Plan in Advance, Pay Over Time

There is something thrilling about dropping everything for a few days and escaping. Sometimes spontaneous trips are the best trips. As with everything though, these last-minute adventures typically come at a cost. Now I know what some of you are thinking. “But sometimes you can get great last-minute deals!” That’s true & last-minute deals can be fantastic, but more often than not, there will be some aspect of your trip that will be more expensive because you waited until the last minute. For example, maybe you got a super cheap cruise last minute, but then your airfare was super expensive. Or maybe you got a great deal on airfare, but hotels are limited due to the short notice, so their prices are higher. Plus, everything has to be paid for upfront. When you wait to book last minute, you have to be prepared to pay for everything at once. Most people’s budgets need a bit more advance notice to be able to accommodate a trip. Fortunately, quite a few aspects of the travel industry allow for payment to be made over time.

Disneyland – Sleeping Beauty Castle

As outlined in our blog post, “Help Us, Help You,” the first thing anyone should do before making travel plans is to decide on a budget. I feel this is true for any kind of trip, whether it be spontaneous or planned well in advance. The world is amazing, but you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t have a mountain of debt to come home to.  Budgeting & planning in advance can give you the flexibility to save up & pay for your trip over time so you don’t accrue unnecessary debt due to your travels. 

Once you have determined your budget, I recommend working with a Travel Agent to help plan your trip. This is for a few reasons (see our blog post “Why Use a Travel Agent”), but a few of the most notable reasons is their ability to help you stay within your budget & to bundle the various pieces to your travel together into a package. Though not the only way to pay for a trip over time, having your travel agent put together a package for you will often give you more flexibility in terms of when you can pay. 

For example, let’s say you’re traveling to the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resort. If you were to buy a hotel or condo off Disney property & bought your theme park tickets separately, you would have to pay outright for those theme park tickets and maybe your lodgings too. If you haven’t been to a Disney park recently, tickets are a large bulk of the cost for that type of vacation and if you buy them separately, they have to be paid in full up-front & they are non-refundable. However, if you plan in advance & bundle your package to include both hotel & tickets on property or at a Good Neighbor hotel, then you could simply pay $200 down when you book & then the rest isn’t due until 30 days before you travel.  Up until that 30-days before, you can change or cancel your reservation at no cost to you.  This allows you much more freedom than if you purchased them separately. Additionally, as a package you are more than welcome to make partial payments over time, or if you’d rather keep your money accruing in the bank, you can wait until that due date 30 days before to make your final payment.  This allows you significantly more time to save your money & spread out the cost of your vacation over several months.

Epcot – Spaceship Earth

Much like stand-alone tickets, airfare is also notorious for having to be paid for up-front & it is most often non-refundable. If you plan your trip in advance, it allows for large required purchases like airfare to not be such a burden. Maybe you’ve booked your hotel/tickets a year in advance, and have been saving up or making payments over time, but you wait to purchase airfare until three or four months in advance of your trip. Being able to spread out the payments for the other aspects of your package allow you to be able to pay for that airfare when it comes up without any budgetary constraints. 

What you may not realize is that occasionally, your travel agent can package your airfare in with other aspects of your trip. This means that your airfare would follow the same rules as your package does.  For example, if you were to book a Disney Cruise, you would be required to put 20% down up front & final payment is due 90-120 days before you travel.  If you chose to book airfare as a package with your cruise & you select a flexible fare, that airfare gets bundled into your cruise package price as a whole. You would simply pay the 20% of the package price & then pay the remainder when final payment is due or in partial payments over time. Again, allowing for better budgeting in advance.

Disney Fantasy

Besides being able to spread out paying for your trip, booking in advance will most often get you the best deal.  There are last-minute deals that are worthwhile, but as previously mentioned, you’ll typically get hit with a larger than average bill in some other aspect of your trip.  In general, the longer you wait to book, the more you will pay.  For example, Disney is notorious for increasing their ticket prices in either late January or early February every year, but sometimes they do it multiple times per year. If you plan in advance, your ticket prices, or cruise fare, or nightly hotel price, gets locked in, ultimately saving you money than if you waited to book your trip last minute. Plus! If you use a travel agent & a deal does come up, they can often get it applied to your existing reservation. Just one more reason to use them!

Overall, making a budget, planning in advance, & taking advantage of what a travel agent can offer can really help you to spread the cost of you trip out over time. This can make a big difference to your everyday finances so that your trip really is a vacation & not a means to more debt. If you’re feeling unsure, ask your travel agent for help! They want to make sure you stay within your budget & have the best time possible. Paying over time can alleviate a lot of stress on you & your budget, so recognize it is an option. Plan in advance & take advantage!

We would be happy to help you along your way. Please visit our website to request a quote: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

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Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Traveling with Others is Hard

Deciding who to travel with can make the difference between a great trip & an, um…okay trip. There are a few people we have traveled with in the past that we will never travel with again. We are lucky that we still have decent relationships with those people in general, but there is no way we will be traveling with them again. Nope, never. However, what do you do when grandma decides to pay for everyone to go to Disneyland?  Or one of your best friends puts together a girl’s weekend? What do you do even in smaller groups of people you like and choose to travel with, but who all have their own opinions?

While traveling is always a choice, sometimes we are put into situations where we feel an obligation to go, but you know it’s not going to be ideal with the group of people you’re going with.  It could be because you don’t get along, it could be because one person can’t ever get out of bed on time, or it could be there are just so many of you, moving everyone takes forever.  So how do you navigate these situations & still have a great vacation, plus make sure your relationships are still intact when you come home?  It’s a hard question whose answer is as unique as the groups traveling together.  However, in my experience, I’ve recognized a few helpful tips to help navigating traveling with a group.

Family & Friends at Mickey’s Halloween Party in Disneyland – 2015

First, set expectations beforehand.  Whatever the expectations are, make sure people know in advance. Everyone has some idea in their head about how they would like their vacation to look and when you’re traveling with a group, I can almost guarantee that differing ideas are the norm, not the exception. If those ideas are not acknowledged in advance, it can lead to hard feelings very quickly while on the trip itself.  There is nothing worse than showing up and thinking things are going to go one way just to have someone tell you your ideas are completely wrong & things will be done the complete opposite way. Not setting expectations beforehand is just asking for people to be offended which sets a dark tone for the trip from the beginning. 

To set those expectations, I recommend meeting together beforehand (whether in person or video chat). Do not just text or email, but actually get together and talk. Body language & tone of voice are very telling. Maybe over text I can fool you into thinking I’d love to go to that famous sushi restaurant because I’m afraid to tell you no, but when you look in my face, and can tell I’m uncomfortable when we are actually talking about it, maybe I can find my courage to admit that I hate seafood. You may still choose to go to that famous sushi restaurant, but at least I can go find something that I like better, and it’s no surprise to you, keeping us both happy. Legitimately talking with each other allows everyone to voice what their vision for the trip is and knowing beforehand what to expect from the others in your group, can save a lot of hurt feelings & arguments later. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say everyone will agree (more on how to navigate that next), but at least you’ve all had the chance to get an idea of what the other people you’re traveling with are thinking. Please remember to keep it civil! This discussion will set the tone for the entire vacation. The idea isn’t to convert everyone to your way of thinking, it’s to help everyone get an idea of what to expect from each other. Different ideas are a good thing, so be open to what others have to say and don’t get offended if it doesn’t match what you want. You never know when someone will have the one great idea that makes the trip.

Group of Friends in Kauai, HI – 2018

Okay, you’ve gotten together to set expectations. What specifically do you talk about? Besides the obvious logistics of a trip (hotel, transportation, etc.), I believe it’s important to somewhat establish what your daily routine will look like while on vacation.  The best piece of advice I can give a group traveling together is to recognize from the beginning that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER. One more time for the people not paying attention: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING TOGETHER. You heard me.  You do not have to spend every waking moment together.  This is probably the biggest mistake I see groups traveling together make.  They feel like if the trip is with everyone, they have to spend the entire trip together.  To that I say, what about your sister who has to stop in every gift shop?  What about Grandpa who has to have a full sit-down breakfast every day?  What about your cousin who has two kids under the age of five who need a nap & to go to bed early?  What about YOU and what you want? Every individual has their own needs & wants that may not exactly match up with each other. That’s OKAY! Stop trying to force everyone to do the same thing! Instead, do what makes you happy.  It’s vacation! You’re supposed to escape regular life for a bit, relax, experience someplace new & have a great time. Sometimes, trying to move an entire group along is just painful and not fun for anyone, so do not force people to do everything together. If it is important to spend at least a little bit of time together (which is reasonable since you did go on vacation with each other), I have a few suggestions.

