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Coping with COVID-19 as a Travel Professional

How are you?  It’s been a week since we’ve hunkered down and began homeschooling in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I guess I’m glad that since we’ve been to so few activities in the last week, it’s good measure for us practicing our social distancing.  ** SEND HELP**

There’s been a lot of changes within the travel industry as it relates to the coronavirus.  It’s been changing by the minute, if not by the hour so I thought to start the discussion on a variety of trending topics. Of course, COVID-19 being the topic of the hour.  COVID-19 is the technical term of the coronavirus which is the big search term that everyone is going after.   No, it’s not the Chinese virus despite what some people might say, it is COVID-19.   

The travel industry is taking a major hit with research indicating $800 BILLION dollars lost and 4.6 million tourism related jobs will be lost by this summer alone.   With everything changing as fast as it is, we don’t really know when this will be the over so it could get worse.   A lot of people are projecting that it will get worse before it gets better, but when it does get better, there is research out there that indicates projections are set for a rapid economic growth once it’s all over.  We don’t know when it’s going to end unfortunately.

What’s crazy is, we still have people traveling out there. You know, we (and we’re not promoting anyone go travel right now), are looking to post a story about a traveler’s experience when they were traveling within the next few weeks.   The fact of the matter is, some people are still traveling, fewer people now than the last two weeks but some people are, and I want to know why?  No … I wish I were with them, but I think that it would be an interesting story to tell.  Obviously, our readers would be interested in it as well.  

Do you know anyone choosing to travel right now?  We would love to hear from you!  Hit us up at brieskitravel.com, even if you’re not traveling right now and you’re practicing social distancing and you’re quarantined in your house and you’re just day dreaming about travel and want to get it all out.  We’d love to hear from you, we’re fan-friendly!  Hit us up!!!  Leave us a review!!  We would greatly appreciate that!!! **Can you tell I miss social interaction now?**

The silver lining in all of this is, are the local communities coming together helping the restaurants and small businesses that are really taking hits which is great to see!  Stepping up and helping their local people out, you’ve gotta love to see that!!  Not every place is in such a good position to be able to help. The good thing with this is that everybody is coming together throughout the industry even outside the industry and helping as much as possible.  

It’s also great to see agents out there on their phones, helping their clients, a lot of suppliers scrambling to figure out what to do.  I’m sure it’s tough to get ahold of people but agents are coming to the limelight here, really stepping up and so are the suppliers. 

Speaking of agents, over 6,000 travel organizations recently united in an urgent plea to Congress basically asking for aid and release.  If you’re a travel agent, make sure you’re getting with your local government to make sure that you benefitted.  Everyone needs help in these trying times right now.  ** THAT MEANS YOU TOO**

Now, let’s touch on what a travel agent can do in these times with all the information/rumors swirling around the virus and what travelers should know when booking with an OTA (on-line travel agency), or wherever you’re booking outside of just agents, you may not be as protected as you might be when booking with an agent. 

The one thing we’ve learned from this whole disastrous outbreak has been the undeniable value of working with travel agents and advisors.  What you’re seeing out there on social media, whether it’s one of the OTA’s, Air BnB or even VRBO, people are going with other than using a trusted advisor – there’s three, 4-hour long wait times sometimes, where people are just getting disconnected at the end of that and that’s their only lifeline.  They must call a 1-800 customer support line, to talk to a random person, who doesn’t know anything about them or their booking or what they have going on and this is where working with an advisor that knows you personally, who can adjust things to your needs.

One of the biggest things to take away from this is that travel agents and advisors are trained to handle crisis management which is exactly what all of this is!  It is their job to be able to change and adjust on the fly, making ensure it’s the best bang for your buck and make sure you don’t lose as much money as you might somewhere else.  Even though there’s a lot of uncertainty out there, booking with (whether you have insurance or not) an advisor is way more beneficial in times like these then it is to just ride it out and be uncertain of what might happen. 

When you book a trip with an OTA like an Expedia, Priceline or a bookit.com (which is one of the sites that shut down recently), a typical experience you might have with them is:

  • you call an 800 number,
  • sit on hold for 2, three, maybe 4 hours, (only to possibly get disconnected which a lot of people have been reporting)
  • start the whole process over or … you can get in touch with somebody that you explain your entire process to all over again to every person you talk to, who have ZERO idea what the circumstances are. 

They might be able to give you a voucher for future travel but what do you do?  Then you go through this same process all over again to try and re-book.  They may say something different than the first person, so it turns into this huge kafuffle!

Working with an advisor can cut you out of all those instances that might happen and when it comes down to anything that people categorizes as mass hysteria it will be vital to have somebody there by your side to give you peace of mind, especially when something so unprecedented happens!

If there’s any consolation to this Corona virus outbreak, it will be that more travelers are going to recognize professional travel advisors are worth their weight in gold – especially during a crisis!  You know a year from now you go on your summer vacation, there’s no global pandemic, you break your ankle (not wishing this on anyone) and you need to get home or something and you book through an online thing, it’s going to be a nightmare … on top of your ankle pain!! Remind me to tell you the story of an older gentleman, visiting Phoenix and riding a BIRD scooter after dinner … UNGOOD!!!  Just know that he had to be medevac’d home as he was 6’6 and unable to fly commercially with his left leg extended. **UNGOOD**

You want a travel advisor who is going to be able to help you get home and you don’t want to have to worry, you can focus on your injury or whatever hypothetical situation.  

Suppliers are also working diligently to make sure their agents have the most up-to-date resources, information and everything that they can give to their clients: Delta vacations is getting real time information out to agents, AIC hotel groups – Hard Rock hotels was one of the first resort brand to proactively release a very flexible re-booking program for worried travelers and many key resort partners around the world actually followed AIC’s action plan which is really great to see.  Apple Leisure Group is doing an amazing job implementing self-help technology through VAX, to agents to update their bookings.

If you have your own story about suppliers helping you, we would love to hear from you.   If you have any personal experiences whether it’s good or bad, let us know.  We would love to feature you on brieskitravel.com or you can reach us via email at: brieskitravel@yahoo.com

While we’re talking about the different resources that suppliers are giving the agents, a lot of suppliers are also connecting agents to webinars and trainings.  If you find your business slowing down – as an agent myself, I know it can be hectic, answering the phones, serving your clients, but if you have free time because your business is at a momentary stand-still, instead of getting wrapped up in the politics surrounding this, find out what you can do to better your business. Become productive towards your business.  There are a lot of different ways you can do this. It isn’t just limited to the few of things discussed here. 

There are webinars coming from suppliers, there’s also virtual events and exposes which can be attended like you would a physical trade show.  Instead of going to a physical trade show which right now is not a possibility, you can attend one online, with all the same functionality, with great resources.  On top of that, when travel comes back and it’s not a question of “if” travel comes back, but “when” travel comes back, you’re going to want to be on top of the game with anything your clients are requesting. 

People are going to have an itch (I have an itch), they’ve been cooped up in their homes, quarantined across the US. “Stay Home” Orders are in effect in multiple states.  They can’t leave their homes!  I guarantee you, people are going to be itching to go somewhere – whether it’s domestically, internationally, they will want to get out and go somewhere. You should be up to date on as much destination information as possible.

Get specialized from numerous suppliers, whether it’s a hotel brand, the destination or tourism board, cruise line, become a certified specialist in those specific areas and you would have the best knowledge to pass on to your clients going forward.  I don’t have to remind you, that a lot of them are incentivized too.  You can win prizes for taking these courses whether its gift cards, stays, points … the point is to further your education and knowledge of those super, popular places that you will pitch to your clients when they are finally released from their houses.

