Tips For Getting Into Airport Lounges

Airports can test the nerves of even the most well-balanced traveler. There are places, however, where calm and tranquility reign – where a comfortable seat is always available, fresh coffee and snacks await, and a glass of prosecco can be had a moments’ notice. We are talking, of course, about airport lounges. Rack up several hundred thousand air miles on the same airline, and you’re sure to get an invitation to join the club. For these rest of us, there are other options, and given the benefits, they’re worth exploring.

1. Join a Lounge Network
Depending on how often and where you fly, joining a lounge network such as Priority Pass might be your best option. Priority Pass offers access to over 1,000 worldwide lounges for an annual fee of $99 with a per visit fee of $27 (alternatively, an annual fee of $399 gets you unlimited access).

2. Buy a Day Pass
Have you ever been stuck at an airport for hours on end? Next time, a day pass to a lounge might be your saving grace. Prices vary considerably between airlines, but for around $50 you can have a day’s worth of food and drink, free Wi-Fi, and a quiet little corner to call your own.

3. Use Your Credit Card
Several credit cards, including the American Express Platinum card and the United MileagePlus Explorer card, offer free or reduced-cost lounge access. The drawback is that these cards often come with higher annual fees, but added benefits such as travel insurance, priority boarding and free checked bags might make the upfront payout worthwhile.

4. Upgrade Your Ticket
Buy an international business or a first-class ticket and more than likely you’ll also receive complimentary lounge access. This can be a particularly nice perk on long haul flights, as most international airport lounges have private shower rooms where you can freshen up after your flight.

The Significance of a Passport in the U.S. in 2017

The Significance of a Passport in the U.S. in 2017

As a result of the 9/11 attacks, a piece of travel legislation was enacted that made American Passports a necessity when traveling to and from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean in 2007.  As a result, millions of U.S. travelers obtained their 10-year passport credentials. And as of this year, all those passports are about to expire, which may result in a log-jam of passport renewals in 2017.  Here are some tidbits you should keep in mind regarding passports, especially if you have to renew your passport like I do.  In addition, additional legislation is being launched that may require needing a passport even for domestic travel too.

Passport Book vs. Passport Card

You may be wondering about your passport expiration date right now.  If you are thinking about taking a vacation outside of the United States, keep in mind that it can take up to 6-weeks, not county any unforeseen delays,  to get your passport renewed.  You may also wonder, if you can save a few pennies and just get that passport card instead.  It’s smaller and will fit into your purse or carry-on bag better.  Let’s compare the two, because it all depends on HOW you will travel that will determine whether you need one, the other or maybe even both.

Both the passport book and the passport card expire after 10 years for those 16 years of age or older.  However, you must pay close attention to your kids passports as they expire after 5 years (more about this later.)  The passport card is small like a credit card but looks more like a driver’s license. The initial cost to purchase one is $55 and the cost to renew is $30.  However, it will only allow you to cross by land in Mexico or Canada or into a seaport in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Bermuda. You will not be able to use a passport card for air travel outside of the United States.

A passport book has a lot of pages for visas, and arrival/departure stamps.  This is the passport credential that covers all bases.  The initial cost of a passport book is $135 and is $110 to renew.  It is what the U.S. government requires that allows you to travel to a foreign country and return to the United States.  Keep in mind there are some countries that require a visa in addition to a passport book.  Your travel professional can assist you with identifying the countries that require visas.

As you can see a passport book is advantageous if you are flying to countries outside of the United States.  However, if you are booking a lot of Cruises or traveling by land into Canada or Mexico, then perhaps a passport card is all you need. Meanwhile, you can save money if you prefer to have a passport book and card.  You can purchase them together for $165 with a renewal fee of $140.

New Security Features

Believe it or not, passports now include technology to assist with security and reduce fraud.  This means that new passports will include a chip that provides all your personal information to a computer. As a result, your former 52-page passport book will be lighter and is reduced to 28 pages, unless you opt for more.

Children’s Passports – Better Double Check

As we mentioned earlier, passport books and cards for children under the age of 16 expire after 5 years.  Keep in mind that some countries expect your passport to not expire for at least 6 months after your return date back to the United States.  Mexico is definitely one of those countries that has this requirement. One last tidbit, and this is a pain, is that there is more paperwork associated with your children’s passport credentials, like consent forms and parent-child relationships, than those for adults.  So check your children’s passport information often and early.  So, when you are thinking of booking a trip outside of the United States and bringing your children with you, remember to double check your children’s passport book and card expiration dates.

