What's your budget?
You've decided a trip is overdue, and have contacted It's a Snap Travel - thank you! If you've worked with me in the past, you know I'll ask some general questions including the sometimes hard-to-know budget for the trip.
But, knowing exactly what you can and cannot spend will save hours of searching or sadly looking at an unrealistic vacation. My goal is to help you find a resort or cruise ship I am comfortable recommending, matches your needs, checks off many of your "wish-list" items, and gets the best value for a vacation dollars. Sure, some concessions may need to be made, but we can work together to find the best option!
When is the most expensive time to travel?
Holidays, when schools are on break, and when the weather is ideal and temperatures not too extreme.
Most expensive are the three weeks encompassing Christmas and New Years, followed by March/April. And, here in Minnesota - you'll see airfare prices jump over October's MEA break.
So, what do most people spend?
Costs for vacations have risen over the last few years. Gone are the days of $99 roundtrip flights to Cancun. Nowadays, peak travel airfare can be almost half the cost of the trip!
A recent study found on average Americans spend $1500-$2500 per person on a 7-day vacation to an all-inclusive resort or cruise with airfare. Of course, this is an estimate but it does match what I have been seeing as well.
What can affect the cost of the resort or cruise ship?
All cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts are not created equal. Sure the ships float, and the resorts all have a pool - but the experience can be drastically different from one to the next. Only you can determine how each of these items below will impact your overall vacation happiness.
Some of the most common things that can affect price are:
My agency isn't a last minute find a dirt cheap deal kind of agency. I won't offer a vacation I wouldn't take myself. But this doesn't mean I won't have vacation discounts or offers at great resorts. Often times I will find one my favorite resorts or ships with amazing pricing, or some of my favorite vacation suppliers with added perks.
Keep in mind, that hotel room or cruise cabin that you swore you won't spend much time in can quickly become your only retreat during bad weather, a sun burn needing relief or a sleepy child.
What else will I have to pay?
The budget you share with me will be my guideline for the vacation bundle of air/hotel or cruise. But, keep in mind, there may be other vacation spend such as:
No two vacations are exactly the same and prices can fluctuate, but it's important to start with a practical budget goal in mind to stay focused and make the right choices that fit your price range.
Group Travel Planning
As summer is beginning to wind down, I'm receiving many requests for winter and spring break vacations. What a wonderful idea - and a great idea to plan early! Many of these calls are from people that would like to travel as a group -- groups of family, groups of friends, groups of people with the same interests... etc. Wouldn't it be fun to travel with the people you like the most?? YES... and it makes some great memories.
There are 2 things to know as you are beginning the process of planning a trip as a group. And, one of them tends to be hard to discuss, but it's important -- budget.
The first thing to consider when booking group travel is working with a travel agent -- like me! I have relationships with numerous suppliers and hotels to help get the best rate on groups -- and in some cases all it takes is 10 people traveling. Leave the hard work to me... I'm here to help. There are even some pretty sweet perks from time to time for groups traveling together. And remember -- if you see a price online, it might be the last room, or last 2 airlines seats at that price -- I can help make sense of the pricing.
The second thing, and probably the most important, is to discuss budget. Understand this before you get your heart set on anything. Everybody and every family has a budget that they are willing or can spend on vacation. And while they may be your best friends in the world, that budget may be different than yours. There are travelers that like a more upscale experience, some that don't care and want the cheapest accommodations even though they could afford more, or some that have a very tight vacation budget... and often this difference in budget expectations comes out when I start researching and quoting resorts or cruises.
As a group I'd suggest setting a reasonable budget before you begin your planning. I can help you set that budget based upon what your needs and wants are. Most people are willing to give up, or maybe even budget a little more, to keep the group happy as a whole -- but this really is something you'll want to know before you go into the process. Cruises and all-inclusive resorts offer many different room categories so that's helpful to accommodate a variety of budgets, but ultimately you need to determine the target. It can be frustrating after you've had multiple dinners together dreaming about the winter trip of your dreams only to find out you are not in sync when it comes to what your expectations are for the vacation.
It can be tough, but I can help set realistic budget expectations for your group. Don't let this worry stop your plans --- we can figure it out together!
