Saturday, December 27, 2014

How To Save $36,567 On Your Next Vacation!

Everyone wants to travel, but it amazes me when I hear savvy people complain about the extras they had to pay for their travels.  Here are a few ideas to save some cashola on your next trip to help become the seed money for your next Divine Destination!

        1. Book the package deal, not a la carte and book it EARLY!

 You can save up to 30% or more simply by buying the full meal deal.  Nothing says "nickle & dimed" more than the deal you thought you got online.  How?  Upon checking in you realize you need to pay for your carry-on, yes, even your backpack!  Secondly, after arriving in the destination you realize you are on your own to hail a taxi to your resort but your (insert foreign language of choice) is less than stellar.  Once you've settled in and made friends at the swim-up bar you realize they booked six months earlier than you and saved mucho dinero.  #buzzkill  Potential savings $500


          2.  Pack in a carry on


       Better yet, love them & leave them.  Pack clothes that you would've given to the Goodwill next season, wear them one last time and leave them for the maid to re purpose as she pleases.  This will now free up your carry on to ship home souvenirs and avoid the costly luggage fees. Potential savings $75


             3Travel with a empty water bottle


       By traveling with an empty water bottle you can fill it up AFTER you get through TSA.  This will keep you hydrated and avoid the drying effects of airplane air in addition to saving you on the venti mocha grande from the name brand coffee house. Potential savings $7


                      4. Bring snacks

      Did you know that some airlines have pulled back as far as not serving snacks or beverages complimentary?  Some are even (God forbid) toying with the idea of charging you to use the lavatory!  When you travel, especially with children, it's a good idea to pack your own snacks. Granola bars, cheese sticks, fruit leather and raisins make for healthy snacks that pack well.  Potential savings $10

       5. Buy the insurance for price protection/bag delay/stolen passports

       Think that travel insurance is just a ponzi scheme?  Think again. What happens when your week vacation begins with lost baggage and there you are in the Caribbean with your jeans and NHL hoodie on.  Imagine getting your passport stolen.  How will you fly home without an ID?  And finally, you took my advice and booked early but the fares dropped afterwards.  Without the right travel insurance you won't                                                             see a refund. Potential savings $500

        6.  Don’t get trapped in the Lion’s Den

           Probably the best way to save money on your vacation is to avoid the Lion's Den.  What is this?  This is the place at the airport where people pose as shuttle drivers but what they really are trying to do is deter you from your vacation in an effort to sell you a time share.  Don't think this will happen to you?  On a recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, yours truly got roped into this.  Six hours later, two crabby toddlers, one hungry husband and a blessed bottle of celebratory champagne, we signed on the line and found ourselves thousands of dollars in the red along with a legal                                               binding contract that darn near took an act of congress to get out                                                 of.  True story!  Potential savings $35,475.47

Jennifer Maki, Destination Diva at Divine Destinations, cuts through the clutter of online vacation planning and obscure traveler ratings by using her industry expertise, first hand knowledge of the products and relationships with the resort management.  If you want the best vacation with the greatest value: call us at 218/348-2825 or follow us on twitter @4divinedeals

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Just Got Back!

We all love to read about people's adventures while traveling and look at their pictures.  We are launching a new column called, "We Just Got Back!" where we will feature someone who just returned from their Divine Destination!  It is our goal that you will enjoy the stories and photos and even spark you curiosity to go on a Divine Destination of your own! This first edition will feature a couple from, Barnum, MN; meet Jamie & Kristi Wickstrom:

Getting away with my husband to celebrate 27 years of marriage was amazing but the island of St Lucia is more than I ever imagined!  The scenery was spectacular both above and below sea level!  We like to do a combination of relaxing and activities and St Lucia offers both. We were able to do an easy hike on Pigeon Island and learn history of St Lucia, then hiked the Gros Piton (I made it half way and Jamie went all the way!) and did a water and land tour with Exodus. This tour was a combo of snorkeling, mud bath, waterfall, food/drink and a boat ride.  

All the food was wonderful.  We like having so many choices - the fresh seafood was amazing!  I had a delicious local version of lemonade and of course, several rum drinks. I love that the restaurants serve small portions so you can try other foods or order a double of something.  At the French Restaurant we had 4 of the 5 appetizers along with multiple entrees.  It's fun to try new foods yet have the favorites available too.  If I could change anything, I'd stay longer!  Since this was our second Sandals vacation we were more prepared.  We planned our week for relaxing and activities, got our reservations in early, and took advantage of the concierge and more of the included amenities. St Lucia is called the Honeymoon Capital of the World; definitely geared for couples from Honeymooners to Seniors. 

What we appreciate most is the ease of working with Jennifer. The travel went smoothly; our helicopter transfer and both tours were well put together.  This was a wonderful and memorable vacation!

These Are a Few Of Our Favorite Things

I've compiled a list of travel must haves.  I hope this will inspire you to travel better, lighter and even more fun by incorporating some of my tried and true must haves.  These also make great gifts for that favorite vagabond on your list - just click the links to learn more!

Bigger is NOT always better; in luggage especially.  With the weight restrictions these days, the overage charges are another way to make your cheap ticket not such a great deal.  This little guy packs a lot of punch in style, versatility and durability.  Bonus: you can easily stow this puppy in the overhead compartment.

I travel alone many times a year and personal safety is a priority.  A friend showed me once what easy targets women are: we are preoccupied with fumbling around for things in our purse like keys and phones and often times we become the victim.  This bag allows for me to have both hands free in the event I need them to fend off bad guys or simply cradle that coveted Skinny Mocha Grande No Whip from Starbucks at 00 dark thirty.  Bonus: the three compartments hold everything from an iPad, keys, money and cell phones without the bulk or mess of a purse.