How to Renew Your Passport

For those ages 16 and older a passport can be  renewed online through the State Department.  Or it can be renewed in person at a local agency like your local post office or Department of Motor Vehicles.  However, make sure you follow instructions carefully. For example, as of November 1, 2016 you can no longer wear glasses in your passport photo.  If you do, it could delay the process.  If you do have a photo with your glasses on, simply obtain another photo and resubmit to the Department of State.

Using the photo requirements will keep your passport from being rejected or delayed. More than 200,000 passport applications in 2015 were rejected because of bad photos. Here are some passport photo tips:

  • Photos should be against a neutral backdrop
  • Over or underexposed photos are rejected
  • Photos should have been taken within the past six months
  • The image MUST BE the right size, neither too large or too small
  • Photos must be of high resolution

For more specific passport and photo information visit the Department of State by clicking here.

New Federal ID Travel Law – READ ID

One of the newest federal laws is the READ ID Act that will soon be enforced throughout the United Sates. This could mean that your driver’s license may not be valid form of ID, even for domestic travel, if your state’s technology is lagging behind.  This is where your passport book or card will definitely come in handy.

If your State is lagging behind and has not upgraded its technology you could be turned away at the gate starting in 2018. As of December 2016, the states that may not be in compliant with this new Federal Law, are:  Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington. Some states have had their deadline extended but everyone must be in compliance by 2020. Frequent travelers worried that their state won’t comply in time may go ahead and renew or acquire a passport instead.  For a current list of compliance, visit the Homeland Security website by clicking here.

The REAL ID, is a federal security standard for state driver’s licenses that was passed in 2005.  It allows machine-readable technology to read a chip on your state driver’s license.  Some states are having trouble with compliance because of not having money in the budget to switch to the new technology. And other states are out right refusing to upgrade to the new technology.

So you are aware, here are some important dates to consider regarding this new federal law for travel:

  • January 22, 2018: The official date the READ ID Act will be enforced.
  • October 1, 2020: This is the date by when “every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.”

So as you can see, the events of 9/11 has changed the way we travel.  To keep America safe, new rules for travel have been enacted for our own protection from terrorists or unsavory characters.  So, whether you plan to travel outside of the United States or not, it may be a good time to consider either a passport book, passport card or both.  If you have any further questions about passports books, passport cards, visas, or READ ID, please contact me! At Violet Clover Travel Group at 1-216-236-8450.

Group Travel – The More, The Merrier

group trips

How would you like to multiply the fun of your next vacation?  Group travel can do that, plus so much more!

Whether you are exploring a new destination or just relaxing around the pool, being with friends adds to the conversations, the laughs, and makes the experience more memorable for everyone.  Traveling together can also increase the value of your trip, since groups may qualify for special rates or extra amenities.

While I always love working with destination wedding couples and their guests, I also enjoy planning other group trips.  There are lots of other fun reasons to travel together, such as…

Celebrations – So many of life’s milestones are splurge-worthy:  Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, retirements, class reunions, and more.  Anyone can throw a party, but imagine how much better it would be if the fun lasted for days.  (Even better, no post-party cleanup!)

Common Interests – Lots of hobbies lend themselves to specialized travel experiences.  How about a culinary tour of Italy, or a beer tasting in Munich?  European itineraries featuring museums and landmarks can be tailored to appeal to lovers of art, music, or history.  Many resorts offer options that would appeal to health and fitness enthusiasts, including spa treatments and group exercise classes.

Education – There is no better way for students to learn about another culture than through firsthand experience.  Travel brings to life the people and places they’ve studied, and can even include a chance to practice speaking a new language.  Or imagine how much fun an alumni or fraternity/sorority reunion could be on a cruise ship or at a tropical resort!

Corporate Travel – Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure?  Holding a conference or meeting in an exciting destination can make your event more appealing to potential attendees.  A getaway can be a great incentive to reward hardworking employees, or plan a trip together as a team-building retreat.

Just Because – You don’t need a special reason to plan a group trip!  Simply spending time with family and friends, sharing experiences, and making memories is the only motivation you need to start planning your next adventure together.

If you have an idea for a group getaway, I’d be happy to help compare options and show how my services make planning travel much easier.  Some travel suppliers even offer free or reduced rate travel for group leaders.  Give me a call or drop me line to discuss the details.  I always love to talk travel!

Contact me at 1-216-236-8450 or by email at

Do you know someone planning a destination wedding or group trip? 

I would appreciate the honor of a referral.




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. Following these steps will help you reduce the stress of planning a vacation:

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.


