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4 Reasons You Should Plan a Destination Wedding

You can save money AND have choices

Traditional weddings are now averaging about $29,000 or more, which is an amount some couples just aren’t interested in spending. You can save a good amount of money by planning a destination wedding, and you’ll have many different package options and sizes to choose from.

You will be in control

By taking your wedding to a totally different destination than somewhere familiar, like your hometown, allows you the freedom to do and plan what you want. You’ll be less likely to be tied to traditions and rituals and more likely to choose ways to celebrate that are unique to you and your relationship.

Your plans will be simplified

Planning for your honeymoon can take almost as much time and effort as the actual wedding. A destination wedding is the perfect way to do everything all at once, making the planning process easier and less stressful for you.

You’ll enjoy more quality time with your guests

Destination weddings tend to be smaller than traditional ones, so you’ll have more time to be with your guests. An intimate group of family and friends will give you a more quality experience, even if the quantity of guests is smaller.

Smart Bags – Not Welcomed Everywhere

What You Should Know About Your Smart Bag

Smart bags may seem like the best invention for someone who travels. They have all sorts of built-in bells and whistles: devices that weigh the bag for you, track the bag’s location, charge your smartphone or even remotely lock the bag if it gets lost. Sounds amazing, right? Well, maybe not.

Many major airlines stated that starting on January 15, 2018, they won’t accept smart bags in checked luggage if the lithium-ion batteries cannot be removed. There’s a growing concern among airlines that lithium batteries can potentially overheat and ignite a fire in the cargo area. If the battery can be removed, passengers can carry them onto the plane with them. So who’s making this move and restricting smart bags with lithium-ion batteries?

If you have any doubt as to the policy is for the airline your clients are flying, be sure to check their website before your clients travel. You’d hate for them to have to ditch their luggage or buy a super expensive suitcase at the airport before their trip.

Clearing Up 5 TSA Carry-on Rules

Clearing Up 5 TSA Carry-on Rules

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) carry-on rules can be confusing and do sometimes change. And sometimes it seems weird that you can bring things in your carry-on baggage right on to the plane (like dry ice – you can bring that in your carry-on!). Get your answers here to five TSA carry-on rules that could potentially confuse your clients.

  1. You can bring booze in your carry-on. The TSA allows passengers to bring as many 3.4-ounce bottles of liquid that can fit in one quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag. Mini bottles of liquor are generally 1.7 ounces, so if you’ve picked up a few mini souvenir bottles on your last FAM trip, don’t worry about fitting them in your checked bag – you can carry them on. You can also carry on any alcohol you’ve purchased after the security checkpoint. Just remember that you can’t actually drink it on the plane. You can only drink alcohol that’s been served to you by the airline.
  2. You can also put deodorant in your carry-on! Stick deodorants of any size are allowed. If you have spray, gel, liquid, cream, pastes or roll-on deodorants, they have to follow the 3.4 ounce rule (so they have to be 3.4 ounces or smaller) and travel in a clear quart-sized bag. That’s probably for the best anyway – you wouldn’t want a squished gel deodorant to ruin your clothes.
  3. Electric and disposable razors, yes. Straight and safety razors, no. You would think it’s obvious that straight and safety razors aren’t allowed in carry-on baggage, but it never hurts to remind your clients, especially since straight and safety razors are becoming more popular. The blade must be packed into checked luggage, but the handle part can be in your carry-on. Disposable razors and their replacement cartridges can be in a carry-on, as well as electric razors.
  4. Carry-on e-cigarettes – don’t pack them in checked luggage. That’s if the e-cig has a lithium battery, which most do. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t allow lithium batteries in the cargo area of planes because of their potential to overheat and start a fire. And, it may be obvious, but e-cigs cannot be smoked on the plane.
  5. There are kind of a lot of rules about batteries. Basically, dry cell alkaline and rechargeable batteries along with lithium batteries should be packed in your carry-on and not in your checked baggage. TSA recommends packing all types of batteries in carry-on luggage whenever possible. And there are some types of batteries that are prohibited unless they’re being used to power a scooter or wheelchair. So if you or your clients have any doubts on what batteries are ok, check out TSA’s battery tips.

