Though this may seem like the most Captain Obvious statement we could make, foreign countries are, for lack of a better phrase, foreign. In our daily lives we get very used to things that are familiar to us, and that can cause quite a bit of culture shock for people that have never traveled to other countries (besides the tropical resorts that tend to offer luxuries we recognize). With that in mind, here are a few things you should keep in mind before traveling to a foreign country so that you have better expectations before you arrive...
Understanding Foreign Countries Are… Well, Foreign
With that said, most people have no problems at all in any of the countries they visit. However, education and awareness never hurt anyone. Doing research on any place you are considering visit ahead of time is always a good idea. These are just a few differences to keep in mind, there are many others to consider and prepare for to ensure you aren't disappointed or shocked when you arrive.
It’s also a good idea to work with a travel professional that specializes in the destination(s) you are traveling to, who can be there for you should anything go wrong while you are out of the country. Book your consultation today for a stress-free vacation experience. We do everything in our power to keep you informed, help you have the perfect vacation, and come back safely.
I hope you have been enjoying the holiday season thus far. I can't believe this year is almost over!!
Recently, I have received a lot of questions regarding passports and travel requirements, and with the most recent event of a couple getting kicked off their cruise in South Korea for not having the proper documentation (which you can read the article online here) - I thought it was a good idea to address a few details regarding Passport Laws...
Now that you’ve chosen your destination there’s no stopping you from day-dreaming your way through the work week about the imminent travel bliss that will soon be yours. But take note, before you go packing three bathing suits because you can’t pick just one, now is the time to talk about the not-so-fun stuff that could ruin your entire vacation – or stop it from happening altogether.
Before You Leave
Odds are, you already know that you need a passport to travel internationally and to reenter the United States. What you may not know, is that many countries have strict regulations on entering and exiting their country when your passport is close to its expiration date. As an example, if your passport expires within six months of travel, you won’t be able to enter St. Lucia, Italy, Canada, Mexico and many others. Additionally, if your passport expires within three months of your departure for the U.S. from France, you won’t be able to leave the country at all. While getting stuck in France indefinitely and taking up a new life as a French fashion icon might sound fun, it might not work out so perfectly in reality. Passport restrictions are different depending on the destination you’re visiting, which is why you definitely need to be educated before you go!
So, what could really go wrong? You’re not a criminal and you have a certified passport, so whatever hiccup occurs could certainly be easily fixed, right? Not quite. Not adhering to a countries passport laws could cost you quite a lot of money and in the worst-case scenario could result in you being detained in a foreign place, unable to return home until you can get a passport renewal expedited. It is your own responsibility to know the regulations of the country you are traveling to. Otherwise, when you arrive you may learn some devastating news.
Also be aware of the layovers you may have in countries other than your destination because you are also going to be held accountable for that countries passport laws too, even if you don’t leave the airport. If one place requires three months to consider your passport valid, but your connecting flight requires six you could get stuck in limbo.
When you renew a passport or apply for a new one, a routine application can take up to six weeks to process – and that’s if there are no discrepancies or errors with your documentation. You can pay for “rush” processing, but the expedited fee isn’t cheap and you will still wait around three weeks, unless you pay even more and go through a third-party agency.
As if the ins and outs of passport laws and customs weren’t overwhelming enough, you also need to have an understanding about the actual laws of the country you are visiting. For example, several countries place restrictions on entry towards people who have a criminal conviction. Passengers without proper documentation, or that fail to meet destination requirements, can be denied entry at the destination and won’t be entitled to a refund or future credit. Do not pass “Go”, do not collect $200. On top of how stressful that would be, you’d also still have to coordinate your flight home – and bear in mind, most of us tend to buy tickets that can only be used on the dates we purchased them for, so that new ticket home would have at your own expense.
It would be terrible to ruin your well-deserved vacation by getting stuck in another country and having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on unexpected additional travel costs, so take the measures to make sure that doesn’t happen.
You can find out everything you need to know about the destination you’re visiting and its passport laws via The Department of State’s Passport Services website and by talking to your travel professional.
Visa requirements are another process and should also be considered depending on the country you will be traveling. Before you make the travel plans, ensure you have enough time and will meet the requirements to obtain a Visa before your trip.
Take a tip from the above couple in the article who was kicked off their dream vacation, and hire a professional travel agent that will ensure you know before you go - don't let this happen to you on your next adventure!
