Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Spring Break 2018 Travel Tips & Ideas

This post is a follow up to my news segment this morning on WKRC Local 12 in Cincinnati.

Today I talked about why you should book your trip now, some great deals out there and provided tips on maximizing your trip. Below you will find some additional details and a link to the video.

Spring Break Travel Tips

1. Book Now!

January is a great time to book your Spring travel. Waiting too much longer means you will lose availability options for both flights and hotels and that means you could end up paying a lot more.

It's also currently "Wave Season." This means it's the time of year that all of the cruise lines offer their best deals and unique sales.

2. Consider Mexico & Punta Cana.

Cincinnati has some fantastic non-stop flight options that come with great discounts. This year are there even more non-stop discounted flights to Mexico so savings are amazing!

Not only can you save money with these flights, but you will get to your destination sooner, spend less time traveling and not have to worry about a layover or missing a connection.

3. Book a Mystery Deal 

There are a couple options available for this. The company I work with the most for these deals is Apple Vacations. They offer a deal where you don't know the resort until the day of travel. They guarantee that it's at least a certain "Apple Rating" (similar to star ratings) so you know what to expect in terms of level of luxury. If you are okay with being surprised you can save hundreds of dollars this way.

4. Consider Voluntourism

Many tourism destinations in the Caribbean were affected by the recent hurricanes. In addition to continuing traveling to those destinations (which helps in itself) there are several opportunities to volunteer your time in these destinations. Organizations such as Worldhope.org have options for multiple destinations and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company has created "Rebuild Days" where they will have volunteers focus on specific projects to rebuild the island.

5. Book Tours and Excursions in Advance

Spring Break is a very popular time to travel. While during the off-season it's usually fine to wait to book your excursions, during peak travel times the best ones can actually sell out. Ask your travel agent to arrange your tours in advance so you don't miss out!

For the latest deals visit www.lovelandandsea.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

Warm Weather Escapes - Fox19 News Segment Follow-Up

Warm Weather Escapes 

This morning I spoke with Dan Wells at Fox 19 about some warm weather escapes to beat the cold! Below is a recap of the places we discussed, along with pricing based on double occupancy. 

Prices below are for dates this month and are subject to change and based on availability. For more information or a quote visit www.lovelandandsea.com 

Watch Video Here: http://www.fox19.com/clip/14045273/travel-to-avoid-the-cold

1. 3 Nights in Fort Lauderdale 
Allegiant package - 3 nights, non-stop flights and beachfront Westin for $420 Per Person

2. Miami 
Flight Deals - $150 per person round trip, non-stop on Frontier

3. 3-Night All-Inclusive Cancun Package
Non-stop flights, all-inclusive resort, airport transfers $548 Per Person
Paradisus Resort 

4. 4-Night Luxury All-Inclusive Riviera Maya 
Non-stop flights, all-inclusive resort, airport transfers, unlimited access to 8 eco parks $1,000 per person
Hotel Xcaret 

Eco Parks: Xcaret, Xel-ha, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xenotes Oasis, Xitchen, Xoximilco

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gift Ideas for Travelers

The holidays are almost here and I have a few ideas for gifts for the travelers in your life. These are affordable options that all travelers could use! Have anything to add to the list? Leave a comment! 

1. RFID Blocking Travel Wallet
Identity theft is a real concern these days for travelers. RFID blocking wallets are available for both men and women's styles. Prices range from under $10-$50+.  This one, found at Amazon.com is $29.99.

2. Digital Luggage Scale. 
Airlines are charging stiff fees for overweight luggage. Save money and hassle for someone this holiday season with this affordable and useful gift.

You can get a Portable Travel Luggage Digital Scale for under $10 on sale  Here 

3. Portable Battery Charger
It's not always easy to find a place to charge your phone or other device while traveling. These are perfect for both business and leisure travelers who need to stay connected. Check out the Power Station Plus at Mophie.com

Stocking-Stuffer Ideas

Chapstick, hand sanitizer or wipes, gum and mints, travel mug, travel sewing kit, first-aid kit, ear buds, destination books and travel novels.

I hope your holidays are full of family, fun and travel! For travel ideas and the latest deals check out lovelandandsea.com!


Monday, December 4, 2017

New Year's Travel Destinations 2018

Yesterday I appeared on the Fox 19 Morning News to talk about New Year's Travel Destinations. Check out the video below and my list with links for the special events taking place.