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Destination Hotel Name Hotel Rating
Cancun Hyatt Zilara Cancun - All Inclusive 5
Cancun Paradisus Cancun - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun Riu Palace Peninsula - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Riu Palace Riviera Maya - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya THE Royal in Playa Del Carmen - All Inclusive 5
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Destination

Hotel Name  
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Cancun Beloved Playa Mujeres by Excellence Group Adults Only - AI^ 5
Cancun Excellence Playa Mujeres - All Inclusive^* 5
Cancun Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun Finest Playa Mujeres by Excellence - All Inclusive^^ 5
Cancun Golden Parnassus Resort & Spa - All Inclusive 3.5
Cancun Grand Fiesta Americana Cancun Coral Beach 5
Cancun Hard Rock Hotel Cancun - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun IBEROSTAR Cancún - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun Le Blanc Spa Resort - All Inclusive 5
Cancun Live Aqua Cancun - All Inclusive 5
Cancun Panama Jack Gran Caribe - Cancun – All Inclusive 4
Cancun Presidente Intercontinental Cancun Resort 4
Cancun Riu Palace Las Americas - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun Sandos Cancun Lifestyle Resort - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun Sun Palace - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun - EP 4
Cancun - Riviera Maya Barcelo Maya Palace - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda - All Inclusive 4
Cancun - Riviera Maya Blue Diamond Riviera Maya - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma - AI 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya El Dorado Seaside Suites, a Spa Resort by Karisma - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Excellence Riviera Cancun - All Inclusive*** 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Generations Riviera Maya a Gourmet Inclusive Resort, by Karisma - AI 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort and Spa - All Inclusive 4
Cancun - Riviera Maya Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya-Heaven Section - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Hotel Marina El Cid Spa and Beach Resort - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Hotel Xcaret Mexico - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya IBEROSTAR Paraíso Lindo - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya IBEROSTAR Paraíso Maya - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen - All Inclusive Adults Only 4
Cancun - Riviera Maya Moon Palace Cancun - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Occidental at Xcaret Destination - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Panama Jack Gran Porto - Playa del Carmen - All Inclusive 4
Cancun - Riviera Maya Playacar Palace - All Inclusive 4.5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Riu Palace Mexico - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa - All Incl 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa - All Incl 4
Cancun - Riviera Maya The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya The Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya TRS Yucatan Hotel - Adults Only 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya - All Inclusive 5
Cancun - Riviera Maya Ventus at Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort Rivera Maya - AI 5
Cozumel Cozumel Palace - All Inclusive 4.5
Cozumel El Cozumeleno Beach Resort - All Inclusive 4
Cozumel Fiesta Americana Cozumel - All Inclusive 4
Cozumel Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort 4
Cozumel Presidente Intercontinental Cozumel Resort & Spa 5
Cozumel The Explorean Cozumel - All Inclusive 4.5
Los Cabos Barcelo Gran Faro Los Cabos - All Inclusive 3.5
Los Cabos Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All Inclusive Golf and Spa - AI 5
Los Cabos Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos - All Inclusive 5
Los Cabos Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos - All Inclusive 5
Los Cabos Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos Resort - All Inclusive 4
Puerto Vallarta Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta - All Inclusive 4.5
Puerto Vallarta Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta - All Inclusive - Adults Only 5
Puerto Vallarta Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa - All Incl 4.5
Puerto Vallarta Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta - All Inclusive 5
Puerto Vallarta Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort - All Inclusive 5
Puerto Vallarta IBEROSTAR Playa Mita Puerto Vallarta - All Inclusive 5
Puerto Vallarta Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center - All Inclusive 4.5
Aruba Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino 4.5
Aruba Barcelo Aruba - All Inclusive 4
Aruba The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba - European Plan 5
Aruba Riu Palace Aruba - All Inclusive 4
Jamaica - Montego Bay Excellence Oyster Bay - All Inclusive^ 5
Jamaica - Montego Bay Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa - All Inclusive 4.5
Jamaica - Montego Bay IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites - All Inclusive 4.5
Jamaica - Montego Bay Riu Montego Bay - All Inclusive 4
Jamaica - Negril Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica, by Karisma - All Inclusive 5
Jamaica - Negril Grand Lido Negril 5
Jamaica - Negril Royalton Negril Resort & Spa - All Inclusive 5
Jamaica - Negril Hideaway at Royalton Negril - All Inclusive 5
Jamaica - Ocho Rios Moon Palace Jamaica - All Inclusive 5
Jamaica - Ocho Rios Riu Ocho Rios - All Inclusive 4
Nassau Bahamas Atlantis, Paradise Island - Beach Tower 3.5
Nassau Bahamas Atlantis, Paradise Island - Coral Tower 4
Nassau Bahamas Atlantis, Paradise Island - Royal Towers 4
Nassau Bahamas Breezes Bahamas - All Inclusive 3
Nassau Bahamas Grand Hyatt Baha Mar 5
Nassau Bahamas Melia Nassau Beach - All Inclusive 3.5
Nassau Bahamas The Reef Atlantis 5
Puerto Rico San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino 4
Punta Cana Barcelo Bavaro Beach - All Inclusive 4
Punta Cana Barcelo Bavaro Palace - All Inclusive 5
Punta Cana Chic Punta Cana - All Inclusive 5
Punta Cana Excellence El Carmen - All Inclusive* 5
Punta Cana Excellence Punta Cana - All Inclusive** 5
Punta Cana Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa - All Inclusive 4.5
Punta Cana Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana - All Inclusive 5
Punta Cana IBEROSTAR Bávaro - All Inclusive 4.5
Punta Cana Memories Splash - All Inclusive 4.5
Punta Cana Riu Naiboa - All Inclusive 3.5
Punta Cana Riu Palace Bavaro - All Inclusive 5
Punta Cana Riu Palace Macao - All Inclusive 4
Punta Cana Riu Republica - All Inclusive 4
Punta Cana Royalton Bavaro Resort & Spa - All Inclusive 5
Punta Cana The Hideway at Royalton Punta Cana - All Inclusive 5
Punta Cana TRS Turquesa Hotel Adults Only - All Inclusive 4.5
St. Lucia Hideaway at Royalton St. Lucia - All Inclusive 5
Turks & Caicos Blue Haven Resort - All Inclusive 4
Grand Cayman Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort 4

