Adventures In The Land Down Under

Posted by Justin Murphy

March 23, 2017 at 7:56 AM

   
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Anything is Possible In the Land of Aus (Oz), and Dorothy you are definitely not in Kansas anymore. Australia is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It’s known as a major backpacking, camping, road trip, and diving destination, but no matter your travel style, there is something to draw you here. The country is filled with incredible natural beauty from Uluru to the Outback, rainforests to pristine white sand beaches, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. Sydney’s Harbor Bridge and Opera House are iconic man-made wonders, and Melbourne’s café culture will make you feel like you are in Europe. Coupled with world-class surfing, and it is no wonder people never leave. Some of my favorite spots would be Cairns, The Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne.
 
Cairns is Australia's northern gateway to Queensland. It is a tropical town with a lively nightlife. This amazing place is also where you will find the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, Atherton tablelands, Cape Tribulation, and much much more. Right in the city's center is a man made "lagoon" for local and out of towners to swim and enjoy away from the hungry crocs. The weather is very tropical and changes with the wind. The night market is also an interesting place to checkout.
 
The Gold Coast, Australia is east of Brisbane and full of sun, surf, and sand! It’s known foIMG_0167.jpgr its sunny subtropical climate, surfing, beaches, a rainforest hinterland, and a wild nightlife.  The most famous city in the area is Surfer’s Paradise, a major stop for travelers and backpackers looking to get some sun, surf, and spend time partying. If you have time take a day trip up to Tamborine Mountain for some breathtaking views and at the peak walk among the tree canopy on a rickety bridge and the awe-inspiring bird sanctuary. Also a short drive from Surfer's Paradise is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where you can see many of the indigenous species of Australia and even hold a Koala, pet kangaroos, and much much more.
 
Melbourne is Australia’s bar capital and live music hub—often called the country’s “European enclave”. Melbourne is the first place in the world to ring in the New Year and thus has one of the most spectacular firework shows (I was lucky enough to ring in 2017 there). The central business district not only serves its after-work drinkers, but also attracts a young, trendy crowd. Across the Yarra River, Southgate provides the arts precinct with a strip of bars and riverside views. With plenty of culture, activities, art exhibitions, and live music, you could easily spend over a week here and not regret it. There is so much to see and do even the street art has history behind it. The sporting arena is huge and cricket games can usually be viewed, the botanical garden are beautiful you can even go for a romantic gondola ride. Queen Victoria Market is a huge farmers' market that you can find anything and everything for a very competitive price. 
 
Sydney is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by iconic beaches, world heritage sites, and acclaimed wine regions. Besides being Australia’s largest city, Sydney is also its’ most visited. (And, contrary to popular belief, not the country’s capital!) With an incredible variety of attractions and sights to see, including the very famous Bondi and Manly beaches, it’s easy to see why people come here and stay a while—try to stay at least a week if you can. 
 
This was definitely my favorite city in Australia. It is just so vast and diverse you can do anything and everything that you could ever want. From seeing an amazing show in the iconic Sydney Opera House to the exhilirating climb to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge I did it all and so much more. Bondi Beach is one of the most beautiful places, but not just the beach, the street art is also remarkably intricate. Take the harbour cruise to get views straight from postcards, and learn all about the Opera House and Bridge.
 
The city is not based off of a grid system so it is not as easy to navigate as Melbourne, but my favorite memory of my trip was when we got lost on our way back to the hotel and happened into this little Irish bar  playing "Sweet Home Alabama" ... so of course we had to go inside. It was such an awesome atmosphere and so many friendly people. The live band was amazed that we knew the words until they figured out we were from the USA.   It was an AMAZING trip and I hope you get to go there.  When you do, please reach out to me, I would love to share my experiences and plan your trip.
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, Italy, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, #RiverCruise, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, #group travel, paradiseescape

Cruising Through Countries

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 16, 2017 at 7:43 AM

 

Would you rather go TO a country, or THROUGH a country?

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Unless you have had your head buried in the sand for the past couple of years, you are probably aware that Ocean Cruising, with its bellyflop contests and buckets of beer, has some stiff competition from the ever-growing popularity of  –River Cruising. Most commonly thought of in Europe, on the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Rhone, Douro and even Po rivers. River Cruising is also extending itself to Russia, China, Vietnam & Cambodia and – yes...even the United States (though US River Cruising is a whole different animal). 
 
