Archive for April, 2011

Why do people need travel agents? The Internet IS anarchy when it comes to travel and is the true dilemma facing vacation surfers on the Internet today. How do they know what offer is real and what is NOT, who can they trust? Even the large travel engines are only one dimensional with no personal service nor knowledge. In other words, the Internet is like the old fashioned sandwich “auto mat”, provides a sandwich but no human contact! Our personal service, knowledge, experience and impeccable reputation, gained over 43 years as a travel counselors, is their real vacation advantage for those who are discerning travelers who want a “real vacation”!

What problem do we solve for YOU? We are real humans who speak with the client and listen to their wishes and then employ our knowledge and experience to match their budget with the best vacation value, finally booking it through our proven industry resources! We sift out the real travel values from the Internet hype and save money for our clients vacations, savings usually more than what is published online too. Now that’s a real value not a “bait and switch deal”. We are customer oriented, attending to very minute details of their plans to assure the ease of their vacation and are as close as a phone from the beginning of their planning process to their return home. Old fashioned service with “real” savings and for no additional fees. Don’t you wish you could get that kind of service from a lawyer or accountant without a fee?

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Urgent Tip…….very time sensitive vacation savings information….If your passports are up to date, call RIGHT NOW and save big on 7-15 day cruises throughout of Europe. You can travel like “royalty” and save…many savings represent more than 50% off rates earlier this year! Luxury has never been more affordable.

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Roberts Travel Rules Starts Today!

Roberts Travel Rules will be vacation rules to live by, travel tips, travel traps and insider information to make you vacation scintillate!
Rule1. Engage an experienced travel consultant and tell them of your vacation wish list.
Rule 2. Communicate with the agent regularly as your wishes may change as well as your budget.
Rule 3. Have a realistic budget and convey that amount to your vacation hunter agent!
Rule 4. Have passport will travel! Before you create your wish list, make sure your passport is up to date and valid for at least 18 months.
Rule 5. Arrange with your employer to have flexible vacation days off.
Rule 6. Always have a cushion on your credit card to pay for your trip. Often times the scintillating opportunities will present themselves and the full payment requirements may be immediate..
Rule 7. Pick a wardrobe for travel for sun and fun destinations, cool climates, a cruise…well, you get the picture. This will allow you to grab your essential and be packed and ready to travel.
Rule 8. Be patient! The right trip will come, we promise!
In the future “Roberts Travel Rules” will give you some top secret information on how to save big or get much more for your dollar; travel pitfalls or traveler faux pas you will want to avoid!
We would also love your comments…tell us your wish lists for a dream vacation!

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Savings Experiment: Fly Around Pesky Airline Fees
Barbara Thau
Apr 5th 2011 at 10:00AM
Flying the friendly skies doesn’t feel so friendly these days.

What seems like a mounting list of hidden and not-so-hidden airline fees can make travelers feel like they’re being taken for more than just one kind of ride.

And you’re not just imagining that flight-related fees seem to be buzzing through more and more of your travel budget. It’s a sign of the times.

The airline industry has been hit hard by both high fuel prices and the recession, Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com, told WalletPop. As a result, it failed to turn a profit in 2009. But that changed last year as consumers started to help foot the bill for the airlines’ woes, “mostly on the back of fees,” Seaney says.
Fees to check baggage and change a ticket have hit consumers the hardest, he says. But that doesn’t mean travelers have no recourse.

Here’s a primer on how you can avoid a number of these fees or at least keep them to a minimum.

Bag Checking Fees

First-checked-bag fees started to become widespread in 2008, “coinciding to some degree with the run-up in oil prices,” Seaney says.

In July 2008, gas prices peaked at a whopping $140 a barrel.

So on most domestic flights the major carriers now charge about $25 each way for the first checked bag and between $30 and $35 for the second. Prices can really take off if you’re traveling as a family.

To avoid that cost, a simple answer is to fly airlines that don’t charge for luggage — and the only ones that don’t are Southwest and JetBlue, Seaney says.

But if that’s not an option and you fly often, find out which airlines offer special membership rewards and frequent flier programs that waive baggage-check fees.

For example, Continental and Delta will waive some baggage fees if you book your flight using their branded credit cards. And while those airlines’ credit cards come with an annual membership fee, using it once a year to avoid the bag charge can cover that easily, Seaney says.

What’s more, members of frequent flier programs such as Continental’s OnePass Silver Elite aren’t charged to check a first or second bag.

Consider Shipping vs. Schlepping

In some cases, if you plan to travel with a lot of heavy bags, shipping luggage four or five days ahead can save you money.

