Cruising Through Provence

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 27, 2020 at 2:10 PM

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To begin our journey we boarded our flight from the US and hopped across the pond to Lyon, France. Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France with all the best eateries in as many variations you could imagine.  Here we were picked up and transferred straight to the ship. There was no line or assigned boarding time you just get to the ship and walk right on it was amazing. The ships decor was very elegant, yet casual and the main room was very spacious and staff extremely welcoming. We were ushered to our cabin which was also almost double what I have experienced on ocean cruise ship. We dropped our bags and then got right back off the ship to explore Lyon on our own for the rest of the evening. Upon returning to the ship, we stopped in the lounge and the staff set down a favorite wine that he had recommended earlier in the day (I was floored that he remembered that already-we had only met once). That was the first thing I loved is that there were less than 150 people on board at max capacity.

Fourvière Hill

The next morning, we got up early to discover dynamic Lyon, starting in Fourvière Hill, part of the city’s historic region that is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the 19th-century basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière. We continued on to the old town of Lyon, followed by a guided walk through the St. Jean district, where you will be introduced to the city’s unique covered walkways, known as “traboules.” During the afternoon we took a walking food tour around old town, I was amazed by the murals of local living on the buildings. We boarded the ship, enjoyed the complimentary cocktail hour then headed to dinner. As we were eating dinner the ship departed for our next destination so we were able to see Lyon's skyline lit up as we cruised down the river.  Not only did we enjoy the cultural sites in the country but each day fresh local produce and wines were brought on board so that you have the convenience of traveling on the ship, but you are tasting the farm to table foods and wines of that region.  Next day, different area and different locals foods and wines. 

Day 3, we woke up and headed to breakfast.  Starting with breakfast, all of the meals on board were fabulous. As we were eating breakfast we realized that we were docked once again in the small town in the middle of the Beaujolais wine region—known as the Pays d’Or or “land of the golden stones.” We had the option to indulge in a wine tasting at a traditional winery and learn about the history and techniques of their vineyard. We enjoyed the afternoon at leisure exploring the town and its quaint charm before boarding the ship and sailing to Vienne. Also something I loved about traveling during the day you can sit on the upper decks and have amazing views of the surrounding areas while coasting along this beautiful river or laugh at Tammy rushing to the front of the ship to watch every detail of passing through the locks (she did not miss one of them).

Day 4, We arrived in Vienne situated between the wine regions of Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhône. Vienne 's  alignment with its Roman past can be seen in its marvelously preserved ruins. We had several excursion options (regular departure, late risers or active) to follow the footsteps of the ancient Romans on a walking tour to see the amazingly well-preserved.

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Augustus and Livia Temple, the Saint Maurice Cathedral, a Gothic church that took more than 500 years to build, and St. Pierre Abbey—one of the oldest surviving churches in France, and now an Archaeological Museum. For those wishing to be more active (Like me), you can either take a guided bike tour along a portion of the ViaRhôna bike route or a guided hike (Mom) from the ship to the Monastery at Mount Pipet. The bike ride is the tour I chose. It was beautiful we crossed bridges, rode through vineyards, rode along the river, and through farm land passing chateaus and beautiful ruins.  Each night we gathered in the main lounge for a brief local entertainment from that particular village.  We ended each night with a little music and dancing and wine. There was a small wine club group from New York on board and they welcomed us to their group and we enjoyed meeting up each evening to discuss the different excursions and experiences everyone had enjoyed separately.
 
Day 5, After breakfast we were given the choice of three excursions. Take a train ride past magnificent landscape carved along the Gorge du Doux, stopping at the charming little station of Colombier le Vieux-Saint Barthélemy le Plain, where the train maneuvers in preparation for its return journey. Alternatively, lovers of wine and chocolate will want to visit Le Château de Tournon for a presentation and tasting on the pairing of red wine and chocolate . For a more active adventure, cycle through the French countryside or take a hike through the vineyards of Tain l’Hermitage, followed by a visit to a local winery where you’ll sample some of the wines.
 