Ready to explore the world? Call Destinations HD to discuss your travel plans and see how we can assist you! (913) 244-9195
In the Spirit of the Holidays...
We seem to all get along better and open our hearts to each other during this season. It would be so lovely to keep that going all year, which brings me to my topic today...
Living in the 21st century requires being open-minded. The best way to become so is to meet as many different people and experience as many cultures as you can. All of which can be achieved while traveling. Traveling helps you broaden your perspective, and gain new skills.
You pick up foreign language phrases, become more communicative, and create some amazing memories - usually while having a blast. If you understand the true power of travel, you know that seeing places you've never been to before, out-values all the material things you could ever purchase. Travel allows you to invest in yourself and your life experience, which is certainly more important than owning the latest iPhone or other luxury goods.
Nowadays, due to the internet and social media, we get the feeling that the world is smaller than it actually is. It's easy to connect with people from every corner of the globe. We see their problems, world-views, life philosophies and get the impression of understanding them.
But social media statuses from other countries, compared with the actual awareness you obtain from traveling to them, are two very different things. While traveling, you physically see different countries and how they live, meet other people, learn about cultures and customs, and can have empathy for them.
You see things that you usually don't in your home life, which helps you change yourself and your world perception. You get to know other people's true lifestyle and perspective, and maybe let them become a part of your own.
Also, when traveling, you constantly test your comfort zone, and personal boundaries. There are many problems that you could face while being in an unknown place. For example, you could find yourself in a situation when there are no English speakers, and you have to find a creative solution to communicate.
On the more negative end - somebody could steal your money, or you could miss a plane or bus and have to scramble to figure out what to do next. Knowing how to deal with things like this can carry over into your daily life, providing with innovative ways of handling situations you may encounter.
If you don’t change anything, nothing ever changes. Hence, you need to change your daily activities, and routine. Traveling teaches you to be more patient, kind, and helps you think out of the box. It changes you for the better, and makes you grow as a person.
You’ll witness first hand that people are inherently good, and most people in the world want the same things you do. They want to be happy, and to see their families survive and thrive. They want their children to grow up, fall in love, and have families of their own. You’ll also see that you may be more privileged than you previously thought.
When you start traveling, you may find you can't get enough. You’ll want to see more, as frequently as possible. You’ll learn to appreciate the moment, and everything else becomes less important. Social media and the demands of our typical days fade away, and you develop a desire to deeply explore, and focus on the things in front of you.
In the past, traveling was reserved for the upper class. These days, anyone can travel. The world is big, and there are so many interesting things to see. There are so many life lessons waiting to be learned. Make the opportunities happen. Make your travel dreams, reality. Explore. Soak in new experiences. Create some life-lasting memories, and grow as a person.
Ready to explore the world, and change your views? Call Destinations HD, at (913) 244-9195 today!
I was recently preparing for my adventure in Costa Rica and realized I was quickly running out of time to get everything done. I got super busy a couple weeks before, between life and work and I procrastinated more than usual, making my week before a fun vacation, much more stressful than it needed to be.
Because of my experience, I wanted to check in and have you ask yourself: Are you prepared for your next trip?
Unfortunately, for many people (including myself), the answer is no. Why? Because it’s more than just packing a bag, and taking off. It’s okay though, I have you covered! Below are a few things you simply cannot forget to do before you travel. Hopefully, it will inspire you to create a to-do list before your next trip, so you can relax knowing everything has been taken care of...
Here’s what you need to do before you leave:
There are several more items that could be added to this list. Like I said at the beginning though, the goal is to get you thinking about the things you need to do before your next trip.
Speaking of trips - I hope when you’re ready to book your next getaway, you think of Destinations HD! Just call (913) 244-9195 and let us handle the logistics so you can just enjoy yourself and explore the world!
It's always a good time for a reminder on the importance to slow down and enjoy the moments living life. Build those special memories before they pass you by! This is also so true with the vacations you plan...
Consider for a moment what the purpose of a vacation is. It’s to rejuvenate and renew. Still, a tale that has become a sad trend these days, is travelers coming home exhausted, if not more exhausted than when they left for their vacation in the first place.
