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.

santorini

 

justin@viptravelexperience.com or  tammy@viptravelexperience.com  

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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  

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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

 
Young happy young woman sitting in car trunk outdoor
 

"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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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.

iStock_000012136043Small
  • 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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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. 


cinque-terre.jpg

 

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

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