Happy New Year! We’ve had a lot to celebrate here at Destinations HD – 2018 marked our best year yet, thanks to all of you and your referrals, which has led to our boutique agency being nominated in the TOP THREE for "Travel Company of the Year" in the Kansas City area!
While we can’t wait to get dolled up for the Awards Gala announcing the finalist on January 26 (fingers crossed), we have something else to share with you. Destinations HD is proud to announce the addition of a new service we now provide...
Pick My Brain Travel Service
Working with Destinations HD, ensures you get a tailor-made travel experience with each detail personalized to what YOU need, want and desire from your precious time away. However, as we have grown, and travel has become more readily available – and affordable – to a wider number of people, we’ve noticed an increase in both spontaneous and research based travelers.
These are the people who either spend hours poring over reviews and forums to determine just what they want OR the people who don’t know what they want and like to have more flexibility while they are away. Less itinerary and more “seize the day” type vacations.
This is where our new service comes in – Pick My Brain! We offer this new service to those who know they want a travel advisor in their corner, but don’t necessarily want all of the bells and whistles of our travel planning concierge expertise.
To these clients, we offer the following as part of our new service with trusted and expert advice:
We are excited to be able to offer this new service to our loyal clients, old and new, and can’t wait to get started helping you create memories to last a lifetime! Call us to discuss your travel plans and see how we can assist you! (913) 244-9195 #experiencesawait #destinationshd
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!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! Instead of taking a break from "labor," my husband and I decided it was a good idea to tackle some house projects we were putting off. It was very productive, and I feel so free by removing items off our check-list, but mostly I just feel sore :)
With all the hard work, I started daydreaming about what our Fall/Winter trip will be this year... and I'm thinking a nice relaxing beach might be the answer (after this labor-intensive weekend anyhow)! This lead me to my topic about finding the right resort to fit your expectations, as they are not created equal, even though on paper it looks like they are similar...
Think for a moment about the last time you wanted a bag of potato chips. Maybe you went to the store with your heart set on getting your favorite brand, but the store missed its shipment and you got stuck with another brand. You ate them, but they weren’t what you were hoping for in terms of quality and expectations.
Just like those two bags of chips were not created equal, the all-inclusive resorts available are not created equal either. In fact, the 4-star property on Avenue A in town could be completely different and perhaps even lower quality that another so-called 4-star property in the same town (even the same street!).
So, how can you keep yourself from getting stuck at a subpar “4-star” property that is 3-stars at best?! Let's find out...
Do Your Research
We live in a day and age where people are not afraid to tell the truth about the places they are staying. In fact, many people will post images and lengthy write ups about the resorts and properties they visit. They share the good, the bad, and the exceptionally awful. Where a resort can hire a photographer that stages one room for a perfect shot for their website, review sites let you see the gritty photos that keep it real.
However, don’t rely solely on reviews and take them with a grain-of-salt. You can’t truly compare apples to apples on experiences, since you don’t know the person writing the review and what their expectations were going in. Maybe they weren’t well informed of the location or quality of food/service, so they had something else in mind and were disappointed from their experience they had the prior year when they stayed at a nicer property.
It’s also important to consider the source in terms of who gave the hotel you are considering those 4-stars? Was it a known agency that issued them that honor? More and more, hotels and resorts in some parts of the world are dancing on the line of ethics by having no-name, or unknown agencies dub them “quality hotels” when they are not.
Consider the Brand
If you’re like most people, you have preferred brands that you use on a regular basis. Why? Because you expect a certain level of quality from them. Like those chips I mentioned earlier. You want that brand because you're used to what you will receive when you buy it. It’s often the same for resorts. Reputable hotel and resort brands maintain specific features for quality control purposes.
However, (there's another "but" coming) this isn’t always the case. Many brands have different owners and management companies across destinations, and while the concept is similar, the experiences may differ. The design of the hotels can be unique and while some have swim-up bar in the pool, private beach area or 24/7 premium coffee shop on property, the same branded resort down the street, may not have those options based on the layout of their property. The food quality can also vary between destinations, as it depends on how it’s grown locally and what they feed their plants/animals. The staff experience can also differ based on cultural customs.
Therefore, you really need to understand the brands, in order to know that depending on destination, you can expect certain features to be available across the board. And, good or bad, brands get reputations for a reason.
Eliminate the Guesswork - Hire a Travel Agent
Lost on how to choose the perfect all-inclusive resort for your needs and budget? That’s where a reputable travel agent like me comes in. We give you the truth about which properties have the best rooms, food, linens, alcohol, etc… Don’t get stuck in a so called 4-star resort with a room that looks more like a converted closet from your grandmother’s house, when you should be in an oasis that feels like heaven. You deserve better than that!
When you are ready to find the perfect resort to fit your style - call Destinations HD (913) 244-9195! We help match you to best all-inclusive resort for your needs, desires, expectations and budget. We take the time to listen and help you plan your ultimate getaway.
You can't return a bad vacation!
We are getting closer to the holiday season, which is a popular time to travel. Unfortunately, not every destination in the world is as safe as others, including the United States. With that in mind, we wanted to discuss safety while traveling, and give you some tips and information to consider when you plan your next getaway.
Know before you go:
One of the best ways to be safe while traveling is to do some research before visiting your destination of choice (or better yet, talk to your travel agent that specializes in that destination). Just a few things you may want to look into include:
Things to keep on your person include:
We’re not invincible on vacation, but we can travel smarter:
Unfortunately, things can happen on vacation that we don’t want to have happen. Here are a few additional things you can do to protect yourself:
If you have travel questions or concerns, we are happy to discuss them and help plan your ultimate vacation. Call us at (913) 244-9195, and we’ll create the perfect itinerary for you.
