Monday, November 28, 2016

When is the best day to purchase airline tickets?

If I had a $1 for every time I was asked this question, I swear, I would be writing this blog from my beach house in the Caribbean instead of Minnesota, sipping sumatra coffee trying to keep warm on this dreary November day! Somewhere along the line some travel guru or website made us believe that there was a magical formula to booking tickets.  I’m not sure when or where it started but to be honest, I followed the sage advice of these gurus as if they would take me to the Promised Land.  That was before travel was my career.  Now that I’ve been in the business almost 10 years, day in and day out creating memorable vacation packages for people around the globe, I can tell you what I have learned.  The magic formula is, well, bullshit.

Fact or Crap?  Tuesday is the best day to buy airline tickets.
Crap.  Last week as a recent example, I quoted a client a package on Monday and they had to talk it over before making a decision.  I offered to lock in the rate for 24 hours while they consulted their calendars, babysitters and bank account, however, they declined.  The next day (Tuesday) I received the email they were ready to book!  Yay!  Except, now the price had increased over $75/ticket.  What the?  “I thought Tuesdays were cheaper days to book”, questioned my client.  Yeah, you and the rest of the world apparently.

Fact or Crap?  You need a Saturday night stay in order to find the cheapest tickets.
Crap.  Even if you do manage to lock in a cheaper fare, here’s the part most people never consider: Saturday nights are the most expensive nights to stay in a hotel, go to dinner and simply do anything out on the town.  So the few bucks you may have saved on your airfare has been quickly washed away to finance your most expensive evening on your itinerary.

Fact or Crap? Nonstop flights are the most expensive.
Crap.  Did you know it actually costs the airlines more money to run more than one flight to a destination?  Imagine if you only had to employ one crew, one plane, one tank of gas, one stocked beverage cart.  Behind the scenes what you don’t see is the taxes that are on a typical plane ticket.  There is a departure tax and a landing tax built into each ticket.  Now if it takes you two or three stops to get to your destination, that’s two or three more sets of taxes added to your ticket alone not to mention all the other expenses the airline incurs with the multiple segments, planes, crew, etc.  

Of course there is an exception to every rule but for the most part, what I’ve learned is that there is no magical formula to getting the best airfare.  It’s a matter of supply and demand.  If everyone is online searching and booking airfare on Saturday morning and the planes begin to fill up, the price goes up.  Not because it’s Saturday but because of the supply and demand.  If you wait until the last minute to book your airfare, generally speaking, you will pay more than the one who planned a little further than a week in advance.  By booking early you will get the best itinerary, seats and hopefully price.  Most planes are overbooked these days so it’s foolish in my opinion to play Russian Roulette with the most important piece of your vacation - the one that determines IF you go at all!  Bowing out of a trip because you couldn’t find good airfare is the lamest excuse.  It just means you were too darn lazy to look sooner or enlist the help of a travel pro!  

Here are a few of my favorite go tos to watch for or search for best days to travel ~ download them, save your preferred gateways and get ready for your next Divine Destination!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