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.


Come up with several itinerary options to evaluate and compare.  Using a travel agent is helpful because they have the insights and suggestions to reduce the stress of planning your vacation because they do all the legwork for you.



International travel. 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.


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 – most of the time it may not cost you anything extra to use a travel agent. Booking your own vacation can take 5 hours or more searching consumer travel sites. Violet Clover Travel Group offers personalized service finding you the right trip for the best value. A good travel consultant can alleviate a lot of the stress when planning a vacation. Contact me at 1-216-236-8450 or by email at



10 reasons to use a travel professional

I know that when a vacation goes as planned, the experience can be priceless.  However, there are so many uncertainties you can come across when using an online booking engine.  Unless you travel to the same destination every time, there is value in using a travel professional when planning your next vacation. Here are 10 reasons to use a travel professional:

  1. Help you choose the right destination.  The average online travel booker will search 30 websites or so trying to plan a trip.  This means you may spend at least 5 hours of your valuable time researching a vacation.  When you contact Violet Clover Travel Group, we ask a series of questions to understand the type of vacation desired and use that information to conduct the research, usually for a nominal fee after the initial consultation to cover our time.  Once our research is complete, we submit three options based on your reasonable budget and help you to narrow down the choice.  We have a list of suppliers that we trust and can consult.  We also check customer posts and other sites to ensure it is a good fit for you.  We had a client that appreciated the fact that we asked her lots of questions about the type of vacation she wanted as it made her feel valued.
  2. We are in your corner.  As a travel professional, we are there with you from the beginning to the end of your trip.  We do not rest until you are home safe.  We make sure you have all your documents.  We go the extra mile and contact the resort to double check your reservation before you leave to avoid any problems.
  3. Keeping you safe.  We are constantly monitoring the news and warn our clients of any danger in the location of the vacation area.  Residents of the United States are not covered medically or legally in other countries.  This is the reason we strongly suggest our clients to purchase travel insurance to protect their selves, family, and vacation investment.  Some people view this as an unnecessary cost, but we view it as peace-of-mind for your protection.
  4. Getting the right credential and paperwork.  There are times travelers have been turned away at the airport because of lacking the proper passport, visa, or other credentials.  We will ask for a copy of the credentials to ensure that it meets your travel location requirements.  If not, we will work with you to correct the situation and keep a copy in our files for safe keeping in case it is misplaced when traveling.
  5. Understanding when it’s the right time to get travel insurance.  Violet Clover Travel Group is an advocate for travel insurance.  We had a bad traveling experience during our honeymoon in which our travel insurance was useful.  We missed a flight due to bad weather, luggage was delayed, we spent over $100 to get to our destination in Cozumel, Mexico.  We were reimbursed for all those expenses and more as a result of having travel insurance.  Most U.S. residents are not covered outside the United States if he or she becomes ill.  In fact, your passport may be taken from you until payment is made.  Much of this can be covered if you have travel insurance.  You may not have ever had a problem in the past but that is not guaranteed for the future.  Violet Clover Travel Group can help you find the right travel insurance.
  6. Connecting you with the right people at your hotel.  Violet Clover Travel Group always reaches out to the hotel/resort concierge or General Manager to ask that they treat our clients and to offer them all the perks they rightfully deserve.  If it is a special occasion, we may even greet you with a special surprise.  We want to make sure that while our clients are on vacation they know they will be in good hands.
  7. Offering extended payment plans.  Many online booking sites expect pre-payment.  However, when Violet Clover Travel Group uses a major supplier, we are able to offer payment and extended payment plans so you can pay for your vacation overtime.
  8. Hold your vacation up to 24 hours while you finalize vacation plans.  Maybe you need to discuss your vacation plans with family and friends.  Well, unlike online booking sites, when Violet Clover Travel Group uses a supplier, many times we can hold a vacation option for up to 24 hours before any payment is made.
  9. Once in a life-time experiences.  The magic of using Violet Clover Travel Group is that we can help you create an once-in-a-lifetime experience that you may not be able to do through an online booking engine.  The questions we ask during the initial visit will help us to identify how to create a great experience for you.
  10. Travel professionals add great value for your vacation.  Working with Violet Clover Travel Group isn’t about saving money, but saving you time from researching while adding value to your next vacation.  We encourage you not to waste your valuable time researching your next vacation and calling us when you get stuck.  Contact us today.  We will work within your reasonable budget and let you know the best time to travel.  To save money, when you book with a group of 10 to 20 or more, your group can obtain additional perks, even free rooms, special services, and amenities.