*Excellence El Carmen: Valid for travel Now - 8/31/18
**Excellence Punta Cana: Valid for travel Now - 8/18/18
***Excellence Riviera Cancun: Valid for travel Now - 12/23/18
^Excellence Oyster Bay and Beloved Playa Mujeres: Valid for travel 6/24/18 - 12/23/18
^^Finest Playa Mujeres: Valid for travel 4/15/18 - 12/20/18
^*Excellence Playa Mujeres: Valid for travel 5/28/18 - 8/20/18

 

TERMS & CONDITIONS

All savings will be included in price at the time of check out. Offers valid for travel 3/2/18-8/31/18 for new air/hotel reservations to THE Royal in Playa Del Carmen, Riu Republica, Royalton Negril Resort & Spa, Occidental Nuevo Vallarta, Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos, El Dorado Seaside Suites, Riu Palace Costa Rica, Atlantis Paradise Island, Royalton Saint Lucia, Excellence El Carmen, Barcelo Aruba, Riu Palace Peninsula, Riu Montego Bay, El Cozumeleno Beach Resort, Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa, Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos Resort, Hotel Marina El Cid Spa and Beach Resort, Melia Nassau Beach, Memories Splash, and San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, made between 6 pm CST 3/1/18 and 6 pm CST on 3/22/18. Not valid on hotel only bookings. Platinum tier: Receive up to $600 instant air credit: receive $200 credit on reservations of 3-4 nights; receive $400 credit on reservations of 5-6 nights; receive $600 credit on reservations of 7 nights or more. Gold Tier: Receive up to $300 instant air credit: receive $100 credit on reservations of 3-4 nights; receive $200 credit on reservations of 5-6 nights; receive $300 credit on reservations of 7 nights or more. Blackout dates and additional restrictions may apply. Hotel offers vary by hotel, may have blackout dates and are subject to change. Select hotels may impose a resort fee, which is not included in the above prices, and is payable directly to the hotel. Prices displayed are per person based on double occupancy, are not retroactive, and are subject to limited availability. Added values are based on availability, room category, and validity dates. Other restrictions may apply and are subject to change. Various cancellation penalties and payment requirements and holiday/weekend/special event surcharges may apply. Offers and pricing may be withdrawn or changed without notice. Additional restrictions may apply.