  Click for Video: New Years News Segment 

 1. Unico Riviera Maya "Boozy Yoga, Anti-resolution pool parties and more!

 2. Stratosphere Las Vegas Amazing fireworks, open bar and unlimited food

 3. The Drake Hotel Chicago  5  Ballrooms of entertainment, black tie event

 4. Up Rooftop Bar Nashville SPEAKEASY party with prohibition style attire, live jazz and great views!

 5. Times Square, New York Celebrate the new year with about a million other people! Consider a Balldrop package with included drinks and food options.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is Travel Insurance Really THAT Important?

After the terrible natural disasters we have seen lately and a lot of personal experience with my own clients being affected, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about travel insurance with the Fox 19 morning news.

 Not all policies are alike and yes, you really DO need insurance. It can't be looked at as an "up-sell" or extra expense. It must be factored into your overall trip budget. It's THAT important. You may go your whole life never needing to file a claim on any trips you take. But its that one trip where the insurance can mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It can be the difference of getting emergency medical treatment in a foreign country or being denied. It can actually mean life or death. 

There are many options and most polices are very affordable. So, watch the clips below and learn more about why you need it.

I spoke on the morning segment for a few minutes but Kara Sewell wanted to talk more and answer some questions from viewers so we continued the interview with a Facebook Live , which is also below.

Fox 19 Segment:

Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Facebook Live with Kara Sewell:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sun, Rum and Drums

It's back! After way too long, the LoveLand & Sea Travel Blog returns with a special guest blogger, Sara Gentry.

Sun, Rum and Drums

“We’re doing this!” My sister Beth and travel agent extraordinaire exclaimed. We had toyed with the idea of taking a trip together and we decided this Summer was the perfect opportunity to get away and reconnect.

Arriving at Sangster International Airport for the first time could have been overwhelming as it seemed like everyone who would be visiting the small island that week arrived at the same time. Tourists walked through the winding airport in unified patterns like schools of fish eagerly looking for customs only to be met with a 2-hour line. Lucky for me, I was with my travel guru sister who knew to book the Club Mobay VIP arrival. We were greeted by a personal guide who whisked us past the schools of fish to a private VIP line; to our elation, there were only five or six people in line ahead of us. Once through the gates we were ushered to the Mobay VIP Club where tea sandwiches, rum punches and a private bathroom awaited us.

Our luggage was collected and we followed it outside to the line of buses waiting to take us to our respective resorts. I was warned ahead of time that the bus ride would be a little nerve racking and looking back, I think that is why you are greeted with complimentary alcohol before boarding the shuttle. Long story short, the bus ride was a bonding experience between all aboard. Goats on the side of the road became mere blurs as we flew down the highway. I found myself strategically sipping my Red Stripe in-between swerves and break checks to try and calm my nerves.

We arrived to Couples Tower Isle to the sound of drums greeting us from the open and breezy lobby. The rum punch was flowing as couples checked in and Beth explained to the inquisitive staff our relationship.  As its name might suggest, Couples Tower Isle or CTI as it is known, is a couples only resort and we were bending the rules in the name of research so Beth could share her personal experiences with her clients.

It took me a couple of days to understand what all-Inclusive really meant. And since our trip I’ve learned it means different things to different people. To my sister it meant a fully stocked mini bar and room service every morning. Beth went through the list of alcohol we would be requesting for our stay. “Do we really need an entire bottle of Appleton Rum?” I asked her with worried eyes as she continued to check off more boxes. Red wine-check. White wine-check. Champagne-check. My more experienced travel buddy looked up from the form and said. “The point of an all-inclusive is to indulge.” And with that, I decided to try it her way for the week.

Beth introduced me to her morning routine which consisted of a first and second breakfast. Each morning room service brought fresh fruit, pastries, coffee, and mimosas. Around 9am we donned our swimsuits and cover ups and headed to second breakfast held at the buffet next to the hotel lobby.  I’ve never been a big breakfast person, lunch is more my speed, so in addition to two breakfasts we were also going to need to fit in two lunches for my sake. One of the best features of CTI is that food is always available, if not at the buffet, at the resort grille which is open all night (second dinner.) A healthy alternative to the grille is a vegetarian café tucked away near one of the two pools. I can still taste the lightly salted seaweed chips and dip. Some of my favorite first lunch snacks came from that café and It was there I was able to achieve my life-long dream of drinking coconut milk straight from the coconut.  I was a true tourist after that and would have no more qualms about over indulging.