Without these services, you are on your own when you book through an online service.  So what are you waiting for?  Schedule your FREE personalized vacation planning session with me by clicking here.  I’m standing by waiting to help you create a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience for your 2017 vacation.


After months of planning the perfect wedding, the honeymoon is your time to truly unwind and enjoy those first few moments of wedded bliss. Here are some factors to help you choose the ideal locale for your ultimate getaway.

Make a list of your favorite vacations and determine what you liked best about each one.

  • Consider how much time you can take off work and the availability of flights to the destination you are considering from your departure location, along with the seasonality of the location.
  • Determine your budget and find a package, a tour or a cruise that gives you the most bang for your buck. Ask the Romance Travel Consultants at Violet Clover Travel Group for options.
  • Don’t be afraid to splurge on a romantic meal, VIP tour or spa treatment—you deserve it!
  • Do plenty of research into the location before you book—do you need a visa? What kind of currency do they take? Is there a language barrier? Ask the Romance Travel Consultants at Violet Clover Travel Group for advice.

Contact us today to start planning for honeymoon.


Saving the date, choosing invitations, making fun decisions with your Destination Wedding Travel Specialist—there’s a lot going on between “Will you” and “I do.” Yet the highlight of the anticipation leading up to your big day, without a doubt, are the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Who doesn’t love a weekend filled with champagne and beer, besties and bros and those scandalous moments that hopefully stay in Vegas?

In the 2,500 years since bachelor parties were invented by Spartan soldiers, it has never been a good idea to throw it the night before the wedding. In fact, there are many dos and don’ts to planning the event.

So heed these pointers carefully, and share with your bridal party, to throw a weekend so epic that even the Kardashians will be jealous of your Instagram feed.


Do you choose a city everyone knows well, one filled with familiar night spots and activities that will add a touch of nostalgia to the weekend? Or do you choose a destination no one has ever been to, infusing the getaway with an element of the unknown? Ask a few probing questions to the bride-to-be to get a sense of where she’s leaning. And always consider how far invitees must travel to the destination you choose.


Choosing a theme gives the weekend a fun, cohesive feel. It can be generic like “sports” while attending several sporting events, or “pampering” and spending time in a spa, or it can be super specific to match the bride or groom’s areas of interests and passions. How about a “Superheroes” weekend where the fellas dress in the color scheme of different characters, or a “Sex in the City”-inspired romp filled with shoe shopping and cosmo drinking?


This is not the time to wing it. Any successful party, especially one that stretches over several days, needs a schedule of events complete with venue locations. This gives the participants a clear idea of what to expect, what to budget, and more importantly, what to pack. Having a schedule also gives the weekend a sense of momentum as the party continues from one amazing event to the next. However, always leave a little wiggle room in any schedule to encourage organic fun and spontaneous sleeping in.


Every wedding includes people you had to invite to not ruffle any family feathers. Those people should not be included in the bachelor/bachelorette party. Only invite those special people who the couple feels comfortable letting loose with—high-energy peeps who will keep spirits high and the fun ongoing.


The most important part of an awesome bachelor/ bachelorette party is having the time of your lives. There are no wrongs during the celebration—wear what you want, dance how you want, sing at the top of your lungs and simply own the weekend. The key is to wake up the following day filled with amazing memories and no regrets.

Be careful in how much your group shares via social media. What happens at your bachelor/bachelorette party may need to stay at the party! Give your party a hashtag, so everyone can search and see the pictures!

The Romance Travel Consultants at Violet Clover Travel Group are ready and waiting to help you with your awesome celebration. Contact us today at 216-236-8450 to get started!

Why are destination weddings so popular?

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting moments in a person’s life. But now the thought of planning your wedding leave you feeling overwhelmed? Good news—we are here to help! Have you considered a destination wedding? It can be a great alternative to a traditional, hometown wedding, and here’s why...

NEUTRAL TERRITORY – Most couples today don’t live in the town they grew up in. You left the nest when you attended college out of state, then graduated and moved to another place to start your career. And on top of that, all your college friends moved across the country, our fiancé’s parents live on the coast, and your parents and siblings are spread out over the globe. Having a destination wedding can bring these people together in one location, that is neutral territory, for all to celebrate your big day.

YOUR MONEY GOES FARTHER – Have you seen how much a traditional wedding costs today? The average wedding in the U.S. runs $26,000, rising as high as $60,000 in larger cities! Gone are the days of running off to a Las Vegas wedding chapel with Elvis as your officiant! The good news is that destination weddings offer an attractive, affordable option.