Us & the Parents at Stonehenge, England – 2016

Designate one activity per day as something you will do together.  For example, maybe everyone gets together for dinner.  It gives you the chance to spend your day how you choose, your sister goes shopping, Grandpa takes a long breakfast, you visit the museum you’ve been dying to, but then you all make a point to come back together to share experiences & enjoy each other’s company. You set a time & place & the expectation that everyone will be there. This is an easy way to give people the freedom they need, but also to have time together in a pleasant circumstance.

If you need or want more time together than one activity per day, then I suggest doing your research beforehand about what is available to do in your destination (see our blog post “Planning Never Hurt Anyone”). Once you have a good idea, let each person or family unit pick ONE thing they absolutely have to do & make sure everyone gets the chance to do their one thing. This helps everyone to feel important & satisfied. This is good advice for even small groups traveling together & my husband and I often do it with my parents & our friends.  For example, when we went to London with my parents, we each picked one thing we had to do.  I wanted to visit the Tower of London, my mom wanted to take an excursion out to Stonehenge, my dad wanted to see The Phantom of the Opera.  They are all very different things, but we all enjoyed them & everyone felt like they had contributed to what ended up being one of our favorite trips ever.  Oftentimes, what one person wants to do will overlap with the wants of someone else, so even if you only get to pick one thing, often you get to do lots of awesome stuff and maybe even a few great things you wouldn’t have found on your own. 

The key to this plan though, is to make sure you don’t whine & complain when it’s not your turn.  If your sister chose to go shopping as her one thing, make the most of that time with her doing what she loves.  If Grandpa chose breakfast at a famous local restaurant, enjoy the experience & time with him.  This will allow you to see & do things you may not have elected to do yourself, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing.  Everyone is empowered to make a choice & everyone supports each other in that choice.  However, if you can’t be a good sport about it, don’t do this.  Go back to picking one thing each day that the group does together, and just do what makes you happy the rest of the time.

Traveling with a group can be a difficult experience, but it can also be very rewarding as you build positive relationships and create new memories together in a new place.  Open the lines of communication with everyone early & recognize it’s okay if you don’t do everything together.  In fact, it’s often a better idea than trying force everyone to spend every minute together.  If you need help, we are always here. We would be happy to help you navigate traveling with a group. It is a different experience for sure! Visit our website to get started: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

Cost vs. Value

As you would imagine, it is a fairly typical theme among travelers that they want to get as much as they can for the price they pay. It makes perfect sense. You work hard to earn your money & when you spend it, you want to make sure you’re getting the most for it.  Due to this mindset though, people often think that cost equals value. Meaning, you get what you pay for every time. Though this may be true to some extent (i.e. you will have more luxurious accommodations at a five-star hotel than you would at a two-star hotel), I think the idea that cost equals value is a misconception that has left many a traveler disappointed.  Of course, there is a literal price that is paid, but then there is the value of what happens while you’re there. Because of this, cost & value simply can’t be the same thing. So, how do you get the most value for your money? Can you add value without adding cost?

To begin, we have to understand the difference between cost & value. As previously mentioned, cost is the literal price you pay to acquire something. For example, the price you pay for plane tickets, hotels, excursions, rental car, etc. add up to the cost of your trip.  It’s the dollars and cents of things.  Value, on the other hand, is a bit more ambiguous, but no less important to having a meaningful & worthwhile vacation. Value is the relative worth, merit or importance of the experience you’re having.  Let me give you an example outside of the travel realm: Think about the cost of a college education verses the value of a college education.  The price you pay for tuition is pretty concrete, however, the value you receive from the life lessons you learn, the skills you acquire & the ability to better your circumstances in the future due to it, are much harder to quantify, but are perhaps even more important than the cost of tuition. Such is the case with travel as well.  You have the price tag of everything involved verses the value of the experiences you have. High value experiences can enhance your stay while you are on vacation, but they can also stick with you for long after the money is spent & the trip is over. Point being, it is important to recognize the difference between cost & value so that based on your budget & needs, you can have the best of both worlds.

Let’s start with cost.  As mentioned in our previous blog titled, “Help Us, Help You,” the first thing anyone should do before planning a trip would be to create a budget.  Depending on where you are going & what you are doing, you need to think about the following: Lodging, transportation, attraction tickets, food, spending money, etc.  Think about how much time you have to save up & what you’re willing to spend for the experience. This will help you make sure the cost of your trip does not exceed your means.  Remember, cost does not equal value & you can have a fantastic trip even on a limited budget.  However, you have to know what your budget is to make sure you can afford the cost of your trip. If using a travel agent (which I recommend, see the next paragraph), it is important to communicate what your budget is to them. I speak from experience when I say that we want to give you the best experience possible, but it starts with being respectful to your budget too. Even if you don’t use a travel agent, be respectful to yourself & make sure the cost of your vacation doesn’t outpace your means.

Value is a little less straight forward than cost, but there are plenty of ways to add value to your trip without adding to your costs.  One of the easiest ways to increase the value of your trip would be to use a travel agent. Our travel agency, Woodbrey Family Travel, does not charge for our services. That means you have access to all the benefits of a travel agent at no extra cost to you.  For example, how much is your time worth? Travel agents can save you an incredible amount of time & hassle by doing all the research & leg-work for you. We are well-practiced & informed about a wide variety of locations themselves, in addition to current promotions, travel restrictions, etc. It is our business to know as much as we can about various destinations & by using our services, you have access to what we have learned along the way without the hassle of learning it yourself by trial & error. A travel agent can be the difference of someone going into their trip feeling prepared & excited, verses going in, winging it & hoping for the best. For some, winging it is just fine. For most, having some sense of what you’re getting yourself into adds a level of confidence that can’t be quantified, but really increases the value of your trip. If you need more convincing, check out our blog post titled, “Why Use a Travel Agent.”

Next, I would highly encourage you to think ahead of time about what amenities are important to you while on your trip. For example, we have some guests that will not stay at a hotel if it doesn’t have a pool.  One of their family’s favorite things to do on vacation is to swim in the pool together & they feel it is often the highlight of their trip. For them, that simple amenity adds an incredible amount of value to their vacation. If something like a pool, or a spa, or a continental breakfast would make your vacation that much better, recognize that before you start planning & communicate that to your travel agent. These are easy things to look for while searching for accommodations & if you’re working within a known budget, they can often be found without going beyond those established cost parameters.

Third, I would suggest that being in close proximity to the sites you’re most interested in can add great value to a vacation. There is something wonderful about being immersed in a location, along with being close to what interests you. It goes a long way in being able to make the most of your time, while also giving you easy access to your hotel for mid-day naps, or the ability to change clothes. These are the types of little things that add great value to your vacation as a whole because you’re making the most of your time. To give you an example, I had a friend who went to Paris & booked things on his own. Before he left, he was touting how he got a hotel for super cheap & how excited he was for that.  Upon returning home though, he told me that he learned “Paris” was a relative term.  The hotel he booked was cheap and “in” Paris, but in reality, it was about an hour train ride into the city center where all of the sites he wanted to see were. He straight up told me he felt like the cost he paid for his hotel was not worth the time & effort to get to where he wanted to be. In his case, only the cost was looked at & it simply wasn’t worth it. While yes, he did get a cheap hotel, he paid for it in time. Ask yourself again, “How much is your time worth?” Is spending two hours a day getting to & from where you want to be worth the reduced cost? Perhaps so, but we’ve found proximity can almost always add value to a vacation. I am almost 100% confident that if he had let me book his trip, I could have found him accommodations within his price range, but also within reasonable proximity to what interested him. Worst case scenario, I would have been able to prepare him in advance for the time he was committing to his daily commute. Knowing this type of information in advance can be invaluable & positively add to your vacation experience.

Finally, one of the easiest ways to add value to your experience is by being flexible with your travel dates. Most people try to travel during school breaks or during the summer. While this may make sense, those are peak travel times for everyone & you will pay a premium during those times, in addition to being among the throngs of tourists.  If you can be flexible in your travel dates, you will have the benefit of potentially reduced costs (often there are discounts available during low-season), and you will not have to contend with the crowds. Fewer crowds typically mean less stress & increased ability to get more done. In my opinion, if you’re going to pay to get someplace, seeing & doing what you want without the interference of crowds will significantly add value to your experience.

Remember, cost does not equal value & if you’re looking for ways to add value without added cost, you will find them. I firmly believe that being mindful of your budget, in addition to what amenities & experiences are important to you, will help you find a balance between the two so you can have the best experience possible. If you need help, we are always here to do just that. You can request a quote from Woodbrey Family travel by visiting our website: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

Don’t Pet Rattlesnakes!

