Tammy Murphy

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Something Beautiful Always Emerges On The Other Side

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 28, 2020 at 1:04 PM

 

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   There is always something beautiful on the other side

Search the photo above and let me know if you spot something beautiful that happened on the other side of a very difficult time in Venice.  Have you ever seen a photo of Venice without that DOME? In fact, I can't really imagine sailing into Venice without seeing that gorgeous Basilica.  The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health) welcomes you to Venice at the junction of Grand Canal and Bacino di San Marco lagoon.   It is so amazing and can be seen from all over the city.  

It's iconic of Venice.  The striking Basilica in the foreground is a symbol of gratitude!!   Did you know that it was built in 1631 to celebrate the end of the unusual outbreak of the plaque responsible for so much loss of life of the Veneto population.  I was told it took 56 years to build and was built to THANK MARY for her prayers of intercession to end the plaque.

I hope when you go to Venice you get the opportunity to visit this beautiful octagonal basilica built on a platform made of thousands of wood piles and located in the Dorsoduro area.  As you walk up to it, you are overwhelmed at the height and you may miss the statue of the Virgin Mary presiding over the church.  There are additional statues of Mark, Luke, Matthew and John.  The great dome represents her crown, the vast interior her womb, the eight sides are the eight points of her symbolic star.  You can visit two small chapels on its sides, and don't miss in the sacristy there is a beautiful  canvas called "Marriage at Cana".  

In November each year, there is also an annual celebration called the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin wherein they walk from San Marco to La Salute across the Grand Canal on a specially constructed pontoon bridge for a service of thanksgiving.  

I LOVE stories of how Italians are filled with gratitude and always honoring Mary.  I know that in these uncertain times we can be filled with doubt and fear, but we know from stories in the bible and history books that we always rise higher and better on the other side of adversity.   We are ALL in this together and there is a future full of hope for all of us.  Let's be kind and help each other along the way.  

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Sharing a little happy picture of my grand demonstrating what to do when life gives you lemons.

 

  • Stay Healthy
  • Stay at Home
  • Stay Strong !!!
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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel, #australia

Can You Imagine

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 27, 2020 at 12:57 PM

I pray that you and your family are healthy and staying strong and at peace!  Please be safe and take care of yourself.

 

Try to remember that stress and fear are more dangerous to your immune system so let's discuss a few ways to reduce stress/fear.

 

I know everyone is facing a temporary "new normal" right now and one of the biggest issues may be feeling like you have lost control of your life and the freedoms we typically take for granted.  That is totally UNDERSTANDABLE!  Believe me, I'm feeling it too.   What I have to remind myself (and others remind me too lol)... recognize what I can and can't control.   Let the "Can'ts" go!  Focus on the
"Cans".  I've started a list here to get you started ... what are some of your suggestions? Reply to this newsletter and  I can share with others next week, how are you letting go of what you can't control and moving forward as an inspiration to others...

I CAN'T CONTROL:

-wheher or not others follow the rules of social distancing, but i CAN be sure that I and my immeditae family, follow CDC recommendations.  The sooner we contain this virus, the sooner "normal" will return.

 

-the actions and attitudes of others, but I CAN control my own actions and be sure that they are being tempered with a little extra KINDNESS, GENEROSITY and GRACE.

 

-the amount of toilet paper on the grocery store shelves, but I CAN choose to only take what I need and not hoard that  or any other important supplies so that others can have access as well.

 

-the sensationalism and constant barrage of negative news stories that incite anxiety, but I CAN control what I see by limiting my exposure to updates from a trusted source and filtering out all of the clutter.  TURN OFF THE TV NEWS!!

 

-when schools will open again, but WE CAN do the best that I can to be sure kids have some structure, good nutrition, a reasonable schedule, time to play, creative projects and lots of attention & love.  Children get anxious too and they look to us for cues.  (My fb newsfeed is filled with wonderful stories of moms killing it with the homeschooling-I'm so impressed-drop a line to a mom and tell her she's got this).

 

-how long this will last, but I CAN choose to be part of the solution and stay well by social distancing, hydrating, exercising, eating healthily, restign and finding fun things to do at home.  THIS TOO SHALL PASS, and you want to be in better shape when it does, more than ever before!

 

-not being able to physically hang out with friends, coworkers and family members, but I CAN keep socially networking using video chats, emails, thoughtful social media posts, telephone or ZOOM calls.  Our bodies may be isolated, but our SOULS NEED CONNECTION, so keep reaching out in more creative ways.  

