Why you should take a girls getaway trip…

Most Americans do not make vacations a priority. Studies show that Americans are earning even more days off than last year. But more than half (55%) of American workers report not using all their days off—totaling 768 million unused vacation days. Americans see vacations as a privilege and not a right. In fact, regular vacations can stimulate positive mental health, physical well-being, and higher productivity at work.

I have found, one of the best kinds of vacations to be girls getaway trips. Women who take girls getaway trips have learned to put themselves high on their priority list. There are several types of a girls getaway trip: bachelorette parties, spa weekends, foodie trips, adventure trips and many more. The beauty of a girls getaway trips is the endless possibilities! If you’re on any type of social media platform you’ll see that women are on the move. According to Travel Pulse, women only travel makes up 19% of travel spend.

Here are four reasons why you need to start planning your next girls getaway trips:

Recharge 

The older we get, the easier it is to lose our identities. We begin to define ourselves by our careers or by our family status...as a wife or mother. When you travel with your good girlfriends, you get the chance to just be YOU. Can you remember the last time you were able to leave your daily responsibilities, that can be isolating and draining, behind? As women we juggle so many things at once and we need the chance to let someone else take over for a while and concentrate only on themselves. In the words of Whitley Gilbert...we need to Relax, Relate, Release.

Reconnect 

“Remember that time when…” is an oft-heard phrase during a girls getaway trip. Reminiscing about old times (before work, husbands, and kids) is a great way to have some laughs and reflect upon your life's journey. How have you changed and grown, and where do you see yourself in the future? Women use girls getaway trips to bond and remind ourselves that we are not alone in our experiences, challenges, and triumphs.

Renew 

A wellness vacation offers several opportunities to work on your body, mind, and soul. These types of girls getaway trips can be all-inclusive at a wellness retreat center or resort and can include yoga, meditation, hiking, organic cooking, and spa treatments. Another advantage to a wellness vacation is the ability to disconnect from technology (back away from the cellphone...) and focus on the relationships that are right in front of you.

Fun

Finally, one of the best features of a girls getaway trips is FUN! Lots of laughter, food, friendship, love, and wine are key elements to a successful girls getaway trip. .

But let's be real, girls getaway trips can take a lot of planning; everyone is so busy with work, family, school, and life in general. That’s where I come in. I can help you plan the perfect girls getaway trip. You pick the dates and I’ll do the rest. Contact me to get started.

 

5 things you must know before your trip to Thailand

(1) CARRY BUG SPRAY

Major tourist areas, such as Bangkok and Phuket, have very few cases and are considered malaria free. However, malaria is still a problem in rural areas. Carry repellent that contains a high percentage of DEET. Also consider malaria pills.

(2) BRING HAND SANITIZER & TOILET PAPER

Western toilets are more and more common. But the Asian squat toilet, a ceramic platform mounted over a hole in the ground are common in lesser-visited towns in rural areas. If this is your first experience with such toilets, take note: near the toilet is a bucket or sink with a small ladle. The water is for cleaning yourself and flushing the toilet. Many public washrooms have one Western toilet. Always carry a pack of tissues with you since toilet paper is usually not provided.

(3) DON'T DRINK THE WATER

Don't drink the tap water here, even in the major hotels. Most hotels provide bottled water; use it for brushing your teeth as well as drinking. Most restaurants serve bottled or boiled water and ice made from boiled water, but always ask to be sure.

(4) LEARN TO SAY “HI” AND “THANK YOU”

Make the effort learn a few phrases and words.
Here’s how to say “thank you” and “hi”.

Thank You:
If you’re a girl: “Kap-kun-kah” (kop-coon-kaaaaaaa)
If you’re a boy: “Kap-kun-kap” (kop-coon-kop)

Hi:
If you’re a girl: “Sawadee-kah” (sah-wah-dee-kaaaaaaa)
If you’re a boy: “Sawadee-kap” (sah-wah-dee-kop)

(5) NEVER PAY FULL PRICE

Don't be shy about offering a lower price than advertised for goods. Start by offering 50% to 70% of the item's stated price and increase your offer as the vendor decreases the sale price to reach an agreement.

5 Hacks for Packing Toiletries in Your Carry-on Suitcase

Frequently-changing airport security rules can make packing your carry-on luggage challenging – especially when it comes to liquids. If you’re planning to travel with carry-on luggage, it is absolutely essential that you adhere to the 3-1-1 liquids rule.

