Tired of “Losing” Your Miles or Points?

July 15th, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Tired of “Losing” Your Miles or Points?

Ever experience thinking you had some miles or points to use when you realized they had expired? There are easy ways to keep track of your various miles AND get notified in advance that they will be expiring. One of my favorite programs is called AwardWallet and is free. You might also want to consider TripIt which has a free and paid version.

Bicycling the Country Roads of Europe

July 1st, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Bicycling the Country Roads of Europe
Do you like to be active during your vacation? Yet enjoy luxurious accommodations, great cuisine and wine, and be pampered? If so, an escorted biking vacation might suit you well. Pedal at your own pace and for as much as you want–assistance is always nearby to help with a flat tire or transport you to the nearest village or hotel when you are ready for a break.  Enjoy state-of the-art equipment (with several bike choices) or bring your own bike if you prefer. Itineraries are categorized by level of difficulty so you can easily determine what suits you best.
Routes are well thought out to introduce you to cultural sights and scenic beauty along your journey. In the evenings, relax at your beautiful hotel, villa or chateau and enjoy a delicious dinner.  Depending on the destination, there are options to include some hiking as well as other outdoor activities. One of Gateway Destinations’ preferred suppliers,
Backroads, offers not only adult-only itineraries but also specially-designed family adventures for children seven years or older, with luxury level or more casual accommodations as an option. Long-established Butterfield & Robinson also offers exceptional biking tours (as well as walking tours) for adults or families.
Duvine Cycling & Adventure Co. is another option and offers a large variety of bicycles.  Perhaps you have always wanted to follow the path of Tour deFrance? This is available as a group or self-guided ride with ViP access.
Have your own group of friends or family members with whom you want to travel?  We can organize a private journey for your own group, customizing the itinerary to best fit your group’s needs.

Do I Need a Second US Passport?

June 15th, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Do I Need a Second US Passport?

Did you know that you can apply for a second US passport, and that the validity of it has recently been extended from two to four years?  A second passport may be necessary if your foreign travel conflicts with needing to send your passport to a consulate office to obtain a visa for a different trip.  Or, perhaps you intend to visit a country that won’t allow entry if your passport has been stamped or include visas from certain other countries.  In either case, proof of intended travel must be shown. Call us today for assistance.

Croatia and its Beautiful Adriatic Coast

June 1st, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Croatia and its Beautiful Adriatic Coast

Steeped in tumultuous history with walled fortresses and intact Croatiaremains of Roman palaces and amphitheaters, there is a lot to be discovered and enjoyed in Croatia.  Its three major cities are very diverse and all should be included in your travels.  The capital of Zagreb is filled with museums, outdoor markets, art galleries and has a world-class orchestra, with castles dotting the surrounding countryside.  Split, a UNESCO treasure strategically located on the Dalmatian Coast, is a major ferry port and boasts a 1700 year-old Diocletian Palace that is still very much in tact today.  The old town of Dubrovnik is like stepping back in time and has become a popular cruise port and is filled with restaurants, shops and an outdoor market.

croatiaAn inland “must-see” venue to enjoy nature is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which offers much scenic beauty and a contrast to the major cities with its waterfalls and 16 lakes.  This can be enjoyed on your way to another area of Croatia, but really warrants a few days to enjoy hiking, boating, swimming and much more.  The peninsula of Istria offers great hiking, biking, wine tasting and truffles.  Experiencing Croatia, however, requires getting out to some of the over 1000 islands.  Regularly scheduled car ferries go to the major islands such as Hvar and Korcula (and also to the ports of Venice and Acona, Italy), but the best way is by private speed yacht or gullet boat, which gives you flexibility to visit a number of islands.  Enjoy great swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing as well as great seafood and delicious local wines.  If you enjoy fresh oysters, you can visit the oyster beds in Ston by small boat and dine on fresh oysters harvested and opened right in front of you!

Croatia is a good value compared to a lot of other destinations in Europe and is a safe destination with friendly, welcoming people.  The ideal time to visit is May and early June or mid-September through October.   Call us to find out how my host for a recent week-long visit, Leonidas Travel, can customize a journey to suit your interests and budget!

How Do I Deal With Airline Schedule Changes?

May 15th, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on How Do I Deal With Airline Schedule Changes?
I realize this is not a pleasant subject, but experiencing flight schedule changes is often a reality, especially if your flights are purchased far in advance to take advantage of better pricing and seating.  A schedule change might involve just a change of a few minutes and/or a flight number change, but frequently major US airlines like American, Delta and United make significant changes to your schedule which may be inconvenient or not workable (for example – a non-stop flight now has one stop, very short connection time, or much earlier departure, etc.).  
According to their policies (which vary somewhat by airline but typically involve changes of 1 hour or more), you can request a better routing at NO COST to you or even receive a full refund.  Call your travel agent or airline directly.

Ultimate Luxury at Sea

May 1st, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Ultimate Luxury at Sea

While mass-market cruise ships just keep getting bigger, boutique cruise lines maintain their smaller ship size while elevating luxury to new heights by adding new ships, updating existing ones and including more and more services and amenities.  For those of you who appreciate cruising in luxury, here are some exciting developments available with three of the leading cruise lines.

