Author: Beth Benedetto

Why Using a Travel Advisor Is Even More Important Post COVID

When Hurricane Delta crashed against the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 2 storm on October 7th, 2020, more than 40,000 tourists were evacuated from their accommodations. There were 157 airline flights cancelled. Lines at the Cancun International Airport filled with thousands of tourists trying to find a flight back home.

Why did I start off my article with that depressing story? Because it is a perfect, recent example of why using a professional Travel Advisor is more important than ever. Tourists who booked their trip with a Travel Advisor had the added benefit of their agent working with airlines to get their clients on a flight back home. Those without a Travel Advisor were on their own.

Additionally, as travel begins to reopen around the world following COVID related shutdowns, there are new travel restrictions and quarantine requirements to enter different countries. Travel Advisors have a duty to stay informed about such restrictions and relay all the information to our clients. This is critical to planning a successful vacation and having a Travel Advisor do it for you takes the stress of these ever-changing restrictions off of YOU!

I could relay many stories of quarantine nightmares and denied entries, but something tells me you already get the picture. So, here are my Top 5 reasons why you need a professional Travel Advisor as a trusted partner as we all start to navigate this new travel climate:

  1. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. We have the resources to stay up to date on ever-changing entry and quarantine requirements from every destination. Policies are literally changing moment-by-moment, and it is important to know the risks of finding yourself in an unexpected quarantine situation. Also, just because a resort or island is “open” doesn’t mean you know what the actual experience going to be like. Are masks required? Are all the facilities and amenities open? Will the kid’s clubs and waterparks be operational? Without buffets, what are the food & beverage options? We can get all of that information for you so you can avoid expensive disappointments!
  2. We have inside information on which travel partners are trustworthy and fiscally sound. We certainly can’t guarantee that a company won’t default or declare bankruptcy in this crazy environment, but we have connections that flag companies that seem to be in trouble so we can add them to our “do not sell” list. And, if the worst happens, we can help you secure a refund or resolution to the best of our abilities. Most importantly, you won’t face it alone.
  3. We are part of a larger network of advisors, so we hear about which resorts, airlines, and destinations are going above and beyond to adapt COVID wellness policies that protect your health and well-being as well as which ones are NOT. We want you to feel safe and secure wherever you may travel.
  4. We have great suggestions for amazing travel experiences that you CAN have right now! There are some mind-blowingly beautiful destinations and resorts right here in our own country that you might miss if you always take off for Mexico’s all-inclusive resorts every Spring Break. Check out the US National Parks, visit Alaska on a small expedition cruise ship with fewer than 50 fellow passengers, lay out in a field on an upscale dude ranch in Wyoming viewing more stars in the night time sky than your city-dwelling kids could even imagine—those are just a few example of all the fabulous options available to you by staying stateside! We would love to help you get out of your house and living life again with some of these options you probably haven’t considered.
  5. We are available to you before, during, and after your travels—kind of like a personal backup system! If you run into any hiccups or need reassurance while away from home, we are your first call! Delayed or cancelled flights? Text us while you wait in line with the airline, and we can try to get you rebooked before you even reach the desk. Is your “ocean view” suite actually overlooking the resort’s plumbing facilities? Let us work out a relocation with the front desk if they do not respond to your complaint. Try getting that kind of service from one of the big box store travel departments or online travel booking engines!

I know that I may be biased, but I genuinely feel that a Travel Advisor is and always will be your best advocate, because we truly CARE about your travel experience. Not only is having a Travel Advisor a great safety net for when things may go wrong, but we’ll also help ensure you the best deals on great experiences. If you’re interested in learning more about what I can offer you as a Travel Advisor, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Until next time,

Community Immunity

Immunity is defined as “resistance to or protection against a specified disease; power to resist infection”. When the body is exposed to a disease or toxin that it has never seen before, the immune system kicks in and produces antibodies to help combat the illness and protect the system from future infections of the same disease. It’s an amazing thing, yes, but that isn’t the focus of my message this week. Besides the invasion of the COVID-19 virus, we are also being challenged by another toxin – isolation. It’s ironic that one of the main solutions to curbing the spread of the virus is to isolate, yet it’s the side effects of isolation are taking their toll on our communities. So how can we build some strong “Community Immunity” to combat the spread of isolation? Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Even if your body has to stay home right now, your imagination doesn’t! As a travel professional, I am doing my best to provide my community of past, present and future clients with the inspiration necessary to continue dreaming about future journeys. Have you always dreamed of visiting the Galapagos Islands? Do some research, watch some videos, read some travel books about the destination. Not sure where you want to go? Talk with your immediate family about their travel bucket-lists. You might be surprised to learn that your teenage son has always dreamed of surfing the waves off of Waikiki Beach! When all this is over, we can start planning and making those dreams a reality.
  2. Be generous with your actions in your own neighborhood community. Regularly check-in on neighbors who live alone. If you are venturing out to the grocery store, pharmacy or bank, ask if anyone needs anything. Bake 2 lasagnas or loaves of bread instead of one and share. Don’t purchase and hoard supplies that you really don’t need. Be kind and generous to your neighborhood’s “essential” workers who are risking their own well being to provide the services you are using. If your kids are homeschooling, brainstorm ways they can contribute to the community. After all, it is the most important lesson they may learn from this.
  3. Stay in touch with your family via video chat or Zoom-type calls. These days, the average family is spread out all across the country. Coordinate a regular video call with far-reaching family members to catch up and see how everyone is doing. Take turns sharing funny stories and reminiscing about past events. Plan for future visits or multi-generational vacations you would love to take. Family is the most important community that we all have, yet it is one of the easiest to take for granted. Don’t let that happen! Create new memories now that you will talk about in the years to come.