YOU WANT FIREWORKS AND FIRE DANCERS? – Brides want what they want. It used to be that you had to choose pre-packaged wedding bundles, but today your destination wedding can be completely customized to your desires. The Romance Travel Specialists at Violet Clover Travel Group can work with you and your chosen resort’s on-site wedding planner to customize your wedding. From fire dancers, to mariachi bands, color coordinated linens and flowers, fireworks and more!

96 HOUR RECEPTION – A destination wedding is a great way to celebrate with friends and family for more than just two hours at the reception. Many couples often say that once the wedding day is over, that they wish it could have lasted longer. With a destination wedding, you and your guests can celebrate for multiple days and enjoy a vacation as well.

THERE IS A PLACE FOR EVERYONE – Finding the perfect resort for your destination wedding is easier than ever. From adults-only to family-friendly, there are styles to fit every couple and their guests. Many resort chains have multiple properties in one destination, allowing you to hold the ceremony at one upscale resort while your guests stay at other properties to accommodate various budgets and needs.

EXCITING INCENTIVES – Many resorts offer a test drive pre-wedding visit for couples considering a destination wedding to see the resort and wedding décor options, speak with the on-site wedding photographer, or pick out the reception menu. Plus, many resorts offer incentives and credits for the wedding couple and for each guest who attends.

RESORTS HAVE ON-SITE WEDDING PLANNERS – If the resort you are booking offers destination wedding packages, then they are sure to have a wedding planner on-site. These specialists will meet with you upon arrival to finalize any details you have yet to complete as well as arrange the necessary legal documents. Your wedding planner will take the time to verify your plans, show you the venues, and be there each step of the way on your special days.

PICTURE PERFECT LOCATIONS – If you have dreamt of exchanging your vows on a white sandy beach overlooking turquoise blue waters, or perhaps a vineyard setting in Tuscany, destination weddings offer the opportunity for you to have the world as your backdrop. Work with your travel agent to determine what location is ideal for you and your finance.

Contact the Romance Travel Specialists at Violet Clover Travel Group to find the perfect destination wedding for you!

Should you have a Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Registry?

Should you have a Honeymoon & Destination Wedding Registry?

Yes! It’s fun, free, and much more personal than, “No gifts please, Just send us cash.”

You may be part of the growing trend of bridal couples that already have a household setup prior to getting engaged! If that’s the case, a Honeymoon / Destination Wedding Registry could be a great fit for you.


Instead of buying pots and pans, toasters, or towels, wedding guests can purchase all or portions of your destination wedding or honeymoon experience.


This will allow you to list anything you want to do on your honeymoon / destination wedding (And you can create your own wedding website).



Who doesn’t want more money to spend on their honeymoon / destination wedding? Couples who create a registry, on average, have an extra $2500 to spend.


Everything is organized in one online account – no envelopes to handle, no accounting to do. The gifts given by your guests are put directly in an account for you, which you can cash out when you are ready.


The Romance Travel Consultants at Violet Clover Travel Group can help you set up your website, and if you are having a destination wedding, we can add airfare and hotel booking information, so your guests will know who to contact to set-up their travel. You can also upload images and blog about your wedding and honeymoon plans.



Your guests don’t have to drive to the store. It’s convenient and fun, no sales tax, and no gift wrapping!


Ask the Romance Travel Consultants at Violet Clover Travel Group about a free honeymoon / destination wedding registry and have them send you the link to get started. Give us call at 216-236-8450 to learn more.

Honeymoon Checklist

Planning the most important trip of your life can be an overwhelming experience. Let our experts take the wheel, so you can focus on simply enjoying the start of your new life together with an unforgettable honeymoon.



WHAT INSPIRES YOU? A romantic movie, a friend’s honeymoon in Italy or your Pinterest board? Put a list together, add some photos and bring it to your appointment with your travel agent.

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO MEET WITH YOUR TRAVEL AGENT – Bring your Inspiration List to share with your travel agent, to help get started planning!






  • WEDDING LICENSE: What name was your trip booked under and what documents do you need to bring?



Consider booking a surprise for your spouse, like a sunset dinner cruise.


START PACKING “Must haves”:

  • Travel Itinerary
  • Prescriptions
  • Sunscreens
  • Chargers for your electronics or converters
  • Reading materials, movies, and a fresh music playlist
  • Cameras: Have them charges, so when you land you can start shooting


SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE - Share your favorite honeymoon moments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t forget to write a glowing review of your travel agent.







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