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday season. Along with the celebrating of holidays, this time of year is often wedding planning season. Many people get engaged in the fall and winter months, and would like to consider a summer or fall wedding. I will be exhibiting at another bridal show in a few weeks. I love bridal shows. I get to meet many brides, their mothers and a groom or two. The two main conversations I have are honeymoons and destination weddings.
If I can give one piece of advice it is -- yes -- do it, and splurge if you can. You won't regret it. Using a travel consultant, like me, with help you uncover hidden gems, deals and perks. I advise to avoid the rental house; you don't want to clean on your honeymoon. The wedding is a magical one day event you'll remember for your life. Your honeymoon is the start of your new married life -- enjoy!
Destination weddings grow in popularity every year -- particularly those at all-inclusive resorts, or in conjunction with a cruise. Couples today are looking for a memorable wedding experience for both themselves and their guests. A destination wedding provides a chance to unwind, play, connect and experience new things with friends and loved ones.
Did you know a destination wedding often costs much less than traditional weddings? In fact, on average a destination wedding is $13,000 less expensive than a traditional wedding. And since destination weddings can be as elaborate as or simple as you'd like, you don't have to sacrifice anything if you choose this options. Often times, you'll be able to take advantage of the special perks that come from having your wedding away from home
Congratulations and enjoy your planning. I'd love to help!
And, as always, No-Fee Planning or Booking Serivces
Cruise Line Private Island Stops
It's mid-summer and winter & spring break planning is in full swing. Great idea to get the best availability and prices, particularly when it comes to cruises. As you look through the cruise brochure or website, you'll often notice many of the popular itineraries include a stop at the cruise lines "private" island. The thing I often find surprising is that most new cruisers consider this a no-stop day, or an empty day of their trip. And I suppose, not knowing what to expect can lead you to believe this. However, over and over again I will hear from people after they return that it's was their favorite day. Especially when cruising Disney, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian.
"Private" Island stops are generally land that is owned or leased by the cruise line to offer a perfect beach day on your trip. You'll find scenic beaches where you can relax or play to your hearts content. You'll often find the ultimate mix of beach fun, swaying palm trees, clear blue water and a bounty of watersports. The islands are clean, the food and drinks are brought off the ship, and you don't need anything more than your cruise card for cash.
Don't underestimate the private island experience. There won't be a Diamonds International, there won't be pushy vendors on the beach, there won't be large groups of people waiting for their excursion -- but you will get some great exclusive experiences to make wonderful memories.
My family just returned from a very quick trip to Texas for a family college graduation. Our total "vacation time" from touchdown to take off was less than 48 hours. Turns out, just enough time to have a lot fun.
In addition to our time with extended family, and graduation festivities, we found ourselves digging into Texas and really enjoying our stay. Maybe it was because we had a 7 year old with us and we were looking at everything through kid eyes, but as a family we took full advantage of our time together and made some great lasting memories.
Our quick trip to Texas gave us the sweetest cattle dog mix named Tiger, more y'all's than we could count, the worlds largest rocking chair, a snack in the rain while listening to live music, and a seat on a real live longhorn!
After all, Ferris told us "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. " Point is, whether you are in your home town or away, are on a trip of a lifetime or a quick getaway, give yourself a chance to take it in. Slowdown, don't overthink, sometimes don't plan and just enjoy.
Now, where do you want to go to try this vacationing thing out?
dedicated kids club, water adventures, fine dining, wine tasting, golf, spas, beautiful beaches, top notch entertainment and more ... truly any age will be entertained.
We know it's a fantastic idea... next, how do you pick the type of vacation and location? Your family, like most, probably has a variety of different preferences on what makes a perfect vacation. Along with the age differences, abilities and needs of travelers, there is a lot to take into consideration. Your travel planner will help guide your decision and find the packages available for groups. Some resorts and cruise lines even create special multigenerational adventures that include unique experiences such as volunteer opportunities or local enrichment tours.
It can be a bit of work to put together the perfect multigenerational vacation, but it really is worth it. The memories, stories and pictures will last a lifetime! It's a treasure to have.
When it comes to vacations, sometimes it's as simple as you get what you pay for.
Love finding a great vacations deal? We all do. And, yes they exist... but to a degree. It's all relative.