FOX 21 How To Stay Healthy on a Plane

Many travelers would swear that they get sick after every trip or vacation. They wonder if it was the food, the water, the pina coladas -- or, like me, the airplane ride. While I don't think you can count out the pina coladas (or that burrito you bought on the street), it turns out you could be right about airplanes; the most likely culprit: extremely low cabin humidity.
Most commercial airlines fly in an elevation range of 30,000 to 35,000 feet, where humidity typically runs at 10 percent or lower. At very low levels of humidity, the "natural defense system" of mucus in our noses and throats dries up and is crippled, creating a much more tolerant environment for germs to infect us.
Tips to Avoid the Airplane Cold
1. Stay hydrated. It turns out that drinking plenty of water will not only counter the overall dehydrating effects of air travel, which can lead to headaches, stomach problems, cramps, fatigue and more, but can actually help your natural immune mechanisms to function considerably better. In an airplane, where your nose and throat are on the front lines of the war with exceedingly dry air, these are the first places to suffer. Sipping water or some other fluid regularly throughout the flight may be more effective than drinking a lot of water at one time. Additionally, hot drinks are a good way to keep your protective mucous membranes working.
2. Keep your hands clean. Your hands are the most consistent point of first contact with cold, flu and other germs. It is a direct line from armrest/ handshake/seat back to a full-blown fever a few days later. Hand washing is not just for restaurant workers and travelers; If possible, wash your hands before any in-flight meals, and after your flight as well.
3. Don't forget the dental hygiene. Just as keeping your hands clean can prevent transmission of germs, using a germ-killing mouthwash in-flight may add another layer of protection while simultaneously helping to keep your throat moist. Just make sure your mouthwash bottle is three ounces or smaller to comply with the latest carry-on rules for liquids and gels.
4. Take your vitamins. The rapid response effect of vitamins is unproven, but many travelers swear by them.  In addition, drinking an immunity booster chock full of Vitamin C such as Emergency C or Airborne is never a bad idea. Personally, I have no idea if it helps at all, but of all the flights I have taken, I rarely get colds. The department of health tells us that no conclusive data has shown that large doses of vitamin C will prevent colds, although it may reduce the severity or duration of symptoms.

For more information on this topic or any other travel questions please contact me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

River Cruises Are Rising In Popularity

Have you ever awakened to a new world? Have you ever taken a trip that satisfied your mind, body and soul? Have you ever had a place far, far away hand delivered to you and you to it? Have you ever traveled across a continent without touching a suitcase? Or been on a cruise with endless views?   
Imagine beginning your journey in Amsterdam where a childhood storybook comes to life as you sail through Germany, Prague and even Vienna! Prefer views of castles and vineyards instead? There's an itinerary for that; especially noteworthy would be France! Prefer hops over tannins? You'll love the authentic brew tours throughout Germany and Austria!  What's even better is you can customize your itinerary by adding a few days at the beginning or on the end to see more of Europe your way. Prefer to stick with the schedule? Be sure to take advantage of the cooking classes on board or the lecture about the upcoming highlights at the next port. With exclusive admission to museums or even theatrical performances, there's never a dull moment on your cruise!
River cruises are rising in popularity, and it’s no wonder why. Less passengers, more inclusions, and unpacking once are just a few reasons why people are realizing that river cruising is the best way to explore Europe!  At Divine Destinations, we’re experts in travel, but we think Avalon Waterways are experts when it comes to river cruising. We compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you once you get on board your next  river cruise ship.
  • Get extra closet space by storing your empty luggage under your bed.  More space makes you feel less crowded and more comfortable.  Trust me when I say you’ll want to hang out here and take in the gorgeous view, but with less “stuff” in the way.

  • You can create a name tag when you arrive –  it’s a fun way to get to know our fellow cruisers.  Chatty Cathys unite!

  • Include binoculars in your luggage. There is so much to see along the shores and it’s fun to be able to look at small castle and vineyard details from your stateroom..

  • Port talks and the entertainment are very popular – if you want a front-row seat, we recommend getting to the Panorama Lounge early

  • Don’t forget your included headset for shore excursions – the Local Guides bring the destinations to life with their rich and historical commentary

  • On the last day of the cruise, you can print out a full set of the dinner menus for the cruise – such a fun keepsake to remember all the amazing meals you’ve eaten

  • Is there was a particular dish that everyone loved? Ask your server at dinner and your chef will provide your travel group with the recipe

I would love to talk to you about all of the different River Cruise options that you have for your next vacation. Please give me a call for more information.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Welcome to Grenada!