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I chose the wine tasting with chocolate pairing at Le Château de Tournon. It was an amazing experience. We were brought under the "castle" to a private room and learned about the history of this Chateau, wine region, and culture of Tournon. It was such a cool environment and the wine & chocolates were delicious. Afterwards we had the afternoon on our own to explore this riverside town and check out all of the shops and buy some wine to take home.   You could walk at leisure exploring or people watching or you could use the complimentary bikes on board the ship.  The ship stayed in port until 11pm that night so Tammy participated in a baguette making class as the famous Guarmandisi Bakery.  The aroma was amazing as they all returned to the ship with their freshly baked baguettes.    Did I mention that all of these awesome excursions are included in the cost of the cruise.

Day 6, Advancing to Avignon, aptly named the “City of Popes,” was the center of the Catholic Church in the 14th century when its “Palais des Papes” was the equivalent of today’s Vatican. Depending on your interests, we had three choices of excursions. Discover the history of Avignon on a guided walking tour that includes the Papal Palace and the well-preserved medieval walls surrounding the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively, if you enjoy cooking you can go into a local chef's restaurant to learn how to prepare a traditional meal.

If you preferred, you could visit three venues around Avignon to taste regional specialties including macaroons, cheese and wine, and tapenades. We decided to do the cooking class and it was the ABSOLUTE highlight of our trip. It was so much fun to learn from a local chef in his own restaurant. During the afternoon, we enjoyed free time in Avignon touring the Palais des Papes. After visiting this enchanting Provençal town, we went in search of the highly prized “Black Diamond” truffles with a farmer and his trustworthy canine companion followed by a visit to an olive farm where you’ll learn about age-old Provençial traditions from a master olive miller as well as sample the olive oils. In the evening, we enjoyed an illuminations cruise around Avignon to see the city aglow along the river. This night we had dinner at the Chef's table  Dining Experience (complimentary and reservations required) for an open kitchen meal experience. We watched the chef prepare each of our 6 courses each as scrumptious as the previous. It is located at the back of the boat with floor to ceiling windows so the views were enchanting sunset as we sailed away from Avignon.

 

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Day 6, Artistic Arles, considered one of the most beautiful cities in France. For art lovers, you’ll wish to visit Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum, where Vincent van Gogh once lived and painted.  Afterwards, we went to the Carrières de Lumières, where we were treated to a spectacular presentation of art, sound and history projected on the walls of caves. Alternatively, you could have chosen to venture to the medieval hilltop village, Les Baux de Provence, or for a different adventure, journey to Aigues-Mortes, known for its well preserved medieval walls and guard towers, followed by a visit to the beautiful Camargue National Park, a protected natural territory with more than 400 different species of birds. During the afternoon, we joined a walking tour of Arles highlighting top sights, including the Romanesque cathedral and Roman amphitheater; Also offered for those who wish to delve further into Van Gogh’s Arles, join a special walking tour along with a visit to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, showcasing his legacy.
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Day 7, we had breakfast and then disembarked this magnificent journey. Not quite having our fill of adventure. We opted into their post-cruise extension and boarded a motorcoach to Barcelona, Spain. There we spent 3 magnificent nights exploring that amazing city, but that is a story for another day. I hope you enjoyed and can now envision yourself cruising down the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Moselle, and/or Main Rivers.

Some of the highlights for us on river cruising were virtually everything was included so there were less decisions to be made.  Our dining, shore excursions, entertainment, wine, beer and soft drinks included during lunch and dinner.  We could tour in the mornings, return to ship for lunch then stroll the city on our own in the afternoon.  The towns/cities were small and we felt completely safe to walk around on our own.  The ship docking in the city center was a huge plus, high quality tours were high quality.   I also like the casual dinners, I wore jeans all nights with exception of the Captain's farewell dinner.

There are many choices of river cruise ships and itineraries.  Activities vary based on the river and destinations.  If you would think river cruising may be in your future, don't hesitate to call us.  There are some big differences by ship, we would LOVE to chat and hear which things are most important to you and help you choose the ship that is just right for you.   We have incredible connections with several cruise lines and also have some added amenities that are exclusive to our agency, we would love to share those with you on your next travel experience.  

 

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting 

better!
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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! 

I truly hope you get to go to Venice.  If this sounds like the kind of ITALY trip you would enjoy, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment).