Many of the voyages are “themed”, for special interests such as “wine immersion”, “Tulip Time”, “Jewish Heritage”, a popular “beer tasting cruise” along the Rhine, and the ever-popular “Christmas Markets” cruises during the months of November and December. Here are several reasons why so many travelers are switching to River cruising...and very few of them will ever go back to the oceans!

  1. It is as close to hassle-free as you can get. There are no lines to get on or off the boat and, when you arrive at your next stop, you can usually walk right off and be immersed in your destination. Europe grew up along its rivers, so there are some very charming and interesting small towns and big cities to explore. Very few ports require bus transfers, which makes it easy to come and go at your leisure. (And I personally LOVE the option of using bikes from the ship to bike around town).  The trip can be totally all-inclusive, depending on the cruise line and ship you have chosen. I had the great pleasure to experience a 7-day cruise on the Rhone River last March with AMA River Cruises and my bill at check-out was $50, to cover a massage I splurged on. And those of you who know me, know that I had at least a couple glasses of wine  during the awesome week (Ahem!)...AMA even includes first class shore excursions in every port, airport transfers, and Wi-Fi.   Some of the cruise lines even have butlers which you are not allowed to tip . . . imagine your coffee being delivered or breakfast every morning while you are admiring the beauty of castles and vineyards from your stateroom!

    I am a HUGE fan of independent travel, but this is definitely a great choice for the convenience!!  Imagine that you see multiple villages or countries but you only UNPACK once!!!  You can shower and dine while in route to your next village or country.  I never tired of seeing the variety & beauty as we cruised down the Rhone River.

  2. The boats are smaller and more intimate (100-170 passengers) so you can actually get to know your fellow guests and not feel like you are being herded along like cattle...You may eat with whom you choose each evening and have a choice of a few onboard dining venues for variety.   We especially enjoyed the experience at the Chef's Table Restaurant (3 tables).  AMA Waterways is the only river cruise to be part of the Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a culinary society.  Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 3.12.11 PM.png
  3. Being on the river, there are no waves, so seasickness is not an issue.   Also, most cruises include transferring through a series of “locks” to accommodate the changes in elevation, which most people find super interesting to watch. (I was so geeked out with this pastime that I was usually late to dinner because I couldn't miss one of them).  You can literally touch the walls of the locks from your balcony as you pass through! Evening entertainment can be a little sparse, not the lively entertainment of an ocean cruise, but there is always live music in the lounge (I can neither confirm, nor deny that someone hijacked the mic and jam box to really LIVEN the crowd), lots of movies and entertainment on your in-cabin TVs and most cruise lines bring on local entertainers in some ports, such as an OomPah band in Passau Germany or Gypsy dancers in Budapest. (Personally, I preferred this low key, authentic entertainment).  Plus, there are informative talks on the ports-of-call and cocktails with your newly-made friends from around the world.  We even had wine tastings and wine class on board.
     
    The price tag of a River Cruise can cause a little bit of “sticker shock”, but when you figure out everything you are getting for the cost, it becomes much more manageable, and quite a good value. Viking River Cruises is the most well-known of the River Cruise lines because they spend boatloads (literally) of money on television and print advertising, and they have done a lot to introduce travelers to the River Cruise concept. However, there are many other River Cruise lines with higher customer satisfaction rates and more complimentary inclusions just waiting to show you the time of your lives as well. A travel agent who specializes in European River cruising (like me!) and who has actually experienced a cruise and has relationships with the sales reps from all the different lines can be incredibly valuable in helping you sort through all of the options and find the perfect fit!

    River cruising is also a great option for small groups of friends, family or even work colleagues who would like to travel together ....whenever I book a River Cruise, I always ask if there is anyone who might want to join you on the trip....most times at least 1 or 2 additional couples come forward! Who would you like to sip champagne with as you cruise through the incredible Wachau Valley in Austria’s wine country?