Amid packing for a week in Paradise, my plans were slightly disturbed with an email from my host hotel announcing I would be virtually homeless for my first night in Grenada due to an overbooked Saturday night.  Nothing says, “we can’t wait to meet you” like an email announcing your eviction.  Luckily, I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people from the Grenada Tourism Board a month earlier at a travel convention, so I was able to not only figure out a place to lay my head that first night, but also the logistics of traveling to said hotel.  Francine put me in touch with Mount Cinnamon.  The name couldn’t be more perfect!  Set high atop the mountainside overlooking the sea I felt like I was in some fancy European coastal town I couldn’t pronounce.  Do you smell that?  What is it?!  Nutmeg? Cinnamon? Could be both, afterall, it is the island of spice and whether atop the mountain or out to sea you can smell this inviting smell.  It’s heavenly!

They say if Paradise was easy to get to everyone would go.  It took me three connections and four flights to reach my destination.  Partly because of the season, the gateway and because I was using miles.  There are daily flights from Miami so depending on your location from Miami, it may not be as much of a challenge as it was for me coming out of northern Minnesota. In October.  Arriving into Grenada is something like circa 1950s where we deplane outside and walk the tarmac to the airport.  You know you are in the true Caribbean when you get to do this! Our flight arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule which allowed us to clear through customs and immigrations a bit quicker without much hassle.  Outside the airport we witnessed herds of people awaiting their all inclusive shuttle.  As they scrutinized their paperwork to make sure they had the right shuttle that would take them to their Americanized resort abroad I sauntered to the taxi hub where I was able to grab a local beer, Stag or Carib, and I whatsapped my friend to let her know I had arrived.  I wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere.  Afterall, I had just arrived in Paradise.  It was fun to people watch.  I especially love to watch Americans.  You can always pick out the ones who haven’t traveled much.  They are the ones who stick together like they may be separated and never see each other again.  The ones who are horrified when they see the speed of the drivers or how many people they can pack in a car (or on the back of a dump truck)!  They also are the ones who somehow find it necessary to put on this “gameface” of all seriousness and don’t smile and refuse to talk to locals without the fear of being had.  It’s ok, I’m not judging; I was one of those Americans once too.

As the 80+ degree night paired with 90% humidity and slight sea breeze blew on my face I sat and enjoyed my cool beverage while I awaited my ride.  My hair morphed into some ridiculous mushroom cap and my pasty white skin sparkled (divas don’t sweat, they sparkle) yet the locals weren’t scared.  We chatted a bit about politics (of course, it was obvious I was an American) and I inquired about what were some of the must see things to do.  They boasted about the beautiful coastline, the Estates, the rainforest, the festivals, the chocolate, brewery tours and on and on….such a proud country with humble souls!  My phone alerted me my ride was on her way.  Mass had just ended and since my flight was early she apologized for running late.  No worries, this is the stuff I can blog about!  I began to giggle a little to myself after I realized how small the cars were.  I wondered how many others would be in the car and where my bags would go.  Not to be disappointed, in true Caribbean style, Francine pulls up in her personal car (not a company shuttle) loaded with kids from church and greets me with a warm smile and hug.  We situate my bag in the car next to her son who isn’t thrilled but takes one for the team.  I got to sit in the back seat with the children and I’m instructed to “hold the eggs” so they don’t break.  I love this!  To distract the children, about 8 and 10, from the fact we’re squished in the backseat I started asking them questions such as, “what do I HAVE to do while I’m here”.  Their answers surprised me; very simple yet so honest:  You need to go to the beach.  Look for shells.  Talk a lot because you have a funny accent.  Wear lots of that lotion because you are as “white as chalk”.   Before I knew it, the ride was over and I had to say goodbye to my little friends. Oh my goodness they were adorable!

Although many of you reading this won’t have an experience like this when you go to Grenada you hopefully got a sneak peek into what it will feel like to go there.  You will notice the friendliness, the sincerity, the servant hearts.  You will also notice the beauty of the island that is found out at sea and deep within the rainforest.  You will see lots of police officers but most of which don’t carry weapons on one of the safest islands in the Caribbean.  In a nutshell (ha! no pun intended) if you are looking for a new destination, something unique, consider Grenada.  You won’t be disappointed!