 

-the restrictions on travel right now, but I CAN provide you with inspiration so that you keep your dreams alive.  The time will come when you can take that trip that you have been wanting to take, and I WILL BE HERE ready and waiting to help you make it happen!

 

In troubling or uncertain times, it is so hard to see the other side-but its not far away-I can just see it.

 

Please please read below as I share with you a story I learned on my first trip to Venice.  It is the most beautiful example of seeing something of beauty after a very long troubling time.  Email me if you already knew this or you're surprised!!

 

AND I CAN'T WAIT to hug people again-especially this little one and her sister!!

 

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Sharing a little happy picture of my grand demonstrating what to do when life gives you lemons.

 

  • Stay Healthy
  • Stay at Home
  • Stay Strong !!!
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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel, #australia

Keep On Dreaming

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 23, 2020 at 11:28 AM

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“Stay home and hunker down” are not words that I, as a travel professional AND world traveler myself, ever thought I would give as advice. However, with the current COVID-19 situation and the need to be responsible, I totally understand that we all must socially distance ourselves and our family right now to help reduce the impact of this nasty new virus.

But, while I am willingly advising people to NOT travel over the next weeks, I feel very strongly that we will all get through this together and the world will once again open its arms to receive curious visitors. So, while we may not be actively traveling, it is vitally important to keep on DREAMING about your next vacation or adventure.

Since we are staying home, and most schools are closed as well, I thought I would add to the list of travel-themed movies that I sent last week.  These moveis can easily be found with the many streaming services that are out there.  What better way to spend a couple of hours with your family than watching together, dreaming together and getting inspiration for your next trip

 

 (click here for last week list) 

 

  • P.S. I Love You (2007) A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.  Ireland is the star!  In honor of St. Patrick's Day.
    NOTE:  Read featured item below for some Irish inspiration
  • Letters to Juliet (2010):  Traveling to Verona, Italy with her busy fiancé, a young American journalist gets involved in an adventure based on a love letter a tourist left at the monument to Romeo & Juliet's unrequired love.
  • The Way (2010) - An American father takes the journey on the Camino del Santiago to understand what happened with his son, who died while attempting the journey himself. The beauty of France and Spain is prominently featured.

And especially for the kids (but parents will like these too!)

  • Brave (Disney):  A great adventure story based in Scotland that also teaches girls that they don't need that handsome prince to be awesome.
  • Moana (Disney):  The young daughter of the village chief discovers her calling and purpose by rescuing her Hawaiian island from an angry goddess with the entertaining help of the demigod, Maui. 
  • The Sound of Music:  Need I say more? The adventures of the Von Trapp family and their nanny, Maria, set in pre-WWII Austria.  A classic!
  • Madeline:  Lost in Paris:  A young schoolgirl in Paris embarks on many misadventures that cause her fellow students and teachers many headaches.  Based on the book series.

    So, pop some popcorn and cozy up on the couch together and start dreaming!  This social distancing thing is looking better already!

    When the world calms down and you are ready to turn your new travel dreams into reality, I am here to make it effortless for you….Keep on Traveling!!!

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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel, #australia

When life gives you Lemons

Posted by Tammy Murphy

March 16, 2020 at 8:35 AM

 

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1. Take a deep breath

Let's talk about YOU!!!  YOU DESERVE THIS TRIP OF A LIFETIME!!  Your decision to travel to Europe was not made in haste and I hope you won't try to make the decision to postpone in haste either.  You have worked so hard for this, and in some cases we been have designing and planning this TRIP OF A LIFETIME or MILESTONE ANNIVERSARY trip for  over a year!  So I feel it is my responsibility as your advisor not to give up until we have discussed all of your options.

 

2. Let's Remain Calm

You hired me as your travel advisor and my entire team and I are here for you.  I have shared my personal cell number with each of you so that while  you're traveling you have  VIP's service and support 24/7. As an added benefit during your travels, I share phone numbers for my travel partners in your destination in case you need to make direct contact with them.   

In addition, during this situation, I have extended my accessibility (with a few mental health breaks) to assist you with the resources  in making the best decision for you !

NOTE:  If you are traveling to the Caribbean, please note that, AS OF TODAY, that area is in Level 1 (Practice Normal Travel Precautions (same as the USA), which means it is currently safe to travel there. 