    So, if you think you are finished with the hairy chest contests and waiting in line with 3998 of your new best friends on the Ocean cruise megaships, why not give River Cruising a try? 96% of first time River Cruisers say they would recommend the experience to a friend!  VIP Travel Experience is authorized to sell all the lines and we would love to help match you (and your friends) to the perfect experience! Get on board the “civilized” River Cruise movement! I know I am already planning my next one!   

    But don't take just my word for it, DISNEY even chose AMA Waterways to host their Adventures by Disney cruises.  AND we all know the high standards Disney imposes.Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 3.14.50 PM.png
     
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What's Your Travel Personality?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 10, 2017 at 7:38 AM

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Travel heightens the experiences life gives us. It caters to the unique interests of each discerning wanderer. Taking ideal journeys for food and wine lovers, history buffs, families, the culturally curious and anyone who dreams of exploring this great wide world we live in.
 
Each personality of traveler is different in what is the priority for the trip and it's our job as a Travel Expert to figure out what type of traveler YOU are and customize your vacation to be exactly what you have dreamed and hoped it would be. There are many different personalities for travelers and none are mutually exclusive. Below are just a few examples of travel personalities, which personality can you relate to best?
 
Foodie:  They seem to enjoy the culture and culinary experience from many different destinations and may be more interested in wine tastings, and authentic cooking classes over the typical sights and landmarks.
 
Escape ArtistsFor those choosing to escape for the holidays or escaping with the whole family and make it just a little more special, like Christmas in thScreen Shot 2017-03-06 at 11.20.53 AM.pnge Swiss Alps. These clients would probably prefer something cozy and more intimate to enjoy the company they're with as well as the scenery surrounding them. This client wants experiences to last a life time and add a little something extra to the festivities. Some activities may include dining or cooking class in home of local chef or in clients private villa renal, as opposed to cooking school.
 
All adventurers are not alike!
Active adventurer:  Testing their limits is what this traveler is all about. Clients that want action and adventure are usually going to want more secluded destinations that have kayaking, rock climbing, zip lining, hot air ballooning.  Anything to get that adrenaline flowing.  Yet the wanderer can be anywhere enjoying the exploration and immersing themselves in the culture maybe taking leisurely hikes or what about biking through wine country.
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HISTORY BUFFS:  These clients love history, museums, and the arts. The client will be more prone to traveling to older, historically rich destinations. The want to see and hear about everything. They thirst for knowledge and are anxiously observing all the sights and sounds around them. Gearing the vacation to landmarks and museums, or maybe even the occasional castle.  These clients may enjoy after-hours tour of museums and other tours along these lines.
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, Italy, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, #group travel, paradiseescape

Discover Paris Perfectly

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 2, 2017 at 6:04 AM

 
  • Paris is ALWAYS a Good Idea
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    Who's ready for a visit to Paris? Our book club read several books last year set in PARIS and now I'm trying to figure out how to get a girls trip to Paris or a couples trip to Paris/Normandy/Beaune on my travel calendar PRONTO!!  If you love books about Paris and World War II, check these out!   "Paris Time Capsule" and "The House by the Lake".  
     
    WARNING:  You will have an urgent desire to visit Paris soon . . . and when you do, here are few tips for your next vacation to Paris.  Keep reading if bespoke Paris speaks to you, making a Paris trip even more MAGICAL.
     
    1. Visit O Chateau for the absolute BEST wine experience! They offer so many options...ranging from a single glass of wine to a Champagne Cruise on the Seine to a full day small-group tour to the Champagne region of France! www.o-chateau.com/paris-wine-tasting
     
    2. Stop in to the L’Orangerie museum to get “up close and personal” with Monet’s incredible Water Lilies. This small museum is easy to get in and out of, usually with no crowds, and is a fantastic way to see some of the most amazing art in France – hassle free! CLOSED TUESDAY
     
    3. One of the best values in the Paris art scene is the Sculpture Garden at the Rodin Museum. For only 1 Euro per person, you can wander around and view some of Rodin’s most famous works, including “The Thinker”. There is also a quaint café in the gardens if you want to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine with your culture! CLOSED MONDAY 
     