What’s the 3-1-1 liquids rule?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) explains the limitations on liquids in carry-on luggage on their website:

“You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. This is also known as the 3-1-1 liquids rule.”

While the 3-1-1 liquids rule varies slightly from country to country, it’s easiest to plan ahead and avoid having your toiletries confiscated at the airport.

Over the years, travelers have developed several tricks to ensure their toiletries meet these carry-on restrictions. Below you’ll find five hacks to help ensure you can bring all your beauty products and toiletries on board.

1. Make a list.

Write down the products you will need to bring on vacation. A list helps you organize and ensure you don’t leave anything behind.

Whether you use a handwritten checklist or keep a spreadsheet, you’ll save time in the long run if you create one master list you can refer to for every trip.

This is an example of the essentials to help you get started:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shower Cap
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Leave in Conditioner
  • Soap/Body Wash
  • Loofah
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Body Moisturizer
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Sun Block
  • Eye Cream

After reading the tips below, determine if you need to pack these items or if you can get them at your destination.

2. Travel-size isn’t necessarily the best size.

Consider how much product you use on a daily basis during trips. If you’re traveling for one week, is your full-size foundation or toothpaste really necessary?

Even travel-size containers, while easy to pick up at the grocery store, are not always practical.

One hundred milliliters (3 ounces) may be too much product for beauty items such as face wash, moisturizer and cleanser. All you might need is a pea size amount.

Instead of buying travel-size toiletries, use smaller 10ml, 25ml or 50ml containers and decant the exact amount of product you’ll need for your trip.

This is particularly useful for makeup products such as foundation or concealer. You definitely won’t need full sizes for the average vacation.

Voila! You save space in your liquids bag and lower your baggage weight, too.

3. Use toiletries provided by your hotel or purchase items upon arrival.

One of the easiest ways to save space is to use the toiletries provided by your hotel such as shampoo and conditioner.

Sacrificing your regular suds for a one week trip is a small price to pay if it means saving space and weight in your suitcase.

Some hotel chains provide a variety of toiletries including razors, shaving cream, toothpaste and other essentials. Contact your hotel before your trip to find out what they have available.

If you’re traveling for longer than a week, then consider buying as you go. This strategy is particularly useful if you’re traveling with your family or staying in a vacation rental for a long period of time. It may cost you a little more to buy items at your destination, but it can save you much grief at the airport.

4. Replace liquids with solids.

Some companies have developed toiletries in solid form due to the 3-1-1 liquids rules, such as sunblock, shampoo, conditioner, bug repellant, moisturizer, soap, makeup sticks and laundry detergent. You can also replace liquids with powders and wipes.

Bonus tip: decant solid toiletries into small travel containers to minimize your luggage weight and space!

5. Use Samples for Short Breaks

Save product minis from holiday sets or gifts with purchase and use them on short, 1-3 day trips instead of bringing larger items.

Makeup is the easiest to downsize. You can get free samples at makeup counters, so make sure to ask the next time you go shopping!

Following these tips help you meet the 3-1-1 liquids rule with ease and make traveling carry-on-only possible every time you travel.

Original Post

4 ways to upgrade your travel

Americans do not take enough vacations, and some even suffer from vacation deficit disorder, meaning that travelers think a vacation is important but are not confident they will take one. That is really sad!

People need to break out of that mindset, go on vacation and make the most of it. Once that vacation is actually planned, here are four easy ways to take it up a notch and #treatyourself.

Get a Room…A Better One

An upgrade to a room with a better view can be a little as $50 more a night. Or a swim-out suite with its own swim-out pool right outside – that can be less than $100 more a night. So if this vacation is long overdue or badly needed for other reasons, improving the accommodations (which is arguably the most important part of a vacation) is a no-brainer.

Make That a Private Transfer

From the moment a vacation starts to the minute you step in the privacy of your room, you’re probably with members of the public, a.k.a. strangers, the entire time. Does that gross anyone else out a little bit? Start that private, or exclusive, experience sooner by booking a private transfer from the airport to the hotel and back. There’s no better way to feel like a VIP than having your own transportation.

Fly More Comfortably

Speaking of transportation, everyone just loves flying, right? Most of the time it’s fine, but those bad or uncomfortable times can be unforgettable. Avoid having to do the shuffle to the back of the plane, the seat right outside the bathroom and the scrunched feeling in your seat by choosing a better seat. The cost may be more, but it could definitely be worth it if you want to travel more comfortably.