Airlines will tack on an additional fee for luggage over 50 pounds. So it might work out cheaper to ship your luggage in advance via FedEx or UPS Ground, says George Hobica, president and founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

For example, “You can ship 55 pounds of stuff via FedEx from Chicago to Orlando for under $40 each way,” he says. “On most airlines, a suitcase that weight would cost $115 each way.”

“The savings really kick in when you’re going shorter distances with heavy bags.” Just think of what you can save when flying your kid and his stuff off to college, he says.

A big added bonus of shipping vs. schlepping is that the shipping companies will track your bags much more closely and your luggage will be infinitely more secure in their hands, Hobica says. Consult Airfare watchdog’s “Shipping Versus Checking” chart for a side-by-side cost comparison of checking your luggage at the airport vs. having it shipped.

Changing Your Ticket

Most major airlines charge a $150 fee to change a domestic flight (and as much as $250 for an international flight). There’s little way to get around this.

But if you are the type of flier whose trips often are subject to change, fly Southwest, which is currently the only airline that does not charge for a flight change. The airline will, however, charge you the price difference if the fare goes up.

It sounds simple, but in general don’t pay for a ticket until you are as certain as possible that you won’t need to make a change.

This is especially true for most leisure flights under $200, Seaney says. “If you change your mind, you are in essence throwing that ticket in the garbage.”

Frequent Flier Programs

Read the fine print when you’re signing up for airlines’ frequent flier programs. They might end up costing you more than they’re worth, Hobica says.

Although you’re earning bonus miles with these cards as a way to qualify for free flights, you’re likely paying an annual fee — usually $75 to $100, he says.

Airlines also add fees for cashing in your frequent flier miles, cashing in miles close to your departure date, and upgrading to business class from economy class. So what’s an alternative?

Consider earning cash for your flight with cash-back-rewards credit cards, Hobica says.

With cards such as American Express’s Blue Cash Card — which has no annual fee — and the Discover Cash Back Bonus Card, you’re earning 5% back in cash rewards for everyday purchases like groceries and gas, as well as clothing, restaurants, hotel stays and car rentals.

The benefit of these cards is that you’re not beholden to airlines’ fees, capacity controls and blackout dates, he says. Instead, “You can take the cash and buy a ticket.”

Choosing a Seat

You’ve already paid for your ticket, but there’s another fee to pick a seat on the plane? Come on. Still, some airlines now charge travelers to accommodate their window, aisle or legroom requests.

American Airlines charges for its Express Seats in the first few rows of the coach cabin. The price varies by mileage.

While these charges aren’t yet common and usually are between $5 and $10, they can be as much as $20 for an exit row seat.

“Consumers can get around the fees by not choosing the premium options, letting the airline select their seats and by flying an airline that allows you to choose your seat for free,” says Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com.

Check out Smartertravel.com’s Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees, which has a reference chart of seat selection fees, as well as other fees from all the major domestic carriers.

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Thought you would enjoy a few unsolicited, comments about Arthur Blumenthal from the Renaissance workshop participants at the Cornell Museum. These are our “evaluations” 🙂 Folks are great about staying in touch. Also that day, two more couples will be joining us for our trip this fall “How to Look at Art in Paris!” October 13-21.

“I had the best time … I wish I could remember all that I learned, or relearned that day. It was very enjoyable. Besides being a great teacher—he is so funny! I never looked at my watch! LOL.
Susie D.
“Arthur did an amazing job! And I l overheard a lot of comments about what a wonderful presenter he is! Arthur, your knowledge and humor made it so much fun. Thank you for sharing your brilliance.”
Marilyn L.
“I truly enjoyed the seminar and the company! Arthur did a wonderful job. Anxious for more.”
Dana B.
“I was in heaven listening to Arthur talk and think he does such a great job of educating all of us about art. He appears to have complete and easy access to everything he ever learned about the Renaissance! His love of the subject shines through and is very inspiring. We’re looking for a way to get him to Mt. Dora. I loved the course!”
Shawn M.
“Awesome today! My brain wants more and more and more. Hugs!”
June N.
“I want to thank you for the workshop yesterday. You do a very nice job! You would think I might have memory of hearing things about color (after 20 years at the Orlando Museum of Art docent), but I learned new ones: i.e. aerial color (hooray!).”
Dee S.
“I write to express my appreciation for your “How to Look at Art!” seminar yesterday at the Cornell. It was enlightening and enjoyable.”
David T.

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