If there’s one area that you’re like, I should know about it because it’s popular, but I’m not a  specialist in it, this is a time to become one! You’ll get a nice certification that you can hang on your wall and what’s better than if you are on a video chat with a client with a wall full of certifications behind you.  Have your social media bio listed with “I’m a specialist in the Atlantis- Bahamas” or something a little bit more mainstream like Destin, FL. I recently got certified with Carnival Cruise Line (and bought more stock)!  I choose FUN!! 😊

I say all of this to say, it is a really good idea to be as productive business-wise as you can. I know agents may be maxed out, helping their clients and that definitely comes first but instead of melting your mind, watching every single update while you’re quarantined at home – being as productive as possible for the betterment of your business is a really good idea for you and the future of your business and that’s what we’re all trying to save here.

There in just one more piece of advice I would like to share before I sign off here.  I’ve been working from home for about 10 years now.  Some of you are very new to this, some of you aren’t, but if you have a home-based business, set a routine, and try to keep it similar in some respects to what you would do when you were going to the office.  Get outside, go for a walk. I know you might fear everything going on right now but if you can go take a walk (make sure you’re social distancing and everything) get some fresh air because it goes a long way to helping make sure you have a productive day. 

You know the one thing that is killing me is being at home … surrounded by food all the time now.  There’s food, snacks and stuff all over the place.  Before they closed the schools there wasn’t, but since our son is home … SNACKS GALORE!!!!  You don’t want to be stress eating right now because these are unprecedented times with everything that’s going on so try to avoid all the snacks which I’m struggling with. I would recommend maybe do like an afternoon workout routine.  You Tube has a lot of different training videos to get your summer body ready.  When I find a good one, I’ll post it.

WOW!!!!  Maybe I need to be quarantined to more often.  We really appreciate everybody subscribing.  If you found any of this information useful, share it.  We’re always open to feedback from you and we’re looking forward to some very interesting conversations.  Tell your friends, leave and share reviews.  If you have any stories that you’ve been dealing with or personally dealt with as it relates to travel in any realm where you’re a traveler, an agent or if you’ve been working well with one supplier let us know.  Our email again is BrieskiTravel@yahoo.com.  We would love to share any stories that we have from you.  

Hit us up because we’re going to be having plenty of guests in our upcoming podcast.  We are booking in advance so if you’d love to be on with us, we want to hear from you!  Hit us up!! Leave reviews!!  Thank you for following…  we love you!!  We love travel!  We know its tough right now, but things will get better! Travel will bounce back!  Thank you for listening and have an awesome rest of your week.

Peace!

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Featured

7 Personal Benefits of Traveling Abroad

“He who does not travel, does not know the value of men.”

Moorish Proverb

“Travel is the ONLY thing you buy that makes you richer!”

– Unknown

Hey! My name is Brie and I’ve been traveling for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate to grow up in a household where both of my parents worked for the airline industry – coming from opposite coasts themselves. Visiting either set of grandparents always seemed like the longest of vacations. Summers in California, Christmas in DC. Back then, the jets were HUGE … or I was really small … either way, there was something grand about sitting in the center seat of a Boeing – 747, being handed a hot, lemon-scented hand towel, after eating peanuts AND cookies. By the time I was 12, I was thumbing through the in-flight magazine ‘sky-shopping’ on my own.

That was a life-time ago. Now, there’s nothing satisfying about sitting in a center seat. That is a for sure sign that you have failed somewhere in your adult life. Airlines have become more proficient in providing you with the bare minimum in services lately -but don’t let that deter you from planning your bucket list trip and end up in #wanderlust.

Traveling, especially traveling abroad has some of the most life-changing benefits. Gone are the days where excuses like ‘I don’t have time’ are plausible. Traveling changes you physically, mentally and emotionally. Below are the top seven ways traveling changes you for the better:

It gets you outside of your bubble and into the real world – Traveling forces you to put down what you are doing (work, kids, school) and take a break. You DESERVE time to yourself (YES without the family) to relax, relate and release, however that looks for you. Do it … often!!! Everyone around you will thank you for it.

It challenges you – Traveling challenges you to solve problems; like on the fly. Passport lost … contact the US Embassy or even better, keep Dropbox scanned copies in your email. It may not get you on the next flight, but it’s better than that emotional brain fart most of us get when highly distressed.

It teaches you gratitude – OMG!!! I can’t tell you how disturbed I was to see how people lived in certain parts of the world. Traveling abroad will allow you to meet people who have much less than you, but willing to give what they have. That my friend, is the blessing of hospitality.

It lowers your stress level – according to one study https://www.verywellmind.com/take-vacations-for-stress-relief-overall-health-3145274 ‘a four day weekend had a positive effect on well-being, recovery, strain and perceived stress for as long as 45-day.’ Use those Federal holidays to your advantage.

It causes you to invest in YOURSELF – Traveling abroad will take you out of your comfort zone and you will have to ask someone for directions or to explain the menu to you (improving social and communication skills). Take advantage of the situation and learn phrases that will be of use regularly. “Donde esta el bano?” usually comes after several of “una mas cerveza por favor.” Google Translator is your friend!

It makes you happy – Whoever said money can’t buy happiness did not know where to find RT tickets for two, for $228 (total) on #SpiritAirline the week before Christmas. I am still doing the happy dance. Those flights were priced at $790 elsewhere. I almost considered driving 14-hours to beat that price. Thank goodness for small favors.

But most importantly, you build memories – Seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza, the last of the ancient Seven Wonders for the first time is awe inspiring. I saw them for the first time at the age of 13, but to be able to share that history, and experience with my 6 year old … will be a memory he shares with his children and grandchildren.

FINAL THOUGHTS – WOW!!!! That was a lot for my first blog!!! I’m pleasantly surprised at how easy this was. I hope you found this article helpful and it encourages you to travel more. As you start to see the world, you will start to realize how differently it is portrayed on the boob tube. Before I sign off, I want to leave you with one final thought …

‘There is no foreign land. It is the traveler only who is foreign’

Robert Louis Stevenson

This is the first post on my new blog, stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified of weekly updates.

**NOTE** On occasion, you may come across an article that contains affiliate links to companies such as bluehost and wordpress . I earn a commission for clicks made on their website, at no charge to you.

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What the Travel Industry Can Do to Fight Racism!

This is the first blog I’ve ever written regarding the subject of race and racism in the travel industry. As a woman of color, I see this as my opportunity to reflect and educate instead of being considered as simply an “angry black woman,” – a stereotype that has long been used to highlight women of color who discuss controversial topics such as racism.

Though the travel industry tends to think of itself as a space of leisure, fun, and escape where atrocities such as racism are left behind for fun in the sun and island breezes. The problem lays in that for people of color, escaping racism is not something they can do by taking a vacation. Racism, like in many other sectors of society, has been built into the travel industry, both knowingly and unknowingly. It’s now the travel industry’s responsibility to do something about it.

I can showcase the pervasiveness of racism in the travel industry through anecdotes of racial attacks on planes and racial biases in hotels or on cruise ships. I can provide accounts of black men and women and people of color who share stories of harassment in various destinations, even those by travel professionals like myself. I get looks all the time when I travel. When I enter a room/resort lobby/airplane/restaurant, I see it on some of the faces. You should see the looks of shock I get when I sit down in first-class seating.

