As a travel professional, we always want to book our clients’ dream vacations. While we can manage all of our clients' travel plans to a T, their actual experiences are not always plannable. Luckily, there are some great travel apps to help with just about any aspect of a trip. Check out these top travel apps to add to your packing lists.
An App for: Speaking the Language
If your traveling to foreign countries, be sure to be prepared with an app that helps speak the common language. Google Translate is a lifesaver for any mono-linguist traveler. Translate from 103 different languages just by typing or drawing the word or phrase. Use your phone’s camera to hold up to street signs or even restaurant menus for instant translations. The best part is that the app works without using a wireless connection so you can explore data-free. Navigate with confidence and even learn a thing or two about the native tongue.
An App for: Maps & Directions
Don’t leave home without a solid navigation app for exploring. Apps like Maps.Me or City Mapper offer downloadable maps with turn-by-turn navigation, traffic updates and can even pinpoint local hotspots to check out. Explore points of interest from restaurants to tourist attractions, all with step-by-step directions. Even create driving, walking and cycle routes to save extra time, or just to take in the scenery.
An App for: Packing
Be certain to never forget a thing for your next trip. With apps like PackPoint, you can type in the destination and select the activities planned to create a customized packing list for the trip. It will even check the weather to make sure you are packing all the essentials. You can also share the list with your fellow travelers so nothing is ever left behind.
An App for: Chatting
Make sure you can always stay in touch with friends and family. WhatsApp provides free voice calls and messaging when connected to wifi. The group chat feature also allows you to share messages, photos and videos for sharing your experiences.
An App for: Time Zones
Never lose track of time again. With an app like Circa, travelling to multiple locations across different time zones has never been easier. Find the best times for connecting flights and send invitations to other travelers in different time zones to meet up. Now you'll never miss a beat no matter how far apart you are.
With these five apps you're certain to be well equipped for your next vacation. Download them ahead of time to begin to become comfortable in their use prior to travel. This will lessen stress and provide ease of use when needed. These tips are just one of the many ways we demonstrate to our clients that we care about every aspect of your trip.
Those overwater bungalows (or as Sandals likes to call them over-the-water bungalows) are spreading like wildfire. Sandals South Coast just welcomed its first guests to 12 new over-the-water bungalows, which opened on Saturday, Dec. 16.
Following its recent multi-million renovation projects, Sandals South Coast introduced the “over-the-water” concept with the addition of bungalows accessible via a heart shaped pier. In addition, Sandals debuted its first dedicated over-the-water bar called Latitudes, where guests can enjoy their cocktails in hammocks suspended above the Caribbean, as well as and an over-the-water wedding chapel with 360-degree, panoramic water views and a glass floor aisle.
According to Sandals, these over-the-water bungalows deliver complete immersion in the “turquoise waters and rich marine life below.” Glass vision floor panels and lit water ensure guests can enjoy undersea views. Couples also can admire the ocean from their private outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tub for two or from their over-water hammocks.
Every bungalow features hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, custom-crafted king-size beds with soft linens and plush pillows. Inside, each bungalow is also equipped with a smart TV and a large ceiling fan to stay cool while enjoying Caribbean breezes. Bathrooms are equipped with his and hers sinks, a large backlit mirror adorned with mosaic tile, and a walk-in rain shower. Outside, the private patio is also equipped with an extended sun deck, outdoor shower, sun loungers, and a bistro set for two.
Beyond the views, guests staying in the newly debuted bungalows will have access to top-notch services and exclusive amenities from 24/7 butler service, trained in accordance to the standards of the Guild of Professional Butlers, exclusive in room dining and room service menu, and direct resort access via a “Royal Duffy” luxury boat. Additional bungalow features include personal airport greeting with expedited immigration; private luxury resort transfers; welcome gift, including a branded towel set; Molton Brown bathroom amenities; and free Wi-Fi.
Other resort renovations at Sandals South Coast include upgrades to the property’s existing five restaurants as well as four new 5-Star Global Gourmet dining options: Sushi on the Sand; Beach Picnic, an option for Butler guests to have a romantic picnic on the beach; Jerk Shack, a dining option with open-air seating that serves authentic jerk dishes; and Schooner’s, which serves Caribbean fare. Rates start at $1,078 per person per night.
By James Shillinglaw
Airlines are cracking down on so-called smart luggage, like these bags from Bluesmart, with pockets that hold and charge electronic devices, citing concerns about the hazards of placing lithium-ion battery power banks in the cargo hold. (AP)
Planning to give — or give yourself — smart luggage this holiday season? Check the battery compartment first.
Starting Jan. 15, any passenger with battery-powered luggage must be able to remove the battery to bring the bag on an American Airlines flight. The airline announced the policy last week, citing concerns about the hazards of placing lithium-ion battery power banks in the cargo hold.
“We wanted to get out ahead of the holiday season given that it’s one of the trendy gifts for travelers,” said American spokeswoman Leslie Scott.
Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines rolled out similar rules, while United Airlines and Southwest Airlines say they’re reviewing the issue.
Smart bags have a wide range of features.