Growing up in the Western United States, rattlesnakes are a reality. If you spend any time in the outdoors, eventually you’ll run into one. I remember my parents telling me about a trip we took out to the desert once when I was very young. We were riding our bikes along a dirt road & came across a rattlesnake that had clearly been run over by a car. I’m not entirely sure of my Dad’s motivations, perhaps he just wanted to give us kids a closer look at it, but he pulled over and went to pick up the squished snake by the tail. The snake must not have been dead very long, because when he picked it up, it still had it’s biting reflex and twitched. My dad screamed & flung that snake as far as he could.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and now we can laugh about it, but it could have been so much worse.

I believe it was in my college years when I was first introduced to the concept of “Don’t pet rattlesnakes.” It seems like such a silly thing to say. Why would I ever pet a rattlesnake? The idea of putting myself in a position that I know is dangerous is ridiculous, right? However, much like my dad thinking it was safe to pick up a dead rattlesnake, we sometimes fool ourselves into a false sense of security & do really dumb things.  This seems to be especially true when people are on vacation. 

I recently wrote a blog post on “How to NOT be an Obnoxious Tourist,” where I outlined some of the more common obnoxious things tourists do, most of which can turn pretty dangerous if you’re not paying attention.  However, today I want to focus specifically on consciously thinking about your safety. There are several things you can do in advance & while on your trip to make sure your adventures are as safe as possible.

Great Basin Rattlesnake

Consciously Think About Risks vs. Rewards

As humans, we spend every day making decisions based on the risk verses reward. It could be as simple as putting on your seatbelt when you get into the car. I want the reward of increased chance of survival in the case of an accident, so I minimize the risk by putting on my seat belt. It may seem mundane at this point because it’s a habit, but it is a conscious choice every time I do it.  Unfortunately, when we travel, our normal everyday decisions change because our environment changes, and our thinking has to change with it. 

As you make plans for vacation, or are in the moment & need to make a decision, it is worth taking a minute to stop and weigh the risks & rewards.  I could sign up for horseback riding, but this company doesn’t have helmets for their guests.  Is the reward for going riding worth the risk that I could be bucked off and injured? Maybe.  I could take the dark alleyway as a shortcut back to the hotel, but is the time saved worth not being able to see my surroundings? Maybe. Only you can decide if the reward is worth the risk.  No one can tell you what to do in every situation, but I will suggest that if you’re not making conscious choices, you’re almost always making questionable choices.  Know what you’re doing & why & recognize the risks involved. If you do, the chance of getting bit by those metaphorical rattlesnakes significantly goes down. 

Don’t Travel (or Wander Off) Alone

I get it. Some people just want to see the world on their own terms. There are more people now than ever traveling alone. In fact, there’s a whole culture around it touting how fantastic it is.  In my personal opinion, it is a pretty risky endeavor.  Just yesterday, there were two stories in our local news where people went hiking alone & one fell off a cliff & died & the other survived, but had to spend a night alone on a mountain. Think about that: two in one day with a 50% mortality rate. I don’t like those odds.  Earlier this summer, a woman went hiking alone & was randomly attacked by a man in the woods.  She only survived because two other hikers came upon her being attacked.  I believe that there is safety in numbers. You’ve heard the saying, “two heads are better than one,” but I would also add that two intuitions are better than one as well.  When you’re traveling in an unfamiliar place, you need your head & sometimes that gut feeling to help keep you safe.  If two (or more) of you are actively observing your surroundings, you’re much more likely to make sound choices & recognize danger. If something does go wrong, then there is another person there to get help if need be. That takes response time in an emergency from hours or days, to mere minutes.

If you do choose to travel or simply wander off alone, don’t do dumb things.  Don’t wander down that dark alley alone, don’t take the trail you’re unfamiliar with, don’t go home with that stranger you met at the bar, don’t forget to charge your phone before you leave, etc.  When no one is there watching your back, it is your responsibility to make sure that you don’t pet the rattlesnakes disguised as “harmless” adventure. 

Grand Teton National Park – July 2020

Tell Someone Where You Will Be & When

As a general rule, whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, it is good to make sure someone not traveling with you knows where you will be and when. I would recommend leaving your hotel name, address & phone number with that individual as well as the dates you’ll be there.  If you’re going to be traveling between locations, let them know the dates you’re supposed to be in each area. Ask them to check on you if they haven’t heard from you in a few days. It’s always good to have someone consciously thinking about you when you’re not at home.  You never know when that person could save your life.

For example, my brother is an avid mountain climber. He left early one morning with some friends to climb a peak. These were the days prior to cell phones, so my mom ALWAYS made us leave her note telling her where we were & who we were with, which he did.  Later that night when he hadn’t returned, my mom started calling the parents of those he was supposed to be with and they hadn’t seen them either.  She called the authorities & because she knew where he was supposed to be, they were able to start looking at the right place & found him soon after.  Turns out, he got separated from half of his group & the guy he was left with ended up leaving him on the mountain by himself.  He had done everything right, but things still went wrong.  If my mom hadn’t known where he was & with whom, he could have easily died from exposure that night. Point being, it’s always good to have someone NOT in your group also looking out for you. You just never know what is going to happen.

Seriously Consider Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but you’re grateful to have when you do need it.  We work with a lot of travelers & we’ve noticed there are two kinds of people: those who HAVE to have travel insurance for every trip no matter what, and those who try to AVOID taking travel insurance. As with most things, we’ve found that there are good compromises that lie somewhere in the middle.  For example, our personal medical insurance will cover things domestically, so we’re not as concerned about having travel insurance, but we ALWAYS get travel insurance when we travel internationally. We know of too many people who have had major medical emergencies overseas who have had to be medevac’d out, or have ended up needing emergency surgery, etc. My mom’s doctor was riding a bike through the tulip fields of Holland & had a heart attack & died. Anything can happen. A good rule of thumb is, if your personal medical insurance won’t be accepted where you are traveling, you should definitely invest in travel insurance.

Most people don’t realize that there are many types of travel insurance as well.  Typical plans will usually cover things like lost bags, delayed flights & medical emergencies.  But you can also buy customized plans for what you think you will need including things like overseas funeral expenses. My impression is that most people who don’t buy travel insurance just don’t want to think about what could go wrong, but by choosing not to think about it, they are unwittingly petting rattlesnakes that could very easily come back to bite them in a big way.

Eagle and flag on top of the former US Embassy building in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London.

Know Where Your Nearest Embassy/Consulate Is & Register with Them

For one more added layer of protection when you’re traveling abroad, I highly recommend taking the address & phone number for your nearest embassy/consulate in the location you’re traveling to. You never know when you’re going to need help & having that phone number & address handy could save you a lot of stress. Some countries also have traveler registration programs & we highly recommend taking advantage of them. In the U.S., it is called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free program allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you’re in.  They can provide you with assistance in emergency situations & if your family back in the states is having a hard time reaching you with urgent news, they can use the information you provide to them to try & reach you.  It’s another one of those things you hope you never have to use, but you’ll be glad for it when you do need it.

I hope these suggestions have given you something to think about.  My intention is not to scare anyone, but instead, to help people become more aware of the choices they’re making. We can’t control everything, but we can control how we prepare & react to the situations placed before us. Doing a few simple things like taking a buddy, telling someone where you are, and stopping to think before you do something dumb can literally save your life. Remember, don’t pet rattlesnakes!

Eating Your Way Through Vacation

Eating is one of my favorite things in general, but eating on vacation tends to be some of the highlights of the trip. There’s just something great about trying new things & diving into a culture using their food as the catalyst.  As previously outlined in the blog, “Planning Never Hurt Anyone,” I believe that a little planning ahead of time can produce big dividends while on your trip.  The same remains true for how you eat while on vacation.  I’m talking less about what & where you end up eating and more about how you end up eating.  Before you travel, there are a few things I would recommend you think about to make the most of your money & time in this regard.

Case of Pastries – Paris, France

What is Your Food Budget?

Often people plan for months, sometimes years, to go on vacation.  They’ve decided their accommodations, they’ve purchased their airfare and they have budgeted for the activities they will be experiencing.  However, it seems like budgeting for food is often overlooked. They just figure they will figure it out when they get there.  While I agree that you don’t necessarily have to have every restaurant picked out before you go, knowing how much you can and are willing to spend each day will help you make sure you don’t overspend on dining.

