Gift of travel

At this time of year, you might be tempted to buy someone a trip.

My suggestion is to consider a gift card,  a travel fund, a piggy bank or a gift certificate rather than committing your recipient to dates and a destination that might not be suitable or might be very costly/difficult to change.

If someone has no desire to go to destination “xyz” and you’ve committed them, the intended gift is now instead a burden and harder to return or regift than ugly socks.

You might see 4 nights in Vegas as a generous $700 gift, but the reality is that with resort fees, transportation, entertainment and meals, the recipient will have to spent about another $700 to actually fulfill the trip.

My suggestion is to stop by the travel agency, pick up a brochure and wrap that, with cash or gift certificate and give your loved one the opportunity to dream & select for themselves.

Anniversary post!

Four years ago, in a hotel room in Montreal, I decided to  make the commitment to host my own blog and pursue a career in travel. I was on holidays, and had been thinking a lot about my goals, and just decided to go for it. (I call it my light switch moment.)

There were several names and domains considered, but SheTalksTravel was available, and was vague enough that I felt it would give me opportunity to be flexible and adjust to changing times.

Hosting a website, and owning two domain names isn’t free. I pay about $300 a year to have and I make the conscious choice to host it without google ads or sales pitches from outside companies.

Every year when December 1st hits I have to make the choice to keep it or let it go.  I start reading old blogs and I see the progression and evolution of this project. I get nostalgic and think, “this is a good thing we’ve got going. Let’s keep it rolling.”

So I make the conscious choice to throw another $300 at it, skip the shoes, the new purse and the spa day and instead invest in myself and my readers.

I’m still having fun. I’m sure the best adventures are yet to come.

SheTalksTravel is here for another year! Where to next?

Black Friday Travel Sales

I’ll be brief. It’s a very busy time of year for all of us.

If you are looking to capitalize on a travel bargain….whether it’s for Christmas or sometime in February, black Friday sales are a great time to buy. (Notice that I didn’t say “shop.”) It’s imperative to do your research in advance. Know what you want and be ready to buy. Bargains go quickly!! You’re definitely not the only one looking for a travel deal. It’s literally the busiest booking day of the year!

Here are 3 tips to help you nab a bargain, and avoid total disappointment.

1) Know exactly where you want to go. Narrow it down to 3 resorts, maximum.

2) Be ready to book on the spot. If you wait to think about it, or call to chat with your mom you just might miss the last 4 seats on the plane.

3) Passports & payment. Exact legal names & full payment are required to book.

Have fun!! Then rejoice in the savings.

Screensaver worthy!

I have to tell you,  the moment I saw this photo on my friend’s Facebook feed I was absolutely awestruck.

Naturally, I complimented her on this remarkable photo of what I easily recognized as Waikiki Beach at Oahu, Hawaii.

My friend told me that her 10 year old daughter, Livia, took the photo on an iPad. Pretty incredible eh?!!

I made Livia an offer and paid her for the use of her photo on my blog. I told her that I’d love to show her talent to the world. Aren’t you glad I did?

I asked Livia if she had a review of the hotel or anything to tell our readers about Waikiki Beach or Honolulu. She reported that her family really liked their hotel, the Outrigger Reef. It had a fantastic location, view of the ocean, crafts, activities and even a Starbucks! One more unique offering of the Outrigger Reef  is that twice a week, at sunrise, they do a complimentary vow renewal ceremony for couples.  (Wow!! That’s something I had never heard about before. Livia’s going  to make a brilliant travel writer AND professional photographer someday!)

Special sincere thanks to Livia & her family for sharing this brilliant photo & glimpse into their family holiday.



Restorative detour

You know how ‘they say’ that travel can change you?

You know how ‘they say’ that sometimes when you get lost you actually find yourself?

You know how ‘they say’ that it’s not the destination,  but the journey instead that’s most important?

I think ‘they’ might be right.

I’ve been on dozens of trips, some good, some great, and some I’ve probably even forgotten about. But, I have to say that Costa Rica 2019 was a pivotal moment in my personal journey.

My dear friend Christina won a trip & invited me along.  We had the privilege of going to the newly opened, five star, Planet Hollywood Resort in Costa Rica. (It’s amazing, by the way!)

We left the kids, our husbands and our worries behind us. For 7 days we simply rested, recharged and restored ourselves. We read books by the pool, swam, went on nature hikes, did yoga, sang karaoke and watched 90s movies. And we laughed a lot!  (Of course it certainly helped that it was all-inclusive and weren’t worried about the expense.)

It was probably day 5 when I started to feel energized and ready to tackle my 5 year plan. I started thinking about my career goals and where I wanted to be in 2020 & in 2024.  The trip itself, was critical in giving me the chance to let go of life’s stress and regroup.  By day 7 I couldn’t wait to go home, to  see my family and to start working on making changes.

Shortly thereafter I made a big career move. It was a calculated leap of faith. I consciously decided that starting over was going to be the best way forward.

6 months later, I’m thrilled with my decisions. And reflecting back, I see how much that restorative vacation put me back on track to happiness and self-fulfillment.

5 truths your travel agent wants you to know

5 Reasons your travel agent didn’t call you back right away.

1. He/she was on hold for hours with a supplier. Literally hours waiting on hold for Air Canada (Transat/WestJet etc etc) Travel Agent Support to solve 1 little problem that is impossible to fix on-line independently. (For example a name correction, like when a husband forgets that the daughter’s middle name has 2 “n” and it HAS to be corrected).

(In these cases most agents will try to send you a quick email when the phone is tied up.)

2. There’s a client at the desk. They have the agent’s full attention. The client is planning their dream vacation. Or, they might have just popped in to make a payment, but they still deserve undivided attention.

3. There’s an emergency with a client in active travel.  Take a hurricane in the Caribbean for example.  We may not notice it at home in Canada but absolutely positively it could be disrupting travel for Canadians that we work with. Agents regularly field calls from worried travellers who need re-routing or help with their insurance. These individual situations can take hours and command immediate action. These stressful situations occur more regularly than you’d imagine!  Though it can be very challenging & time consuming it is very satisfying to successfully solve problems for your clients & bring them home safely. It’s a good feeling when things work out and your expertise helps them out of a real jam.

4. Your contact information wasn’t complete. We can’t return your call if the voicemail doesn’t have a name or phone number. Or the number you said so quickly was impossible to understand.

5. This one is a harsh truth. If the client regularly uses the agent for information but never actually books a vacation with the agency, you won’t be the first person they rush to call back when there’s 6 more also waiting on the list. Agents dread the message “Oh sorry, I just booked it myself online. Thanks for all your help though.”  Especially in those agencies where they don’t charge any consulting fees.

Even if you are the most wonderful client and friend, there will be times that answers and phone calls aren’t instant. Please don’t take it personally. I bet that 99 times out of 100 something significant has literally derailed your agent’s day & they’re tied up “putting out fires.” We’re all just people trying to help people!