Tipping Tips for Travelers

While there are dozens of items on the average traveler’s packing checklist, one item commonly omitted is tip money. I find that some of my clients often are confused about the rules and customs for tipping. A recent article written for Travel Market Report by Rich Thomaselli helped demystify the topic, and I wanted to share some of his advice with you.

The Ultimate Guide to Tipping While Traveling

It’s always one of the more interesting conundrums of traveling, either domestically or abroad — whom do you tip, when, and how much? Here are some guidelines that you can pass along to your clients.

Airports

If a rental car shuttle driver is helping load those heavy suitcases, it’s a good idea to tip him/her at least a dollar or two per bag. Double that for airport skycaps who assist in checking your bags. And depending on the length of the trip from counter to gate, a wheelchair attendant should receive $5 and up.

Hotels

Arriving by taxi or limo? Taxi drivers should receive 15 to 20% for good service. You can adjust upward or downward for a particularly good, or bad, ride. Same thing with limo drivers.

If you drive in with your own car and use the hotel’s valet service, there’s always the question of when to tip. Coming, or going? Answer: Definitely going. Tipping $2 to $5 when the valet retrieves your car when you are leaving the hotel is fairly common.

Bellhops should receive $3 to $5 a bag, obviously on the lower end for a gym bag or shopping bag and on the higher end for carry-ons and larger suitcases.

Tipping the concierge can be tricky, so think of it in terms of hierarchy. A simple dinner reservation is worth a tip of $5 to $10. But if he or she is scoring you tickets to Hamilton or pulling strings to get you front of the line at a trendy club, it clearly demands much, much more — even upward of $50. The concierge doesn’t necessarily expect it, but it is always appreciated.

Your hotel maid deserves a tip, and most experts suggest $2 to $5 a day, a little more for a larger room or a suite. Clearly mark the envelope and place it on the nightstand or another prominent place.

If you are staying at a high-end hotel/resort and have butler service — especially when the butler is unpacking and packing bags, getting your ironing or dry-cleaning done, drawing a bath, providing turn-down service — the general rule of thumb is 5% of the hotel bill.

Just as you would tip your restaurant waiter or bartender while going out at home, certainly tip them at a hotel, and be sure to tip a few dollars to those who deliver your room service order.

It doesn’t hurt to tip service workers who bring you an umbrella or towels at the hotel pool, $1 to $2 per item.

Cruises

Cruising is an interesting case, and some of the homework will fall on you or your travel agent for the research.

You should know the tipping policy of your cruise line before you go. In general, the mainstream cruise lines will charge you about $12 a day per person (or $24 for a two-person cabin) in gratuities. That money is split among the crew members whom you come in contact with most every day, notably your housekeeping staff and your dining staff.

And some cruise lines, such as Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas, have strict no tipping policies because such charges are often built into the cost of the ticket.

Your bar bill will likely already include a 15 percent tip on it, but just like a night out at any establishment a few dollars up front will certainly serve you well with your bartender.

Spa treatments also generally include a 15 to 20 percent tip on the bill.

It is still customary to give a couple of dollars to porters who help with your bags and for a room service order.
Shore excursions are sometimes set up by companies separate from the cruise line, but you should generally tip your guide $2 to $4 for half-a-day, double that for full-day excursions.

Safaris

In general, tip your guide $10 a day and your tracker $5 per day, at the end of the safari.

Adventure guides

Did you raft down the Colorado River and live to tell about it? Think about tipping your guide $25 per day per person in your party.