I am providing travelers of color, travel professionals of color, and travel industry leaders of color a space to share their experiences through this article, but it has not been enough to dismantle systems of racism in the travel industry. As we watch the Black Lives Movement work to topple racism in our justice and law enforcement systems through protests, it’s a good time to consider how the travel industry can also do it’s part to fight racism as well.

The travel industry is trying to rebuild after a devastating blow from the COVID-19 pandemic, making NOW the most opportune time to reevaluate how the travel industry has done business in the past, and creatively work toward a future in which it can do better.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but whether you’re a travel professional, tour guide, the owner of a hotel or airline company, the captain of a cruise ship, working in travel PR, or a travel employee in between, please read how you can take part in the travel industry’s fight against racism.

Recognize Racism

The first thing the travel industry must do is recognize racism, and accept that we all have biases and blind spots. I have it, you have it. We all have it. Ask the hard questions and educate yourself on how you can best serve travelers of color? How can you connect with them?

Many travel professionals are uncomfortable with these basic questions, stating, ‘My agency doesn’t base service on a particular ‘color,’ we service everyone.’ Others confess in some manner, that they ‘don’t see color’—a well-meaning response meant to indicate they’re not racist, but inadvertently meaning they don’t recognize that systems of racism exist and that they don’t ‘see’ that the experiences of people of color are different.

The clear discomfort that travel professionals are speaking about race only highlight that people in the travel industry would rather ignore that racism exists in the industry than do something about it. Start by accepting that racism is here; it is in your company and it affects travelers. Don’t ignore it, don’t attack people of color or others who point it out. Sit in those feelings, accept it, and know you’re not alone on this learning journey.

Inform Yourself About Racism in the Travel Industry and Beyond

If we don’t know what racism looks like in the travel industry, how then can we fight it? Racism in the travel industry isn’t always as overt as hotels refusing black travelers a place to stay. Rather, racism has been built into the travel industry through a lack of equal opportunity, travel technology, poorly designed customs and immigration systems, and ignorance about the experiences of people of color.

Inform yourself as to what racism looks like in the travel industry by reading articles and studies related to racism as well as memoirs written by black travelers and travelers of color like Maureen Stone’s “Black Woman Walking” and Amanda Epe’s “Fly Girl“, a memoir written by a black female flight attendant. Consult sites like Travel Noire, a digital media company serving African Diaspora travelers.

Better yet, hire a consultant within the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (D.E.I.) Industry to assist your travel company. They’ll develop courses and sessions about unconscious bias within your company and services. They’re equipped to lead small and large groups on conversations about racism, how to be an ally to people of color, set up systems in place to stop microaggressions that people of color experience within the company, and more.

It Starts From the Top

Dismantling systems of racism and inequality start at the top of a travel company. When travel company owners and CEOs don’t recognize that racism exists, it’s much harder to fight against.

On June 1, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. CEO and chairman Richard Fain sent a message to his employees discussing racism in the travel industry. He pointed out: “Racism is chronic, a condition of the system that has afflicted us for centuries. And like any chronic condition, we can never stop fighting it, or it will overwhelm us.”

Personally, I was glad to see him discuss white privilege and the consequences of racism left unchecked: “At the end of the day, it is still much harder to be a person of color in America than it is to be white. We can go months trying to tell ourselves otherwise; then there is yet another incident like George Floyd’s to remind us of the hard reality.”

Fain noted that Royal Caribbean’s Employee Resource Groups would be leading the way on virtual discussions of racism within the company and that they are “evaluating philanthropic partners who are demonstrating an ability to mobilize for change on this subject.”

As a white male CEO, Fain’s words to his employees creates an environment which promotes conversations of race and racism within the company. This is extremely important: if your company does not discuss racism, the likelihood of the company improving the experiences of black travelers, travelers of color, or black employees and employees of color is minimal.

Diversify Your Travel Company

One of the most effective ways the travel industry can fight racism is to diversify it’s staff and employ people of color at the highest levels of that company.

Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, spoke to this: “As both an African American and a woman – one who came of age in the very heart of the white and male-dominated 1950’s and 60’s – I’ve spent my entire life working and fighting, often against the longest of odds, to gain even the smallest toehold on the American Dream.”

“It is our obligation [as hospitality leaders] to continue to elevate the curious, intelligent, inspiring leaders of the black community and remove the preconceived notion of what that looks like in hospitality.”

She added: “There needs to be a recognition that people of diverse backgrounds bring forth new ideas and experiences and look at life from a different perspective. It is the only way we are going to evolve the industry and make an impact.”

“Change truly starts at the top, and at Salamander Hotels and Resorts, it begins with me.”

More Representation in Sales and Marketing

Look through your marketing materials and travel ads from the past five years: who do you see? Do the people you use in your travel branding look the same? How many people of color are clearly visible? Count them … no, seriously!!

If you want to make your travel company more inclusive of people of color, you must provide visible representation across your sales and marketing plan. Not only does this mean showcasing Muslim families traveling, solo Black travelers, groups of Asian and Latinx friends, and interracial couples on romantic trips, but this also includes hiring writers and editors of color to shape the messages in your ads, social media, branding copy, etc.

Make a Plan to Fight Racism

Travel companies know that the first step to success is a good plan. So, make one to fight racism. It might look like this:

Create an anti-racism committee of diverse employees who will lead the fight against racism within your company and through the services provided to travelers. Have this committee remove racial bias in job descriptions and create policies that allow employees to call out and discuss racial bias and racism in company meetings and policies.

Have them create a mentorship program that helps people of color move up in the ranks of the company. Urge your recruiters and hiring managers to look for diverse candidates, at historically black colleges (HBCUs) and through groups that uplift people of color. Encourage your committee to create opportunities and events for open dialogues and the exchange of new ideas to fight racism.

For small companies or solo entrepreneurs, analyze your travel services. Are they inclusive of diverse groups of people? Does your branding promote unconscious bias? Are you sensitive to the needs to travelers of color or supporting travel companies that fight racism and promote diversity?

Speak Up

If you see racism occur, whether systematically, subtly, or overtly, CALL IT OUT!!!! Bring it to the attention of your managers and human resources department. If you don’t feel like your travel company is doing enough to fight racism, gather coworkers for support and approach management with an idea for a committee against racism.

You have power and you have a voice, even at the lowest levels of a travel company, to fight against racism. It’s up to you who work in the travel industry to fight racism from within so that everyone can enjoy the joys of traveling equally.

To Sum it Up… 

I am constantly amazed at what travel companies will do to add value to the experience for their clients. I’ve seen airport employees hunt down lost toys on planes and bring joy to a child in tears, travel professionals move mountains to get their clients a new hotel when the initial one cancels their reservations unexpectedly, and hotel managers craft elaborate surprises to bring cheer to their guests.

I look forward to seeing that same enthusiasm, creative thinking, 5-Star customer service and teamwork among the travel industry to fight racism.

As your employees, company, destination, or industry works hard to make your service or place safe for travelers again after the pandemic, I’d urge you to take on racism now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not five years in the future. NOW!!!

You can help us fight racism in the travel industry today!!

I want to normalize the conversation of racism in the travel industry and you can assist me by funding upcoming projects and content. Thank you for your support! BrieskiTRAVEL.com

$10.00

WHERE WOULD YOU GO IF I SHOWED YOU HOW TO MAKE AN EXTRA $6,000?