No one likes the way you feel after waking up in a hotel especially after you erronously set the thermostat before hitting the hay.  Cough cough, ugh, I think I feel a cold coming on just thinking of that.  Enough said.  Bonus: these little gems travel well and are easy to use since all they run on is bottled water found in your hotel refridgerator

There is nothing worse than running low on juice especially in airports without the luxury of multiple power stations. Luckily, you can tote some extra juice of your own these days.  I prefer the block which will charge all devices.  Bonus: these are small in size and price but mighty in performance!

                                        5. Travel Pillow
 Some people can get amazing amounts of work done on the flight.  I seem to  turn narcoleptic unless I have a chatty neighbor or am sitting in Economy  Comfort.  One too many times of waking up on the shoulder of the guy      next to me (akward) has made this on my list of must haves. Bonus: you can    inflate & deflate quickly making this one less accessory to deal with while boarding the plane.

6. Poopouri My Mom bought this for me as a stocking stuffer one year.  Like many of her other quirky gifts, it sat in the gift graveyard; I didn't understand its value.  She asked me one day if I took it on my recent trip.  She expanded to tell me it is the best at covering up the smell after I go poo.  Bonus: You have to watch the video to truly understand - click the link! 

                  7. Wisps
After countless coffees and perhaps a celebratory Bloody Mary my breath is well, you get the picture.  Without water, I can quickly wisp away the stains, furry feeling and smells of bad breath before landing.  Bonus: readily available and travel well in purse or outside carry on pocket 

8. Pashina/Wrap
Gone are the days of a blanket on every seat of the airplane.  A Pashina or convertible wrap keeps you cozy on the flight and in the boardroom you may be traveling to which you know is almost making snow the A/C is set so low!  Bonus: these are way more practical than bringing along a stadium blanket; save that for the game.

9. Leggings
Not a staple in my everyday wardrobe, however, if it's winter, you'll find these under my maxidress.  These hideous leg coverings (sorry I hate leggings) keep me warm between wicked midwest winter weather and the ocean breezes of Paradise.  Bonus: these are easily slipped off in the bathroom and stowed in your carryon.  Yes, bathroom.  Please do your neighbor a favor and do this in private.

Why use two (or ten) when one will suffice?  I recently traveled with a friend who carried her phone, laptop, tablet, kindle, files, notebooks, books and full size calculator.  She probably had more in that ginormous bag, but I stopped at calculator because I was in disbelief.  It was a teachable moment (between outbursts of laughter) to show her that "there's an app for that".  Download the app and ditch the rest for traveling.  Find books and audio books to download and bring with you. Bonus: if you want to save a few bucks and borrow vs buy, the library (yes they still exist) carries many free downloadable books.  Check out the Overdrive for 14 day lending options.

Jennifer Maki, Destination Diva at Divine Destinations, cuts through the clutter of online vacation planning and obscure traveler ratings by using her industry expertise, first hand knowledge of the products and relationships with the resort management.  If you want the best vacation with the greatest value: call us at 218/348-2825 or follow us on twitter @4divinedeals

Monday, December 8, 2014

5 Reasons to Call a Travel Agent For Your Next Vacation

So many times I'm asked, "Do people still use a travel agent?" with a tone in their voice like we're talking about a rotary phone or an 8 track player.  No, travel agents aren't dead, however, like everything, some are better than others.  In addition, some people still like to DIY, however, this short list will help you decide if working with a travel agent is for you.

1. Saves Time 
Did you know that the average person who books online has spent about 5 hours in research alone?  Why waste five hours researching only to end up full of self doubt wondering if you really got the best vacation you were looking for?  We all have busy lives and most of us would agree we don't have enough hours in a day already.  Do what you do best and hire the rest! 

2. Expertise
I understand it's fun to look at all the options at first, however, anyone can make a picture look good.  Have you actually been there to know if that resort is really beach front, or has the photo been edited and truly, the resort is across the street from a heavily populated public beach?  I have personally traveled to over 14 countries in the past three years.  Chances are, I've been there, seen that, ate that, touched that, experienced that.  14 stamps can't be wrong.

3. Real Person
This is my favorite.  Although the dot com travel agencies have a call center, it's likely "Irene from Detroit with the heavy Indian accent" is not really in Detroit, nor is her name Irene, in fact, she's probably never been to the any of the destinations you are calling about nor can she understand you any better than you can understand her.  My clients have access to me 24/7 while traveling in addition to another 800# in case I'm not available.  Never will they be stranded, even in the brutal Midwest winters, Volcanic Ash clouds or aboard a defective cruise ship.  

4. They think of the whole package
A great travel agent will encompass much more than just the plane tickets; they will design your entire experience.  This doesn't mean you have to book all of these experiences, but how would you know the difference, if they never offered it.  You don't fly to Jamaica and stand in line with the hundreds of other people who don't know any better.  Instead, you arrive like the VIP you are!

5. Saves You Money
Did you know that travel agents still have the best deals?  It's true.  We also know the ins and outs that will save you money.  Some agents charge a fee for their Time, Expertise, Human Factor and Total Package.  And why not?  If at the end of the day they save you time, money and hassle of trying to DIY, they should!   Did you know that at Divine Destinations we will gladly price match ANY package you find online and give you a $50 credit towards your next vacation?  It's true!  

Jennifer Maki, Destination Diva at Divine Destinations, cuts through the clutter of online vacation planning and obscure traveler ratings by using her industry expertise, first hand knowledge of the products and relationships with the resort management.  If you want the best vacation with the greatest value: call us at 218/348-2825 or follow us on twitter @4divinedeals