Choose a Luxurious, Unique or NEW Destination

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with vacation destinations. If you already know a place, do you really want to spend time learning about a new one? That may sound nice and simple, but the one place people shouldn’t get stuck in a rut is in vacation planning. It’s obvious but it still merits saying: there are so many places to go. So many things to experience. So many people to meet. Travelers should not limit themselves and instead should take the many opportunities even a three-night vacation offers by visiting new places, seeing new things and, most importantly, making new memories.

8 Ways to Breeze Through Customs Quickly

The basics are simple: Fill out your paperwork before you get off the plane, book a seat that'll let you get out of your plane quickly and then head straight for the customs agent without bathroom detours.

To some degree, customs lines are inevitable. After all, every time a plane full of people arrives, it takes a little while to process all that luggage. You'll also have to go through customs if you're traveling across international borders. Still, that doesn't mean you have to suffer; there's a lot you can do to get yourself toward the front of the line and speed your way through the actual customs encounter.

1. Travel Light

Guess what: The less time you spend juggling your bags, the faster you can get through the customs line. With that said, there's one item you should never be without: a pen for filling out your customs form on the plane. Somehow there are never enough pens to go around.

Do you see someone struggling to manage all their bags on the way through security? As hard as it can be to watch them having a hard time, you should never transport someone else's bag through customs. You never know what they might be carrying that they'd like to escape responsibility for. If you just can't stand to watch the mayhem, offer to rent them a luggage cart – but rest assured that your Good Samaritan obligations end there.

2. Ditch the Food

Many restrictions exist for transporting fresh products like fruit, vegetables or meat across international lines; your trip through customs will usually go faster if you ditch the food entirely. Still, even if the food you have is legal, failing to declare it can net you some hefty fines. Therefore, honesty is always the best policy.

3. Track Your Spending

Each country allows you to transport a certain dollar amount of purchases across the border without paying "duty" – basically, a tax levied on purchases made or gifts received while you're abroad. Keep your receipts, or track how much you've spent at the very least. This way, you can prove whether you fall under the duty limit or how much you may be over the limit.

4. Avoid Farms

Customs won't deny you re-entry to the country if you've visited a farm, but you may lose some time in customs while they clean your footwear to make sure you're not accidentally bringing any biological contaminants into the country. However, customs people don't clean your boots for the fun of it. Invasive species and illnesses like foot and mouth disease are very real hazards. If you have visited any farms, admit it and accept the possible delay.

5. Put Your Phone Away

Want to have an up-close-and-personal visit with a customs agent? Just whip out a camera and start taking pictures; it'll get their attention quickly. If you'd rather have a quick and hassle-free experience, leave your phone and cameras tucked away until you're all the way through customs.

6. Apply for Global Entry

If you want to make everyone else in the customs line turn green with envy, consider applying for the Global Entry program. You'll have to pay $100 and give your fingerprints, and not every airport supports the Global Entry program. Nevertheless, if you're accepted into the program and traveling through a major airport, your trip through customs boils down to a quick stop at an automated kiosk to confirm your identity and make any necessary declarations. The NEXUS and SENTRI programs, also offered by the Department of Homeland Security, offer similar benefits.

7. Check Your Baggage Requirements with Your Airline

If your flight into the United States doesn't take you directly to your final destination, then you might have to retrieve your checked bags after passing through immigration and before going through customs. After that, you'll need to recheck the bags again before you catch your connecting flight. Check with your airline beforehand to find out whether you'll have to retrieve and recheck your bags or not.

8. Know Where You're Staying

Be prepared to tell officials where you're staying in the country you're visiting. They may ask you to provide the address of your hotel, so keep a copy of your reservation on hand. Sometimes they also ask you for proof of your departure ticket and date, so those copies need to stay in your carry-on bag as well.

Some travelers take being first in the customs line very seriously. It's true that if there's a long walk to customs, moving quickly can get you out ahead of the pack. Still, there's no need to turn a trip through customs into a race or a competition. No matter where you end up in line, we guarantee that the experience will be more pleasant if you relax and enjoy the experience. If you're concerned about making tight connections, having Allianz Travel Insurance can give you extra peace of mind.

 

Original Post

Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019

It’s that time of year….BLACK FRIDAY & CYBER MONDAY sales. Who needs another TV? Not you...

You need a vacation and what's better than a vacation at a discounted price? Nothing!!