 Every day we had a few hours until second lunch so we filled it with drinking at the swim up pool bar, complimentary snorkeling, paddle boarding and my favorite excursion, a catamaran trip around the island. The boat ride itself was memorable but once they dropped the anchor, life vests were distributed and we were able to jump into the ocean and swim while inflatable trays of rum punches made their way around the group. My sisters made me watch Jaws with them at a very young age and because of that I still have a strong inclination to stay out of the ocean, however, this was one of those moments where I would have to indulge, and this time, in adventure. To my surprise and great relief, I was not eaten by a shark after all and would be able to enjoy the dance party on deck all the way back to the hotel.

I was also a fan of laying out on the private beach under the white canopy shade and reading while nearby couples held hands in the sun. Local tents overflowing with souvenirs lined the beach.  “No pressure, no pressure,” they would say, as I looked at tiny wooden cat trinkets and beaded jewelry.  I had my eye on a red coral necklace and would visit it every day after laying out. After heated negotiations the vendor and I decided on a price we were both unhappy with, which is a sign of successful negotiations I’m told. It broke in my luggage on the way home, but I did get to wear it one evening to dinner.

Most evenings began with a quick selfie photoshoot in our ocean view room followed by cocktail hour and dinner. Up until this point in the day, the fact that my sister and I were not a couple was not at all awkward. However, once the sun set and the candles were lit, the intentions of the Island shift and the romance is palpable. Never the less, we always had the amazing cuisine to look forward to.  Walking into Eight Rivers I felt like we were celebrating a special occasion. I couldn’t believe this dinner was included in our vacation package. We each wore the most formal dress we packed and sat down for our romantic dinner; the object of our affection, our entrees. For a seafood lover in Jamaica, the world is your oyster (pun completely intended) and in a true all-inclusive fashion I ate the equivalent of shrimp Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan catch after the storm.

I left Jamaica with a tan and a new appreciation for Island life. Although the tan will eventually fade, the memories I made act as a reminder to indulge in life once and while.

Sara Gentry

For Jamaica booking info visit www.lovelandandsea.com

Monday, August 29, 2016

Resort Review - Couples Tower Isle, Ocho Rios Jamaica

Resort Review - Couples Tower Isle, Ocho Rios Jamaica

Last month I had the opportunity to visit one of my top honeymoon resorts in Jamaica. I have always loved the Couples Resorts chain and this visit reminded me why.

From the moment I stepped into the lobby I felt life's stresses melt away. The bellman, Byron, was welcoming and friendly with a smile that never stopped. The front desk staff checked me in quickly and efficiently and was soon escorted to a beautiful room with an incredible ocean view.

The room was bright and simple with a large balcony and typical amenities. What was not typical was the mini bar. This was no "mini" set up. Couples resorts offers full sized bottles of liquors and wine with options to customize based on each guest's preference. Best of all, this is included in the all-inclusive price!

The Food
Couples Tower Isle offers six unique restaurants with delicious food! There will be more about that in the next blog post (written by a special guest blogger). I will mention now that vegetarians need not worry. The buffet always had vegetarian choices in addition to a wonderful salad bar and soup options. The pool grill that is open late night and offers a very tasty veggie burger and the Veggie Bar offers healthy vegetarian food (and food for omnivores) plus smoothies and juices.

The Inclusions
Perhaps the best thing about Couples Resorts is that everything is included. More so than most other all-inclusive resorts. Everything from non-motorized water sports, entertainment, food, drinks, gratuities and even off-property excursions. You can go on a Catamaran Cruise (so much fun!), visit Dunn's River Falls, take a shopping shuttle, shuttle to Margaritaville, glassbottom boat ride and go snorkeling or SCUBA. This is all part of the all-inclusive package!

The Beach
The beach here is much smaller than Couples Negril or Couples Swept Away but it was clean, and has swimmable water. The resort itself is small, so having a small beach was never a problem. There were always some available chairs.

The Pools
The main pool has a quiet atmosphere and waterfall. Perfect for lounging and relaxing. The swim up bar pool has a much more lively atmosphere. If you want to listen to upbeat music, play games and socialize this is the place!

Every night there is something going on at Couples Tower Isle. I loved the martini night on the roof, sing-a-long at the piano bar and live music at the pool and beach.

This is a fantastic resort for romance where you can do everything or do nothing. For booking information visit www.lovelandandsea.com