Tour bus drivers

While not necessarily customary, tipping the driver a couple of dollars when you are returned to the hotel or to the port is a nice gesture. There are times when a tour organizer might ask the bus passengers to drop a dollar or two in a jar for the driver as well.

Traveling abroad

Again, this is an area where you and your travel agent must do some research, because different countries have varying, and sometimes opposite, rules and customs. In some countries, such as Japan and China, tipping, especially at a restaurant, is considered an insult. In countries like the United Arab Emirates, tipping is a government mandate and is often added to a bill.

Excerpts from this week’s Hot Tip Tuesday came from a Travel Market Report article dated January 18, 2018.

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You Need to Try These 8 Foods of the Caribbean

The Caribbean is such a beautiful place that sometimes the local cuisine gets overlooked.

Caribbean food is distinctive, in part because of the abundance of natural resources in the area: fresh fruit, seafood, and spices grow well in the climate and are easy to find. The Caribbean is also home to of many cultures - from Indigenous peoples to people of Spanish, Dutch, English, and African backgrounds. These cultures and the natural riches of the region have combined to make for some amazing food.

Here are the best 8 foods you have to try if you're visiting the Caribbean.

Seafood Dishes

You’re on an island the middle of a sea at an all-inclusive resort. It's time to eat some seafood. Grouper, whitefish, and fresh shellfish are all in abundance in the Caribbean. You should be taking advantage of the local markets as well. Some of the best fish and seafood can be purchased there, often only hours after it was caught.

As a bonus, at local seafood restaurants and markets, you can often meet the fishermen or fishmongers to learn more about their products, making your experience with fresh seafood in the Caribbean even more memorable.

Torta Cubanos, or Cuban Sandwiches

This may be the perfect sandwich. 

Soft bread with extra-crisp crust is piled high with roast pork, ham, tangy dill pickles, and good, vinegary mustard, as well as jack or mozzarella cheese. Then you put that sandwich in a hot press and melt the cheese together with everything else, wrap it in parchment paper, and serve.

This is a great walking lunch too if you’re on a sightseeing tour and want some local food - it’s portable, but very filling. Cuban sandwiches are popular throughout the region, as are the ingredients. You’re likely to find roast pork, ham, mustard, and dill pickles in a lot of Caribbean food.

Guyanese Pepperpot

Pepperpot is similar to beef stew, or jambalaya. 

This Caribbean food is a very thick stew usually made with beef, okra, squash, potatoes, eggplant, and cornmeal dumplings. Pepperpot can be spicy and filling, but it’s rarely made the same way twice. It's the perfect dish to use up vegetables or anything that’s in season, so every time you eat it you’ll probably get a new experience.

Conch

Conch is sort of like a very large sea snail - you’ve probably seen their beautiful shells before on a beach, but not near an oven. 

Conch is cooked in a variety of ways in the Caribbean, from fritters to salads, soups, and stews. Fried conch fritters are a staple in many areas, and are great very fresh, which is hard to replicate outside of the region.

Jerk-Style Cooking

Jerk is a spicy, sweet, and tangy rub - either dry or wet - that is put on grilled meat, commonly as Jamaican-style jerk chicken. 

Jerk sauce, with the distinctive flavors of ginger, allspice, Scotch Bonnet peppers, and lime, is also a popular addition to many foods. Jerk huts and jerk sauces are easy to find throughout the region, and everyone makes theirs a little differently, so you can eat jerk often and never get exactly the same experience.

Plantains

Plantains are growing in popularity outside the Caribbean - in particular, plantain chips are quickly becoming a great alternative for those who choose a gluten-free lifestyle.

But in the Caribbean, this food is prepared in innumerable ways. As they’re both sweet and savory, they are sometimes served with chicken and rice, another Caribbean food staple, to balance out the rich flavors. They can also be cooked with rum, sugar, cinnamon, and syrup for a delicious dessert.

Roti

Roti is definitely a dish of many cultures. Roti is similar to naan, but is thinner and chewier, almost similar to a tortilla. 