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Topics: river cruise, #VIPRiverCruise, #RiverCruise, why use a travel agent, luxurytravel

Venice, Italy and All It's Charm

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 25, 2020 at 2:00 PM

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Topics: why use a travel agent, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, luxurytravel

Australia Is Alive and Well

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 22, 2020 at 6:00 AM

Cute Koala in Sydney, Australia
 
Thursday, February 13th I packed up my bags and was chauffeured to the airport by dear old mom for an adventure I will not soon forget. I was spoiled by American Airlines with roundtrip Business Class airfare to LAX which included priority check in. That along with my CLEAR membership and TSA Pre-check it took a total of 12 minutes from getting out of the car to sitting down at my gate. I am loving the new terminal in New Orleans.
 
Arriving in LAX we were allowed entry into the American Airlines Flagship Business Lounge which was a treat in itself. It was adorned with modern decor, amazing food, and premium liquors. For a longer layover this was just what I needed to sit and relax before my long haul flight to Sydney, Australia. As if this wasn't enough of a treat when I boarded the flight to experience the AA Flagship Business Class with fully reclining seats I WAS IN HEAVEN for my 14 hour flight! It truly flew by and I landed feeling like I had a full night's sleep and ready to take on the day.

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Day 1: Settling into Sydney, we were whisked to the Hyatt Regency Sydney in a private luxury  van. After checking in to our rooms and dropping off our bags we hit the ground running boarding a luxurious yacht for a cruise around theHarbor enjoying Sydney's famous sights from the water. Our first stop was Doyle's at Watson's Bay for a quick appetizer which was absolutely delicious. After a few drinks and some fresh calamari we embarked on our journey to Balmoral Beach for our main course. After some wine and some delicious grub we boarded the ship and made our journey back to the wharf. We had a couple hours to relax and unpack before our own private 6 course dining experience hosted by the Hotel Manager and executive chef. The food was to die for. My favorite part of the meal was the wagyu beef cooked to perfection ...it melted in my mouth. Having eaten my entire body weight in delicious food today I decided to call it an early night before an early morning of adventure.

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Day 2: Sydney Harbor Highlights, we woke up at the crack of dawn to get our own private Backstage Tour of the Sydney Opera House. This was one of the coolest tours I have ever been on. We explored the hallowed theatres and foyers where more than 1600 concerts, operas, dramas and ballets take place each year and our experienced guide lead us through every aspect of the building’s 14-year creation and 58-year history. Running our hands over the world-famous shell tiles, taking a seat in the elegant custom-made white birch timber chairs and marvel at the vaulted ceilings of one of the biggest pillar-free chambers in the world. 
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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel, #australia

What's On Your Wanderlist?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

September 24, 2020 at 8:45 AM

 
Life is short (1)
 

If you have travel dreams then you should have travel plans!

While travel to some countries is currently in an unknown territory, we don’t want to push aside dreams of embarking on a trip -- in fact now is one of the best times to start considering your travel goals. Currently many of us plan our vacations in our free time. What if we PLANNED TO LIVE just like we PLAN TO RETIRE. Of all of your life priorities, leisure time is one asset you can't earn back. Let’s face it, if we don’t plan for it 9 times out of 10 it won’t happen. And before we know it another incredible travel opportunity has slipped through our fingers. Perhaps you’re not ready to travel just yet. We get it, you should travel when you feel it's right for you. But for today, let's talk about your travel plans in the next 5 years. A milestone event need celebrating?

That’s why we are proud to be one of Virtuoso’s certified Wanderlist Advisors. What’s Wanderlist? Wanderlist provides you with a customizable travel portfolio that is used to prioritize the most ideal vacations for you + your travel companions while also mapping out your future travel possibilities.

It pays strong dividends to collaborate with us, your seasoned advisors, to maximize your most precious non-renewable asset - YOUR TIME!

How It Works...

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CURATE: EXPLORE: PLAN:
Your Wanderlist journey begins with each traveler ranking their interests, & travel dreams by using an online tool to organize everything all in one place. A personalized travel portal (& app) for you to easily explore the places and specific experiences you long for tailored to all travelers interests. We’ll work together to create a plan for you & all companions future travel possibilities based on your travel portfolio.


Wanderlist builds on the model of financial advising and blending the popularity of the bucket list. A travel portfolio will help save you time and money, as well as prioritize what matters most to you - a clear path to fulfilling your dreams of seeing the world. Wanderlist makes it easy to start living out your travel dreams.