Here’s why: They leave to these new and exciting destinations and want to cram as much as they can into their getaway. The fear of missing out takes over and before they know it, they have an itinerary so packed that sleep is lost because rest takes a backseat to the “thrill” of seeing something new. With that in mind, here are some things to consider so you can enjoy your vacation fully, and come home refreshed:
1. Be cautious of the tourist traps
Not everything that a destination offers is right for you. In fact, you might find that doing some of them is boring, or even uninteresting to you. For example, if everyone swears you have to visit the museums of a city, but you loathe museums, why put yourself through the torture?
Don’t do every activity available at the traps either. For example, if you want to go the popular beaches, that’s all well and good. But, but do you really need to plan every activity possible while there? Instead of jet skiing, and an evening cruise, and snorkeling, and intro to scuba diving, and all the other things you could schedule, why not pick one or two and leave the rest of your itinerary open?
2. Don’t try to see every city in a 20-mile radius
Just because you are visiting one city in a country, doesn’t mean you need to try and do excursions to all the cities that are surrounding it. Even a visitor to Disney World couldn’t see the whole park and get the “full Disney experience” in a day or two. Therefore, trying to see all of an entire city in one day, and then another the next, and another the next will leave you tired and missing most of the best aspects of each destination.
Give yourself time in one destination to check out the cool coffee shop that all the locals visit. Or delve further away from the tourist spots and tap into the true flavor of the space, rather than the “expected” hot spots.
Besides, it’s important to keep in mind that all the traveling from city to city is going to take up precious vacation time. So stop stressing about trying to cross off more destinations from your bucket list, and give yourself a chance to truly enjoy the surroundings and culture.
3. If you want to destination hop, make it a faster trip, or a better one
For example, if you simply can’t stand the thought of only seeing one country on your trip, in lieu of driving or taking a train, take a flight. Flying to Paris from Rome is 2 hours, but driving will take 14 hours or more. And, a train isn’t that much shorter at 11 hours. Then again, if you insist on a train ride from one destination to the next, at least get one that will be scenic, and relaxing. In other words, instead of taking a train ride at night, take one during the day with a window seat so you can see all the sights along the route.
4. Don’t plan an activity for every hour of the day
Leave several empty spaces in your schedule to avoid stress and overwhelm. Avoid trying to see every landmark too. A better choice is to pick between one and three hot spots you really want to see and leave wiggle room for the rest.
Besides, travel never goes exactly as we plan for it too. Long lines at tourist spots, and transportation between places that takes more time than you thought it would - these are two things alone that can cause many people to begin panicking that they are going over the time they have allotted for the experiences on their itinerary.
Don’t forget the time you lose if you get lost trying to find your way around. I have personally been lost in many major cities trying to find my way - which can end up as one of the best and most fun travel memories! Therefore, give yourself time for those unexpected detours that may lead you to something more enjoyable.
Bottom line - the more free time you give yourself on your trip, the more you will enjoy yourself.
Remember, the whole point of a vacation is to calm down, and take things slow. Recharge your batteries, don’t burn them out. Don't try to squeeze too much into your trip. If you’re going to hustle to the point of exhaustion, you could have stayed home and gone to work instead.
When you are ready to plan your next adventure - call Destinations HD (913) 244-9195! Let us handle the logistics so you can just enjoy yourself and explore the world!
It's almost been a month since my Mexico trip to scout resorts and I'm already trying to figure out my next getaway. Reality is just not as fun, is it?! :)
There is a saying that goes something like, “Travel is the only thing you spend money on, that makes you richer.” The trouble is most people spend too much time wondering if they can travel, when they should be wandering the planet instead! Travel has so many benefits including the fact it can improve your mental, physical, emotional and even your spiritual health.
Are you curious if you can travel more? Today, we’ll explore exactly how you can add more travel experiences to your life faster than you may have thought possible...
Stop Wondering and Start Wandering...
How to Travel More
The first thing people think of when it comes to traveling, is money. With that in mind, here are some money saving tips you can use to travel more:
With our daily careers and work life, some people find it very difficult to set time aside for travelling. However, you can still travel more by:
It’s almost here!!! If you haven’t heard by now, there is a new non-stop flight from Kansas City to Reykjavik, Iceland - making now the perfect time to explore this beautiful and unique destination!
The Icelandair inaugural flight from Kansas City takes place on May 25, 2018 and will offer three seasonal non-stop flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with easy connections between approximately 20 other European destinations, if you want to continue on within 7 days and see more of Europe. The return flight back to Kansas City will be on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. However, keep in mind that this route ends on September 29, 2018, but it is expected to continue again in 2019. Fingers crossed!