Please note the state department has issued a Global Health Advisory, you may want to reconsider travel as recommended until after April 13, 2020.

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3. Weigh the Facts

Routinely we advise that you enroll in the Smart Traveler Program before leaving the country, which enables our state department to make contact with you should an emergency arise while you are traveling.

In the current situation, we are also recommending you consult WHO,  CDC  John Hopkins for FACTUAL INFORMATION .  Let's keep some perspective, things are improving over time  (if you were traveling today or in 4 weeks-look at the warning levels of the State Department.

Drastic measures are being taken to protect us.   We think the most practical plan if you have a trip planned to Europe is to wait several weeks before making a final decision. If you decide you will feel more comfortable rescheduling your trip, we will be able to help you make these changes, but again, we recommend the "wait and see approach".

Allow the time requested  by European  and United States Government and at that time revisit the facts and improvements.  For clients traveling to  Europe at the end of April, you may consider revisiting the facts on April 15.  For those traveling end of May, consider revisiting facts on April 30 or even May 15.

 

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4. What we are Doing

If we have determined, based on the facts, that it is not advisable for you to travel at this time, we have already contacted you, shared the resources and  discuss your options--it is always ultimately the decision of our clients. We appreciate your patience and are eternally grateful for your positive thoughts, patience and willingness to work together.  

For those traveling in the next 30 days, we are available via phone, email 24 hours a day for emergencies.  For non-emergencies it will take a little longer than our normal response time, but we will respond by end of day. 

To avoid any interruption to your everyday lives, we are making hundreds of phone calls on your behalf   with suppliers, travel insurance companies  getting the details as they pertain to your specific trip.  Our first priority are those traveling in 2 weeks, then 4 weeks, 6 weeks, then 8 weeks.   

We support your personal decisions to wait and see or postpone.   We are outlining all of the options to you regarding your specific trip so that you may have all the details needed to make the decision that fits you best.

 

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5) Keep Dreaming

Since we are doing all the heavy lifting (stress eating, pacing, phone calls, on hold, etc) you are free to keep dreaming of that awesome trip.   

I recommend binge watching any of these shows to remain 10% happier.

  • Up
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Mamma Mia
  • South Pacific
  • Midnight in Paris 
  • French Kiss
  • An Affair to Remember
  • The Bucket List
  • Out of Africa
  • Before Sunrise
  • Eat, Pray, Love
  • Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Chocolat
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Only You

We have weathered more troubling times and  THE SUN WILL ALWAYS COME UP TOMORROW.    After times of hurricanes, floods, 91, etc. clients were so ready to get me planning their trip so that they could get away when the dust settled.   It is always helpful to have something to look forward to. We are Americans, and we are strong and resilient ...we need to keep dreaming of tomorrow.  

Let's focus on the things we can control and help each other along the way.  

Ok so enough talk about lemons, let's make  Limoncello!

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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel, #australia

Top 10 Greek Island Vacations

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

 
10 Top Greek Island Destinations   

#11 Navagio Beach
 
 

Greece has always been an ideal Mediterranean vacation destination.  Located in southeastern Europe, with over 2,500 islands (230 inhabited), it can be hard to choose which one to visit first.  Greece is a country with great, ancient history, one that gave birth to the concepts of democracy and philosophy, the Olympic Games, and drama.  

The landscape offers a picturesque variety, from whitewashed homes and blue domed churches to 18th century architecture and traditional authentic villages in the mountainous areas.

Hopefully, these eight guidelines will inspire your decision. 

#8 Greek Islands - ultimate romance destination
 
Best Couples Getaway:  Folegandros does not get the crowded tourist scene as most Greek towns do.  They have a broad selection of restaurants and cafes.  Chora is the main village and has been preserved well, noting open landscapes and clifftop housing.
 
Best Food:  Cretan cuisine focuses on all-natural ingredients and can be enjoyed at any local tavern throughout the islands.  Some dishes include Dakos, Gamapilafo, Mizithropita and Apaki.
 
#1 Greek diet - flavorful and healthy
 
Best Traditional Village Life:  The island, Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades and has a little over 6,500 inhabitants and a bit over 20 small villages.  Naxos has ancient towers, paved streets and has maintained its unique Venetian architecture.
 