We're here to help you plan a lifetime of extraordinary trips. The world is waiting and we want to be the one to hold your hand to curate the journeys that begin with YOUR dream destinations.

Inspired to see the world?

Schedule your call to learn more about how Wanderlist can change the way you plan travel.

Plan Your Dreams
 
 
 

Life is short (2)

Together we can create the best vacation experience for YOU.  It's a big world out there -- we hope you EXPERIENCE it.  
 

justin@viptravelexperience.com or tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

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Topics: travel tips, luxurytravel

Best Greek Island Destinations

Posted by Tammy Murphy

September 23, 2020 at 9:30 AM

 
Beautiful view from the island of Santorini
 

Greece has always been an idyllic Mediterranean vacation destination. With over 200 inhabited Greek islands to experience, each holding their own beauty with turquoise waters, incredible sunsets - it can be hard to choose which ones you want to consider "must sees" when thinking about where you want to visit.  This is where I come in, we can chat about your preferences and dreams and together we can choose which islands are the best fit for you based on experiences you enjoy, level of luxury you enjoy and best time for crowds and weather.

#1. Milos

Located in the Aegean Sea, Milos is home to the best beaches in Greece. With a beautiful volcano, this island is rich in minerals as well as history. With white-washed Cycladic villages and black sands this island is nothing but picturesque. With some beaches only accessible by boat, there are over 80 mini beaches to explore. Our top favorite include Firopotamos, Kastanas and Paliorema.

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#2: Folegandros

What we consider to be the best Greek Island for an intimate couples getaway, Folegandros is an untouched piece of true, pure Greece with a relaxing, serene atmosphere. Not having the crowded streets from tourists you'll be whisked away to a lovers paradise with a broad selection of restaurants and cafes, open landscapes and beautiful clifftop housing.

#12 Greek olives fun facts

#3: Crete

Rich with archaeological & mythological history, Crete reflects so much history in its ancient ruins and cultural attractions. Soak up the charming atmosphere of Chania Town’s Old Venetian Harbor or check out the majestic Mt. Ida, which is said to be home to the cave where Zeus was born. Cretan cuisine is some of the best of the Greek islands and focuses on all-natural ingredients and can be enjoyed at any local tavern throughout the islands.  Some dishes include Dakos, Gamopilafo, Mizithropita and Apaki.

 

#4. Paros

With gusty winds that can be seen from a mile away Paros is best known for great kiteboarding and windsurfing sport 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.

#5. Santorini
Crescent shaped beyond beautiful, Santorini is the precious gem of the Aegean, is actually a group of islands. The whole complex of islands is still an active volcano and probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea. Venture into the seaside treasures and dive into the deep blue waters with beaches filled with beautiful white, red or black sand or volcanic pebbles, spectacular rock formations and impressive lunar landscapes. This island is one filled with lots of spectacular views, culinary paradise, and perfect for a romance getaway.

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justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

Plan Your Dreams

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Topics: travel tips, luxurytravel

How Travel Ready Are You?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

September 1, 2020 at 10:25 AM

 
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Starting the Countdown for travel produces more endorphins in anticipation than actually arriving in destination (well sometimes!). More to that point - I have been a very busy bee and I can tell you I have been experiencing some endorphin overload especially after a full week of seeing new properties and new experiences for future travels. Typically this time each year we travel to Las Vegas to attend Virtuoso Travel Week. Virtuoso is an invite-only luxury travel consortia. Being part of this consortia has incredible perks for our clients. We meet one on one with hand picked representatives from boutique hotels, luxury cruise lines and on the ground partners from many countries around the world.

It is always a treat to meet new friends and nourish the old, attend continuing education programs and socialized with many partners over cocktails, dinner with partner friends and also other travel advisors. As with all things 2020, we pivoted and I attended one to one meetings via video format with 130 individual partners. Of course, NOT meeting our friends in person was a drag, but there were many, many positives. I was able to be completed zoned in and sometimes the background of the meeting was in destination so I was able to see the view from hotels in Spain, France, Italy, etc. At a time when we cannot travel to Europe, brainstorming and seeking new accommodations and experiences was beyond exciting!!!! Building my knowledge and professional relationships with friends around the globe makes me better prepared to choose which of the many options is the best fit for you, your family and your travel preferences. It's always nice to say "I have a VIP Client I'm sending, please look out for them. 