Let me show you what I mean. It’s common knowledge that Europe is expensive, especially in high-tourism areas. Let’s say that you decide to sit down at an average restaurant for every meal. Nothing too fancy, but you do choose a sit-down restaurant, plus a few snacks along the way to keep you going between destinations. Per person, for breakfast you pay €15, plus later you grab a mid-morning coffee for €7. You stop and sit-down for lunch which costs you €20 followed by a mid-afternoon gelato for €5, and end the day you have dinner which costs €30 & then you stop at the pastry shop for dessert on the way back to the hotel and spend €8 there.  By the end of the day, you’ve spent €85 PER PERSON. If you ate similarly for a week, and there were two of you traveling together, you’re looking at €1,190 just in food costs.  At today’s Euro/American Dollar conversion, that’s $1,412.47.

Most people can’t afford to drop that kind of money without planning for it first, so make a budget! As you’re planning your trip, your travel agent can help you research how much you can expect to pay each day for food depending on your destination. That way, you can make sure food costs are accounted for in advance & you don’t end up in debt over something as basic as food.

Save Money (and Time) by Choosing Accommodations that Include Breakfast

One of the easiest ways to cut food costs & save time while on vacation, is to ask your travel agent to find you accommodations that include breakfast.  Many hotels offer at least a continental breakfast spread that can get you going for the day without spending the time or money at a sit-down restaurant. Keep in mind that while hotels that do this are quite common in the States, it is less common in Europe and other destinations. The reality is many hotels now charge you extra for their breakfast, but often if you purchase that option in advance when you book the room, they will charge you less than if you pay at the hotel. Regardless, it tends to be more reasonable than going out to eat for breakfast. Tell your travel agent how much you’d be willing to pay (if anything) for breakfast & they can likely find you some good options and walk you through everything so you know in advance what to expect.  

In addition to saving you money by avoiding going out for breakfast, eating at the hotel means you can get a faster start to your day. Whether you’re going to the parks at Walt Disney World, or visiting the Louvre in Paris, our biggest piece of advice is to arrive early. Major attractions attract major lines & if you’d rather spend your day exploring the amazing sights instead of standing in line, getting a quick start to your day by having breakfast at the hotel can be the key.

Street Vendor Making Crepes – Paris, France

Street Vendors are Awesome

Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten on vacation have come from street vendors.  They are no-frills options that are fast and give you awesome food without the big price-tag or the need to spend valuable time at a sit-down restaurant.  Now, I can hear the voice of my mom in my head asking, “But are they clean?” Most cities require that their street vendors are licensed & they have to meet the same cleanliness standards as restaurants do.  For example, in New York City, all restaurants are given a letter grade based on their cleanliness & they are required by law to post that grade in their front window.  As of early 2019, they started giving their street vendors those same grades.  If you’re feeling nervous, look for posted licenses & make your own observations. Only pick those vendors who make you comfortable.  In my experience, I’ve only had positive experiences with street vendors. Worst case, I’ve eaten cheap food that was only okay.  Best case, I’ve had some of the most delectable local treats you could get.  In my opinion, they are a great option that will help you stick to your budget & give you the chance to try some of the local fare all while saving you time.

Vegetable Gnocchi – Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, WDW Resort, Florida

Remember, Hangry is a REAL Thing

We’ve all been there. It’s been too long between meals, your blood sugar is dropping, you’ve walked at least 10 miles that day, and you start picking at the people around you. My family is notorious for this – ask any of my in-laws. I’m not proud to say that I’ve let my “hangry” tendencies get the better of me more than once on vacation.  I’m also confident it’s a bigger problem than most people realize (or are willing to admit). Realizing that it is a real thing can help you recognize it for what it is & help you avoid turning your vacation into an unpleasant experience for everyone. While I am personally all about saving time by eating at the hotel in the morning, or purchasing food from street vendors, I DO NOT believe that meals should be sacrificed for the sake of getting to the next thing.  When you’re thrust into a different time zone, culture & daily routine, your body needs that consistent fuel more than ever.  And as much as I’d like to say that gelato & macarons count as “real food,” they don’t. Sugar in its many delectable varieties is not a meal substitute.  If you find yourself starting to get irritated, take stock of what you have eaten that day & then go get some real food. Trust me.  Your vacation will be much more enjoyable if everyone stays fed.

Dinner at Palo – Disney Fantasy

Ask About Meal Plans

Depending on where you are traveling, there may be options to have your meals included.  For example, cruising is a great way to see several locations in a short amount of time & all meals are included on the ship (with a few exceptions where surcharges apply to certain restaurants). At the Walt Disney World Resort, if you stay on property, they offer a variety of meal plans to fit every budget that typically save 15-20% (Temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Don’t worry, it’ll be back.). There are also many all-inclusive resorts all over the world, particularly in tropical locations where meals are included.  These are all viable options to have your food included in the overall price of your vacation.  Ask your travel agent what options may be available to you based on where you are traveling.

We hope you can see how once again, a little planning can go a long way in regards to eating your way through vacation.  It’s honestly one of the most enjoyable aspects of experiencing a culture & we hope these reminders will help you make your next vacation even better!

As always, we’d be happy to help you plan your next vacation.  Visit our website & click on the “Get a Quote” feature to get started!

How to NOT Be an Obnoxious Tourist

You’ve seen the headlines: “Woman Gets Gored by Bison,” “Man Falls Off Edge of Grand Canyon While Taking Selfie,” “Tourist Arrested for Defacing Local Treasure.” It seems that fairly consistently, there is some tourist or another doing something totally dumb. You may think you would never do something so bold as what you find in the headlines, but the little irresponsible things tourists do can also add up. I get it. You’ve paid a lot of money to get where you’re going and you’re just so excited! However, too often it seems that tourists leave their brains at home and it is giving us all a bad name.  After all, you’re a guest wherever you go. You heard me. You are a GUEST wherever you go. It truly is a privilege, not a right, to visit the amazing places around the world and it’s time we start acting that way. So, let’s talk about some common problems and solutions (that are really just a reminder to use your common sense) that are important for ALL tourists to be aware of.

Mama Moose with Twins – Grand Teton National Park 2020

The Problem: Petting or feeding the wildlife.

Don’t do it. Ever.  No really. It’s never okay to pet or feed the wildlife no matter where you are. Unfortunately, when you’ve left your brain home, the part of you that says, “But they’re fluffy and cute,” tends to win out. “Just one Cheeto won’t hurt this chipmunk.” “This bison seems nice.” “I’ve seen them do this on Shark Week.” Trust me, I know. No one likes a cute animal more than me. But they are wild and if they have a way to hurt you, they will use it and there’s no telling when.  Besides the obvious biting/goring issues, are you aware that many animals often carry diseases? For example, out here in the Western United States, rodents like Prairie Dogs or ground squirrels carry Bubonic Plague. You read that right. Bubonic Plague. You want to leave that nonsense alone. By feeding or petting them, you are putting them and yourself in danger. Giving them food habituates animals to humans. It messes with their natural diet and makes them dependent on humans so they can’t survive on their own. And petting them! That’s a sure-fire way to get trampled, gored or bitten. If I see one more headline about someone petting a bison and getting gored, so help me! I’m going to say it. If you pet an animal, or get too close and you get hurt, it’s 100% your fault.

Even when you’re being responsible in your wildlife viewing, there is always a risk and that risk should be respected.  For example, we were recently traveling in the Grand Teton National Park and wildlife viewing is one of the highlights there. We had come across a mama moose and her twin babies. The cutest! We and a group of people were watching from a safe and appropriate distance, when Mama Moose started getting agitated and moving towards us. If you’ve never encountered an angry moose, count yourself lucky. They are huge and mean when they want to be. Anyway, we were moving away as she got closer when all of a sudden, she started charging and ran right through where we had all been standing just moments before. Fortunately, most everyone was able to move out of the way because we noticed her agitation beforehand and were trying to keep our distance. However, there was one woman taking video that wasn’t as quick as she should have been to stay out of the way and she nearly got trampled. If she had, likely that Mama Moose would have had to be put down and those cute twin babies would have been orphaned and likely killed too. A lot of people don’t realize their actions often lead to an animal being euthanized because it’s no longer safe to have it around humans. It’s tragic for everyone involved, especially the animals.

The Solution: Leave wildlife alone.

Keep your distance and be aware of their behavior so you can get out of their way. Respect them for the incredible creatures they are and remember you are a GUEST in their natural habitat. You yield to them. You don’t pet them. You don’t feed them.  Like the Mama Moose we were watching, their behavior can change fast, and you are responsible to make sure there is enough distance between you and the animal to make sure you can get out of its way and everyone stays safe.