Do You …

  • believe the world as we know it has changed?
  • have a plan for this new world?
  • mind if we explore an option?
pack your bags …

Do You Know Anyone That is …

  • employed but uncertain about their future?
  • working from home?
  • employed but making less than before?
  • unemployed or has lost their income?

Which category are you in?

Are you ready to start living your best life?

What if you could …

  • Replace your income and never have someone else decide if your job is essential?
  • Earn additional income to enjoy a better lifestyle or replace the income you just lost?
  • Work from home and possibly make more than you previously did or do now?
Reduce your travel costs by starting a travel business!

How is this possible?

  • Start a home based business.
  • This is the best time ever to build a business network.
  • Align yourself with a company with a proven track record.
  • Make thousands right now.
  • You can even do it part-time.
work your travel business from home

Things you like to do should be a hobby of yours, but things the world does should be a business of yours!

Warren Buffet

Travel has been the world’s largest industry for DECADES!!!

  • It is essential to the world’s economy.
  • Many countries’ economies are travel and tourism based.

THE DEMAND FOR TRAVEL WILL EXPLODE!

  • Cancelled vacations will be rescheduled.
  • Weekend get-a-ways will be considered therapeutic.
  • Family vacations will be enjoyed.
  • Resorts and cruises will offer lower prices.
  • BILLIONS WILL BE MADE!!
It’s decision time!!! Will you do something different with your life?

So again I ask you …

“WHERE WOULD YOU GO IF I SHOWED YOU HOW TO MAKE AN EXTRA $6,000?”

Healing Nations with Vacations!

20 Best Places to Visit in 2021

Travel List 2021:

GO PLACES THIS YEAR!

clockwise: Maldives; Phuket, Thailand; Rio de Janero; St. Lucia; Aruba

clockwise: the Great Barrier Reef, Tahiti, Costa Rica

clockwise: London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Amsterdam

clockwise: South Island, New Zealand; Banff, Canada; Machu Picchu, Peru; Amalfi Coast, Italy

clockwise: Dubai, Egypt, Mecca, Sydney, Hajj being performed in Mecca.

TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS

As a mom-preneur, who has been traveling with a kid near and far for years now, I have some experience traveling with kids and tips to make it a little less stressful for parents.

Whether your little ones are anxious or pretty chill, when it comes to traveling, they will be on high alert and their energy is going to increase.  If you are prepped and ready, getting there can be half the fun — by plane, train or automobile!

Plan out points of interest ahead of time

1. Plan ahead

You must determine what works best for your child based on their age and temperament, then plan your flight times accordingly. For example, if your kid sleeps well in the car, use a car seat on the plane with you. Plan a direct flight that starts around nap time (we fly out as early as possible).

If you have older children who are less likely to nap, maybe multi-leg trips will allow for movement between flights. It will take a little longer to get there but sometimes you get off the plane at just the right time before you or your kid flips out.  Pack some of their favorite gadgets, movies, music or books to help keep them occupied. Of course, you’ll be at the mercy of the airlines, but you’ll still need to do your part.

Is your passport current; 6 months past your itinerary?

2. Check your passports

If you are traveling with kids internationally, you’ll want to check that their passports are still within the expiration date and valid 6 months after the period of travel. Children’s passports only last five years and they have a habit of running out when you least expect them to. Allow at least six weeks to renew one.

Using an expedited service to get a rushed passport can be costly and although they claim to be able to get you a passport in 24 hours or less, they aren’t always able to come through.

You can get an expedited passport on your own in many major cities at a regional passport agency. Trust me when I tell you!  My passport had expired while planning a trip to Anguilla. Fortunately, I worked two blocks from the Washington Passport Agency in DC. I was able to make an appointment and had a new passport within a week.  Keep a reminder in your calendar 6-8 months before your passports are due to expire.

Don’t let packing overwhelm you

3. Pack light

You will want to put some thought into what you bring. Think through each step of your trip to prepare yourself. Write it down or lay everything out if that helps.  Consider the length of your trip, start with a small bag, use packing cubes and only bring the essentials.  We can travel with just our carry-ons.  It makes traveling a breeze, not to mention, cost effective and we’ve never lost a bag.

4. Be Ready, so You Don’t Have to Get Ready

There are a few things you will definitely want to bring with you. Start off with a travel size of antiseptic and/or baby wipes. In the day of COVID-19, you will want to wipe down your seats, arm rests, seat back tray and tv.  Make sure the kids wipe their hands off well once settled.

Still potty-training?  You’ll want to pack a few pull-up diapers in your personal bag. My dad always said: “Be Ready, So You Don’t Have to Get Ready!”  You can use them as travel pants for your little one after explaining that they are still expected to go on a toilet, but these are just in case. Funny how they’ll have to go right when the fasten seat belt sign gets turned on.  They can also be used to clean up spills or vomit.

Speaking of which, if you are traveling with young children, ALWAYS bring an extra pair of clothing for everyone. A flight covered in vomit or wet pants full of a messed diaper is no fun for anyone. Have a change of clothes available so you can change as soon as possible.

You’ll want to keep allergy medication and/or an EpiPen on hand in case your location doesn’t have children’s medicine, or you need it when the store is closed.  It may be a good idea to keep your medication in your personal bag as well.

Once everyone is settled, you’ll want to break out the snacks. It will lessen their anxiety and in turn reduce yours. Bring more than you think they’ll eat on the plane, after all there’s always the plane ride back and times in between meals during your trip that having a snack on hand is helpful.

Like … PLENTY of time!!!!

5. Give yourself extra time

Have you ever noticed EVERYTHING takes longer with a kid?

O H … M Y … G O O D N E S S!!!!!!

I don’t think I need to say anymore. Just listen to what I tell you, there are lines, there is security, there are bathroom breaks, there are snack breaks, they will be more bathroom breaks … there are a million and one questions being asked. Factor all of that in!!

6. Now let’s talk safety

Car seats are cumbersome, I won’t lie to you there, but they are recommended by safety experts. While airlines’ lap policy for children under age 2 does save you money, infants and toddlers should have their own airline seat with their car seat installed.

If the child is still in an infant car seat carrier, you can bring just the carrier and install it on the plane and in the car at your destination without the base. We recommend bringing along a blanket to roll up and put at the foot of the base to help keep it at the proper angle.

For toddlers who are in convertible car seats, leave the heavy, bulky, expensive one at home.  Look at getting a lightweight, inexpensive, child restraint for travel. Since all car seats have to meet the same crash test standards, your travel car seat will have passed the same safety standards yet be easier to carry.

7. And then there was … Pre-Check ™

Navigating airport security can be tough as is! But TSA Pre-Check ™ does make it easier now that we don’t have to take off our shoes. We line up one parent at the front and one taking up the rear. We are all ready to fill tubs, walk and guide the kid through. On the other side we do it backwards. Grab our belongings out of the tubs and herd the kid out of the way.

Make memories all over the world!

8. Make memories

While some parents will say, not to sit and wait for the airplane, I disagree. This is a great time to check in with your kid and see how they’re managing.  Take pictures, we are making memories here.  Make this a fun, learning moment. TEACH THEM TRAVEL ETIQUETTE EARLY!! Your kids are going to be stuck in an airplane seat for a while. Let them get the wiggles out before getting on the plane by walking or finding a place for them to play. Some airports even have play rooms now.