We have three trips that we need to closeout so we're offering a discount to encourage you to book now.

Take a look at the trip details and book before space runs out. Don’t forget the trip comes with an easy and affordable monthly payment plan.

Don't sleep on this opportunity, the discount codes will expire at 11:59 pm EST on Monday December 2, 2019.

Violet Clover Travel Group Hosted Trips

Click each image for the details of the trip.

 Discount Code: JBASH150

Save $150 per person

Discount Code: BKK350

Save $350 per person

Discount Code: GREECE100

Save $100 per person

Let Us Help You Create Your Own Experience!!

This is gonna be fun.

Up to $200 off + free nights & up to 70% off select hotels.

Prepare for takeoff with amazing deals from top hotels around the world.

DESTINATIONS: Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Central America

TRAVEL DATES: 01/01/20 - 12/31/20

BOOKING DATES: Now- 12/05/19

INTERESTED? CLICK HERE

7 Steps to Reduce the Stress of Planning a Vacation

Thinking about your perfect vacation is a wonderful thought, but planning your dream vacation can be stressful and overwhelming. It can be a daunting task because you need to think about so many things like the weather conditions, food, lodging, transportation, etc. This is reason why the planning process can get in the way of a good vacation.

The following steps will help you with planning your dream vacation:

how to budget for vacation

Budget

Determine your budget first and then figure out what you can do within that budget. Some people may prefer to choose what they want to do on vacation and then create a budget. Either way, a budget needs to be one of the first things you develop to stay within your financial boundaries.

Activities

Brainstorm an activity wish list with your family, group, or significant other. This does not mean that everyone gets what they want but it will help to set expectations. Not everyone enjoys the same activities so this will help you to balance everyone’s desires. For example, if everyone wants to play in the sun but do lots of different activities than an all-inclusive resort could be a great fit.

vacation excursions and activites
We can help you select your travel destination

When and Where

This part is easy if you already have a destination in mind. If you do not have a specific destination, then write all your preferences and what time of year you want to go on vacation along with the length of stay. You should also think about the climate and activities are you looking to do.

Itinerary

Come up with several itinerary options to evaluate and compare. Violet Clover Travel Group presents at least three different itineraries for our clients to review. Using a travel agent is helpful because we have the insights and suggestions to reduce the stress of planning your vacation because they do all the legwork for you.

travel itinerary and other options
Passport requirement

Passports and Visa

When traveling internationally don’t forget to check on the vaccines and visa requirements for that country. Use this time to take a look at your passport and make sure it is not going to expire soon. A lot of countries do not like you to travel on a passport that close to expiring so make sure you will have 6 months or more left on the passport for the dates you travel.

Money

Call your credit card company and inform them of when you are traveling so your transactions don’t get flagged as fraudulent and your card gets blocked. Also, check on ATMs and fees. Is there an additional fee for using your credit card internationally? Determine how much cash you want to travel with and what methods you will use to pay for different parts of your trip.

using your credit card on international trips
why you need travel insurance

Travel Insurance

Do not be fooled, you need travel insurance. It covers so much than just illness. It can cover a stolen camera, a cancelled flight, medical issues and so much more. Remember most health care plans do not cover you overseas.

There are so many steps involved in planning a great vacation. Planning a vacation can be incredibly overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to turn to a professional.

The City of Love

Paris is known as the City of Love…

There is so much for you and your spouse to enjoy there that you won’t know what to do with yourselves!

Feel all the romantic vibes at the top of the Eiffel Tower during dinner while watching the sunset. Walk the cobblestone narrow streets. People watch. Enjoy some coffee at a sidewalk cafe. Explore Paris on a bike. Admire all the old architecture and beautiful Cathedrals. Visit the famous art museum that houses the Mona Lisa. And so much more!

Can you see yourself there with your spouse? We can!

Going to Paris on your Honeymoon is the best choice because there are so many adventures to be had there and SO many photo opportunities. Snap some shots that you can share with your family and friends about the great time you had!

Need help planning and organizing your unforgettable honeymoon?

Book a call with me today so we can get the ball rolling.

8 Ways to Stay Safe When You Travel

Travel with a Carbon Monoxide Detector

This is honestly something that I have only recently considered. I do not know about you, but I have a detector by my bedside at home…so why would I not want to be protected when away from home. Carbon Monoxide is odorless and colorless which make makes it very dangerous because you do not know that you are being exposed to it until you are very sick or someone else unfortunately finds you.