    4. Be sure to save a few hours to spend on the incredibly charming market street, Rue Cler (in the 7 th arr). This area is a favorite of travelers  and you can find just about anything you might want to eat, drink, smell, see, hear or buy! If you are “munchy” try a freshly made crepe from the stand outside Ulysses restaurant...can't think of a better way to start your day with one every day (ha ha )! CLOSED MONDAY
     
    5. Buy the “fixings” for a great picnic at one of the many markets and eat “al fresco” for lunch! Where else can you enjoy such wonderful food in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame cathedral? A small bottle of slightly chilled French rose wine to share completes the experience!Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 4.08.09 PM.png
     
    6. It is hard to go too wrong with Parisian cafes and restaurants....look for places with locals who seem to be enjoying themselves....avoid the ones with big “WE SPEAK ENGLISH” signs and “TOURIST MENUS” advertised out front. Most all have English-translated menus if you ask. Remember that Parisian waiters are paid well...not like here in the US! Slow service is good service...you are basically in no rush...the meal IS the entertainment. (Unlike here where we grab a quick bite before a movie). You must ask politely for the check when you are ready to leave...a waiter will never bring your check spontaneously because they don’t want to seem to rush you...it is considered rude! Relax and enjoy the experience!
     
    7. I know the Eiffel Tower is a “must” for many people, but there is really no reason to go all the way up to the top. The view is actually better from the 1st and 2nd levels since Paris is so flat. Reservations can (and should) be made at www.tour-eiffel.fr.  On the 1st level, there is a nice restaurant for lunch and you can walk around the perimeter that is marked with signs explaining what you are viewing – and if you have a reservation for the restaurant, you can bypass the massive line for the elevator. It is a great way to get the layout of the whole city without the crushing crowds at the top. 
     
    8. The Louvre is one of those museums that irritates the fire out of many! It is absolutely HUGE, hot and crowded...but everyone feels like they n
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    eed to go. You don’t, unless you are a serious artist or art-history buff. If you r
     
    eally are in to art, be sure to purchase a Museum Pass that will act as your ti
     
    cket to most of the major museums in Paris....AND the card lets you bypass most of the lines! CLOSED TUESDAY
     
     
Since it is the mission of  VIP Travel Experience to take you BEYOND the highlights for bespoke or unique EXPERIENCES, here are some of my favorite things to plan for my clients:
 
  • Eating a fabulous Michelin starred 5 course dinner in the Eiffel tower with wine pairings.
  • A private, personalized excursion with a local tour guide to take you to the most interesting sites  of  D-Day and Normandy Beaches to discover the battlefields you've always to see, or some you may not have heard of.
  • An unforgettable, simply magical night at Mont Saint Michel.France-Mont-Saint-Michel-1900_bordercropped.jpg

  • France has another city, Lyon. I dare you to go without a list of recommended eateries.  There are literally  hundreds of precious little cafes and restaurants in France's culinary /gastronomical capital, and it's also home to an amazing lights festival.  
  • Private driver through gorgeous Burgundy countryside to get to charming Beaune.  You will absolutely LOVE it and feel like you stepped back in time

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So depending on how much time you have and how far you want to stray from Paris, don't miss out on the many little hidden gems of France.

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What Is The ALL in an All Inclusive?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

February 16, 2017 at 10:02 AM

Ahhh....the images we have in our head of the stuffy, usually British, Butler – almost always named Jeeves! But let’s be honest...most of us have no real reference other than a few TV sitcoms like “Benson”, “Family Affair” and “The Fresh Prince of Belair”. Or maybe “Downton Abbey”. In the real world, Butler Service is becoming a much sought-after perk at many All-Inclusive resorts and on some Cruises.
 
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It sounds romantic having someone at your beck-and-call ready to serve you champagne and run your rose petal bath, but most travelers feel a little awkward at first knowing just what services a Butler can (and won’t) provide. And, is it really worth the extra cost? Only YOU can decide that. Most people travel to get away from the routines of daily life and Butler service can help you feel like a King or Queen for a week. Maybe it’s a special occasion like a Honeymoon or a Milestone Anniversary or Birthday. Or maybe – just maybe – you decide that you are just WORTH IT. Whatever your reason, Butler Service can make a huge difference in the quality of your vacation.
 
