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.

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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.

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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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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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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: #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, #girlstrip, 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)

Read more

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

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