun are likely dancing in your head ... Chianti countryside of rolling vineyards, amazing sunsets setting over Florence and the Ponte Vecchio, a hot air balloon floating over the hilltops of rolling olive farms.  Tuscany is not exactly a secret among travelers as millions flock to Tuscany each year.
 
The rolling hills of Tuscany are home to sprawling vineyards, charming medieval hill towns and enchanting villages overflowing with history, culture and legend.
 
Tuscany pretty much sells itself, but like many other Italian hot spots, it can be a blessing and a curse.  Hotels book up many months in advance, popular, authentic tours sell out.  Please don't risk missing the authentic Italy.  Enjoy these beautifully charming towns after the day crowds  leave... this is when the villages come alive.   If Tuscany is on your radar for 2018, now is the perfect time to plan.

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Chianti

Sip Chianti and break bread in family-run wineries' private cellars, or vineyards. Taste pecorino cheeses at the farms they are made.  Stroll ancient paths while mesmerizing these medieval towns.  Or partake in a cooking class with a local nonna.

Monteriggioni (Siena)
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There are so many the little hilltop hamlets tucked into the countryside near Siena.  The beautiful little jewel, Monteriggioni is immaculately preserved and is actually a walled castle surrounded by towers.  Travelers may arrive via a 700 year old pilgrimage path to gaze at the beautiful vineyard draped valley below of farms and olive groves  below.
This is Tuscany as you always imagined it.
 

Radda in Chianti (Siena)

Relax and enjoy the sun setting in the comfort of the veranda of your private Tuscan villa while a real-live nonna prepares, cooks and serves a delicious lolieveta.jpgTuscan meal.  Explore the countryside on bikes or have a driver pick you up to explore this charming town encircled in medieval walls and winding stone streets with panoramic views of the Tuscan Wine Country.  Radda is easily reached from Florence or Siena and is a perfect scenic stop on wine tour or an idyllic base to explore the surrounding countryside.

Barga (Lucca)

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Picture-perfect Barga in the mountains of North Tuscany is perched between snow-capped Apennienes (Tuscan Alps) woods and rushing rivers.  Active travelers enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing.   History lovers will enjoy its perfectly-preserved Romanesque church, while others will cherish this sweet escape surrounded by natural beauty. Barga is a day trip from Lucca, but worthy of a stopover.

Pienza (Montepulciano)

Renaissance fans will appreciate Pienza located in the rustic Val D'Orciapienza cheese store-1.jpgregion.  Framed by green valleys, sunflower fields and lush vineyards, food-loving travelers may enjoy wine tasting tours to Montalcino and Montepulciano.  And did I mention cheese lovers . . .  

Florence

Enjoy free time to explore the cultural treasures of Florence, including Michelangelo's "David." Day trip and discover some of  Italy's best-kept secrets. Enjoy fabulous local wines and the region's famous cuisine.  Venture beyond the same old sights, beautiful as they are.  VIP Travel Experience helps you access the Italy that most tourists never experience--immersing yourself in the people and places beyond the postcard.  No matter how many times I travel to Italy, I always leave longing for MORE. 


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