Best Dramatic Views:  The southernmost of the Greek Cyclades, has to be on of the world's most dramatic landscapes.  It's unique topography is the result of a massive volcanic eruption over 3,600 years ago, blowing the middle out of the island, thereby creating a caldera (volcanic crater filled with deep blue water) from the Mediterranean Sea. Known for its cobbled alleys, white cubic buildings, gourmet restaurants and unforgettable sunsets.
 
Best Faith Based:  Follow the footsteps of Apostle Paul, experience Greek history and culture and learn more about early Christianity and the New Testament.  Athens, Thessalonika, Patmos, Corinth are just a few.
 
Best kiteboarding and windsurfing:  With gusty winds that can be seen from a mile away; Paros island is the best known for kiteboarding and windsurfing sports goers.  Santa Maria, Prassonisi and Pounda are the main beaches where the sport is practiced.  The Thalasea Sports Center is the bay of Mikli Vigla and is a popular hub for the sport.
 
#7 Benefits of cruising around the Greek Islands
 
Best Beaches:  Located in the Aegan Sea, Milos is a beautiful volcanic island that is rich in minerals as well as rich history.  Firopotamos, Kastanas and Paliorema are some top beach destinations in Milos.  The white-washed Cycladic villages and black sands are picturesque backdrops.  Although some may be only accessible by boat, there are over 80 mini beaches throughout Milos that you can explore.
 
Best for Nature Lovers:  Ikaria has some of the World's most pristine and untouched nature territories.  It has been identified as a place that promotes life longevity and better overall health.
 
Best Robinson Crusoe Destination:  Koufonisia is comprised of two islands, Pano (upper) and Kato (lower).  The preferred way to navigate the area is by foot or cycling as everything is within walking distance.  The island has a museum and many sightseeing options.
 
Best Nightlife:  Mykonos, also known as "The Island of the Winds", is world renowned for their vibrant nightlife.  Little Venice and Paradise Beach are popular party destinations.  Working with a travel advisor, you will want to ask which beaches are family friendly.  July & August are the main months for tourism, but also sometimes the wildest parties.  
 
The absolute minimum stay for a quick look at the main sights would be 8 days, you can't overlook a few days needed to simply relax in this warm climate and watch the world go by.
 
In June, 2022, we will be hosting a small group trip to Greece, I hope you can join us.
 
#10 - Greek Islands fun facts
 
 
Email me tammy@viptravelexperience.com I would love to hear where your visions are taking you?  Together we can create the best vacation experience for YOU.  It's a big world out there -- we hope you EXPERIENCE it
 
 
 
 
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Topics: travel ideas, travel tips, Greece

It's Your First Time to Italy?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 15, 2019 at 7:49 AM

 
"No problem, We Are Here For You!!" 
 
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Tip 1:  Plan your Trip to Italy well in advance and know the best times to go before you book.

Italy is one of the most visited countries and it tops almost everyone's bucket list.  It's a busy tourism place all year long.  The hot spots are Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre. 

Positano is a precious little town with a finite number of hotels that sell out years in advance, particularly for groups of 6 or more.  The same is true for other towns along the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre.   If you are planning to travel to these towns in the summer or fall, it's not uncommon to plan and book a year in advance.  Not only is space limited, but pricing is usually tricky.  The further in advance that you book, the more accommodation options you will have at better values.

Italy is typically a destination you would not want to wait until the last minute to book.  We have great partners and can be sometimes pull a rabbit out of the hat, but planning 9 months to one year out is ideal for you.

Tip 2:  Hotel star ratings and descriptions can be deceiving

Enlist the help of a professional when booking your hotel in Italy.  A 5 star rating in Italy is not the same as a 5 star hotel in the United States, star rating in Italy may not be the best measure to go by when booking your hotel.    Also, don't assume there will be air conditioning or elevators.  Sometimes you may think you are getting a truly "luxury" experience, please pay close attention to the location of the accommodation.  "Steps away from Trevi Fountain" does not mean there won't be a busy intersection between accommodation and Trevi Fountain.  Hotels can be complicated ... wouldn't you prefer to work with professionals that have personally visited the hotels and know the staff.  

Tip 3. Italy is larger than it appears on a map 

Surely, you have heard that Rome was not built in a day and it can't be seen in a lifetime.  Most travelers that I work with want to see 6 or more Italian cities in  8 days or several countries in 10 days.  While you can sometimes  fit it all in, I hope you will reconsider.  Changing hotels every day or 2 days will leave you exhausted and you may well miss the most special things that make ITALY the best travel destination.  Relax and enjoy the authentic parts of each city.  Never underestimate how much time it takes to pack, transfer, unpack from one destination to the next--that usually takes about 1/2 day.