9. Now where did they go

I’m not a fan of leashes for children but let’s be realistic, sometimes they get away from us. Anyone remember Home Alone 2?  An ID Bracelet that connects to information like how to contact a parent can be a life saver. Let’s hope you never need it but just in case, teach your child your cell phone number and how to find an employee, an officer or another mom (those are easy to spot) and ask for help.

10. Stay calm

Perhaps the best advice though is stay calm. Kids are resilient but they can pick up on your vibe. Everyone expects kids to be busy, but it is a pat on the back when a parent or flight attendant compliments our son’s behavior. If you are stressed, your children will likely be also. If you’re relaxed, they will likely be stress-free too.

Writing, this piece, I was going to separate it into different means of traveling, but you know … this would apply to a road trip (bring the car seat) just as easily. Maybe next time I will share our 14-hour MO-DC road trip with you. That’s been our longest trip to date. UGH … we will not being doing that again anytime soon.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS? SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW.

If you have any personal experiences whether it’s good or bad, let us know.  We would love to feature you on brieskitravel.com or you can reach us via email at: brieskitravel@yahoo.com.

Hit us up because we’re going to have plenty of guests on our next episode at: BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast. We are booking in advance so if you’d love to be on with us, we want to hear from you!  Hit us up!! Leave reviews!! By all means we appreciate your SUPPORT Thank you for following …  we love you!!  We love travel!  We know its tough right now, but things will get better! Travel will bounce back!  Thank you for listening and have an awesome rest of your week.

BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast

How to Get a Refund from a 3rd-Party OTA

As COVID-19 has spread and countries have imposed travel restrictions and border closures, millions of travelers have seen their plans come to a halt. It’s hard enough getting a hotel or flight cancellation refund if you booked directly, but it can be even more difficult to get cash back if you made your reservation through a third-party site, including online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia or Priceline.

First, the good news: If the airline, hotel chain, tour, or cruise line you were booked to travel with has issued change or cancellation waivers and is offering refunds, you’re already in luck. The bad news? It could take a while to get your money back—but it’s important to be patient and persistent and know what you’re entitled to. Here’s how to do it.

Check with your online travel agency

If you booked reservations through a third-party site, the first thing you need to do is check their homepage for travel warnings or advisories. At this point, the major OTA’s have all posted their coronavirus policies and those of their travel partners that you can use as a guideline for their specific refund process. To get you started, here are a few links to the major online travel agencies’ dedicated coronavirus pages.

  1. Booking.com coronavirus FAQs
  2. Expedia coronavirus travel advice
  3. Hotels.com cancellation policy
  4. Hotwire coronavirus travel updates
  5. Kayak coronavirus resources
  6. Orbitz coronavirus travel advice
  7. Priceline coronavirus FAQs
  8. Travelocity coronavirus travel advice

Third-party bookings are subject to the change or cancellation rules that have been put in place by their travel partners, including airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and car rental agencies. That means OTAs must wait for responses from their partners in order to process refunds, which has created an enormous customer-service bottleneck.

Because of that, most OTAs are asking customers to refrain from contacting them unless their original travel plans take place within the next three to seven days in order to limit the number of calls coming in. Many have also posted online cancellation and refund request forms that you can fill out both for near- and long-term travel plans, though you might also receive a proactive email asking if you would like to make such a request in the days leading up to your trip.

For the moment, these sites are focusing on bookings made prior to March 19 for travel through April 30, 2020. If your plans are further out, you may need to sit tight for a bit. Doing so is also a good idea because it could affect whether you are entitled to a refund, based on changing policies.

Check your partner airline, hotel, cruise, or car rental page

Before you consider submitting a cancellation request to your OTA, it is imperative that you also confirm if your travel arrangements fall within the refund time frames of the airline, hotel, cruise, car rental, or other company that you used the OTA to book.

In general, if the travel partner is the one to cancel your itinerary, like a flight or cruise sailing, you should be eligible for a refund. Some hotels and airlines are even offering to streamline the process and issue a hotel and flight cancellation refund directly rather than making customers go back through OTAs, so you might even consider calling the travel partner to see if you can request your money back.

Keep in mind though, if you are the one initiating a change or cancellation, you may be subject to penalty fees, or only eligible to receive credit toward future travel purchases. So if your plans are still several months out and scheduled as normal, it may be smart to wait and see if the travel partner ends up cancelling them before requesting your refund.

If you’re traveling within 72 hours

It’s time for some action. Some travelers may be waiting until the very last minute to see if their reservations are canceled, so they don’t have to initiate the refund request and are better positioned to get their cash back. If you’re at the 72-hour mark and they still haven’t contacted you, reach out to your OTA and start your cancellation request immediately. Some have online forms up on their coronavirus advisory pages, so try that first. Otherwise, be prepared to call customer service and wait on hold for long periods of time. You can consider alternative methods of communication including online chats or tweeting to the OTA’s Twitter handle. If you are still having trouble talking to someone, your best option might instead be to contact the airline or hotel directly to request a cancellation and refund now that many are offering to do so.

Have some time on your hands?

If you have been notified further in advance that your flight or other booked travel has been canceled, or simply aren’t comfortably waiting until the last minute in hopes of a cash refund, you should contact your OTA to start the refund process one week out from your original travel dates.

If your travel was set to take place between now and the end of April and you are eligible for a refund, you might be able to submit your request through the “My Trips” page on your OTA’s website. You should see an option to change or cancel your booking. Click on that, and you will be directed to a page outlining your choices and whether you can expect a full refund or are subject to any penalties. At this point, you might also be directed straight to an airline or hotel website in order to complete the process. Make sure you have any information will you need on hand, including the credit card you used to make the booking, your itinerary confirmation number, and any confirmation or ticket numbers from the airline or hotel.

In some cases, you will be offered credit or vouchers for future bookings. But if you are entitled to a refund and would prefer to get your money back, DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR IT. Despite what any OTA or travel representatives tell you, you do not have to settle for future travel credits in that case. If you do choose a voucher instead, consider booking a refundable ticket down the line so you can cancel your plans more easily if necessary.

As a last resort, put a hold on your credit card charge

Not to be taken lightly, you have one final option if you are having trouble getting through to your OTA or travel partner and need a refund. If you booked with a credit card, you can call your bank and ask them either to hold or reverse the travel purchase charge on your statement. You will have to provide your reasons for doing so, and likely need to submit evidence that you were eligible for a refund and that you made a good-faith effort to cancel your reservation. It’s not guaranteed to work, but it can’t hurt to try if you are getting nowhere with your OTA.

We are still in a period of unprecedented uncertainty due to COVID-19, and that is especially true for travelers who booked through an online travel agency. Many OTAs are making it easier to change or cancel reservations, but do your due diligence to make sure you are eligible for a refund, get familiar with the policies of travel partners like hotels and airlines that were part of your plans, and stay on top of any timing requirements so you do not find yourself stuck on hold for hours as your travel dates approach.

If you have your own story about suppliers helping you, we would love to hear from you.   If you have any personal experiences whether it’s good or bad, let us know.  We would love to feature you on brieskitravel.com or you can reach us via email at: brieskitravel@yahoo.com.

Hit us up because we’re going to have plenty of guests on our next episode at: BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast. We are booking in advance so if you’d love to be on with us, we want to hear from you!  Hit us up!! Leave reviews!! By all means we appreciate your SUPPORT Thank you for following …  we love you!!  We love travel!  We know its tough right now, but things will get better! Travel will bounce back!  Thank you and enjoy the rest of your week.

BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast

5 DAY WESTERN CARIBBEAN

CARNIVAL PARADISE (COZUMEL PLUS)

OCT 24, 2020 – OCT 29, 2020

Itinerary:

Day 1 | Sat: Tampa, FL – depart 4:00 PM

Day 2 | Sun: Fun Day At Sea

Day 3 | Mon: Grand Cayman – 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Day 4 | Tue: Cozumel – 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Day 5 | Wed: Fun Day At Sea

Day 6 | Thu: Tampa – arrive 8:00 AM

Included:

Serenity Adult Only Retreat – Somebody at Carnival knows just what you need, and it’s pretty much exactly the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat™. Look, you’ll still be on the same ship as the kids, the hoopla, and all the Carnival-style excitement… but you could easily forget, because when you’re at Serenity you could not be further from it all. The world you’ll find yourself in is one of complete peace, sea breezes and, of course, a nearby bar. It’s the place to get done the kind of stuff you just can’t seem to do anywhere else — reconnect with your partner, finish that book, or do absolutely, blissfully, nothing at all.

women enjoying the serenity adult only retreat
Carnival Paradise – Serenity Deck

Playlist Productions – Everyone has those perfect songs that never fail to get them moving. Playlist Productions™ brings lists like yours to life! Your favorites become full-blown musical productions featuring singers and dancers bringing down the house. Shows vary by ship, but there’s a playlist for every music lover.

dancers perform for Carnival's Playlist Productions show

Seaday Brunch – Forget what “they” say — the most important meal of the day is brunch. Slumberers can sleep in and still enjoy breakfast favorites, while early-risers get a head-start on lunch. And Seaday Brunch brings everybody’s favorite mid-morning meal to your Carnival cruise, and does it right. You’ll enjoy huevos rancheros, special french toast, loaded mac-n-cheese… and yes, more ways to cook eggs than we even thought was possible. Chow down and fuel up — you’ve got lots of exploring to do, across the ship, for the rest of the day.

Favorite mid-morning meal on carnival cruise lines
Seaday Brunch

BlueIguana Cantina – Nobody knows Mexican dining like a blue iguana. Well, our blue iguana, at least. That’s why it should come as no surprise that the BlueIguana Cantina™ features freshly made tacos and burritos stuffed specially for your enjoyment. Throw our homemade tortillas and salsa into the mix, and you have a casual dining experience that will make you say “mmmm” (which is actually Iguanese for “more, please”).

BlueIguana Cantina Mexican dining
Blue Iguana Cantina
Carnival Paradise

ALL OF THIS AND MORE ABOARD THE CARNIVAL PARADISE STARTING AT $199/pp *based on double occupancy.

What Not to Do on Your Next Cruise!

If you know what you’re doing, cruising can be an exciting form of travel. But plenty of people swear off the big ships because of some terrible experience that ruined their first time or hearsay. To prevent yourself from becoming yet another cruise causality, take note of these rookie mistakes—and don’t make them.

You Book a Same-Day Flight

Please don’t leave your flight to the last minute.

We know, you’re trying to minimize time away from work by booking a flight the same day your cruise pushes off or returns. Even if you’re dealing with a brow-beating, boss who micro-manages your every minute, don’t do it. There’s a decent chance you’ll lose your whole vacation if your flight is delayed or your checked luggage doesn’t make it to your arrival airport at the same time you do.

I always encourage my clients to arrive a day before your cruise is scheduled to depart. Book a hotel near your embarkation point, spend that time sightseeing, and give yourself time to get to the pier.  I have a previous blog: Hotels for Every Major Port in America to help you.

Once your itinerary’s under way, don’t lollygag on shore, either. It’s easy to get carried away in a new place but get back to the ship on time or you’ll be stuck. The ship will sail if you’re on board or not!  On small islands with few roads, rush-hour traffic can delay you unexpectedly. I’ve seen many people miss their cruise because of it.

You Overpack—Or Underpack

Don’t bring too much.

If you decide to stuff your suitcase to the point of barely being able to zip it, you’ll regret each time you must reach in there—and forget about bringing home souvenirs.

Still, you’ll want to bring everything you need. If you decide to leave the following things at home, your trip could be worse for it:

  • a passport, in case you must fly home from a different country;
  • prescription medicine;
  • a valid, government issued picture ID;
  • any visas for countries you are visiting.

And pack a carry-on, since your checked luggage might not find you until hours after the bon voyage horn blows.

You Don’t Pre-Book Shore Excursions

If you know you really want to do a specific shore excursion offered by your cruise line, don’t take the risk of waiting to book it. Sign up before you disembark.

You can also plan your own shore excursions. But don’t blindly buy shore excursions from the ship. They can be overcrowded, overpriced, and blah!  Instead, do some research and find private guides so that you can do exactly what you want to do. Jump on message boards to find people who’ll be on your cruise if you want to lower costs by creating a small group to do your tour.

Other cruise activities worth booking before you board include spa treatments—popular ones book up—and reservations for the ship’s specialty restaurants.

You Choose the Wrong Type of Cruise

Think of the experience you’re looking to create or else you’ll be cheating yourself of the best kind of cruise vacation.

If you haven’t thought through the type of cruise experience you want, you’re not ready to book. Are you looking to relax? Party? A cultural experience? Family time? Your answer should inform which company you go with, what boat you should be on, and when you should go.

It starts with the ship.  If you want culture and history, don’t book the party line. If you don’t like to dress up, don’t pick the ship that has black-tie nights. Know yourself and pick your cruise line according to your personality.

The worst mistake a vacationer can make is focusing only on itinerary when booking a cruise. Itinerary matters, but don’t assume all ships are the same.  Sure, you love kids, but do you want to be on a ship that caters to families if you’re traveling with adults? Are the room layouts, dining options, and amenities appealing to you? Did an entertainment experience entice you to a certain cruise line? Make sure it’s offered on your specific ship.

Consider timing too. If you’d rather not be surrounded by kids, avoid summer and holiday cruises, when a third of passengers can be children. Three and four-night cruises to warm-weather destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean tend to attract a younger twenty-somethings crowd ready to party, but shorter cruises in Europe and Asia won’t have the same wild vibe.

You Opt for Price Over Weather

Rates will be cheapest during hurricane season. Hint: you may not want to cruise during hurricane season.

It’s tempting to cruise the Caribbean between September and early December since the prices are so low. They’re that way for a reason—it’s hurricane season.  Fares to Europe are similarly enticing during winter months, but you’ll have to endure cold weather and rough seas.
As for cruising through Alaska, if you book for two alluringly affordable months—May and September—come prepared for snow and mud and be willing to do your excursions in heavy rain.  I’m telling you this now … Be ready so you don’t have to Get ready!

You Dine Recklessly

Dine cautiously, especially when it comes time to hit the buffet.

Cruises are notorious for offering food that sickens travelers. In fact, a common first question doctors have for gastroenteritis patients is, “Did you eat from the buffet?” That’s because if you consume food that’s been left out too long, or lingered over by too many people, you could be in a date with the norovirus.

Since there are few sensations worse than being ill or uncomfortable at sea, take precautions: If any food item looks or tastes funny, ditch it! Don’t approach all-you-can-eat buffets as a challenge or make too many friends at the bar. Drink enough water to stay hydrated. Get out on deck enough to breathe the salty air.  And apply sunscreen.  You’ll regret it if you don’t.