 

lonely-planet-h_lvEhh25ro-unsplashAfter each of my clients return from their trip that we've planned I send an email asking what's on their radar for the future. And here's why I ask - I have a notebook of who wants to go where and having planned their past trips, I know what kind of experience and accommodation they are looking for and I choose my meetings based on this. So before we actually start the detailed planning, I've kept each of their destinations on MY RADAR for a year sometimes.

Many of my clients have already reached out, but for anyone that I haven't spoken with, I would love to know how you are feeling about travel for 2021?. We've received phone calls, "Where can you send me, I gotta get out of here?" and some that say, "let's start planning 2021." And I'm sure many of you can relate, or may fall somewhere in the middle. Whether you want to plan for future travel or just dream for now, it's all OK, we want you to feel comfortable and we would love to know HOW YOU FEEL!

And as we continue to navigate this temporary travel landscape, we are checking on and staying in touch with our travel partners and tourism boards for the most relevant information. While many countries in the Caribbean are opening borders to the US, many European countries are not opening borders to US citizens at the moment. Some tourism boards have said that countries will need to flatten curve for a minimum of 60 days before possibly lifting the ban.

 I would love to get your thoughts on a couple questions to help us get a better idea of how you are feeling about your future travels - we would be so grateful to hear your feedback. Just click the link below to answer our quick 2 question anonymous survey to help us better provide you with the best information.

How Travel Ready Are You?

 

justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

Plan Your Dreams blog stories

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Topics: travel tips, luxurytravel

Do I Stay or Do I Go?

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM

 
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"Let's getaway" Are you hearing that little voice in your head??  It sure was for me the last few months.  While I try to stay FOCUSED FORWARD and not dwell on my trip dates that passed with me staring at my computer screen or sitting hours on hold...IT WAS TIME for me (maybe you've seen the meme of the girl putting her luggage on the nordic track-yep, that's me about now- how about you??)

Getting creative,  my amazing husband and MY travel advisor, John Murphy, designed the perfect weekend getaway a few weeks ago complete with my favorite private driver of all time. We took several day trips in a convertible with cool lunch stops in Bay St. Louis, Ocean Springs and Madisonville.  Not quite the Italy or Greece trips I had planned, but it was WONDERFUL for where we are right now.

 
IMG_2538 (1)I bet you can do the same wherever you are located, take a road trip within a couple hours of your home until you are ready to venture to the skies.
 
I am so very happy to share about some clients that were REALLY ABLE TO GO...OFF TO PARADISE ... a precious honeymoon couple kept their travel plans to ANTIGUA (correction-when their original honeymoon to Jamaica was cancelled 2 weeks before travel, they were heartbroken and still wanted to get away, so we were able to revise their honeymoon destination to Antigua since its borders were open.  After receiving all of their texts and facebook posts, we can't really imagine the honeymoon in Jamaica because Antigua turned out to be just PERFECT.  I was in contact with from the moment they left home until arriving back home.  They had nothing but wonderful, positive, thankful texts (including the travel days).  I was so very happy for them!!

Can you EVEN IMAGINE how wonderful your first getaway will be?  It will be completely incredible BUT please read my article below about some travelers we read about and how to help make sure this doesn't happen to you. 

WHY USING A TRAVEL ADVISOR IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT POST COVID . . .

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Everyone is asking....Do I stay or do I go?  Some countries are opening (the Caribbean) some flights are flying, yet other countries are not lifting the travel ban on the US. There are conflicting headlines, news stories, articles and sources. The short answer is it purely a personal decision that only you can make.  

IF YOU DO decide the time is right for you, let's be sure you have all the facts (as we know them today). Please hire a travel advisor.  We are getting updates and following it minute by minute from trusted sources.

An example, the headline may read "Caribbean borders are open", before you pick up the mouse, please consult your travel advisor ...there are different opening dates, many different restrictions and some hoops that must be jumped through prior.  One example below:

Antigua, Mexico and Jamaica just opened its borders to international travelers.  So WHY were there 30 people stranded at the Miami airport, denied boarding onto their ticketed flight to Montego Bay on June 16?  Because they did not know that there is a new Travel Authorization Form, a medical clearance that must be applied for online prior to travel, that is collected by the airport staff BEFORE you can get on any plane bound for Jamaica.