 
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Tip 4:  Allow enough time to book tickets well in advance to major sites of interest

Skip the line tickets to places like Vatican City in Rome, the Uffizi and Accademia galleries in Florence and Cennacolo where Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper resides requires reservations approximately 6 months in advance, maybe longer if you are traveling with more than 4 people.

Tip 5:  Private drivers and private tours

For groups of 3+ travelers, we recommend a private driver and private tours for the best experience.    Many of our clients return to tell us all the tips and tricks their drivers gave them and how much it enhanced their stay.

Tip 6:  Avoid the Tourist Menu

Part of the fun is finding cool little spots for dinner, but please beware.  Big photos of pasta or multiple choices on a menu is a sure sign that it is a tourist trap.  I would venture a couple blocks to the back and look for a restaurant with one main meal written on chalkboard in Italian.  Where you dine, who you dine with and the neighborhood you dine in makes a big difference in your experience.

Plan on an hour or two for dinner.  Scheduling in advance wine tastings and cellar tours with a "lite lunch" is a golden opportunity.  You will not only dine, but have a truly cultural experience. 


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Tip 7:  Know where to avoid driving

Some of the most popular cities are the most difficult to and dangerous to drive.  I honestly can't think of any town on a first visit that I would recommend driving.   Parking is very expensive (sometimes 100 Euros a day) and leaving your car unattended is not a great idea.  It is very confusing getting around, even for the locals, and many areas prohibit driving, even locals.  And never drink and drive, there is zero tolerance. 

Tip 8:  Know before you go

Cruises can be great fun, but consider what you want to see and do.  After much discussion, most travelers realize they would like to have a more immersive, authentic experience while visiting one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.   Consider that you may only have 5 hours in a particular town along with hundreds of other cruise passengers all trying to see the same iconic sites at the same time.  Cruises can be perfect for some destinations, but I HIGHLY recommend a land experience for Italy.

For more relevant information about your next vacation, we would love to help you.

Why not let VIP Travel Experience help you plan that all-important trip soon...One of my favorite quotes:
 
"The Trouble is...you think you have time"

 

Travel now while you are healthy and able.  Please reconsider skipping your next vacation. Vacations are healthy and really good for your employer for you to rest and recharge. 

 
 
Email me tammy@viptravelexperience.com I would love to hear where your visions are taking you?  Together we can create the best vacation experience for YOU.  It's a big world out there -- we hope you EXPERIENCE it. 
 
 
 
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Topics: travel ideas, travel tips, Italy

What is the Perfect Souvenir?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

October 17, 2019 at 1:05 AM

 
"What is the Perfect Souvenir?" 
 
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Wikipedia says that souvenir is a reminder of a place visited, and occasion or momento.
Long ago I decided that bringing souvenirs home (unless edible or drinkable lol) really aren't worth my money.  If the person didn't go, it is likely to be in the bags of their next purge.    What I do HIGHLY recommend is a painting, or enlarge a photo from your trip .  Sure, selfies are a wonderful way to get everyone in the photo, but some vacations deserve more than selfies.  That's why we teamed up with Flytographer who have photographers all over the world.  We handle all of the details for you for a 30 minute (or longer if you desire) and all you have to do is show up.  The  photographers from Flytographer will capture your vacation memories in the best photogenic or iconic sites because they shoot there all of the time.  Within a few days, you receive a  link to digitally download the high res images from your photo shoot.  The results are stunning.
 
Here are just a few from our family trip to Ireland.  Since we had five people in our group, I chose the 60 minute session so that we could walk to a few areas of Dublin. We met our Flytographer at St. Stephen Park and shot some there and then we walked a few blocks away for some other "city" photos.  Our photographer not only captured incredible memories but was a great resource for what to eat and little known spots to check out around  the city.  I'm including four of the six locations we visited during our shoot.  For your next trip, please ask us to set this up for you.
 
Note:  Before we were back home, Justin had used one of the images to order a canvas from Sam's and I see it every morning during breakfast and it takes me back to so many wonderful memories of this special time with my adult children.  
 
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Email me tammy@viptravelexperience.com I would love to hear where your visions are taking you?  Together we can create the best vacation experience for YOU.  It's a big world out there -- we hope you EXPERIENCE it. 
 