You Don’t Budget for Added Expenses

If you’ve decided that your budget is what you’ve paid to get onboard, you’ve set yourself up for trouble. For those on a strict vacation budget, it’s easy to get lured by what seems to be an impossibly low price. Once you’re onboard, that’s where they get you.

Unless you’re on a fancier cruise line—in which case you wouldn’t have paid a basement rate anyway—plan to shell out for all your alcohol, anything you drink in your cabin (Bottled water? Four bucks, please.), shore excursions, fitness classes, spa treatments, including internet access, which can cost hundreds and not even work very well. Plan to budget for off-the-boat expenses like food, souvenirs, and services when you’re in port as well.

You Don’t Consider Travel Insurance

You won’t need it, until you do.

I am a firm believer that buying travel insurance is a wise decision. People who deal with chronic illness, or whose health is otherwise sensitive, would do well to think this one through.

Finding yourself in a foreign land with an unfamiliar medical system is very inconvenient and can be dangerous.  A good medical travel insurance policy can help you find a doctor or decide which hospital to go to based upon your symptoms, and cover emergency medical care and evacuation.

You can also buy insurance to protect you in case of any other type of catastrophe, including cancellation, a missed connection, lost or delayed baggage, or a dental or legal problem.  The COVID-19 Pandemic wreaked havoc on travelers worldwide.

Don’t feel confined to buying the insurance your cruise is selling, either. Most travelers don’t know that they have a choice, and therefore buy the insurance plan relegated to a small checkbox during the booking process. 

Travelers who’ve done that assume they’ll be covered for anything—after all, they just paid for insurance. However, when it comes time to file a claim, people who bought directly from the cruise line may be disappointed.

Trip-cancellation coverage benefits may not be paid out as a monetary value, and medical coverage may be lacking. Coverage may also be limited to the cruise itself—what about airfare or hotel stays? These are expenses that should be covered by a good travel insurance policy.

You Bring Work Onboard

Leave the work on shore.

Vacations are for vacationing. Deciding to bring work along immediately reduces the value of your cruise trip—for you and your travel companions, who are likely to roll their eyes as your crack open the laptop. Decide that you’re going to relax your brain, unplug from work, and save that chunk of money that you’d have spent on Wi-Fi that barely works in the middle of the ocean.

One thing I tell my clients, is that it’s best not to over plan. Enjoy some unscheduled time in port.  Leave time for wandering about the ship. Take in the sunset, breath in the salty ocean air and RELAX while you read my new e-book: The Ultimate Guide to Cruising 2020 filled with over 100 other insider tips and tricks to cruising.

ENJOY!!!

If you have your own story about a cruise blunder, we would love to hear from you.  We would love to feature you on brieskitravel.com or you can reach us via email at: brieskitravel@yahoo.com.

Hit us up because we’re going to have plenty of guests on our next episode of: BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast. We are booking in advance so if you’d love to be on with us, we want to hear from you! 

Leave reviews!! We appreciate your SUPPORT Thank you for following …  we love you!!  We love travel!  We know its tough right now, but things will get better! Travel will bounce back!  Thank you for listening and have an awesome rest of your week.

You Don’t Need It Until You Do!

Why Travel Insurance?

Surviving COVID-19 is clearly proving to be a struggle.  State-wide, shelter in place orders, combined with social distancing, feelings of isolation, school closures topped with distant learning … have already taken many of us to the edge.  Add travel restrictions to the mix, now you’ve created a recipe for disaster.

Imagine now being in the middle of your vacation, or spending an extended period abroad leading up to March 20th, and the United States of America begins to close it boarders.  How would do you begin to navigate an unexpected return home once the State Department issues travel alerts to return home, unless you ‘plan to remain overseas’?

Many travelers recently experienced an unimaginable nightmare trying to return home with little if any assistance from on-line travel agencies (OTA).  There have been countless stories of folks being left on hold for HOURS to no avail because these OTA’s became inundated with calls. 

There are even more stories of couple spending tens of thousands of dollars looking to secure commercial and private charter flights to return home.  One couple was stranded in the Maldives (likely the best place to EVER be stranded) during their honeymoon and was quoted a price of $104,000 to charter a flight home.  Not to mention their extended hotel stay at $750/night. 

Stories like these impresses upon the importance of why travel insurance is so needed.  We can save ourselves from unforeseen perils that may arise during travel. We should try our best to save and protect ourselves from unexpected catastrophe by implementing and take certain precautions.

What do we get from travel insurance?

  • Medical Emergencies
  • Trip cancellation
  • Missed flight/ delayed flight/ cancelled flight
  • Delayed or lost baggage
  • Default of travel suppliers
  • Loss of documents etc.

Six reasons to get travel insurance before travelling abroad.

  1. Getting help overseas: Thousands of traveler’s experience trouble when traveling overseas each year. Having the right level of travel insurance coverage is critical when travelling. If you fall ill or are faced with an accident while overseas, travel insurance can ensure that you get the best quality of care and you can be moved, either back home or to a better medical facility, if needed. And that can be covered under your travel insurance, you don’t have to bear brunt of the cost.  Check out Frances and Larry’s story.
  2. Travel insurance can cover disruptions to your trip: It’s not a secret that when you travel, shit happens and eventually is not under your control. Flights can be delayed, cancelled or you might need to return home if an emergency occurs.  Without travel insurance, disruptions to your trip can leave you having to pay a hefty amount.  In many cases, you lose the money you’ve already paid, and must pay for the new bookings too. Many travel insurance packages will cover you for incidents that are out of your control, so that you don’t have to spend your own money if something goes wrong.
  3. You can be reimbursed for your losses and expenses: If your luggage is stolen, lost or damaged overseas, you can end up significantly out of pocket and out of the clothes and many important things too. Just Imagine! – and if you don’t have travel insurance, you will be responsible for replacing your items. Obviously, nobody will be taking care of your luggage or you for that matter.If you take out the right insurance, however, you can be reimbursed for your losses and expenses, whatever you have lost you can be reimbursed, meaning that you won’t lose money due to an airline or hotel blunder, or a thief’s wrong doings.
  4. You get sick or injured on your trip:  You and your friends have planned an amazing trip. After your first night, you wake with severe stomach pains and a high fever. You cannot start your day. Instead, you need emergency medical care – and quick. With travel medical coverage, you won’t be paying a huge medical bill. You’ll also have assistance services – in your own language – to locate a suitable medical facility and arrange transportation.
  5. Your baggage is delayed or lost: Your special day has finally arrived – a destination wedding at a beach side resort. Unfortunately, the airline made a mistake and your baggage will be delayed. Luckily, you’ve got the dress and the rings, but what about your other clothes, shoes, toothpaste, and personal items?  With proper coverage, you can relax. The customer service line can help you recover your bags. You will also be reimbursed for the essential items you need to start enjoying your trip.
  6. Economic default: Ever stop to consider what may happen should your airline, cruise line or tour operator goes out of business? Travel insurance can reimburse these pre-paid, non-refundable expenses.  Having these benefits means you won’t be left high and dry if the people holding your scuba excursion, multi-week tour or all-inclusive vacation go under.  It’s also important to note that in order to have these benefits, the policy must be purchased within 14 days of the initial trip deposit.

Travel is one of life’s great joys. But even the most carefully planned trip can be complicated by unforeseen events. Whether it’s lost luggage, cancelled flights, or a medical emergency, an unexpected mishap can turn a relaxing vacation into a taxing experience. Trip insurance is designed to keep your travel on track. 