The Wedge Overlook – Little Grand Canyon, San Rafael Swell, UT 2020


The Problem: Tourists are Oblivious to their Surroundings.

Selfies are killing people. Okay, that may be a bit dramatic, but it’s also true in some instances and the point is, getting a picture is not worth risking your safety or ruining the experience of the people around you. You know what I mean. You’ve traveled somewhere great and have got the perfect shot lined up, only to have some oblivious tourist step into your shot to get a picture of their own. If this has never happened to you, you are likely the oblivious tourist ruining other people’s photos. Not only is it discourteous, it can also be dangerous. Often, amazing places we love to go have an inherent danger to them (i.e. the Grand Canyon is a collection of cliffs, the waterfall is slippery, the cobblestones are uneven, etc.). When you’re not aware of your surroundings, you can quite quickly become a headline yourself. Just because it’s a tourist attraction, doesn’t mean it’s been made completely safe, nor should it be. Often the beauty is in the natural rawness of a location.

The Solution: Slow down & be aware.

Be courteous and look around. Are you about to block someone’s shot? Can you wait ten seconds so you both can get a great picture? Are you standing on the edge of a cliff and need to take a few steps away before turning your back on it to take a selfie? In my opinion, there is almost always enough time and space for everyone to get those social media-worthy photos. Slow down.  Enjoy where you are.  See it through your own eyes instead of just through your camera. If you just take a minute to think, observe and be courteous, we can all do it safely and without making the other guests around us mad.

St. Peter’s Square – Rome, Italy 2017

The Problem: Not appreciating/degrading the local culture.

Have I mentioned yet that no matter where you travel, you are a GUEST there? So why would you think it’s okay to make demands in someone else’s “house” as it were? One of the best parts of traveling is learning about and experiencing different cultures. One of the most unfortunate things I’ve witnessed in my travels is someone getting angry at a local because they aren’t speaking the tourist’s language, or they in some way aren’t conforming to what the tourists thinks they deserve. News flash! You have no right to bully the locals (or anyone – let’s be real) because their culture is different than yours. Nothing gives tourists a worse name than irate, entitled jerks who think they’re better than everyone else. This also goes for recognizing important locations for what they are and not just as a tourist destination. For example, in Italy (and many European countries) they require that shoulders and knees are covered in order to enter their churches and cathedrals. St. Peter’s Basilica may just be a tourist destination to you, but it’s an important place of worship to many and should be respected as such.  It is your responsibility to adhere to their requests in a respectful manner. It is not for you to decide what is appropriate in someone else’s house. What is appropriate is to show respect for different cultures and the places that are important to them.

The Solution: Do your research about the local culture & customs before you travel.

Not only will this be helpful to you, but it’s kind of fun. There are so many interesting people and places to learn about. If you’re going where they speak another language, learn a few words in that language like: Hello, goodbye, please, thank you, where’s the bathroom, etc. You do not need to be fluent, but showing that you respect their language and are trying, often endears a level of goodwill among those you are visiting, and they are much more willing to try to accommodate you. If you need help, download a language app like Google Translate. It can certainly be a great tool in communicating what you need, or finding your way around, while still respecting the local language/culture. Also, research the places you’re going in advance and take note if there are special considerations you should be aware of (i.e. dress requirements, they only accept cash, tipping is offense, etc.). This can save you a lot of embarrassment & frustration in advance. Remember, your lack of personal education on a destination doesn’t give you the right to demand things from the locals. Be a respectful guest!

Ancient Rock Art with Graffiti – San Rafael Swell, Utah 2020

The Problem: Vandalism is vandalism is vandalism.

“But everyone is doing it!” Most people probably wouldn’t spray paint a wall when they’re traveling, but are you aware that scratching your name into the rocks, trees, bridges, benches or walls is just as bad? Even stacking rocks along a trail is vandalism if they aren’t being used as an official trail marker. Vandalism takes many forms and many tourists excuse their behavior because others have done it too. For example, here in the western United States, we are lucky enough to have beautiful Native American artwork from up to thousands of years ago both etched & painted onto rock faces. It’s a wonderful thing to see, but nothing ruins it like the words “S & A 4ever ” scratched into the rock right next to it. Well, but there’s also a “Wanda was here 2006” scratched right next to that, so it must be okay, right? WRONG!  Two wrongs don’t make it right, it just means there are multiple people who left their brains home and who are selfish enough to ruin culturally significant sites for their own pride. It is wrong and as a guest wherever you go, you are responsible to leave things better than you found them.

The Solution: If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.

Seriously. Is that painting in the museum yours? No? Don’t touch it. Is that rock art yours? No? Don’t touch it. Is that sculpture in the park yours? No? Don’t touch it.  Tourist-related vandalism is real and unfortunately, too prevalent. It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but if thousands and thousands of people do the same thing because they’ve seen others do it too, then we all have a big ugly problem. You wouldn’t vandalize the walls of a home you’d been graciously invited to, so don’t do it anywhere you travel either. As a guest, leave it better than you found it.

Remember, it’s your vacation, but it is NOT all about you. Quite the opposite in fact. It is about where and who you’re visiting. It is their chance to show off their corner of the world and it is our privilege to be invited in as a guest. But it is an invitation, not a right. Keep your brain with you, practice common courtesy, and enjoy immersing yourself in this joint experience with those around you & we may just be invited back.

Planning Never Hurt Anyone

There are two kinds of travelers in the world: Those who plan, and those who don’t. I get it. There is something freeing about heading somewhere and just going for it without a set schedule.  I believe there are times when this type of travel can be wonderful.  However, in general, I believe that making a plan actually gives you more freedom when you arrive at your destination to do what actually matters to you.  Let me explain.

Tower Bridge, London – 2016

A few years ago, my husband & I were heading to London.  We were very excited & I had done a lot of research about what we could do while in town, we had identified what each of us “had’ to do, and felt like we had a pretty solid plan.  I’m personally of the opinion that if you’re going to pay to get somewhere, you should experience it for what it is. And knowing what there is to do, is the first step. Anyway, I was talking with a friend prior to our trip and we realized we were both going to be in London at the same time over the course of a few days.  I asked him about what his plans were, curious to see if he knew about something that I didn’t.  His reply to me was, “We’re just going to go and see what happens.” I was shocked that he would go all that way and not do ANY research on what he might like to see.  I told him as much and even made several suggestions, but he insisted that was how they wanted to do things.

The time came, and we both found ourselves in London.  We met up one evening for a dance concert & we asked if they would like to join us the next day for what we were doing.  He said yes and the next day we had a lovely breakfast together and he tagged along as we went through what we had already planned to do that day.  We were leaving that evening, so after helping him buy an Oyster Card (tube pass so they could get around town), we left them to their own devices.  Fast forward a few weeks and I see this friend again.  Naturally, I asked him how his trip went and he said, “You know, I think you’re right about making a plan.  We got more done with you in that one day than we did the rest of the trip.”  I learned that they had done a few other things, but not very much & they ended up staying in the room a lot of the time.  I thought, “What a tragedy!” We had such a great time in London & it made me sad that he didn’t have the same experience.

Stonehenge – 2016

There are a few points I want to make here.  First, you don’t know what you don’t know.  Traveling to someplace you’ve never been to can be overwhelming.  It is often a new culture with new experiences that can be tricky to navigate if you’ve never experienced it before. Knowing beforehand what your choices are can help you start to make a plan to navigate this new place and experience. Second, if you know what your choices are, you can spend your limited time on vacation doing what you’re actually interested in.  I believe there is something for everyone everywhere, but you have to know what there is so you can find what you like. A little bit of research can go a long way & your travel agent can help you navigate that.

Travel agents by their very definition help “plan” people’s vacations (Obvious, I know). Usually that means helping to acquire hotels, attraction tickets, airfare, etc.  These services are super helpful (see our post on “Why Use a Travel Agent”), but did you know that as agents, we often have a well of knowledge about many destinations that our guests simply aren’t tapping into?

Tower of London – 2016

At Woodbrey Family Travel we pride ourselves on creating personalized itineraries based on where people are going & who is going.  For example, we provide a multi-page document that outlines how to navigate the Disney parks based on your group type (traveling with kids or with only adults will look very different), or how to prepare for & make the most of your cruise, etc.  Our goal is to help you know as much as possible about your destination before you travel.  However, as previously mentioned, we’ve noticed an interesting trend in how people approach being given this information. Either people soak up every word of the information we give them, or they ignore it completely and just go off on their own.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to just “go for it,” but I can tell you that after helping thousands of people with their trips, and traveling all over the world ourselves, those who had a plan almost ALWAYS have a better time than those that don’t.  There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and then wasting time standing around asking each other, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” I would encourage all travelers to use the resources your agent provides & do your research!