Why did I include that depressing story?  Because I care about you and your travel dollars and that of your friends as well.  I would say that it is  MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER as travel begins to reopen around the world in our post-COVID world.  In today's times, it's just too risky to DIY your travel.  A travel advisor would have informed those travelers of  the new restrictions and given the link to apply for and print the new Authorization form well before departure.

It's simply what we do!

As we all start to navigate the new travel climate:

1. Just because you CAN doesn't mean that you SHOULD.  We have the resources to stay up to date on ever-changing entry and quarantine requirements from every destination.  Policies are literally changing moment-by-moment and it is important to know the risks of finding yourself in an unexpected quarantine situation.  Also, just because a resort or island is "open", what is the actual experience going to be like?  Are masks required?  Are all the facilities and amenities open? Will the kid's club and waterparks be operational?  Without buffets, what are the food and beverage options?  We can get that info for you to avoid expensive disappointments!

2.  We have intel to stay current on which travel partners are trustworthy and fiscally sound.  We certainly can't guarantee there won't be any surprises, but we have connections that keep us informed and are there for us when needed.  Most importantly, you won't face it alone.

3.  We are part of a MUCH larger network of advisors, so we hear about which resorts, airlines and destinations are going above and beyond to adapt post-COVID wellness policies to protect your health and well-being.  And which ones are NOT.  We want you to feel safe and secure wherever you may travel.

4.  We do have some ultra luxe LUXURY connections and private drivers scattered across the USA until the borders are open to us to fly across the pond!   There are some totally mind-blowingly beautiful destinations and resorts right here in our own country.  

I'm definitely not saying don't fly to wherever you want and feel ready to go.   I'm simply saying, let's make sure you have all the facts so that it is the travel experience you've been dreaming of.  We would LOVE to help you get out of your house and live again - safely and when you are ready, we will be here.

5.  As you've come to count on us in the past, we are available to you before, during and after your travels...kind of like a personal backup system!  If you run into any hiccups or need reassurance while away from home, we are your first call!!  Delayed/Cancelled flights?  Text us while you wait in line with the airline and we can try to get you rebooked before you even reach the desk.  Is your "ocean view" suite actually overlooking some construction?  Let us work out a relocation with the front desk  if they don't respond to your request.  Don't risk your hard earned travel dollars and PTO to a mouse and computer screen.    A travel advisor is always your best advocate because they truly CARE!! 

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Keep dreaming!

When you are ready to take your dreams to reality, we are here for you!

 

justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

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Topics: travel tips, luxurytravel

Organizing and Reminiscing: Past Travels inspires Future Travel

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 29, 2020 at 4:10 PM

Organizing and Reminiscing Past Travels inspires Future Travel

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If my house were on fire and my family was safe, the first things I would grab are my photos, scrapbooks, laptop  and hard drive.  Would you agree?  Although special, the rest of the things can be replaced . . . Murano glass gondola or Amalfi Coast painting on the wall,  clothes, shoes, etc.  We have all heard about the awful times of people losing photos from fire, flood, stolen or crashed computers, etc.  Let's talk about organizing your vacation photos so you can reminisce and get excited about past memories and future travels.  So now can we agree , PHOTOS ARE THE BEST SOUVENIR.
 
So how do you rescue the photos from your phone or the cloud and into photo books, scrapbooks or your favorite mode of viewing?    I think I heard some of you say hire someone (just kidding).
 
IMG_0279-2...That time we celebrated our anniversary in Venice, I get chills every time I see this photo.  I can almost hear the musician passionately serenading us through the quiet and quaint alleys of Venice.  It was nothing short of magical and I purchased a murano glass gondola to remember the moment, but once we returned and reviewed photos . . . this photo evoked more emotion than the glass did and I keep returning.

In my past Photo Organization Classes, it seemed much easier to organize printed photos.  Digital photo organization can be very overwhelming, but with an action plan that fits your needs, you could soon be showcasing your photos and inspiring your family for future travel.   You can  adopt the same action plan you used for printed photos for digital photos.  Here are a few steps to guide you through the process.