If you have your own story about suppliers helping you, we would love to hear from you.   If you have any personal experiences whether it’s good or bad, let us know.  We would love to feature you on brieskitravel.com or you can reach us via email at: brieskitravel@yahoo.com.

Hit us up because we’re going to have plenty of guests on our next episode at: BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast. We are booking in advance so if you’d love to be on with us, we want to hear from you!  Hit us up!! Leave reviews!! By all means we appreciate your SUPPORT Thank you for following …  we love you!!  We love travel!  We know its tough right now, but things will get better! Travel will bounce back!  Thank you for listening and have an awesome rest of your week.

PEACE!

BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast

10 Tips to Staying Calm and Finding Happiness While Quarantined

BrieskiTRAVEL The Podcast

There is so much fear and uncertainty around the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. People all around the world are finding ways to cope with it in different ways.  So, a question that we all face is: How can we stay as calm and happy, under these circumstances?

People have the false notion that happiness means being 100% happy all of the time. That’s not possible, and even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be a good.

Realistically, there are times when we don’t feel happy or calm, and that’s appropriate and natural. But even in those times, we can take steps to feel as happy and as calm as we can be and in doing so, help ourselves weather a crisis more effectively. We also strengthen ourselves to be more helpful to others and to our community.

So for people who are fortunate enough to be in good health (be appreciative) in addition to health measures such as washing hands and practicing social distancing, what can we do in a challenging time like this?

Since this isn’t my first post on this subject, this is what I’m reminding myself, as I’m spending a lot more time inside and away from other people:

1. Take care of your yourself (physically). This is important mentally and emotionally. Set a schedule, get a good night’s sleep, wake up at a decent hour, eat healthy food, don’t drink too much, and try to stick to a regular routine of personal hygiene and dress.

2. Keep moving. This may be tough if your normal exercise routine has been disrupted, but find a way to stay active and make it work for you. Even in a small space you can do yoga, you can watch YouTube videos, you can use exercise apps, or even follow one of my very good friends, personal trainer, Alandis Maxwell.  He hosts a Facebook Live cardio class: Tues, Thurs 6-6:30am and Saturday 8:15-9am CST.

My family has been taking bike rides around the neighborhood.  While socializing at a distance doesn’t offer the same connection for me … waving at neighbors and friends as we bike through does.

3. Beware of information overload. We all want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and become anxious after hearing it. Learn what you need to learn, but don’t get sucked into the three-hour scroll. Monitor your screen time so you have a solid sense of your habits. You might want to schedule time to check current events—perhaps twice a day—so the news doesn’t overtake you.  Steer clear of accounts of disasters.  We have to protect ourselves and that includes our sanity and mental well-being.

4. Be Ready so you don’t have to Get Ready. When a crisis hits, people want to prepare. People don’t always prepare in the most helpful and rational ways, but they want to do something. Get informed by a sound source—like this one from the CDC—about how to prepare wisely, and then do it. Action can help alleviate some of the anxiety.

5. Organize. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous—but my father always told me that “outer order gives a sense of inner calm and focus.” It’s irrational, of course, but it’s true if you feel desperate to plan. If there’s nothing more to be done, clearing up your space might help you feel calmer. It’s concrete action that will lead to a visual improvement. So even if it’s not rational, it can be helpful.

6. Help others. Being the extrAvert that I am … One of the best ways to make myself happier is to make other people happier—or feel safer, calmer, or better organized. Look for ways to help others, make sure they’re prepared and give them a sense of security so they know you’re looking out for them.

7. Connect with friends and family and reach out to people who may feel isolated. Have you ever noticed that the strong friends withdraw during times of crisis? This is a time when technology can really come in handy! Pick up the phone, call, text, send a funny video … we all want to feel connected and cared for. Strong social relationships are a key to happiness, so find ways to avoid feeling trapped and lonely. Shout out to my “HouseParty” crew.

8. Make good use of this opportunity. Being stuck at home is THE opportunity that none of us wished for!!  Look for ways to use this time to get things done you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. Have you started spring cleaning your closets? Would you like to start a blog, a podcast … or write a book?  Try some new recipes, get back into meditation, update your resume.  Invest in yourself with a variety of trainings and webinars now available.

Now would be the perfect time to start journaling if that’s your thing.  It’s a milestone in the life of the world, and when this is all over (and at some point, it will be over), you may be very glad you kept a record.

9. Catch up on books, podcasts, movies, or TV shows. These activities will keep your mind engaged and active, and they’ll distract you from anxiety. In the long run, it’s very helpful and necessary to give ourselves mental breaks.

10. Create comforting rituals. You may already have rituals that help you feel grounded throughout the day. These might be helpful now—but you’ll have to adapt, if your usual comforting ritual is disrupted.

Find ways to have pleasant patterns through your day that allow you to feel grounded and calm. Mine is spending more time with our 6 yo. and guiding him through the idea of homeschooling.  Something we have been considering over the last couple of school years anyway.

We can also find ways to combine these tips. For instance, I find myself pacing around the house while I talk to friends in DC or to my baby brother Adam in NJ.  A few weeks ago, I attended a “virtual party” with my sister, Stacie.  Perhaps you’ll start writing in your new journal every evening at sunset, with a nightcap and music playing in the background.

If you enjoyed what you read just now … Subscribe to my podcast here and be sure to tune in every week for a new episode.  Leave a message … What strategies, tips, and solutions have you found helpful for staying calm and happy, under the circumstances?  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for joining us this week on BrieskiTRAVEL The Blog and The Podcast!

Stay Healthy! Stay Safe!

PEACE

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CRUISING

Each year, there are almost 30,000 different cruise itineraries scheduled for over 2,000 destinations worldwide. Some of the most popular destinations include: East/Southeast Asia, Europe (Mediterranean, Baltic, Norwegian), Alaska, the Caribbean, Australia/New Zealand, and South America. 

Taking a cruise for the first time can often lead to all types of anxiety and questions. I remember preparing for my first cruise over 20 years ago. I didn’t have any idea what to pack (bringing black sneakers and flip flops) or what extra costs to take into consideration. I relied heavily on my older brother and boyfriend, who didn’t lead me astray but likely didn’t quite have in the inside scoop yet either.  Thanks fellas!

Almost every website now offers a ‘New to Cruising’ guide and some are more informative than others. I personally wrote this Ultimate Guide to Cruising simply because it offers advice on things those new to cruising wouldn’t know to consider. For example: it highlights what you should pack in warmer and cooler climates.  What stateroom to select when going on an Alaskan cruise and 100 additional insider tips and tricks to cruising!

During my travels I have heard passengers ask about something that has happened onboard and then referred to how the law on that would stand on land. I think sometimes people forget once you are at sea things change, you take maritime law into consideration and once you start crossing into international waters things change again. Although not something many of us discuss in detail I like the fact that this information is easily accessible.

I could go on and on about this, it really does cover everything you could want to know. Give it a quick look, it might answer some immediate questions you have! Don’t forget to have a look through my own Tips and Tricks to Cruising section too especially the Traveling with Minors section article which highlights some things worth thinking about in advance.

Whether this is your first cruise or your 50th, this comprehensive guide will provide insight on how to cruise like a pro.  I hope it proves to be beneficial to you and I hope you enjoy reading it.

You can purchase it here for $5.99.

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