In the case of planning a vacation, the people who do their research & start to formulate a plan actually enjoy that process. It’s kind of fun to think about and make plans for vacation. Plus, you have the added (and more important) benefit of knowing how to tailor your time on your vacation.  If you choose to stay in your hotel room the whole time, great. At least you’ll do it because it was a conscious choice and not out of ignorance of what your options are.  There are too many amazing things to see in this world to travel without a plan.  Remember, a little bit of planning never hurt anyone!

To request a quote from Woodbrey Family Travel so we can help you make that plan, visit our website: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php

Help Us, Help You!

Travel agents are pretty fantastic people (if I do say so myself). If you need a refresher on why, check out our blog about “Why Use a Travel Agent.”  That being said, there is one thing we can’t do: read minds.  I ordered that crystal ball, but it must have gotten lost in the mail.  Consequently, in order to help you plan your dream vacation, we need a little bit of help from you first.

Let me illustrate what I mean. It is not uncommon for us to receive emails like this, “Hey! Me and my family want to take a cruise in October. What can you do for us?” That’s it.  That’s all the information we are given, and although we appreciate that you are thinking of using us, it creates a bit of a problem. Namely, we don’t know your budget, details of your family or expectations. For this specific example, there are literally hundreds of cruise options each month that will completely change depending on your personal circumstances. Consequently, we felt it would be useful to our guests to learn more about what they need to think about in advance of reaching out to your travel agent. Trust me.  It will save both you & us a lot of time.

CREATE A BUDGET

The absolute most important thing you can do as you start thinking about a vacation is to establish a budget.  I remember as a kid, my parents worked really hard, but we didn’t always have a lot of excess money for trips.  So, they would look at their budget and say, “Okay, how far can we get with how much money we have?”  Some of our best trips were the simplest, and our family never went into debt for vacation.  You may have a different philosophy as you plan your budgets, but regardless, it is VERY important that you establish what you are willing & able to spend upfront.

As a travel agent, this helps us because we will only present you with options that fit within your budget. There are fantastic places to stay and things to do at EVERY price point.  Our job is to find what works for you & your family & we are happy to do that.

As you create your budget, we recommend considering at least these five basic categories:

  • Lodging (Telling us what you’re willing to pay nightly helps a lot!)
  • Attraction Tickets
  • Transportation (Airfare, Rental Car, Trains, Taxis/Rideshares, etc.)
  • Food
  • Incidentals/Spending Money

Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily have to have all the money in the bank when you book your trip. Depending on how far out you are planning, you may have the option to put a deposit down when you book your trip & then the remainder is due a few weeks before you travel.  A lot of families use this option to pay incrementally and/or save up for that final payment while still booking in advance & getting what they want. This may help you spread the financial burden of your trip out over several months, or even a year or more. Regardless, you still need to budget in advance and be prepared for what you can legitimately come up with in the timeframe you have & then share that with your travel agent.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING & WHO IS GOING WITH YOU?

This seems like such a simple thing – but we all know it’s not. Work schedules, health issues, personal budgets, etc. can really make a difference on when you go on vacation & with whom. However, it is in your best interest to try & nail this down as best you can before you request a quote. 

As a travel agent, we want to give you accurate information, but prices vary widely depending on when you go & who you go with.  For example, ticket prices change based on if someone is a child or an adult.  Additionally, a lot of hotels charge extra if there is a third or fourth adult in the room.  Plus, hotels & attraction ticket prices can vary day by day, so even shifting a trip by just a few days can make a difference in the price you pay.  Now to be fair, you may have some flexibility in the dates you’re looking at, and you just want to go when it’s the least expensive. That’s totally fine!  However, if you can narrow it down to a specific few weeks prior to requesting a quote, that would go a long way in helping us get you accurate information.  

IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS & WANTS

We’ve all been there. It’s the age-old question: “Do I need this or do I just want this?” As with most things in life, it is good to identify your needs & wants when you travel & to communicate those to your agent.  For example, perhaps someone in your party uses a wheelchair & NEEDS an accessible hotel room – tell us up front so we can make sure that happens & we are only quoting you rooms that meet your needs.  Or perhaps one of your friends NEEDS to have their own bed, so even though there are only four of you, you need three beds – tell us so we can quote you only for the rooms that meet your needs.  Other needs/wants that you may want to consider may include things like: hotel type, breakfast availability, free parking, distance to attractions, pools, types of views, etc.  Please tell us your expectations up front so we have the chance to meet them.

That being said, we are all familiar with the phrase “Managing expectations.”  That is our job too. As previously mentioned, our mind-reading abilities haven’t come in yet, so if something is important to you, tell us!  We will do our best to find what meets your requirements while still fitting within your budget.  But notice that I previously mentioned that there is a difference between needs & wants.  Please keep in mind that depending on your budget, you may have to determine what is a need verses a want & then be a little flexible in that regard.  For example, an accessible room may be an absolute need, but the only place that has an accessible room doesn’t have the free parking you wanted.  What are you willing to compromise on? Do you have any flexibility in your budget to get what you want? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself in advance & then tell your travel agent up front.  We will do our best to give you everything you need & want, but we also respect your budget enough to recognize sometimes compromises need to be made.  If they are articulated in advance, it makes the process easier for everyone.

USE THE GET A QUOTE FORM

At Woodbrey Family Travel, we have built a “Get a Quote” form that you can access on our website. We highly recommend using this form when making requests. We have designed it so that it asks a lot of the questions we need answered prior to getting you an accurate quote.  Additionally, we’ve left space for you to leave comments & tell us anything extra we need to know, like budgetary constraints or your needs & wants.  We hope you can recognize how thinking about these things in advance & communicating them to your travel agent up front will help everyone involved. We look forward to working with you & appreciate that you would consider how you can help us, help you!

Why Use a Travel Agent?

Eiffel Tower, Paris – 2018

Often when people ask what we do and we say, “We own a travel agency,” it is not uncommon for the next words out of their mouth to be, “Do people still use travel agents?” The answer is, “Yes! Or at least the people who want to save time, money, hassle & have a great experience do.”  The truth is, travel is more accessible, and therefore more complicated, than ever.  Travel agents are your own personalized search engine who can give you the best & most relevant information to make your dream vacation a reality. Still not convinced to allow someone else to shoulder the stress of planning your vacation? Read on!  Here are our top five reasons you should use a travel agent.

Borgund Stave Church, Norway – 2016

There is no substitute for a human with experience.

Imagine traveling to a new place. You’re not familiar with the culture, the food, or how transportation works. Or maybe you’re been to that place, but it’s been a few years and you’re not sure what changes you’ll have to navigate. Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to someone who has “been there & done that?” That is what your travel agent is for!

In order to sell products, agents often have to go through significant training & most often, they also have the personal experience of traveling to those locations to back that training up. For example, at Woodbrey Family Travel, we specialize in planning Disney vacations (though we can and do book ANYTHING). But did you know that five out of six of our agents are either former or current Disney cast members? We have lived near & worked in the parks & you better believe we all make multiple trips each year.  We make it our mission to stay up-to-date on what is happening so we can give you the BEST information possible.

Unlike the internet, travel agents care about the type of experience you have and are invested in your vacation. We WANT you to feel confident in your choices & to reduce the chance of unwanted surprises. We become your ONE point of contact & are happy to take care of any requests or adjustments you need to make.  We will help you work through what you actually want & need while accurately rating hotels & experiences.  We will give you the facts & information that is relevant.  In a world where time is short & stress is high, let a travel agent save you both!

Our Services are FREE!

At this point maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, I can see the value of using an actual human.  But what is that expertise going to cost me?”  When you use Woodbrey Family Travel, the answer is NOTHING.  No really, there’s no catch.  The answer is NOTHING. So how and why?

The answer is simple. Our partners (Disney, Universal, Expedia, all major cruise lines, etc.) take care of us, so we can take care of you. It is a well-established fact within the travel industry that customers have a better experience when they work with a travel agent & they are more likely to return because they have a positive experience.  Our partners believe in this so much, they are willing to cut into their own profits to pay us at no extra cost to you. Because they are willing to do that, we accept that as sufficient payment & do not charge you for our services. If you get all the benefits of working with an actual human & it doesn’t cost you anything, what are you waiting for?

Opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Walt Disney World, FL – 2019

We aren’t just trained, we’re “Authorized” too!