Resort accommodations range from below basic to the most luxurious place you've ever been. Their prices reflect this. You need to know what you WANT and what you NEED in accommodations.
There are travelers that are all about the destination. How they get there, and where they stay mean nothing. Then, there are travelers (me included) that consider the flight, rental car and hotel part of the experience. I'm not one of those people that will take the cheapest cabin on a cruise ship because 'you are never in there'. I, personally, disagree and feel like you actually spend a lot of time in the cabin and I want it to be nice.
But, here is the thing. It can be expensive to vacation, especially if you, like me, like nice accomodations, flights and experiences. Yes, indeed, there will be sales. And, yes indeed, there will always be something cheaper. But you, and only you, can decide if it's worth it.
As a general practice, there is a airline I won't quote or sell. It's a small cheap airline that has cheap lead-in prices, but you pay for EVERYTHING. Plus, the planes are old, and they don't adjust well to issues. I simply don't like to put a family on a flight to Orlando at 1am and ask them to pay carry-on's and checked bag. The experience is horrible. Instead -- pay a little more, travel at a better time, get to carry on a bag ... and overall, feel better about your travel.
I have a lot of people ask me if I think it's ok to leave the kids for a quick little romantic getaway. And without sounding unhelpful, often YOU and only you, know the answer. Every kid and family is different.
I have one child. Her grandparents are all out of state, and has never spent a night away from our home without my husband or I. A while back we wanted a couples get-away to a warm destination. I stressed, but realized she's very close to her aunt here in town, and a short trip might actually be fun for her. She'll be staying at her home, and her routine. Besides us not being there -- it was as normal as possible.
We opted for a 4 night stay at the FABULOUS adults only Iberostar Grand in Playa Paraiso, Mexico. Funny story that goes along with this place when we first learned our daughter was on her way... but I'll save that one. In any case, it was fabulous - both the hotel and the fact as a couple we ran away together. The kid did fine, I did fine ... and even managed to enjoy myself.
Here's the thing -- going into it I knew my kid, and I knew what we (ok, I) could do. Anything longer would have been a no-go for us and her. Some people are sure ANY type of trip away from the kids would be horrible. Listen to your gut -- if this is the case don't book a 5 day trip out of the country hoping it will be great. IF you want to test the limits... plan 2 nights downtown within driving distance. You -- and the kids will learn lots.
As I always tell my clients ... if you go into a trip worried or convinced you won't like it -- chances are the trip will not be what you hoped for. Do what you can, have fun... and don't feel guilty if you and your special someone sneak away! Do NOT let people tell you want is right or wrong... you are in the drivers seat. And most of ALL -- do NOT google if it's ok to go on vacation without kids --- that's up to YOU!!
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Guided tours with families are a stress-free, action packed yet relaxed way to explore the world. Many companies offer guided tours on both land and at sea or river, but when you are traveling with family of all ages, it's tough to beat Disney. And, it's not the Disney you think of -- princesses, castles and Mickey Mouse. Instead it's the quality of it's product, the service and exclusive VIP experiences that only Disney can provide. Let's be honest - your Adventure by Disney vacation will not be inexpensive, but when you consider the high-quality of all components -- lodging, dining, tours...etc. it's incomparable to other tours. Check them out -- you'll be happy you did.
Adventures by Disney
With more than 30 different vacations, over six different continents and a new river cruise option, Adventures by Disney has the experience you have been dreaming about. Guided adventure tours, with plenty of time for exploring, highlight the magic only Disney can provide. Imagine spending spring break in France, or early summer in Italy on the trip of a lifetime with your family. And, it's not just far away places ... Nashville, New York, Montana, it's all available and perfectly packaged for you.
For years, organizations have used different methods such as rewards or recognition programs to increase performance and achieve business goals. And, research shows these type of programs work.
As the competition grows before the trip, employees are motivated to work harder, have fun and generally the positive impact is felt all throughout the organization.
Sounds great, right? Whether you are considering a trip or travel voucher your employee can earn and travel on their own, or an offsite meeting where you'll need not only travel planning, but event and meeting management, we can help.
Jill is a travel agent located in Prior Lake, MN. After years in the corporate world planning events and meetings, she decided to take those skills along with her love for travel research & planning and created It's a Snap Travel.