 
 
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Topics: travel ideas, travel tips, Italy

When Should you Use a Travel Advisor

Posted by Tammy Murphy

October 3, 2019 at 9:33 AM

 
"How to Have a Stress Free Vacation" 
 
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So, we work really hard, sometimes 9-12 months on creating the perfect vacation.  It can be so easy, it begins with a "Discovery Call" where we talk about your hopes and dreams for your bucket list trip.  If it sounds like something we can add value to and we both decide to work together.  We begin brainstorming, putting all the little pieces together. One thing we hear quite often is, "Thank you so much, I would have never known how to put all of these trains, transfers, hotels, etc.  and sometimes after hearing what their interests are, the puzzle may change completely.   It's so much fun watching the joy in their faces when we meet to go over the visual of what this bucketlist would look like.  I know we save our clients so much time, stress and energy doing what we do best, while they can go back to doing what they do best.   But truthfully, the airlines hold that last piece to the puzzle.  I can pretty much make sure everything is covered except the weather and the airlines.. .  This became quite evident the last couple of weeks when airlines (all different airlines), cancelled flights days before travel and we were left scrambling.  
 
On this particular trip, the day of departure they learned that their connecting flight in New York was delayed 1.5 hours so that in turn cancelled their connection in Rome to Naples because with that change by airlines it became an illegal connection in Rome.  You may ask why was there such a tight connection in Rome - well airlines changed that after tickets was booked as well.   If we had gone ahead with the airlines decision to put them on the next flight to Naples, they would have missed their lunch reservations and Pompeii tour.  I knew how important this was to them and just could not give up.   I convinced  them to sleep on the plane I would take care of all the details & they would awake to a text of how to proceed.  So while they were in route:
 
 
Plan B:   I was praying the plane would make up the time in the air which usually happens and about midnight I would be able to switch the flight back to the earlier time.
Plan C: We hired a driver to be on standby to drive them to Pompeii in time for their tour;
 
One thing occurred to me while I was on hold for hours . . .   what are the other travelers on that flight doing that didn't have a Travel Expert? Are you missing the last piece of the puzzle?
 
Thankfully, I was able to text them about 2 hours before they landed that they would be arriving at 8am and  I was able to rebook them on original flight and VIP Meet & Greet in Rome would whisk them through passport control & to their connecting flight, easy peasy.
 
1) You know how crazy schedules are the day or two before you leave to go on vacation?  Would your work schedule allow you to sit on hold for hours making alternate arrangements?  OR
2)  What if you didn't know YOU COULD make alternate plans?  Many travelers just accept that they will be left in airports for hours and hours OR miss the connection and in turn tours lined up that day.    
3)  What if your flight is delayed and you miss your connecting flight?  Where will you stay for the night?  Will I lose that day at my resort? How will I beat the crowd to get on the next flight?  (Sometimes, there is only one flight going to that destination per day per airline).
 
If I had a dollar for every time I am asked "Do people still use travel agents?"  My response is all day, everyday (keep reading, I think you will be surprised at what a travel ADVISOR is).  And the really well informed travelers are using a travel Advisor INSTEAD of a travel agent or online booking site which is actually a travel agent without the service. 

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

WHY SO MANY QUESTIONS?
So these are why we ask so many questions, not to be nosy, we want you to have the best EXPERIENCE possible.  We take all of your answers and put together the puzzle to match little dream in your head.  It takes  hours and hours of detailed research and planning to put each little piece together
 
Many times, we have access to things that YOU may not be aware of.  Would you like to visit the Sistine Chapel after hours?  Would you like a photopher on location? Would you like a cooking lesson in the chef's home as opposed to cooking institution or restaurant?  Would your kids love a truffle hunt?  And much more, we can't reveal all of our secrets, right. 
 
Will you really get what you think you're getting online? Buyer beware, last week a client sent me an email asking if I could get them a room for 4 at a specific price at a specific resort during Christmas holidays.  Well, turns out I could get the room (which appeared sold out online), however the price shown online did not accommodate 4 people, the price for the room that would accommodate 4 people was significantly higher.  Saving money is great, and I'm all for staying within budget and getting a good value for your hard-earned travel dollars.  That is why we ask for your budget.  I really do have your best interest in mind . . . trust me, I will do my best to find you the perfect fit for the greatest value.  
 