It’s grilled and filled with curry, chicken, lamb, beef, potato, or pretty much anything that can be curried. Like the Cuban sandwich, roti is a great portable food, and is familiar while still conveying the unique flavors of the Caribbean.

Bonus: Roti is easy to recreate at home, so when you get back and can’t stop thinking about it, you can make your own without much trouble.

Rice

No, rice isn’t unique to Caribbean food. But it’s a vessel for all kinds of foods - rice and peas, chicken and rice, a side dish to roti, served under pepperpot. With the rich spices and unique flavors of the Caribbean, it’s never boring. 

All those carbs are going to come in handy while you’re traveling around the region as well, as many areas are walkable or perfect for the thrill-seeking outdoor adventurer.

Try These and More

The Caribbean is not one large, indistinct area. Each region has its own unique culture and ever-evolving cuisine. But it is a place marked by an abundance of wonderful food, no matter what part you visit. The rich history of the region has created food that is unique and delicious. Just take your most comfortable shoes, your stretchiest pants, and your appetite with you when you go.

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Oh! The Places You’ll Go—When You Plan!

Maybe I’ll go next year.
I should really hold off until I have someone to go with.
Would it be better to consider waiting for a leap year?

Ah, the excuses we make to put off vacation. Americans say time off is important to them—ranking it as a top benefit, second only to health care—but over half of employees still aren’t using all their earned time.

While we continue to make excuses, life is still happening. The weight of those excuses may be dragging us down in ways that are almost unrecognizable.

So, what’s stopping us?

There are several reasons employees report leaving time on the table. But every barrier, even the ever-present workload, can be lessened when we plan.

Work is important. In many ways, it shapes how we feel about ourselves. But it shouldn’t be the whole of our identities. We are consumed (and impressed) by busyness and convinced that our full schedules are netting out to a fulfilling life.

Every year Americans report that their vacation time is important to them (96% said so last year), and every year (at least since 2000) their actions don’t match this sentiment (662 million days went unused last year). It’s not that people are lying to themselves, but they are not prioritizing themselves.

We blindly accept meeting invites and add work requirements to the calendar until we find ourselves being bullied by our own schedules. The only way to take the power back is to be a better planner. Planning is powerful—and making vacation happen can be as a simple as adding it to the calendar. The majority (52%) of those who set aside time to plan out their vacation days take all of their time off and take longer breaks at once. Planning time off is also associated with increased happiness, well-being, performance, and job satisfaction.

Now I would like to pose the same question as above: What is stopping us?

I can’t possibly plan time off that far out…my boss would freak out if I asked off for multiple breaks at once…my company just doesn’t work that way…

The sweet foolishness of thinking we are the exception. I’m so sorry my dear friends, but you are in almost every instance the rule.

Yes, Americans say (somewhat sadly) that the boss is the most powerful influencer over their time, but the majority of business leaders are supportive of employees taking vacation. Ninety-three percent of managers say time off is important for their team. And I think you would be hard-pressed to find a manager who, given the option, would turn down a calendar with their team’s vacation planned out for the year. That lets them better plan company priorities and deliverables (and say yes to your request).

To review: Planning for vacation means taking that dream trip you keep putting off, it is something your boss is supportive of, it will lead to increased happiness, and BONUS: it may actually increase your chances of getting a raise or promotion.

Since I now assume you have your calendar out, here’s three steps you can take to go forth and vacation—you’ll be happier for it.

1. Determine how much time off you earn and have remaining to use by the end of the year.

2. Get to dreaming! Remember, you don’t have to have every day planned out. Give yourself more time to figure out details by blocking your calendar so you don’t lose the opportunity.

3. Put it on the official work calendar. Don’t forget to spread the word to your team and, when the time comes, put up an out of office message (you can even get creative with yours).

 

by Brittany Kemp

The Secret to Maximizing Your Vacation Time This Year

“So much to do, so little time.” While the phrase may sound like it perfectly describes our lives, research shows there actually is time.

Americans universally say that vacation days are important to them, yet 54 percent of workers aren’t using their hard-earned vacation time. Project: Time Off research found that workers are taking nearly a full week less of vacation than we did in 2000, resulting in a stockpile of 600 million unused vacation days.