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  • Gather
  • Sort
  • Store
  • Showcase

 
1.  Gather
One method I used for gathering my travel photos was creating a few folders in Shutterfly:  France, Italy, Ireland, Barbados, Exuma, etc.   I moved all photos from my phone and computer to these folders in Shutterfly and shared the login with my family so that they could upload their photos as well.  Then as time allows, I begin creating a few pages at a time until I'm ready to print the digital photo book highlighting my favorite travel photos.

It occurred to me that I skipped a step in my organization.   With printed photos, I had used a Photo Box with divisions by years, then subdivided to months to consolidate and sort my photos.  The digital answer  is to create a folder on your desktop named "To Be Organized or Scrapbooked" to gather them all into one place, then subdivide by year.  Then create subfolders by months or location. I recommend choosing a program or app to assist in gathering your travel photos  from all of your devices and you may even want to scan printed photos to add to your digital file.   Here are just a few examples:  Google Photos, MacPhotos with photo duplicates cleaner or PhotoSync are some examples.  If you want more details, here are two links that may be helpful: Tom's Guide or Organizing your Digital Photo Collection.  Going forward, I plan to use an app called PhotoSync to consolidate all of my travel photos to "take the pain out of moving your photos", I also like the idea that it will eliminate duplicate files.   I would love to hear if you have a tool that you love for gathering across multiple devices and sorting by theme or year. 

2.  Sort
Next, sort your travel photos by  time and location.  This is where a program or app is handy sorting by people, places or dates.  A couple suggestions are Magix Photo Manager, Photo Organizer by Systweak, Google Photos or Adobe Bridge.  Based on this blog, Adobe Bridge is the best value. 
 
3.  Store
This is something you will want to carefully consider prior to choosing the tools above.  Remember, free always comes with a few compromises.  Consider security, photo compression for cloud services or an external hard drive.  Some people suggest both. Some examples are Carbonite, Google Drive, and DropBox.  For more details, you may want to read Consumer Reports Guide.  
 
4.  Showcase
My favorite part about organizing my photos is my ability to create a digital photo book for myself and traveling companions so we can relive these wonderful travel memories.  As mentioned above, it's a sure way to get my husband inspired to start planning our next travel adventure.

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I hope you are inspired to organize your travel photos, print a photo book and share these memories with your family and friends. 

When you are inspired to plan your next adventure, we are here for you.

When you are ready to take your dreams to reality, we are here for you justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

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Topics: travel tips, luxurytravel

Take Off to Tahiti & Bora Bora Bound

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 2, 2020 at 3:43 PM

Take Off to Tahiti & Bora Bora Bound
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A trip to Bora Bora and the Tahiti Islands is your first class ticket into discovering and exploring a new and colorful world of its own. Plush green mountains crystal clear lagoons will be waiting for in this picture perfect paradise. Tahiti and Bora Bora are renowned as a honeymooners' and lovers' heaven on Earth. Every island in Tahiti offers a multitude of activities and endless possibilities: a dive in Rangiroa, a hike in Moorea, an unbelievable encounter with manta rays in Bora Bora, swim in Tahiti's cascades, or even a chance to enjoy the authentic Polynesian culture in Raiatea. A vacation to Bora Bora and Tahiti is a one of kind experience, a tropical paradise and unique discovery which you can only understand while there.  It was really hard for me to choose just one bungalow picture to share with you from my trip.  
 
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The feeling of going down these steps into the most amazing water . . . I toured many over water bungalows while there and quickly realized there are many differences in resorts and even the range of bungalows at any one resort.
 