So what can a Butler add to your vacation? There are the obvious perks, like unpacking and packing your suitcase, making dinner and entertainment reservations, and making sure that you have your coffee delivered hot and fresh at a set time in the morning. But, I wanted to dig deeper...so I asked some of my fellow travel professionals to share their stories of some of the most wonderful examples of Butler service from their own clients’ vacations (or their own). Here are some of the replies: 
 
 
"I had a couple who didn’t really know how to utilize their Butler until one day when they were leaving the resort to explore nearby beaches and the Butler asked if he could pack them a picnic lunch and some cold beers in a cooler to take with them. They would never have thought of that and it made their afternoon even more perfect”
  • ”I came off the plane and then onto the resort property REALLY sick! My Butler didn’t leave my side and had special soup made for me. He then had the Spa bring in hot towels with these amazing smelling hot essential oils. Finally, he went and made up a natural eucalyptus treatment and rubbed my feet and hands (wrapped with HOT HOT HOT towels). I was amazingly CURED in 2 hours...no joke! Now, I never ever leave my special "potion lotion" bottle at home when I travel!” 
  • bora.jpg"Having a Butler was the best thing for us as a family. When my husband and I went to a rare adult-only dinner, the Butler took the kids out to dinner, rode them around in the golf cart, played ping pong with them, etc. They loved our Butlers by the end of the week. A great perk for families!!!” 
  • ”She walked us to dinner every night and made sure I had my favorite martini ready and waiting. She also reserved our spot at the beach and pool and had cold water in a cooler waiting. She also came over to us at the beach during lunch and took our order and brought us lunch. I can come up with many more"
  • "I was surprising my husband with a new putter and the Butler wrapped it and had it waiting with breakfast on his birthday, along with reservations to play golf. He also whisked us to our reserved table at restaurants during the week while others waited in lines or with beepers." 
  • "I had some clients at Sandals Royal Caribbean recently and they had their Butler take over a cooler full of water and booze to the private island every day and set them up with chairs and an umbrella. They would also have a bottle of chilled Champagne and pre-dinner munchies waiting on their balcony each day at a certain time."
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So, what do you think? Is a Butler in your future? What a great gift to each other to enhance a special vacation, right? I always offer to upgrade clients to Butler rooms, because if I don’t, and then they get there and see what they could have had...they will be coming after me! Most clients who do splurge return from their adventure very pleased that they upgraded because of the enhanced experience. Just relax...and let the Butler do it!

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

Why is February a great time to PLAN travel?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

February 8, 2017 at 11:20 PM

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Let's all say this together!  Stand up and place your hand over your heart . . . we resolve to . . . 
 
...be a better global ambassador exhibiting the true spirit of America--not what is on TV.
 
...take any and all vacation time we've earned...and steal whatever extra days off we can.
 
...go someplace new in 2017, instead of returning to the old tried and true goto vacation destinations.
 
 ...stop saying you've "done" a country, knowing deep down that we could never really know a country unless we lived there.  And I really think I need to KNOW Italy more.
 
...consciously unplug for longer and longer stretches when we travel.
 
...make our politicians see time off for travel as a right, not a luxury; so we can rest, recharge, rejuvenate and reignite our passions being more creative, loyal and productive employees.
 
... NOT do last minute "guilt" souvenir shopping at the airport shop on the way home. blog.jpg
 
...take better pictures--but not so many that we forget to see what is in front of us.
 
...buy quality travel gear and take less of it.
 
...learn something new in each place we go about the culture, language, cuisine, politics, history and religion.
 
...turn strangers in strange lands into our friends.      
 
...not let technology get in the way of us meeting fellow travelers and indigenous people when traveling.
 
...integrate travel more into our lives, as we have with a good diet, exercising regularly and sleeping right. Travel is good for us in so many ways, be it physically, mentally and spiritually
Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 3.01.25 PM.png...be more patient dealing with the trials and tribulations of traveling -- be they TSA lines, surly customer service airline reps, over-packed late flights, noisy hotel rooms, boorish fellow travelers or screaming babies.
 
It's going to be a great YEAR! I look forward to working with you to plan some amazing trips for you and your family and friends!
 
What's your dream for 2017!  Well, dreams always equal Italy for me, so I'll be in Italy in 2 months.