As previously mentioned, in order to sell various products, agents often go through training designed by our partners to help us become familiar with what they offer (plus, we travel A LOT).  Once we complete these trainings, we are then “authorized” to sell the product on behalf of that organization (i.e. Disney, Universal, all major cruise lines, etc.).

However, sometimes an organization has even higher and more elite credentials. For example, the IATA & CLIA programs are industry certifications that have to be earned by an agency & renewed every year.  Woodbrey Family Travel has its CLIA certification & we will continue to stay up-to-date on industry requirements to keep that credential. 

Additionally, Disney also has a higher tier of agencies that only a few earn. Almost any travel agent can sell the product, but only a select few agencies are known as being “Earmarked” with Disney.  Woodbrey Family Travel is one of those agencies and we are proud to be able to say we are officially “Authorized Disney Vacation Planners.”  Why does that matter to you?  If one of the world’s most successful & admired companies designates another company to represent them to their guests, it’s for a reason.  Where Disney doesn’t have the ability to remember you as an individual, we do!  Where they will not provide you with a personalized itinerary to navigate the parks, we will!  We have the time to pay attention to you & we’re good enough at it, Disney has given us their stamp of approval. 

From a monetary standpoint as well, the organizations we are partnered with send us daily updates on their products & promotions so we can get you the best deals out there.  If you book through us & later on a promotion that is relevant to you comes up, we will know about it & can make the necessary changes to your reservation to save you money!  When you book online, it is very rare that you’ll be made aware of new promotions & will be able to change it.  Most of the time, whatever you pay, sticks.  With a travel agent, you can be confident we will do our best to take care of you.

Avoid Costly Scams

Have you received a questionable email or text lately? Maybe a strange pop-up opened when you went to a certain website.  In this day and age, sometimes it seems like there are more scams out there than legitimate enterprises.  Unfortunately, the travel industry is not immune. In an effort to save a few bucks, many travelers will try to find the cheapest options out there.  They will scour the internet looking for any sort of deal, and often, they don’t do adequate research on the companies they are using.  We have seen situations where sometimes the organizations offering tickets or hotels for super cheap will take your money & not deliver the products, or maybe you show up to the hotel & instead of the four-star resort with the spectacular pictures you saw on their site, it’s a two-star motel and now you’re stuck.  Even the legitimate sites that offer “discounts” often don’t give you the full price upfront. 

For example, I had a guest who was buying Disney World tickets for her family.  She said my price (which came directly from Disney) was $500 more than what she could get online with a third-party seller.  I cautioned her to make sure the tickets were the right type (child vs. adult tickets) and that taxes were included.  Turns out, even though she has four “kids,” some of them were over the age of 10, and are thus, considered “adults” when it comes to park tickets. The third-party website was trying to sell her child tickets instead of the necessary adult tickets and sure enough, the taxes were not included.  Can you imagine the hassle she would have experienced if she got to the parks & at the gate they said, “I’m sorry, this is a child ticket and your teenager is obviously not a child?” Because she bought through a third-party “discount” seller, now she’s out the money for the ticket she bought from them, plus the price of a new appropriate adult ticket at the gate. 

There are MANY third-party sellers out there who will buy tickets/hotel rooms in bulk & sell them for “cheaper” than what you can get through the company or their authorized travel agents directly.  BEWARE of these providers.  The best deal you will find will be through the organization you’re visiting directly.  You can feel confident when you use an authorized travel agent that you will get what you pay for with no hidden fees or questionable products.  How much is peace of mind worth?  Remember cost & value are NOT the same thing. I can guarantee the value you receive from a travel agent will be greater than the few dollars you save buying through questionable websites.

Pisa, Italy – 2017

You will be supporting a small business.

In a world where the “little guy” often gets lost in the shuffle, it’s more important than ever to frequent small businesses.  When you use a travel agent, you not only get the vacation of your dreams with less stress, you are also supporting the livelihood of individuals you personally know.  We work hard for no guarantee of your business, we will find the right answers to your questions, and we add value that can’t be quantified. We will appreciate your business in a way a faceless search engine cannot & we would love the opportunity to prove it to you!  Please think small & use a travel agent the next time you’re booking a trip!

Well, there you have it! Our top five reasons to use a travel agent.  We hope you can see the value we provide & will seriously consider using us for your next vacation. To request a quote with Woodbrey Family Travel, visit our website: http://woodbreyfamilytravel.com/getaquote.php. We look forward to working with you!

Adventures By Disney: Early Booking Offer!

Begin planning your 2021 adventure today and take advantage of spectacular savings of up to $750 per person on select Adventures by Disney departures to amazing destinations the world over!

Offer must be booked through August 31, 2020 for travel start dates between February 8, 2021 – March 30, 2022. Availability is limited.

Enjoy the following savings on these Adventures by Disney vacations:

Save $750 per person on these select departure start dates:

  • February 8 – March 11, 2021
  • April 10 – May 29, 2021
  • August 30 – December 11, 2021
  • January 10 – March 9, 2022

Save $500 per person on these select international departure start dates:

  • March 12 – April 7, 2021
  • May 30 – August 29, 2021
  • December 12, 2021 – January 1, 2022
  • March 10 – March 30, 2022

Save $400 per person on these select North America departure start dates:

  • March 12 – April 7, 2021
  • May 30 – August 29, 2021
  • December 12, 2021 – January 1, 2022
  • March 10 – March 30, 2022

Contact us for more information and to book your next Adventure by Disney trip!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Aulani: Summer and Fall Offer: Save Up to 35% on 5-Night Stays

The longer you stay, the more you save when you take advantage of this special offer—valid for stays most nights August 1 through November 22 and November 28 through December 21, 2020, with check-out on December 22, 2020.

  • Save 35% on select rooms for stays of 5 or more consecutive nights
  • Save 30% on select rooms for stays of 4 consecutive nights
  • Save 25% on select rooms for stays of 3 consecutive nights

Book through October 24, 2020.

No matter how long you stay, you’ll enjoy a magical vacation that includes something for everyone: stunning pools, exhilarating water slides, a relaxing lazy river, an idyllic beach—and so much more!

This offer excludes suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas.

Important Details:

  • Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room and the same travel dates. Book from June 16, 2020 through October 24, 2020. Travel must be completed by December 22, 2020.
  • Not valid on suites and 3-Bedroom Grand Villas, or on previously booked rooms.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Excludes applicable fees and taxes.
  • Limit two (2) rooms per reservation and occupancy restrictions apply per room.
  • Additional charges apply if more than two (2) adults per hotel room; not applicable for Suites or Villas.
  • Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers.
  • Subject to restrictions and change without notice.
  • Select activities require additional fees.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Aulani Adventure!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Passholder Room Offer for Summer and Early Fall

Annual Passholders can relax, unwind and rediscover the magic with a room offer at Walt Disney World Resort.

With this offer, Annual Passholders can enjoy great rates on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights July through August, 2020.

Guests can take advantage of this offer and get ready to return to the most magical place on Earth! There’s still so much to explore and enjoy when staying at a Disney Resort hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. Plus, there are new measures in place to promote the health and well-being of Guests and Cast Members.

Book Through
September 30, 2020

Eligibility
Passholder must present a valid Walt Disney World Pass at check-in.

Important Details

  • Advance reservations required.
  • Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.
  • The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.
  • Length of stay requirements may apply.
  • Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts and Studios at Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts.
  • Savings based on the non-discounted price a non-Passholder pays for the same room.
  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
  • A valid annual pass and park reservation are required to enjoy theme parks and special events and are not included in this offer.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Disney Adventure!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Florida Residents: Save Up to 35% on Select Disney Resorts in July & September

With this offer, Florida Residents can enjoy great rates on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights July 9 through September 30, 2020—including savings of up to 35% for September dates.

Guests can take advantage of this offer and get ready to return to the most magical place on Earth! There’s still so much to explore and enjoy when guests stay at a Disney Resort hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. Plus, there are new measures in place to promote the health and well-being of Guests and Cast Members. 

Book through September 30, 2020.

This offer is valid for the Disney Resort hotels listed below. View the chart to explore savings within each Resort Category.

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price a non-Florida resident pays for the same room. Length of stay requirements may apply. See Important Details.

Important Details 

  • Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts and Studios at Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts.
  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.
  • Proof of Florida residency required at check-in.
  • Valid admission and a park reservation are required to enjoy theme parks and special events and are not included in this offer.

Contact us for more information and to book your next Disney Adventure!