This flight is estimated at about 7 hours (eastbound) and under 8 hours (westbound). Take advantage of this nonstop flight while we have it in Kansas City – and just maybe we can keep it around if Icelandair receives enough activity!! Because of the limited flight schedule, it’s important to book early for this trip if you plan to experience Iceland this year (or next).
The two best ways to truly explore Iceland are via a bus tour and by cruising around the island. Let someone else handle getting you from place to place and relax while you check out all that this stunning destination has to offer. There are also some highlights on the island which you won’t be able to visit on your own, so only a cruise or escorted tour has access to these locations, which you don’t want to miss while you’re there!
Let’s take a quick look into these options…
Take a Bus Tour Across Iceland:
Tourists looking to see as much of Iceland as possible should consider a bus tour across the country. By doing so you’ll get to learn more about their culture, see more of their beautiful physical features, and take in a significantly higher amount of their breathtaking history.
There are several guided bus tour options to choose from. Once you’ve paid for your ticket, all the destinations on the tour are included. That is unless you take an excursion off the tour path. Some tours begin from a predetermined place, and for others the pickup point is the hotel where you’re staying (depending on availability).
You’ll explore iconic destinations such as the popular Northern Lights, the Golden Circle, the Gullfoss Waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park. Visitors can also visit the glaciers where there are man-made ice caves.
Cruise the Island of Iceland:
Cruising around Iceland is considered one of the most convenient and enjoyable ways to see the best of the country’s landscape. On your cruise you’ll enjoy witnessing waterfalls, glaciers, geysers and more. Many tourists prefer cruising to bus tours because they feel it is easier to get from destination to destination, and takes less time to see the popular areas. The cruises are relatively affordable too, with the best deals occurring from June to September.
The trip begin from Reykjavik or Akureyri with stops in Siglufjordur, fishing port of Isafjordur and Heimaey Island. All of these destinations are enriched with their own stories to tell. Heimaey Island, for example, was all but destroyed in the lava flow of 1973.
Don't Forget to Visit Puffin Island:
Whether you decide to explore Iceland by land or by sea, be sure to include an excursion to Puffin Island! Puffin Island is better known as Akurey - a small island just near the coast of Reykjavik. Not that we counted, but believe it or not you can find as many as 30,000 Puffin birds nesting here! Tourists frequently flock to the island just to catch a glimpse of the beautiful birds.
The Puffins dig burrows in the island where they nest. The burrows provide safety and warmth which is ideal for their breeding. The females lay a single egg each year, between April and May, and both parents take turns incubating it. They will feed the fledglings for a month or two, and then desert them shortly after they are ready to leave the nest.
Some of the other beautiful birds in Akurey include black guillemots, seagulls, eider ducks, cormorants, kittiwakes, northern fulmars and arctic terns. Note: The island can only be accessed via boat, but there are several tours which can take you to view these magnificent creatures.
Ready to book your getaway to Iceland? Call Destinations HD today! (913) 244-9195
I can't believe it's almost summer - where did this year go to already?! With the upcoming graduations, mother's day, father's day, etc... I thought it would be a great time to think about gifts that will make a lasting impression.
Whether it’s for graduation, an anniversary, or some other occasion, these days "experiences" matter more to gift recipients than things. Sure, you can buy expensive jewelry, ties, or clothes, and your recipients may like it. The trouble is those gifts may sit in the drawer more often than worn. Instead, how about arranging a special vacation to create memories that will last a lifetime? If you can't afford a trip, make it as simple as just getting them a passport and having them think of the endless possibilities they can explore and they can plan something on their own!
Travel Is Better Than Stuff
Travel is memorable and gives pleasure that simply can’t be created from commercial goods. The truth is most people can’t remember gifts that were given to them for any given occasion, regardless of how much money you spent on them. But, ask them about trips they have been on, and they will likely be able to tell you with unbelievable accuracy the details of that trip!
Stuff comes and goes, memories are there forever. Traveling gives us stories to tell, and inspires new dreams within us. Travel helps us to share experiences in a way objects cannot.
Travel Yields Deeper Bonds
Consider for a moment what happens when you give the gift of an object. You hand it to the recipient. They may or may not light up with joy in the moment, but then it’s over. You have nothing further to discuss other than a comment if they wear it or use it from time to time.
