Category Archives: USA

Planning a Trip to Disney World

Disney World – it’s the happiest place on earth. With four amusement parks, two water Mickey_Mouseparks (although one is closed for refurbishment right now), and 25 uniquely themed hotels and resorts, it can be challenging trying to navigate your Disney vacation. To help, here are some planning tips to think about prior to giving us a call to book the trip.

Stay at a Disney Resort – You’ll pay a little more to stay at a Disney hotel, but you’ll love all the perks. We can help you figure out which one is best for you and your family.

Orlando is a big town and even when you get a hotel that is close to Disney, it can be daunting to navigate the traffic to get to the parks. The Disney resorts have shuttles constantly running between your hotel and all the theme parks and even Disney Springs.

You’ll also get extra time in the parks, aka “Extra Magic Hours,” which are for Disney hotel guests only and allow you to enjoy a less crowded experience. Plus, when you stay onsite, you get the “Magic Band”. This wristband acts as your key to your room, key to getting on rides that you’ve set up with a FastPass and when you purchase things at a store in the parks or at Disney Springs, you can have it delivered to your room. This way, you can walk around the parks unencumbered by bags of stuff. Speaking of the FastPass, by staying onsite, you can book your FastPasses earlier than those who don’t.

You’ll also enjoy special Disney-themed activities that you won’t get just anywhere. Many Disney hotels offer character dining, so you’ll be able to treat your family to dinner with their favorite stars.  The whole family will also flip for themed-hotels, including a Caribbean Beach resort and wild animal themed resort, the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The pools are nothing to scoff at either, from a sandy lagoon to pirate themed splash parks, there’s a little something for everyone.

Purchase a Multi-Day Hopper Pass – The cost of a single-day Disney Pass is about $109 or $164 with the hopper option (plus taxes, of course). If you are planning on enjoying the parks for a few days, consider purchasing a multi-day hopper pass.  This pass allows you to hop from one park to the next on the same day. The benefit is that you can spend the day at the Magic Kingdom, then go to your room and take a nap or get your feet off the floor for a little while. And later that night, go to another park to enjoy their fireworks or a special event. Plus, the longer you stay, the per day cost per ticket decreases. You could pay as little as $69 per day if you purchase a 7-day pass.

Travel in the Off-Season – During peak season which is typically June through August and over the holidays, both Disney hotels and hotels in the vicinity raise their prices. Save on lodging, food and entertainment by visiting Disney in September through March.

Enjoy FREE Attractions – You can take the monorail through some parks for no fee. Or enjoy the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. If you visit at night, you can see the Magic Kingdom’s Electrical Water Pageant Show without entering the park. If you want to experience a little magic for no cost, this could be just the ticket.

Talk to us about all the great options available for your Disney adventure. No matter what you’re seeking, we’ll help you plan the magical escape you and your little ones (or older ones) dream of. Call us at 618-687-2100 for your Disney Dream Vacation today.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under DisneyWorld, Family Travel, Florida, Traveler Tips, USA

Book online but keep your local support

There are so many options out there for booking that at times, it can feel overwhelming. That is why it’s great to use a travel agent. We can help narrow down what works for your destination, budget and travel needs. Plus, by booking your vacation package through us – you can put down a deposit and then your final payment isn’t due until 60-45 days prior to your departure instead of having to pay it all upfront. Of course, if you’re booking something within 60-45 days of travel, the total is due at the time of booking.

But, if you like doing your own research and booking things online; we have that too. Check out our BOOK IT NOW page on our website. It takes you directly to some of our favorite travel companies’ websites  – like Apple Vacations and Funjet Vacations for example. They have flight/hotel packages to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe and more. We also have the Globus Family which has escorted tours throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, South Pacific and the Middle East. They also have river cruises. This way, you can check out all the different aspects of your trip but still have our local support to help answer questions or take care of certain details. And, in the event of a problem with your trip, (the best laid plans and all), we’re there to help get things back on track.

If you have questions about any of these companies or their destinations, give us a call. Let us help you find the best deal for your dollar, needs and dreams. Or, book it online and have us as your backup should you need it.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under All-inclusives, Caribbean, Cruises, Family Travel, Florida, Hawaii, Jamaica, Mexico, Tour Packages, Traveler Tips, USA

Visit the World’s Greatest Wildlife Destinations

Nothing compares to the once-in-a-lifetime moments you get to experience on a safari, wildlife cruise or National Park Hike. These moments, like watching a leopard stalk prey in Botswana or photographing a gaggle of penguins swimming in Antarctica, used to be nearly impossible (and expensive), since the areas were widely uncharted and remote. However, now, with more cruises and tours exploring these hidden wonders worldwide, there’s more chances than ever to watch wildlife dwell in their natural habitats. For the best viewing, visit one of these breathtaking destinations. These are from our Travel Tips Quarterly newsletter.

  • Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
    Located on the rugged shores of Hudson Bay in Northern Manitoba, Churchill is one of the few human settlements in the world that is also home to polar bears. Since they spend most of their summer hunting for food, the best time to view them is during the fall. The optimal way to experience the beauty of these bears is with a custom tundra buggy, which offers once in a lifetime chances to get up close and personal, while still remaining safe.
  • Chobe National Park, Botswana, Africa
    Chobe National Park in Botswana offers truly unspoiled views of Africa’s famed wildlife. On a game drive here, you won’t be met with other jeeps, but instead with views of warthogs, bush bucks, monkeys, lions, leopards and hyenas. A cruise along the breathtaking Chobe river offers a chance to see the marine mammals, like hippos and crocodiles.
  • Antarctica Peninsula
    Although it may be void of any human life, Antarctica is home to one of the largest populations of penguins, with over 40 million spread across the continent. Once uncharted, Antarctica is growing in popularity, and more cruise lines are adding the snow-capped glacial peaks and emperor penguin colonies to their itineraries.
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
    This tiny archipelago off the coast of Ecuador has been an iconic destination for wildlife viewing for over 200 years. Thanks to more cruise lines charting the South American Coast, it’s much easier for anyone to view its many inhabitants, like the island iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, giant green sea turtles, sea lions and more.
  • Great Barrier Reef, Australia
    Stretching over 1,616 miles off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, comprised of 3,000 individual reefs, 900 islands and thousands of species of marine creatures, is one of the world’s greatest wonders. See the sharks, turtles, fishes and vibrant coral up close with a snorkel or dive.
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States
    Aside from spewing geysers, gradient canyons and rushing waterfalls, Wyoming’s crowned jewel is also home to some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife. From black bears to bald eagles to bison and coyotes, this area is rich with a vast array of animals.

Leave a comment

Filed under Action/Adventure Travel, Activities, Africa & Egypt, Asia & South Pacific, USA

What You Need to Know About Traveling to Disney World

Disney World – it’s the happiest place on earth. With four amusement parks, two water Mickey_Mouseparks, and dozens of themed hotels and resorts, it can be challenging trying to navigate your Disney vacation. To help, here are some planning tips to think about prior to giving us a call to book the trip.

Stay at a Disney Resort
You’ll pay more to stay at a Disney hotel, but you’ll love all the perks. If you’re driving to the park, you’ll enjoy free parking. You’ll also get extra time in the parks, aka “Extra Magic Hours,” which allow you to enjoy a less crowded experience.

You’ll also enjoy special Disney-themed activities that you won’t get just anywhere. Many Disney hotels offer character dining, so you’ll be able to treat your family to dinner with their favorite stars.  The whole family will also flip for themed-hotels, including a Caribbean beach resort and wild animal themed resort. The pools are nothing to scoff at either, from a sandy lagoon to pirate themed splash parks, there’s a little something for everyone.

Purchase a Multi-Day Pass
The cost of single-day Disney Pass is about $100. If you are planning on enjoying the parks for a few days, consider purchasing a multi-day multi-park pass.  The per day cost per ticket decreases the longer the duration of the pass. You could pay as little as $48 per day if you purchase a 7-day pass.

Travel in the Off-Season
During peak season, both Disney hotels and hotels in the vicinity raise their prices. Save on lodging, food and entertainment by visiting Disney in September or January.

Enjoy FREE Attractions
You can take the monorail through some parks for no fee. Or enjoy the ferry to the Magic Kingdom. If you visit at night, you can see the Magic Kingdom’s Electrical Water Pageant Show without entering the park. If you want to experience a little magic for no cost, this could be just the ticket.

Talk to us about all the great options available for your Disney adventure. No matter what you’re seeking, we’ll help you plan the magical escape you and your little ones dream of. From our Travel Tips Quarterly newsletter.

Leave a comment

Filed under DisneyWorld, Family Travel, Florida, Traveler Tips, USA

Scenic drives and picnics near Gatlinburg, TN

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area

The next time you find yourself in the Gatlinburg, TN area – take a trek along Hwy 73 / Little River Road. This scenic drive follows the creek with parking areas where you can stop and take a walk down a path to the creek and stick your feet in, swim, tube or whatever. Our favorite was the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area – it was so much fun. They have picnic tables, grills and restrooms (very important). There are big rocks for the kids to climb on. The current is fast but not so fast that it takes a 5-year-old downstream. There are also several trails to hike which can take you to Little Greenbrier School or to a waterfall. Picnicking, hiking, swimming holes and more near Gatlinburg. Take a look at our photos on Facebook to whet your appetite.

Leave a comment

Filed under Action/Adventure Travel, Activities, Destinations, Family Travel, Travel Trivia, Traveler Tips, USA

Dunn’s River Falls of Southern Illinois?

Dunn's River Falls of So IL     It’s amazing how you can live in an area for umpteen years and not know everything there is to do, see and play in. In an effort to find an inexpensive weekend activity for my family, I was looking for a swimmin’ hole given how hot it’s been lately. I found the best website ever – www.swimmingholes.org/ilinia.html. It has comments and photos submitted by local people (all over the country) who can give you directions, comments and things to be careful of, etc. For our area – we found the Kinkaid Lake Spillway. The water wasn’t all that cool given that the water is running over rocks that have been baking in the sun all summer but it is still refreshing and so much fun to climb up and down. You do need to keep an eye out for snakes – you are in a park area, after all. You leave them alone and give them a wide berth and they’ll do the same for you. This place is 10 miles west of Murphysboro on Hwy 149. You’ll see a street sign that says Spillway Lane. Checkout the rest of the photos at our Facebook page.

Leave a comment

Filed under Action/Adventure Travel, Activities, Destinations, Family Travel, Travel Trivia, Traveler Tips, USA