Many think they are saving money "booking themselves", but what they may not realize is that the booking engine is a "large corporation travel agent", you will receive confirmation numbers and that is the end of that story, there is no service during and after the sale.  AND if something is not as you perceived it to be, you probably won't receive a live person that sincerely cares about your time and money.  When you give me or any other hard working travel professional, the "go ahead" to book that same vacation (often at the same price or better), most times, you are not paying in full on that day, you will receive first class service, well-organized travel documents, app with your day-to-day itinerary plans via mobile phone, destination information, restaurant recommendations and sightseeing recommendations, along with the peace of mind that we are available for you each step of the way.  If anything goes wrong on the trip, we typically have affiliates on-location and/or good working relationships with the hotels, resorts, cruise lines.  We sincerely advocate FOR YOU. Just ask yourself or the agent you are working with, what is included in the sale.
 
And lastly, Insure your vacation
Your travel advisor can help you choose the best policy for YOU.  One of the greatest surprises why you may want travel insurance is not just for trip cancellation.  Some countries are beginning to require travel insurance before they allow entry into their country.  We encourage you to purchase third party insurance, we almost never recommend purchasing the supplier insurance, we want someone that is looking out for you, not the supplier.
 
So I hope I've put all the pieces together for you on when to use a travel advisor and hope we can help you again in the future.  
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Topics: travel ideas, travel tips, Italy

Professional Drivers and Guides Enhance the Best of Vacations

Posted by Tammy Murphy

October 1, 2019 at 7:55 AM

 
"Let Us Handle It" 
 

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I have written many times about the importance of using a local guide or local English speaking driver. It's just one of the many we encourage our clients to give back to the destination they are visiting.   It's so important that we support the local communities that we enjoy visiting.  Otherwise, there won't be anyone to driver or guide when we need them.  Beyond that, we encourage the use of  a local guide or driver is to make the most efficient use of your precious leisure time.  There is no lost time and expense of parking, finding the best route and in most countries there is zero tolerence of driving under the influence.   You are too important for us to risk any of these situations hendering your time away with your traveling companions.  Wouldn't it be better for everyone on the trip to enjoy their time relaxing and enjoying the scenery?  You probably can't even imagine the things that CAN go wrong while driving in another country.  Is it worth flying back for a court date?  Believe me, these things happen and sometimes you don't know until you have returned home.

 

IMG_3348Do you have a tight connection in Rome?  We have you covered... we have meet and greet partners to meet you & escort you through passport control in record times.

I know sometimes you have to experience it to understand.  Here is what a few of our clients have shared with us:

"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!!" 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 driver 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.  Another added bonus is that they love their home, they will share much more about local restaurants, non-touristy places for you to visit, even AFTER the drive.

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As I hope you can see by now, hiring a professional, vetted guide or driver has many diverse benefits. 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 stress free vacation.

 
Click here MORE BLOG STORIES for more inspiration and ideas for a travel inspired life
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Topics: travel ideas, travel tips, Italy

2020 Vacation Planning Now

Posted by Tammy Murphy

September 30, 2019 at 7:59 AM

 

Anticipation of Vacation is Half of the Fun?

 

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I love the gorgeous weather of fall and the excitement of getting outdoors and being comfortable.  Before we know it January will be here.   What does January mean to you?  Is it time to start thinking about vacation.   One of our busiest planning seasons begins January 1.  I am SO proud of the many clients that have already planned their 2019 & 2020 vacations.  WOW!   I love to see people plan their work lives around vacation, rather than vacation around their work life.  

 

One  of the most exciting parts of vacation is the anticipation.  I don't know about you, but I'm planning my vacation while I'm on my current vacation and its catching on with many of our clients too.  As we meet to give them their documents, we leave planning their next adventure.  

 

This has to be the sweetest phone call I received this week:  

"I didn't want to save this until we returned because we are just so excited. We are having the most AMAZING TIME (I could feel the heartfelt emotion).  We were super exhausted after the international flight, but our guide was absolutely amazing, so knowledgeable and she knew exactly what we were interested in .   THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!"   (guess what, we are already planning their next trip before their plane was in the air for this trip).

 

We LOVE these fabulous emails, texts and facebook messages  about how thrilled you are with our LOCAL drivers and guides.  We love taking advantage of OUR relationships with on the ground experts that we trust our own family with. 

 

We would love to do the same for you! 

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Topics: travel ideas, travel tips, Italy

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