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

Chocolate Melts and Flowers Die, but TRAVEL EXPERIENCES last a lifetime!

Posted by Tammy Murphy

February 4, 2017 at 12:38 AM

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Chocolates melt, Flowers die, but experiences last a LIFE TIME!
Instead of buying flowers and chocolate this Valentine's Day, why not consider
planning a trip for you and your sweetheart? Couples who travel together are significantly more satisfied with their relationships. I don’t think that is very surprising...we’ve all known that couples who travel together have healthier, happier relationships compared to those who don’t. So maybe, this Valentine’s Day, couples should re-think the traditional calorie-laden, perishable gifts and strengthen their relationships by planning a romantic getaway to make memories that will bond and restore you and your loved one for years to come! 
 
Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 12.08.23 PM.pngScientific research by the U.S. Travel Association has found that couples prefer taking a short trip over exchanging tangible gifts. Nearly two-thirds of couples surveyed say a weekend getaway is more likely to spark romance than large or small gifts. Just one-third viewed receiving small gifts the same way. Only 15%
rated getting big gifts like jewelry
as important to improving romance.
 
Traveling alone together sparks romance
More than eight in ten of those who travel regularly as a couple say the romance is still alive in their relationship, and seven in ten of the couples surveyed believe
traveling inspires romance.
 
Couples who travel together have more time for intimacy – A majority of couples say that being more intimate is an important reason to vacation together. Among couples that did not take a trip together in the past year, nearly one in four say they "do not have enough time for intimacy." The survey interviewed 10,000 adults and found that travel can boost romance because it allows couples time to talk, reconnect and share new experiences. It alsprovides a change of scenery and a break from the routine of children, chores and busy schedules.
 
Even better it doesn’t even have to be a super expensive getaway to work! Of course, a week in Bora Bora's romantic over water bungalows can totally make the earth move... but even a Saturday night in a nice hotel suite driving-distance from your home can offer a much needed opportunity to reconnect and finally check out some of the great restaurants and sights that you have been wanting to experience together. Just make sure to allow for a late check-out and breakfast in bed!So once again, say it with me, travel is the answer! The only thing you need to make this time special is each other. I am always reminded of the quote, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.

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Valentine’s Day is less than 10 days away ...are you panicking and tempted to visit the local florist, chocolate shop and/or jewelry store again this year? Do you want your dear one's friends to exclaim "Why didn't my man think of that?" Why not call your favorite travel expert for some great ideas? Believe me....you will thank me later!

 
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International Flight Tips

Posted by Tammy Murphy

January 19, 2017 at 6:57 PM

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TRAVEL PLANNING in is full swing--it's January!  Chances are you have already booked or will be booking a long haul flight for 2017.  Here are few creative ways we've read about  the years from creative travelers that  make their overnight flights more comfortable, some of them will make you giggle.  Which one will you try?

1)  Cabeau Fold 'n Go Travel Blanket & Case Plush and can be used as pillow and lumbar support. Fold-n-Go-Blanket-blue-folded-595x613.png

2) Emergen-C Packets Take one while flying, and a couple more over the course of the flight.

3) IPad if all all attempts fail to make you sleepy, take along your favorite TV shows, novels, movies.

4)  Lululemon Scarf   is wide and soft cotton with snaps, it can be a blanket, pillow, wrap or blocks the light if you are trying to nap.

beachball.jpe5) 
Inflatable beach ball  serves as a great oversized pillow.  If you have one of the cheap blow up beach balls cover with a hand towel to lay on in your lap. 

6) Tennis ball   Great for rolling your feet over on long flights.  Roll your foot over the ball while sitting in seat to stretch the muscles and increase blood flow to your feet and heels. 

7)  White Noise App  Pop in your earbuds, turn on your favorite sound.  I'm told it works better than noise-cancelling headphones. 

8) Rosemary Oil  Great for sinuses and fights  the dryness caused by cabin pressure which may lead to headaches.
 
Don't forget to stretch your legs and neck  every few hours.

What's your favorite remedy? We would love to add your creative ideas to our list!