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com

Top 15 Tips for Navigating a runDisney Event

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Top 15 Tips for Navigating a runDisney Event

1. Expo – The expo will usually open the day before the first race event at about 10:00 am. It runs for three days except for the marathon weekend where it runs for four days. Make note, the expo closes early on the last day of the expo. The Expo is where you will pick up your race bibs and shirts for the various races. It’s also a great place to buy event merchandise along with other race gear and energy supplements.

  • I would recommend getting to the expo sooner than later so you have the chance to buy any of the exclusive event merchandise. Many of the exclusive merchandise items will sell out within the first few hours of the expo opening up.
  • Be sure to bring a photo ID along with your signed waiver with you when getting your bibs at the Expo. If you forget to bring your ID you will NOT be able to pick up your race bib. Make note that you are not allowed to pick up another runner’s bib! Parents can pick up the bibs of their children, but that is the only exception.   
  • The Expo is free to enter for everyone and you don’t have to use your park ticket to get in.

2. Stay Hydrated– During the 48 hours leading up to your race you should drink four to six ounces of water every hour you’re awake. Avoid dehydration elements such as alcohol, caffeine, salty foods and carbonated drinks.

3. What To Eat– Avoid eating large or heavy meals and eat low or non-fat snacks continually all day long the day before the race. It is recommended that you eat a high carb meal the night before (i.e. a pasta dish).

4. Go To Bed Early – Getting to bed early will allow your body to recover from the day, especially if you spent it in the parks. The early morning will come sooner than you think. Getting back to your resort a few hours before you plan to go to bed will allow you to wind down from the day and get focused on the race. During this time you can read, watch TV, listen to music, talk with friends, sit out by the pool, and lay out your running clothes & gear for the next day. Having everything organized the night before will make the morning go a lot smoother. Trying to get things ready when you’re half a sleep can create stress and increase the chance of forgetting something.

5. Relax While Enjoying the Parks– When you think about doing a day in the parks, relaxation is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. That being the case, while enjoying the parks, make sure to take the time to sit down whenever you can. A great way to do this is to enjoy the variety of shows and entertainment in the parts.  It allows you to get off your feet, but still enjoy the magic of the parks.  You may also want to make a dining reservation. This will give you more time to sit and relax than you would if you just went to a regular counter service meal.   It may also give you a delicious way to carb load the evening before the race.

6. Bring Your Phone to the Race– There are MANY great photo opportunities during the races. There are PhotoPass cast members along the course ready to help you take pictures with several Disney characters & icons. However, having your own camera ensures you have a back up regardless of how the PhotoPass pictures turn out and there are some spots they do not have photographers.

7. Don’t Worry About Your PR (Personal Record)– You paid a little extra for the magic so take the time to ENJOY THE EXTRA MAGIC. How often can you run through the parks and not get in trouble with a cast member? There are so many fun experiences along the course you will want to enjoy but if you’re focused on getting a PR you might run right past all the extra fun things along the course.

8. Sports Gear– Wearing the right gear will either make or break your running experience.

  • Shoes:Be sure to wear shoes that have been broken in but are not too worn out. Wearing brand new shoes will cause extra pain and discomfort on your feet. You are also more likely to get blisters or cuts on your feet with new shoes.If you buy shoes at the Expo, I would not recommend wearing them for the races.
  • Compression Socks:Another thing I have come to really enjoy is wearing full-length compression socks. Wearing compression socks helps with blood flow and helps prevent muscle cramping. There are a lot of different compression socks out there, so be sure to get the correct kind.  I bought mine a local sporting goods store, and they are specifically designed for running.
  • KT Tape:KT Tap is an elastic sports tape that is designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons and ligaments. I’ve used KT tape several times and it does make the difference for me in helping me get through my races. There are very specific ways to apply the tape and each area is applied slightly different from each other so be sure to watch the help demos online to make sure you put it on correctly.

9. Arrive Early– There are two main reasons runners arrive early to the various races: to see the Disney Characters and to be one of the first runners in the corral.

  • Disney Characters: Typically before each of the main races, runDisney will have six different characters for runners to meet. They also have the same six characters at the end of the races to meet with your finisher medals. If you want to see the characters before the races, you will want to show up as early as you can as the lines get quite long. I would recommend catching the first bus from your resort to head over to the starting line at Epcot. The buses will start leaving the resorts at 3:00 am. If you are driving to the starting line, I would recommend leaving about ten minutes before the buses leave. Doing this will allow you to beat the hundreds of runners to the characters and you might even be able to see all six characters without much waiting.
  • Corrals: The race corrals usually open for runners to enter about an hour before the races begin. Many runners will gather about an hour and half to two hours before race begins just outside of the corrals so they can be the first ones in their assigned corral.
    • Being one of the first ones in the corral, allows you start the race off at a quicker pace. Most corrals will have over a thousand runners in them, so if you’re in the middle or the back of the corral you will start off the race walking verses running and you could be walking for a good mile or two.
    • Those who are placed in the last corrals have a much harder time seeing the Disney characters along the course because the lines are fairly long by the time they get to characters. My recommendation for those in the later corrals would be to arrive early so you are one of the first in their corral and to try to see the characters before or after the races.
    • Those in the last corral are more likely to be picked up for not keeping the 16-minute per mile. runDisney will not start the 16-minute mile requirement until the last corral goes. Meaning those in the earlier corrals will have a few more minutes to complete the race. runDisney has assigned two female runners with balloons (AKA “Balloon Ladies”) to help runners know when the cut off time is. If you’re passed by the “Balloon Ladies” you are in jeopardy of getting picked up, so be sure to run faster than they are.
    • If you’re picked up for one reason or another, you will still get the race medal for that race. If you are doing the challenge, you will not get the challenge medal.

10. Bathroom Time– I would recommend going to the bathroom before getting into your corral.The corrals fill up fairly quickly and trying to get your spot back after leaving the corral can be quite difficult. Once the race has begun, I would also recommend not stopping at the first set of port-a-potties as the lines for these are pretty long and will add extra time to your running pace. If you can, I would recommend using the restrooms in the theme parks as they usually don’t have long lines, are cleaner, nicer and don’t smell all that bad.

11. Run Your Own Race – It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of running a Disney race and being with so many excited runners. Be sure to run your own race at your own pace. Only you know how you have trained and what your body can withstand. Running faster than what you have trained for could cause you to burn out quickly, get hurt and prevent you from finishing the race. And honestly don’t take the race too serious; you’re here for the extra magic of running with Disney.

12. Run–Walk–Run Method– The majority of runners use the run-walk-run method and most will use an app to help them be consistent in their pacing. When using this method early and regularly it will help restore resiliency to the main running muscles and extend their capacity towards the end of the race. It will also help with fatigue and help speed up recovery in the muscles.

  • Allows those with some types of previous injuries to train without furthering an injury.
  • Allows runner to improve their finish time compared to those who continuously run.
  • Speedy recovery from each long run
  • It nearly erases fatigue with each early walk break by keeping your pace and effort level conservative in the early stages.
  • Extends the capacity of the running muscles at the end of the run because you are shifting the workload between the walking and running muscles.

13. Proper Running Form– Jeff Galloway, the official runDisney training consultant, believes with proper running form, you can significantly reduce effort and give extra strength to you at the end of your race. Here are a couple tips he suggests for efficient running techniques.

  • Keep your feet low to the ground without lifting the knees
  • Maintain an upright running posture so that almost no muscle power is needed to keep the body in position.
  • Stay light on your feet verses springing off of the ground and let your feet gently lift off in a reflex action as the body rolls forward.
  • Concentrate on eliminating discomfort in the exercising muscles by adjusting your stride and leg motion to feel comfortable and smooth as you run.

14. After the Race– Your work is not done after you cross the finish line. There are a few extra steps you should take in order to help your body recover and prevent injury.

  • You should continue to stretch your muscles and walk for about another half a mile or more.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, it’s recommended to drink about 4-8oz.
  • Within 30 minutes of finishing you should have a snack that is about 80% carbohydrates and 20% protein.
  • Soak your legs in cool water for about 10-20 minutes within two hours of finishing the race.
  • Be sure to take time to walk a few more times throughout the day for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Foam rolling is a great way to release the lactic acids in your leg muscles.

15. Just Have Fun!– My last piece of advice for you is to just have fun. Truly take it all in and enjoy running through some of most iconic theme parks in the world. Dress up or don’t dress up, stop or don’t stop to take pictures, but just make this race one you will never forget and let the Magic of Disney shine through!

Woodbrey Family Travel is an official runDisney travel provider, so be sure to contact us to book your next runDisney adventure.. 

Woodbrey Family Travel

Creating Dream Vacations
cody@woodbreyfamilytravel.com
http://www.woodbreyfamilytravel.com