The secret to achieving your travel goals this year, while maintaining your excellent employee status, is planning. Planning is the most important step in making vacation possible and, according to Project: Time Off, a majority (52%) of workers who set aside time each year to plan for travel take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners. Planners also tend to take longer vacations: While three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at once (42% to 18%).

The benefits of planning extend beyond days spent away from the office for rest and rejuvenation. Planners report greater happiness than non-planners with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job. Their bosses are probably happier, too, since they’re in the loop on when you’re going to be out and can prepare accordingly.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to take back your calendar and put vacation at the top of your list of priorities. Planning for vacation can be achieved in three simple steps:

  1. Determine how much time off you earn and identify the vacation policies at your workplace.
  2. Get to dreaming! How do you want to spend your time off this year?
  3. Plan out your days with Project: Time Off’s vacation planning tool and share with your manager, your colleagues, spouse—everyone!

This year, don’t let your vacation days be part of a statistic. Put the fear of missing out behind you and turn your bucket list into a to-do list by starting to plan now.

Need some ideas?

Read more about the importance of planning at ProjectTimeOff.com/Plan.

Traveling Abroad -What Information to Leave Behind

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is a mantra to live by when traveling. Natural disasters and civil unrest derail the best of plans, but more often it’s the mundane things that disrupt our travel – a lost wallet, a bottle of prescription medicine left on the bathroom counter, a hotel reservation that can’t be found. Err on the side of caution by leaving vital information with a trustworthy friend, coworker or family member. More than likely you’ll never need it, but if the unexpected should arise, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead.

What information should you leave behind?

  • A copy of your passport and visas: If your passport is lost or stolen, a copy can help the local embassy replace your documents faster, saving you time and money.
  • Credit card information: Having someone at home who knows how to quickly cancel or replace your credit cards can be invaluable if your wallet should go missing.
  • Copies of hotel and car rental reservations, train and plane tickets: Help those who might need to help you, give them the information they need to find you as quickly as possible.
  • Copy of prescriptions and contact information for your doctor: Having a prescription filled abroad is not always easy. Should you need an emergency refill, access to this information can save time and confusion.
  • Consider registering with the U.S. Department of State so they know where you are in case of an emergency. Local embassies can’t help ensure your safety if they don’t know you’re in the country.

Mexico Travel Advisory Safe to Travel

Dear Valued Travel Partner:

We would like to take this opportunity to highlight the important updated U.S. State Department Travel Advisory system, classifying Mexico’s major international tourist destinations as safe for travel.

This week, the U.S. State Department introduced a new system for alerting Americans about possible security risks while traveling abroad. This system classifies every country based on four different risk levels, as outlined below:

  • Level 1: Exercise normal precautions
  • Level 2: Exercise increased caution
  • Level 3: Reconsider travel
  • Level 4: Do not travel

We are pleased to share that the following major international tourist destinations in Mexico have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions:

  • Baja California Sur: Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo
  • Quintana Roo: Cancún, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres
  • Jalisco: Puerto Vallarta

The de-escalated warning confirms our consistent position that we consider the above tourist areas of Mexico a safe destination for your clients to enjoy their well-deserved vacations. In fact, more than 35 million travelers come to Mexico each year, often as repeat visitors.

As part of this new system, different states such as Guerrero and Jalisco, can carry different warning levels by region. That considered, it is worth noting that despite the overall state’s higher advisory levels, there are no restrictions on U.S. government employees staying in the tourist areas of Puerto Vallarta falling within the same classification as major travel destinations such as Rome, Paris and Bali.

As our valued travel agent community, we are committed to sharing information. As the new system continues to evolve and updates are received from the Mexican Tourism Board, we will endeavor to share the information. Please join us in our effort and share this updated travel advisory with your teams.

Thank you for your ongoing support. We look forward to continued success in providing our mutual clients with the highest quality of service.

For more information about the U.S. State Department Travel Advisories, visit their website for ongoing up-to-date information. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/