Is There a Travel Consultant on Your Team?

Ok, I have to admit… I book my own travel. I’ve been vacillating back and forth for months and months on whether to add a travel agent (aka travel consultant) to my team of experts that help make my life easier and I just haven’t done it yet. Now don’t get too impressed that I have a ‘team of experts’ – the list is short. It includes the lawn guy who’s also now the pest control guy, the maid, my hair stylist, my all-important driver to and from the airport, and that’s about it. But they’re all people who can save me time, save me money and can make recommendations based on their experience with me and my preferences. Hmmm… sounds like a travel consultant also.So to help me make my decision, I thought I’d pretend that you’re asking me questions and I’m giving you the answers. It makes the writing so more interesting than just talking to myself.Q: So why in these days on online booking of everything should I use the services of a travel consultant?A: Online booking of travel may be the best way to go if you have a simple flight to book, have no long list of special needs, and know what you’re doing. I like to go to Travelocity or Expedia and search out my options and prices, but then I book my ticket on the airline’s direct site. I just trust that if I have any issue with my ticket that their airline will be more helpful to me.I’ve only ever booked a ticket on one of these online sites when I needed a flight that had one airline on the outbound and another airline on the return.Because I routinely fly to the same city, I just jump on that airline’s site and can have a ticket booked within seconds. But when my husband and I are both flying and we’re originating in different, then a travel consultant makes much more sense. I spend an excessive amount of time searching multiple airline sites trying to get us to arrive and depart at somewhat the same time.If you have special needs (allergic to peanuts, pets, people, etc.), then a travel consultant can help ensure that your seats and/or flights are suitable for you. If you’re traveling internationally and are concerned with connecting flights, tight connections, passport or health requirements, go to the expert on your team.Q: What can a travel consultant really do that I can’t do myself?A: Besides what I just mentioned above, they can also:Scout out lower prices than you may be able to find.Help you with recommendations and prices on cruise bookings and most other forms of travel packages (guided tours, all-inclusive resorts, safaris, etc.) based on YOUR needs and desires.Keep you in the know about luggage fees, luggage limits, TSA, travel rules in other countries, best times to travel based on weather and more.Help resolve travel issues (cancelled flights, oversold hotels) and complex travel itineraries.All with personal service and expert knowledge.Q: What does a travel consultant charge to use their services?A: The fee depends on the consultant. While some of the more luxury agencies have higher fees, the average fee is quite marginal. Some travel consultants will even drop the fee or offer a discount once you have finalized your trip with them. Plus, you can always ask an consultant upfront what their fees are and decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Your time is valuable also… so consider the value of the hours that you’re searching for your own travel and the fee for the travel consultant then looks very reasonable.Q: So what are the requirements for a travel consultant to become part of your ‘team of experts’?A: Just a few minor requirements to fulfill:
They recognize who I am when I call and say “Hi, it’s Carol.” I do not want an agency where I speak to someone different each time I call.
They know my preferences and my type of travel. When I say “Bruce and I both want to get to New York City around 6pm on a Thursday,” they’ll know to put me on Continental, him on Delta, and get us both aisle seats (exit row for me, any row with a power outlet for him).
They know our 1,000 places to see before we die, know where we’ve already been, and call us when they see a great deal to a place we’ve yet to go.
They book our cruises and our hotels and airfare. No more cruise-only people that leave the rest up to us.
They provide recommendations for places to see, things to do, restaurants, etc. because they’ve already been there!
If they’re not an expert in a certain area, such as finding us a house to rent in Santorini, they’ll find someone who is.
They offer reasonable fees and throw in a freebie now and then because we use them so much (is that too much to ask??).
Q: So are you still going to book all of your own travel?A: Heck no! I’ll take resumes starting today from any travel consultant who can meet my requirements! — I’m interviewing!

Traveling Tips of the Budget Traveler

Budget is the most important thing when you are traveling internationally because you cannot spend endless amount of money even though you are tempted to. Here are some great tips for traveling on a budget.Traveling Tips for The Budget Traveler:o Divide your luggage into most essential and least essential items before you pack to avoid excess baggage because this is where unnecessary expenditure starts.
o You will need enough space in your luggage while coming back after shopping. Make this place before you leave on your trip.
o After shopping sort out the items you bought from the most expensive to the least expensive.
o The best way to minimize is by carrying fewer clothes. Take sensible shoes, jeans and tee shirts and lot of soap powder. Other ways to minimize are doubling your clothes like using the swim shorts as sleep wear.
o Pack your maps and GPS into your luggage and make an itinerary of which places you would like to visit first. Budgeting becomes very easy if you do this.
o Take some plastic bags for dirty laundry and keep them separate in your luggage so that you always have a ready stock of clothes available for your trip.
o While shopping, do not buy anything the moment you see it. Choose the item you would like to purchase first and take a walk around the store and think if you absolutely need it and want it. Only after that purchase. This technique helps to cut down the instinct to buy the moment you see it.

Home For The Holidays – Traveling With Your HIV Medications

Believe it or not, it’s that time of year already! As you
are busy preparing for the holiday season and making plans
to visit with family and friends, you will need to add one
more thing to your already long list of things to do. Anyone
with a chronic disease has to consider their health when
traveling, and HIV is no exception. You must give some
thought to your HIV treatment and the medications that you
are taking before you pack up and leave.This article will focus mainly on travel within the United
States, although I will briefly touch on a few special
considerations regarding international travel. If you will
be traveling internationally, you should find out in advance
if the country you are planning to travel to has any
restrictions on entry for people who are HIV positive; many
countries, including the United States, ban people with HIV
from entering. Discuss your travel plans with your doctor to
determine if any special precautions or vaccinations will be
necessary. You should be up to date with your influenza,
pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, and hepatitis A and B
vaccines. If you are traveling across international time
zones, you may want to ask your healthcare provider,
adherence counselor, or pharmacist to help you work out a
plan for adjusting the times of your dosages to avoid long
intervals between doses. Find out in advance where you would
go if you were to require medical care, and check into
getting travel insurance that does not exclude emergency
treatment for HIV related illnesses. If you are fortunate
enough to be going to a warm and sunny place, check with
your pharmacist if any of your medications cause an
increased sensitivity to the sun, and bring lots of
sunscreen with you.Discuss your plans to travel with your healthcare provider,
and ask for a brief medical letter to carry with you. At the
very least, you should have a copy of your latest
blood-work, including your CD4 cell count and HIV viral
load. Do not start any new medications within 4 weeks prior
to traveling in case you should have an allergic reaction.It is important to remember that taking a vacation does not
mean that you take a “vacation” from your medications. As
you have undoubtedly heard many times from your healthcare
provider, anything less than 95% – 100% adherence to your
medications may result in your HIV becoming resistant to
your medications, which will cause them to stop working.
Whenever your usual schedule and routine is changed, it will
take a little bit of extra thought and planning to ensure
that you are able to stay on track with your medications.Whenever you travel, be sure to bring enough of all of your
medications with you, as it may be impossible to get these
medications when you are away from home. Count out your
doses, and take several days worth of extra medications with
you in case you get delayed or decide to lengthen your trip.
Pack your medications in your carry-on luggage to avoid
losing it. You should also carry a letter from your doctor
listing your medications and stating that they are being
taken for a chronic medical condition.You may want to invest in some pillboxes to help you to stay
on track. Consider prefilling a 7-day pillbox for each week
that you will be away, and take along a few tiny single dose
pillboxes that you can discreetly carry in your pocket or
purse; this will be especially helpful if you will be
spending time with people who are unaware of your HIV
status.Do a little bit of planning in advance, and then enjoy your
vacation.