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

Passport Requirements

Posted by Tammy Murphy

December 28, 2016 at 9:44 PM

                                                     Thank-you-word-cloud.jpg                                                                                             
 
Passports, they are a-changin'

I know, right? This is about as interesting as watching the clock tick, especially when there are so many other exciting topics I'd like to share. passport.jpg

Yet, to get you to the most popular cities, top resorts and plan the most exciting experiences in the best places to travel in 2017, you need a passport.  And if you need to renew your passport, you should probably do so far in advance.  Please be aware of some changes:

Passport Applications will increase (again).

Of course, because MORE people are traveling, but also because the 2007 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative mandating that Americans entering the U.S. by air from Canada, Mexico and Bermuda would be required to have a passport, it's ten years later, and all of these documents are expiring. 

The Real ID Act implementation in 2018

There are minimum standards required pursuant to The REAL ID Act.  Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting state issued IDs that are non-compliant.  For more details click here.

Passports will be more secure

We expect to see "next-generation" passport debut in late 2017.  This next generation passport will have a chip embedded on the information page protected by polycarbonate coating; passport number will be laser cut as tapered, perforated holes through pages; and an artwork upgrade such as a watermark, tactile features and more optically variable inks.  This advance will help in the event that your passport gets wet, bent or stolen. 

Stricter Rules for application

As of November 1, 2016 glasses are no longer allowed in passport photos, unless you present a doctor's note along with your application.

Numbers

As of 2017, passport pages will have numbers on them (some countries will not accept passports with fewer than four pages remaining. 

Renewal may get easier

Rumor has it that renewing passports on-line is in the works.  I don't think I will hold my breath for 2017.

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

Best Vacation Ideas for 2017

Posted by Tammy Murphy

December 21, 2016 at 4:48 PM

Is it just my family?

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For some reason, as one year comes to a close, travel plans are the hot topic in our family.  We all love something to look forward to and what better than vacation plans?  
 
I don't think it's just my family because phones are already ringing off the hook.  So what's on your list for 2017?  

1. FullSizeRender(11).jpgBora Bora.  See the fifty shades of blue in French Polynesia.  Stay in an over water bungalow, snorkel with the stingrays and sharks or rent a yacht to get a more up close and personal experience in the water and finding little private motus.   Words cannot describe my recent experience and I truly hope each of you can experience that sooner rather than later.

Europe. Board a river cruise ship and take a convenient journey to explore charming little towns along the Rhone, Seine, Main, Danube or Rhine.   FullSizeRender(13).jpgSpend a day with a French chef learning to cook Provencal-style. Truffle hunt in Provence or if you love visiting wine vineyards, its on the itinerary as well. No packing or unpacking, just sit back and watch the scenery you've read about in history books unfold before your eyes.    

Food and Wine Travel.  NOW is always the perfect time to visit Italy.   The opportunities to enjoy food and wine of Italy are limitless.35.jpg

Can't imagine a better place to see stunning coastlines, mystical vineyards and storied landmarks.  Enjoy scintillating views while enjoying a magical meal.  For a more bespoke experience, spend the morning hours gathering  ingredients at the local fresh market and join a local chef  in his home to create a meal to remember while learning more about the way locals live.

Caribbean Dreams

FullSizeRender(12).jpg Some mystical experiences are hidden in the mountains of the Caribbean.  Are you looking for some little hidden spots to explore for a new Caribbean experience?  This is one of those spots we found on a recent trip there.  We would love to share our little secrets with you.

These are just a few ideas from my travels in 2016 to spur interest, VIP Travel Experience specializes in unique, exclusive personalized travel planning.  We design individualized journeys, small and group tours, deluxe accommodations, and exceptional excursions, suited to each client based on our personal experience, ongoing research, relationships and professional expertise.

Benefits of working with VIP Travel Experience include:

  • Truly expert advice
  • Flexible, structured to your schedule
  • Authentic Experiences and unique behind-the-scenes opportunities
  • Professional individualized attention to detail and execution of a well planned trip
  • Beautiful proposals and detailed travel documentation (print and electronic)
  • Excellent value pricing
  • Memories to last a lifetime
  • We make you the hero of your family by wowing your family members with an incredible trip.
 
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, Italy, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, #group travel, paradiseescape

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