I can't believe it's August already! This summer flew by, don't you agree?! I've been seeing countdowns popping up online and in stores for the upcoming fall/winter holidays. It's got me daydreaming about a white Christmas... a sandy white one that is! Imagine playing in the sand of an all-inclusive beach resort, instead of shoveling snow this winter. This can be your reality, and I can help you make it so!
Embrace the dream of a sunny white winter...
Tan Lines Aren't Just for Summer
It’s no secret that come winter, everyone including the birds, wants to travel south. It’s warmer there, and it beats bundling up every morning to brave the elements!
If you too want to head south for the winter, it’s time to plan and book as soon as possible. You might be thinking, “What’s the rush?” - Here’s why you need to book now if you hope to escape the cold:
A beach vacation might be just what you need to prevent the winter blues from coming on. Which would you prefer - cold and icy roads, or a cold and icy tropical drink in your hand and toes in the sand? I’m betting you chose the latter ;)
This year skip all those pesky temperature drops and let us whisk you away to a better place. Destinations HD can help you design the perfect vacation for your needs. We’ve also got the inside scoop on the best resorts, as well as, any other information you might need to plan your ultimate snowy escape. Call us at (913) 244-9195, today!
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:
I just returned from Mexico doing resort site inspections at 12 different luxury resorts around the Riviera Maya and Cancun area - hopefully you saw some of those online at facebook or instagram. If you didn't, go check them out, as I saw some amazing resorts and now have an even longer bucketlist of more resorts I'm dying to stay at! :)
There is a new all-inclusive resort with a twist to the inclusive concept which opened last year, and I had the pleasure of staying there for the first 3 nights of my trip. I just wanted to share my remarkable experience with you about my new love...
UNICO 20°87° isn’t just a destination, it’s a journey! From locally-inspired gourmet dishes to exhilarating tours of ancient ruins, you will find more than your typical all-inclusive resort, you will enjoy the rich, warm culture of Modern Mexico!
This adults-only resort was everything I dreamed it would be and more! If you prefer unstructured schedules, natural elegant decor, quality food, premium drinks, fun, yet laid-back energy and romance - this resort might be for you!
This upscale resort is set on a natural eco-reserve along a beautiful white sand beach with dreamy views of the Caribbean Sea. Upon arrival, you are instantly embraced with the most enchanting aroma in the lobby. As you check-in, you are asked to personalize the scent of your own room, then your personal host ("butler") will escort you to your room and provide a personal tour. Here, you won't find entertainment staff asking you every hour to join them for archery, salsa classes, etc... Instead, you will enjoy pop-up activities, music and scheduled classes that you can leisurely join if interested or just relax and not be bothered.
The true luxury of this boutique resort begins with unlimited inclusions, such as unlimited golf, scuba diving experiences, spa treatments, local tours and beauty salon & barber services... that's right ladies, I said UNLIMITED SPA TREATMENTS!! Here you can find a variety of select tours and spa/salon services that are included with your stay! You just pay a 20% service fee for each service used (plus gratuity).
For example, if want to do the Xtreme Mayan Jungle Tour - which combines ziplining, rappelling into a freshwater underground river, and swimming through a series of underground caverns - you would normally pay $99 per person for this tour, but at UNICO 20°87° you only pay $19.80 for this incredible experience!
During my stay, I was fortunate to enjoy two spa treatments. The first one was their signature massage with FOUR hands, where I had two massage therapists working at the same time, melting my stresses away! OMG! This was incredible!! It felt like a synchronized dance with hands from head to toe. Each moment I continued to fade deeper into a blissful state with a permanent smile on my face. An experience I will dream about until I return and enjoy my next one :)
My other spa treatment was a relaxing Shaman Body Wrap with a gentle exfoliation treatment and cocoa wrap. This was my first body wrap experience and it was like three mini massages as each layer was applied. My skin was so hydrated and smooth after PLUS I smelled like chocolate :) There are a variety of spa treatment options that are included under the unlimited inclusion program, but they also have many others for an additional cost.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE...
Other included experiences worth mentioning are their redefined cultural tours. They created a few one-of-a-kind excursions (only available through this resort), which include unique and memorable adventures that will make your vacation truly one to flaunt! Their included tours range from a Wine Sunset Sailing, Snorkeling, Zip-Lining, Mayan Ruins, and so much more! You just pay the 20% service fee of the cost as I mentioned earlier. I had the pleasure to join their Sunset Sail with Vino tour... We had a lovely catamaran with around 30 guests from the resort and sailed down the coast enjoying wine, drinks and music before docking at a shallow lagoon for a perfect sunset photo opportunity, where we listened to music, and snacked on cheese and fruits before returning to the resort.
This resort is also located on the beach where many sea turtles come to lay their eggs. I was fortunate to be there during this season and stayed up late to tag along with the Turtle Conservation Team and was lucky enough to witness three different turtles nesting and watch them return to the sea. It was a remarkable experience to be a part of!
Also worth mentioning is their stunning wedding creations at this resort. If you are looking to elevate your destination wedding or vow renewal and offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience filled with personalized touches, locally-sourced dishes and artisanal cocktails PLUS a dreamy backdrop of the turquoise sea - look no further! They have gorgeous wedding options to make the ultimate event. This upscale resort will impress your guests and your wedding will be one that no one will ever forget!
There is SO much more to discuss about this resort and the one-of-a-kind experiences it offers, but I'm getting a little carried away already, so don't want to overload you at once! Let's schedule a time to chat about your next vacation and see if this resort might fit your expectations and desires! Call us today (913) 244-9195.
Destinations HD is a different, better kind of travel agency that offers a one-of-a-kind travel planning service!