If you’re like me, the week before your vacation is usually crammed full of last-minute travel preparations. In the flurry of laundry and packing, don’t forget to take care of a few important tasks before you take off.
1. Copy Your Passport
Make two copies, preferably in color, of your passport’s information page. (That’s the one with your photo.) Leave one copy with someone who isn’t traveling, and take the other with you but separate from the original. You could also save a copy to the cloud or your mobile device. Having this information can be very useful if your passport is lost or stolen during your trip.
You’ve made it to the airport, your bags have been checked, boarding pass issued, but now you’ve got hours to wait before getting on your plane, or even worse you have been delayed! What can you do to make the best of your time?
Here I give you 6 top tips for killing time at the airport...
#1 Book yourself an Airport lounge
Why not book yourself into an airport lounge, the costs are surprisingly good value? or make use of the ones on offer if you are a member of an airline frequent flyer scheme or travelling in business/first class? Airport lounges are a fantastic way of using up the lengthy wait time, with an array of facilities available (dependant on the Lounge/Airline) such as spa treatments, quiet areas to work, shower facilities, fitness centres, complimentary food, drinks, newspapers and more! There no reasons why your layover can't become the best part of travelling for business!.
Whether it’s your first vacation at sea or you’re a veteran cruiser, at some point during your travel planning you’ll have to answer the same question: What should I pack? Beyond the obvious necessities–clothes, toiletries, and travel documents–there are several items you’ll find in my suitcase every time I sail.
1. Hanging Toiletry Bag
Space is usually at a premium in cruise cabins, especially in the bathroom. Usually you are limited to a few corner shelves and a very narrow countertop. A hanging toiletry bag is great for keeping things neat and accessible. It’s also very useful when I’m sharing a cabin, so I can easily move out to the vanity area if my travel companion needs to access the restroom.
The Eastern Caribbean took a beating in September 2017 from a pair of powerful hurricanes, forcing cruise lines to make long-term changes to their Caribbean cruise itineraries.
Hurricane Irma inflicted serious damage on islands with significant cruise line business, including St. Maarten/St. Martin, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S.V.I., Grand Turk in Turks & Caicos and St. Bart's. Less than a week later, Hurricane Maria roared through the region, devastating Dominica and Puerto Rico.
But the Caribbean is a large place, and the cruise lines have options for alternative ports, even for their biggest ships. Among them are three ports in Jamaica (Ocho Rios, Falmouth and Montego Bay), Grand Cayman, Belize, Roatan, Mexico's Cozumel and Costa Maya, and the islands of the Southern Caribbean: Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.
Several Eastern Caribbean islands -- including St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada and Antigua -- also remain open. In addition, the Bahamas and the private islands cruise passengers love (including Labadee, Haiti) have been unaffected by the storm and continue to be called upon by ships. Cuba's ports, too, remain open.
Here is our line-by-line breakdown of the long-term itinerary changes that have been made. Cruise Critic will continue to update this list as the cruise lines release information.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) spend billions of dollars each year enticing consumers to book online, showcasing the ease of using their platform and the money they’ll be able to save.
But digging through Consumer Affairs complaints made during hurricane season for the country’s most popular OTA’s reveals something different. It shows the different side to OTA bookings, one where travelers are left stranded without someone to stick up for them.
There’s no one to turn to
For one Omaha, Neb., customer, a flight to Costa Rica cancelled because of Hurricane Harvey meant hours waiting for Expedia to get in touch with an airline agent who could approve a refund.
While a lot of uncertainty lies ahead for travel agents with clients booked on Caribbean sailings, there is some good news for the future as Caribbean cruise ports have slowly begun to reopen in the wake of hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Here is a roundup of what cruise ports are currently accepting guests:
Key West welcomed its first post-hurricanes cruise ship this week when Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas docked at the port last Sunday.
While a lot of the area is still in recovery mode, Key West is welcoming tourists back with a lot of the tourist attractions local to the island’s cruise port reopening.
Grand Turk is still not open to cruise ships. Carnival has issued new itineraries for ships that were scheduled to stop at Grand Turk including Magic, Conquest and Glory. Those ships will head to Amber Cove instead. Officials expect the port to open sometime around the middle of October.
Having escaped a lot Irma’s and Maria’s damage, Nassau remains open to all cruise ships traffic.
Most of cruise lines’ private islands near Nassau, including Castaway Cay, CocoCay, Half Moon Cay, and Great Stirrup Cay, are all open. Amber Cove, Carnival Corp.’s private port in the Dominican Republic, is also up and running.
Mexico’s Municipality of Solidaridad has implemented a new eco tax that will be payable at hotels effective October 1.
Designed “to help maintain the beaches and ecosystem in Riviera Maya” and “maintain and conserve the natural beauty of the destination,” the tax of 10 Mexican pesos per room per night will be collected through December 31, 2017. As of January 1, 2018, the tax will increase to 20 Mexican Pesos per room per night.
The funds raised will be deposited in an environmental trust fund.
This tax is not included in packages regardless of booking dates, so travel agents should “advise clients of this new development prior to their trip,” officials said.
by Cheryl Rosen
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