You can get a battery-operated detector for under $30 from Amazon.

Carbon-monoxide-Detector

Travel with a Door Stop that acts as an alarm.

Most hotels provide some type of added security in terms of door locking. There is usually a chain, flip guard, or a swinging bar guard. However, for added protection you may want to travel with a doorstop that acts as an alarm. Once engaged the unit emits a loud stop to alert you and anyone else around. For a few bucks you can give yourself an added sense of safety. Available at Amazon.

Door-stop-alarm.

Drink Responsibly

Just because the drinks are free flowing, that does not mean that you have to drink all-day long. I mean really, do you have rum and coke for breakfast at home and then proceed to drink for the rest of the day. Probably not. Therefore, I am not sure why we get it in our heads that this behavior is cool for vacations. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that you cannot cut loose and have fun while on vacation. What I am saying is be smart about it, which leads to the next suggestion.

Stay Hydrated.

Dehydration is a condition that occurs when an individual has lost so much fluid that the body can no longer function normally and develops signs and symptoms due to the loss of fluid. The side effects of dehydration can range from dry mouth to more severe issues like dizziness, coma, or low blood pressure. In most healthy people, this can all be avoided by drinking water. Bottled water is recommended and like when in the States, don’t drink from any bottles that have a broken safety seal.

Register with STEP.

The U.S. Department of State has a free service called SMART Traveler. This free service allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate from their destination. When you enroll in STEP, you will automatically receive the most current information we have about your destination country, including Security and Emergency Message updates from the U.S. Embassy Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.

Keep your Passport safe.

When I travel, I keep my passport locked in the safe when I am on the resort property. All I need is to lose it or somehow drop it in the pool. Neither would be a good situation. I also travel with a copy of my passport, just in case it is lost or destroyed. If you have all of your passport information available, it makes getting a replacement that much easier. For the same reason, make sure to leave a copy of your passport at home with a trusted friend or family member.

Leave a copy of your itinerary at home.

It is good for someone other than you to know your travel plans. Always leave a copy with a trusted family member of friend.

Do not wander the resort alone at night.

I know that most resorts are beautiful and they give you a sense of peace and relaxation. But don’t get it twisted! You are surrounded by strangers. You do not know these people, which includes the staff and the other guests. You do not know how they are going to behave, so you have to think about protecting yourself and that means avoiding getting yourself into dicey situations. Lean on the buddy system that you learned in grammar school.

Five Ways to Increase Your Travel Budget

From a weekend getaway to the trip of a lifetime, or something in between, we would all love a boost in our vacation budget, right?. Here are five ideas to help fund your travel plans.

#1 – DIY Your Food and Beverage

Eating out may seem more convenient than preparing food at home, but it's not so easy on your wallet. Factor in those fancy creations from your local coffee shop, and your budget takes another hit. Eliminate just one large latte ($4), one lunch out ($10), and one restaurant dinner ($15) each week, and you'll save over $1500 in one year—That could be a significant increase in your travel allowance!

#2 – Make it Automatic

It's easier to spend money once you have it in your hands. "Out of sight, out of mind" can be an effective saving strategy. Have a small portion of each paycheck directly deposited into a separate account just for travel savings. If you're getting a tax refund this year, feed your piggy bank by having that automatically deposited too.

#3 – Maximize Rewards

Analyze your credit card purchases, and see if there are reward programs you might qualify for. Some offer points or miles, while others offer cash back, and you'll need to shop around to see which is the best option for your needs. Even if you prefer not to use credit cards, there are shopping rebate programs like Ebates, Ibotta, or old-fashioned paper coupons—Just remember to put those savings directly into your travel account!

#4 – Clean Out Your Closets …

… And your basement, shed, and attic! Take an honest look around your home and see what you can part with. There are lots of options for turning those neglected items into cash, including resale websites, consignment shops, or even community garage sale Facebook pages. As a bonus, you're earning money for travel and clearing clutter at the same time!

#5 – Deposit Early

Waiting until the last minute to book often results in limited choices and higher prices. Booking early gives you the best selection of flights, accommodations, and other options. Instead of requiring immediate payment for the total trip cost, most of the travel suppliers I work with allow you to place a deposit to reserve your choices—Sometimes as low as $50-$200 per person! The final balance won't be due until 6-8 weeks before you travel, and you can make smaller payments in between.

Let's start planning your next getaway.