So, you’ve seen my thoughts of building “Community Immunity” and now it’s time to think about yours. How will you help combat isolation in your community? I hope that this has given you a head start on developing your own antibodies to the toxins that social distancing has thrust upon us. Feel free to message me about how you are keeping the dream alive in your own home and your community. I’d love to hear from you!

Soon we will all be back to normal, and I’m hoping that it will be an even better normal than it was before—a normal where we have more appreciation for each other and our incredible freedoms to see the world. Once that time comes, don’t forget that I am available to help you make your travel dreams come true.

Until next time,

When in Rome

If you ever asked me what my favorite city in the ENTIRE WORLD is, I wouldn’t hesitate or think twice. It’s Rome. It has always been Rome.

My love of the Eternal City has brought me there 15 times now, and I am always looking for new opportunities to go back. To walk the streets viewing the ancient history, smelling the fresh bread, and stopping in a local bar for a glass of wine is unlike anything else. It is one of my favorite experiences in life.

I have taken many friends to visit Rome throughout the years, and each time I guide them through the historic city I’m reminded of something my favorite tour guide once said… Rome is like a lasagna, you keep pulling back the layers and finding good stuff! So, here’s a sneak peek at some of the “good stuff” I’ve discovered while in my favorite city.

I always save a day to just walk… And walk… And walk. My husband and I have discovered the most interesting sites that you would normally never see just by walking beyond the “normal” tourist spots. My favorite is the Basilica di San Clemente. You start in the present-day Basilica then walk down the steps through 2,000 years of history. First, you visit the fourth-century church that the current Basilica was built directly on top of. Yes, you are literally walking on streets from the 300s in the 2000s. Then, you continue to walk down through more layers of history to a first century road and pagan temple. Here, you are approximately 60 feet below current Rome. Please note that this is a dark, damp place, so if this type of area bothers you then you may want to forego this site. There is a modest entry free, around 10 euros, to view the excavations. The Basilica di San Clemente is a short 10-minute walk from the Colosseum.

My second favorite place to visit is the San Bonaventura al Palatino. This 17th century convent church houses the Franciscan Friars of the Order of Friar Minor. As you approach the church on the left side, you are met with a series of statues showing the Stations of the Cross. Behind the Church, there is a marvelous garden with a beautiful view of the Colosseum. This is a perfect place to escape the crowds and have a relaxing visit. It is so nice to sit in the cool shade, away from the crowds, and relax with a drink of water.

This, my friends, is just a little taste of my travel knowledge when it comes to Rome, Italy. It is merely the tip of the iceberg of information I have to share with you. I will continue to write posts on different places all over the world that I have visited. If you have any questions about Rome or any other destination you may be interested in, please send me an email and I will be happy to share some of my insight.

Until next time,

Love of Travel

How old was I when I first discovered my love of travel? It’s a question I’ve been asked several times over the years, and it is such an easy answer for me to give. My earliest memories are of wanting to see the world. See, I grew up in Gold Hill, North Carolina—way, way, way in the country. When I say country, I mean without a neighbor for miles and only farm animals to play with during summer vacation. It was our own little corner of the world, but I wanted to see so much more of it.

My best memories of these years usually center around the excitement I felt when the Rowarn County Book Mobile pulled up our long driveway. You can say that my love of reading began around the same time as my love of travel, because I would check out the maximum number of books every single time and I would spend days on end reading stories about faraway places. Looking back, I can still see the pictures in the books showing The Great Wall of China and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I may not be able to recall the names of each book, though I wish I could, but I can still see ever photo so vividly in my mind.

Beyond my love of the Book Mobile, there was my piano teacher, Mrs. Brothers. She would take an around-the-world cruise every summer during her break from teaching piano, and she would always bring back a gift from her travels for every piano student. While I, of course, loved the present, I was always more excited learn about where she had traveled to, what she had done, where she plans to go next, etc. I would dream up all the exotic places she visited in my mind. It was always my favorite time of the year during piano lessons, when Mrs. Brothers returned each fall. In fact, I still have the little angel she bought me all those years ago!

There is a word in German that I think accurately describes me better than any English word can… Fernweh. This word translates to “farsickness” or a longing for far-off places, especially those you have not yet visited. Many like to use the term “wanderlust” but I think fernweh is more appropriate for me. It’s not a lust; it’s a longing, one I’ve always possessed and one that I continue to feel even after traveling to a total of 76 countries with my husband. One day, we hope to reach 100!

While the current situation regarding the Coronavirus pandemic has slowed us down for 2020, we are looking forward to continuing our exploration of this beautiful world in 2021, and so should you! My love of travel began over a half a century ago, but yours can get started right now. If you have an interest in traveling and would like more information on the services I offer, please call me at 704-990-5457.

Until next time,

Beth's Travel and Vacations

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