Now consider what happens when you go on a trip... You can plan it together. You can visit the various sites together. You share the views, the culture, the food, etc... You’re experiencing the trip together. Then, when you get back you have memories to call upon together. It’s not a one-sided experience anymore. It’s something you can truly bond over.
As we travel and interact with new things, we are mentally stimulated. We ask more questions. We feel more engaged. We feel present in the moment, and more excited to be with those we’re experiencing the trip with.
Now, I know what you may be thinking - what if you give the gift of travel to someone, and you’re not going on the trip with them? You’ll still enjoy many benefits that you wouldn’t get to have with gifts of objects. For example:
Would you like help creating the perfect travel gift? Just call Destinations HD at (913) 244-9195 today and see how we can. We even offer travel gift certificates!
I am currently on an adventure in Europe... and I always get so excited to explore foreign lands, as I love learning about other cultures and our history!! It gets me thinking how powerful travel can be when it comes to meeting new people and discovering new experiences.
Does travel create better humans? That's the exact question that a study by Contiki tours recently posed. The company believes that “life's greatest lessons are learned through travel.” Therefore, it's no surprise that this company decided to do this study to prove what they believe. Below you'll find some of the results of their research, and it may just inspire you to take your children on a trip abroad sometime this year!
What Contiki Concluded From Their Study:
People who travel tend to have higher self-esteem, and are more willing to think outside of the box when it comes to how to solve problems. Those who travel also have better satisfaction in their relationships. They’re more likely to seek out new friendships, and tend to donate more time and money to their communities than non-travelers.
Bottom line: Travel helps make for more well-rounded individuals. And, when you start traveling from a young age, you are better able to cement these positive traits within yourself. However, you don’t have to take our word, or Contiki’s word for it. You can test out these positive conclusions for yourself simply by adding more travel to your life.
Call Destinations HD at (913) 244-9195 today. We’ll help you design the perfect trip to expand your mind, and open you up to the positive power of travel!
After all the fun stories of parents enjoying their wine while the kids were out on spring break, it inspired me to discuss wine vacations :) March is almost over and summer vacation planning is now in full swing, so what better vacation to plan than one that involves wine?!
Everyone's heard of Napa Valley, and it's all but become the number one place that people in the United States think of when they think of a Wine Vacation. However, what about places outside the states?! Below you will find some of the must see wine destinations beyond our borders that will have you reaching for a wine glass faster than you can say vino tasting!
1. Bordeaux, France
One of the world’s most respected wine production regions, Bordeaux boasts that it has the most prestigious wine in the world. Is it true? That depends on your palette I suppose, but it's certainly worth visiting to find out. I think you'll find that the tasting rooms are exquisite and elegant. Fitting considering most of them are found in some of the most grand estates the region has to offer.
2. Mendoza, Argentina
Known for its Malbec, Argentina has in recent years worked to establish itself as one of the top wine producing countries in the world. Many of its wineries offer paired dinner tastings, wine flights, and tours. The kicker is that you must have a reservation because these wineries are in high demand. Without a reservation, you'll likely not be able to get in.
Another Argentinian option for wine is Cafayate. Also known for its Malbec, what sets this area apart is the scenery some have called magical, and their local crafts and cuisine.
3. Tuscany, Italy
If Chianti tickles your taste buds, Tuscany is the place to go! Not only will you find stunning medieval castles to visit, you'll also find amazing tours of old wineries that offer a peek into the old ways of making wine, including wine-makers that still crush the grapes with their feet. Do you prefer mineral-rich white wines rather than Chiantis? If so, consider visiting Alto Adige, Italy instead.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
When many people think of a trip to Africa, they think of going on safari, but Cape Town lands are renowned for their moderate climate and fertile soil that enables wine makers to produce some of the best Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Savinon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir the world over.
5. Yarra Valley, Australia
Located just an hour outside of Melbourne, Yarra Valley features many restaurants, craft shops and lots of wineries amid a lush rolling landscape. Though Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir are the stars here, the region is also known for their amazing line of sparkling wines.
While this list is only a taste of the stunning wine destinations in the world, there are dozens more to choose from. When you're ready to start planning your vino fueled getaway, call Destinations HD at (913) 244-9195 to learn more about the wine destination itineraries we could create for your unique desires!
Destinations HD is a different, better kind of travel agency that offers a one-of-a-kind travel planning service!