Touted as the most luxurious cruise ship at sea, the Seven Seas Explorer sets sail in July 2016 and will become the fourth ship in Regent Seven Seas’ fleet.  This all-suite, all-balcony ship holds 750 passengers and offers four gourmet restaurants, Gourmet Explorer tours coupled with a culinary arts kitchen for hands-on cooking lessons, and a Canyon Ranch Spa.  Exclusive to the Explorer are a variety of suite choices including the new Regent Suite boasting 3875 square feet with two bedrooms, butler service, private car and driver in every port and en-suite spa with unlimited spa services!  Who will want to leave their room?  All three of their other ships are scheduled for extensive refurbishing during the next 18 months.  Regent Seven Seas include most services in their cruise fare – unlimited shore excursions, fine wines and spirits, crew gratuities, airport transfers, WiFi and even airfare in many cases.

Crystal Cruises recently added the luxurious 62-passenger Esprit, making a total of three ocean vessels in their fleet.  This super yacht was designed for exploration to smaller ports and off-the-beaten path destinations due to its size.  Crystal even expanded into river cruising into 2016.

Seabourn will soon be adding two new all-suite ships beginning this year, rounding out their fleet to five.  Unique to this luxury cruise line is their onboard water sports marina and country club casual environment.

Want to learn about all the luxury cruising choices available and need help deciding the best option for you?  Jan Acorn can streamline the process for you – call us today for a complimentary 20-minute consultation.

US Department of State Assistance

April 15th, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on US Department of State Assistance

Did you know that you can register your international travel plans with the US Department of State free of charge?  Benefits of enrollment include…

  • Receive safety information about the countries to which you are traveling
  • Help the US Embassy contact you in an emergency involving a natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency
  • Facilitate family and friends getting in touch with you in an emergency

Simply go to https://step.state.gov/step/ and enroll before your next adventure!

Epicurean Journeys at Sea

April 1st, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Epicurean Journeys at Sea

Attention all Foodies!  Looking for ways to enjoy great cuisine while traveling?  Bon Appétit, inspiring food lovers with imaginative culinary delights through magazine recipes for decades, has ventured into the travel arena by partnering with luxury cruise companies, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises.  Cuisine at sea has been elevated to new heights through this innovative partnership.  Well-known chefs have been recruited for designated Bon Appétit Tastemaker sailings – not only to lead culinary preparation onboard, but to also offer hands-on cooking classes and host epicurean adventures such as market visits and wine-paired dinners.

Oceania Cruises offers Bon Appétit Tastemaker itineraries ranging from 7 to 35 days throughout the globe, with sailing dates in 2016 and 2017.   Enjoy special amenities such as a special wine event, complimentary bottle of wine signed by the designated winemaker for the cruise and a Shipboard Credit to use as you please.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises offers Bon Appétit Tastemaker experiences onboard a number of their 2016 and 2017 sailings ranging from 7 to 57 days.  Their culinary celebrations at sea feature world-class chefs and food-focused itineraries, with special amenities to Bon Appétit Tastemaker guests.

If you enjoy cruising and superior cuisine, then we invite you to learn more about this exciting collaboration.  Gateway Destinations owner, Jan Acorn, is honored to be designated as one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Tastemakers nationwide due to her enjoyment of food-focused travel and dedication to creating extraordinary vacation experiences for her clients.

How Much Will Foreign Currency Cost While I Am Traveling?

March 15th, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on How Much Will Foreign Currency Cost While I Am Traveling?

Plan your cash needs for foreign travel and check what the currency rate is before your travels by going to: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ (also available as a smartphone app).  Other helpful apps include GlobeConvert and World Currency Converter.   Your local bank will add a fee so only take enough foreign cash to handle your initial needs. Your best conversion rate is at an ATM machine at your foreign destination.

Relaxing and Romantic River Cruising in Europe

March 1st, 2016 / blog / Comments Off on Relaxing and Romantic River Cruising in Europe

Watch the beautiful landscape of Europe drift by your window as you glide by quaint villages, castles, and vineyards in your luxurious river ship.  Unlike ocean cruising, river ships have an intimate boutique atmosphere and give you quick and easy access to the ports you visits.

Unpack once and enjoy your floating hotel as you immerse yourself in the cultural delights of each region.  River ships are well-equipped with many comforts such as multiple dining options, fitness room, massage, live entertainment, and a hot tub or pool.  Many ships also carry bicycles on board to do some exploring on your own!

Experience for yourself what river cruising is all about by joining me for a very special journey in celebration of wine for 7 nights beginning October 28, 2016 in Bordeaux, France.  Not only will you receive a $500 discount off the normal cruise fare, but you will also enjoy special wine events hosted by Jon Rogers with Wines Without the Mystery.  Register by March 31 and also receive FREE pre-paid gratuities!  Call Jan Acorn for details at 602-923-1542 – space is limited.