 
For being such quaint places Bora Bora and Tahiti offers endless adventures abound: 
  • Underwater cycling on aqua bikes. Perched on a white seat, you descend slowly as the hydraulic platform of the pontoon boat you ride out to the spot lowers us into the waves – the warm, tropical waters gradually creeping up to your bikini tops. Once in the water, spot the coral gardens looming ahead – tree-like elk horn corals and cauliflower corals, dappled by shafts of sunlight piercing through the blue. Your guides, point out a starfish 30 centimeters (1 foot) in diameter, a parrot fish hovering over an undulating welcome mat of hot-pink anemone, and what looks suspiciously like a shark shooting out from under a craggy outcrop and disappearing into the murk.
  • Aqua safari via helmet dive. This enterprise involves donning a cubed yellow-and-white helmet that keeps your head completely dry as you descend a ladder to the sandy ocean floor. Feet clad in rubbery boots, walk in slow motion through craggy outcrops of coral and lengths of seaweed fluttering in the currents, feeling like a puppet as you carefully lift one foot and then the other, hands buoyed and bobbing at waist level.Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 1.43.05 PM.png
  • Snorkeling in Bora Bora’s coral reefs. Bora Bora’s famed coral reef, which encircles the island and is accessible within 15 minutes by speedboat, has some of the best snorkeling in the world. Home to approximately 700 species of tropical fish, Coral Garden is our first stop, followed by a few other choice locations known to the crew. Slipping into the water, our guide coaxes curious moray eels from their hiding places and points out the distinctive diamond shapes of manta and eagle rays gliding through the blue.   I could not believe how much I enjoyed this!
  • Island cruises and fresh seafood. Learn that Bora Bora’s outer ring of reef and motu (small reef islets) makes its calm lagoon waters ideal for exploration by kayak or paddle board, and private boat tours abound. You can book a 23-foot Jeanneau Cap Camarat motorboat, a trimaran, a catamaran, a pontoon boat or an aluminum Quintrex boat perfect for a small group, and most excursions include a picnic on a private beach.  Of everything we did in Bora Bora, Tahiti and Tikehau, chartering a small yacht for the day was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing we did.  We were treated to the most relaxing day I could ever imagine, our hosts were incredible, they served BBQ fish, caught fresh from the boat and grilled.  They sang the sweetest tunes and danced to show their gratitude to us for visiting their homeland.  The French Polynesians were the most humble, gracious hosts I think I have ever met.
  • Swimming with sharks. Saving the biggest thrill for last. Adventurous streak notwithstanding, you get the willies at the idea of being a few meters away from sharks, then you can opt for a purely observational excursion. Even so, there’s something about dipping into cooler, deeper water and being surrounded by dozens of  sleek rays and the sharks.  As I took a deep breath and slipped in this FREAKED me out, but I did it--conquer your fears right?  I was definitely making sure I saw the black tipped tail, but it was absolutely exhilarating!!!
For those not looking for a boost of adrenaline, but instead a stress relieving and relaxing sun bath on the deck of your over water bungalow!!  Bora Bora and Tahiti are still perfect for you!
 
Visiting the destination first hand was an incredible blessing and I am so grateful to our Polynesia experts for sharing so many incredible  once in a lifetime experiences.  If Bora Bora is on your bucket list, please give us a call.
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When you are ready to take your dreams to reality, we are here for you justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel

Boost Your Immune System!

Posted by Tammy Murphy

April 3, 2020 at 4:26 PM

Boosting Your Immune System: 

 

1. Practicing GRATITUDE

If we are beginning our days and focusing on gratitute, love and joy, it can drastically improve our health and immune system.  It instantly reduces stress hormones that rises when we focus on negative thoughts.  Its like a spinning wheel, the more we stress, the more prone we are to disease.

 

2. Eat Healthy

I know, I am craving carbs more than ever.  Even carbs I don't like.  Jump off the hamster1200px-Good_Food_Display_-_NCI_Visuals_Online wheel and  prep some healthy lunch and dinners.  If it's ready, we may be more apt to make that healthy choice.  If you are like me, I NEED my routine, meditation, vitamins and walking.   When I skip one of these steps, I usually skip them all.   At this time, more than ever, it is so important to practice proper hygiene and exercise to optimize the well being of our bodies.                Photo credit:  Wikipedia

3) Rest

Put away the screens early  so that you can fall asleep faster and try to get approximately 7 to 8 hours daily.

 

4) Meditation

Practice meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, pilates, listen to 

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music, play the video in your mind of previous peaceful travels or whatever lowers your shoulders and quiets your mind.

 

 

5) Don't over medicate

I enjoy a glass or two of wine in the evenings, but we need to be careful not to deplete our immune systems by overindulging.

Sometimes we can forget that we have the power to elevate our joy, love and gratitude.

 

We CAN DO THIS TOGETHER and let's share these tips or other you think will inspire others.

One day soon there will be family gatherings, ballgames, school, graduations, weddings, travel, hugs, etc.  

Click here for your listening pleasure from one of the greatest Italian singers, Andrea Bocelli.

 

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When you are ready to take your dreams to reality, we are here for you justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

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Topics: why use a travel agent, luxurytravel

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